January 7, 2011
Eastern Washington В– 20
Delaware - 19
THE MODERATOR: Starting off here with Coach Keeler and Andrew Pierce.
Coach Keeler, give us an overview of the game.
COACH KEELER: Well, to say the loss is devastating is an understatement. I don't think I've ever been associated with a loss like this. We pretty much dominated the first half. The concern was not having enough points on the board with how well we dominated the game.
And you knew that Eastern Washington was a big play team. And you just wait for them to make a couple big plays. We had some opportunities to put the ballgame away and we didn't put the ballgame away. And shame on us for not putting the ballgame away.
They're a very good football team. And like I said, it's a tough, tough, tough way to lose, especially in how you dominate the first half the way we did.
Kids didn't let up but it wasn't anything like that. It's just that they started making plays down field and that's what they do and that's what their offense is about.
They got some momentum and, boy, momentum is tough. It's tough to fight momentum. And we just lost some momentum there. Questions?
Q. Coach, is there a play or a series that you can identify that you really felt the momentum shift?
COACH KEELER: Well, it's just their first touchdown. You know, I felt -- I wouldn't say momentum shifted at that time, but you could just feel them starting to get some momentum. Obviously the big play was the fourth down.
We stopped them. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. We stopped them. The way the ball was spotted originally, it was a first down. But the chain was not on the 22. The chain was past the 22. That's why as soon as they said the ball's put back on the 22, we knew we stopped them and not game over but game close to over.
And then on the sideline, because it was my sideline, they had no idea where to put the chains back from the previous play. They had already moved the clip. They didn't know where the clip was supposed to go. And I tried to explain to them that if they go back and look at how close the spot was, and they're moving the ball back a significant distance, you know, I mean, they made the first down by this much, but they moved the ball back a whole ball length. There's no way it could have been a first down.
That's disappointing. We're in a championship ballgame and we have a spot with three minutes left to go in the game that dictates who wins and loses. And usually I don't really complain about things like that, but that one hurt. It really did.
And that's why I called timeout, because they wouldn't talk to me anymore. I was like, okay, I'm going to call timeout and make you go back and look at this. I don't know what the rule is, but I guess they could go overturn that.
But like I said, the chains were not on the 22. The chain was past the 22, closer to the 21, and when they said the ball's back on the 22, we knew we had the stop.
Q. Coach, I was wondering, what was the official's explanation to you about the spot, and I guess where they put the chains to measure it the second time?
COACH KEELER: Well, the review came back that the ball's being put back to the 22. As soon as we heard that, we knew we had the stop, because we knew that the chains were past the 22. They came over to the chain crew, and the chain crew was confused. They didn't know -- because they moved the clip already.
So they guessed. I mean, I was right there with them. They're like, well, I think it was on the 22. It wasn't on the 22. And I'm pretty sure that when you go back and look at the videotape, you'll see that the chain was past the 22 yard line, meaning that was not a first down. That's why I called time. I said, you know, see if there's any way they can review from up top and tell you where the chains should be, because the chains were not put back in the right spot, in our opinion.
Q. Anthony, how difficult were these guys to defend? What made it so difficult to defend them in this game?
ANTHONY WALTERS: I don't think they were.
Q. What happened?
ANTHONY WALTERS: We -- what happened was we lost one of our players to a clipping, Jake Giusti, kind of put us in a bind on what personnel packages we could run. We ended up running some packages that took me off of number one and put us in a lot of zone. I don't think the guys were tough to cover at all. I don't think they were beating anybody one-on-one. Most of their catches were hitches.
COACH KEELER: Obviously that's a pretty good football team we lost to. We want to make sure everyone knows that. That's very clear. It's a very good football team we lost to.
What Anthony was trying to explain was that when Jake Giusti got hurt, it sot of made us move people around and normally we wouldn't have taken Anthony off of No. 1 very much, but we were forced to because of where Jake played in the nickel and dime packages, those kind of things.
