Postgame Quotes: Army | Heart of Dallas

Postgame Quotes: Army

TIM SIMMONS: Let's have each player make an opening statement.

QB AHMAD BRADSHAW: It was a great game. We knew that we wanted more, I guess. You know, I credit these seniors, Jeremy [Timpf], Poe a.k.a. Edgar, and Elijah [Riley] played a great game and glad to be a winner.

DB ELIJAH RILEY: So I want to give so much credit to our defensive staff from being a defensive player for our personal coaches, they did a phenomenal job and making corrections on the fly. North Texas has a great team and they're tough offense to go against. I just want to commend our coaches for doing such a great job.

LB JEREMY TIMPF: North Texas, it was a pretty hard fought game. In the end, we beat a tough team going into overtime and everything. It was a hard fought game and pulled it out.

DB ELIJAH RILEY: I want to start by thanking my coaches and North Texas. They're a great team, it was a tough battle, but we were victorious.

RB JORDAN ASBERRY: I just want to say that I love everyone on this panel and in the locker room and in this program. I want to give a special thanks to Coach Monken. And he's he's helped a lot of the guys in ways that you can't even imagine, and it goes beyond just football. And that's special, and that's why this program is headed in the right direction.

WR EDGAR POE: I'm proud of our coaches. I'm thankful for the opportunity to play North Texas. And they're a great team. Kind of like Elijah Riley said, it comes down to toughness. And Coach Monken always preaches black flag mentality, and that's what came down to. Black flag mentality is just fight to the death, never going to quit, never going to give up. So I think everybody on this team takes it to heart, and I love everybody in that locker room and on this panel with me.

Q. Ahmad, talk to us about the fourth down in overtime. Was there any doubt about you going for it right there?

QB AHMAD BRADSHAW: No, sir. One of our goals is to not flinch and believe, no matter what. And a lot of people say it was a questionable call, kick the field goal or get points in. Our coach made a great call and we were determined that we were going to get it in.

Q. Yeah. Jordan, could you talk about that play, scoring the game winning touchdown, what you saw on it and taking it in on that point?

RB JORDAN ASBERRY: I knew it was fourth down and 3, and that this was this was a game. Like, if we didn't get in this play, that we might lose the game. So I just knew that it was going to take my everything and I have to get everything I got to get in the end zone. And then I had great blocks on perimeter from my fellows. And then O line did a phenomenal job in handling blocks, and I was able to get in the end zone.

Q. Ahmad, you had a great game, and it was close, and you went into overtime. But was there any momentum taken from your crucial game against Navy and you sit here feeling like this is you're sitting here because of that performance? Or how do you feel about that?

QB AHMAD BRADSHAW: We know every game, the next game will get bigger; so there's no real change. We knew we would have to control our emotions coming into this game, and it was a big game just like every other game, and we did that well.

Q. Jeremy, 67 total tackles on 67 plays. Can you talk about what enabled that? A scheme? A mismatch? What led to fifteen tackles?

RB DARNELL WOOLFOLK: They're the unsung heroes and they allow me to run free and make great plays, running angles. I have to give credit to Jordan Smith, he did an awesome job, and John Voit on the other side, and Andrew in the middle, phenomenal players and they were great with enabling me. I did it because of them.

Q. Elijah, Riley, you made the two interceptions that stopped North Texas at crucial junctions. Both plays looked like you stepped in front of the intended receiver and had backup behind you. So tell us about those plays and what made them work.

DB ELIJAH RILEY: Defensive coaches talk about keep the eyes on your key. That played a big part of it, Coach drew up great defensive schemes. So he put me in a great spot to make the great plays. Defensive line definitely credited to that by rushing the quarterback. Getting on them to make a bad pass and on the trick play they got the running back to throw the ball. Same thing, linebackers, defensive line did a great job of getting to the quarterback.

Q. For the underclassmen, how does this season and the scheme boost you building into next year and down the road? And for the seniors, what kind of foundation specific details do you think this season laid for future seasons?

LB JEREMY TIMPF: Seeing our seniors and upper classmen do an amazing job leading us, going forward, we know that we have big shoes to fill. You know, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, there's big things coming our way in the next few years.

