NCAA Championship Postgame Quotes
Release: January 07, 2012
NORTH DAKOTA STATE
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Craig Bohl and D.J. McNorton, Travis Beck, Chad Willson, and Matt Voigtlander.
Coach Bohl, coach of the FCS champions, your overview.
COACH BOHL: It was a great game, and two really good football teams out on the field. I want to congratulate Sam Houston State. They had a phenomenal year and certainly played really well today.
I want to say thanks to our players and also to our athletic director who took a chance on me nine years ago never being a head coach.
So, Gene Taylor, I want to say thanks and appreciate the support of the administration.
As far as today's game, I thought our guys battled and certainly made big plays when they needed to. And typically we say we get a 24‑hour rule, but we won't have a 24‑hour rule on this one. We're going to enjoy this for a while.
THE MODERATOR: Questions from the field?
Q. Can you take us through the decision there to begin the second half to go with the fake punt and obviously the result and the play after?
COACH BOHL: Coach Polasek did a nice job scheming up, since we didn't know how Sam Houston would align, but we had some things in place.
And Matt Voigtlander has been a running back for us for a lot of years and got a strong leg, but we had not used a fake at all. We kind of kept it in our hip pocket, felt like there'd be a game that we'd need it, and this was the game we needed it in.
Q. Matt, on that fake punt, when you got the ball snapped to you, what did you see to your left and what was kind of going through your head when that all went down?
MATT VOIGTLANDER: I looked to the outside. We got out of the box, came down, blocking down like we were expecting, hoping, and good ‑‑ just good blocking there. And it was wide open. So my eyes were wide open seeing the open field, and I did what I could.
Q. Running back to punter, or you've always done both?
MATT VOIGTLANDER: No, I was just emergency backup while I've been here, but it was this past spring practice. This was my first full year with punting.
Q. Yesterday in the press conference you said that the most important play of the game would be that first drive of the second half. Down 6‑3, at that point, did you have that in mind when you decided to or when you guys decided to run that fake punt?
COACH BOHL: Well, field position came into play along with that, but we really felt like we needed to establish some momentum. And Sam Houston is such a prolific football team coming into the third quarter.
So we were disappointed we couldn't come up with a first down in our normal way. And things were right, and, like I said, I thought our players executed a great idea.
Q. Matt, this is your first carry of the year. In past years you obviously moved around to a bunch of different positions and carried the ball before. How much do you draw back on that past experience when they made the call today?
MATT VOIGTLANDER: Actually, I got a hard time from the guys saying that shouldn't have went down and that I lost some of it. But as open as it was, just about anyone could have done what I did with the wide‑open field.
Q. D.J. and Coach, last two minutes of the game, what was going through your minds when you look at some of those seasons you guys have talked about a few years ago and just everything that this program's been through?
D.J. MCNORTON: Well, man, it went by really fast. I'm speechless right now. We worked so hard for this. And with that time ticking away, you are just waiting for it to say 0, because anything can happen.
Last year we lost to Eastern Washington in probably a similar circumstance. And they came out on top. So anything can happen down the stretch.
So unfortunately the offense wasn't able to finish it like we wanted to. And I credit the defense so much. And I know they'd do the same for us. And we all just love each other so much, and we pick up the slack whenever we have to.
So that's the good thing about this team. It was really special.
COACH BOHL: I think the second part of the question, there was a real resolve and a determination typically by our seniors. We had a couple of tough years there. And our guys wanted to make sure they returned Bison football back to national prominence. It's not easy to do.
Certainly want to thank them, because we certainly returned Bison football back to national prominence today.
Q. Travis and then Coach, a follow‑up. Travis, talk about the interception, what you saw. Did you long jump in high school? And, Coach, talk about the significance of that play at that point?
TRAVIS BECK: I wish I had long jumped; I maybe could have got in there. But I saw a receiver coming behind me. I thought he was going to be a high pass; that I would have to jump for it. And I don't know if it hit me right in the chest, and I decided I better catch this one or else I'll never hear the end of that.
I did what I could. Couldn't get it in, but offense finished it off.
COACH BOHL: Well, anytime ‑‑ even though we didn't score a touchdown, you know, two things usually are going to decide games, either a blocked punt ‑‑ we had one tipped against us. If you can score on defense, typically you're going to win.
