BUCS HEAD COACH JON GRUDEN (Gruden on Tampa Bay’s 24-3 win over St. Louis) "It was a very good victory for us. It was a gut check. There were some peaks and valleys there in the first half particularly. I thought the opening drive of the second half was the signature drive of the game. It was a great drive by our offense. Defensively, we gave up some yards between the 20's but we were able to make some big plays in this game to get off the field. It's a credit to our football team, obviously. [Running back] Earnest Graham exploded onto the scene today and the big question is why in the heck hasn't he been playing. I just want to tip my hat to him – that's a tribute to a guy who has really been a team guy. [On] Mark Jones's long return, the guy who throws a great block on that play is number 34, [Earnest Graham]. He's done a lot for us and I'm really proud of him."
(Gruden on the running back situation) "Well, we feel good about our backs. Obviously [running back] Carnell ["Cadillac" Williams] had the fumble and I talked to [Head Athletic Trainer] Todd Toriscelli. I felt to a degree that maybe he got nicked up a little bit. We had the fumble and I decided that it was best to give [running back] Earnest Graham an opportunity. He's run the ball well when given the ball and he took advantage. I also thought [running back] Michael Pittman was stellar today. He made some great plays, run, and catches, and we have good backs. No one's going to talk about it, but [full back] .J. Askew was the winning edge for us today. He made some unbelievable plays as the lead back in this football game and he deserves a lot of credit, as does our entire team in there."
(Gruden on RB Earnest Graham's playing time) "You have one ball and we think [running back] Carnell Williams is a great back. I think he's proven at times to be tremendous and I believe he has an unbelievable future ahead of him. [Running back] Michael Pittman has been given a lot of leftovers and rightfully so – he's an outstanding football player. Obviously, now we have to put our minds together and figure out how to get Earnest more involved because clearly he's also deserving of the football and that's a good problem to have."
(Gruden on the way the team finished the game) "I can't be more pleased. We were punishing at times offensively, just the way you want to close out a football game. For two weeks in a row we weren't really creative with play selection. Anything like that, we got some big plays that set up our second touchdown to make it a 17-3 game. After that, there wasn't a lot of smoke and mirrors – it was pretty much [quarterback Jeff] Garcia handling the running game, taking us to some premiere looks, and our guys blocking theirs, and we made some plays in the process."
(Gruden on the defense playing well for three weeks in a row) "We don't want to tell that that because it's just not good enough. We have to do a better job getting off the field quicker. We gave up some six or seven-minute drives and we gave up some field position in the process. I want to hold them accountable to revving up the pass rush – it's just not there yet. We're pleased with the performance and obviously giving up three points is a tremendous feat in pro football, but we're expecting a lot more from them. The effort's good, but it's not great yet, collectively. Nothing's good enough yet on defense and we're going to hold the standards where they belong here and until we get some quick three-and-outs and we start scoring touchdowns on defense, we're going to be asking for a lot more."
BUCS RB EARNEST GRAHAM (Graham on finally getting an opportunity to make an impact) "I just come to play football. I've been playing football a long time. I've been playing a lot of special teams and I've been counted on there and that's what I came and took the field today to do. It just-so-happened that I was called on to run the ball – and I just played football, man – it's all football to me. It's a credit to the offensive line – they did well today and the scoreboard showed."
(Graham on if the team deliberately switched from a passing attack to a running attack when the rain started falling) "It was the second half, we were up, and it was just that time. It was definitely time to pound that ball – it was wet, we have three good running backs, and a new, improved, young, strong offensive line – we had confidence that we could do that and we went out and did it. Last week we did a little bit more than we had to this week, but we had to pound it out to win."
(Graham on his second touchdown where he planted SS Corey Chavous at the five-yard line) "I've always had a pretty good stiff-arm and Corey Chavous was there in the secondary and he's a smaller guy, so I knew I could push him off the next five yards and that's what I did. That wasn't even my favorite play of the night. My favorite play was on the punt return. On the punt return, I got a chance to crack back on one of the Rams."
(Graham on back-to-back wins) "It's a great feeling. We had the confidence as soon as the team was assembled through the off-season workouts and through the camps. We knew we could be here and we worked to get here and it was great to show up on the field. We have the next game and we are going to try to go out and play with Carolina."
(Graham on waiting for his opportunity) "I held my role when I was just playing all special teams, so I held my role when I was running the ball today. I was doing my best to be the best player there. When it was my time to run the ball, I ran the ball. I've played five sports all my life. It's just sports. It's just plain sports. It's just football. I just had to run the ball and score tonight, and that's what I did."
BUCS LG ARRON SEARS (Sears on if the offensive line's mentality changed going into the second half) "We just knew we had to go out there – the defense was playing hard – so we had to match them on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line picked it up and was able to run the clock off for the team."
(Sears on appearing very quick on his feet today) "I had a lot of improvement in my forwards and stuff. I felt okay today. I felt confident in the right side and getting the deuce blocks and me pulling, so it was a team effort and the offensive line played good."
(Sears on the magnitude of a big-rushing game like today) "It's always good to run the football – it brings confidence throughout the whole team when you move it, keep it in bounds, and run out the clock and everything."