Q. Can you tell me, obviously there are no offensive linemen up here so sometimes they don't get the credit, just tell me what you're seeing behind them and tell me about maybe some of the patience you exhibited today.

RB DARNELL WOOLFOLK: Like you said, the offensive line doesn't get enough credit at all. Everything that we do on the offense, we put on the offensive line's shoulders, and they did a great job today. They pushed the defensive line back, give us plenty of time and room to make our reads and cuts that we have to. Ahmad also did a great job making his reads, which always helps out. And honestly, you don't really have to be that patient because our offensive line is so good, honestly, they are quick off the ball, they stay low and just penetrate the defense so that helps out a lot.

Q. Asking Ahmad about you were able to really manage the ball well today and avoid any turnovers. What was different today from mid season that you upon able to manage the ball so well today?

QB AHMAD BRADSHAW: One of our biggest goals in our offense, our number one goal is to not turn the ball over. So we knew we did that last game, we had seven turnovers and that would be our biggest thing that we focused on. And that's all it took, was focus and a lack of good effort.

Q. Could you talk about your players up front, your defensive line who played today, and the efforts they made.

LB JEREMY TIMPF: Yeah. These games are won by who's in the trenches, and we have a lot on the line and we put it on their shoulders and they did an awesome job fighting and taking on double teams and keeping up with their offense. And they just enabled the guys in the back. They are really like work horses up front. They do an awesome job.

Q. What do you think the seniors and what they've done for the program? How do you feel about that?

LB JEREMY TIMPF: It's good to know. I've never been on a team that had a winning offensive line. It's these guys' job to not slack off or do anything different than we did this year. The bar needs to be raised even higher for this season, and that's what makes these programs just be great.

TIM SIMMONS: Coach, if you would make a general statement about the ball game. And Army won their last three games in Dallas. So you have to be happy about that.

COACH JEFF MONKEN: Well, we were just so pleased to be here, so thankful to be here. Thanks to Brant and Scott and everybody at Heart of Dallas Bowl. This is an incredible experience for our guys. It's first class. Our guys felt like royalty to be able to do the things that they did and eat the way they did. And they just they just felt very, very special to be part of this. And we're very grateful the city of Dallas, just incredible the way they embrace this game and these two teams.

And first, I want to give credit to North Texas and Coach Littrell. They did an unbelievable job in today's game. How their team prepared, they played very physical, they played very hard. They battled the whole way.

When we had a lead early in the game and their kids didn't let up, they kept fighting and got themselves back in the ball game and turned into a whale of a football game. It was a lot of fun and it wasn't pretty at times. We did a lot of things that I wasn't pleased with. We gave up some big plays and we had some missed cues in the kicking game which is agonizing to watch. We had some fourth downs we didn't make and gave them opportunities with a shorter field.

But, in the end, I'm just proud of our kids and the way they found a way to win. And all the things they talked about up here, there's a brotherhood among these guys not just the six sitting up here, but our entire team. They do love each other, and that's where it starts. That's where the success starts in our program is right there, is love and the relationships that they have and our coaches have built with our players and the sense of responsibility we feel to each other to give our very best. And I thought our guys laid it on the line and gave their very best. And what was fun was to see North Texas do the same thing. I think both teams were doing that, and it was a very hard fought game, exciting game, and fun to be a part of.

So I'll leave it at that.

TIM SIMMONS: Coach, talk about rushing game, 480 yards, and that's the best in the bowls this season. Pretty good rushing, especially 294 in the first half.

COACH JEFF MONKEN: We didn't throw it much and don't often throw it much and usually when we're doing that, that's not very good for us. We were able to run the ball successfully most of the time. As I said, we had fourth downs. We had fourth and 5 and a fourth and 4. And we had hit some long runs, pitched the ball, and got the fullback going. And I thought Darnell [Woolfolk] ran really, really hard.

But just in those particular spots weren't able to convert, but being able to run the ball and control the clock and keep it away from North Texas, I think, was key. And that when you run for that many yards, you are doing some good things and that reflects on the time of possession.

