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Villanova Practice Day Press Conference Quotes

Dec. 17, 2009

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Villanova Head Coach Andy Talley...

Opening Statement:
"Great to be here, our players are very focused and enjoying themselves. It has been a long hard charge to get here, and we're now going into the 15th game of the year. I asked our players about going to a movie tonight to get out of hotel, but they didn't want to go. They want to stay in to relax and focus on the game. We were hoping to have as much enjoyment and fun as we could here as well as to stay close to the business part of it. They are more business-like than I am. Chattanooga has opened its arms to us, and everyone has treated us first class. We are ready for the toughest game of the year."

On the gameplan for tomorrow with an 8 p.m. kickoff:
"We will have players have brunch tomorrow morning, letting them sleep in a little bit. Then, we will have a walkthrough, if it's not raining, let our players take some pictures and walk around just to get out of building. We will have last minute meetings in the afternoon to tie down our offense, defense and special teams, and then, we'll have mass at 4 p.m. then a pregame meal. We will come over to stadium at 6 p.m. and start to go through our pregame then hit field at 7 p.m."

On Montana's offensive line and Villanova's defensive speed versus Montana's size:
"That is my biggest concern right now. We have played against some awfully big offensive lines - West Virginia, Maryland and Temple - but never a line as big as this one. When you watch them, they actually have good feet as well. You'd think they'd be slow but they move really, really well. That's one reason why Chase Reynolds is such a good cutback runner - he gets lost behind that line. We are geared to stop the run. That is our mission as a defense. If we can't figure that out, it'll be a long day. I hope our offense will be able to run the football, critical part, can take some time off the clock and give our defense a chance to survive. We have speed on defense, our linebackers make a lot of our tackles and we are counting on those guys to put pressure on the QB."



On the preference of playing in the rain or not:
"We have played in a lot of rain this year, probably weather-proof. We would not want to - we would want to play on a day like today where both teams would have equal opportunity to move the football. Not a lot of slippery turnovers and things of that nature. We all prefer a clean, hard, fast track and not a sloppy day in the rain. We have played well at times in the rain and probably as well as we can play in a blizzard against New Hampshire."

On Montana having an advantage from playing in this game last year, this is Villanova's first appearance:
"I think when you play in a really good league like the CAA, you come into a game of this magnitude very well prepared - we also played a IA [FBS] team. It's the last and biggest game of the year - the best you can hope for is to come in having been battle tested and ready to play a top-flight team. Every game in the tournament is a one-and-done situation so there really is no pressure at this point as regards to that.

On one thing that may decide outcome of the game:
Probably bringing our A game. It's very important to bring your A game to the playoff setting but especially to the national championship. You don't want to come out here and try to do it with a B+ or A- - you need A or A+ to win because of all the factors involved - Montana hasn't lost this year, they don't make a lot of mistakes, they have the ability to come back no matter how far down they are, and they are a team that is used to winning. It's very difficult to break their will with a B game. You can't just come out and play good. You have to play great. We have that ability to do that. Montana showed that ability last week against Appalachian State. When the weather hit, they turned it on and still played great. Both Montana and Villanova want to walk away from this game and say they played the best possible game they could. We want to say that we either won or lost, but we couldn't have played better. If you do that, you could college football and your league and the people who follow you a piece of your heart."

On what Marc Mariani means to Montana's special teams:
"We watched the special teams tape, and all of the Montana players are very team oriented and do what they have to do, being in the right lanes, very rarely missing a tackle, the punt returner/kick returner is a threat every time he gets the ball. The scheme is relatively simple. That's the key to special teams - to keep it simple so you can get some reps in practice doing all the things you do. Montana has some kids with tremendous heart. We are a pretty good special teams team and they are too, so I imagine they have watched tape and appreciate that."

On game-planning for an undefeated team and did beating Richmond, earlier this season set a foundation:
"Playing an undefeated team, you can look at it two ways: wow, they have no weaknesses, or they have to be on their back. It's tough to be undefeated. We had a team undefeated in 1997 and lost in the second round to Youngstown State and that team still today was maybe the best we've ever had. You just never know in any one particular game, and it's just difficult to go undefeated. We haven't seen a lot of weaknesses in Montana. If you ask me what those weaknesses are, I couldn't name any. The best thing they have going for them is their coach and staff - they do a phenomenal job of coaching. That is critical to an undefeated season - you have to keep your guys very focused. We had a team capable of being undefeated. We played a game at noon, and told the guys you had to be ready. We came out to a slow start and weren't able to overcome that against UNH. If you are undefeated like Montana, you are special and it will take an incredible effort to overcome that."

