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Meet the Press: Kent State

Sept. 29, 2009

Press Conference

Head Coach Art Briles

Opening statement:
"I'd like to start off by saying how "I have a lot of respect for Kent State after looking at them on tape the last three days. They do a really good job defensively. They're pretty aggressive on the defensive side of the ball. So, from an offensive standpoint, we have to be pretty intelligent about how we move the ball and attack them. Offensively, they have a couple of quarterbacks they've been playing; Morgan, who's not their starter, played a little bit last week. He's a big strong kid who turned his ankle a couple weeks ago and came in and played a little bit last week and I think he turned it there, but they're saying he's ready to go this week. Their running back, who has been their top running back for the past couple of years, had a kidney injury a couple of weeks ago and we're hearing he may be back this week as well. He's a really good football player, really quick and exciting and moves around well when he has the football in his hands. What we have to do is understand the mentality they'll come to Waco with and be ready to match that and prepare for all that they're going to bring to the table."

On concern with injured players (Robert Griffin, Mikail Baker and Blake Szymanski):
"First and foremost, our concerns go to them and their families. Then you break it down from a football standpoint and the good thing about Robert and Mikail is that they'll get an extra year back because their injuries were early enough in the season. In Mikail's case, he'll have a sixth year and Robert, this will be his redshirt and he'll have three (years) more after this. You look at the picture and figure out if you want to look at it good or bad and that's the good side of it. Syzmanski hurt his shoulder trying to score in the third quarter and he's day-to-day. He's better today than he was yesterday and he was better yesterday than he was Sunday. If he gets in a little bit of work this week, he'll be ready to go Saturday; Blake's a good player. The thing I like about him is that he's weathered, he's a veteran and his path hasn't been easy. A lot of times people whose paths haven't been easy have a lot to prove, a lot to live for and he's going to fight hard. So I know that's going to happen with him being able to get that opportunity."

On Nick Florence at quarterback:
"We have Nick (Florence) and Brody (Trahan) who are both good quarterbacks, fighters and competitors with intelligence and a passion for the game. The great thing about youth is that they're not fearful. They're just glad to have an opportunity to go out and play. They don't look at the big picture; they just look at what is in front of them and go out and play so that's encouraging to me. I also know the intelligence level that Nick will perform with if he ends up being that guy Saturday. He has been through our meetings since last January so he understands our offense and knows what to do. It's rise-up time - everyone is here for a reason and maybe this is their reason, we'll find out."

On defensive lineman Jason Lamb:
"He's very gifted because he has the ability to play inside or outside. He's the guy that I think has improved as much as anyone on our football team over the last 18 months and it's all because of his work ethic, his attitude and his intensity and it's because everything he does, he does it at full tilt. You're looking at a guy who's six-foot-five, probably 286 pounds and he's strong enough to play inside and quick enough to play outside. He's great for us and allowed us to do some different things up front defensively."

On experience to rally a team:
"I'm not a big storyteller quite honestly. If I were, I'd be good at it. If you're not good at it, you listen so I'm a listener. What applied in 1987 doesn't mean it's going to apply in 2009. I think every situation is different and every circumstance is different so we've got our circumstance and we'll deal with it. Every year these players are here to make a difference or be the difference whenever it may be and none of that has changed. We're here to play ball so that's what they'll do."

On tailbacks Jay Finley, Jarred Salubi and Terrance Ganaway:
"They're all good football players; I think Jay has a good chance of being ready for this week. We had a lot of confidence in Jarred and Terrance going into last week and Jarred hadn't had quite as many carries as Terrance, but we knew if we got the ball in his hands a few times that he'd be able to make some big plays."

On depth in the secondary with Chance Casey and Clifton Odom:
"It's always good to have quality depth. We were proud of those guys for the job that they did. Odom is a very steady player; he was a track guy in high school so he's run a little bit. He's a tireless worker who pays great attention to detail and Chance is outstanding in track, very athletic guy who was a running back in high school and we projected him as a cornerback. He's used to having the ball in his hands and he's going to be a great football player for us all over."

On Syzmanki's confidence:
"The thing I like about him is his journey and how he has handling it. In 2007, he was the guy and statistically had a pretty good season. I have watched the process with him for the last 20 months and he's handled it like he should handle it. He's worked on things to make him better, paid attention and been a great team member. He's been very loyal to this university and this program and he's done everything that he can do to make sure that he's ready. He has handled it with a smile on his face and the right energy in his heart and that's what you should do. I don't think confidence has ever been an issue for him and it certainly shouldn't be an issue especially as a quarterback."

Senior Quarterback Blake Szymanski

On status of his shoulder and how it's feeling:
"It felt better (today) than it did yesterday so I'll probably be ready to go."

