Tyrique Stevenson Blog: It was wonderful feeling making that final play
Presented by the fan community of CaneSport.com and Gonzalez Cartwright
CB Tyrique Stevenson will have a weekly blog all season at CaneSport.com. In this edition, Stevenson talks about the App State game and its aftermath, including how he made the final play that ended the Mountaineer threat:
Nobody was nervous when App State got the ball with two minutes to play. They only needed a field goal to win, but I knew we were ready.
I was thinking `This is what we’ve been working for.’ We got two-minute drill in practice, and this isn’t any different. They’re not going to do anything we haven’t seen, we’ve seen every play they are going to do toward us. So let’s go out there and go get paid.
They needed a field goal to win the game, and all we were saying was `It’s time to get off the field, it’s time to start playing, get off the field and put this game away like it should have been.’
I had prepared all week to stop the final play.
Pretty much coming into this game, I knew they wanted to target No. 2 [Corey Sutton] a lot, their prime receiver who opted out a year ago.
Watching film on him, I saw that he came back first game and they gave him a deep ball. So me, I’m knowing they want to get the ball to him. It came down to fourth down and six and in my head, I’m already knowing `They’re coming over here, this is who they want to come to, this is who they trust the ball to and I’m pretty sure trust the game with.’
I was pretty sure they were not going to throw a deep ball. They threw one deep ball all game. So I’m like `They’re going to go to their usual route, which is a curl.’ He just happened to run and cut and I just happened to know where he was running.
All the game preparation came together in the last moment of the game. He was going to take it to the sticks, try to get a first down, be conservative. I just played him inside leverage - thinking if you are throwing this curl you’re either throwing it to me or you’re throwing it somewhere he cannot grab it.
And that’s what really happened.
He threw it into my hands, he never really touched the ball. Because my hand was on top of it, and that was it.
This rush came over me, I don’t even know how to explain it. It felt good to celebrate with the entire sideline.
`This is what we’ve been working for. I told you all when I got here that I’ve got you all.’
Just me being able to go out there and showcase it at the right time and the perfect time is what I came here for - to show everybody.
I was excited at the moment, but it didn’t really hit me till later after the game that I had the game-winning defensive stop. In that moment, it was just a feeling that everything I did paid off.
THE DIFFERENCE HEADING INTO THE APP STATE GAME
Of course we were down losing like that against Alabama.
Losing like that in anything in life will take a major blow to you, your confidence, your mindset.
I felt we took a major blow and we all came back last Monday and Tuesday and kind of put it behind us. We took reality as it was, kind of criticized ourselves the most and the hardest. We took it on the chin, brushed it off and got back up there, ready to push on forward.
Everybody’s mindset was beat Appalachian State because we’re not going to let Alabama beat us two games in a row.
We came together as a team, had a lot to improve on and took away something good from that game besides losing.
The only thing we did a lot different for App State week was in the presentation. Coming off the loss, you have to find the right words to say to the team. I feel coach Manny Diaz did that, getting us prepared for this game, also letting us know that this team was not coming in to lay down.
The main thing he said was just to play the next play, treat every play like your last, don’t treat your opponent lightly because they’re in a different conference or anything like that.
APP STATE WEEK
We spent a lot of time preparing for the App State game. We were ready to play this week.
Preparing for App State vs. Alabama wasn’t much different. Not at all. We knew Appalachian State was a team that was coming in with a big chip on their shoulder wanting to win and not backing down from it just because we’re the University of Miami.
We don’t look at any opponent differently because of the school and the logo. Every team has the opportunity to come in and play their best game, have a chance to win the football game. Football is a very compact sport and very confusing because it’s a game of inches. Anything can happen and go down in a game.
Our weekly routine is no different no matter who we play because everyone has a quarterback, every team has the same thing, every team has the same opportunity.
Games you take off, the game you relax the most, is the game you get cut the deepest.
And we don’t want to be that team that, Oh, just because they’re less than us we think any different of them.
They come to give their all and we give 50 percent, we’re always going to lose. It’s the mindset of the team.
It happened to me while I was at Georgia - we lost to South Carolina. We hadn’t lost to them in years. They were the lesser team to us at the time. We had the best team but still came out there and gave up a loss and both sides played very bad.
One week a team can be down and the next week come back and beat the No. 1 team in the nation. You never know. That’s why you have to be prepared, have to be focused and treat every play like your last play.
Friday we met as a whole defense, went over some extra plays, had bed check and that was about it. The coaches were on the road recruiting, so it was players meeting. It was more of an individual type of meeting, each position group came in and spent time, no coaches.
Saturday we woke up, did some exercises to wake up, had breakfast, had our meetings, a one to two hour break before the pregame meal, one more meeting and on the bus to the stadium. We watched the Oregon-Ohio State game when we had time. You could tell from the jump that Oregon didn’t come in to be a pushover.
And I know coach Cristobal. It was just kudos to them, they came out and played a great game. Their players wanted it more.
I don’t get a chance to watch many other games, catch the highlights. I saw the highlights of Georgia’s game against Clemson, too. We finished with the fourth quarter left and you know I watched that. I called Georgia players after the win, told them I’m proud of them, congratulations.
