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Jan. 7, 2009

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Tulsa vs. Ball State

Tulsa Head Coach Todd Graham

"We were playing for our seniors, playing for our University and playing for our 11th win -- that was a big deal, to make history in our program. You have to give credit to Ball State, they have a very good football team. You don't win 12 games if you're not good. Tonight was our night, and the difference was how physical we were and our speed."

On stopping Ball State's offense
"I was impressed with Coach [Keith] Patterson and Coach [Paul] Randolph, they did a great job and had a great plan. We knew we had to do some things to disrupt them, Ball State had the 11th-ranked offense in the country. We challenged our guys, and they were fired up to come out and finish."

On his expectations coming into the game
"We expected to win, I can tell you that. I felt in watching the film that we had an advantage on them with how physical we play. I thought we had good match-ups, and then we got into a good rhythm early. We did a good job being patient, using things that we thought would be our advantage."

On the difficulty of the match-up for Ball State
"I think what we do on offense is difficult for them because it's very different from what they see all year. The thing that you underestimate with what we do offensively is the tempo. They just aren't used to operating at that tempo and our guys play like that every day."

On Tulsa's defensive performance
"Defense wins championships. I love what we do on offense, but you have to play some defense. I thought one defense would step up and ours did."

On Tulsa's offensive performance
"We did a good job of taking what they were giving us. We executed some big plays on third-and-long. They put pressure on our quarterback early, but we made adjustments and inevitably they key to the game was our ability to take over physically."

Tulsa running back Tarrion Adams

On breaking school records
"It was a blessing, I have to thank God and my teammates. My teammates wanted me to break the record more than I wanted to. After every series they were telling me where I stood.

On his success running the ball
"It was Coach [Gus] Malzahn's and Coach [Herb] Hand's gameplan. Our offensive line opened up space, our receivers did a good job blocking downfield and David Johnson did a tremendous job carrying out his fakes after handing off the ball. Sometimes their guys were confused and didn't know who had the ball."

Tulsa quarterback David Johnson

On connecting with Damaris Johnson
"They just gave us the right defenses at times. We ran a lot of plays where we were trying to attack the middle of the field, and they played a lot with two high safeties that opened that up for us. I was just trying to get the ball to him out in space."

On Tulsa's success running game setting up the pass
"It makes people respect the run, so they have to come up and play it and that opens up lanes for us down the field."

Tulsa wide receiver Damaris Johnson

"I wouldn't say I was in a zone, I was just playing with a chip on my shoulder because I had something to prove."

On getting consistently open
"It was just the plays that Coach Malzahn called and taking what they were giving us. They were giving us the middle of the field and I was lucky to get those routes."

Ball State Head Coach Stan Parrish

"Congratulations to Tulsa. Make no bones about it, they are a very, very fine high-powered football team. Despite that we turned the ball over three times in the first half I thought we were still very much in the game at halftime down 24-13, but the football God's of the third quarter thought otherwise. It's never a good experience to lose a final game, particularly when you don't play your best. Not that we didn't compete, but we didn't play at out highest level."

On turnovers and Ball State's defensive response
"We didn't turn the ball over for 12 weeks, and the last two games we have. I thought our defense hung tough in the first half and gave us a chance. We were very much in that game at halftime, but they have a tough offense to stop and even Mother Nature didn't slow them down as much as it slowed us."

On not being able to run the ball
"I think their front played good, but we didn't block very well. You can cut it any way you want, but we didn't block and protect very well. It's where you win it or lose it, and we didn't play well up front. They did, we didn't and that was it in a nutshell."

Ball State strong safety Alex Knipp

"Give credit to them, they had a good gameplan coming in and we didn't execute. It hurts because we practiced hard and we thought we would come out and get this win."

Ball State running back MiQuale Lewis

"They're coaches did a great job of disguising their defenses, they ran a lot of blitzes that we hadn't seen. We tried to do some things to throw them defensively, but we shut ourselves down by not executing the plays."

GMAC Bowl Awards
Game MVP: Tarrion Adams, Tulsa running back
Offensive MVP: David Johnson, Tulsa quarterback
Defensive MVP: Roy Roberts, Tulsa linebacker
Special Teams MVP: Jarrod Tracy, Tulsa placekicker