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As of 1/1/14, all times CST
Sunday, December 7
4 p.m. – Valero Alamo Bowl Team Announcement at Fleming’s Steakhouse in The Quarry. View Press Quotes for a transcript of the head coaches’ statement.
Thursday, December 11
Wednesday, December 17
Sunday, December 28
6 p.m. – UCLA will be attending the San Antonio Spurs game against Houston.
Monday, December 29
9:30 a.m. – Valero Alamo Bowl fundraiser for the San Antonio Food Bank. Fans are encouraged to donate $20 (cash/credit card) or 20 items from San Antonio Food Bank’s Most Wanted Items to receive one complimentary ticket to this year’s Top 20 match-up courtesy of Valero.
10:50 a.m. – UCLA practice at University of Incarnate Word will be available to photographers to shoot the stretching and individual drills periods (approximately 10-15 minutes). The best holiday entrance will be at Hildebrand and Interstate 281. From downtown, take 281 north toward the airport and exit Hildebrand. Go through the stop light as you cross over Hildebrand like you are getting back on the highway. There is an entrance on your right that will take you down to the football field. The exit is near the entrance via Hildebrand. No post-practice availability or interviews, but the team will host the Boys and Girls Club after practice and pictures will be posted to the Media Library.
Kansas State practice is closed. The team will also go to SeaWorld, but the only media availability will be select players 9-11 a.m. on 12/30.
Tuesday, December 30
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Media Headquarters/Credential Pick-up (Marriott Riverwalk, Second Floor, Bonham Room)
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Media Hospitality Room with lunch scheduled 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Marriott Riverwalk, Salon E/F)
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Media Workroom (Marriott Riverwalk, Valero Room)
9 a.m. – 11 a.m. – Team Day at SeaWorld San Antonio. Student-athletes from both teams will interact with beluga whales, a Pacific walrus as well as ride the Steel Eel roller coaster. Media are instructed to use the Administration Entrance at SeaWorld (10500 Sea World Drive, San Antonio, TX 78251). Kansas State players scheduled to attend are:
Dante Barnett, Valentino Coleman, Will Davis, Randall Evans, Taylor Godinet, Glenn Gronkowski, Luke Hayes, Demonte Hood, Kason Hostrup, Drew Liddle, Zach Nemechek
Ian Patterson, Deandre Roberts, Boston Stiverson, Zach Trujillo and Stanton Weber. UCLA players scheduled to attend are: Darren Andrews, Zack Bornstein, Ryan Davis, Denzel Fisher, Randall Goforth, Cameron Griffin, Sam Handler, Johnny Johnson, Jake Juels, Steven Manfro, Kenny Orjioke, Austin Roberts, Sam Tai and Dwight Williams. Photos and videos are posted to the Media Library.
11:30 a.m. – Both teams will visit the Center for the Intrepid. There will be no media availability at this event, but still photos are available via the Valero Alamo Bowl’s Media Library. The following members of the Kansas State team are scheduled to visit the Center: Head Coach Bill Snyder along with players Travis Britz, Jack Cantele, BJ Finney, Kyle Klein, Tyler Lockett, Matt McCrane, Dylan Schellenberg, Curry Sexton, David Smith and Jake Waters. UCLA players scheduled to attend are: Darren Andrews, Zack Bornstein, Ryan Davis, Denzel Fisher, Randall Goforth, Cameron Griffin, Sam Handler, Johnny Johnson, Jake Juels, Steven Manfro, Kenny Orjioke, Austin Roberts, Sam Tai and Dwight Williams.
12:30 p.m.: Kansas State Defense Press Conference with Defensive Coordinator Tom Hayes, Special Teams Coordinator Sean Snyder along with the following players: defensive back Dante Barnett, defensive back Randall Evans, defensive back Weston Hiebert, defensive end Ryan Mueller and linebacker Jonathan Truman (Marriott Riverwalk, Salon D, Second Floor)
1:30 p.m. – UCLA Defense Press Conference with Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich with the following players: defensive lineman Kenny Clark, linebacker Myles Jack, defensive back Anthony Jefferson, linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive lineman Owamagbe Odighizuwa (Marriott Riverwalk, Salon D, Second Floor) View Press Quotes for a transcript and pictures in our Media Library.
3:15 p.m. – Kansas State practice at Alamo Heights High School is open for first 15 minutes for photographers. No post-practice availability or interviews. The school street address is 6900 Broadway (football stadium parking is off of Gaylord Finley/Fair Oaks Road which is along north side of the campus). View Press Quotes for a transcript and pictures in our Media Library.
No practice availability for UCLA.
10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. – Media Hospitality Suite – Suite 3004, Marriott Riverwalk.
Wednesday, December 31
7:30 a.m. – FCA Breakfast at the Marriot Rivercenter Ballroom (third floor). Both teams are invited to attend this event produced by the San Antonio Chapter of FCA. This year’s keynote speaker is This year’s is former NFL wide receiver and current Trinity University Head Coach Jerheme Urban.
