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January 11, 2020

Matt Entz

Jackson Hankey

Ben Ellefson

James Hendricks

Trey Lance

Frisco, Texas

North Dakota State - 28, James Madison - 20

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by North Dakota State.

COACH ENTZ: That was a fun one, wasn't it? Again, these four guys here and the locker room full of other players are the reason we've been able to be successful all season. Their work ethic, their commitment to being at their best every day, not only on the football field but in the classroom, resonates throughout our program.

And we have a lot of 18- and 19-year-olds that are in that locker room that learn from these four guys and our other seniors, and it's been an unbelievable ride. I tell people all the time, I'm afraid I'm going to wake up and we're still going to be getting ready for Butler. But we'll enjoy this one today. It's not very often you go 16-0.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Take us through the last play, James?
JAMES HENDRICKS: It's a play that we're familiar with. They ran it in the first drive. They ran it on that fourth and one, but he threw the shovel pass to the running back, the one that got reviewed.

It was on film all year. We knew that when they got in that set they were going to run a pick play. And honestly, they got us in a good call. They picked our guy. I just left my guy and knew that they were going to throw it and trusted that he was going to make that throw to the flat and not the guy that I'm supposed to cover. And I made the play and the rest is history.

Q. Trey, talk about opening the fourth quarter with the run on third and 22. What did you see and just kind of what was going through your mind on that?
TREY LANCE: Kind of just working through my progression. Worked to Christian first. Then I was going to step up and work my over. And kind of the Red Sea just kind of parted. Took off.

In my head I was thinking third and 22, maybe get half, get in better field position for Reiny. But Jimmy made a big block and I think Phoenix had the other one. I specifically remember Jimmy's big block. Maybe don't even get the first down without him. So, shoutout to those guys.

Q. Which play is going to stand out for you when you look back on it, the interception or the fake field goal?
JAMES HENDRICKS: Meeting everybody up on stage is what's going to stand out. At the beginning of the day we said we were going to meet everybody up on stage with a victory and end this season and this run the right way.

And it's the seniors, that's what we wanted. It's the number one goal every single year and to go out on top as a senior is an incredible feeling. That's what I'll remember. I'll remember all the faces I saw on that stage and thanking everybody that had given their hard work and hard effort into everything that goes on with NDSU football. And I just feel so fortunate.

Q. Ben, can you reflect a little bit about this ballgame and just this run?
BEN ELLEFSON: The word I like to describe for the seniors is resilient. And so there's a lot of question marks and things like that at the beginning of the year, and to be able to be in this position to go out on top, it's been very special.

When you're playing with guys like the 14 seniors and guys like Trey Lance it makes it easy. He makes people around him better. And this coaching staff and everybody involved has made it very easy to be successful here.

Q. Jackson, just 16-0 backing up a 15-0 season. What does that mean to be able to put together another season like that?
JACKSON HANKEY: I think it shows a lot about the program, who we are. I think at the beginning of the year there were a lot of new faces and there were a lot of people that had a lot of questions about how good we were going to be.

Myself, I was a new person. I had never really played. Trey had never really played. Coach Entz was a coordinator.

But we kind of knew what we had in our locker room. Maybe everybody else didn't. But we had an idea we were going to be pretty good this year. And to see that all come to reality over a six-month season or whatever it is has just been an unbelievable journey.

Q. Jackson, JMU probably got more than what you guys would have liked between the 20s, but as you guys have done all year, bowed up in the red zone, forced some field goals. What was it about your red-zone defense this game and all year long that was so dominant?
JACKSON HANKEY: That's something we pride ourselves on at a very high level. Coach Entz said it before: At the end of the day, they don't count how many yards you get. You've got to get yourself and the ball in the end zone.

And we have a saying around here that says, field goals don't get you beat. And that kind of showed up today. We did everything we could to keep them out of the end zone and came up with some big plays down at the goal line.

Q. Trey, what does it mean to go undefeated -- or not undefeated, but not have any interceptions this whole season?
TREY LANCE: I think it's a huge testament to the guys around me, whether it's the offensive line keeping me clean, the receivers, the running backs, the tight ends catching the ball, and also the coaching staff. Got to give all the credit to them. They put me in position to be successful. Fortunate enough that it worked out that way this year, but it wasn't like that was something I was worried about.

