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 2017 AutoNation Cure Bowl Postgame Quotes  

December 17, 2017 | Orlando Sports Foundation, Inc

 2017 AutoNation Cure Bowl Postgame Quotes  


Media Contact: Nate Blythe / 772-240-8742

Written by:  Kevin Craig

Dec. 16, 2017


Western Kentucky Head Coach Mike Sanford

Opening Statement:

“I just want to start off by thanking the senior class for the legacy that they have left here at Western Kentucky that was really unrivaled. Those guys have left you with performances in the gut and the rib that showed out there today. Mike White, another 350-yard performance throwing a football. Deon Yelder with five catches, 100 and something yards, 112 yards, two touchdowns. Those guys have stories that just fight through pain, fight through injury and obviously weathering a tough season – the ups and downs and transition. Things I never intended for them and Western Kentucky as a program. It’s a university, it’s a community that we’ve reached and will be forever be indebted to them for the legacy that they leave. 37 wins that’s definitely something that we should all be very proud of.


“Today’s game, it’s been what has nailed us as the year went on. We need to identify the opportunities to run the football. We had some early success but not enough and it ended up making us one dimensional. It makes it tough to throw the ball effectively because of pass protection.


“Defensively, we made some great plays, made some great stops, created a turn-over, but at the end of the day, it’s my job as head coach of this program to find the solutions going forwards for 2018 – to make sure we run the ball effectively. To win championships, we have to run the ball effectively and that really ultimately comes down to me as the head coach.”


Western Kentucky Players R-Sophomore RB Marquez Trigg & R-Freshman DB Devon Key


On were you ready to play this game:

Trigg: “Oh yeah, I felt like we were ready play. Throughout the week, we did preparations. Even last week, we felt prepared as well. I felt like there was a place here and there that we didn’t make and obviously, we didn’t come out the way we wanted.”


On the second-half struggle:

Trigg: “I feel like as a team we came out with the energy in both halves, it’s just things didn’t go our way.”


On his team’s preparations:

Key: “I do feel the preparations and the effort were there it’s just things don’t go our way sometimes.”


On the progression of seniors:

Trigg: “January and February was kind of a struggle, but we definitely bought into this program and what they brought to it. It’s a progress.”


On the struggles with running games:

Trigg: “Different schemes I would say, different types of runs. We just have to get better as a team; running backs have to get better.”


Areas of Improvement:

Key: “Oh yeah, definitely. You have to work hard in the off season, watch a lot of film…mistakes that we’ve made, not even just this game but all season, as running backs. That’s our job, to not blame it on anyone else, that’s us, too, so we take blame for that.”


On motivation as freshman:

Key: “Winning last year and then having a struggle this year a little bit. We’ve just got to come back next year and just buy into the process even more.”


Western Kentucky Head Coach Mike Sanford:

On the offense throughout the game:

“I think they [Georgia State] did a good job, number [Michael Shaw], [Mackendy Cheridor] and [Ed Curney], really good pass rushers, really dynamic pass rushers. The turning point of the game was when we had some momentum, we had them on their heels, and then the sack fumble right before half. We had a chance to go score before the half and they had a chance to score before half as well. The sack fumble was a critical play, and I do believe it was number 5 [Cheridor] that did that play.”


On the bright spot for WKU in regard to Deon Yelder:

“He’s a tough, tough player. He’s a talented player. He’s a guy that going into this year had essentially zero stats as an offensive player. The body of work that he put in in the offseason really paid off, and continues to pay off. He played through a high ankle sprain the majority of the second half of the season, and that goes to show the type of young man that he is, and the growth that he’s had throughout his career, and most importantly, this year. I thought that he’s been an incredible bright spot for this team.”


On finding solutions in the offseason:

“I’m very confident. The first year is a challenge. It’s a challenge when you have a lot of new players who didn’t played much last year at some places and new coaches across the board. I think the relationships are very strong first and foremost. I do think the buy-in from our players is very strong. It’s been a great process developing our team and our identity as a team that continues to go and will continue going forward.


“In terms of the solutions to the run game, for example, or to make sure we don’t give up sacks. Those are solutions I’m going to put a lot of thought into especially after this early signing period on December 20th. When December 21st hits, our players won’t report back till the end of the January term and school doesn’t start till the third week of January. There’s going to be a lot of thinking that goes on within myself to find the best solutions for the issues that have ailed us. I have a 100% in my ability to do that and 100% confidence in our coaches’ ability. It’s one of those years you have to look at it and learn a lot from it. You have to look back at the adversity we were faced with. When you look at the injury situation we had and other situations we had internally with coaches like losing a coach for a year, that’s challenging. But we learned from that, grew from that, and were better because of it.”


Georgia State Head Coach Shawn Elliot

Opening Statement:

“Well, first of all, I’d like to thank our players for a tremendous effort. I told them before we stepped onto the field that the team that wants it the most will win this thing today. There was no doubt in our eyes when we left our locker room, both before the game and at halftime, we were the team that wanted it and we were going win it. That was in our heart, in our mind, in our spirit we have in our team and we never questioned it. There wasn’t a lull. There wasn’t any down-ness towards our sideline.


“To win this bowl, the first bowl win in school history, and to set the standard with the most wins in school history, with a great group of seniors going out, to set the standards that will be delivered to the rest of the programs history, that’s amazing. Just what they accomplished. I told our guys in there and I told them that we are a bunch of misfit coaches with a bunch of misfit players that learned to work hard and love one another, and go out and fight every single day. And when you do that, you have a chance to be successful. And we were successful tonight.”