9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Media Headquarters/Credential Pick-up (Marriott Riverwalk, Second Floor, Bonham Room)
9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Media Hospitality Room with lunch scheduled 11 a.m. – 1: 30 p.m. (Marriott Riverwalk, Salon E/F)
9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Media Workroom (Marriott Riverwalk, Valero Room)
11:40 a.m. – Kansas State Offense Press Conference with Co-Offensive Coordinators Dana Dimel and Del Miller along with the following players: offensive lineman BJ Finney, wide receiver Tyler Lockett, wide receiver Curry Sexton, quarterback Jake Waters and offensive lineman Cody Whitehair (Marriott Riverwalk, Salon D, Second Floor) View Press Quotes for a transcript and pictures in our Media Library.
1:30 p.m. – UCLA Offense Press Conference with Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone with the following players: offensive lineman Jake Brendel, wide receiver Thomas Duarte, quarterback Brett Hundley, wide receiver Jordan Payton and running back Paul Perkins (Marriott Riverwalk, Salon D, Second Floor) View Press Quotes for a transcript and pictures in our Media Library.
No practice availability for either team.
5 p.m. – Rudy’s Bar-B-Q Pep Rally at the Arneson River Theatre on the Riverwalk (418 Villita Street). Space is limited so early arrival is encouraged for this one-of-a-kind pep rally. High school bands perform from 4-5 p.m. followed by the teams cheerleaders. Then at 5 p.m. the school cheerleaders will be on the stage followed by the two head coaches and their team captains will speak while the other players will be in front of the stage on river cruisers. Media seating is available in the back left corner of the theatre which is walkable on street level via Alamo Street and Market by turning into La Villita right past the south end of the Hilton Palacio del Rio hotel. To drive, take Commerce to N. Presa and go left behind the theatre via Villita Street. Since fans fill the theatre by 3 p.m., media are advised to set their positions early. View pictures in our Media Library.
6 p.m. – After the pep rally, the Valero Alamo Bowl will host a private dinner but will make select photos available of the various player talent and trivia contests will be made available via the Valero Alamo Bowl’s Media Library.
6 p.m. – Midnight - Celebrate San Antonio is the largest New Year’s Eve celebration in Texas. This free event draws over 200,000 people to downtown and closes with a midnight fireworks show at the Tower of Americas. Several downtown streets around the team and media hotels will be closed started at 3 p.m.
10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. – Media Hospitality Suite – Suite 3004, Marriott Riverwalk.
Thursday, January 1
9 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Media Headquarters/Credential Pick-up (Marriott Riverwalk, Second Floor, Bonham Room)
9 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Media Hospitality Room with lunch scheduled 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (Marriott Riverwalk, Salon E/F)
9 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Media Workroom (Marriott Riverwalk, Valero Room)
11:15 a.m. - Head Coaches Press Conferences in Marriott Riverwalk. Kansas State Head Coach Bill Snyder and UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora will answer questions together sitting on the dais. (Salon D, Second Floor) View Press Quotes for a transcript and pictures in our Media Library.
Noon – Valero Alamo Bowl Kickoff Luncheon (Marriott Rivercenter Grand Ballroom). This 1,400 person event features Head Coaches and captains speaking at the head table along with ESPN talent. Media seating for first 20 requests at the Media Center will be provided tickets. Others filled as space allows. Mult-box in back of the room to capture sound.
3 p.m. - Kansas State Pep Rally at Freeman Coliseum (3201 East Houston Street). The teams, cheerleaders and band will make an appearance toward the end of this 60+ minute this pep rally produced by Kansas State Alumni Association.
Kansas State and UCLA walk-throughs at the Alamodome will be closed.
10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. – Media Hospitality Suite – Suite 3004, Marriott Riverwalk.
Friday, January 2
9 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Media Headquarters/Credential Pick-up (Marriott Riverwalk, Bonham Room) Media without a car not wanting to make the 10 minute walk to the Alamodome should check in for the latest Media Shuttle information.
9 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Media Hospitality Room (Salon E/F with lunch scheduled from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
9 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Media Workroom (Valero Room)
Noon – 5:45 p.m. – Fan Zone (interactive area with games and bands at Sunset Station – one block north of the Alamodome). An estimated crowd of 35,000 fans is expected along with team band walk-throughs between 4 and 5 p.m.
2 p.m. – 5 p.m. - A Media Shuttle will be available on request from the Marriott Riverwalk. Please see the Media Center Check-in for the driver’s number to arrange pick-up.
2:30 p.m. – end of the first quarter: Alamodome’s East Media Entrance (same side as train tracks) and Media Will Call. This entrance is at the 50-yard line and marked with a “Media Entrance” yellow flag. Media needing access to press box and broadcast level should enter here. Pre-credentialed media & photographers can enter through South Loading Dock entrance in Lot A.
