Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Press Conference
Omni Fort Worth
Dec. 21, 2018
Army Head Coach Jeff Monken
“Thanks to the folks here in Fort Worth, it is a great experience for our team. We have felt so welcomed here the last few years. Our guys do not get too many chances to experience things like this except for bowl games. We get to grow as a team during this opportunity. This is a great bowl game, it was a great football game last year and we felt so pleased with how we were treated. We were treated like celebrities everywhere we went.
“Those that serve, often times don’t get the opportunity to be thanked every day, and they have made a great commitment to the country, and it’s not every day you get to be around a community that appreciates their service like this area.”
What has made the streak so successful since losing to Oklahoma...
“There are things in this game that give us an opportunity to do some things at Army that haven’t been done and that will be a great source of pride for our team. Our focus is on this one game, and not on the season. All of those things will be evaluated after the season is complete and our goal is to win this game. We know that this will be a strong test against a talented and well-coached team. They have played Navy the last few years, and we get to see how they play against a team similar to us. We have prepared as much as we can for a team that is going to be a tremendous challenge for us.”
About playing in Texas...
“Texas is very well represented on our roster. We spend a lot of time here. We have played at least one game in Texas every year and some years in multiple games. This is the first time we haven't in the regular season, and it is nice to come back and it is nice for our guys from here to come home. What a great job they have done to promote this game, as it’s a sellout, there will be a lot of red obviously coming up from Houston and a lot of support on our end as well, but that is exciting to be in a state where football is so important.”
On the preparation with a short schedule...
“It hasn’t been ideal with our schedule, obviously with the game against Navy. We gave the guys a whole week off to prepare for final exams. The campus is in finals right now, and since they weren’t going to be on campus, we crammed them into the weekend. We practiced on Saturday morning, Sunday morning, and Tuesday before we left. We got a work out in at Kennedale High School here, and a special thanks to them for allowing us to be there, but the schedule wasn’t ideal and we’d like to have more time. We tried to maximize our practices and keep our schemes simple for what we have done for what will be a great team. We had to cram it into five days and be prepared. We were in the same situation last year and thought we played really hard.”
About Jackson Deaton in the DFW area (Frisco)...
“He has just been a great guy for us as a developmental guy for us. He is a big guy, maybe the biggest on our team. He has really developed as a player, his maturity, mental toughness. When you are young and make mistakes, he would let them get to him when he was younger. He brushes them off a lot better now. He has a captain that is a veteran player to help push and encourage him and demand the best that he can give.”
About the turnaround for Army with this group of seniors...
“This group of seniors is a really special group. They started out by going 2-10, and for Bryce (Holland) here in 2014 went 4-8. They didn’t have a great start. But as we went through the 2015 season losing 10 games is not easy at all. It beats up on your confidence and at the end of the season there are a lot of question marks.
“What I was encouraged was the fight and toughness of that team. For them to experience 10 losses, seven by a touchdown or less, for them to battle back I saw a fight that encouraged me. I felt like we were going to have a good football team really soon. I am really proud of this group of seniors, they took a program that had lost eight, nine, 10 games, now they have set a record for wins in a three-year span. They have changed the culture and the expectations of the program.”
On being able to achieve 11 wins...
"If we win Saturday we can look back and celebrate a great season. If we don’t win there will be a piece that will be a bit of a disappointment. Everyone that is playing a final game, and half will feel satisfaction at the end and half will feel like something was left out there. We are focused on winning just one more time. We know what a challenge it will be. They can see how talented Houston is and how they play together. It will be one of the toughest games that we will play all year. We just want to win one game this Saturday."
Without huge pieces on both sides for Houston, can you see the impact of the losses…
“They are great players, but they are not the only ones. They have a bunch of great ones. I really admire their team and the talent level. They are well-coached football team. On the offensive side, we have the Navy film but that is as close as it is going to get for us. They have done a good job of stopping the Navy offense. It is always a challenge. I don’t know if we have ever in our game planning really concentrated on a particular player, it is more the scheme and we have to do that for what we do. What we do allows us to double team players and read guys. If a guy is whipping blocks all day long, we have plays where we don’t have to worry about him at all. We just try to do different things to neutralize a guy that is really good."
“There aren’t many Saturdays where we do not look over and scratch our heads and think about, how we are going to block those guys. When you are Army, and you look out there at the defense and the guy is going to be a first round draft pick or a third round pick, we have guys getting drafted into a different draft. They are all good. They have a bunch of great players. Our guys play tough and hard and we are just going to try to the best that we can.”
Houston Head Coach Major Applewhite
“Thank you very much to the Armed Forced Bowl and Lockheed Martin. Thank you to the Fort Worth Police Department for taking care of us and getting us to where we need to be.”
On Clayton Tune filling in at quarterback...
