2015 Quick Lane Bowl Post-Game Quotes
Dec. 29, 2015

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MONDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2015; 5:00 P.M. ET

On if getting a bowl win was a ‘monkey on the back’ for the program: “I don’t know about ‘monkey on the back,’ I never really felt that way. I’ll tell you, it feels a hell of a lot better than ending the season on a loss. Especially for our seniors, they’ve done a tremendous job. Briean (Boddy-Calhoun) and Eric (Murray), KJ (Maye) and all the rest of them. So, to get an opportunity to play again and to have those kids finish out their careers on a win and it just so happened to be the first bowl since 2004. But more importantly to me, it’s the first group of seniors that we’ve had that get a bowl victory. What they’ve done for the entire football program is truly amazing. From where our academics were, these were the kids who had to come in and accept the change and then sell it to every other kid who came in. I’ll always be indebted to them, they’re always welcome back and as far as the young kids go and Mitch (Leidner) and the guys coming back, this will jumpstart our offseason program. It’ll be the first time we’ve had the chance to go into our offseason program coming off a win rather than a loss. A loss sticks in your gut a long time. Knowing you got a win now and you don’t play until next fall, you can keep a smile on your face for quite a while.”

On what he saw from QB Mitch Leidner on the two-point conversion: “That’s what leaders do. You get in ball games like that and it gets tight at the end, you’ve got to have a play to win and your leaders do that. Mitch has stepped up and done that several times this year. Like I said, our kids, they worked hard and prepared for this and they’ve been in that same situation. I think we’ve enjoyed being around each other the last 10 days, even practices have went well. So they weren’t going to let anything get in their way there if we got a chance for one last drive at the end.”

On playing in a bowl game as a 5-7 team: “We played by the rules. That’s all I’ve got to say about it. That’s the rule that was there. If they don’t want 5-7 teams in the bowl then change the rule, but right now that’s the rule. I was glad that it came down to the APR because we have, for how much we’ve improved it and how high our APR is, I think that was great to have an academic component because if these kids wouldn’t have made the improvement over the last four years, we would not have gotten picked for this bowl game. So, I’m not going to apologize for any of it and we felt like, based on the rules, we played by the rules and deserved to be here and had a great time here. The Quick Lane Bowl did a great job for us and we enjoyed playing in it. To have the opportunity to play one more time with this team was a great thing for us.”

On the defensive adjustments against CMU’s screen plays: “It was more just taking some of the space out of it and recognizing the linemen releasing quick up field so you could go match up with it and get the space out of it. That was the thing we talked about at halftime and Jack (Lynn) did a nice job there towards the end. That was one part of the game we thought we had to get under control was their screen game. I thought we ran to the ball awfully well on defense during the second half and that’s how you stop screens, also.”

On potentially playing QB Demry Croft in the game tonight: “Yeah, and I apologized to him because I really did. It just so happens there before halftime we got pinned down every time down there inside the 20-yard line. I was waiting on us to get out towards the 30-35-yard line to give Demry a chance to have some space behind him and not get pinned back there. So, that’s kind of how it played out and then in the fourth quarter, obviously, we were going to play to win. So I feel bad I didn’t get a chance to get him in the game but, like I told him, he is our future. He’s a very talented kid and has big plans in our future. At quarterback right now, we’re sitting awfully good with where we’re at and also the others who will be joining us. That’s a position I feel good about and it’s a position, you can’t win without toughness and being great in critical situations. Right now, that’s what we are at quarterback.”

On Leidner playing through injury tonight: “He was a little mad at me, probably, because we held him out of reps in practice and he likes to take every rep in practice. But with his injury, he needed to take a little bit of rest and I think he’ll admit it did him some good. He had his legs under him and he played awfully well, but this all goes back to when he redshirted his freshman year and he was a scout team quarterback. We’re down there throwing everything at him and getting pushed around. I remember one day, Cameron Botticelli shoved him at the end of the play. Mitch took the ball and stuck it right back in his facemask. There’s something about - You have to be a leader. He made great plays down there and never panicked on the work team and just continued to build and become a better football player. I said all along early in the season, not all that was his fault. Some of the protection things, we were having a hard time getting the balls thrown from where they were designed and when they were designed to be thrown, but at the same time, that’s the position that takes the heat. The good thing is we have somebody there who’s tough enough to handle it and bounce back and give us opportunities to win ball games.”

MINNESOTA QB Mitch Leidner
Quick Lane Bowl MVP

On what he was thinking as they fell behind in the fourth quarter: “Yeah, exactly what you said, we’ve been there before. So, we were confident when we came out onto that field. Defense, we knew was playing great all night and we knew that if we get another touchdown up on the board, they’d get another stop for us. So, we were really confident as an offensive group, I’d say. When you walk into the huddle and you see the looks on guys’ faces, you could tell everyone was ready to go down and score.”