5:50 p.m. – Valero Alamo Bowl Kickoff
Post-Game – Head Coaches/Select Players Press Conference (Interview Rooms across from Visiting Team Locker Room). Audio piped into press box. Losing team at dais first followed by winning team.
11 p.m. – 2 a.m. – Media Hospitality Suite – Suite 3004, Marriott Riverwalk Hotel
Seth Krug, Valero Alamo Bowl, email@example.com; 913-710-1736 (cell)
Rick Hill, Valero Alamo Bowl, firstname.lastname@example.org, 210-394-9386 (cell)
Media Center: 210-299-6586 (during posted hours)
Press Box: 210-704-6200 (game day only)
Media Hotel & Headquarters
San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk
889 East Market Street
San Antonio, Texas 78205
Hotel: (210) 224-4555
The Marriott Riverwalk Hotel (next to the Marriott Rivercenter Hotel) is the official media hotel.
Please stop by Media Headquarters at the Marriott Riverwalk Hotel for the latest information during Bowl Week and to pick up your credentials.
The media headquarters number is 210-299-6586 during posted hours or you can reach Valero Alamo Bowl Media Relations Coordinator Seth Krug by cell at 913-710-1736 or via email at email@example.com.
Media Hotel Room Rates
Room rates for the Valero Alamo Bowl media are $145 per night plus tax, which includes Internet access in the sleeping rooms, lobby, and restaurants (separate code needed on the media/ballroom level so ask media headquarters). These rates are only valid from December 27 – January 3. All media rooms must be booked through the credential system on bowl’s website. The Marriott Riverwalk will not accept room reservations directly from media members. Please note that the bowl will not assign rooms until December 19, so the hotel will not have a record of your name until after that date.
ESPN/Valero Alamo Bowl TV Station Policy
- Television stations will be allowed to film from the sidelines during the game. However, the Valero Alamo Bowl’s contract with ESPN prohibits the use of game highlights on local newscasts prior to the completion of the game.
- Television standup reporters will not be permitted on the sideline during the game. All reporters will be seated in the press box. With five (5) minutes remaining in the game, media will be allowed access to the field.
- Beginning a half-hour prior to kickoff until ESPN is off the air, there will be absolutely no live telecasts or transmissions from inside the Alamodome. Live shots can be originated at any time from outside the Alamodome.
- Microwave transmissions are not permitted within the Alamodome. All satellite dishes and/or ENG trucks must be positioned outside the Alamodome in the designated area located southwest of the building.
Team practice sites will be at University of the Incarnate Word (UCLA) and Alamo Heights High School (Kansas State).
Parking and Media Shuttle
A limited number of Alamodome parking passes for media covering the Valero Alamo Bowl are available. Media, especially those staying in the media hotel, are urged to take the 10 minute walk to the Alamodome or utilize the shuttle service provided from the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter Hotel to the Alamodome.
TV ENG Truck Parking
Parking space for TV ENG trucks at the Alamodome, located in the southwest corner of the parking lot, is extremely limited. Please contact Amanda Cuevas of the Alamodome (210-207-3636, firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible concerning a parking location and specific needs.
All interviews with coaches and/or players outside of the official media schedule must be cleared through each school’s sports information director.
Game Day Telephones/Internet Access
Complimentary WiFi is available is the press box and photographer’s workroom. Media outlets requiring telephone and/or internet services for exclusive use must order directly from the Alamodome at (210) 207-3629 at least two weeks prior to game day.
The Valero Alamo Bowl has a dedicated URL for stats for your use at alamo.statbroadcast.com.
Valero Alamo Bowl Outstanding Players
The Outstanding Offensive and Defensive Player for the Valero Alamo Bowl will be named through online media voting. Visit alamo.statbroadcast.com during the fourth quarter, then click on the link on the right-hand side to place your vote.
Alamodome Media Elevators
The Alamodome’s media elevators are located on the east side of the building at the East Plaza Entrance. The writer’s press box is located on the mezzanine level (Level 3) with the broadcast and coaches booths located on Level 4. All media are asked to enter the press box facilities through Level 3. There is easy access through private stairs to Level 4.
Post-Game Field Access
The quickest way to get to the field and locker rooms from the press box is via an internal stairwell that is adjacent to the East elevators. Directional signage will be posted. Media can access the field and the post-game interview room by taking the Alamodome East elevators outside the press box to level 1 and making a left toward the locker rooms.
Head coaches and select players will be available to the media following the conclusion of the game. A formal interview room will be clearly marked and located directly across from the visiting team’s locker room. The losing team will be at the dais first followed by winning team. Audio piped into press box and ASAP will provide quotes.
Admission to each school’s locker room will be granted in accordance with each school’s post-game interview policy.
