Postgame Quotes: Navy
COACH NIUMATALOLO: It was a hard‑fought game. Hats off to LA Tech and Coach Holtz. Obviously, it came down to the wire. And it was a good football game. Unfortunately, we came out on the short end of the stick.
Q. Coach, what can you say about Zach and the performance he had? Obviously a big step up to start.
COACH NIUMATALOLO: He's getting better every week. The kids worked really hard. Zach did a lot of good things today. We are going to critique everything and look at his fundamentals and getting us the right play and those kinds of things which everybody can always improve on. But I thought he came out and battled today and did a lot of good things.
Q. Zach, describe your comfort level, the difference in your comfort level between the Army game and this game.?
ZACH ABEY: I think there's a big difference. Just being able to play in the Army game. It kind of ‑‑ I grew as a quarterback just knowing the mistakes I made. And I tried to capitalize that throughout the week in practice. I tried to practice knowing that I come in the game as a game situation. I felt pretty comfortable out there today. I feel like the guys trust me. I trusted the guys. So it went well.
Q. Coach, [Trent Taylor], high volume, a lot of catches. What do you think of how you guys defended him and what kind of matchup he is.
COACH NIUMATALOLO: He's tough. He's their leading receiver and he's been doing great all year. I mean, so you have a whole year of tape. You know he's their primary guy, but he's tough to stop. They put him in the slot, and he does a lot of different things.
Got some matchup problems. And everybody on our defense knows they're throwing the ball to him and still can't stop him. They did a really good job of executing, and they did a really good job on their schemes and putting him in certain spots and good match‑ups. He's a heck of a receiver and he's really good after the catch, too. Not only does he get open but he makes plays after he catches the football.
Q. You had it down to the wire there to the end. Just what were the differences today? What did you think of the game?
COACH NIUMATALOLO: They made a few more plays than we did. Unfortunately we had some assignment ‑‑ I'm sure they did, too, but we had some missed assignments that killed us early. And we kept ‑‑ the turnover only hurt us, got us down. You can't do that against a good team like that. I thought that P.I. call was a huge call. That could have been a game changer there. I mean, we stop them. We get the ball. That was a huge call. It was a tough call.
But, look, a few more plays than us. We got some really good kids and space. They made the play at the end where they needed to make a play.
Q. Ken, the penalties are very uncharacteristic of this team. What do you tribute those to?
COACH NIUMATALOLO: I was telling the crew, we've been coaching nine years and we led the country in the least amount of penalties. I told those guys after this game we would be leading the country, you know?
I mean, the celebration ‑‑ I hate doing that to LA Tech because they played a great game. And their kids are really good and they made plays. But I thought there were a lot of bad calls. Two of of the P.I.s I can see, I thought were bad calls. That's part of the game. That happens in basketball. Happened with football. They're humans. They tried their best. But, like I said, been coaching almost ten years and, I mean, some of those penalties ...
Q. After you got down early, the defense got the sack on first down and got the stop. It seemed like the offense kind of fed off that and that's kind of what got you back in the game. Do you agree or disagree?
COACH NIUMATALOLO: We just turned the ball over early. We lost that possession. The way we play, we don't have a ton of possessions. So when you turn the ball over ‑‑ We're normally pretty good at taking care of the ball, but there's always been a big emphasis every year to take care of the ball.
But that first turnover was huge. It just gave them the ball back. And they're so potent on offense. You don't want to give them the ball back. And so we got two possessions. And before you know it, we get the ball back. We're down 10‑0. It was turnovers more than anything that killed us.
Q. Zach, how are you feeling? What happened on that play there where you had to leave and just your thoughts on the offense's performance today in general.
ZACH ABEY: I thought we all fought hard. Obviously I had some missed assignments. Like, the turnover, Coach said, it's something that we can't have early on in the game, especially knowing that they have a high‑scoring offense. So it's definitely on me. But I thought as a whole, we all fought hard.
Defense as well, they played ‑‑ everyone played their heart out. And I wish we could have got it for the seniors because I know they wanted it so bad.
TIM SIMMONS: Coach, did you anticipate a high‑scoring game like this?
COACH NIUMATALOLO: I mean, they're a really good offense. You know, they're a good ‑‑ we feel like we're pretty good on offense, too. I mean, they played a lot of people and people had a hard time stopping them. They did a really good job. You never know. You anticipate some of this stuff, but you never know.
TIM SIMMONS: Coach, you played three games in a month. You think that had a toll on your team today? They didn't seem to be sluggish.
COACH NIUMATALOLO: Like I said, I don't want to take anything from LA Tech, take away from their win. They earned their win. They beat us. They out‑coached us, out‑played us, scored there at the end. I don't want to say that. So they beat us.
Q. How proud of you of this team and all that you accomplished?
ZACH ABEY: From the beginning of the season, no one was giving us credit right off the bat. We were ranked 80‑something in the ranks. And then Will (Worth) and Tago (Smith) went down. And everyone thought that our season might be over.
But I knew Will had a great season, and I knew Will would be able to lead this team, do something great. And that's just the type of guy he is. And to fill in for Will, I learned a lot from him. I learned a lot from Tago, and they learned a lot from Keenan (Reynolds). So it's a great string of quarterbacks along the line. I think, I just wish more than anything that we could have got at least this last game for them, for the seniors.
COACH NIUMATALOLO: I'm proud of our guys. I thought they played really well this year. Been coaching 27 years and the injury bug really got us this year but just proud of the way our guys just battled. And guys like Jarid and Zach did a really good job.
Malcolm, our fourth‑string quarterback, came in and scored on his first play. I speak highly of our guys. But it's football. When you get hurt, nobody comes over there and sulks. You just keep going. But I'm just proud in spite of the injuries. Our guys battled to the end. Like Zach said, I just wish for our seniors we could have pulled this off to them. But hats off to LA Tech.
TIM SIMMONS: Jarid, we haven't heard from you. Any comment about the ball game?
JARID RYAN: I feel like this ball game was the definition of our season. I was the next man up. Throughout the season we faced diversity through injuries, calls. Or anything that faced our way, I think our team just fought through it.
And that's the big part of our culture and big part of what we teach. And that's why I feel like even after senior classes, people tell us, This is your best senior class or Navy won't be as good next year or this year had passed. But it's not players that make the team. It's the culture. It's the coaches and the hours we put in in the off‑season or the hours we just put in and push each other and how we just never ‑‑ we never flinch in any situation we always just fight through it. So I feel like I'm proud of our team because that's what we did this whole season.
Q. Jarid, how was this offense compared to some of the others you faced? Obviously, put a lot of pressure on every team they play and they were able to get some passes deep down the field.
JARID RYAN: We hear comments that, Hey, Navy's defense is going to handle this offense. But our conference is so competitive we faced Memphis, some of the top receivers. ECU had one of the best teams in the country. Tulsa. Houston. Every week in and week out we faced some of the best and top receivers.
So this week was just another battle, one in five. We know they were their guys, and you just try to limit them and just try to do the best as you can. But they made more plays than we did and that's all.