On what he saw on the read-options during the game: “On some of the ones that I kept, you know, they’d bring two guys off the edge and you have to split them. Then they had a guy waiting for me, and then the couple on the touchdown drive there, they had a guy go right to the back and it left a nice gap there for the quarterback.”

On the two-point conversion: “We did a little sprint-out action there and they covered, I think it was either Woz (Nate Wozniak) or (Brandon) Lingen in the flat right away and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get outside to be able to extend the play there. So, luckily I was able to feel with some pressure there and be able to get off that guy and see KJ (Maye) in the back of the end zone. He was able to make a great catch.”

On when his surgery will be this offseason: “I’m not exactly sure and everything. It’s kind of a confusing process I think. The trainers, they tell me where to be and when and I just do it. I don’t know off the top of my head. I think it’s going to be sometime coming up, I know for sure.”

MINNESOTA DB Briean Boddy-Calhoun
On the interception: “Yeah, just throughout the week our scout team guys did a great job of giving the same looks that they gave and they did a great job of competing with us. So we came in here with a competitive edge just ready to play. We haven’t played in about a month, so we just had some fire coming out and as far as the interception, No. 80 (Anthony Rice), he was getting me all night. He was really good receiver and I had a hard time kind of pressing him and on that one I just had to settle down and unfortunately the play broke down and next thing I know I saw the ball in the air. I was talking to a radio guy, he was talking about my aspirations of being a college basketball player and I told him I had to bring it down like a rebound, like back in the day. And also that pick, that just shows how we are as the unit because everyone’s talking about the interception, but all I can think about is the two times I got caught before that one leading to a touchdown and the other one leading to a really big play in a crucial time and looking at Ton (Antonio Johnson) and looking at Eric (Murray). They looked at me and said, ‘You’re OK,’ and they had my back and they were my strength through that.

On his emotions in the game as a senior: “I felt the best I’ve felt all season, to say the least.”

On the end of his collegiate career and how he’s feeling now: “Like coach Tracy (Claeys) said, it’s great to come out on top. We got all our crying out, Wisconsin, we just came out, we just wanted to come out here and win a game and that’s what we did. So right now it’s just all excitement, maybe something will come up tomorrow. But right now I’m just happy for the team, happy for the coaches and happy for my brothers.”

Opening Statement: “Before I go talk about the game and so I don’t forget, I just want to thank all the people with the Quick Lane Bowl. They really did a fantastic job. This was a great bowl to be a part of. The accommodations, the amenities, everything they did for our kids and our coaches was definitely first-class and hats off to them. We really want to let them know that we sincerely appreciate it and that we’d come back again and again. We loved it. As far as the game, we’re obviously very disappointed in the outcome. We felt like we were right there. The drive late there in the fourth quarter really hurt us, as did the two-point conversion. Just not enough at the end, a few too many mistakes, but Minnesota had a good plan, they executed it. They definitely deserved the win, but we feel like we were right there and had opportunities to win the game and just didn’t get it done. I’m proud of our football team and the effort, how they prepare, how they fight, how they play together and we’ll use this to motivate us moving into next year and we’ll come back even stronger and with a better team.”

On Minnesota’s defensive game plan: “Well, you know, I think it was pretty well-documented that they have a very good secondary. I think that was the strength of their defense. We thought we moved the ball against them well. We stalled a few drives, got in some long-yardage situations, but they’re a good defense and a talented defense. They probably played a lot more press coverage than they had shown going into the game. That was probably the one thing, I’d say, that they gave us that we weren’t expecting as much of.”

On the play call on the final play of the game: “We were just trying to get the ball downfield and completed and, obviously, they were just trying to get a repeat of what we did last year in the Bahamas.”

On what he will remember the most from this season: “I’ll always remember our seniors and how they bought in from day one and worked. With coaching changes, transitions are tough on programs and I just – We’ll hold up a championship trophy here in the very near future and they won’t be with us, but their fingerprints will be all over it.”

On RB Romello Ross’ touchdown run: “Obviously, a very talented young player, had a great game against Eastern Michigan. He’s a true freshman, we’ve got him for three more years. He’s only going to continue to improve and get better. I’m very proud of him and he’s a Chippewa. He plays the game the way you expect him to play and the way we expect everybody to play. He’s got a very high degree of maturity about himself for a really young guy and how he carries himself. You wouldn’t know that he’s a freshman and I’m very proud of him and looking forward to a very promising future for him.”

