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August 30, 2014

Quinn Kaehler

Rocky Long

Donnel Pumphrey


QUINN KAEHLER:  I thought we played well enough to win, to get a win opening the season, especially considering last year, but we made a lot of mistakes overall and we personally that we've got to fix in order to be the team that we want to.

Q.  What's your assessment of your own play?
QUINN KAEHLER:  I thought it was subpar.  You know, the guys around me did a lot of great things, so it may not have seemed that way, but I didn't play well enough that I need to.  I threw the interception, I got sacked once in the red zone, and besides that, I missed a couple reads and was a little bit inaccurate.  But hopefully we'll fix it tomorrow watching film and this week in practice.

Q.  Were you able to give yourself somewhat of a break since it's the first game?
QUINN KAEHLER:  Yeah, but you know, we want to be perfect, so we've got to get better.  Mistakes happen in the first game, but Coach Toledo always says making a mistake isn't a sin but making the same mistake twice is.  We've got to fix them.

Q.  What's your assessment of what you saw from them?
ROCKY LONG:  I thought overall we didn't make as many assignment errors that I was concerned about.  I thought our tackling was horrible.  It looked like they were tackling like we do in practice and we don't tackle in practice because of new rules and all those kind of things, so you never get to practice tackling, and it looked like it.  We missed a ton of tackles.  We were reaching instead of running through people.  I mean, I thought it was okay.  It was okay for the first time, but we've got to get a whole lot better quick.

Q.  Coach, what was your assessment of Jon Sanchez and Damontae in the secondary?
ROCKY LONG:  I can't tell you how they played.  I really can't until I watch the film.  I mean, I didn't see Damontae get beat on anything.  I saw Jon Sanchez get walked off the ball a couple times.  That's not good.  But to address how they played for the whole game I've got to watch the film.  I can't tell by the sideline.

Q.  (Inaudible.)  What was that like?
ROCKY LONG:  Well, I was told that he says he kicked a 66‑yarder in practice, and he's good from 55.  Well, I think he missed a 48‑er, didn't he?  No, it was nice to see everything go right on PATs where the ball got up quick, so it's hard to block and it was right down the middle, and the first field goal was a very nice kick.  That's really fun to see.
And then I thought the punt return was something special, too.  The guys that were blocking, Lloyd did a nice job running with the ball but they did a great job of blocking for him.  I mean, there weren't many people in his way.  So if you count the whole kicking game, it was a positive tonight.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
ROCKY LONG:  I don't know what it says.  I think last year's team wasn't ready to play, this year's team was ready to play.  Maybe Eastern Illinois had almost a first‑round quarterback that was playing and the guy tonight wasn't a first‑round quarterback.  I mean, maybe that has something to do with it, too.

Q.  Can you talk about your first game?
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  I think I played all right.  The offensive line, they blocked pretty well, and the fullbacks, they also opened up holes, and overall as an offense I feel we can get better.

Q.  Coach, what do you think of the offensive line tonight just in terms of how they're playing now?
ROCKY LONG:  I think you have to compare them to what the offensive line looked like last year in the first game.  I thought they looked much better than the offensive line did in the first game last year.  I don't think they looked as good as the offensive line looked in the last game last year, and so hopefully they'll get better as they go.  I think we're bigger, I think we're stronger, I think we're more athletic up there, so they ought to get better, but they were much better than the first week or first game last year.

Q.  You got a big play from (inaudible), came after the drive (inaudible).  Seemed like a big momentum changer.
ROCKY LONG:  I thought it changed the momentum back in our favor.  I thought we lost the momentum ail little bit after the interception and then they drove the ball down and scored.  I thought we lost the momentum some, and that brought the momentum back.  It's too bad we had two others that we should have intercepted that would have been touchdowns, too, because there was nobody between those guys and the end zone, either.

Q.  Do you feel like today's performance went beyond what you were supposed to do?
ROCKY LONG:  No, I don't think so.  I think our players are all mature enough and want to be good enough that they realize we should win, and we went out and played good enough to win convincingly, but they know there's better teams on the horizon, too.

Q.  What do you guys actually do‑‑
ROCKY LONG:  You can't do anything in practice anymore to improve your tackling.  You can't.  I mean, there's rules and regulations on how many times you can be in full pads, and then you don't want to hit your own guys full speed because then you have injuries, so the only way you become a better tackler is play games.  The NFL does it by playing exhibition games.  We don't have that luxury of playing exhibition games, so we will tackle better next week, and then about the fourth game we'll tackle like a real football team.  But everybody has the same problem.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
ROCKY LONG:  Well, I'm going to have to watch the film.  Their assessment of what they thought happened and my assessment of what you just described are completely different.  Yeah, Na'im tried to knock a ball down instead of securing the tackle, which is a mistake when it's 3rd and whatever and it's only a five‑yard pass that if he makes the tackle we're out of there, and it goes 65 yards.  That's an experience mistake.  The being too aggressive and missing tackles, I don't agree with that assessment whatsoever.  Aggressive guys go and get those guys, they don't break down and let those guys make moves on them.  If that was his description, him and I will have a talk because my opinion of that description is wrong because he missed tackles because he was too aggressive?  I don't see that ever happening.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
ROCKY LONG:  I don't know.  I saw him in a brace, though, and on crutches, and I'm sure they don't know for sure yet until they can actually do some tests on him.  It didn't look good.

Q.  Now that the game is over, before the game did you have a better sense, a better feel for this team, maybe being more focused?
ROCKY LONG:  Yes, I think this team went in with some humility, and I think last year's team went into the first game with some arrogance.  And I think there's a difference between being confident and arrogant.  You should go into games confident, but you should never go into a game arrogant because stuff like that happens to you.  But I thought this team had a lot more focused attitude and a lot‑‑ I think our team had confidence going in, but I don't think we ever disrespected the opponent.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
ROCKY LONG:  I don't know.  I mean, for those that think coaches set the tone, we set a certain tone, but players believe what they want to believe.  They do at all levels.

Q.  Can you speak to that?
QUINN KAEHLER:  It's a mixture of things.  I think it's a lot with coaches, but last year the coaches told us the same thing going into the game.  I just think it was more real to the players because of what happened last year.  You know, so we just listened to what they told us this year, and I felt like we did have a better focus this year.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
QUINN KAEHLER:  I just threw it too high.  I was throwing it to Ezell, and I think he was open, but I just threw it too high.

Q.  Coach, (inaudible) few minutes of the fourth quarter?
ROCKY LONG:  Yeah, we thought it was too our benefit to get Quinn back into game shape, so we thought he needed a few more live reps or we would have put Bawden in.

Q.  Because of the elbow thing?
ROCKY LONG:  No, because our rhythm on offense wasn't as good as we wanted to be.  Quinn is a very accurate thrower, and he missed some open receivers, and then we had some receivers drop balls, and since we don't have an exhibition season, the only way you get better is to play when you get to play.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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