December 22nd, 2016 | BAHAMAS BOWL


Eastern Michigan Press Conference Quotes – December 22, 2016

Head Coach Chris Creighton

Opening Remarks
“Thanks for being here. I can’t say how excited we to be here in the Bahamas and having an opportunity to play in this bowl game. We don’t have enough time for me to tell you the whole story, but I will tell you that our two senior captains, along with the rest of their senior class, basically sat in my basement on a very cold December day back in 2015 and started setting goals for this season. That was after 28 years of not going to a bowl. I think with a lot of focus, and a lot of maturity, (they) said our goal in 2016 was to go to and to win a bowl game. They not only said that, but they came up with a process by which we were going to try to achieve that goal – and that was to go 1-0 in everything we did from that moment forward.

“To be able to flush the good things that happened and to move forward, and to be able to flush the negative things that happened and to move forward, it’s really served us well. The journey has been long, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. There’s a lot of choice to it, but to be chosen by the (Popeyes) Bahamas Bowl to be here, I can’t tell you how deep that goes with our team.

“Our athletic director believed in us two years ago after a 2-10 season and bought our team passports believing that our team was going to go to a bowl game, and knew that it could be the (Popeyes) Bahamas Bowl. You can imagine the belief just even two years ago from our athletic administration. These guys bonding and binding together, and to realize almost all of that goal at this point, is truly amazing. Our experience here has been top-notch.

“The hospitality, and the first-class nature with which we’ve been treated – I said it the other day, ‘We’ve been treated like kings. At Eastern Michigan, we haven’t experienced that before. It’s truly been a blessing; it’s been an honor. I’m so proud of how our guys have acted with their focus in being here.

“We’re playing a great opponent tomorrow, an opponent we’ve lost to the last two years. We hosted Old Dominion in the first game of the 2015 season, and we were ahead twice, but they came back in the last four minutes and beat us. It was a long time ago, but we are somewhat familiar with them. They’re a first-class organization. I’m really excited about getting to play them tomorrow in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.

“Thanks for being here, and thank you for the experience you’ve given us already.”

On keeping players focused
“I’m relying on these guys and our senior class. These guys have been here for five years, and they’re grown men. They get it. I laid on the beach and played on the beach with my kids.

“We’ve done a really good job of compartmentalizing the football and then enjoying being here. We’ve talked about it just like we do on all of our road trips. We’ve had successful road trips when you might be going somewhere for the first time, and seeing a different part of the country, but if you know why you’re going, then everything is kept in the correct perspective.

“I tell our guys: ‘You don’t have to bang your head against the wall on Friday night.’ Some guys start getting ready then, but not everybody is banging their against the wall on Friday night. You have to know when to flip the switch. You have to know when to focus and to be mentally into it. We just said this is going to be a longer road trip. So when we’re doing football, we’ve got to be completely locked in, and we’ve got to practice hard, practice well, and be focused. But when we’re away, enjoy it!

“Don’t do anything that’s going to be counter to what we’re trying to accomplish on Friday. So our guys have been getting a good night’s rest, we’ve been hydrating, we’ve been eating well, and at the same time, we’ve been enjoying themselves, the property, and this beautiful country. I’m really proud of how we’ve handled it so far.”

Eastern Michigan offensive lineman Cole Gardner

On his favorite part of the week thus far
“There’s more than one thing that I can think. It’s been incredible. This is my first time in the Bahamas. I’m enjoying it. It’s been great to be able to come here, and to experience it with my brothers.

“The dolphins. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Dolphins are huge. You don’t realize it until you get there and see them, but it’s pretty crazy.

“To be able to go out and impact the community; able to impact (the Bahamian) people is huge.”

Takeaways from previous games against Old Dominion
“They were close games so we have to battle the whole time. It’s going to be a hard-fought battle the whole game, but it’s what we want. You want a good game. You want to fight with your brothers and have it come down to the wire.”

On student body excitement for the football team’s success
“They’re excited for us. All year, they’ve been behind us and just cheering us on. In class, they’re coming up and congratulating us.

“The whole student body was thrilled that we had this opportunity getting here. You see the hope, people believing in us. That’s huge. We’ve had some down years the last couple years. You don’t see it as much. And now everyone is starting to believe what we knew we could do.”

On making sure he doesn’t get sunburnt prior to the game
“I put sunscreen on. You have to know that we’re to enjoy the place, but you also got to know that you don’t want it to hurt. You have to be able to take care of your body. I might not go back with the greatest tan, but the goal is go back with the trophy and a ring from the bowl game.”

Eastern Michigan defensive lineman Mike Brown

On his favorite part of the week thus far
“Just flying in. I’ve never seen an ocean before in person. Just going over the ocean, and seeing the different colors of the ocean. I was like ‘wow. Arriving at the hotel, and seeing Atlantis.

“Cole and I got a chance to swim with dolphins, which was a once-in-a-lifetime thing for us. (Head) Coach (Chris) Creighton was there. It was a really fun experience. Just being with the guys. Coach said, we set out a goal to come to a bowl game. We didn’t know it was going to be the (Popeyes) Bahamas Bowl. We didn’t know who we were going to play. It’s just been an awesome experience being with the guys we set out for this goal with.”

Takeaways from previous games against Old Dominion
“The last two games were close games, and we’re expecting this game to be another close game. Old Dominion is a good football team. They’re not 9-3 on accident. We’re going to come in here expecting it to be a battle. We’re going to go out here and expect to be in a close game and come out on top.”

On making sure he doesn’t get sunburnt prior to the game
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity to get sunburned because Michigan was really cold before we left. I’d rather be sunburned than frozen.”

Pre Footer