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January 6, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Delaware, Coach K.C. Keeler, Pat Devlin, Andrew Pierce, and Matt Marcorelle. Coach, if you have an opening statement for us.
COACH KEELER: Seven of the last eight years the CAA has played in this game, we're very proud happy to represent the CAA. University of Delaware has been here three times. We're very proud about that. It's been an age amazing time down here. As I said at the banquet, from the moment we got here, Frisco has opened their arms and their hearts to us, and it's been a real Bowl experience.
It's the first time at our level doing it this way in terms of the three-week period in between and I love it. I think it's the fairest way of doing it. We got as many of our guys back healthy as we could. Also got a chance to enjoy the experience. I think our kids have just absolutely enjoyed this experience.
As I told them on the practice field, the hay's in the barn. If they beat us, they're better than us, because we've prepared very well. And I expect that we'll play very well. So we're excited about that. There's a little bit of an unknown because it's almost like a first game all over again because you've had three weeks off. But again, looking back at it and just talking to the fellas, we're all happy about how we prepared. We're anxious to play a very good football team tomorrow night.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Anthony, senior class has been through a lot. Highs, lows. Could you kind of talk about appreciating being back in this moment after climbing back from '08?
ANTHONY WALTERS: It's extremely important for us, because I gotta tell the younger guys, as seniors, we remember those dog years.
We remember 4 and 8. We remember on defense being called defenseless. We remember 6 and 5 last year, and I continue to tell them that this isn't easy.
We've made it look -- we've made some games look rather easy. But it's not. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment and years sometimes. We could say that it took us two years to get to where we are now. And it takes hard work and commitment year-round, and it's important for us, you know, to change what happened in '07.
Q. Coach, talk a little bit about Andrew Pierce and the process that he went through to get here. Do you gray shirt many guys? Kind of just a follow-up with that is has he been the most successful one that you've had?
COACH KEELER: It was a unique situation where we didn't have a scholarship. We scholarshiped two freshmen running backs and then we found Andrew. Andrew came over to visit. He loved us, and he wanted to walk on.
It's a little sensitive to walk on as an out-of-state student. So we put a plan together. He took a county college class, just to kept himself fresh. He worked out, got a job, and would come to every ballgame and just sit and dream about playing some day in that stadium.
February rolled around. That's when our second session starts. I had scholarship money available, so I said, listen, I'm going to give you a one-semester-scholarship. There's no guarantees past this point.
And he came out in the spring and played phenomenal. We had some money available. He's not on a full ride; he's on a partial. We said: Listen, this is all we have left. He's on that, and yeah, he's done a great job.
Omar Cuff was a gray shirt. Siddiq Haynes was a gray shirt. So we've had some luck with some of those guys in the past. And Siddiq walked on also, just like Andrew. In fact, Andrew, that was one of the things that really intrigued Andrew about this was that it worked out for Siddiq. And Siddiq had talked to him, was involved in the recruiting process, and Andrew saw it work before and hopefully it will work again.
Q. K.C., what you did think of what Daryl Johnston said to the team out there after your walk-through? And I also wanted to see, Anthony, what you thought about what Daryl said.
COACH KEELER: All you have to do is look at the players' faces. I was watching Walters during that whole thing and they were just captured. Here's one of the great players ever. He's talking about the Super Bowls, and he's talking about when he sees these guys years later, there's an instant connection, all these memories. We jokingly call it a search for immortality. That's our quest. That's something they can never take away from you.
And I thought his message was right on. I mean, here's a guy, again, who played at the very highest level and won a Super Bowl, and he's talking about the same relationships that we're hoping these guys have when we win a national championship this year.
ANTHONY WALTERS: I agree. When I was looking at him, first I was thinking, wow, that guy's tough as nails. And also he blocked for Emmitt Smith and Emmitt Smith loved him. And everything he was saying, I was just focused on him because I do realize that 15 years from now, we can never get this time back. We can never get back '07, '08, '09. And all we can do is play for this year. And as he was saying, I was kind of reflecting on what I've done since I've been here and the friends I made, and what I'll be able to look back to.
And I think honestly, everything's great and all, but it's all smoke if you don't win. And that's one of the memories. That's the main memory that we hope to take from tomorrow.
Q. Coach, having been to this game before twice, what did you learn from the first appearance that maybe has helped you prepare the kids for this game?
