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January 3, 2006

Bobby Bowden

Willie Reid

Pat Watkins


COACH BOBBY BOWDEN: Joe and I both thought it was a great football game, a game that both kickers probably could have ended the game a lot earlier. We missed, they missed, we missed, they missed. But it was a great ballgame, again, a game in which nobody really should have lost that game, but somebody has to lose.
I thought our kids played about as hard and about as good as we could. If we could have eliminated penalties, I think we might have won the game. Of course you can say the same thing about them, but I'm talking about us. I don't know how many holding penalties we got in the red zone, but it seemed like every time we got to the red zone, there was a holding penalty, even in the playoff at end there.
So we were our worst enemy in that regard.
Q. 13 penalties for 119.
COACH BOBBY BOWDEN: And that's not counting the ones that they turned, right? They had some, too, I'm sure. But anyway.
Q. There was an awful lot of head coach experience in the building tonight, and we saw a game tonight with safeties and fumbles and missed field goals. Where does this game rank in terms of bizarre games you've seen in your career?
COACH BOBBY BOWDEN: Well, I've played in a lot of bizarre games, especially when you get down to missing field goals. I think when they pick the all-time missed field goals coach, I'll probably win that award, because we lost a lot of games missing field goals and we played against other people that lost them.
Penn State could have lost tonight missing field goals, and Miami this year when they missed a field goal. So that is weird.
Like I say, we're masters at that.
Q. Can you point to Willie's punt return and what it seemed to do for your team. You had trouble doing really anything against their defense and he seemed to open up some things for you.
COACH BOBBY BOWDEN: The ballgame, I tried to approach our team this week as we need another Virginia Tech game out of us, we need another Virginia Tech game. The key in that game was try to hang in there, hang in there and hang in there and then somebody break it open. We were 3-3 at the half and Willie brings a punt back in the third quarter and really breaks the game open. We just got hot.
Well, tonight, it was very much the same thing, except Willie returned it in the first half. But we're going into the half now, one point. Hey, that's like Virginia Tech. I said, "Don't worry about that one point. It ain't going to mean nothing, it's like being tied."
So I just -- I knew it would be a dogfight and one of us would win it, and I had no idea which one might at that time. I knew our chances were about as good as theirs, by what happened in the first half. But Willie had set the tone for us, in this ballgame, the Maryland ballgame and the Virginia Tech ballgame with his punt returns.
Q. Willie, if you could just talk about that punt return you broke for a touchdown, if you could talk about what went through your mind and how soon you realized you had a good chance of breaking it?
WILLIE REID: I felt that I had a good chance of breaking it when the holdups didn't get down there as quick, guys like Pat and Roosevelt Lawson did a good job of holding up their gunners and they really give a punt returner the most trouble. They did a good job of walling off their man, and I just had the kick of the beat and made a touchdown off of it. It was a great job for our punt return team. The coach does a great job for us and it's been one of the stronger teams this year.
Q. Can you guys just talk about the emotion, being involved in a game like, this and even though you lost the game, maybe what it does for how you feel about the season?
WILLIE REID: Well, it was a tough loss and real tough to swallow it. Could have gone either way with the kick. You know, it's something you really can't control because you're not out there on the field and you really cannot put it on one guy. We had a lot of penalties tonight and we didn't do a lot of things well.
I think this game is a classic game between two great coaches and I was just happy to be a part of it.
PAT WATKINS: I felt like most of us were unhappy because all week long we had been underdogs, well, almost all year and every week we go out and try to prove something, going against the No. 22 team, the No. 3, and we sort of feel like we can play with anybody. And that automatically gets your emotions up and down. And on top of that, Coach Bowden and Coach Paterno, two of the greatest coaches in the game, you want to win it so bad.
Q. Coming off this season, you won the ACC Conference Championship Game for the 12th time in 14 years but you had a five-loss season, is that going to be tough to sell a lot of recruits before signing day?
COACH BOBBY BOWDEN: The championship or the five-loss?
Q. Five-loss season.
COACH BOBBY BOWDEN: Oh, yeah, that will be a hard sell. But I won't sell that, I'll sell them the championship. (Laughter) I'll show them my ring.