It was an exceptional play by Travis. He showed some great athleticism and great instincts picking off the football.
Q. Sam Houston hasn't played from behind a lot this year. To go up by 4, I know it's still close, but then the score is at that point. Do you feel a little more comfortable at that point to be ahead like that and knowing that they're a team that hadn't played from behind as much this year?
COACH BOHL: No, I can tell you there was no comfort feeling at all. And Coach Fritz and that staff, we knew that they were going to play to the very end. And we really ‑‑ our offense controlled the football there. We didn't turn the ball over and played solid in the kicking game, and our defense really came out and kept holding up.
And so it wasn't until we got under a minute that I started to feel comfortable.
Q. With this being Travis's first year as a linebacker, how have you kind of seen him grow throughout the year?
CHAD WILLSON: Travis has really come a long way from when he came in. He worked real hard. His redshirt year I saw him working hard, lifting weights and getting stronger. And when his opportunity came at the beginning of the season, he took it.
And he's been playing great ever since. We're lucky to have them here and NDSU is going to be happy to have him here for a couple more years.
Q. Travis, did you get to take a look at the block that sprung you on the return?
TRAVIS BECK: I heard it. (Laughter). I didn't see it. But as soon as I caught it ‑‑ I heard it was Dudzik, I believe, but he knows how to hit. And anybody could have made that play.
And just our defense, our coaches, they put in so much time, offensive coaches as well, and just this whole play out front has just been unbelievable.
Q. How pleasant is it to keep an explosive offense out of the end zone?
TRAVIS BECK: Game plan. Coaches put in twice as many hours as us, probably more. They just did a great job, and we executed pretty well tonight.
Q. Coach, they say defense wins. But if you would have been told beforehand you'd be one of 13 on third downs, what would you be thinking at that point?
COACH BOHL: I wouldn't think that our odds looked very good. But I haven't even seen the stat sheet. I know it was a great defensive battle. And it felt like we had pretty good tempo, though. Sam made a couple of plays.
But these players are very modest. They embrace that game plan. And our coaches. Very rarely was there a play that occurred that was uncontested. Usually we had some guy there in good position.
So with the tempo and how we were playing, it felt really good about our opportunity to win.
Q. D.J., can you evaluate Matt's running ability on that play?
D.J. MCNORTON: (Laughter) man, I might be the toughest critic on that. We came in ‑‑ we came in together as running backs. And one of the smartest people I know as far as everything. He helped me with so much as far as learning schemes and different types of formations on defense. And, honestly, like I said, one of the smartest people I know.
So I've been waiting for him to run. We finally called it. I've been waiting for him to do it. And we originally planned on him running for about 60 and the touchdown. But he kind of let us down on that. (Laughter).
Q. And, Travis, are all 30 people in Munich or whatever going to celebrate tonight?
TRAVIS BECK: They're probably all down here, actually. But, yeah, I'll have to tape that right there. Some of them may be UND fans, but I'm sure they're celebrating this one.
Q. Travis, can you talk about the play of the defense after Sam Houston got the ball back off those two turnovers?
TRAVIS BECK: We have a saying: Bend but don't break. And we showed great resilience. We just tried to get off the field and let our offense do their thing.
Q. Chad, is this as complete a defensive effort as you've put together this season?
CHAD WILLSON: We've been playing really well as a defense throughout the playoffs. And to come and hold a team like Sam Houston to six points, it's a pretty big deal.
And so I think it is probably the best game of defense we've played this year. And really proud of all the guys on D and our coaches. They, like Travis said, put in twice as much work as we did and gave us a great game plan, and all we had to do was execute it.
Q. Coach, yesterday you said that field positioning throughout the game would be a huge key, especially with their explosive offense. You talked about Matt's role in punting today to keep them turned back for the majority of the time. And, Matt, talk about that first kick. Did you really get behind that one, or what happened on that 66‑yarder?
MATT VOIGTLANDER: Part of it we had the wind coming out of the north. That definitely was a big help. And just caught it good and carried it through the wind and got over his head, and it wasn't returned.
COACH BOHL: I think field position certainly came into play. Particularly in the fourth quarter. That wind had a difference there, and so having them pinned deep like that.
But you know what? I am a little bit surprised we were able to come up with a win. Typically we're way ahead in the turnover margin. And the field position has always been more in our favor. And we had to battle some things. I thought our defensive guys did a phenomenal job keeping Sam out of the end zone there, because they played on the short field a little bit more than I would have liked.