Directions from San Antonio Airport to Marriott Riverwalk (Media Hotel)
Take Highway 281 South that will turn into Interstate Highway 37 South heading toward Corpus Christi. Exit at the Commerce Street/The Alamo exit and turn right on Commerce. Proceed west on Commerce one block to Bowie Street. The Marriott Riverwalk will be on the southwest corner. To get to their parking garage, you will need to continue west on Commerce and turn left at Alamo and left onto Market which is a one way street. The Marriott Riverwalk address is 889 E. Market and their phone number is 210-224-4555. Approximate drive time: 11 minutes.
Directions from San Antonio Airport to Alamodome
Take Highway 281 South, which will turn into Interstate Highway 37 South heading toward Corpus Christi. Exit at the Cesar Chavez exit and take a left on the turnaround under the bridge and head back north on the Cesar Chavez access road. Turn right into Lot A. The southside entrance of the Alamodome just past the marquee. The Alamodome address is 100 Montana. Approximate drive time: 11 minutes.
Directions to University of Incarnate Word from the Media Hotel
Take Highway 281 North toward the airport. Exit at the Hildebrand exit (3 miles). The campus is on the corner of Hildebrand and Broadway. See the Media Center for updated information on the best entrance to access the football stadium. Approximate drive time: 8 minutes.
Directions to Alamo Heights High School from the Media Hotel
Take Highway 281 North toward the airport. Exit at the East Basse exit (less than 4 miles). Take a right on Basse and then take a right at the second stoplight (Forestshire at the Clear Channel office) and then a quick left on Tuxedo which dead ends at Broadway and the school will be directly in front of you. Go left on Broadway and then turn into north end of school at Gaylord Finley Road which takes you to football field. The school address is 6900 Broadway. Approximate drive time: 14 minutes.
All credential requests must be completed online through the PressPass system.
Media Will Call
Credentials will not be mailed. However, individuals may claim all passes issued to his/her media organization.
Pick-up is at the Media Hotel (Marriott Riverwalk) during posted Media Headquarters hours. At 2 p.m. on game day, Will Call will be moved from the hotel to the east side of the Alamodome at the East Plaza Entrance (50 yard-line by train tracks). A table will be located inside the East Plaza Entrance with the media elevators also located adjacent to the Will Call table.
Preference will be given to media who cover all the home and away games of participating teams as well as South Texas media who routinely cover events on the Valero Alamo Bowl’s year long calendar. Media that cover all the home games of either of the two schools receive the next priority.
As a general rule, if either participating school hasn’t credentialed you for multiple games during the regular season, you won’t be credentialed for the Valero Alamo Bowl.
The Valero Alamo Bowl reserves the right to revoke any credential used by individuals not fully accredited, or an individual not in compliance with normal press box and/or sideline standards. Acceptance of credentials constitute agreement by the bearer and his/her media organization to abide by the conditions as prescribed by the Alamo Bowl.
No spouses, dates or children, except those age 18 and older performing in a working capacity, will be allowed in Alamodome media facilities or on the sideline.
“Media” credentials will provide access to the press box and the field pre- and post-game.
“Photo” credentials for sideline photographers will be issued under the following guidelines:
- Photo credentials must be worn in plain sight at all times.
- Anyone wearing a photo credential and not shooting game action will be required to surrender their credential and leave the facility immediately.
- Photographers are permitted on either sideline or end zone behind the 12-foot restraining line around the field, but not within the TEAM BENCH AREA (inside the 25-yard lines) at any time. NO EXCEPTIONS. Persons in violation of this policy will be required to surrender their credential and leave the stadium.
- Television stations will be allowed to film from the sidelines during the game. However, the Valero Alamo Bowl’s contract with ESPN prohibits the use of game highlights on local newscasts prior to the completion of the game. A distribution amp will also be provided adjacent to ESPN’s production truck in the loading dock area of the Alamodome for use by television stations wanting game highlights.
- Credentials will not be issued to TV assistants or “grips.
The Valero Alamo Bowl will issue credentials to NFL and professional football scouts on an “as-available” basis. After a capacity number is met, scouts will have to purchase a game ticket.
Kansas State Head Coach Bill Snyder and UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora, Jr.
Snyder Opening Statement:
“Thanks Derrick. We greatly appreciate it, as anyone would. We had that experience in 1998 and we were well cared for and appreciated, with the exception of the loss late in the ball game, we appreciated each and every element of the bowl experience. Your people were very caring and looked after us quite well and made our stay very, very comfortable. We appreciate the opportunity again.”
“I have followed Jim Mora for quite some time and greatly appreciate what he means to the game of college football. He has, obviously, an extremely talented and fine football team, a very well coached UCLA football team, and he has moved that program in an extremely positive direction.”
“We are honored to be there and we appreciate the opportunity.”