On Matt Szczur's versatility:
"I would probably vote Matt for MVP - he's an MVP because he can do so many things for us in the running game the passing game, the kicking game and special teams. He was Special Teams Player of the Year in the CAA and was Offensive Player of the Year in the CAA. His versatility has been very well documented. Last Friday against W&M, he hit the one big play we needed to turn the game around for us. He is an explosion waiting to happen at any time. The big question mark you have all the time is why don't you give the ball to Szczur anymore? He's dead out there at times, sometimes you seem him down on his knees. I wish we didn't have him on the kickoff team, but he makes all of the tackles on the kickoff team. He's special to have - the prototypical All-American guy."

On Chattanooga head coach and former Richmond defensive coordinator Russ Hueman providing any pointers from Richmond/Montana game last year:
"Yes, I did talk to Russ yesterday. He didn't give me a lot of hope - he just said they are big, good, very physical and you are going to have a rough game with them. We beat Richmond last year and again this year. Sidbury and others on the edge game them a lot of trouble last year. They had an overwhelming defense at times last year. It's a different Montana team as well."

On Missoula vs. Northeast, could this game help college football up north?
"I think so, for sure. They are the only show in town in Montana, and people rally around it much like people do in Pennsylvania with Penn State. We suffer from being in the suburbs in Philadelphia. The Eagles have pages 1, 2, 3 and 4 covered in the paper. I think this could have a bigger impact on the Villanova nation. Our group tends to be more basketball oriented. We had the biggest sendoff for our football team when we left Tuesday night. There were more students there than when the basketball team went off to Final Four. Jay Wright and basketball have been very supportive of it. That helps us nationally with our recruiting. Villanova is perceived as a basketball school. We turn it around and use it as a positive. In 1985 Rollie Massimino won the national championship and that was fantastic for our program. I was going into homes with a national championship basketball ring on my finger."

On giving a pitch for the local fans in the stands:
"Fans will be very impressed with both programs. There is a storied program in Montana with national titles, conference titles, "The Griz" -that's awesome. Villanova is rolling in from Philly and people probably see our basketball team on TV. Both teams are featuring several All-Americans in the games and our Sagarin ratings are ahead of several well known teams - UCLA Washington - many teams that are rated behind these two teams. You will see a tremendous ball game between two really outstanding college football programs that will have everything you'd want to see."

Villanova Junior Wide Reciever Matt Szczur...

On Montana's defense:
"To be honest they don't really remind me of anybody. They're probably the best defense we have faced all year. They run a lot of cover four, as well as cover two. They knife against the run in cover two, so that might be a problem for our club. They play hard, and they have speed as well. It should be a good matchup."

On the importance of student-athletes involvement in community service:
"It's unbelievable. Our team did well with the little guys yesterday. Coach [Andy] Talley makes a huge impact on the bone marrow as well. I've just been recently chosen to match up with a one year old child. It's huge for other people to see that we're out there helping other people instead of just being a student-athlete."

On keeping your perspective heading into championship game:
"It's exciting. One of the things our coaches stress game in and game out is to stay focused and play one game at a time. That's why I think we've done so well this year is because we don't look to the next week. All through the playoffs it's hit or miss, one and done. All week, we've stressed this is the last one. There is nothing to look forward to. We don't look forward to anything anyway. We just have to focus on the next game, and that just happens to be the national championship, so we've got to focus on this game."

On Marc Mariani as your counterpart:
"I think he's an awesome player. I haven't watched him on offense as much, just the App State game. Playing special teams, I watched him as a punt returner, and I think he's got to be the best punt returner in the country. I guess you could say he's my counterpart. I really haven't watched him play much. He's strictly a wide receiver. When I play wide receiver, I kind of run the ball at the same. He's an awesome player. He deserves all of the accolades and awards he has received."

On the versatility throughout career:
"Coming from pee wee to high school I was always the versatile guy. Coming to college, I didn't think I would play my freshman year. I thought I would redshirt. Antwon Young actually got hurt and Chris Whitney went in to start at quarterback, and we didn't have an extra quarterback so for Chris Whitney to take less hits they put me in the wildcat formation. That's how they got started. Coach has been using it ever since. I guess you can say I'm a versatile guy in college as well."

Villanova Senior Linebacker Osayi Osunde...

On the Villanova speed vs. Montana size:
"As a defense we do have a lot of speed coming off the edges. Montana's offensive line is pretty much an NFL offensive line. I've been watching a lot of film on them, and I haven't really seen them play one that blitzes as much as our team does. I think it's going to be a really big change up that they're going to have to adjust to actually stop us."

On keeping your perspective heading into championship game:
"I think these guys pretty much said everything. Our motto is pretty much one game at a time, one play at a time, and one step at a time. We perform that motto day in and day out, and it's really panned out to be an amazing season. Personally, the way to stay focused right now is to keep things in perspective and realize that we're here to have fun, but when the game comes it is straight business. We're here to play a game. It doesn't really matter who is in the crowd. All that matters is those people on that field and those coaches on the sideline with us. That's the way we're going to go about it."