Q. Travis, can you talk about the two fourth and one stops and kind of the importance of those? Like you had one in the first quarter and one in the third.
TRAVIS BECK: That was huge. We had a good defense called for that situation, and we kind of knew what was going on, what they were thinking. And our D line, that's basically it. They played a great game today. And I'm not sure how many tackles they all had. But our D line really showed up today.
Q. Can you just talk about what it means to come back to Texas and win? And did you two say anything to each other after the game?
D.J. MCNORTON: Yeah, I talked with him. And we were together for a good little while, just to kind of reflect on everything.
And it's special for both of us to get our family and friends here. I think that was real big for us. They haven't been able to make a lot of games, so it was really special.
And for me and him, it's the end of the road for us at NDSU playing football, so to go out on top like this, couldn't ask for nothing more.
Q. Coach, going back to the fake punt, how do you think that affects the opponents when something like that is done against them?
COACH BOHL: I can only say when it's happened to us, it's hard. Because as a defense you play on emotion, and momentum certainly comes into play. And for us, anytime there's been a fake punt, it really can suck the life out of you and the wind. And typically it's going to be a significant momentum change. There's a lot of risk going into it. And our guys did a great job executing it.
I think the other thing that probably had a bigger impact, as soon as I think we had the fake punt and scored on the very next play, a long play, certainly changed the momentum in the football game.
Q. Coach and Travis, looking around the stadium, a lot of green and gold out there. Obviously you knew there was going to be a lot of people here. But was it more than you expected? And how did it feel to have it split pretty evenly both ways?
COACH BOHL: Travis is right, literally his town is ‑‑ actually where he lives ‑‑ there's less than 30 people up there. I joked that the last person in the state of North Dakota needs to turn out the lights because I don't know if there's anybody left. What a great showing of support. I want to say thanks to all our fans. Not only fans that were from our region, but they flew in from all across the country. But this is a great game day venue. And Sam Houston State had a great following, too.
And I think it just sets a tone that this championship can really be special.
TRAVIS BECK: I'm sure there was tons of people from my hometown. My family was all here. It means a lot, and that's a pretty big deal, all these North Dakota fans came. Coming in, we saw all the fans. It was pretty much split half and half. And we could have filled up an even bigger stadium, I'm sure.
And Grandpa, if you're watching, I'm sorry I didn't get that touchdown like you said. But maybe next year.
Q. D.J., you alluded to it a little bit in talking to Warren after the game, but as you look back at your time at NDSU, what's the first thing that comes to mind?
D.J. MCNORTON: Eyes on the prize, without a doubt. And once we come in, you just learn from everybody, from the older guys, and from everybody that has been part of the program. Even the alumni and the players in the past, you learn so much from them. You see what it takes.
And we worked so hard. We worked really hard to get to this point, because it's not easy. You have to think like losing last year, we had to come all the way back a whole nuther year and go through the playoffs again. It's not easy to do that.
And we made a commitment to get better and work hard to get to this point. The coaches put us in great situations. We got a lot of double reps this year during fall camps, spring ball. And it helped us to get to this point. And to win it, just feels like it really paid off.
Q. D.J., talk for the offense. At the end of the second quarter, you guys kind of got bogged down. They stopped you on three straight drives like minus five yards total. Coming out in the second half, looked again like you were going to have to punt. And the momentum changed. How big was that for you guys to be able to put that behind you, that you got a drive to sustain a little bit?
D.J. MCNORTON: First off, I'd like to credit Sam Houston. They were the best defense I've seen this year. And I'm sure a lot of the offensive players would say the same. Athletically, they have a lot of speed. They play with a lot of heart and passion. And it's really good.
We struggled a lot. And we got ‑‑ fortunately we were able to get Voigtlander on the fake punt. And coach does a great job of calling plays. And we called the catch screen, hasn't worked for us this much this year, because we ran it a lot last year. A lot of teams were on to it.
But he called it at the right time. Perfect timing. Everybody was out blocking linemen. Receivers. I'm sure Warren was down the field. I set up a block for him, and he sprung me free. And you could see everybody playing really hard and doing their part. And just that little oust probably gave us the momentum we needed to finish the game off.