Q. Coach, what happened on the first play that got blocked? Was their kick too low?
COACH KEELER: Yeah, it was too low. It was too low. It wasn't anything based on protection but the ball was low. That ended up not being a deciding factor because they went for 2 and didn't get it. So it wasn't the deciding factor.
Q. Pat, you guys moved the ball very well your first three possessions, but it was a lot more difficult after that. What was the difference?
PAT DEVLIN: Just we didn't really execute. Whether it be me missing reads or missing throws, or just whatever. We really just didn't execute like we have been. And we need to be efficient on offense, and at times we weren't and it really hurt us.
Q. Pat, second half seemed like they got a lot more pressure on you. I know Gino and Will had a go-around out of the game at certain times. Did that have an affect at all?
PAT DEVLIN: Yeah, I think Chad really stepped in and played well. I don't think it was ever a factor when Chad came in to either guard position. He really stepped into that role and played great both times.
It was just a matter of I think they covered well and a couple of times just -- I had to hold onto the ball just a hair longer and they were able to get to me.
Q. Pat, could you just talk us through the last play of the game?
PAT DEVLIN: Yeah, they brought six, we thought we had six to pick it up, and just didn't get enough steam on it and kind of dropped off the table the last second, and Gene made a heck of a catch from what everyone else said but just a little too short.
Q. When you went up 19-nothing, how confident were you feeling at that point that you had the game in control?
PAT DEVLIN: I don't know if we were overconfident. I just think -- I think all the guys were saying, hey, we need more points. We know these guys can score in bursts. We still wanted to keep putting up points like we did, just like I said, we just didn't really execute like we needed to.
Q. I know you never feel good until the final whistle, but the way things were going, you guys were moving the ball, they weren't. They went through the third quarter. Did you have a sense that you guys had the game in hand?
COACH KEELER: We talked in the locker room about how the first six or seven minutes of the third quarter are going to dictate the game.
And then we had an interception. It was off a tipped ball. And then we got it back. And we went down and got the score. Said, okay, it kind of evened out, and we felt like, okay, we got what we wanted in those first six or seven minutes.
But at the same time I felt some missed opportunities earlier in the game, in the first half, might come back and bite us, and all they needed to do was get a drive going.
It's such a game of emotion and momentum that we had a chance to lock it away and the receiver who dropped the ball, never drops the ball. Unfortunately, he dropped the ball and we had a ball on the 20-yard line going in. We went and looked back, all of a sudden, hmmm, now they had the ball and momentum shifts.
So we just had a couple of plays like that that really hurt us, we had some momentum shifts where we could have put some things away. Like Pat said, it was probably just a little poor execution more than anything else.
Q. Andrew, you guys had some success running the football. Was it more difficult to run the football later in the game than it was early in the game?
ANDREW PIERCE: Yes, it was. Their defensive tackle, 98, started picking up and playing hard. And like Coach said, momentum really hurts and I think that was a big part of their defense, stepping up and being able to stop the run a little bit more in the second half.
Q. Matt, considering how good your defense has been all season and the way you dominated the first two and a half quarters, are you shocked at the way they were able to come back there at the end?
MATT MARCORELLE: Absolutely. I mean, we were up 19-0 at halftime. Again, we didn't feel we were overconfident. We still had 30 minutes of football left to play. Momentum shifted and they started making a few plays and they just ended up winning the game.
Q. Matt, you've played in a lot of football games, I'm sure. Have you ever played in a tougher loss than this one?
MATT MARCORELLE: No, definitely not. To lose by one point in the national championship, it's pretty tough.
Q. Andrew, you're one of the guys that's coming back for a couple more years. What can you take away from this loss?
ANDREW PIERCE: I mean, it hurts. But we gotta get back to work as soon as we get back, and I know it's going to be our momentum going into winter and the spring and summer. So hopefully we can get back here next year.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
End of FastScripts