Dec. 12, 2009
Villanova head coach Andy Talley...
Opening statement: Obviously it was one of those games where the first half belonged to William & Mary and the second half belonged to Villanova. That is probably as even a game as you could maybe predict between us. [William & Mary] has come a long way since we beat them the last time. They are not really a team you want to give 10 points to and try to play catch up because their defense is so good.
On the game: There were some pretty glaring things that happened. Matt Szczur did a fantastic job of turning the game around with his run. We took a shot on fourth down on a fake punt and it was just one of those things that you are going to try to do because you are trying to win the game and it wasn't a great day offensively. We needed something and that was what I thought we needed.
On the 4th-and-1 play at the goal line: We were afraid to kick the field goal and have it blocked, and we also didn't want to kick off to them and have them drive down the field for a touchdown to beat us, because they can do that. We didn't want to finish the game that way. We played flat out and went for it on fourth down. Thank goodness we got it.
On the defense: It was a defensive day and our defense did a fantastic job. We really put them under duress in the first half when William & Mary had the ball for 20 minutes and we only had the ball for nine minutes. That really put our defense in harm's way. In the second half they dug down deep and did the job for us. We were fortunate to win at the end.
On the number of close calls reviewed in the second half: The reviews were helpful for us to maintain the drive. We weren't worried about resting the defense at that point, we just wanted to continue the drive. It just goes to show you how important instant replay is, especially in a game of this magnitude. I am glad that the NCAA decided that in the semifinals and final they would have replay. Brandyn [Harvey] made a great catch. I never thought about it that way [opportunity to rest the defense] but that was good for us.
On punter Dominic Scarnecchia: It was a game of field position pretty much through the whole game. Dominic did a great job punting for us. His style of punt is extremely unusual. It is a rugby punt and can be bounced out of bounds. But sometimes they are hit funny and the punt returner doesn't know where it is going to go. A couple of times it hit the ground and just bounced and bounced and we had the returner covered. Dom was a very integral part of our field position in this game and of the way we played defense.
On halftime adjustments to get Matt Szczur the ball: I didn't talk to [the assistant coaches] at all about that. It was pretty evident that only having the ball nine minutes was the main reason we weren't able to exploit Matt or Aaron Ball or Angelo Babbaro and the other guys we have. I did rip the team coming off the field because I didn't think we hit the field with any energy to start the game. That is beyond me but it could have been the weather. It was really cold down there. For both teams to play today took a lot of inertia. It was a very difficult cold-weather day.
On the defensive line of William & Mary: Their front four is maybe one of the best in our league. Adrian Tracy is an All-American defensive end. When he was matched up on [Villanova center] Ben Ijalana we were in good shape. When he was on the other side sometimes we got him and sometimes not. We tried to chip him a couple of times. In the first half I don't know if Chris [Whitney] struggled with the pressure or if guys weren't open.
On the players changing shoes at halftime: The field was like a rock. It was really hard, almost like cement. Some guys were okay with their shoes. Chris had trouble with his shoes early in the game. Some guys switched but it really just depended on the individual.
On being able to hold the ball in the fourth quarter: I think it was more energy from our offensive line as well as being able to locate the plays we felt would work. It was a combination of knowing that once we had the ball longer and got some more repetitions we could fine tune what we thought would work and would wasn't going to work.
On practicing the fake punt: We practice it every week and we have two or three of them. On that one we weren't sure but it is a dual read. Usually we either throw it to Brandyn Harvey or Matt Szczur runs the ball. In this case Matt saw Brandyn wasn't open and he pulled it down and ran. It was double coverage because Brandyn thinks he is always open. We tried to run that earlier in the game when we weren't having a lot of success offensively and we needed to keep our drives going. Sometimes they kept their defense in and we called it safe. When we ran the fake punt we threw caution to the wind because at that point we needed to have it. We were going to call it and hope that Matt was good enough to figure it out and run past them. He usually is and that is the benefit of having a player like Matt Szczur.
