Oct. 31, 2000
ON BEING 6-2 (six wins is the most for UAB in the Divsion I-A era): "It will be something to enjoy when the season is over. Maybe it's `50-50', I guess when you lose you get to come back the next week and try to redeem yourself. It goes so fast, that you're ready for another one before you can say `hello.' I'm sitting here worried about Cincinnati (and not enjoying the East Carolina win or the six wins). It will mean a lot more when the year is over. It sure sounds a lot better than 2-6. With all the close games we've won, it could well be that just as easy as it is 6-2."
WHEN YOU WALKED OFF THE FIELD IN LAWRENCE KANSAS A FEW WEEKS AGO, COULD YOU HAVE IMAGINED YOURSELF IN THIS POSITION RIGHT NOW (UAB lost a "designated" C-USA game 23-20 to the Jayhawks on Sep. 16)?: "No, because I was so concerned about all the injuries on offense at that point, and I remember making the statement that some things we could correct but some were out of our hands. I was really concerned. And I think it's a credit to our team that they have adjusted to our problems and found a way to win. It may have led to a little bit of philosophy for us, playing good defense and the kicking game, and the offense playing to both of those a little bit, and then finding a way to win in the fourth quarter. It's worked. It's given me a few more gray hairs, because they've all been close games. Other than Louisiana-Lafayette (UAB won 47-2 on Sep. 30) it's been hard for us to put anybody away, but at the same time, all that really matters at the end is how many you win and how many you lose."
OFFENSE AND DEFENSE HAVE HAD THEIR MOMENTS, BUT THE KICKING GAME HAS PLAYED A HUGE ROLE IN YOUR BIG WINS OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS: "That's right. Jake (Arians) was phenomenal a year ago. And Rhett (Gallego) has done the same thing this year. Your offense and defense may set that up, and yet what have we won? Four or five games with last-second or late field goals in the last two years -- most of those in Conference USA games other than at LSU."
WAS THIS WIN OVER EAST CAROLINA BIGGER BECAUSE OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES? ECU WAS PREPARED FOR YOU, IT WAS ON THE ROAD AND IT WAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET THAT SIXTH WIN?: "I think when it's over (the season) it will mean a lot. What it did Saturday was set us up for the next one. We had three goals this year, one was a winning season, two was to get one of those four bowl spots and three was to win the conference championship. And honest-to-goodness, with three games to go, all three are still reachable. So there's so much left to play for, that the East Carolina game set up the game with Cincinnati to be even bigger, in that the second goal might be reachable on Saturday."
IS THIS A DIFFERENT WEEK OF PREPARATION BECAUSE YOU HAD SUCH A BIG WIN LAST WEEK? ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT MOTIVATING THE TEAM TO AVOID A LETDOWN? "Well, we've had quite a few of those situations this year, and every week we've not had a letdown. You'd like to hope that that is just the type of team you have, or you could look at it in a negative way and say `well, we're due one.' I just think there's so much at stake. It would be different if we were 2-6 and just beat East Carolina for the second win, but what's out there for us -- still in the conference championship race with the number one team coming to your town next week (Southern Miss, Nov. 11), wanting that taste of that first bowl game that we would love to get and knowing that we don't have it yet. I just don't believe they will do that (let down). I really don't."
ON THE TEAM'S INJURY SITUATION: "We're better than we've been. We've gotten a little better. We did not hurt anybody in the East Carolina game -- knock on wood. It's the first game that we have not lost a player in. I think the ones that are out are going to be out -- I don't think you'll see us get any of the offensive linemen back. I think James Orrick is gone for the year, Kevin Grace is gone for the year, Brett Richards is gone for the year, and Artavious Williams is gone for the year. Willie Quinnie is probably gone for the year -- we just can't get him well. But really, the rest of them are starting to get better. Marlon Bush is the only defensive player that's missed a lot of time -- he'll probably be back for the Southern Miss game. This game (Cincinnati) is a concern, because it's against a very physical team on artificial turf. But when we know it's going to be a physical game, we seem to do better."
UAB AND CINCINNATI ARE REALLY PLAYING FOR MANY OF THE SAME THINGS: "They sure are. We're all fighting for those third and fourth spots right now. We're 6-2, Louisville is 6-2. Louisville is 3-1 in the league, we're 2-2. East Carolina is 5-3, but they're 3-2 in the league, Cincinnati is 2-2 in the league and wants to get into that top four very badly."
MORE ABOUT THE CINCINNATI GAME: "We've played Cincinnati before, and they (the UAB players) know you don't beat them without playing a very physical game. They're big and strong and love to hit, they wear those all-black uniforms and just come after you. We have responded to that style of team better than we have the other kind of team -- the teams that spread out and run all over the field. I think we'll be ready to play."
ABOUT THE CLOSENESS AMONG MEMBERS OF THIS BLAZER TEAM:
"They seem very close. As a head coach, sometimes you don't notice those things. It's hard to know. It's a feel they (the players) get. It's been a good senior class. They're all playing, some of them are starters, some are not starters but are playing, some are not. So really, from the seniors down it's been a good group in that there's not a bunch of egos in that top class, so therefore you don't get it filtering all the way down. The rallying point, to me, was right around the Kansas game when we had all the injuries and I think they realized `we've got to get together...we can't bitch at our offense, we've got to help our offense.' And I think that's what pulled them close together. They said `this is the way it's going to be. These guys are out there and there's nothing we can do. If it means we have to win 10-7, then let's go win 10-7.' Early in the year it was `come on offense, let's move the ball better,' but then there came a point where they said `this is it, this is what's going to happen,' and that's what I think brought them together. That's why our defense is as good as it is, because I think they took that challenge (of compensating for the offensive problems) and made themselves better."