Q. Coach, only a couple of years ago you guys finished the season 3 and 8. And now you guys continue to set the ball very high. And now to be sitting here two years later as national champions, how rewarding is that?
COACH BOHL: It's extremely reward, and that doesn't happen without the efforts of a whole lot of people. Our challenge now is to keep the momentum going, but we're going to sit back and enjoy this victory for quite some time.
Q. Coach, what you're alluding to, obviously you realize you do have to take it to the next level to stay here, but how do you implement that and actually go about that?
COACH BOHL: Well, I think you look at everything within your program, and you're striving for excellence, how you're doing in the classroom, what kinds of things are you doing in the offseason, what's the team chemistry like. Margins for victory and losses are very slim.
So it's about the process. And, like I said, we're going to enjoy this victory for a while. But where we go from here, maybe in a month I'll talk to you then.
Q. Coach, at the end of yesterday's practice you brought the alumni and those former players. Why was that important for you to do that and send that message to both them as well as the current players?
COACH BOHL: We have a great, rich tradition at North Dakota State. The school has won eight National Championships in football. And so we've got a lot of pride, not only with these guys ‑‑ and D.J. alluded to it ‑‑ Bison pride. That goes all the way back to the '60s, I believe 1965.
We want to make sure we embrace our former players, that we are family. And I also think it sends a message to our players right now that it's more than just them. There's a whole lot of guys that have gone before them, and it also sends a message to them that someday they're going to be one of those guys, and we are family and they'll always be welcome back.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
SAM HOUSTON STATE
THE MODERATOR: Give us your overview of the game, Willie.
COACH FRITZ: First off, just a great job by North Dakota State University. You're around a team and coaching staff of your opponent, it's kind of rare in football, it doesn't happen very often, but I found it a really classy outfit.
We just want to congratulate them for winning the championship. They really played well today, and without question, and congratulations to them.
A couple of great defenses out there playing today, without question. And with a little momentum there at the end of the first half, got the field goal and went into 6‑3 where we really didn't play very well in the first half and we were excited about that.
Coach Bohl, fantastic job on the fake punt. That really was a big, big play in the ballgame, and they came back and hit the very next play, and now it's kind of a momentum changer, and had the interception later that really put us behind the eight ball. We're not a team that plays behind a great ‑‑ we haven't played behind very often this year, just probably minutes or seconds, I believe.
But I'm really proud of the effort that we played with. I don't think we played great. But probably a lot of that has to do with North Dakota State. I think those were the top two defenses in the country without question, and the top two teams.
Proud of our guys. Proud of our season. Wish we had a different outcome, but great job by them.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Travis, can you just ‑‑ if you can, talk about just the feeling right now coming this far, as far as you guys have.
TRAVIS WATSON: Well, obviously we would have liked a better outcome. Like Coach said, North Dakota State did a heck of a job. Their defense really came out and played us well, and we really struggled.
But to come this far and do what we've done with this program and turn it around so fast, it's been great to be a part of. And no matter what, this has been the best year I've ever had. And I'm just blessed to be part of this team.
Q. Is this the best defense you've seen all season? And what did they do to keep you under wraps most of the game?
TRAVIS WATSON: No doubt they're fundamentally sound. Their defensive coordinator did a great job taking away one of our option game.
I mean, big ups to them. Just overall good defense but we knew that coming into the game.
Q. Can you take us through the ‑‑ I guess you were on the field for on the punt, on the fake, right? Can you just take us through what they did there? Obviously it looked like that whole side was open and it's just a matter of being caught off guard.
ROBERT SHAW: Yeah, they caught us off guard. I'm not sure what happened because I was man to man with my player.
But I wish it would have been different outcome of that play. And I gave North Dakota State a good job for that.
Q. Coach, going into halftime, you guys stopped them on three straight drives. Did you feel you had a little bit of momentum going in and knowing, feeling good about it because you guys have been so good this year in the third quarter?
COACH FRITZ: Yeah, we really felt good about things. I told the guys we kind of gathered up before we went into the locker room we really didn't play our best. Going in, make some good adjustments and come out and figure out what would be effective against them, particularly offensively.
Momentum changed a little bit. But you gotta fight back from that when they have the big play and score the touchdown and made it 10‑6.
Yeah, we were feeling good at that point in time.