Our offensive line just has done a great job.

And Brent and Bob, the two O line coaches, do a really good job coaching those guys hard and coaching them to be tough, and you know, we're I think there's a lot of times we're not bigger than the other team. They had some guys inside that we weren't bigger than their guys. But as Darnell says, they played good. They played low and keep grinding. And so it was a good effort by our guys. Made the difference.

TIM SIMMONS: Talk about [Ahmad] Bradshaw, the most valuable player.

COACH JEFF MONKEN: He's had a really good season. What I'm so impressed with with Ahmad is how poised he is. He doesn't seem to get rattled. When things go wrong or he makes a mistake, there's times where Mitch is getting after him or I'm getting after him or he knows a play has to be made and maybe there was a play just prior that he had missed a read or maybe didn't get us in the right check, but it's a great quality to have as a quarterback because he just keeps playing the game and makes good decisions and he's just done a terrific job for us, especially here toward the end of the season.

Q. Can you encapsulate your win over Navy with this win and your first winning season since 2010?

COACH JEFF MONKEN: Well, they're two entirely different games. The Army Navy game is a rivalry like no other, and there's so much emotion in that game and it was a game that we desperately wanted to win, and we hadn't we hadn't won in that rivalry in the last 14 tries. So just a great victory for our guys. It was very much like today, got a lead and relinquished the lead. Like today, we let them tie it up, but kind of had our backs to the wall and found a way and got the points we needed to win the game over them.

And then today, coming into this game, I think as I said, eerily similar with the way things kind of went in the beginning of the game and how we had to finish. But I think our guys here, just the motivation was different.

The Army Navy game is an entirely different deal, but today, to have an opportunity to win eight games, which a team at Army hasn't done since 1996, and to finish with a win over a team that we lost to earlier this year I think was something our guys were determined to do.

And they had as good a chance to win it as we did. They played a great football game at North Texas, but I was proud of our guys for finding a way, proud of them for scoring that last touchdown and getting that touchdown in overtime and getting that stop in overtime and see them celebrate a bowl victory and be a champion. And the trophy says 2016 Heart of Dallas Bowl Champions. So it's fun for those guys to celebrate that and feel the thrill of a championship.

Q. Coach, can you talk about the decision to go for it in fourth down and overtime and the momentum that it seemed to give you heading into the overtime, the second part of overtime when North Texas had the ball?

COACH JEFF MONKEN: You talking about the touchdown in overtime?

Q. Yeah. When Asberry scored.

COACH JEFF MONKEN: When you get the ball first, if you can score a touchdown, it puts pressure on the other team to feel like they have to score a touchdown. It probably makes them call plays and go about that series of downs a lot differently.

And if you saw us kick all year long you'd realize you saw today, we rolled the first one back and I finally and after that, I just said, hey, if I'd say that to kick the extra point someone would come take my headset from me, we will go for two every time after that. I mean, it was frustrating to see that happen.

We missed kicks, rolled kicks back, snapped it over the punter's head, snapped it on the ground, and we went for another P.A.T. and we about tried about took Ahmad's ear hole off, handcuffed him. And so it was a bad angle so up there on the right hash, you have a right footed kicker, right hash, very short field, it's the most difficult kick for a right footed kicker. And I asked Jay Bateman, our defense defensive coordinator, what he thought. And I had Brent on the phones, our offensive coordinator, and all three of us were in agreement, let's give it a whirl here. Let's see if we can score.

And it was a great call by Brent. We run a toss play a couple times in the game. There were times where we hit it and got positive yards and a couple times they fought through us and didn't. But we were rolling the dice there and proud of our guys and proud of the execution they had and the confidence they had to get out there and knock that thing in.

Q. Talk about the score like that.

COACH JEFF MONKEN: Like I said, when you go up to seven and the other team has to score a touchdown to win the game, that puts some pressure on the other team. It gives some breathing room to the defense to feel like all we have to do is keep them out of the end zone. We don't have to force a fumble or sack. We can get them on the field position and kick the field goal. It gives them some breathing room and I think allows them to kind of turn it loose.