BUCS LB DERRICK BROOKS (Brooks on RB Steven Jackson) “That was part of our game plan. Number one, to stop Steven Jackson, not only with the run, but with the passing game. The guy had over 80 catches last year. He was really the start of our game plan. The next phase of it was not giving up the big play downfield. We have played St. Louis in the past and they have beat us because we have given up deep balls. Today we didn’t do that.”
(Brooks on if he is surprised the Rams didn’t take more shots downfield) “I can’t speak for them. I just know that we were very conscientious of it. For our defense, we were guarding against it. So maybe we did a good job of taking it away, and they didn’t take their shot.”
(Brooks on the defensive performance) “We are doing a good job of getting two or three guys to make the tackle. I said last week that one guy is not going to bring [Jackson] down. Probably every tackle you had two or three guys making the hit. To me, that is us starting to build back our mark and make our identity, to get a lot of guys around the football.”
BUCS CB PHILLIP BUCHANON (Buchanon on the key to the success of the secondary as a whole) “[The] biggest thing for us is our communication. We have some real good communication back there. Jermaine Phillips, Brian Kelly, Derrick Brooks and Barrett Ruud. Communication is going real good and we want to keep that positive.”
(Buchanon on what he was doing to keep Bulger from going deep) “I’m just doing my job. I’m just doing what the coaches tell me to do. They make the coverage calls and I play. I’m just Phillip Buchanon, just doing what I can do to avoid making any mistakes”
(Buchanon on if it was different going from playing cornerback to nickel) “No it wasn’t for me. I am just going out there and doing what I do. I am not worried about the whole rotation thing, anytime I get a choice to get in there and make some plays, that is what I am going to do.”
BUCS QB JEFF GARCIA (Garcia on efficiency of offense) “It was a grind it out mentality today. I think there were going to be some times, some opportunities for some big plays but we really never got into that sort of rhythm. I think from my standpoint it is about efficiency, it’s about not putting us in bad situations, bad positions, not forcing the issue. I think we have enough good plays, good opportunities, good looks where I can make the right decision to give our guys opportunities to make plays when we are throwing the football. The fourth quarter, the offensive line just took over. Earnest Graham and Cadillac and Michael Pittman did a great job of running. B.J. Askew leading the way and our tight ends. Everyone just stepped up in the fourth quarter. Really took the hammer to the nail. Defensively again, a great performance by our defense. Key turnovers that they created in critical times. Keeping that explosive offense out of the end zone all day long. It’s not an easy thing to do, but a credit to our defense and how they have played.”
(Garcia on the running game) “Last week we struggled early on with the running game. That was a critical emphasis this week; to get going early on, to have better success. Especially on first down when we do run the football and not creating second and third-and-long situations. We can still be better; we can still be a lot better as far as an offense is concerned. There were some times on the field today where we didn’t establish a drive; we kept our defense on the field too long at times. But to finally get it going, giving those guys enough of a crack for them to pierce it, make something happen. They’re going to make plays. They’re great running backs. All they need are little opportunities. The offensive line played awesome football today; physical football. That’s what it is all about. It was great to see that we could just pound the ball; especially in the fourth quarter and create a sense of advantage, controlling the line of scrimmage, and the running backs making big runs.”
(Garcia on wearing down the Rams’ defense) “You could really see that in the fourth quarter. Our offensive line, our offense was just starting to wear them out. They didn’t have an answer for what we were doing. They were trying different things. They were bringing extra guys in the box. We were still pounding it at them. We were still finding creases. Running backs were still gaining positive yards. I think it became very frustrating to them and obviously we wore and tore them down. It is just one of those things when you have a team on the ropes like that, you just keep pounding it at them.”
BUCS LB CATO JUNE (June on the key to the defense) “Intensity. It is all about getting 11 guys to the football. Anytime you keep attacking them, keep attacking them. They tried to establish, but we didn’t allow any big plays. We kept hitting them, kept hitting them over and over again. Sooner or later we are going to win.”
(June on turning into a big play defense) “Definitely. We expect to go out there and make big plays – three turnovers a game. That is what we are expected to do. We have to go out there and get the ball back for our offense.”
BUCS S JERMAINE PHILLIPS (Phillips on the importance of getting after the ball) It’s very important. If you’re looking at film, it’s intimidating to see 11 guys going to the ball. You know what they say, let’s make it snow in Tampa. Especially when we have the white jerseys on.”
(Phillips on Bucs offense answering after the Rams scored) “That’s what it’s all about. Making plays and opportunities for our team. Last week, coaches called some plays that put us into position. It’s a credit to our coaching staff and to our players for going out and executing.”
BUCS LB BARRET RUUD (Ruud on the fans chanting his last name) “I am glad that they picked up on that down here. I was listening to the Nebraska game, my brother plays there, and they yell his name [after he makes a play]. So I was glad to hear it a little bit down here.”
(Ruud on the key to his success) “Preparation. For me, that is what I think it is. I work hard during the week to prepare for Sunday. It is a process from Tuesday to Saturday evening. It is a week-long process and we try to take advantage of it.”
(Ruud on the defense’s standards) “Like [Coach] Kiffin will tell you, he’s going to make some great calls, but some calls are not the best ones for what the offense runs. But if you hustle and hit, you are going to make up for it. We played a great back today. He is going to make yards but we didn’t stop hustling and hitting.”
Some quotes courtesy of the Bucs public relations staff.
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