Mora Opening Statement:
“Thank you Derrick. On behalf of UCLA, our players, our staff and our administration I want to thank you and the Valero Alamo Bowl committee for selecting us to play in what we think will be a classic matchup between two very fine football teams. This will be our first experience at the Valero Alamo Bowl and we are beyond excited to have the chance to come to San Antonio and have the chance to experience everything that the city has to offer and also get to play against a very, very fine Kansas State football team coached by a legend and hall of famer, Coach Snyder, a man who I just have tremendous respect for and I actually can’t wait to shake his hand. I am a little bit in awe, but really excited to come to your city (San Antonio) and experience what it has to offer and play, in what we think, is a very prestigious game.”
“Thank you again for selecting us and we promise to represent extremely well on the field, off the field and in your community and we are very excited about the opportunity.”
Snyder on possibility of finishing the season with 10 wins and ranked in the Top 10:
“I believe everyone in our program, the young people and our staff and all those that are invested in our program are excited about being there. Obviously, finishing the season the right way is very significant. We have been on both sides of the ledger, and obviously to finish the way you desire too is much more palatable, I think. The experience, and I can go on the past experience we had there, we were cared for and looked after so very well by the staff with the Alamo Bowl.”
“UCLA, I can’t say that we have followed dramatically closely, and I’m sure Jim is the same way, we get invested in our own programs, but we do know what is going on in college football and I certainly admire what they have done. You read off the stats and I have a stat sheet right here in front of me and it is a little frightening when you look at the success of Brett Hundley and the capacity they have to be balanced in their offense to run and pass and to be a productive defense is obviously something you have some concern about, but you also look at their special teams and the numbers would indicate that they spend diligent time on special teams as well.”
Mora on finishing the season with 10 wins and ranked in the Top 10:
“It is certainly our next goal. We have had a very challenging season. We have played the toughest schedule in college football according to some and this is just another opportunity for us to play against a great football team and measure ourselves against a great football team and a team that we don’t see very often. We are just excited about it. I’m terribly excited about it. I just can’t wait for the challenge. We have respected Kansas State and what they have accomplished. I’ve obviously respected Coach Snyder and what he has meant to college football, not only as a coach but maybe more so as a mentor of young men. I am only in my third year of coaching college football. Most of my history is predominately in the NFL, and I’m hoping at some point I will have a chance to sit down with him and kind of pick his brain about some of the things that have made him so successful, and what have made him so impactful in young people’s lives. But for us it is a chance to play in great bowl game in a wonderful city. I have been able to play in that stadium before when the Saints were playing down there during the Katrina years and loved the place. I saw already that the first night there we get to see the Spurs play, so we’re excited about that. But it really is just a great experience and a chance to measure ourselves once again against one of the top college football teams in the country.”
Snyder on walk-ons that have become major contributors:
“Well we have a plethora of quality young people with a very significant value system who I am so very proud of, and certainly Tyler (Lockett) is one of those, our quarterback Jake Waters is one of those. There are so many in our program. Those are the ones who are high profile young people that you read about. Our center B.J. Finney was a walk-on in our program and has been a four-year starter, four-year captain. Of course there is Jonathan Truman who could be an all-conference linebacker for us who was a walk-on in our program, three-year starter. There is probably somewhere in the vicinity of 50 percent of the young people that receive active playing time are young guys that have walked on in our program and earned their way. Nothing was given to them. They earned their way and you have to have a strong value system for that to take place and I’m very proud of them.”
Mora on his team:
“We’ve got a good group of young me who are committed to what we’re trying to accomplish here as a program, both on the field and off the field. Some of the high profile that have been mentioned, Brett Hudley and Eric Kendricks, but there are a whole lot of other guys that contribute just as well. One of the things that I’m excited about is the fact that we only have six scholarship seniors that are graduating this year, so we are a young team that is hungry and still developing, and this is just going to be another step in our progression, and as I’ve said over and over again, for us a chance to play a tremendous team on a big stage and I think that is how you grow as a competitor. It is going to be fantastic. I’m proud of our team and I’m proud that we are getting this opportunity and I’m anxious to get started.”
DERRICK FOX, VALERO ALAMO BOWL CEO/PRESIDENT: To say we’re excited is an understatement. This is an outstanding matchup with two fantastic programs, two outstanding coaches. It’s my pleasure to have the honor to introduce these two gentlemen.
First Bill Snyder from Kansas State University. This is Coach Snyder’s 23rd season as the head coach. He’s taken the Wildcats to 16 bowl games, and five straight bowl games since returning to the program in 2009.
His 187 victories are more than four times that of the number two coach on the list. Think about that.
Going back to last season, the Wildcats are 15 4 including this season’s 9 3 record and being ranked No. 11 in the CFP poll.
Coach Snyder, on behalf of the Valero Alamo Bowl, we’re honored to host you and the Wildcats here in San Antonio. I’ll turn it over to you for some opening comments.
COACH SNYDER: Thank you very much. Very appreciate the opportunity to be here. We appreciate Valero. We appreciate the Alamo Bowl. We appreciate the city of San Antonio. We’ve been here before. We were treated extremely well.
I appreciated all aspects of the bowl game and most significantly the people that made such a tremendous investment in us and certainly in college football.