Q. Your defense has been a strength all year. First half, they struggled at the end, in the last couple of minutes. But Elijah made the two big plays in the second half. And the defense showed tremendous poise in the last couple of runs. But what was the strength of the defense and the leadership on the team?

COACH JEFF MONKEN: I thought the whole team showed poise and determination to win. The turn of events there where we had the fourth down play, we didn't make it, and they went down and scored. They punt the ball. We dropped the punt. They score one play later.

Them we go from being up 10 points to having a 3 point lead. And if we convert that fourth down, we go in and score and we're up 17. It would be a whole different ball game.

But the defense just I think they just kept playing. They hit big plays against this. They hit some the screen pass there at the end of the first half. And after they got the 15 fifteen yard penalty, they hit some good run plays. We didn't a bunch of time cover them very well. They were catching a lot of hook plays, hook passes and dig route, slant routes in front of us and then we were missing tackles but they just kept battling and I have a lot of confidence in our defense. I think they had enough success this year that they feel confident. They're not out there biting their nails and worrying about what's coming next. They just come out there and play. And that last drive in overtime, they just buckled down and found a way. Really proud of those guys.

Q. Coach, along what I was asking the players, what do you think the status of your program is based on this season, a lot of underclassmen coming into next season, about ten months down the road?

COACH JEFF MONKEN: We're a work in progress. I hope we're always improving. I'm proud of our guys and the way we finished the season. To get eight wins, it's an accomplishment for our program certainly.

But there's a lot of things along the way that I feel like we can do better, and there were times during the season both in victories and in losses that we could have played better and execute better.

And I can do a better job as a coach, and I've got to. It's my responsibility to give these guys the best chance to win and put them in positions to win and make plays. And, hopefully, we will do that better. I am encouraged because there's a lot of young guys in that locker room and played on that field today. And a lot of them played this afternoon, will be back next year, and, hopefully, they will improve the game experience. The veteran experience that we'll have will benefit us, and I hope will be a better football team next year. Time will tell.

TIM SIMMONS: Coach, you won three straight games at the start of the season, three straight the end of the season. Is that satisfying?

COACH JEFF MONKEN: I don't know if you will ever get me to say I'm satisfied. My wife tells me perfection is overrated. She lives by that but I'm not perfect. She married me, and I'm not perfect. she's a great wife, but I'm always striving for our team to play the very best that they can and to play perfect.

And so, satisfied is not a very good word for me but proud of what they accomplished and for us, as you said, to start out with three straight wins and to finish like we did makes me even more proud. The way we finish, I think, is the most important thing. We talk about that all the time. And we have this saying in our program "fourth quarter warriors" to finish everything we do better than we started and to beat the opponent and win the fourth quarter and win at the end.

And having a season like this where we won and I appreciate you bringing that up because I really didn't think about that. I am proud of these guys for the way they finish this season.

Q. I think back to the 115 degree practice in August and how much the team has overcome. You had a tragedy this year. The team piqued at the end of this season. What did it take to keep the team on target and have these accomplishments?

COACH JEFF MONKEN: I didn't have to keep them on target, they did that. Our players created a culture in our program where they believe they're supposed to win, they're confident that they're good enough to win, and they're not. I'm glad they may not see the reality.

We weren't bigger or collectively faster than the team we played this afternoon. And it's not like that very often like that for us. But the mental toughness and the playing great fundamentals, listening to our coaches, and playing our assignments, and playing together and playing with great effort, those are the things that our guys can do.

And I think they do those things well, and they believe in those things. And that's created a culture in our locker room and within our program that we don't have to have the best players. We have to have the best team. So our guys try to be the best team that they can be. And I think we've done that from day one, back early August and right on through the death of Brandon Jackson, our beloved teammate, and on to the back stretch of the season. And finding a way to win that Navy game and be bowl eligible and win this game says a lot about the character of our team. And it's because there's a bunch of fun, gutsy, tough guys in that locker room.

We're all part of that brotherhood. We're all part of that team, but it wouldn't happen if I just kept talking about it and I just kept saying and I was the only one that believed it. It happens because those guys in the locker buy into that and they create it and I can sit back and just let it become what it is.