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POINSETTIA BOWL: NAVY v SAN DIEGO STATE


December 23, 2014


Noah Copeland

Parrish Gaines

Austin Grebe

Chris Johnson

Ken Niumatalolo

Keenan Reynolds


SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Navy ¬Ė 17
SDSU ‑ 16


COACH NIUMATALOLO:  I guess I said this same thing after the Army game, sorry for being late but we got seniors, that's the last time they strap it on take time to wish them the best of luck, we got guys going into the Marine Corps, being surface warfare officers, being pilots, and so I just want to send those guys off the right way.  Before I start, thank Coach Long and San Diego State, they played a great game.  I have no idea how we won the game, we played really, really well on defense, give us a chance, we put our defense into some bad spots offensively with turnovers, but our defense didn't flinch, they played phenomenal, I want to thank everybody at the San Diego County Credit Union, Poinsettia Bowl, been phenomenal, Bruce, Mark, Vin ce, all the Coats, we've always had a great time here, unfortunately the games haven't been so fun for us, so to finish it off the right way for our seniors, unfortunately with a game like that somebody had to lose cause both teams fought to the end.  I have a ton of respect for San Diego, Coach Long, I got a chance to get to know him a little bit this week and he is a great football coach and even a better person, you know what I mean?  But hats off to our seniors.

Q.  Have you been part of a game where you turn it over four times and get sloppy penalties and still come out with a win?
COACH NIUMATALOLO:  We pride ourselves in trying not to turn the ball over and not making penalties but to our kids' credit they just contempt battling, you know what I mean?  They just kept battling, things looked ugly there, and we put our defense in bad spots but they didn't flinch, they were able to get some big plays, get some stops and keep it out of the end zone, gave us a chance there to get it in the end zone.  This guy over here had a tremendous career, played well, there are some things there that we know we want to do better but he rallied us that last drive, Chris Swain and Noah Copeland ran really well in the last drive but this win was because of our defense.  They kept us in the game.

Q.¬† Coach, tell us about the 92‑yard drive that got you guys a touchdown.¬† Tell us about that.
COACH NIUMATALOLO:  You know, they're zipin' and zappin' and doing a lot of different things, so we try to run at them, try to go north and south and our full backs, they ran really hard.  We needed yards after contact.  Coach Long is not going to give you anything.  You're not going to outscheme him, you got to earn every yard every inch that we get, and that's what we had to do.  We couldn't get to cute, try to match the ball down the field, try to stay way from negative plays and to our kids' credit they found a way to execute, that was a huge drive.  You know what I mean?  And we needed it.

Q.  Take us through what's going through your mind first when Austin makes a field goal and then their kicker at the end has a chance to put it up?
COACH NIUMATALOLO:¬† I wanted to see first where he want the ball ask it shows you what kind of guy Austin is, I wanted to make sure we put the ball where we needed to, he said it didn't matter to him, put it on whatever hash and he would kick the ball and unfortunately he made it.¬† After that our thoughts were‑‑ he made a great field goal but his kickoffs had been horrible to that point, you know, but sometime in that situation he will squibb it, and he came to me and said Coach let's take it deep, I can do it" so I said okay, we're not going to squibb it we're going to kick it deep, our normal left to left deep kick ask he did a great job, pinned them down to the 20 and we were playing okay but they threw one over our heads and it didn't look good there, I knew I had two time‑outs, I was going to try to ice them with one, and save one in case they made it, and try to get a return, get it back into field goal range and unfortunately we didn't need any of that stuff.

Q.  Coach, the few times that I've seen you guys play and covered you guys, you guys score in the red zone and tonight you scored 3 in the red zone, three scores, is there a philosophy or consistency there that seems to help your football team and help your football program in big games.
COACH NIUMATALOLO:  We just try to finish, we're be the a flashy team, things we do, go north and south.  I'm not the smartest guy in the world but I know going straight ahead is the quickest way to score.  Keep things simple because like I said they were doing different things, moving around and trying to get a bead on our defense ask so we tried to take the guesswork out of it and tried to run right at them and get positive yards.
We were fortunate.¬† Those are some hard‑fought yards, I don't know how much we rushed for, not very much but everything was hard to get against them.

Q.  Coach, you had the fourth and 1 situation, Chris Swain busts a long run, down in field goal territory and there is a face mask on offense which never happens.  What were you thinking then?  Was that Jamir?
COACH NIUMATALOLO:¬† I feel like I did a bad job because I could tell‑‑ I'm not going to mention names but I could tell there was emotion going on after the play just to remind guys, just play the game, don't get caught up in any of that stuff, we just want the "W."
When you hit somebody else, it's hard be the to get emotions involved, even if it's legal, football is a contact game but you still got to keep your cool about you, your wit about you and not get rattled.  We got rattled a little bit but he's a great football player for us and he's made a ton of plays for us and he will continue to make a ton of plays for us.

Q.  Can you talk about the fight in this team?  This game is reflective of your season, but you pulled out a victory at the end.
KEENAN REYNOLDS:  It wasn't pretty but we were able to pull it off somehow, a win is a win, only thing that matters is if you have more points at the end of the game, defense came up huge for us, made some clutch stops, hats off to those guys if they didn't play the way they did we wouldn't have had a chance on offense.

