2016 AutoNation Cure Bowl Quotes

Arkansas State Head Coach Blake Anderson

Opening Statement:

First and foremost, I want to thank all the people that are involved with this whole [bowl] week. I can’t imagine how many people it takes to put it on, but it was first class from beginning to end. I mean all the way down to people that worked at the hotel, just people serving our kids food. You can tell they just enjoy what they do. You should be proud of the job that they’re doing this week. You name it, every place we went, we were treated with class and respect. It is one of the best trips that I’ve been able to be a part of in my career and we’d love to come back. It just represents our conference really well. I saw the size of that check that was written and to me that makes it all worth it. So thank you for bringing us and to those that volunteered their time. Great folks.

 

“I am so glad we got a win. We heard you guys talk nothing about this season has been easy. It’s been a challenge since day one with as many guys as we lost a year ago, new staff, so many new pieces to the puzzle and also the tough schedule. We started out with some really good opponents and dug ourselves a hole and really had to find out who wanted to be and challenge ourselves to pick it up. You cannot say enough about senior class leadership on this football team. I got to give a great deal of credit to the staff all the way down to our strength staff. The culture that they create allowed us to overcome an 0-4 start and be very critical of ourselves, coaches, players. Everybody found ways that we could improve the football team by search and really figured out a way that each person could help and that’s what they did. We’re in a rebuilding stage, but we found a way to get it done. So it’s been a blast. Love the kids proud of them. It’s going to be a great offseason. This is a tremendous amount of momentum for our team coming back in January to go back to work.”

 

Coach on Kendall Sanders’ performance:

Well, he missed two years of football due to the circumstances coming out of Texas. I really don’t think that he started out the season with a tremendous amount of confidence. He was rusty trying to get kind of his feet underneath him.What you’ve seen in the last five six weeks is he started playing better and better. The biggest play of the game momentum wise was the explosive touchdown that we had in the very first series of the second half.”

 

On how impressed he was with his defense:

“We felt going in that we had a chance. Their operation at times has been slow and schematically we saw a hole that we thought we could exploit and it just so happens that we got the exact look we wanted and the operation was a little bit slow. I think when you get points off of it. It’s even a bigger bone, especially when you’re playing a defense as good as they were. We end up with a series down there later. We have to settle for a field goal. To be able to get an end zone without having snapped the ball offensively to me is a huge turning point. When you look at the statistics, they go way up when you block a punt for a touchdown. It really create created a tremendous amount of momentum for us.”

 

On special team’s contributions:

Yeah, we punted more than we wanted, but we knew that was going to possibly be the case. Wanted to flip the field and got a huge blocked punt. Blaise [Taylor] did a phenomenal job of trying to flip field as well. Our kickoff team is top five in the country and they stuck with it tonight by creating a turnover. I mean we when you look at a team that is as good defensively as Central Florida is. You know special teams has to come up huge. I think Luke Paschall, my special team’s coordinator, does a phenomenal job and our kids have bought in. We have got starters playing across the board. They are the ones making plays. I would say that in several games this year, special teams was the turning point. It was the same way a year ago. I think that’s a culture that we create and it came up huge again tonight.”

 

On the program:

I don’t know anybody who has been through quite what this group of guys has been through…It’s just a culture; it’s a family…There’s a lot of pride in the legacy that they built. This was a great way to finish it against a quality opponent and a wonderful event.”

 

Senior Wide Receiver Kendall Sanders

On where his thoughts were:
“It was all god’s plan, honestly. It feels amazing to get [the MVP award]. I appreciate this man right here [referring to Justin Hansen] for actually believing in me and throwing the rock to me. I appreciate my teammates, who pushed me every day and the coaches, even though I didn’t like it. They made me a better man and that hard work does pay off.”

 

Sophomore Quarterback Justice Hansen

On what to do to break that UCF Defense coming in after first play:

“That was a big play for us and obviously big plays lead to momentum. Kendall [Sanders] had a lot to do with it and just busting out those big plays gets the energy going for the offense. It allows the offense to get in a rhythm and sets the defense back a bit to catch their breath.”

 

On how Justice Hansen and Kendall Sanders connect on the field:

“Just by listening to him. He’s always in my ear telling me to give him a chance. Just knowing the look and he was giving the look, so I was giving him the ball and letting him do the rest of it.”

 

Senior Linebacker Xavier Woodsen-Luster

On how big special teams were:

“We emphasize special teams a lot and a lot of teams overlook special teams. We put our starters on special teams. I forgot the percentage, but coach said that if you block a punt, you have this certain percentage to win the game. On punt block, all that, the starters are on there. We try to make plans like the offense and defense.”