On what broke down on Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner’s touchdown run: “I’ll have to go back and look. They were running the read-zone inside and that was like a follow play. I’m not sure who was supposed to be over-pursued. We came down hard, we killed the back, but he didn’t have the ball. So it was a good adjustment by them and they did a nice job of executing it.”

On when he knew P Ron Coluzzi wouldn’t be with the team for the bowl game: “It was probably about two weeks ago.”

On the backup punters’ performances tonight: “I thought they all did an excellent job. Cooper (Rush), I don’t know what his average is, it’s up there though. I thought Zach Oakley did an outstanding job and our plan was to use Brian Eavey when we got in close. I thought his punt was a touchback, but he gave us a chance to down it down there deep and I thought he did an excellent job. I thought our guys really covered well. It was a challenge for our team and I think we rose to it just like we rose to challenges all year long.”

On why Coluzzi chose to transfer: “It was personal reasons. We certainly wish him well.”

On what happened on the last play with the interception: “I was breaking down trying to make a play and (Anthony) Rice was going to leap behind him and got it over him. He was going to keep running for a while, but could have made a pretty good play and you have to tip your hat to them.”

On why he didn’t take the sack on the interception play: “I don’t know, I should have, looking back, looked for the 4th-and-14 or 15 or something, but just trying to make a play. Looking back, probably should have just ate it. But he made a hell of a play.”

On if they found motivation from the outcome of last year’s bowl win because they were in the same situation: “It felt like that. Wish we would have repeated it, but we just needed some luck on that play.”

On if Minnesota’s secondary was one of the strongest he’s seen this season: “Yeah, I’d say they were the best ones. Thirty-one (Eric Murray) is a very good player, he showed it today.”

On if Minnesota’s secondary played more bump-and-run than expected: “A lot more cover-one today. Every time they had 11-personnel they would cover-one, which is not typical of what they showed earlier.”

On being back in Detroit to play: “It’s a blessing to be back in the city. I’m glad that we got to make it to the bowl game and we were able to showcase our abilities. It didn’t go exactly how we wanted, but sometimes it goes like that.”

On his touchdown run: “It was just blocked up and it was just well blocked up to the safety, then as a running back, when you get to the safety you’ve just got to be able to keep your feet pumping. Everybody else got on board with it and we pushed the ball in.”

On his freshman year at Central Michigan: “Well, I had started off being a redshirt freshman and a few players went down and I got to play. I just wanted to take the opportunity. The coaches felt like they had enough trust in me to get on the field, so I can’t prove them wrong. I have to show them that it was the right decision.”

On why risking a year of eligibility was worth it to play this season: “It was always a goal of mine coming up. I was a true freshman in high school and I wanted to come up and do the same in college. So when the opportunity was presented, it wasn’t too hard of a decision.”

On his thoughts on the fourth-quarter drive before the interception: “Let’s just keep moving the ball. I felt like we had them on the ropes, and Cooper (Rush) being a great player, he tried to make a great play. The defender was just there and, sometimes it happens.”

On how he’s adjusting to the speed of college football: “The next three years I should progress a lot more. I think this first year I came in and did OK, but I could get a lot better.”

On how the big defensive stops and RB Romello Ross’ run created momentum: “That was a big momentum change when we’re able to get the turnovers that we needed and the offense marching down there and I think that gave us a little bit more boost. Then, I think on that drive that they had when they scored at the end, they kind of just marched it down. We were tired, but yeah, we need another play, we need to make another play and we just came up short.”

On today’s crowd at the game: “It was an amazing turnout. I definitely wasn’t expecting from the weather, but I think we had a pretty good number of fans here and I think that played a big factor in the game.”

On his feelings as a senior about how the year played out: “Yeah, starting from the coaching change, we went through a lot of adversity. I think our seniors played a big part in the resilience that we showed. We had some pretty good leadership out of our captains like Coop (Cooper Rush), ‘Jumbo’ (Tim Hamilton) and (Nick) Beamish. Yeah, I think that played a big role in our resilience that we showed during the season. ”

On the challenges with defending Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner: “He was a pretty good quarterback. He can run, pass, big guy, like 6’4”, 250. So yeah, the was a pretty good quarterback and I think he showed it out there with his ability to pull it and run for a first down a couple times too.”

On the role ‘Jumbo’ Tim Hamilton played on the team as a leader on the defense and losing him to injury mid-season: “Yeah, Jumbo’s a great player. He gets everybody going; he brings a lot of momentum out there. I think our young guys filled a big role and they stepped up to the challenge and that was some more adversity we had went through as a team and as seniors.”




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