"I think that Vintavious came and showed great patience. He was a lot more patient than others would have been. He picked up our offense in the first few weeks and also improved on his pass blocking. He realized that if he wanted to be an every-down back, he was going to have to show improvement in his pass blocking and blitz pickup and he did. He also catches the ball well and of course runs the ball well. He is a patient runner with great vision. His ability as running back has allowed Shane Carden to develop as a quarterback. He was named the Conference USA Newcomer-of-the-Year and I really thought he should have earned a selection to the first team for all-conference as well."
On Shane Carden's Development And How It Has Helped the Team
"Shane was really battling for the quarterback position even back during the spring before he hurt his finger and needed to have surgery. Lincoln (Riley) did a great job of monitoring all the quarterback's reps in a very tight race during the fall. Shane was not named the starting quarterback to begin the season, but when he got his opportunity he took full advantage of it. He is a great leader for our team and studies the game with a great passion. He is what I refer to as a "field house rat" similar to a "gym rat" in basketball. He is always around the field house, studying and trying to get better. What I like about him on the field is that he is starting to see and recognize defenses. The game is beginning to slow down for him. The more he sees and does, the better that he will become. He has shown constant improvement each week. I like his progress. These additional practices have also been very good for Shane's development."
On Carden's Opportunity To Start At Quarterback
"Last year, if Dominique Davis struggled we didn't feel like we had anybody that could be turned to that would make us feel comfortable running the offense. This year we didn't have that hesitation. Against South Carolina, we had some offensive struggles. Shane was inserted and although he had an early interception, he settled down and was calm and poised. When he was given an opportunity, he seized it and never gave it up. He took care of the football, moved our football team and extended plays with his ability to move around in and out of the pocket."
On Health of The Team
"I am very thankful that we have been healthy this year and hope that it continues. I also think the depth that we have built has aided us in staying healthy this year. We have also been smart about our work. We gave the team a week off from practice after the season to heal up some lingering nicks and bruises and have been taking things slowly with our practices leading up to the bowl game. We want to go to New Orleans healthy."
On Playing Indoors At The Superdome
"I like that we have already played once in the Superdome this year against Tulane. The lighting is different in a dome. I also like that we are familiar with our surroundings having been on the turf before. We will have the chance to practice in the dome for one day and then walk through the next day. Having competed in the stadium and in this environment already once this season is going to help."
On Making a Bowl Game After Missing Last Year
"It was disappointing to not make a bowl game last year. I have a unique situation here. I see everything from three different perspectives. First as an ex-player of this program, second as the coach of this team and last as a proud alumni and ex-student of this school. So when I look at a game, I either enjoy them or hurt three times as much. Not going to the bowl game last year just ate at my core. And I think it ate at our coaches' and players' core too. It showed the way they prepared and displayed the work ethic for this season in the off-season.
"We have talked about TBA (Trust, Belief and Accountability) and these guys have bought into it. The message is to not let the man that lines up next to you down.
"Being able to accomplish one of our goals and getting the chance to go to a bowl game was a great feat for us. We wanted to win the conference and ended up tying for the division. We wanted to get to the conference championship and just came one game short, but I am still proud of all that we have accomplished. We are excited about going to New Orleans and getting the chance to play somewhere."
On Importance Of A Bowl Victory
"I think playing your best game right before the off-season is always important. There were 70 teams chosen to play in bowl games and we are honored and fortunate to be one of them. Winning the bowl game will definitely help and aid our program as we begin all our off-season preparations."
On Coaching the Team's Seniors for the Last Time
"I talked to them about our reps running out. We have a one-game season left for our seniors and have had three weeks to prepare for it. You can see the intensity in our seniors at practice and that has caused me to blow the whistle a little quicker to end plays. I am sure it will be emotional for all of us. You never want to leave anything on the field, when you walk off for the final time."
Team Rules For The Trip To New Orleans
"We have our Pirates in Public Program. The bus station location has been diagramed for them and the route back to Greenville has also been shown to them. I expect our team to conduct themselves with a level of professionalism and in a first-class manner. We addressed it with them the night of the bowl announcement and we will address it will them once when we arrive in New Orleans. I expect nothing but great behavior by our Pirates."