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November 21, 2014

Rocky Long

Donnel Pumphrey


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Donnell Pumphrey.

Q.  (No microphone.)
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  I'm just happy that we got the win and we were able to move the ball.  I feel like the second half we showed more emotion and I feel like that was the difference.

Q.  How do you feel when you show emotion?
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  The first half we moved the ball but didn't get it into the end zone and the second half our offensive line was able to move the defensive line and we were able to hit the holes.

Q.  They got stingy there‑‑
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  Yeah, they have a great defense, their linebackers flowed and their safeties came down and made tackles and they're a good all‑around team.

Q.  (No microphone.)
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  Honestly, Chad Young showed up on the sideline and he told me to push it up, and that's what I tried to do.  (Chuckles.)

Q.  (No microphone.)

Q.  What did he tell you?
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  Honestly he said "turn it up a notch, because we're looking kind of slow out there!"
Q.Did he catch you off guard?
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  Yeah, I didn't know he was at the game.  He came up to the running backs and said what's up to us.

Q.  (No microphone.)
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  I mean, I feel like we need to improve on scoring in the red zone because that's leaving points on the board.  Instead of 3 points every time we need 6.

Q.  What's it like seeing your quarterback have a game like that?
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  I feel real good about it, because we're standing by his side throughout the whole season and that's our guy.

Q.  What's the feeling after this win, you clinch a bowl eligibility?  (No microphone.)
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  Like I said, they're really good.  I'm just happy with the win and we're just ready to prepare for next week.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, D.J.  questions for coach.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  I thought the defense played really well.  I thought they played fast, aggressive, we gave up a couple of long plays in the passing game.
In the first half, and partly probably because we had 'em so geared up to play against the run that we got beat on one.  It was a great throw and a catch and the one that went for the touchdown I actually thought he was going to intercept it, so he just misjudged the ball.  Other than those two plays, I thought the defense played as good as it could play.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  Well, you expect the corners to be challenged because we're all looking in the backfield to support the run.  When you don't play an option team you don't look‑‑ well, sometimes they do but you're not supposed to look in the backfield, but you look at your guy man‑to‑man.  So it's really hard on defensive backs, against option teams to be able to play doesn't coverage and still support the run like is needed.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  I thought except for the one pass that Damontae got beat on in the first half I thought the whole defense‑‑ pick 'em out, name 'em all.
You don't hold an Air Force team to 140 yards rushing.  Are you kiddin' me?  And they had 189 yards passing, if I'm readin' it right, my eyes are bad, and 80 of 'em were on one play.  How can you play better?  And we put the game away by intercepting a pass and running it back to score a touchdown.  How can you play any better than that on defense?

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  We did go to a 3‑4 defense and if that had anything to do with it, I'm proud of that, but it's kids making plays, it's players executing the scheme.  The scheme never wins a game.  We happen how to line 'em up and make sure they're not at a disadvantage, I promise you I know how to line them up so they're not at a disadvantage, I promise you I do.  But they still have to get off block and they still have to make tackles.  It's then executing the plan.  The players win games, coaches don't win games, you just give them a chance to win.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  He played really well against Boise.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  Well, they split time in practice.  But everything is based on how well you perform, and he performed really well when he was called upon against Boise, so he got the start.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  Yeah, I think Alex‑‑ you've heard me say this, I think he's the best nose tackle in the league and it's obviously hard on you when you lose him but the guys that play for him must have done really well because they didn't run up and down the field.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  Dontrell started and him and Hayward were alternate at the nose tackle and Dontrell's wrist started hurting too bad by halftime and he couldn't play the second half so Hayward played most the second half we alternated Sergio Philips in there for Hayward.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  We went with our four best linebacker and they stayed out most of the time, except for Largent got a little sick toward the end and he had to come to the sideline but by that time we were back in our normal defense, we knew they were going to flow the ball and we were back in our normal five defense.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  When they got down and they're down by 9 and there is three minutes left in the game we expected them to throw it, yeah.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  I thought he played pretty well.  I mean, I thought‑‑ I'm going to give him a shout out here because I've been complaining about him all the time.  There was a couple of receivers that went up and made Quinn look good.  Ezell went up and took the ball away from him one time, he got the ball knocked out of his hands, and somehow he caught it with one arm.  I think it was Lloyd Mills when they had him double covered he went up and got the ball and took it away from them.  Quarterbacks look better when their receivers make them look better.  Quinn through the ball fine, he read it right, he threw it to the open guy, they blitzed us a few times, all those swing passes you saw, those were hot routes.  When they would blitz he threw them the ball and when you get them the ball out in the open field and that's a pretty good deal, but I actually thought the receivers made the quarterback look good tonight.

