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2018 AutoNation Cure Bowl Postgame Quotes

December 16, 2018 | Nathan Blythe

2018 AutoNation Cure Bowl Postgame Quotes

Tulane Head Coach Willie Fritz


Opening Statement:

“I’m just really proud of the football program, the university and how they supported us. These guys worked their tails off, especially our seniors. There were some tough times here at Tulane. These guys embraced me and the coaching staff and just worked forward every day. Every game this season is kind of like fourth and inches. There was a time where started the year off 2-5 and to come back and win this game is just very, very special. Also, all the people here at the Cure Bowl, what great hospitality. I mean, I haven’t been in a lot of bowl games. I am an old JUCO coach, Division 2 and D1-AA. Played playoff games but, not many bowl games. But, y’all have treated us great so thank you very very much.


On converting on third and fourth down to get the game-winning touchdown:

“That was huge, you know. It was a big catch by Chuck [Charles Jones]. Another big play he had was in the end of the first half where he made the tackle and really a four point play. He didn’t make that play, they would have probably taken it back 99 yards for a touchdown and instead settled for a field goal. And then, it’s good protection and good call. I thought Alex Adkins did an excellent job. The first time ever he really called the plays in the game. He really prepared the guys well. A really nice play, good execution. The pass wasn’t right on the money. Chuck had to move for a little bit, but he made a big catch which really kind of sealed the game for us.”


On Darius Bradwell’s performance:

“Well, we just kept feeding him. He did a nice job of hitting it vertical. There were a couple times that they ran some twists inside, caught us on some short situations, but for the most part, I thought he did a really nice job at seeing the hole, getting vertical. He is a hard guy to arm tackle. At 235 pounds, he has got great strength.”


On the hurry-up offense related to incoming offensive coordinator Will Hall:

“No, that was absolutely the plan, but Coach Hall was kind of a major consultant the last week and a half. It’s something we have done a little bit throughout the season. We did a little bit more this ball game.”


On the importance of points on the board with a late-game surge from Louisiana:

“Yeah, its huge. They took the opening drive, went right down the field and scored on us. We didn’t hit the counter play, very well. They just went right down the field and scored, got a lot of confidence. We hung tough. We did a great job of moving the football. We had the ball for twice as much as them, we had it for almost 41 minutes. We had the ball for like 19 minutes (in the first half) and when you do that, normally you get a win if you don’t give up the big plays. Offensively, great job chewing it out. We are on the sideline defensively, we are always playing pretty good defense. So good ball control offensively.”


On the start of the season being 2-5, and now winning a bowl game

“It’s tough. You get in those situations where the natural thing to do is doubt yourself, but we really all stayed positive, kept working through it. There is a chance when we are at 2-5, ad could have been 5-2. We had some really, really close ball games. Just a great job, bunch of guys believing in each other, accomplishing their goals they want to accomplish. Very few problems with these young men. I think they are a real credit to Tulane University and represent the university in a first-class manner.


On sticking to the successful run game with Darius and not experimenting:

“We’ve kind of dabbled in a committee role this season, but you know you try to get the ball to the guy who’s hot, and he was hot – so we gave him the ball a bunch.”


On Darius topping 1,000 rushing yards:

“Yeah, I think he was still 14 yards away before the game began. Now, he’s over 1,100 yards. That’s a heck of an accomplishment at the college level, particularly in a league like this. The American is an excellent conference, lot of good defenses. You know, you think it’s an individual accomplishment, but it’s a team accomplishment with the offensive line, tight ends, other running backs, quarterbacks. That’s great for our team.”


On going 2-for-2 in the state of Florida this year:

“Yeah this is a big win for us and what we did down in Tampa – got the win against South Florida. Every game is different and the guys just prepared well. I was just looking at…we had one penalty for five yards and we are going their taking off with a little bit of time. You’re a little busted and might have a penalty or two and I let the guys pretty sharp for the most time.”


On team-highs in points and what drove the team’s productivity:

“We had them run the ball, while mixing around, chasing down, throwing the ball and playing honest. I thought we had a good game plan. We get a lot of chips being called from the sidelines and it’s not like getting into and make the appropriate call based on the front in their coverage. I like to thank Alex and the offensive staff did a great job with that.”


