Sept. 9, 2006
TENNESSEE LOCKER ROOM
Head Coach Phillip Fulmer - "I'm just absolutely elated to get out of their with a win and get out of this thing and get ready for the next one. It was tough because it was an opener for them and it was tough because it was sandwiched between California and Florida and we didn't do a good job of managing that. Give Air Force a lot of credit to Air Force for the effort they gave. We could have knocked them out and then we threw the interception. The onside kick is definitely an area we need to address. The great thing about it is we can work on it with a win behind us. I'm proud of the kids and the staff.
"I think they came in here to win the game and didn't want to play overtime. When you're the underdogs sometime that's the best thing to do. The clock was in their favor and it was their call. I'm glad they went for it and glad they didn't get it.
"Eric was outstanding, he was throwing the football well and he was very sharp. The line protected well and the route running was good. We'll face a lot better defenses than we did tonight. I give him a lot of credit but we could have put the game away without the interception, he just stared down the receiver too long. He managed the game extremely well.
"I'm standing on the sideline and I can't tell who has the ball. They did a great job. You have to give those kids a whole lot of credit, they played their hearts out. (Coach) Fisher had about 4 or 5 games last year like that that they lost by just a little margin.
"The first one we went for the ball and it bounded off our chest and the second one we acted like we didn't want to field it, like it was a hot potato. I moved the receivers up to the front to go after the ball. We weren't doing a very good job and we'll do a lot more work on that."
Jayson Swain, WR - "Air Force is a great team with great pride. We stuck it out to get a win. We pretty much felt like we could do what we wanted to do (offensively). We knew we could make plays in the passing game."
On attempted two-point conversion: "I knew if they got it, we going to score. We were doing that all game."
Montario Hardesty, TB - "I've been waiting to get in to help the team win and today was the most I've gotten to play. I can't do anything without the wide receivers catching and the offensive line blocking."
Ryan Karl, LB - "We have to give this win to the offense. They came out and played really well. They definitely carried the team tonight. The defense didn't play as well as we needed to, but we are going to have to come out this week and practice really well to get ready for Florida."
Xavier Mitchell, DE - "Chief (Defensive coordinator John Chavis) just made a great call on that play. I lined up wide outside the wing and obviously my thought when they put it on the right hash was they were going to toss left, but I just got up field and made the play."
AIR FORCE LOCKER ROOM
Head Coach Fisher DeBerry: "That was a very good Tennessee football team. They're definitely a top-10 team, and I think that's where you'll see them at the end of the year. Certainly they made the plays whenever they had to make a play to win the game, and I give them a lot of credit.
"Certainly I'm very, very proud of our boys. I thought they showed a lot of character, and I thought they showed a lot of heart. They showed a lot of what they're made of. We did not come here to lose. Our guys last spring chose as they're motto, 'Return to Dominance,' and we fought our guts out (Saturday). I think that ought to make everybody in this stadium very proud of the type of kids we have at the Air Force Academy. These are the guys that are going to be representing you, representing me and our freedom.
"They don't ever quit, and I thought that was pretty evident. It was a great college football game, and I felt that I gave my kids the chance to prove their motto and return to dominance. We just came up short. I don't think we lost the game, necessarily, time just ran out on us.
"I'm very proud of our team, and I think that we learned a lot about ourselves. I think we need to keep coming out with that same kind of determination, same type of confidence and same type of effort. We just couldn't stop them in third downs (Saturday) to keep them from building their drives.
"(Tennessee quarterback Erik) Ainge was very good. I think after the first quarter their receivers caught the ball extremely well. We had a lot of difficulty getting to the quarterback, and their offensive line did an outstanding job. We tried everything in the world that we could to put pressure on Ainge, but we just didn't get it done.
"I'd (go for two) again. I told our team with 1:42 to play that we were going to score. There wasn't any doubt in my mind. But I told them then that we were going to go for two. We didn't come here by-gosh to tie. I got a smile out of each and every one of them. You've got to give that young man (Xavier Mitchell) credit. He made the play.
"Everybody on our sideline prays that the young man (Inky Johnson) is OK. Our hearts and prayers go out to him. I know that took an edge off for everybody."
FB Ryan Williams: "We don't believe in moral victories. We'll fight hard (against Wyoming). They told me we were going for two about a minute before, and we were all excited. I was confident that we'd put it in.
"All of us in the backfield have the same abilities. I was not upset I didn't get the ball. As a program, we are back to what we were doing before. I don't think the program ever went anywhere [even after a 4-7 season]."
QB Shaun Carney: "That (two-point conversion) was a play they hadn't stopped all game. Why not run it again? We ran it. They finally made a good play. They kind of got a little bit wider than normal on the defensive line, and it was the first time they made the play and you've got to give them credit.
"Going up to the line, it felt like we were going to do what we came here to do. We're going to win the game and leave our mark on history. When they stopped it, it was kind of like everything fell from the sky. It hurt pretty bad. We still had some hope to get the on-side kick, but how many times do you recover two onside kicks in the same game?
"I wish you could throw a flag or review the play (offside on the second onside kick). I don't know how that rule works, but that's part of the game. We were anxious to get there, I guess, and we got there a little too fast."