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ULL post-game Mario Cristobal Q&A

What are your thoughts on the goal line stand?

“It was the best I have ever seen. That changed the game.  Our motto is let’s put the ball down and play ball we were able to get the stop. On that change of possession, we were able to go 98 yards, the length of the field, on a very tough and physical drive. That set the tone against a team that is very talented and tough and came here ready to play.”

How about Junior Mertile playing corner and getting an interception?

“We talked about the move earlier in the season because he is a very talented individual that gives us more length and speed at corner.  We experimented with it on Monday and decided to make the move. Junior [Mertile] has responded well all week. He had some great practices. And today, they sniffed out the tunnel screen and Gaitor jumped it, got a great hit, and Mertile had the catch for a touchdown. He had a couple of little mistakes, but for his first game at corner, he played a really good ball game.”

 What’s the importance of being one game away from clinching the conference?

“The word ‘clinch’ really has no meaning for us.  We are a day-by-day, minute by minute team.  The one thing that came out of this victory was that we responded well to adversity. There were situations where Louisiana had a chance to step in front of us and put some points on the board but the defense came out and made great plays. When they got the turnover, four turnovers to none, those were points for us. Every chance we had to keep pushing it and stay ahead of the scoreboard, it made it hard for Louisiana.”

 Did your defense keep you in it? 

“We only had 59 total plays. For us, we’re used to going 85, 90, 100 plays. Not much, compared to what we’re used to having, but the defense helped us by getting us on a short field. At the same time, we had a blocked punt. A real funky look that they put together and gave us. One of our tackles didn’t see and credit to our special teams for fixing it going forward.”

 How about Darriet Perry having another monster game?

“He is as tough as it gets. Sometimes it’s scotch tape and rubber bands that holds that kid together. He gets stronger each week even when he has faced injury. He ran extremely hard against a defense that consistently had one or two extra men in the box. When they do, there’s no one to block them. He’s got to beat them physically or with moves. DP, Darian Mallary, I think they played an excellent game.”

 Do you guys have it going as good as you’ve ever played?

“We’ve got to watch the tape to see what we did well and didn’t do well. One thing’s for sure. There’s a lot of corrections to be made. Today worked out well. It’s not always going to work out well.”

How about being one win away from a bowl?

“It puts us in position. We’ve put ourselves in a position to succeed. All that means is we’ve got to hop on this plane, grade some film, land in Miami, get some rest, get up and go to work.”

You really got after the quarterback today with the seven sacks ...

“There is no given. Everyone’s evenly matched. And until you get that final possession, the end of the game is what counts. We did it with a cover-2. Overall, a very strong defensive performance.”

How’s Cedric Mack?

“He strained his calf, and since we don’t have an MRI machine out here to prevent it from getting worse, we kept him out. We expect him to be back. Giancarlo went in there, starting feeling comfortable, and we did a good job rushing the ball.”

Is Junior Mertile a full-time corner now?

“He’s a corner. He’s an athlete. You might see him in the Wildcat. He’s adding a different, special dimension to our defense. You couldn’t ask for anything more in your first game. Coach Ponce is upset. I’ll tell you what. We get receivers, and the defense keeps plucking them away and making them players over there. Ash Parker was another one. They’re going to play somewhere.”


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