I think San Antonio will greatly appreciate our fan base that travels extremely well, and did at that time when we were here, and will continue to do so.
But thank you very much for the opportunity.
FOX: Coach Mora is the first coach to lead UCLA to at least nine wins in three straight seasons. This year the Bruins are 9 3 and ranked 14th in the CFP poll.
Mora coached for 25 years in the NFL, including four as a head coach. In 2004 Mora was named the NFC Coach of the Year.
While his Bruins have never been to San Antonio, Coach Mora does have a victory in the Alamodome under his belt as he was here as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons to beat the New Orleans Saints 34 31 in October of 2005. He now leads a Bruins team that is averaging 33 points a game.
Welcome back to San Antonio, as well. I’ll turn it over to you for a few comments.
COACH MORA: On behalf of all of us at UCLA, I want to thank Gary and Valero and Derrick and your committee with the Alamo Bowl for inviting us to this prestigious bowl game.
We look at it as an amazing opportunity for us to go against one of the finest coaches in college football, Coach Snyder. When I was looking at his record, I was trying to figure out how many more wins he’s had than I do, and it’s a whole lot.
I have great respect for what they’ve been able to do at Kansas State. I can tell you that our program, our family, our university is extremely excited to come to San Antonio, experience what you have to offer here in this city, and put on a great show for the fans on the evening of January 2nd. So thank you very much for inviting us.
FOX: We’ll take questions for the coaches at this time.
Q. Coach Mora, can you talk about the Butkus Award, and how was Eric Kendricks not all PAC 12?COACH MORA: We’re so excited for Eric Kendricks and winning the Butkus Award, the award awarded annually to the top linebacker in college football. We think he’s very deserving of that.
He’s a selfless player that deflected all credit for his award right onto his teammates and coaches and everyone in the program that’s helped him attain that.
I think he’s a shining example of what is right in college football. He’s a tremendous student. He’s a great athlete. He’s a great leader, a great young man, and a great representative for our program, and we’re very excited for him.
Q. Jim, what is the status of Brent Hundley’s injured finger?
COACH MORA: He’s fine. He knew that’s what I was going to say. That’s why he asked it. He’s laughing because he knew the answer was going to be, He’s fine (laughter).
Q. What do you remember about that 2005 game?
COACH MORA: Well, I did not remember the score until Derrick mentioned it. I did remember that we won.
That was an incredibly emotional time for the city of New Orleans. It was post Katrina, playing against a very good friend of mine, coach of the Saints at the time, Jim Haslett. It was a very unique situation for us as a football team for us to come down here and play that game.
Q. Coach Snyder, have you ever met the Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich? I think you could be friends.
COACH SNYDER: Briefly, the answer is no (laughter).
Q. You said you admire each other. Expand on that a little bit. Do you have any experience with Jim Mora, Sr.?
COACH SNYDER: Well, I greatly appreciate what Jim has done. Most significantly I like the way he has done it. I admire coaches that don’t get caught off in all the things that are taking place in college athletics today, and coaches who genuinely care about young people in their program, about so many things that are investments in their lives outside of athletics, outside of football, as well.
My understanding is that Jim promotes that and is a strong believer in that. Because of that, I admire him a great deal.
COACH MORA: I’m sitting next to a legend as a coach. I think it’s more importantly what he has meant to college football as a mentor to young people that I most admire, someone that I would like to model my career after with regards to having an impact on young people’s lives.
I said this when we talked on Sunday. I wasn’t kidding. I hope that he can make 15 minutes of time for me to talk more about how he’s gone about creating this dynamic legacy that he has at Kansas State, not only on the football field, but the community and the campus, help me with my career that way.
Q. Coach Snyder, what about your handwriting notes to other players, what prompts you to do that and when did you start?
COACH SNYDER: Well, I got to do something. You’re in an office 24 hours a day, so you got to find something to do (laughter).
My son Sean, who is associate head coach, he virtually runs the program, so I get the opportunity to do those other things.
I do, I write a great deal of notes. It’s certainly to players that I believe performed well, to young people that I believe have the right approach, the right attitude about their lives, about college football.
I correspond with a lot of people virtually the same way, with coaches, with people that help us in our travel. As a coach, Jim understands this. We get an enormous amount of correspondence on a regular basis, whether it be in handwritten notes, typed letters, emails, text messages, et cetera.
I’ve always felt the responsibility to respond to all of them. It’s so easy to email things. I prefer not to do that. That’s just part of being a hundred years old, you refer back to some old school things. So I write notes.
We utilize a lot of note cards at Kansas State. That’s where the biggest part of our budget goes (laughter).
Q. A lot of people are saying that the bowl system is too large, too many teams involved. Could you speak to the importance of bowls for football programs, what it does for you to be able to take kids to different parts of the country. Jim, your dad was around college football. When you were growing up, do you remember a trip maybe to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis when he was there?
