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December 2, 2019

Eliah Drinkwitz

Boone, North Carolina

HEAD COACH ELIAH DRINKWITZ: Just extremely proud of our players and staff for the work they have put in to be able to host this game, and excited about the opportunity to play such a quality opponent in ULL, and know that Coach Napier is going to have his team ready to roll.

Q. The last time that you played them, their punter, burns, had four kicks of 50 yards or more and I think three or four of them got down inside the 20. If you could talk a second about their special teams what they do well there.
HEAD COACH ELIAH DRINKWITZ: I think they do a tremendous job on their special teams, not only with their specialists, but with their scheme. I felt like that was one game that their special teams won that phase of the game. They really had a nice job, did a nice job of scheming us up and having -- putting us in bad field position most of the game, and created opportunities for their team through special teams.

So that's something that this week we really have to pay attention to and really need to do a better job of not being behind the 8-ball.

Q. The last game, if you look at the season-long, if you sat there and looked at the season-long schedules for both teams, the last game just doesn't fit, the score on it. It just seems like so strange. It was an outlier. Is it possible you could see a low-scoring game like that again?
HEAD COACH ELIAH DRINKWITZ: I don't go into any game with preconceived notions. Just going to see how the game plays out. I absolutely think both teams have defenses and special teams, which could contribute to an offense not being able to produce what they have done over the bell curve of the season.

I do have a tremendous amount of respect for what they do on the defensive side of the ball and know that they have been able to hold opponents pretty much all year to doing what they want them to do. So anything can happen, and I know they are a very good football team.

Q. I remember the last time after that game, you were wondering aloud about the offense being too conservative. Now that you've had a whole season to look at that, has your mind changed at all? If it played that way again, you might do the same things again?
HEAD COACH ELIAH DRINKWITZ: Yeah, absolutely, the goal is to win the game, we were doing things that we needed to do in order to ensure that we had the lead. We played most of the game with the lead in bad field position, so you're trying to protect your defense and protect your offense from putting yourself in bad situations. I mean, the bad situation.

So the style of game dictates how aggressive you can be offensively, and I think the manner with which I would handle the game.

Q. You look at this football team and where they were from the start of the season to where they are now, what has impressed you the most about them and how have you seen them grow game-in and game-out?
HEAD COACH ELIAH DRINKWITZ: Well, I think just the maturity of sticking to the process of getting better every week.

You know, I think on both side of the ball on special teams, it was a process to trust the coaches, trust the scheme, trust the players; that we were putting each other in the right situations, and you know, we had some ups and downs early in a lot of different areas; and the ability for us to sustain the trust and respect for each other; and the ability to believe in each other that we were still going to be able to get the results we wanted, even after maybe some poor performances on the defensive side of the ball where we didn't play as good as we wanted to, or offensively where we weren't playing at the level we wanted to, or even after losing to Georgia Southern, the team stuck together. I think for me, that's going to be the proudest thing that I am about this football team.

Q. Off of that, obviously you've broken a number of records this year. Had a number of firsts: Ranked 20th currently in the coaches in AP, top 25 polls, ranked currently top 25 in CFP; that should go up this week, we certainly hope so. Certainly deserving to be in those rankings. I know you don't really want to talk about those things -- but -- how important is it that team has been able to produce such things and what does it mean for the Appalachian State Football Program and where they are in this day and age?
HEAD COACH ELIAH DRINKWITZ: Well, I think the first thing you start with is that was kind of a vision when we took the program was how can we continue to push this program forward and what are the things that we could possibly accomplish that would allow us to keep Appalachian State in the forefront of the Group of Five college football, and being able to win some of those games and being able to be ranked certainly gives us that opportunity.

What does it mean? Hopefully it means as a football team, as an administration, as an athletic department, we will continue to push to sustain excellence for our program.

Q. And looking at Louisiana and the same realm, they are receiving those there obviously, at the top of the Sun belt, top of the Group of Five, as well. What have you seen from them and their growth, similar to your all's? Obviously you weren't here last year, but just to see where they have come from at the stop of Napier's era to the end of this regular season.
HEAD COACH ELIAH DRINKWITZ: Well, I think I saw it's the first time in school history that they have won ten games, which is an incredible accomplishment and hats off to not only their coaching staff but their seniors and juniors for buying into the culture that Coach Napier is trying to produce.

I think you see a team that, again, believes in its coaches. I know that they were disappointed with our loss, but we were able to bounce back. I think they have won six straight. They are a good football team that is on a mission and it's going to be two good football teams playing on Saturday, and it's going to be a great football game. It's going to be cold and all kinds of weather, so it will be a good, old-fashioned December Championship Game.

Q. The first game between you guys was a bit I guess unusual compared to the compared the rest of the season both of you guys had. What do you take away from the first game and how does having already played an opponent play into your preparation?
HEAD COACH ELIAH DRINKWITZ: Well, you know, I think any time -- I think it's a hats off to two good football teams that were responding to a different game.

Each game has a life of its own. You're talking about a defensive game with field position issues on both sides of the football and goal line stands, and you know, going for it on fourth down. It was more an NFL style of game than maybe what an open college game is now, which is fine.

You know, but we played such a long time ago. I think both teams have changed, maybe formatted who they are and played to those strengths more than what they were in week five. You know, in week five, I think for us, we were still trying to figure out who we were going to be and what our identity was going to be.

So I'm not sure how much you put into it. I mean, obviously you look at the personnel matchups, but from a scheme, I think that you have to go back to the most recent games and figure out what is their best schemes.

Then I can't remember what the second question was off the top of my head.

Q. Just playing a team twice.
HEAD COACH ELIAH DRINKWITZ: I mean, it does factor, but you don't sit there and just base it off of this last game that you played against each other. You've got to go back and see, does it match with who they are for the last 5- to six weeks.

Q. I know you're focused on the Championship Game, but do you feel like Appalachian State should be higher in the rankings and do you feel like, you have a good case for that New Year's six spot if it gets there?
HEAD COACH ELIAH DRINKWITZ: The highest-ranked Group of Five team has the opportunity to play in a New Year's Bowl game, and I think until a team has won that spot, there shouldn't be jockeying for position as much as some commissioners have been trying to do that.

I think what we all should do is focus on the task at hand and regardless of how it turns out, the winner of that game should stand on their own merit based on not conference affiliation but based on their strength of schedule and strength of wins on who they should choose, whether that's us or one of the other six group of -- or group of however many is it, I guess it's five or six, five conference champions. So I'm not going to push for anything right now. I'm trying to beat one of the best teams on our schedule, a 10-win team, and we're going to certainly have our hands full in that task.

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