Q. Trey, for you again, the play that had everybody buzzing in the first half was that time you carried the pile about six, seven yards with some big guys pushing you. Social media was blowing up with that play. Can you walk us through what was it like first taking on the linebacker breaking that tackle and seeing that pile keep going to get the big first down after they scored on the opening drive to take the lead on you guys?
TREY LANCE: We wanted to start fast. We got the ball in our hands, that play specifically. Just tried to take them on. It was the Mike 52. He's a really good player, big player and physical. And just fortunate enough it worked. O line pushed me about another 15 yards, as they've done all season long. So again just those guys just took over the game for us.

Q. Ben, on the fake field goal, I think you had a key block on that. Could you describe that play and the second part is NDSU doesn't run it very often on a fake anything. I think that was the first time since '03?
BEN ELLEFSON: Coaches had confidence in us players to make plays like that. James is a smart guy, smart football player. So it was the look that we had been running this whole week. And so when you're prepared like that, it makes it easy to go out there, cut it loose. So just had to go cut it loose and make the play.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. Starting quarterback, 16 games, zero interceptions. You never dream of that as a coach, do you?
COACH ENTZ: You never plan on it happening like that. No. You're exactly right. Trey is extremely efficient with the football. You saw today, if he doesn't like it he's going to pull it down. He has the ability to gain valuable yards. I think our offensive staff has done an outstanding job of putting him in good situations, going all the way back to September, when maybe we didn't trade shift in motion nearly as much as we might have saw today we continued to try to spoon feed our offense to Trey and guys he's learned it faster than anybody. And he probably had a great grasp of it a year ago. But there's no doubt in my mind he has the best quarterback coach in the world and best mentor in Easton Stick a year ago that you could ask for.

Q. With the game plan in general on the offensive side Trey ends up with 30 carries, your tailbacks end up with 10. Is that something that you knew the QB run was going to be heavy going into today?
COACH ENTZ: We did. They hadn't seen much quarterback run all year. Maybe it was just this year and the CAA. It wasn't a big quarterback run but we hadn't defended it then all of a sudden defend us with single high defense you're going to run out of players post defense will need to make plays and third down single ID and back to coverage and we were able to make an explosive play.

Q. James leaving his man, is that uncommon to do that in that situation?
COACH ENTZ: I'm glad he did in that situation. It had happened a couple times before. They missed a throw to the back in the corner of the end zone. He overthrew it, probably had too much on it. Came right back to it later. I think the quarterback took a little bit off it and put a little air on the ball. James, he jumped it. That's what playmakers do at that moment. And he was going to make a play.

You talk about a young man that played quarterback for us, made the move, asked to be moved because he wanted to be on the football field. He's been the quarterback at Code Green for a couple of years now. And I hope he gets into coaching because he's got it. He's got the ability. He understands the game. And what a super play. And it didn't surprise me that he scored -- I didn't think he would score, but if there was anyone who could score on the fake field goal, it was going to be him.

Q. On the fake field goal, was that a straight call or was that a look that he had to see before he took off?
COACH ENTZ: It was a call. James Madison has not let very many people score touchdowns. But the one thing they had shown is they lined up the exact same way every time after a touchdown to block the extra point and/or field goal. So it was -- we had them on the left hash. We knew they'd overload through the field, try to block it where the quarterback was going to have to push the ball. They were seven by four. We knew we had numbers back over there and took advantage of it. It's my goal just to keep the chains moving at that time.

But again, for us to be able to win the explosive plays during the course of the day was huge.

Q. Just talk about your defense on that final drive, bowing up after some penalties on that drive before the interception?
COACH ENTZ: Definitely, pass interferences are going to happen. There's a number of them early in the game. So they probably even themselves out. We've got to do a better job. Guys are so antsy to get after the quarterback. That's frustrating. But I understand the situation of the game.

We try to change up coverage as much as we could. We jumped into some cover two. We played a little more bracket coverage, which I think caused them some problems at times. They tried that trick play, that throwback, and we did a great job knocking it down.

Our kids -- red zone defense is something we practice multiple times during the week. I think our coaches do an outstanding job of preparing for it.