“He was able to come in early and get into fall camp. He is a cool customer, athletic, puts the ball where it needs to be. I am very pleased with how he played in the Memphis game, there are things you learn when you are playing in a title game as a true freshman. He won our team over and knows how to make plays.”
What a win would mean for the season...
“It is about this one game. You evaluate the season afterwards and reflect on the season. It is about going out and finishing strong in one game.”
About playing a game in Texas on recruiting...
“It is something we talked about on the way here. You have a chance to showcase your program and it just so happens it is in your state. The DFW metroplex is a great area and it is a chance to be in the eyes of the families and coaches that we recruit with.”
Having Greg Ward as the honorary captain...
“Greg is always going to have a special place in my heart. Just the type of competitor he is and the type of person he is. Getting to know his family, and coaching for two years, he is just one of the guys. You love all of your players, but he is a guy that has a special place in our heart. I hope all of our guys compete like Greg did when they wear the red.”
About how the team is honoring the military...
“Just to honor the armed forces, all of them. We got to experience that last year with the coast guard during and after the hurricane, they continue to just come out and make this country great every day. I had the opportunity to play with some that went into the military in high school. They are great young men that not only defend our country, but go out there and play a great game as well.”
About similarities with Navy to Army and the offense they run…
“It is such a unique offense compared to what they are used to. In high school most teams run a spread, so it is just the basic knowledge that you are not familiar with. There is a training process that has to go throughout the season, on some of the days you have to train for it when you get the opportunity. We will face it every year with Navy in our division, but there are different variations with each offense. They have differences and you try to find them. The speed can’t be replicated. It is very difficult to be prepared for. This is a different football team that we are facing, it is not Navy.”
Houston Center Will Noble
On Running Backs:
“All of our running backs work hard. We appreciate the extra effort, fighting for every single yard. We know Patrick (Carr) is going to work hard for us, we see it in practice, and we love having him behind us.”
On Clayton Tune:
“I was a true freshman when I was put in the lineup too, so as much confidence as you can instill in young guys as you can is the best way to go. He has every reason to be confident, we’ve seen him make some big time plays and perform on stage. We have no reason to be worried. Like coach said, he’s cool, calm and collected and we have all the faith in the world in him.”
On Ed Oliver:
“He’s a great player, and we’d love to have him here. It’s just the way things worked out. Attrition affects everybody and he had to do what’s best for him. We support him and are appreciative of his contributions, but we are here for a game and have to move on and do the best with what we have.”
Army Offensive Lineman Bryce Holland
“Houston has an impressive team. They have a bunch of guys who are really good football players. This entire time we’ve been trying to get down to what we do and make sure our assignments are sound. It’s a pretty simple game plan for us. We try to keep our offense pretty consistent throughout the season so it’s just about going out there and executing.”
Army Linebacker Cole Christiansen
On Early Season Loss at Oklahoma:
“We always go into a game believing that we are going to win. It obviously didn’t go that way, but we gave them all that we had and I thought it was a pretty good fight. I think it was encouraging for us to play the way that we did and from there we said we weren’t losing another football game this season, and we haven’t.”
On Getting the Eleventh Win:
“It would be incredible. There’s a lot of people that want that to happen, obviously we do, but old grads and people who have been a part of the program would really appreciate that happening. It would just be really nice for our team because we’ve worked so hard to get this far and to do something that this program has never done before would mean a lot to us.”
Houston Linebacker Austin Robinson
Thoughts on the Army offense:
“Yeah, I’ve watched a lot of film on them every game this season. It’s a dynamic offense and the full back does a phenomenal job. The offensive line does a great job coming off the run. So were just gonna play our game plan and you know take one step at a time.”
Thoughts on finishing the season on a high note:
“Very important to the seniors and very important to the team to care for their season coming forward. For me personally I just wanna send the season off on a good note. It hasn’t gone as planned, a lot of injuries and things you can’t control.”
Army Fullback Darnell Woolfolk
Thoughts on both offenses:
“Yeah, I think they have a great offense. They’re really talented and a lot of speed on their team. That’s why they don’t hold the ball too long because they’re scoring so fast. On our end, our biggest strength would be to hold the ball as long as we can. Just run our offense. I have great faith in our defense to make a few stops, and if they can do that, I think we’ll be happy with the results.”
Thoughts on capitalizing on offensive possessions:
“Yeah, we definitely have to cap them off with touchdowns. That’s very important. If we have to kick a field goal, we're disappointed in each other. We try and bring everyone up. If you see us on the sideline, you see a lot of us huddling together and communicating on what we didn’t do right on that previous drive that prevented us from doing our ultimate thing which is putting up seven points. So we need to be able execute our fundamentals and score on every possession. Because if we don’t, their offense is so dynamic.”