COACH MORA: I remember virtually all of my bowl experiences growing up. My dad coached at many places. University of Colorado, University of Washington were the two places I remember the most, going to bowls. I was actually a ball boy in the Rose Bowl and played in a Rose Bowl. Now I’m coaching in a Rose Bowl, not ‘the’ Rose Bowl.
But just tremendous memories for myself and my family. I think we’re creating those memories for our student athletes and for our families.
I think it’s a reward for them at the end of a long season to be able to go somewhere different in the region, play a team you don’t typically face, enjoy some camaraderie, fellowship, brotherhood as a team.
I don’t have an opinion on the number of bowls. I just am excited that we get to play in a bowl against a great team like Kansas State in a great city like San Antonio.
COACH SNYDER: I do have an opinion about the number. There is so much talk about, Are there too many bowls? If they had enough to accommodate every football team in the country, that would be great for me.
My concern about the playoff system, as I shared with those that asked anyway, my only concern is how it would impact the bowl system itself.
I speak to that from the experience of what it has done for our program, to the opportunity. I remember the very first bowl we went to was the Copper Bowl, the first one at Kansas State, and what it meant to our players, what it meant to our support base, our fans.
We took in excess of 20,000 fans. Went to that bowl game. Had a pep rally the night before that was standing room only at a little above 5,000 fans. It was so meaningful to them.
We have people in the state of Kansas who are tremendous Kansas State representatives and support people. They work hard and long, save their money. This is their vacation.
They have followed us well. I always claimed we had the three largest crowds in the history of college football to cross state lines to watch their teams play, each in excess of 50,000, a variety of bowl games, Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl.
It’s meaningful to them, and consequently it’s meaningful to us, as well. There are other merits certainly, as well, but I appreciate the bowl system.
Q. Coach Snyder, it was not too long ago when you were here playing in the Alamo Bowl. What are your memories of that year and that loss to Purdue?
COACH SNYDER: Well, as I recall correctly, it was just that, it was a loss. What I remember, the very positive things about it, is how well we were received and treated not only by the bowl committee and the people associated with the bowl but by the community itself. People were very gracious to our players. Accommodations were excellent.
The game itself was an exciting ballgame. I think it went down to we had an opportunity to tie the ballgame on one of those Hail Mary passes that Michael Bishop threw. Somehow we didn’t coach it as well as it should have been coached. It was caught on the three yard line, end of ballgame. Tell me how that happens.
Overall it was a very rewarding event and opportunity for the young people in our program.
Q. Obviously it was a huge story here with TCU and Baylor being left out of the Playoffs. What are your thoughts on how the process played out, whether it needs some tweaking?
COACH SNYDER: That remains to be seen. I was asked a question a little bit earlier. Somebody asked me if I thought those two conference teams should play. I can’t answer the question because we haven’t followed nor played the other four.
We get so heavily invested in our schedule, the teams in our conference, that we really are somewhat oblivious to what goes on in the rest of college football.
I do know this. Baylor and TCU, I’d be hard pressed to think there are many finer football teams out there than those two.
But, like I said, we haven’t played nor studied the others. Can’t answer the question.
COACH MORA: I would echo what Coach Snyder says.
Q. Coach Moore, what do you hope to see from Brent Hundley on Friday, January 2nd?
COACH MORA: I’d like him to play to his potential, lead his team, do the things he’s done most of the season, which is play at a high level, a high level of consistency. This will be his last game as a UCLA Bruin. He’ll be entering the NFL Draft. I don’t know that he’s announced it yet, but we all know that is the case. I’d like to see him go out with a successful game.
Q. Coach Snyder, can you talk about Lockett and what he means to your program.
COACH SNYDER: I was yesterday in New York City, as was our sports information director with Tyler. He was a finalist for the Campbell Trophy, which goes to the outstanding student athlete in college football. He didn’t win it, but he finished tied for second in the ballots.
He’s a very, very fine player, obviously. Comes from a background of tremendously talented young people that played in our program, as well: his uncle, brother. A wonderful family.
That truly is it. Above and beyond all, he is a very, very special young person. Quality character, has all the intrinsic values in place. Very caring, quality teammate. Self made player on the field. One of those young guys you look at after a practice, he’s still out there keeping the lights on, catching balls off of those machines that will accommodate that, just doing all the things he can to try to improve himself as a player.
But daily he tries to do things to try to improve himself as a person, too. I have admiration for Tyler.
UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora at the Team Arrival
“We are excited to be here. In a few minutes we are going to have a quick team meeting and then head over to the University of Incarnate Word and have a quick workout. The players are going to enjoy the Spurs vs. Rockets game tonight and then tomorrow morning we will start the second week of our bowl preparations which will be a typical Tuesday practice for us. We are just very excited to be here. We just had a great welcome and it just be a really fun and exciting week. “
On Getting over the loss to Stanford
“I think that they have (gotten over the loss) but you never really want it to go away. I think you can draw from it. We had a week of practice and a practice last night after we all got back from the holidays. The guys seem to be very spirited and very excited. I think they are looking forward to play this Kansas State team in what is a very prestigious bowl. We need to focus on getting ready to play Friday night against a very good Kansas State team.”
