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Head Coach Ellis Johnson Press Conference Transcript

Ellis Johnson and the Golden Eagles welcome Marshall to town for Homecoming on Saturday.

Oct. 15, 2012

Press Conference 

Opening Statement:

"It was a very heartbreaking, disappointing loss for our players. I'm not going to say we outplayed Central Florida. I think they did the things they had to do to win a close ball game. They took care of the football. We're not taking terrible care of the football; we only had two turnovers, but in the turnover ratio, they were plus-two. That proved to be a big factor. I thought toward the end of the game, we were playing with a little momentum. The kids were playing with a lot of heart. We had to come from behind and were able to do that. I'm not sure that five or six weeks ago we could have done that. I don't know if we had the confidence or execution back then to do that. We felt very comfortable taking it into overtime. We had a little bit more momentum and confidence in the players to execute and finish it off. It's a tough loss and then tacked on top of five previous losses, it's a load that these players have to bear right now. They are obviously smart enough to understand how much better we are playing. I think [UCF] is potentially the best team in the conference. Time will tell. There were many, many times in the game that we went toe-to-toe and outperformed them. In the end, we just didn't have quite enough plays to close it out. Hopefully we'll learn from it and get up off the mat. We have a lot of football games left. As I've told them before, we're good enough to beat anybody left, but we're not good enough that we can play badly and beat any of them. It's going to be a tough test down the road, but there are enough games there that are winnable that, if we can learn from this game and continue to improve as we have, we have a chance to finish up the season with a lot of good things."

On the final play of overtime that resulted in an interception:

"It was a route that we really thought we were getting a three-deep (defensive look) and they rolled to a two-deep. When they do that, the receiver has to bend it underneath and just as he cleared the linebacker, (Anthony Alford) tried to hit the receiver between the linebacker and the safety and it was just a high throw."

On the performance of Anthony Alford against UCF:

"[He did play with confidence on Saturday.] All through the season, I don't think any of our guys have not had confidence. They've been hesitant at times. (Alford's) confidence in running the football team has always been there. I think his confidence on some of his reads in the passing game have been very cautious. He seemed to be relaxed this game and made some more throws that were very aggressive. The first pick was really not a bad read. It was a poor decision because the guy was covered real closely, but it was the right guy to (throw to). He probably should have just thrown it away. The second pick just sailed high on him. It was a poor location or poor control of the ball. Again, he made the exact right read, went to the right guy, but he threw it high. He was real devastated - he's a competitor, but I think he's come out of this game with some confidence."

On the competitive level of the team:

"I think (the competitive fire is still there). They are always fired up in the locker room before a game. That's just how they are as competitors. Every week they've come back - there's a bit of pouting, a little frustration, just like anybody would be going what we've been through - but there hasn't been any attitudes or give up. They come back on Sunday and have good attitudes about corrections on film. They have good work habits on the field. That's all you can ask of them. I think they've been prepared every week. Would you change anything in a game plan? Yea, you'd change something every time you come home whether you win by 30 or lose by 30. As far as what we've been doing and executing it and all that, it's been good. I thought we showed some signs that other night that we're growing up.

Some young guys are growing up. Our older guys have hung in there and are starting to play good enough to help them. We were better on third down than they were. We came from behind to tie it up. We had some downfield passing improve. The turnovers went down, but I think the biggest thing that concerns me right now - and some of this might be coincidental - all six ball games, the opponent has gotten the last punch before the half. All six. Some of it was right at the half. Some of it was a minute or two before, but they've gotten the last hit. We've got to find some way to turn that around. We dug ourselves out of it somewhat on Saturday, but that's been putting us in a hole coming in to the locker room. That's a critical time in a game, I think. The second thing is that we've got to learn to stop the run. People are running the ball on us. All in except one ball game, they've run the football whenever the need to run the ball. The other thing is turnover ratio. It's gotten better offensively, but defensively, that's another ball game we've gone through where we couldn't get a turnover. It kills you on momentum, field position, emotion. We just don't have anything to feed off of sometimes. We're not producing turnovers."

On Marshall:

"They have an excellent quarterback and two really good wide receivers. There's good speed at all the skill positions. They execute a real fast tempo, not a lot of complicated runs and blocking schemes. They'll change up their route packages and formations, but it's really a fast tempo, quick hitting passing game and running game. They've played very well. I think their record is a little deceiving. They've played a pretty tough schedule too. Defensively, they've been giving up a lot of yards and points, but they look very capable and are making some stops. They are disruptive. There is nothing that really jumps out at you statistically in their special teams, but they have been very solid in that area. They are going to be tough. I think there a better ball club than two wins, but I think we're a better team than no wins. Hopefully, it will be a good football game, Homecoming and all that. I know our players will appreciated a good crowd and to be back at home. Marshall is going to be good."

On the familiarity of the spread offenses the rest of the way:

"(Defensive coordinator Tommy West) is after having been in this conference 11 of the last 12 years. East Carolina was slowed down a bit this year with a young quarterback, but they were a very similar philosophy to what these guys are and I think going down the line, we'll see a lot more spread formations, fewer tight ends, fewer full backs. It's kind of a stretch now. We've been in five of six games with two tight ends, full backs, and all that. It's going to be a lot different now. We're going to have to change gears, adjust to it, but I do think we're going to get more consistency and carry over week to week now."

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