Q. Coach, could you talk about the first half, you all had opportunities and turnovers, and you realized with a game this close that you're going to have a few chances to make a big play. Talk about those plays and the fact that you guys weren't able to capitalize with points off those.
COACH FRITZ: Whenever you get great field position and you get a take‑away, you sure as heck want to convert it into some type of points. We weren't able to do that on a couple of occasions. And we had some short‑yardage situations that we had a difficult time with as well.
And they did a really good job defending us and different personnel groupings and understanding what we were going to do.
There was a couple times where we could have converted. We didn't have a lot of success on third and short and fourth and short. But they did a good job of playing the situation better than we did.
Q. Will, you hit on it a second ago. I wanted you to talk a little bit about the third and fourth down conversions. Neither team was really successful in that area, but seemed like it came to kind of bite you guys a little bit more.
COACH FRITZ: We just had a tough time. We had four of 18 third down conversions and one of four on fourth down conversions. And just didn't ‑‑ they closed the door on us on quite a few occasions.
So those were ‑‑ been pretty good on both those situations this season, but we weren't today.
Q. Robert, young team. No reason why you guys can't be back here next year?
ROBERT SHAW: We're going to be back. Coach Fritz is a good coach and we have a good coaching staff, and I have confidence we'll be back.
Q. You guys really started to move the ball down the field more consistently towards the end of the first half from the offensive line to the running backs. Did you guys really feel that momentum was starting to shift in your direction going into the break?
TIM FLANDERS: Of course it was. We was moving the ball down the field. It all started with our defense. They gave them a stop. We just had a couple of big plays, defense out of position, offensive line did a very good job, and that's how we make our way down the field.
Q. Coach, as good a fake punt they scored on the next play, they kind of catch you. Was your defense kind of reeling after that having to go back on the field right away?
COACH FRITZ: We work all the time on sudden change. It was a good play call. They ran a little screen to the back and caught us in the zone, and lineman came up and blocked the linebacker and then ran off the secondary. So it was the right call at the right time. And many times people take a shot, sudden change situations. They were patient, ran a nice screen play, so it was a good play call.
We turned the ball over this season at times as well and had sudden change situations where we've had to go out there and execute, and we just didn't do it that time.
Q. Talk about their defensive front and front seven, how they're able to contain your run game when you guys have done such a good job running the ball all season.
TRAVIS WATSON: They had a good defensive scheme coming into the game, something we didn't see much. The defensive linemen, they weren't coming off the ball like we were used to. They were kind of playing back and reading, they were able to get us out of position with their slants and twists from their linebackers.
So they were really ‑‑ they really played us well and got us kind of our rhythm, and it was tough to come back from.
Q. Coach, looking at the fourth quarter, you're in a 10‑6 ballgame. You've got possession. Realizing that it's still for the taking either way, talk us through the play that they made the big game changing play, the interception. It seemed like defensively all game they had guys everywhere in the secondary. Very few holes for Brian to stick the ball in. Tell us specifically about that play.
COACH FRITZ: It was a pre‑snap read. The linebackers showing that they're playing wide, and on his progression he thought that was going to be the open target, and the guy did a good job of bluffing, probably read his eyes and ended up throwing the ball to him.
Great job of converting. We almost had the tackle on him where it would have been a three‑ or four‑yard return. Thought Torres would be able to run him down, but he didn't quite get him and they ended up taking it all the way to the 1‑yard line. It was a huge play.
Q. Coach, can you just talk about the previous question, the fact that so many guys are on the team that are young? And are you looking at this as a learning experience after what they've gone through today?
COACH FRITZ: We're going to go back and regroup and see everything that's transpired this season. But we are a very young football team, without question.
And got a lot of guys coming back. So, you know, it's difficult, because you've got guys like Travis, this is their last crack at it. But the future's very bright for the Bearkats.
Q. Coach, talk about the role that their punter played in the game and limiting the field position throughout the majority of the game.
COACH FRITZ: Went early, without question. And very good punter. Big punt block. Really one‑man rusher. Heck of a play by Michael Buse. But he's a very good punter. And enabled us to get some pretty good returns, pretty nice punt returns to get some good field position as well.
But they do ‑‑ they're a solid ball club. They're good in all three phases. Did a really good job with their kickoff coverage. Probably the best kickoff cover team that we've played this season.
They're really good on offense and really, really good on defense and played really well in the kicking game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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