Villanova Junior Quarterback Chris Whitney...

On Montana's Defense:
"They actually remind me a little bit of Richmond with the cover four. Their front seven is good. They're tough. They all hit hard. Their defensive backs are good too, just like Richmond's defensive backs. They don't make a lot of mistakes so we can't make a lot of mistakes either. We're just going to have to go in with our game plan and try and perfect it. I think that's what it comes down to, whoever makes the fewest mistakes. They're about the toughest defense we're going to face all year. They don't make a lot of mistakes."

On keeping your perspective heading into championship game:
"Like Matt said, the same thing all year, each game concentrating and not getting ahead of ourselves. Like he said, I think that's why we've made it as far as we've made it, we don't look past anybody. With the league we play in, we can really look past anybody because most of the teams are in the top 10 anyway. We're just going to play like we play every other game and do whatever it takes to win."

Montana Head Coach Bobby Hauck...

Opening statement:
"Thanks to everyone in Chattanooga for putting on a great game, awesome as usual. We've enjoyed it tremendously. I think our preparation has been good as we continue on through the week. We are excited to be here. It will be a great game tomorrow night."

On the gameplan for tomorrow:
We have a routine we have on gameday - it's adjusted based on kickoff times. It will be a normal Saturday for us. We treated Sunday like a Monday this week to get ahead of schedule. We were on a normal schedule this week. Having been here a few times, it feels like a home game out there."

On Villanova's defense - speed, blitz packages and 3-3-5 scheme:
"They have a good scheme that's certainly problematic in some fashion. It's similar to what New Mexico ran for years and many of our guys have coached in the Mountain West Conference, so we are family with the scheme. They also have pretty good players doing it - their defensive front is as good as any we have seen all year. Their linebackers are very active and can cause problems for the quarterback. Having been here before, I feel that the teams whose quarterback plays the best wins the game."

On your 80-16 record, a national championship is the one thing missing, is there more incentive to win this game for you:
"I try not to make that a personal quest - it's not about me. It's about these guys and their teammates. We've been here before and you can't try to win it any harder than we've tried in the past. We're 14-0, undefeated, ranked No. 1 and we'd love to cap that with our 15th win tomorrow night. But, we can't work any harder, turn over any more rocks trying to do it than we've done in the past. We just need to play well. I'm very proud of the last seven years and I don't think you can point to one game and say that validates 80 wins any more than a loss would."

Re: 3 big keys to win this game.
"Quarterback has to play well, field position battle which includes kicking game - we can't give up big plays there. The team that wins the run game will probably add up to the victory."

On any opponents that ran a 3-3-5 this year, are there teams similar to Villanova in blitz packages:
"We've seen odd stack from people in bits and pieces. We have not seen a 3-3-5 base this year."

On Andrew Selle looks most comfortable, now playing best:
"Yes, we try to make practice as similar to the game as best we can and Andrew has looked very comfortable this week. Tomorrow night, there will be immense pressure on both guys and we'll see how that goes. It takes a lot of study, competitive fire and you have to remain calm because there will be a lot of pressure on each of those kids."

On giving up 52 sacks last year and only 18 this year:
"It's a combination of Chad (Germer - offensive line coach) has changed some things protection wise and technique wise, which has been beneficial to us. Our offensive line has tremendous discipline individually. They have good eyes and feet, disciplines in their assignments and thus we haven't given up the number of sacks we did a year ago."

On what weakness Villanova has:
"You don't get here without being pretty good. Both of their fronts are as good or better than any we've seen all year. You don't get to this point without being a complete football team. They are a complete football team as I hope we are."

On the Richmond game last year, what were the keys for Richmond in that game:
"Our mistakes early on. They ran a trick play and got an early TD. We had a 14-play drive and got no points from it. That was critical for us, and that's where it started to unravel. We made a couple more early mistakes. It got away from us a little bit. At 21-0, we were still in the game, but we had to change our plan. When our QB got hurt that didn't help us either."

On the atmosphere against Appalachian State last Saturday, where does that game rank:
"Big-time game. I thought it would be the biggest game in the history of our stadium and still feel like that's the case. The two programs, the returning Offensive Player of the Year in the country (Armanti Edwards), their history under Coach Moore of winning championships made it a huge game. Certainly, a huge win for our football team."

On Matt Szczur of Villanova:
"A good player, obviously. He's a fairly dynamic player with the football, he runs downhill and makes things happen. They will get him the ball some. In the games where they've gotten away from people, he's had big nights in terms of yardage and TDs."

In this being the third final against a CAA team, does it mean more to beat a CAA team:
"We'd just like to win it - it doesn't matter who. They could roll out the girl scouts tomorrow night, and I would just assume play them. We have a history with the conference. We understand they have a good league with good coaching and a good recruiting base. But in terms of the two leagues, we're here, they're here - it's nice for our conferences, but it's our team against their team."