On embracing the Cure Bowl and Pledging to it

“Yesterday at a competition with the food bank and both teams were side by side. It’s great. They have a good coach at Louisiana – the staff and their guys and as well as our staff know we are here for the competition, getting ready to play football, the next day. At the very end, they all got together and were doing the cure bowl chant, probably have not seen that before since you have been running the bowl game. I care for the game. Its gives for an unbelievable cause and it raised over $3.5 million dollars. It is a great bowl game.”


On what it’s like to be here:

“Just awesome. Everyone, we came in contact with was super easy to work with and just very hospitable from the hotel to the police escort in my mind – I thought we were the president or something – go getting into the practice and coming back and all those different kinds of things. I can’t say thank you enough, just awesome awesome people.”


Tulane RB Darius Bradwell, LB Zachery Harris, S Roderick Teamer Jr., and LB Patrick Johnson


On Darius Bradwell’s 35 carries for 150 yards this game:

Darius Bradwell – “I wasn’t too tired but, 35 carries – that is the most that I have ever received in a game, but, I’m just happy for these seniors. This whole season went to these seniors.”


On Louisiana’s running game:

Zachery Harris – “I knew coming in, stopping them from in the backfield was going to be a huge challenge for us. Number nine, Trey Ragas, I played him in High School so, I know how physical he is. Just being able to stop him and stop UL’s run defense was a huge accomplishment for us.”


On limiting Louisiana’s rushing attack:

Rod Teamer Jr. – “Well, earlier in the week we talked. We take pride in that (stopping the run) and we always want to have a challenge. We knew with two all-conference running backs. It was going to be a challenge, nut then it’s fun for us and I’m happy about it.”


On the victory:

Patrick Johnson – “What I think, when I was talking to you earlier this week. I was talking to you about how my front seven were ready for the run and that’s what we came out and we did.”


On an adjustment the defense made after Louisiana’s first touchdown:

Zach Harris  – “We really didn’t have an adjustment. It was just a busted play and it just popped. It just happened. You just recuperate. We knew we had a whole lot of football left, so we just move on.”


On winning this bowl game:

Rod Teamer Jr. – “Obviously, last year was tough for us. It was something that we focused on and talked about all year and all season. Football is a game of inches and we got it full circle last year. To come here and participate in a bowl game and actually win is a great feeling for all of us. It kind of makes last year not sting as much.”


On Rod’s last game and what it means to him:

Rod Teamer Jr. – “It means everything to me, and that’s a big credit to Coach Fritz. When Coach Fritz came in, we talked a couple times and Coach Fritz told us that he really needed us to be on board and believe in him and he was going to lead us to where we needed to be. The members of the senior class and the underclassman, we just all did what Coach needed us to do and believed in him and his staff. He’s a great coach and a great guy and he’s a great man. He helped me off the field, as well. So, I’m excited for Tulane and the program going forward.


On game perspective:

Darius Bradwell – “I knew we had to score. We all knew we had to score. We just had to get ready to play our game. We had a whole mentality that we had to score on this drive so that’s what ended up happening.”


On Justin McMillan’s play during game:

Darius Bradwell – “I’m very, very proud of Justin. He had an interception earlier in the game, but he kept fighting. He kept leading. He didn’t have his head down. As a quarterback everybody is looking at that. You know, what I’m saying? I’m just proud of him and how he led this team.”


On Rod Teamer’s thoughts about teammate and MVP, Darius Bradwell’s performance:

Rod Teamer Jr. – “Darius is a big filled running back that I have to deal with all spring and all of camp. So, I’m not too surprised, but 35 carries for 150? I didn’t know about that. I’m proud of Darius and I’m happy he got the MVP.”


