December 4, 2013

Strong ready for rivalry, great game

Opening statement:
"Last week, we had a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving Day and the team practiced that morning. Then, we had a team meal and then, that afternoon, we gave them the afternoon off and they were able to go to some of the coaches' houses just to relax and just enjoy themselves, because it's been a long season. Then, I gave them Friday off and we were able to bounce back here on Saturday and just start our preparation for a team that is similar to us in a lot of ways.

I look at this Cincinnati team and Coach (Tommy) Tuberville and I go back. We both grew up in Arkansas and I had a chance to see what he had accomplished at Auburn and where he's been on track at Texas Tech and then watch a team that's won six games in a row with an offense with Brendon Kay and the two receivers there in (Shaq) Washington and (Anthony) McClung. They're a great duo and they've caught a lot of balls and you look at (Greg) Blair on defense and the defense is led by (Greg) Blair, but I look at their numbers and their scoring offense is third, in scoring defense they're second, total offense they're first, and total defense they're second. In rushing offense, they're first.

In rushing defense, they're second. In passing offense, they're second and in passing defense, they're second, so you look at a team that's similar to us in a lot of ways, because in a lot of those categories, defensively, we lead, and offensively, we lead some of those categories, so you're going to see a great matchup.

Walk into a hostile environment, a game that already has been sold out, and so it's going to be a great matchup for us and we know this: it's got to be all about our focus and it's going to be all about us going on the road, we have to pack our defense, and just our togetherness and we got to go play our game, because it's a team that we've beaten once in the four years I've been here. We got to make sure we're on point and making sure that they days we have left here this week, we go out and have really good practices and plan well."

On discussing with team about missing out on BCS bowl and how it can be deflating:
"I don't think it's deflating, because you're looking at a team right now who's won 10 games. You're sitting there 10-1, so we don't get to the BCS. We're going to get to another bowl game, but you can't take away what we've already accomplished with 10 wins."

On what the lesson is when losing a home game:
"Well, that's the lesson. You're up 28-10 at home and you lose a game, but you're looking at a team too that you can't take anything away from UCF, a team that has won a lot of games and you look at it and now if they win the SMU game, they will go undefeated in the conference. They only lost to a really good team in South Carolina, so you got beat by a really good football team."

On Strong's view about the fans saying the offense is unproductive:
"You look at it and, if the offense isn't producing, and if you look, we had a lot of drops in the Connecticut game and if you take away the drops in that game, then you're going to be very productive on offense. We know that we can play much better on offense, but you can also play much better on defense. It's still a team game and we got to get the ball back for our offense and good things are going to happen, but we have to eliminate the penalties. We've hit a stretch here where we've had a number of penalties on offense, but it's a combination of things."

On the possibility of facing an ACC team in a bowl game:
"What motivates us is we want to win every football game. It's not so much we're looking at the opponent we're going to go play, but our focus right now is Cincinnati and Cincinnati only."

On what conclusion to draw from Saturday's college football games and what it says about college football:
"You look at Ohio State and Michigan, you knew they were going to play well and it's a rival game. You look at this past weekend and it was rival weekend, so you look within those programs and what they've built up and they understand the Michigan-Ohio State game and the Auburn-Alabama game it's a lot.With the players, because they have grown up within that environment and they know what is at stake and that's why they go out and play so well."

On who the rival is going to be in the ACC:
"Well, we don't have one right now. We haven't stepped in and that's what you're looking at is who's going to be our rival? But those rivals there have been there for a long time. You look at Florida-Florida State and its rival weekend and for us, you know it's going to be Kentucky, but within the ACC, we don't have that."

On having any hard feelings against any of the teams in the ACC:
"I haven't had a chance to go play any of them, so I can't have any."

On playing the last game in The American Conference and how this program has come a long way:
"It has and you think about when we were looking for a home and we were able to get into the Big East. I know I wasn't a part of all the big wins, but you look at what we have accomplished in this program and go to West Virginia before they walk out of this league and beat West Virginia.

You hate to leave the Cincinnati matchup, because it is a city we do recruit. You look at what we've built within this league and they're great games.

We go up to Syracuse and that was a great match-up. Pittsburgh was a great match-up. You hate to walk away from a conference that has been good to you and when you were looking for a home, this conference took us in, but we're going to another conference that's going to be a good stable conference for us and we're going to be able to go in and play well."

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