Saturday I was soaking it all in, everything was all new. Canes Walk, that was a childhood dream because I used to go to all the games. Just seeing it in action, being through it was a whole different feeling. It was a bunch of energy, joy and happiness seeing these fans up close. Once I was bending over the gate and recording. Now I’m the one who is being recorded, just a bunch of excitement and happiness ran through me.
After we got the early interception and took the lead, they came back. We were just trading blows for blows and took it to the end of the game.
It wasn’t as bad as it seemed, but it was great (the way it ended) - that gives you a chance to showcase what you’re about.
Because a lot of people want to see how you react under pressure, and I like to see myself react under pressure too.
This was a game where the defense had to stand tall and have the offense's back. And that’s what we did, because vice versa they’d do the same thing. It was just exciting being out there on the field a lot, my first time in the stadium.
If offense isn’t producing, and you have a defense that can stop them from scoring, you still have a chance. And if it’s vice versa where we are giving up touchdowns and they are able to outscore them - we have each other’s backs. It’s a team sport.
I believe having a close game like that shows how you act under pressure, act under fatigue, how you react to stuff once things don’t go your way.
We needed that, these first two games to really unpack what this defense is about and what weak links we have and find out how to put guys where they need to be.
Now we know everybody is willing to put their all in, and everybody was speaking positive throughout the whole game. There was no negative thoughts, no bad moments after giving up a touchdown. Everyone stayed positive. We need each other and need each other to do that to stay locked in together.
WHEN APP STATE TOOK THE LEAD BEFORE HALFTIME
Everybody was calm in that moment because we knew it was on us. We called all the DBs up, told them `It’s on us.’ Encouraged everybody, let’s not leave any room for any negative and let’s pick it up. This is what any defense wants: The game is on you.
It really was `It’s time to get paid, let’s go out here and show them why we’re the defense we say we are, why all these things we’ve been talking about during the offseason, it’s time to show it now. We’ve been working for it and it’s time to go out there and make your money and do what you have to do.”
I always have confidence in our offense no matter how deep we get in a deficit. Once it clicks there’s nothing you can do about it. I’ve seen what they’re capable of, that’s what built my confidence in them. Even times we were down, times we were getting three-and-outs back to back, I walked over there and told them, `It’s all good. We’ve got you all and I know you’ve got us.’
I went over there because I didn’t want them to get down on themselves because they’re not doing what an offense should do, not putting up the yards like they want to. I didn’t want them to get down on themselves, so I took it upon myself to go over there and let the boys know `We’ve got you all. All good, once you get rolling, get rolling.’ Not only me, but everybody was staying positive and saying positive things so no negativity would be spreading.
T-ROB WARNED US ABOUT APP STATE
We had respect for Appalachian State because even though they’re in a different conference they are a big dog in their conference. Coach T-Rob [who coached at South Carolina when App State beat the Gamecocks in 2019] was letting us know they came into an SEC school, these same players, super seniors because a lot of them sat out, so this same team who played two years ago was a team that beat an SEC team. That woke the guys up, that they would not ’t be a pushover.
T-Rob was real vocal and letting everyone know don’t take them lightly, that Appalachian State might not have the nicest uniforms but they do play with heart.
Saturday morning he was real vocal about it. We in the secondary have to stop a lot of plays, have to be the top tier on the field at all times because once they’re behind us there’s nothing but the end zone. He was real vocal and said not to take their receivers lightly and not treat them like some kids.
Every game is big, every game is critical because what might be the lesser team to you makes them want to have the best game of their life.
You’re taking them as a joke and they are putting in more work than you and it’ll show.
I felt we did a good job not shying away from that aspect of the game preparation.
GREAT TO HAVE MY FAMILY AT HARD ROCK STADIUM
My mom was at the game with my sister. It felt great having her there. That played a big part in it, playing in front of her,. Having people there supporting me is always a pleasure because I didn’t have that the last two years at Georgia and I always was used to it growing up, having them close. It brought back a ton of memories. I just enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
My mom hit me up every day this week, letting me know she would be there, wouldn’t miss it.
When I came out on the field for warmups, I scanned the crowd and when I scanned around, they saw I was looking, were standing up waving. I heard my sister yell and looked right in their direction. I don’t remember what she yelled because everyone was cheering. But on top of her yelling, she waved her hands, made a big deal of it and I noticed them.
My mom didn’t notice I actually saw her until my sister tapped her, and she stood up and waved hard.
Once the game started I was locked in. I try to silence out the crowd, silence out all noise. It’s just me and whoever is in front of me every game. I’ll be really zoned out during the game.
GETTING THAT FIRST WIN
It’s a confidence-builder for anybody to win. A win is a win no matter how it comes. Once you win it builds your confidence and now everybody has a different mindset that we actually can put together things and clean up some things on special teams and offense and defense, that we can get rolling.
Coming out of Bama, we had a lot of confidence, but were also unsure because we played a bigger and more physical team in week 1 than a lot of people on this team are used to.
I felt going in that this game was going to be a boost of confidence to us, making us more sure that this is a team and we are capable of winning.
Now it's on to Michigan State.
They are going to be treated like they are the No. 1 team in the country.