 

On how they finished the season:

“In the team meeting room, we have sign on the board on the wall. Our goal is to win a championship in a bowl game with integrity and academic excellence – that’s what we did. We finished the season on the right way. We completed our goal. It wasn’t an easy road. We had a lot of adversity this year. But ultimately, we got it done. Find a way to get the job done and that’s what we did.  On Monday or Tuesday, we met after the University of Central Arkansas game and coach asked us if we are all in or are we interested. So from meeting on, I feel like everyone was giving their all. “

 

UCF Head Coach Scott Frost

Opening Statement:

“I congratulate Arkansas State. They made a turn around mid-season and have been a different team since then. I’m proud of our team and our guys. Nobody hates losing more than me, except maybe [Mark] Rucker. What this team has accomplished, I’m proud of them, happy for them. I’m hungry to accomplish more.”

 

On the message the seniors had for the team:

“I had a simple message for our team. I thanked the seniors. Everything we say about our seniors, we mean the bottom line of our heart. These guys could have gone a lot of different directions. Guys like [Mark] Ruck[er] had one year left. They didn’t have to sacrifice, put in the effort, be leaders for our team and totally take a new direction in a new way of doing things that our coaching staff was asking them to do. They all did, they all led us. I’m proud to be their coach. And for the young guys. I told them they better get ready to get to work when they get back in January.”

 

On how both team’s defenses played:

“I think when either team’s defense is on the field. It was the superior unit on the field and we kind knew that going in. We are never making excuses we are beat up. Especially up front on the offensive line, I don’t think that was a unit, where we started with a ton of depth and playing some young guys, but we carried the ball I didn’t know for like 30 times for 12 yards. We got to be better than that. We have some guys nicked up that will never use that as an excuse. We’ve got to keep working to get better.”

 

On the game plan:

“When it’s a game like that, we knew going in we had to hit some shots and big plays, because we didn’t know if we would be able to sustain drives against their defense. Their defense was really good on tape. I’m sure they felt the same way. They had to make big plays, hit some big plays and get some breaks, because our defense is really good on tape. We fumbled a kickoff. We fumbled a punt. We got a punt blocked. We got penalties that killed drives. We gave up a play on our unusual formation, that our guys on defense didn’t recognize. They got the big plays. They earned them and they got the big plays. We did not and we made the mistakes.”

 

On what needed to be improved:

“We have got to be a lot better. Our players gave us absolutely everything they had. I think this group got about everything they could out of themselves. We were close to winning a few more games this year. The guys gave us everything they had, but there’s a lot of areas we have to keep improving. We have to improve the roster and a lot of areas. We have to improve our work ethic. We have to improve our attitude. We are going to go back to work in spring and winter, just like it was last January and start this whole thing all over. Only, we are starting a ways up the mountain now. We are not at the bottom of the mountain. We are halfway up and we’ll go back to work just like it’s day one last year.”

 

UCF Senior Linebacker Mark Rucker

On playing with your teammates:

“At any game, we just came together to say I love all my brothers, it was a sad feeling, but that’s the game of football. You are going to feel highs and feel lows. This was a low one, but I feel high when I hugged my teammates and just being around them one last time. Just telling them that I love them and that’s what it all about it.”

 

On the turnaround this season:

“Just like I said earlier, it’s just a blessing coming from 0-12. People don’t understand how bad, how we felt, losing every game. That’s the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life. Just being a part of something like this with Coach Frost, he just allowed me to be a leader of this defense. I feel honored and I never had the opportunity since high school. Just being able to leave my team and a group of seniors to a bowl game. I just feel amazing. I just I’m grateful and blessed. “
On what’s next for the program:

“Right now for me, it’s like a roller coaster. I’m sad; I’m going away and I’m not playing anymore. Right now, my body feels good actually. Coach Frost in practice this week he helped the starters. He let us chill out a little bit and get our bodies running. I feel like I could play another game, but I think my teammates can play another game as well. So we are feeling a kind of good.”

 

On the diving on the fumble:

“I wanted to go. I want to scoop score, but I saw the O-lineman there and I said the offense needs that ball. We practice a city ball, country ball. A city ball is when it is a lot of people are around you and you need to cover it up. A country ball is nobody around, and you can scoop and score. It was a city ball, so I had to grab it and make the offense get that ball.”

 

On the team preserving throughout the year:

“Just perseverance, just have perseverance. It is going to get hard, you are going to hit road blocks. I have hit them plenty of times. Nate Evans, one of the linebackers, I always tell him to just stay strong, because things don’t happen, things will not go your way. You just got to stay strong. I just tell all the freshmen that off-season is important. Weightlifting is important. You can’t you can’t teach that enough.”