COACH KEELER: I told the kids Sunday going into this thing was that I know a couple of things. First of all, we're going to play a great opponent, because, you know, you don't get here without playing a great opponent.
The other thing I told them was it's all about preparation now. I mean, that's what we talk about, immortality. When we get here on Friday evening, it's going to be about doing the things that we've done to get here. Not just talking about immortality but in preparation it's going to be about immortality because you have to recognize that everything you do all day long has to be going towards winning that football game, because you can't get it back.
So I just talked to them about that. And it's a one-game season and we're all in. And, again, I have such a great senior class that the messages can be very simple, because they take them and they run with it.
So again, we were talking on the field a little bit how we've changed some things this year in terms of how physical we've been in practice. And I don't know if a younger immature team could have handled what we did. We didn't hit a whole lot. We took the pads off.
But at the same time, we've played at a very high level. But going through what we went through in the '05 and '06 with -- I'm sorry, '07 and '08 and '09 with all the injuries we had, we had to do something and I had to get this very, very good football team to this opportunity, and we are here.
Q. K.C., I was wondering if, like, during your study of Eastern Washington film, if you may have noticed like any kind of difference between football that's played on the East Coast, Northeast, in your conference, and maybe football played out west?
COACH KEELER: Just looking at the numbers, their conference is more of an offensive conference. Their numbers are higher offensively than our numbers are in our conference.
At the same time, our conference is more of a defensive conference. If you look at the numbers just conference-wide, in our conference -- it changes all the time. There's -- I think '07, we had a number of teams in the mid-30s, or so, in terms of scoring.
But, no, I mean they have outstanding players like we do. A lot of the same schemes. It's a little bit like watching ourselves because they don't get real fancy. Neither do we. I think they are who they are and we are who we are.
And I think that was one of the things about preparation was you only can -- you can only look at 12 personnel so many times. There's only so many things you can do from it.
And you start almost inventing things. Okay, if they go unbalanced, well, Coach, how many times have they gone unbalanced? Well, I think back in game 3 they went unbalanced twice. It's almost at the point now where just we want to play this football game.
But no, I don't think -- I haven't seen a big difference in terms of what they did out there and what we do.
Q. Anthony and Matt, after watching film, what are your impressions of their quarterback and where would you rank him with what else you've seen this year?
ANTHONY WALTERS: Well, they like to throw the ball around, and I don't think he'll be any different than what we've seen. We've practiced against that every day.
But I think their biggest strength will be at the wide receiver position. The running back's hurt, so I'm not including him. But I think the wide receiver position, they make a lot of plays for the quarterback. And I think at times, they make him look really good.
He's also thrown like six interceptions that I think went for touchdowns, but he throws a beautiful deep ball. I will say that. When he's throwing to the right, he throws a beautiful deep ball. It's well placed and it's on the money.
MATT MARCORELLE: Yeah, like Anthony said, he throws a really nice deep ball. He seems to make plays outside the pocket. Seems like he makes plays on his feet, run around a little bit. He's a pretty good athlete.
Overall, they have a good offense. They wouldn't be here if they didn't. They like to run a spread scheme and create seams and run the ball, pass the ball, run and shoot. So should be a good game.
Q. Coach, what's different with this team compared to the last two national championship teams you've had?
COACH KEELER: There's a lot more the same than different. Great senior leadership. We had great quarterback play in '03 and '07. We're getting great quarterback play now. Great tailback play in '03 and '07, getting great tailback play and now. Had a real good defense both years. There's a lot more similarities than there are differences.
It's really neat because of the some '03 and '07 guys were on route to come down here. A lot of guys from '79 back when I played. So I'd say there's a lot more similarities than I would say differences.
Q. Andrew, you often hear the term impressionable freshman. That adjective is often thrown in front of a freshman. What are some of the ways this year that you've been impressionable that you, just from being a young guy on a team with a lot of guys older than you, have benefited and will continue to benefit throughout your career at Delaware?
ANDREW PIERCE: Like Coach has been saying, the 17 seniors that I have by me and Pat and Anthony and Marcorelle, they're just great and they show me a lot as being a freshman. And also this being my first time here, they've been here in big games before and they just are great seniors. And hopefully I can carry that on to when I get to be a senior one day and be able to be a great leader, just like these guys are.
Q. Matt, your career obviously has gone on longer than you thought it might. Did you ever think after '07, hey, maybe I'll never get back to another championship game?