Q.  Keenan, reflect on your career at Navy and the dynamic of going to school there and playing as well as you did?
KEENAN REYNOLDS:  It's been an awesome experience, just everything from freshman year to now, all the things I've learned, people I've met, definitely growing as a man and as a player.  So I'm thankful that I was able to come here, had the opportunity to come here, thankful for the people I met and to be taught by such great coaches and looking forward to what the future holds for me.
COACH NIUMATALOLO:  I'm glad he came, too.

Q.  Can you talk about what they were doing defensively?  Looked like you guys were confused, the reads were difficult and talk about the three turnovers, the fumbles, it's been a huge issue.
KEENAN REYNOLDS:¬† First of all, we knew what they were going to do when they came in, there wasn't anything specifically on defense that had us lost, a lot of it was self‑inflicted wounds, turnovers, not being on the same page, couple of those, it falls back on me, I'm the guy that handles the ball through the offense every play so I got to do a better job, and nonetheless, like I said earlier, the defense came through for us, but as an offense we knew what we were doing, and when we executed we moved the ball at will.

Q.  Noah, what does this mean win to you as a senior, going out on a positive note?
NOAH COPELAND:  It's huge, I'm going to look back on it, down the road, when I have family and kids, I'm going to tell them we won!  I was with my brothers and we were going to have fun and celebrate with my teammates and I'm overjoyed.  It's crazy that it's over but I'm happy.

Q.  Austin, talk about what was going through your head at the end, it's a chance to pull the game out and you got to make a big kick.
AUSTIN GREBE:  Honestly I didn't think I was going to have to kick it because anytime we get that close to the end zone Keenan scores, so I wasn't thinkin' about it too much, I just figured Keenan was gonna score.  And then we were going to go for 2 and put it up by 6.  But I wanted to go out there and make it... send all our seniors out on a good note.

Q.  (No microphone.)
AUSTIN GREBE:  Yes, sir.

Q.  What's it mean to your program to win the Poinsettia Bowl?
COACH NIUMATALOLO:¬† It's huge, I mean it's one of our goals to win a bowl game and we accomplished that, so proud of our guys.¬† This team has been through a lot.¬† All the off‑the‑field stuff, traumatic things that have happened and I've been so impressed by these guys the way they have continued to lead, the way they've held our team together, halfway point in the season, things didn't look great.¬† Easy time to start pointing fingers, it's his fault, he did it whatever, they just kept working, grinding, and, again, testament to the fortitude and the resiliency of these kids.¬† They won eight games to finish the season.

Q.  One of the things that stands out to us, we've covered the different service academies, we haven't covered you guys until this year.  Your coaches seem to have as much respect for you guys as players, as players do for coaches and that's really rare in college football.  Can some of you guys that are older speak to that?
COACH NIUMATALOLO:  Obviously you haven't seen what I told these guys?
NOAH COPELAND:  You know, when I first met Coach Niumatalolo he was real personable, he's a people person, you know obviously football is a business, but he loves us like a family and that's the biggest thing.  When someone like that, as good of a coach as he is, he loves you, he actually puts time into you and actually cares about you and I respect the Coach to the utmost of my ability, I listen to him whenever he tells me to do something, when he yells at me I shut up and say "Yes, sir!"  He just demands so much respect just because of how good of a coach he is, and how good of a person he is.
KEENAN REYNOLDS:¬† For me it was that respect for the players that drew me to this program.¬† You know, when you are going through the recruiting process, everything looks the same, you see all the glamour and the glitz of football what was going on but something stands out and that happened to be what stood out to me when I was coming through, the respect for the players and having been here and experienced it firsthand, Coach Niumatalolo is a first‑class guy and everybody on the staff, they all treat everybody with respect, you know, I enjoy playing here and enjoy playing for Coach Niumatalolo and Coach Jasper and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Q.  The defense was put in bad spots and you guys came up time and time again, either forced field and didn't let them get in the end zone.
CHRIS JOHNSON:  We had good preparation, and we had a "no quit" attitude and when we were faced with adversity we welcomed it.

Q.¬† Did you force and recoverthe fumble at the end that set up‑‑ what happened there?¬† And did you hit Pumphrey?
UNIDENTIFIED ATHLETE:  Yeah, engaged the block, then turned around then he was right there, and then I tried to rip the ball out, came out and then as I was falling on the ball, right in my lap, so I just squeezed it, came up with it.

Q.  Parish, as a senior captain what does this mean to you to win 7 of 8 games to close the season?
PARRISH GAINES:¬† It's definitely one of the best seasons having these guys up here with me, how hard we worked through the season, starting out 2‑4 and coming back to win as many as we have and finishing 8‑5, it means everything, it's one of the best feelings and we're going to savor this one for a while.

Q.  Keenan was saying the defense kept giving you the ball back and giving you another chance.  What can you say about that?
NOAH COPELAND:  It's huge, we put them in bad spots and they continued to go out there and ball and continued to hold their offense and get us in situations where we can score and where, you know, they didn't score and we just had to execute.  The defense did really well.  We shot ourselves in the foot a lot, but when we executed like Keenan said, we were able to move the ball.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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