George O'Leary Quotes - Nov. 23

Nov. 23, 2010

="" alt="Knight Head" border="0" class="imported"> Read John Denton's Knights Insider | ="" alt="Twitter Logo" border="0" class="imported">Follow us on Twitter | ="" alt="Facebook Logo" border="0" class="imported">Get social with the Knights on Facebook

By Christian Edwards

UCF head football coach George O'Leary met with the Orlando media on Tuesday to preview Saturday's pivotal road game against C-USA opponent Memphis. Here is a sampling of what he had to say.

Opening statement...
"To recap last week's game [at Tulane] it is what probably most people saw. It was a very productive game on offense, defense and the kicking game. I have been in football a long time and that is the first time I think I have ever been associated with the first play and the last play being scores and not being the offense. The offense really wasn't on the field. [It was] a good win away and obviously a big game this week with Memphis as far as securing the division title. That is the focus this week with the players. Again, [there are] distractions this week with Thanksgiving and all that. Normally I handle that different. I let the show team go home on Wednesday night after practice and I just keep the travel team for Thursday and we leave Friday. So it is a sort of skeleton crew for Thursday, but those are the ones that count. They are the ones playing the game on Saturday. Again, it's an early game, eleven o'clock time up there. They're looking forward to it. It's a big game. It is coming down to the last game of the year to secure the division title on our side. We get a win and we host the championship game which I think is very, very important."

On finishing the season strong...
"That is exactly what the focus has been. Every week you try to pick a team out that the kids can relate to. I always talk about the circle. Worry about what the people in the circle are doing, not outside the circle. A lot of people have opinions but they are necessarily not our opinion. I lean on the senior class to make sure we keep our hats where they belong and our heads where they belong as far as getting things done correctly."

On keeping the team focused with the need to win against Memphis...
"That's the focus right now. I am not concerned about Friday's games at all, which could dictate what has to happen Saturday. Our game, we are going to out to win the game on Saturday and that's what our job is [and] not to worry about somebody else not doing their job or doing their job. It's making sure we do our job and that's what the focus and discussion has been with the players."

On importance of special teams and return game and especially Quincy McDuffie's opening kickoff touchdown...
"The first one going back we blocked it extremely well. Brendan Kelly got three blocks on three different guys. Put three different guys on the ground. I think it is critical to start the game in great field position because when you take stats [and if] you are back on the 20 [yard line] your chance of scoring is obviously less than from the 35 to 40 [yard line] from the field position standpoint. I think it is important when you play away to get on the board first. It takes the crowd out of the game. There wasn't much of a crowd [at Tulane]. I think from our fans' standpoint they did a great job getting to the game and being there and being loud. It looked like they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We had quite a crew over there from UCF and the players notice that. They know exactly what is going on."

On Jamar Newsome and Quincy McDuffie's returning abilities...
"Both have the ability to do that [score]. We spend a lot of time. I think all of the special teams units take a lot of pride in getting it done. They don't want to be sitting there Monday when we go to the special teams meeting and the grades are put up. We go over the shots and their grade on every play. When there are seven kickoffs and you are two plusses and five minuses it's a very uneasy feeling sitting there because there are a lot of players that do great. That's what is real noticeable getting the athletes on the field is that when someone is not giving great effort he stands out. That is what I always talk to the coaches and players about when one guy is not doing what he is supposed to be doing. You almost can pick him right out as a laymen, not even knowing what he is supposed to do. You can pick out who the guy is that is not giving great effort. So that is a good sign. We always show the tapes so everybody can see what their partners are doing as far as their teammates are doing. I think that has helped in making sure [there is] a little peer pressure, keeping everybody on top of it."

On importance of Nick Cattoi to have a good game last week...
"I would have never probably kicked that field goal. That is not in my make-up. I would have went for it. The score was 55 or whatever it was, 52 to 14 or whatever, and I would have went for it on fourth down because we couldn't punt. I have been at both ends of those spectrums as far as when the score is lopsided like that. I would have never kicked that except I wanted to get Nick out there to get him some confidence and I was praying that he would make it. He made it and had a big chagrin coming back to the sideline. That kick I hope helps him in the future games that we have to play."