On where this team fits in with great Villanova teams: Going in someone asked me that question. We had tied the record for wins in a season with this team and now we have 13 wins. This team has gone further than any team so I would have to say this is the elite group of the 25 I have had here. They have an opportunity now to maybe win a championship. This team has been the most fun to coach and the most gutsy. We have had some great teams here. The team in 1997 had two Walter Payton Award winner on the same team [Brian Westbrook, Brian Finneran] so we have had a lot of talent there. This team has the ability to dig deep. I have never had a team as gritty as this group.
Junior wide receiver Matt Szczur...
On his 62-yard touchdown run: The linemen were blocking great all game. Sometimes the corner would come down from the box when we ran the Wildcat package. Coach [Mark] Ferrante (offensive line coach) or Coach Venuto (offensive coordinator) decided to go to the back side and just beat the safety. Dan Shirey came over and had a pulling block where he hit the defensive end. When I saw the hole I knew I just had to beat the safety and he was on the other side.
On the fake punt: We watched film all week and I knew it would work. The guy who was over Harvey or whoever it would be was trying to ham him and lock him down all the way down the field. I knew more or less it was going to be a run and I told Coach [Clint] Wiley (special teams coach) during the week I knew this could be a week we could run this. That guy on the end was trying to lock his person up and wasn't checking for the fake. He had his back to me the whole time.
On whether he was frustrated by lack of touches in first half: It was not at all frustrating. I knew we would get the job done whether the ball was in my hands or not. We have a great quarterback in Chris Whitney and we have great receivers and running backs. That never crossed my mind.
Junior quarterback Chris Whitney...
On the first half: I didn't have any trouble seeing with their coverage. I just didn't play well. They blitzed a lot. We knew that coming in from watching film. New Hampshire is the other team that has had success against us and they blitzed a lot too. In the first half they brought the blitz on pretty much every play. In the second half I think William & Mary ran a zone blitz about 80 percent of the time. Sometimes it was their pressure and sometimes it was my fault. I take the blame for it in the first half.
On his touchdown run: [Offensive coordinator] Sam Venuto tells me every week that if they collapse in the middle I can get in from the outside. We got in the first time but they called it dead. The second time we ran the same thing and got stuffed. I knew that if I stepped up outside there wouldn't be anybody there. Their linebackers went over the top and I knew on the right side I could get in.
Senior wide receiver Brandyn Harvey...
On his catch at the six-yard line: I knew the safety was coming in behind me and would hit me. I just made sure I got my foot down and to drag it to the sideline. The ref didn't give me the call but I knew my foot was down. I told Coach [Talley] that I got it and whatever happens on the replay they would figure it out.
Junior safety John Dempsey...
On the 98-yard touchdown by William & Mary: We were in a pressure call. The corner's eye just got caught in the backfield and it was one of those plays. After that Coach [Mark] Reardon did a good job of keeping us focused. He had an unbelievable game plan coming in and we got back to that.
William & Mary head coach Jimmye Laycock...
Opening statement: It was an excellent game. Two teams played very hard out there tonight. When you get in a ballgame like that it is pressure packed. Both teams rose to the occasion and played very well. My initial reaction is that it came down in the second half to that little fake punt they ran, where they got the first down and we didn't quite stop them. That kept their drive going and it was as big a play as there was in the game. It is disappointing to come that close and not win, but in a game like that when you play a good team you could point to a lot of little things here and there that make the difference. I have no problem with our effort or our participation. I thought we played pretty well. In the first half we had terrible field position and we hung in there with that. In the second half we couldn't get a consistent stop and didn't get anything going that we needed to offensively. It was a heck of a game.
On Villanova's special teams and the fake punt: You have to be ready for stuff like that but they made a good play. They made a better play than we did there, I can tell you that.
