Jeff Monken Press Conference Quotes: Oklahoma
WEST POINT, N.Y. – Army West Point football head coach Jeff Monken met with members of the local media on Tuesday afternoon for his weekly press conference inside Nowak Auditorium. The Black Knights begin their three-game road swing this weekend when they travel to fifth-ranked Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon. (Ref.: Opening statement) "Good afternoon. I am extremely proud of our team and the hard-fought victory that they earned on Saturday. We faced a good Hawai'i team. I was really impressed with their offense. They were a team talked about all around college football -- their quarterback and how well he threw the ball and their two inside receivers were just dynamite. They made some big plays against us and they found some targets that hadn't been as involved, and it became a real battle. Defensively, I don't think people give their guys enough credit because their offense is getting so much publicity, but they're physical on defense. They flew around and their linebacker made a lot of tackles, a lot of plays and blocked a kick. They had a really good football team and we were fortunate to win, I am glad we won. It was a hard-fought victory, I am proud of our team. I think it was the best I've thought about our team this year just in the way we came together, battled and played team football. "Oklahoma is an unbelievable football team. They are talented, well coached and very difficult to beat. They're really good. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us. Coach (Lincoln) Riley has done an unbelievable job. To lose a quarterback last year in (Baker) Mayfield and to have (Kyler) Murray who has numbers that are as good or better tells you that not only is he an extremely talented player, but they have a system that works. They develop guys and put them into those spots. Their running backs, receivers, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers in particular, their secondary and how fast they are, and their special teams I think are the number two kickoff return team right now. I think they have given up minus one yard total on the season on the punt return. Their field goal/extra kicker is perfect and he has over 100 in a row from both last year and this year. If you watch them play they have five defensive starters on their punt coverage team so they're playing their best players and they're really competitive. They've scored 30 points or more in their last seven games and the one game they didn't it was 29. It's hard to score at least 30 points against a great football team like them and you have to do that to win. They've got several parade All-American's, and as Paul Johnson used to say, we have several guys who have marched in a parade. It will be a great matchup physically, but we are going to try and play our brand of football. We are going to play really tough, really fast, play as hard as we can and hope that we can get some breaks to go our way." (Ref.: On (Kelvin) Hopkins' improvement under center) "He's gotten better every week he's played. That's encouraging. It's been fun to watch -- to see him lead and grow in his confidence. He's a guy that's won a lot of games as a quarterback. I think he is a confident young man, but to see his confidence in running this offense and being a leader of this team has been a lot of fun this week. And I hope he can continue to get better." (Ref.: On the opportunity a game like this presents) "Every one of our guys in this room that plays football here are here because they want to play football at the highest level. When you think of football at the highest level, certainly a team like Oklahoma comes to mind. As long as these guys have been playing football, these are the kinds of teams you dream of playing. The opportunity to do that and measure themselves against the best teams and the best players in the nation. Oklahoma is one of those teams. They have 408 weeks in the AP top 5, more than any other team in the nation. It's historically been a great football program. You go back to the days of Bud Wilkinson and what he started, just tearing through the nation 47 games in a row, they've never stopped. They've been a top program since then. He certainly made a name for that program as being one of the elite programs in the country, so our guys are excited about the opportunity. I'm excited about the opportunity to coach in a game like this, to take this team up against a team that I know is going to pose a great challenge to us. That's what the Army is all about. That's what we teach these guys up here at West Point, that no matter who the foe is, what the challenge looks like, we're going to step up and face the challenge and put our best out there." (Ref.: On Oklahoma's familiarity with the triple option offense) "I think it's unique for anybody who doesn't face it. I've said that for our own defense when we play an option team how difficult it is to transition back from playing defense against whatever you'd call a traditional offense. Having to play one of the academy rival games makes it a real challenge. That's maybe one advantage that we have: having an offense that they haven't seen. "I'll quoted Coach (Paul) Johnson again. He always said physical superiority cancels all theory. And he's right. When you have really good players, sometimes it doesn't matter. What we have to do is execute at a very high level. If you look at that drive against Ohio State last year, we went 99 yards. That's what we did: we ran our offense and executed it very well. We did it about as well as we could do against Ohio State, and it resulted in a touchdown."