Georgia State Players R-Senior QB Conner Manning, R-Sr. DE Mackendy Cheridor, Gr. S Bryan Williams


On the emotions of winning the Cure Bowl:

Williams: “We came here two years ago. We didn’t get the victory, but this victory means a lot. For other players to come in and a new coaching staff with Coach Elliott and his staff, they do a great job. We bought into the system. Our players had to buy into the system. They didn’t sell us nothing, but we just had to buy in. And this means everything to the players, to the coaches, to everybody that’s behind Georgia State. The donors, the media people it means a lot, and we are just building up the foundation. You know this a new program, so we’re just building the foundation faster with more bricks to the foundation. This means everything.”


On leading the team to victory and being MVP:

Manning: “For me, it’s really a credit to all the guys around me. This game, we came in just trying to focus on playing a clean game. Besides my fumble, I thought we did that for the most part, but credit to guys around me. I mean a lot of guys stepped up and made tremendous plays, and I couldn’t be prouder.”


On playing with an injured hand and being disruptive:

Cheridor: “Well, I knew this was my last ride at Georgia State and I had to go out with a bang. I was going do everything I can in my power to do that.”


On the motivation of playing a team who had been in postseason four years in a row:

Williams: “It wasn’t. It wasn’t about them at all. We weren’t thinking about Western Kentucky. We just had to do it for ourselves, especially for these coaches. We put a lot of hours, and we put our body on the line. We coach practice habits. It’s all right though. It paid off and all thanks go to God and everybody that has something to do with his program.”


On playing for a Coach Elliott:

Williams: “It was his energy. Coach Elliott came in and just started yelling, got everybody‘s attention, but everything he was saying made sense, so we just had to buy in. Everybody, the coaches came in with their game plan how they want to do us. We basically had to like retrain ourselves, learn a new defense. For Connor, he had to learn a new offense and just….I’m speechless man. We just got this victory and it means everything.”


Cheridor: “When Coach Elliott first came, I thought he was the realest coach I’ve ever been around. I mean he kept it real with us from day one. His energy was ecstatic. Like it gave me energy even though I didn’t show it a lot, but I really did appreciate everything he did leading up to this bowl game win and I really, I really do appreciate it.”


Manning: “I think coming into this year, a lot of us believed we could have a special year, and then with this coaching staff, you know, the energy. They brought the systems, whether we liked them or not, that was the situation we were in. So, if you want to be successful you’ve got to buy in and our players did a tremendous job and it started in the winter. We were out there working early and credit goes to these coaches for getting us right and we knew we could do something special if we truly just believed and bought in.”


Georgia State Head Coach Shawn Elliot:

On what’s it like to have Conner, Kenny and Brian leading your team throughout this year?
“Good football teams, successful football teams, have great leadership; especially when you have older leadership. When you have older leadership it really rises, and you can see it too. You saw it out there. It’s just a great opportunity for those guys, they set a standard. They set a standard that’s never been done before. When you do things that have never been done before you remember them the rest of your life. We talked about it all year, you will remember for the rest of your life – the first bowl win ever, most wins in school history. You don’t think those guys will remember that the rest of their life? I’m going to be sitting here telling my son, sitting right down there, and he’s going to be telling his kids one day where he was when we set the school record and that first bowl win.


“Georgia State is a very, very young program. There’s a lot of programs out there that took 50-60 years to win their first bowl game, and we did it tonight. I can’t tell you how proud I am. I’m sitting right up here and I’m going to stay wet and stay drenched all night long and I’m going to enjoy this. I’m going to let it sink in and I’m going to wake up and I’m going to try to better it and I’m going to try to go out and set a new standard.”


On the team giving him credit for the wonderful season:

“Well, apparently we didn’t do a good enough job, because I didn’t come here to sell anything to these players. It was either get it, or get out. We would tell it to them, that’s how it is. What they had to understand early on is that we were going to do it our way. We were going to practice physical. We were going to be disciplined. We weren’t going to mouth off. We were going to play with a certain demeanor, a lot of confidence, but not a lot of cockiness, and go do more than what’s expected, and that’s the only way we did it. There were days they didn’t like it and I didn’t like them. There was a lot of that in there, but that stuff happens. But to be successful you have to go through some hard times and tough times. We certainly did, but a credit to those guys that persevered, and took some of those hard days and made the most of them.”


On the defensive line being a factor in the win:

“They had six sacks. They probably should have had 12 sacks. We had five broken containments. They pressured them all night. We kept seeing where we were getting the pressure. Our twist games were working really well. We were penetrating. They did a great job. They showed up. When you face a team like Western Kentucky that throws the ball as much as they do, you have to get them off rhythm at quarterback as much as possible, and that’s exactly what they did from the very beginning to the very end.”


On his first impression of team and harnessing that impression into today’s product:

“My first intro was the first day of conditioning, that’s when you get off the recruiting road and signing class real quick. When we went out that first day, I thought we had a lot of work to do with them and they had a lot of work to do with us. But what we had to do first and foremost was find the effort. We had to find the effort and relentless passion and pursuit to never quit. That’s probably the number one thing I stressed all year. It wasn’t that we had great players and great coaches, we just had to learn how to fight and dig deep and give more than some of the others were willing to give. That’s what they did, they learned that and I learned that right alongside them. What a credit to those guys. When I say they played from that first snap to that last snap. If you watch the game, you could tell. You could tell we wanted to win that game.”