On a specific point when you realized this team could be a championship team:
"Last Saturday night about 8:37 p.m. We're always thinking that way whether we're good enough or not."

Montana Senior Wide Reciever and Return Specialist Marc Mariani...

On growing up in Montana and following past teams:
"It's an honor to be a part of the history and the tradition of this program. Growing up in Montana you watch those great teams every year. Those guys turn out to be your heroes and the guys you look up to. As a small town Montana kid, to be a part of it and to be at this level where our team has put ourselves, it's very exciting. It means a lot to the coaches and the team."

On preparing for the 3-3-5 and Villanova's blitz:
"As far as preparing for it, we break it down as much as we can. We try to figure out a game plan for it. I think the major difference as far as protection goes is that our tight ends and our backs are going to have a challenge to protect Andrew [Selle]. At the same time we're going to do our best to find some holes in it. They're very athletic. The backers fly around. I think we've just got to make sure we don't change what we do. We just go about getting better and preparing for anything we're going to see up until 7:59 p.m. when the ball is kicked off."

On the 14-0 record:
"It's part of history. People talk about it all the time. I think behind closed doors inside the locker room, we are doing our same routine. We're taking one game at a time. It's one of those things that after the season you have time to reflect and look back on it. In the grind of a 16-week season, if you don't focus on the task at hand, there's going to be problems for you. That's our team mentality is, and that's what we've continued to do this week, and try to put that as far on the back burner as we can until this weekend and until we have a little time to reflect back."

On Montana's focus after last season's championship appearance:
"The veterans on this team, having been there, having known what it takes to get to this point, have really stepped up and help the younger guys along. We have a great senior class. We know what it took to get here. We know the hard work that we put in. I don't think we're getting worked up with all the media and that sort of thing. We've been here before. Like coach said we made a lot of mistakes last year pre-game and during the game, and we're trying to make sure those don't happen this year."

On lining up in different roles to help your team:
"I've done it for three years now. I do whatever I can to help this team win. I don't think [Matt Szczur] would tell you any different either. It's just one of those things where you look for your opportunities, and you take advantage of them when they come your way no matter what facet of the game they're in. You just do your best to help your team win the ball game."

Montana Senior Linebacker Shawn Lebsock...

On growing up in Montana and following past teams:
"It's growing up, my dad played at the U [Miami]. Growing up I was always a big Grizz fan. I watched all the guys throughout the years, a bunch of names I can remember watching as a kid. It's just great to be a part of that."

On the defense's focus for Villanova:
"One thing we've been able to do is convert third downs better. It's hard to put your finger on one thing throughout all three of those games. Definitely this week it's going to take a great effort to stop these guys. They're a powerful team. They do well running the ball as well as passing. It's going to take a great effort on our part."

On Villanova Quarterback Chris Whitney:
"One thing that jumps out at me is that he's the team's leading rusher. Maybe, when his coach talks about him not being pretty, well he breaks a lot of tackles. He's a tough runner even though he's a quarterback. He's just like another running back back there. It makes him a very dangerous player, especially in the running game."

Montana Senior Free Safety Shann Schillinger...

On growing up in Montana and following past teams:
"Growing up in Montana, a small town, I'm extremely excited to be a part of this program, the traditions that go along with it. I still remember watching that 1995 game, what an exciting game. The guys I play with here and other guys from Montana, we take a lot of pride in being from Montana. We're excited to be here, but we're a focused group, and we're going to try to continue to focus to get this thing done."

On the defense's focus for Villanova:
"The thing is we've just executed better. Early in the year we had some breakdowns. I think that's a credit to our coaching staff for how much we've improved throughout the year. What I love about this group is we're 14-0 and we're in the 15th week of the year and we're looking to improve still. That's made this group special. As far as Villanova goes, they're dangerous on offense, they're powerful. They average 200 yards rushing. We're going to have our hands full, but we're used to that. The last few offenses we've played are pretty good. This should be an exciting game."

On Villanova's Wide Reciever Matt Szczur:
"Obviously he's a very dangerous player. You have to be aware of where he is anywhere, whether it's in the backfield or receiver or returning kicks. He's a dangerous player. I like the way he plays. He's a competitor. We're going to have to be disciplined with him. We're going to have to tackle him, get him down. He's hard to get down, but we're going to have to do it."

On getting a second chance:
"We're obviously excited to be here. We've got the second chance. It's a lot of time to get back here, through the offseason and then to go through 14 games to get here feels great. We're down here on a business trip. Coach [Bobby] Hauck does a great job of keeping us on tap. We're focused right now. That's what I like about this group. We can go out and have fun, but we're on a business trip to try and get this thing done. It's going to take all we can do to get it done."