Q.  What do you think of D.J.'s assessment on the fire from the offensive line?
COACH LONG:  I think that's getting caught up in the game.  I think the offensive line was just as emotional in the first half, I think they kind of wore them out after a while.  And they started‑‑ you and I have talked about this.  Our offense started getting used to what they were doing on defense.  And offensive linemen when they're not sure where somebody is, they don't always block 'em very well because they're not aggressive and fast enough at recognizing.  After you play‑‑ I don't know how many plays we had, 70‑some?  After you play about 75 plays‑‑ is that right?  After you play about 40 plays, the offense has seen everything you're going to do on defense.  And if you continue to do the same thing on defense, the offense is going to learn where you are and they're going to execute better and move the ball better.  So I think our offensive line got used to where they were and started blockin' 'em better.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  Well, we had a total defensive package.  We only used about a third of it tonight because it was working so well.  We didn't have to throw any extra stuff at 'em.  They made a um couple of plays right before halftime they adjusted on their sideline and they knew right where we were.  Well, of course, we adjusted at halftime.
That one drive where they got the short field and drove it down, they knew exactly where we were lined up and started blocking us so the second half we changed it up on them.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  What I saw was them struggling to run the ball, so they threw it a whole lot more than I anticipated.  And in the defense we were in, we were so intent on stopping the run there were holes for them to exploit the passing defense.  And once they had to throw the ball we put our base defense back in and we played it much, much better, but then we wouldn't have played the run as well if we would have been in that the whole night.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  You have to stop the run to have a chance to beat 'em, yeah, uh‑huh.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  Relief?  I'm relieved that we won six games and we're bowl eligible.  I'm relieved about that.  You can put a great game plan together on both offense and defense and sometimes no one every knows because the kids don't execute it very well.  Right now you think we did unbelievable things because we changed the defense?  I'm telling you, changing the defense helped us line up better.  It's still players getting off blocks and making tackles, it's still the players that do it.

Q.  Coach, you mentioned bowl eligibility, what's it like to get that for the fifth straight season?
COACH LONG:  Feels good because I think we were worried that we weren't going to get bowl eligible, I think it feels really good.  I think to make sure we're in a bowl game we gotta win next week and I hope our players come ready to play.  You're not automatically in a bowl just because you're bowl eligible, I've been left a few times.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  Yeah, I think our team is mentally tough.  When you and I had that conversation the other day about giving up all those points in the fourth quarter, I started checking who we lost to and the age of their players.  Okay?  Last year we were a veteran football team.  We had a whole lot of seniors out there.  At wide receiver, at safety, we had a whole‑‑ at linebacker.  We had a whole lot of seniors last year when we won all those close games.  This year we're really young.  I mean, I'm looking for a reason to make your theory right.
We're really young, and that's why Air Force is good.  They have, I don't know, 14 starting seniors or something on their 22‑‑ that's why they've made the turn‑around and the quarterback.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  It was nice to see him play the whole game without getting hurt, yeah, except he had to come out at the end because he got sick and I think that's because he played so hard for so long.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  I don't think it was the stomach flu, I think it was overheated by playing so hard for so long, that happens sometimes if you work out hard enough.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  Yeah, I think he got to play because of injuries, that's how he got his chance to play.  And he played so well right off the bat, if you've noticed, he has started every game.  Every game all year, even when the guys that were hurt came back, Munson still started because he's performing so well.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  He's got good hands, too, and I didn't know he had that kind of running ability.  He made the guy miss at the goal line.  I didn't know he had that!  (Laughter.)

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  I think he's gained confidence.  I think he's a really good football player.  And the good part about that is I think he's only a sophomore.

Q.  Did you expect him to come along this quickly?
COACH LONG:  He played some last year but I didn't expect him to play this year because we didn't really expect him to play because we thought Jake Fely and Largent would be the starters.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH LONG:  I think he's made a huge difference and we only played two of them tonight but the safeties have made an unbelievable improvement from the first two weeks.  They were bad the first two weeks, now they're pretty darn good.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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