MATT MARCORELLE: Yeah. I mean, making the national championship, it's not easy. A lot of things have to go right. And in 2007, you know, we were able to put together a championship run. We obviously didn't cap it off with a win like we would have liked to. But once you make it once, I'm just blessed to be able to be in this game again. And I'm extremely excited.
And I always told myself if I ever made it again I would do everything I could to prepare myself to try and win this game.
Q. For the players, how much is this more Bowl-like experience been for you guys and how has the city of Frisco been?
ANDREW PIERCE: It's been a great experience for me because I haven't really been to anything like this. And just as soon as we got off the plane I just seen how we were welcomed and just riding to the hotel, seeing banners of Eastern Washington, Delaware on IKEA sign. And just when we went to the little elementary school and how the little kids embraced us, screaming their lungs out for us and they don't even really know much about the University of Delaware. Just a great blessing seeing everybody welcome us here to Frisco.
PAT DEVLIN: I mean, I don't really know what else to say. I feel bad for the teachers at the elementary school because those kids can scream. But, yeah, Frisco's been great to us. We've had great practice facilities and a great place to stay in the hotel, and it really is very Bowl-like to be here a couple days before the game.
ANTHONY WALTERS: I agree with what they both said. I think it's amazing so far, playing in 2007, it was the week after the playoff game. It really wasn't that big of -- it wasn't made that big of a deal. And Frisco's been great to us. Coming, getting off the bus and having almost like a mini pep rally with their staff and then having a pep rally with the little kids was awesome. I think everybody enjoyed that.
The stadium is beautiful. The decoration around it, the field. I can tell a lot of people put a lot of time and effort into it, which makes it even that much more important.
MATT MARCORELLE: I agree with what everybody else said. (Laughter).
Q. Coach, could you tell us your impression of the facilities here at Pizza Hut Park?
COACH KEELER: Again, I react a lot of times how my players react. And so when we got off the bus, kind of took a peek at the players' eyes and they just lit up. You can see it on the Internet, you think it looks like a nice facility. Then you get here and it's very impressive.
This is a tremendous venue to get a chance to play a national championship game. As I said before, I've been here a number of times in different areas. Got a chance to be in Virginia and play for the national championship there and Chattanooga and now here.
It's been nothing like this. Apart from the fact it might be a Bowl experience, we've got had a chance to enjoy it because we didn't have to prepare during this week. We put our game plan together two weeks ago.
But also just the way the town has embraced us and how everyone's just so excited to have us. You can tell, this is genuine, and I think they've made a great impression on everyone around us. Everyone that's come in so far from Delaware, that's the first thing you hear out of our kids' mouth and my mouth is, wow, you'll be really impressed, they've done it first class here.
Q. Have you guys noticed any big support of people traveling from Delaware? I know about 300 students are coming down, planning a bus ride. How impressed are you with that?
COACH KEELER: I'm impressed with it. It's great. Anytime you can get support, especially from the student body, it's great. I know a lot of us have our friends, family coming, but again, just to have people coming from the University of Delaware, the support, the alums, and some of the former players and everything, it's a great thing. It's a great feeling to know that we have a lot of support and a lot of people behind us.
PAT DEVLIN: The support's been great. Ever since we got in the playoff, the students have really stepped up and really been at every game. It's been wonderful.
On a personal level, I have about 20 family members and friends of family who are coming down. And it's great to have that family support, someone who sends you a text and tells you good luck. It's just been great. I come from a little football town in Downingtown, all my buddies back home and teachers back home have been texting me. So the support is awesome.
ANTHONY WALTERS: I think it's amazing just because it's expensive, it's an expensive trip. But for the students to make it, you know, that means a lot to us. And I also think, like Marcorelle said, we have former players coming. Ben Patrick was here. And then we have the vice president that's coming to the game. It just shows how important it is to some people.
Q. Andrew, since you're the only one up here, player who is going to be returning next year, I was wondering if you can kind of talk about what this experience will mean not only for you but for the guys who are coming back next year, like how it will help beyond this year?
ANDREW PIERCE: Just to know that they have a taste of being here. Now they know what it's like and what it takes to get here. So I believe bringing everybody here was a great opportunity for them just to see how hard it is to get to this point and what it takes to get here. And when you get here how nice it is and that feeling when you do step out on that field how it's going to be.
And I think it will just bring a whole lot of energy next year and hopefully the next few years.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
End of FastScripts