Sept. 11, 2007
ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - UCF head Coach George O'Leary met the media on Tuesday and spoke about the game against Texas on Saturday. Kickoff for the first game at Bright House Networks Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN2. This will be UCF's first meeting against No. 6 Texas in the history of the program and the Longhorns will be the highest-ranked opponent to play the Knights at home.
Below is a transcription of a majority of the O'Leary press conference quotes.
"Obviously, this is a big week for UCF with the stadium opening up. As far as I am concerned, it is not just the stadium, it is what has happened in three years since I arrived here. The only building that was standing when I came here three and a half years ago was this one [the Wayne Densch Sports Center]. That is what is so unique about everything. The stadium is what everybody is talking about, but if you look at everything else from the dorms to the indoor facility [Nicholson Fieldhouse] to the new practice fields. It is quite an accomplishment for UCF to get this done in such a short period of time. Everyone is excited about the stadium, but it is not just the stadium, it is a lot of the other things that took place. The stadium is the finishing touch of the facility. Again, I am sure that our fan base will be happy with the stadium and the seating arrangements. Obviously, it will be a loud venue. I know that our players are looking forward to getting in there against a very good Texas team. When you talk about elite teams, Texas is an elite team from an athletics, traditions, and overall standpoint. They have won championships and received national recognition. We will have our work cut out for us. I know that our players are looking forward to the challenge and it should be a very interesting Saturday."
What are the key features that will stand out in Bright House Networks Stadium?
"I think that it is going to be a great home field advantage. If the fan base gets involved, the noise factor will be a major thing to contend with if you are a visiting team. I do think that it will be loud. It is a stadium that we took the time to do it the right way and congratulations to the companies that were involved with it because in 18 months they really did a nice job. I am sure that there will be problems on Saturday, but hopefully not too many on the field. "
Are you surprised that Texas has appeared to struggle to start the season?
"I do not know if they struggled. When I watched the Arkansas State game, they scored on the third and ninth play of the game. They just got ahead and I think Arkansas made some key plays. When you watch the second half of the TCU game, they [Texas] played as well as any team in the country has played 30 minutes of football. They have the athleticism, speed, and experience on the field"
How are you preparing to keep the Texas offense in check on Saturday?
"We need to keep the game close til the fourth quarter if we can. The crowd is going to have to do a lot of stuff. They have such great speed and a tailback (Jamaal Charles) that is quick and gained over 100 yards on TCU, which is something other teams have not been doing. They have a lot of other weapons at wide receiver and the [Colt] McCoy kid is a very good quarterback. Their defense played as well as anybody I have seen this year in the second half of that TCU game, which is a good football team. The big thing is that we cannot give up the big play and you have to gang tackle. I am more concerned with the cutback running with this kid because he can out run you."
How important would it be for Kyle Israel to get off to a good start, since Texas is most likely going to game plan against Kevin Smith?
"He needs to just do what he does and stop trying to do things he does not do. I think that is where he got himself in trouble in the last game [at NC State]. He was trying to create situations. Let the call take care of where your reads are at, do not innovate too much, and deliver the ball on time. On Saturday against NC State, there were two more touchdowns that were legitimate if we catch the ball, since there is no one there. Kyle is a kid that does not make a lot of mistakes, but again, he cannot afford to make mistakes out there. We are getting better people around him that can do things. The receivers the past couple of days had some good practices and they were starting to show their athleticism a little bit. We have to play more than Kevin [Smith]. Philip Smith was out and four other guys that play a lot were out at NC State, mostly defensive players. Phillip Smith will be back and hopefully everyone else will be back. [Cory] Hogue, if I was in the pros is questionable, that is 50 percent."
What would be the importance of beating Texas in the first game at the stadium?
"I think a win over Texas is real big. The kids know going out there that they have nothing to lose going out there and that they are an underdog going in. I think that we have to go out and play very well. It is as simple as that in all areas kicking game, specialty teams, and when we get opportunities to put points up on the board, we have to do that. Hopefully, we will be able to get a couple of turnovers and not give up the big plays in any areas. We have to move the ball offensively. I think that is what cost us in the second half against NC State, where we stalled out and have four or five consecutive three and outs. We are not strong enough on defense, not too many people are, to put them on the field like that."
How familiar are you with Texas coach Mack Brown?
"I know coach [Mack Brown] very well from our ACC days. He has done a masterful job there. He controls the state, we recruit the state of Texas. It is like Notre Dame, they do not recruit, they select. There is a difference, as far as when you walk in with a T on your hat, than when you walk in with some other letter on your hat. I think a lot of kids in the state of Texas want to go to Texas. They are usually done recruiting in the Spring for the next year. They have a great football state and they do a great job bringing the right athletes into their program. I know Mack pretty well and he has a good staff."
Are there any benefits to having an early bye week?
"I think that the bye week is good, if it did not happen in the second week. You like to have the bye week in the middle of the season just to get your feet underneath yourself. We used (last week) to correct ourselves and self-scout ourselves. You do not like to self scout after one game. It usually takes three games to show some tendencies. We have a young team in a lot of areas and played about eight freshman in the NC State game. School was starting to catch up on them time management wise, so I think that it helped them get back on their feet."