I don't try to sell negative. I'll try to sell the fact that we won the championship for the 12th time in 14 years or something like that. A lot of people think that if you have a losing season your recruiting ain't going to be good. Sometimes it helps you. Some of those kids want to go somewhere where they can play, you know, they feel like they can play better for us than they can for somebody else who is loaded. You'd be shocked how little effect five losses has on a season. You know I would not go in somebody's house and try to sell them on our five losses, don't you? I'd sell them on the championship.
Q. Pat, would you talk about the intensity on the field and the kind of contact that was going on out there. Just seemed like a lot of shots being taken on both sides.
PAT WATKINS: We knew coming into the game that it was going to be a physical game. We watched a lot of Penn State film and felt like we needed to go out there and we needed to prove that we was the Florida State team that everybody was afraid of and the one that was going to go out and hit you right in the mouth.
We knew this coming in and we went out and gave it all we had.
Q. How much was Weatherford grown up over the past two games?
COACH BOBBY BOWDEN: Weatherford has really gained from the first game of the year until the 13th game of the year. He has just gained aggressively with it. He got how many yards today throwing, I don't know how many he got, I think it was over 200, though. And I think he needed one hundred and something to break the ACC record, I think, for a freshman.
Anyway, he has really grown with it all year long and tonight is a great example because Penn State had -- I coached against Joe up at West Virginia for ten years, and I saw those four teams he had where he dominated eastern football. And this team here, reminded me of those same ballclubs. You know, physical, good blocking, good tackling, good tough running backs. And we hung right there with him and Drew hung right in there with them.
He's really done well. I'm very, very pleased with him. It's going to be interesting with all he can do. It reminded me of -- I don't know why, he reminds me of Drew Brees when he was a freshman at Purdue. I don't know what the stats are, if they were close or not, but he reminds me of Drew.
Q. What was it like for you to be involved in a game like this? And again, does it leave a memory on the season that you think the feeling, the team gained something as you go into next year?
COACH BOBBY BOWDEN: Oh, yeah. I think the thing that's very important is the direction you're going, you know. Although you lost more ballgames than you've lost in maybe four or five years and the most since you've lost since years ago and all that stuff, you can't play that game. You've got to say, are we heading forward? Yeah, I think we're heading forward.
Again, that was the No. 3 team out there in the nation. I wish we would have been 3 and they were 22, I would feel a little bit better going in. I thought we played them -- it's hard to tell who the best team was. But they were a much more mature football team than we were. The thing that concerned me most about them was their maturity. When a team has three-year starters, you'd better watch out.
So I thought that could be the difference in the ballgame. And the way we were making mistakes early in the game and getting penalties, I thought that was exactly what was going to be the difference.
Q. With some of the criticism that you and Joe have taken in the last couple of years, what does it say to you that your teams were able to put on such an entertaining game that you guys had tonight?
COACH BOBBY BOWDEN: Yes, we both have taken a lot of criticism lately, which is -- it's going to happen. And it will happen more and more and more, and both of us of course being at our age, the easy thing to say is -- it's got to be one of two things: It's either our age, or what's the other one? Oh, our sons. His son, my son, everybody jumps on the sons.
Again, you have two football teams, two excellent football teams tonight. Even though we are not ranked up there high at all. I do think, like I told my kids, what a great game that was to build going into next year.
Like I said, I'm concerned about direction, and I think we are heading in the right direction.
Q. Willie, you set a record tonight for punt return yardage, 182 yards for any Bowl game in history, can you talk about the significance of that.
WILLIE REID: Well, I didn't know it was like that, but I have to credit the team, the other ten guys that blocked for me because all returns look the same without any blocking. Those guys, I really have to tip my hat off to them. They worked really hard in practice, they do their job well in the game and it just brings me -- it's crazy how the returner gets a lot of the credit, but those guys really deserve all of the credit.

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