Louisiana Head Coach Billy Napier


Opening statement

“First of all, congratulations to Tulane and Coach Fritz. Their football team executed very highly today. Certainly, they deserve the win and I think that every team that is in their third year there you can tell that they’re making improvement and I respect that. I don’t want what happened today to put a black mark on this group of men that we have in this locker room. I think when our football team doesn’t perform as well as they can that’s one hundred percent my responsibility. I’m going to own that and I’m going to have the integrity to look in the mirror and adjust the things and fix the things that we need to do. Whether that’s having practice or preparing for the bowl game, all the way down to the very minute details of how we operate this football organization. So, we go through difficult experiences like that – you have an opportunity to make a decision: own up to what you need to fix, having integrity – which is what we define as having courage to understand when you have issues and make adjustments in your life and your approach. That’s what we’ll do going forward. We have a special group of young men in that locker room, who basically started this off-season program with a new football staff and zero expectations. Through a journey and a lot of commitment and a lot of time and effort and discipline, they made steady improvement. We weren’t really a good football team at the beginning of the year, but as this season went on we developed ownership of the players. We were not prepared. We learned how to practice. We learned how to respect our teammate. We learned how to get to know our teammate, how to be a football team. Throughout the season, we really had to compete on gameday, how to keep our poise, how to focus on the things that are really important when playing the game of football. And some point there in mid-season we really started to believe that we were good, you know, and I think that’s probably a turn for the better. This team battled back, finished the regular season strong. Found a way to win the west [division], played in the first-ever SunBelt Conference Championship Game. I think that’s a great accomplishment for this group and the progress that they made. We played better football, but we played better, because we made progress as people. I think, this game, we play to teach you a lot about life. There’s no question. There’s so many parallels to what these young men go through and I think that we got better men then, because of what they experienced this season. And that started with these seniors and the attitude and the approach that they had throughout the entire journey. Great football season for our team. Did it finish the way we wanted to today? Absolutely not. That’s something that we’ll get fixed so we won’t experience that in the future. We’ve got two of our best up here with us. I’ll give them the opportunity to answer some questions.”


On hearing Tulane celebrating:

“This program, I’m so thankful for these coaches, and those young kids in that locker room right there, because they have done so much for me. I hope I did a lot for them, because this program is going to the next level, so you’ll hear about the Ragin’ Cajuns for a long time coming with this new coaching staff and these players.”


On the first year of the program:

“Well, I think that we are going to go into this off season with some expectations now. I think that we earned some credibility in terms of the intangibles that we play with. There are tons of areas within the organization where we were a bit of a work in progress. They key anytime you take over a football program is you gotta start with the intangibles. I think that’s where we made the most progress. I do think that there were games this year that I feel we could have done our job better. Certainly, some games where maybe players can look back and say that could have been played a little bit better. For a first year, I think we built a foundation, and part of that was because we had great leadership at the player level – in particular the second half of the regular season. I think like most first years, as a staff, we can look back and there are lots of positives and negatives. We gotta make sure that we don’t focus necessarily on the outcome, but what we could have done differently to produce a different outcome. Certainly, today will be a great lesson in that regard. We made progress as people and a football program. Our players are better people because of what they experienced this season and, I think that’s what makes it a success, and certainly the intangibles we played with, even today. The fight that we showed – in the third quarter in particular – you know, to get back in contention, you gotta be happy with that part.”


On the downfalls of the game:
“Yeah, very inefficient, and in particular after the opening round, first and second down, not very efficient. Got us in the third and long scenarios where they kind of got down the field and those are kind of difficult. Down and distances are one of the things that we try to do…is try to keep third down manageable throughout the season. We didn’t really do that today, so it was a factor in the game, but I think a lot of it is going to have to do with what we could have done better, in my opinion. I won’t know that until we watch the tape, but certainly, Tulane made some adjustments and did things differently. I think today’s outcome was a direct function of who blocked better, who tackled better, covered better, and threw the football better. There’s nothing secret about what happened out there today. Our team was not ready to play and that’s my job and my responsibility.


On scheduling:

“Well, I think that the quality of the practice suffers when you don’t have a full group, you know. Certainly, in the process of putting together a full roster for the future, but I think that, you know, for the most part we have stayed relatively healthy. We had guys in and out of the lineup at times, but never, um, a huge group of players where I felt like it affected us. I think that the players on our football team could’ve played better. We could’ve coached them better. Well it’s pretty obvious today, that’s agreed. We played a lot of ball. We played two weeks ago. Certainly, last week was a little bit of a juggling match. I’m going to reevaluate kind of that blue print that we use for championship game against Appalachian State until now. What, what can we do differently? We have recruited, the final exams, the quick turnaround in terms of travel so that’s what I’m sitting’ around thinking about. That’s what I’ll be waking up in the middle of the night thinking of…is how we could have had our football team a little more prepared to play.”