On Memphis...
"I think Memphis has some good individual athletes when you watch them on film. Their skill receivers Marcus Rucker , Jermaine McKenzie, and Billy Foster are guys that can beat you one-on-one in the passing game and I think [running back] Gregory Ray is having a good game running the ball. Plus they are a massive offensive line, 320 pounds, 306 pounds, 330 pounds and across the front so they catch your attention pretty quick. I think the big thing [and] the great thing about football is that it's a team game. [Memphis Head Coach] Larry Porter has done a good job of getting the guys and keeping them motivated each and every game. It's hard, and I have been through that when every week that you are out there you have a game plan and things don't go right all the time, but they got players to understand that it's another Senior Day up there and it's the last game for them. But, I think the big thing is they understand what is on the line for us. No matter what happens Friday you want to win the game and go into that conference game with a great taste in your mouth as far as what you have done and what you can do. I lean more on the older kids to make sure they understand that. Actually Thanksgiving comes good because I sort of get rid of the guys who don't have a role in the game and they are usually the ones causing the problems. That is why I send them home on Wednesday. I just have the travel squad there to deal with. There is a method to the madness as far as why I release them, but there will be some that come by Thursday to help us out as far as the show teams. Other than that, I want like a pro practice on Thursday [where] offense is defense and defense is offense so they have to help us out on both sides of the ball to get through practice."

What are you thankful for?
"I am just thankful I am still breathing. I tell you a great family, faith and coaching a game I wouldn't want to do anything else. I have done nothing else for 43 years and each day you get to work you get paid for something you love doing. It is not always a great day. I think there has never been more than two days in a row where I sit down and go what am I doing here? There has been a lot of one days where you question. You are working a job you love to do and working with people that have a great passion for what they want to do, and you see kids really mature. Guys like [Bruce] Miller, [Brian] Watters and [Derrick] Hallman, they have been with us now for some four, some five years and it is just great to see them mature and become men."

Do the penalties stand out the last two weeks?
"Yeah. A lot of them on the offense and they have heard me about that. We go from a team that is averaging about three penalties a game to last week we had 12 for 109 yards. A lot of them I thought were legit when I watched them on tape. It's a matter of moving your feet and doing the right things. Again, they are the same culprits, some of them, and some of them are concentration stuff. Some of them are technique stuff. I have been on the team about that. You don't want to be a team that is going to give away first downs. That's 10 first downs, 109-yards. That is what you don't want to be doing."

On any parallels between this team and the 2007 C-USA champion team...
"Not really. I think 2007 we threw a lot of play action because of Kevin [Smith]'s ability to run the ball. I think right now we are a lot more fluid and flexible as far as whether it's run, option, power game [and] zone schemes. We are doing more things. Defensively, everybody is complaining about pass defense but, when you look at it, we are second in the conference. I am not a big stat guy but I think it is like 200-yards a game we are giving up in the pass game. We are giving up too many big plays in the pass game. I mean long plays. When you look at teams that are throwing for 350, 400-yards a game we are tackling where they catch it's just that we have given up five, maybe six big plays in the last three games for touchdowns. That is what needs to stop. Overall, pass defense, we are second in the conference with 200 [yards a game] and meanwhile some of the scores are out of whack and people are throwing the ball a lot. I think we are doing a better job than people realize in pass coverage. It's just the noticeable things. The long passes for touchdowns are what is catching people's eyes as far as what is going on. Overall, the throws that are being thrown, we are making plays and we are getting our hands on more balls. We got some picks that we didn't come up with Saturday. Overall, I think we have improved there. We are closing the coverage quicker and again we are not having a lot of time to get to the quarterback. They are getting rid of it fairly quick and when they don't they protect with seven and throw it deep. Again, it's a challenge for both the front and the coverage people to coordinate that so that it pulls your coverage down so the front has a chance to get home."

How beneficial is it to get some of the reserves in the game?
"I think it's great. We got them in as soon as we could. I think it's great for morale. They are out there practicing every day. [They get] to get on the field and to execute. Plus, we get film on them so we have a chance to evaluate too. There is no question it is extremely important. It is just like when you go to a bowl game, the people don't understand you pick up about an extra 10 practices and that's like another spring ball [season]. There is a reason that people that go to bowl games are good teams and continue to go because that's the key. You end up picking up more practice time and [have] a chance to work with a lot of the younger players that you really don't have a lot of time to spend with during the regular season."

On Jordan Ozerities...
"I still think he is a freshman and makes a lot of mistakes, but I think he athletically has a lot of talent, there is no question. If the score was closer [at Tulane] I would have been yelling. I said to him after the game `If the score was close what would you have done?' He [Ozerities] says, `Take a knee.' He asked me a question and was like `Take a knee?' I said yeah and score the way it was. I think it was a good run and well executed by him. Again, I think he has a chance to be a very good player. I think he has great ball skills and he obviously has good speed."