On momentum early in the game as opposed to late: I thought we were doing alright [after Villanova took the lead] but we weren't getting the ball back. We wanted to be able to keep control of the ball and [Villanova] did that. We wanted to be able to control the ball; obviously their big play with the fake punt kept their drive going and there were a lot of things there, but we just couldn't seem to get the ball. There were a couple things here and there but that was big.
On stopping Matt Szczur in the first half: We played good defense. We ran to the football coming off blocks. That will keep a lot of guys in check if you do that really well. That's what we had been doing until the one long run where he popped off a tackle and scored. It just comes down to getting to the ball really.
On his seniors: That's something that you grab for, it doesn't really jump out at you. You have to look at it and say we were in the final four teams and won 11 games. That's a pretty good year no matter who you are or where you play. We played in this league and won two playoff games and played in the semifinals, where we just lost by one point on the road on a short week. You can look at all those things and put them together. It was a great year. It could have been better. Sure it could have been. But sometimes you have to sit back and put it in perspective. These guys, I feel for them, but we have a good group coming back. These guys are going to leave with very positive feelings about their experiences playing Division I football.
On the playoffs: You have to have an understanding that only one team finishes the playoffs and leaves happy. Only one team doesn't end on a losing note. This isn't a great feeling but that is part of what you undertake when you go through the playoffs. It is what it is.
On being undefeated out of conference: I think we play in a very strong conference, there is no question about that, so those aren't bad losses. Out of conference it started from the beginning with knocking off Virginia and then we won some other games. In the playoffs we took on Weber State and Southern Illinois, two pretty highly ranked teams. To beat Southern Illinois, the number-one ranked team, on the road, is a heck of a win. We can play. In this league it is tough. We know that but we know we can play.
On giving up 17 points total in three playoff games: You can look at one thing here or there and it is a different ball game even today. The thing is we came into a big time game and we played. We competed and we played and it could have gone the other way very easily today. One bounce here or there, no question about that. It is what it is. I feel good about the way we competed, about how we came out and played and took on challenges. We did that today. We didn't back off at all.
Senior defensive end Adrian Tracy...
On Matt Szczur's touchdown: We had the blitz called and they just blocked it. That particular play they pulled a guard and kicked out one of our guys. It was a good play-call on their part.
On Matt Szczur: He is a playmaker, no doubt. He is one of the big playmakers in the conference and we knew we had to queue on him. We realized he could make or break the game. We made some plays on him in the first half but not in the second half.
On Villanova's offensive line: They didn't block me any differently in the second half. They had some single blocks and did that with the tight end but every team does that. Their offensive line is very talented and very skilled.
On the feeling of losing: It is just disappointment right now. All season long from the very beginning we knew we had something special brewing. We just wanted to keep it alive at every opportunity. The three losses hurt because you are a competitor and hate losing. We came up here last time and came away with the same feeling. For the older guys to move on to other things is tough. It is tough to end on a loss like that to Villanova, one of our rivals. Like Coach Laycock said, this year we made history in a lot of aspects. Hopefully that is something the team can build on and have success.
Junior wide receiver Cameron Dohse...
On feeling good about his performance and not beating themselves: I think we did beat ourselves because in a lot of situations we didn't convert at times we should have. Against a great team like this you have to make all the big plays. We did that when they were there today but you have to make all of them in a game like this. We are leaving with the same feeling we had last time so the way we played is of no consolation.
On his touchdown catch: It was just straight man. You try and run to every spot. I did and R.J. Archer made a beautiful throw and I was able to catch up to it.
Senior quarterback R.J. Archer...
On the locker room at halftime: Everybody was pretty calm. We know that in any CAA game it takes two good halves to win. Nobody was too high and obviously nobody was low. They came out and made more plays than us in the second half. That was pretty much it.
On having a good season: I guess like everybody said we have to try and take a look back and see that. It will probably take a couple of days to realize that. We had a good season. It has been fun being the quarterback and playing football again. That's about all you can say right now.