On the three-point game and playing young players:

“Yeah man, there’s no question that, the fourth and eight was a critical play in the game, you know? I think that was where if we had an opportunity to make a play and get off the field. Certainly good execution and their protection of the quarterback, made a great throw and a great catch by the tight end, so I got to give him some credit. I do think that we have played some newer players this year, in particular on defense. Those guys are one of the reasons we waited putting in our defense, because those young players have made improvement.…a guy who was injured in an offseason program and had shoulder surgery. Did, you know, he didn’t get 100 percent healthy until training camp. He’s been working like the rest so we played him in four games this season. He’s still in a redshirt and then this is his fourth game, so he’s the guy that’s got a bright future in front of him and you can see he’s very instinctive and practiced really well this week. I think it’s a lesson to all of our players in practice to grasp and look at what didn’t play very well.”


On the peaks and valleys of year one:

“A couple weeks ago after the championship game we played in North Carolina on Saturday morning. We travelled back and had our team banquet on that Sunday pursuing the game. I had an opportunity that day to put some notes together, some thoughts together before I spoke at the banquet. I’m a note taker. I’ve got notes from the beginning of this process that we’ve been through over the last year, and just looking back at all the things we done. All the amount of work that we have done here in the last year. It was a lot of fun, that’s what I can tell you. I couldn’t be more excited about what is in front of us. The challenges that go with this job. The group of men from the camp coming back, there’s no question. You look back at that process, and it seems like just yesterday getting off that airplane without any of the kids well…. I believe life is about people. I believe football is about people. I think we did a good thing this year with this football team and this group of people. What they learned, what they experienced. Does winning come with that? Absolutely. You know, I think that’s what they learned, how to do it the right way. Today, they go back to that. We’ve won with class in the past, and we will lose with class as well.”


On the three all conference running backs not doing well:

“That’s a good question. We like to rush the ball. It’s the strength of our team – our offensive line and the three backs. Certainly today, Tulane did a good job of slowing that strength down. Played a lot of post safety, and eventually, we adjusted in the first possession of the second half. That extra guy in the box, and we didn’t handle that as well as we should have. They pressured to disrupt the run, but there are a lot of lessons to be learned. All those backs are coming back, and our entire offensive line, so we will continue to build on that. Those guys are all going to make individual improvements to go along with a lot of good teammates coming back and the recruiting class will be here soon, so we will regroup and basically have a month off right here. Our players are going to have a plan to execute those four weeks. We are going to start this journey over with the 2019 Ragin Cajuns next year. I look forward to it.”


On the opening of the second half, forced fumble and locker room speech:

“I was disappointed in how we played. We had a lot of energy early in the game, but we didn’t play the way we have been playing, in my opinion, on either side of the ball. We looked lethargic, like we were slow motion. Ultimately, we couldn’t overcome that, so I challenge their character, challenge their commitment. I challenged them to show the fight that I know they had in them and they did that. One thing about that group, you know, you call them out and they respond. We just did it a bit too late. I think for all of our returning players, that is a great opportunity to learn. We got to look in the mirrors as a staff as well, see what we could have done to get our players more prepared today to play.”


Louisiana TE Matt Barnes and LB Chaiziere Malbrue


On the difficulty getting started offensively in the first half:

Matt Barnes – “I think you just can’t start slow against a good team. We start slow, stalled out a couple drives after the first touchdown. They are a good team. They came out, executed and got up early on us. So, that’s just what I think it was. You can’t start slow in a big game like this and expect to overcome things like that. We showed some fight, and it could have went our way. We had opportunities to win the game at a point.”


On hearing Tulane celebrating:

Matt Barnes – “It’s very difficult, but, like I said. They were a great football team and they came out and played one of their best games. I have also been on the other side of that locker room, and that’s a good feeling. So, hats off to Tulane for coming out and playing a heck of a game today.”


On the Tulane rushing attack, difficulty, and the 4th down conversion to the TE (Charles Jones):

Chaiziere Malbrue  – “Hats off to Tulane. They executed really well, and they finished. It is what it is, and we move on to the next season.”


On the peaks and valleys of the defense during the season:

Chaiziere Malbrue  – “Man, I feel like as a defense you know it feels. We really never gave up. I guaranteed this whole season we would always have to fight, and I’m very proud of the seniors on the team. The seniors on the line, the linebackers, everybody that was involved on the defensive side that we had some fight in us. We got a couple of guys coming back next year and we’re excited to see about the big plan for next year and next season.”