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December 27, 2012Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos addressed the media after his team's 24-11 win over Western Kentucky on Wednesday night in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl.
They had a tough job with an interim coach and after tonight, I don't know if any of those coaches will be with the team. You have to really respect the job they did. They did a tremendous job and they were ready to play. I would also like to say congratulations to our team. I'm so proud of our players and coaches. We beat a good football team and they prepared during every entire bowl practice and handled this trip very well. I appreciate the fans for coming out in this weather; it was an unbelievable environment. I want to thank Little Caesars and also thank Kent Hoffman and his staff. It was a first class bowl trip; players and coaches had a great time. It was very good football game and I thought we played well. It was two closely matched teams as far as personnel were concerned and both teams played very hard. Just happy to be on the good side of it.
On the final touchdown
I thought it was poetic justice for Ryan (Radcliff) to be the MVP of the bowl game today. Nobody was more deserving than Ryan. Much like me, he has been criticized a lot the past three years, but none of our lack of success had to do with Ryan. One person does not make or not make team. We needed to get better as a team and this year, we had better people around him and played better defense. But Ryan is a great person. He hung in there, he persevered and he will be a much better person and man when he leaves here after everything he has gone through. With Cody Wilson, it's the same thing. Anything we ask him to do, he does. We kept calling his number and I knew he was going to get open. You know this about Cody, if the ball is near him, he is going to go get it. He is a tremendous player and we will miss him.
On if anything changed schematically after losing two top receivers
No, we just kept going with what we were going to do. As I told somebody else, after Titus (Davis) went down early during the Eastern Michigan game, Andrew came in for us and did a nice job. Cody and Andrew are starters on a lot of teams in our league and Jesse Kroll had a catch. We feel we are really deep at that position, so we didn't change anything. That's where we are starting to get as a program. The next guy steps up. That's what we say, the next guy has to step if somebody is out. That's why we recruit and develop guys. Andrew did a very good job today. It might surprise other people, but our coaching staff wasn't surprised.
On not getting more points in the second quarter
Well we were disappointed because we had a penalty down there in the redzone and had to kick a field goal, then we had another 15 yard penalty and we didn't get any points. Then we had the drive before the half when we had a receiver open down the field, but Ryan got the ball knocked out of his hands and we probably would have been down inside the 15 and could have had a chance to kick another field goal. We felt like we were moving the ball and did some good things, we just had to stay with that. That's how football games go: you miss some opportunities, but you can't just sit and dwell on those, you have to move on. That's what we did and it was good enough to win. I'm sure we will look back at the tape and see things we could have done better. But I thought our defense played outstanding today, special teams played outstanding today, with one of the best kick returners in the country back there and David Harman did a nice job. Those are things people don't talk about, but we work very hard on those things in preparation.
On if he would have gone for it on the late fourth down, like WKU did
I don't know. They called their team together. The coaches probably aren't going to be with the team next year and the players said go for it and they listened to them. I could never really second-guess someone that is trying to win. Sometimes you have to make decisions like that and if it works it's a great call. I would never criticize a decision when someone is trying to win a game.
On if Flory's long catches opened things up for Tipton
Absolutely, I think it loosened him up a bit. Obviously, when you have a guy like Titus Davis not playing, the other team is probably thinking you are going to lack big play potential. We had that third-down play and Ryan made a great throw. We came back and ran our touchdown play. We've called it four times this year and it's always been a touchdown. Andrew ran it well and we had great protection. I think at that point, it help opened up the run game and gave everyone confidence on our team that we were going be balanced. We are a much better football team when we are balanced.
On the gamelan against Antonio Andrews
On special teams, we worked on different things like kicking it in different places. Defensively, we had to be very disciplined and sound. We had to be able to tackle him. On video, I thought he was good, but in person he is much better. He is big, very physical and I was impressed with him. He is a very good football player. I just thought our defense did a good job of getting more than one guy to him. I can't give enough credit to our defense and coaches, particularly our defensive line and our linebackers. That is a team that scored a lot of points on people in their league.
On what this win says about the program going forward
We have won four in a row and we beat a good team today. I think we have a lot of good young players and I just think we are learning how to win and we will continue to be more consistent. We are going to continue to recruit and develop. We have to replace (Radcliff and Wilson) and also Jahleel Addae, Eric Fisher and a bunch of other guys, but I really like the guys we have coming back. I think if you ask our seniors, they will tell you that they think we are going to be good in the years to come. We told the seniors that we wanted them to leave their legacy here and teach the young guys how to do it the right way. I can't say enough about their leadership.
On what changed after the Western game
There were a few things that changed. We played better defense, we didn't turn the ball over as much and we played got leads in the fourth quarter and kept them. In my first two years, we didn't do a very good job with that. I just think as the season went on, our younger players got better and we figured out the formula and became more balanced on offense. Our team matured as the season went along and that happens sometimes with football teams. We just kept working and everyone believed in what we were doing.
On the senior class
I can't say enough about them. When the season ended last year and we finished 3-9, we challenged them. We said it's your team and we will go as you guys go. If you guys don't have your best year next year, then we won't have a very good year. I told them we couldn't go through the offseason with guys half in and half out. We hardly had any problems with our winter conditioning program and spring practices. We had full commitment from our team and that was from the seniors demanding that from our young players. I know a guy like Shamari Benton will take the lead like these guys did and do the same thing with our team next year. These seniors are really the catalyst for everything and we will miss them. We will need other guys to step up just like they did.
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