On how Baylor's depth has improved since he's been here:
"(It's improved) all across the board from defense to offense to special teams. The big thing is probably the defense and offensive lines - that's how you win games and coach stresses that a lot. I think we're pretty deep in that aspect and receiver-wise, we're on the right page with that, too."

Staying motivated going to starter to back-up:
"I'm not going to be here to feel sorry for myself. Robert's (Griffin) a good football player and came in and won the job deservingly so; he's a good football player. I wasn't going to sit on the side and pout about it, so I worked to improve my game, too, in order to help this team.

On the range of emotion over the past four days:
"It has been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster. It was unfortunate how that happened to Robert (Griffin) and then I went in there and got hurt, too. It doesn't matter who's at quarterback, we're going to win football games and there's not a doubt in my mind. Everyone is going to come around whoever the quarterback is and we're going to be ready to play."

Senior Linebacker Joe Pawelek

On Blake Szymanski:
"I think for losing your starting quarterback, which is never a good thing, we are going to be okay. Blake is coming in here as a fifth-year guy with a couple of games under his belt as a starting quarterback and he has already played in the Big 12. Starting from last year (Blake) has been working his tail off like he is going to be the starter from workouts to practice to meetings to film. If he hadn't been working as hard has he has been working, I would be worried. Blake has done a great job of seeing past the `I'm-not-the-labeled-starter' but still working like he is. From that standpoint we feel confident in him and for what is to come."

On the defense stepping it up over the next few weeks to take the pressure off of the offense:
"Ultimately this could be a good thing for us from a defensive standpoint. Things are going to be different on the offensive side for maybe a game or two in terms of getting on the same page and in sync. I think this could be a good deal for us in that maybe a little more pressure will be on the defensive side. We need to step up."

On the importance of the defense starting fast:
"Usually we split up in our position groups on Sundays to watch film. We came in this past Sunday as one defensive unit and Coach Norwood put that film on and we watched all 50 of those plays. We pointed out each and every player where there was one or two guys not playing the defense the way it was suppose to be played. I think that was real good for us all being in one room, being one group seeing how a little misstep or blown coverage can make a three-and-out into a 15-play scoring drive."

The importance of the defense forcing turnovers and scoring points:
"Anytime that the defense can put points up on the board is huge for us. It can change the momentum of the football game. Anytime that you can get that done twice is huge for us. That is something that coaches always preach to us--getting the ball out and getting turnovers. It was nice to see those results out there Saturday."

On the mindset of the team on the first drive:
"We came into the game knowing that against UConn, we didn't play the run well. On the first drive it kind of started off the same way. I think it was kind of a wakeup call for us and I think we all responded well."

Sophomore Running Terrance Ganaway

On the depth at running back:
"Jay (Finley), (Jarred) Salubi and I worked hard during the summer and fall camp before we even started the season. Coach said that there was no starter in this room so we just kept working hard. Jay is the starter; he is the leader in our running back group. He was a big help being out last week as he mentored us and prepared us mentally for the game. (Jarred) Salubi and I just went out and did what we usually do. We have been playing all of our life. We just went out there, played hard and executed plays."

On scoring three touchdowns against Northwestern State:
"I don't get greedy at all. I just thank God for every opportunity that I have. It is really him that I play for. If it wasn't him that I played for, touchdowns would be touchdowns, but I don't care about the stat book. As long as we get the `W' and I get to block for whomever gets in and scores, I am happy as long as we get the win. Our offensive line played hard all night and you have to give them credit. They are the ones that are fighting hard on every play. All we have to do is make it seem like it's hard on us, but it's not; they play hard. They played hard this weekend."

On Blake Szymanski:
"We never were a one-person team. Robert (Griffin) is an outstanding athlete, a great leader and a great player. For him to come back and play another quarter and a half with the injury is just great for the team. It is really emotional for the team. We are going to miss him, but Blake (Szymanski) is going to step right in. Blake is not going to be Robert Griffin and he is not going to try and be Robert Griffin. He is going to be Blake. He is going to make smart plays and he is going to get the ball to the skill guys. We are going to put in work like we have been."

Sophomore Quarterback Robert Griffin

Regarding his reaction to his ACL:
"(I wasn't) expecting it to be that bad and then finding out in real life that the whole season was gone, letting down everybody on the team and around the community. But I just have to let it soak in, let the tears go and get ready for the long road ahead."

On how he can help the other quarterbacks:
"I will still be around the team, still help all of the quarterbacks - the young ones and even Blake (Szymanski). Blake is pretty experienced; he's been through it a lot and he kind of knows what he's doing, but there are still areas that I can help him in. And if he's not available, you know Nick Florence or Brody (Trahan), I can help those two get up to speed and realize what they have to do. They don't have to be world beaters and superstars out there; all they have to do is their job and they'll be fine. Everybody else will pick it up for them. The little things in the film room, on the field, at practice, showing them little things; that will all help."



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