A lot of offenses start to water down, narrow their package down there. And our kids, like you heard today: I've seen it 100 times in practice; we knew what was coming.

Q. If you don't mind, could you kind of run me through what goes through your mind after you send in a call like that? Are you trying not to give off nonverbals, the fake, I'm talking about the fake field goal, trying to give off nonverbals, or what's going through your mind after you've made a call like that?
COACH ENTZ: Make sure that the look is there. He had the ability to get out of the fake. If they all of a sudden showed up in a balanced information, we were kicking the field goal and taking three points. We were excited about having Liney (phonetic) back today. It had been a long year for him. But we felt good about it. And we had seen on the -- I think we had already scored today, and they showed us what we were looking for.

And we figured, okay, they gave us the seven by four look, going to give it again. And I thought I just have to keep my cool over there because sometimes I get really excited about that stuff.

Q. After allowing a score early, how important was that first drive?
COACH ENTZ: It was critical. The play that we were talking about early that I think our center got beat on on some 60 protection, but all of a sudden Trey took off and then you saw us push in for 10. That might have been as valuable a play during the course of the game as any of them, because they were up 7-0, and all of a sudden these guys are a pretty good football team. I know they're young, but the Bison can play football, too. And I think that was a moment during the game that our kids are probably going to hang their hat on for a long time.

Q. First 16-0 college football team since Yale in 1894. When I say that, what's going through your mind?
COACH ENTZ: Hard to believe. It probably won't sink in for a couple days yet. Maybe on the flight home. I know it will feel more real the minute I walk through these doors and go in the locker room and see these guys.

Just their effort, our coaches' efforts -- we had a lot of new faces. I joke, we've got a lot of teenagers, they're 18- and 19-year-olds in there that have bought in to how we do things. They've embraced it. We have 14 unbelievable seniors that have provided leadership. We've got a quarterback that is mature beyond his years that everyone wants to be around. He's that type of person. You want to gravitate to people like him because they make you better.

I'm excited. So excited for the senior class. When there were some doubts. A lot of transition. Just like Jackson said, we had this D coordinator who was going to try to be head coach. I can't thank everyone enough.

Q. Do you feel like the offside penalties today were due to antsiness or excitement?
COACH ENTZ: I think we were listening too much to the vocal cadence of the quarterback and not watching the football enough. Probably a disciplined we need to get rectified. I'll worry about it in spring.

Q. Was Josh Hayes working through some stuff, or was that a normal rotation, he came in and out of the game -- and describe the quality of that play that he made when they threw the stacked screen and he was one-on-two and tackled for loss?
COACH ENTZ: Josh battled some injuries during the course of the year. We played 16 games. There's a lot of reps. But when you play 16 games, you also practice another week. So there's those reps as well on top of it.

Dustin has given us great depth all year. And has he played like a veteran? Not all the time. But these reps that he's gotten, when he can rotate with Marquise and Josh, are going to prepare him for the future. I know we don't want to talk too much about the future. But those are unbelievably valuable reps, the last three weeks have been valuable to our football team and to the future of our team.

Q. You mentioned how young your team is. Can you talk about how you saw them grow from Butler to now?
COACH ENTZ: Just confidence. Being able to handle the weekly demands of being a Bison. I think one of the stats -- and again I know we've -- we have some issues. We've got things we've got to continue to clean up.

There hasn't been a perfect game yet. We're still striving for it. When you start looking at our body of work on the football field being 16-0 and our semester GPA for the young group was the highest ever as a Division I program, close to a 3.15. I think that says a lot about our kids just buying into the message, believing in each other and taking a lot of pride in being Bison.

Q. How different was game planning for James Madison compared to other teams you've played this season?
COACH ENTZ: You know, we went about the process the same way. Now, they have a number of talented football players, a roster full of talent. They've got a ton of transfers at positions. I'm so glad to see Riley Stapleton finally going to be done. I forgot he was a sophomore in '17 when we saw him. Big, physical receiver.

They've got some great players. But we just went about it and tried to put our kids in the best situation to be successful during the course of the week. And our kids continue to try to execute. Was it pretty all the time? Probably not. But all we asked is they need to be the best team today. And you know what, going 1-0 this week was big.

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