On Spur’s Head Coach Greg Popovich
“I don’t think he just one of the greatest basketball coaches in history. I think he is one of the greatest coaches in sports history.”
On Kansas State Quarterback Jake Waters
“He is incredibly efficient, an outstanding football player. When you look at his numbers 66 percent completions, 20 touchdowns throwing the ball and only six interceptions, eight touchdowns running the ball. In that offense, his position demands that he be a very good decision maker and have a great grasp of, not only what they are doing offensively but what teams are trying to do against them defensively.”
Quarterback Brett Hundley’s mindset going into the game
“I don’t think that, that is Brett’s mindset. I think Brett’s mindset is wanting to go out and play well for his team and his teammates and his university. Anything that may come from that is a bonus. He will have plenty of opportunities after this to go out and prove himself. They have a lot to go off of. So I think Brett is more motivated for this game, and this is just my speculation, to play well for his team and his teammates and his university.”
On Kansas State Receiver Tyler Lockett
“You’re not going to stop him. The key is to try and slow him down. The young man has 93 catches, he is an all-American and he is a great returner. We talk about him as a receiver a lot but he leads the country with 19 yards per (punt) return. Anytime he gets the ball in his hands he is extremely dangerous. I think you have to a number of things, number one is stopping the run and making them predictable in passing situations where you can work some doubles and get some people around him, but a guy like Lockett, you’re not going to stop him. He is too good. He is a special player.”
UCLA Quarterback Brett Hundley
On going to the Spurs game and being in San Antonio
“Yeah, should be fun to watch Kyle Anderson, get a little action in and you know just happy to be here. Obviously we got the whole team and everybody’s excited… but where all just ready to have fun.”
On the Loss to Stanford
“We want to be able to get out one more time after that loss but at the same time we want to able to get over it and move on.
On the Kansas State Defense
“They’re just very disciplined, good defense, fast, physical and don’t make many mistakes so we have to be on our P’s and Q’s”
On the Valero Alamo Bowl as an “audition” for the NFL
“I think that every game is an audition. You know we are out here just playing football but you don’t want to overthink something but at the same time you know what is on the table, but every game is an opportunity to show what I can do. “It’s fun. I got one more shot and I’m going to give it my all”
Expectations with the NFL Draft
“To get drafted. You know a lot of people put so much on where you’re going and when you get drafted, but as long as you get the opportunity I think that is the biggest thing. I mean you can go in the first round, you can go in the second round but are you going to stay in the league, are you going to continue to be playing . You see people all the time going in the second round but to stay on is the goal. Whenever it may happen, wherever I get drafted to , I think the opportunity matters the most .”
On announcing going to the NFL Draft
“Both years I waited . Last year I wasn’t worried to make a decision until after the game and this year, I already made a decision.”
What was Kyle Anderson like in college
“Good guy, very respectable, humble. Really good at basketball.”
UCLA Linebacker Eric Kendricks
On the Stanford loss and season overall
“I don’t know if we’ll ever get over it, per say, but I mean, I think we’re ready to play this next game and we’re very excited and we couldn’t be more happy to be here.”
On how has playing at UCLA been
“For me personally, it’s been a blast, you know, to play with my brothers at my favorite school of all time, UCLA. I’ve had a lot of fun this season and I’m excited to play my last game here.”
On how is the team
“Tremendous, you know, guys have really started to buy in and it’s changed around here, you know, we’re really excited and, I mean, things are different.”
On winning the Butkus Award
“It was always a dream of mine to win the Butkus and it means a lot. So I mean, that was huge to end my senior season and I couldn’t be more happier. I’m blessed and I’m excited.”
On watching the film, how is KSU
“They have a lot of exotic formations, you know, the splits and tendencies like that. They run the ball a lot with the quarterback very effectively and that causes an extra gap, and when you’re out in gap like that, it creates problems for the defense. So we have to be on our Ps and Qs, and we have to play with technique and a sound defense.”
Is KSU different from anyone they have played
“I don’t want to say they’re like anyone we’ve played…they’re in a different conference and they bring aspects to the game that a lot of teams like Stanford and Arizona might bring to the table, just splits-wise and things like that. But it’s a little piece from each team we play, but they’re just a whole different team so we have to treat them like a whole different team, you know?”
On Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters
“Just to never count him out of a play. You always have to account for him running the ball, when it’s a pass play, as well. You have to keep your eyes back and you have to play sound. You can’t just relax ever in the play because plays will be extended and he scrambles in the pocket, so plays are going to be longer than they usually are.”
On watching the Pac 12 bowl games and how the teams have been performing
“Not surprised by the Pac-12 in the bowl games, this is a good conference and I’ve been watching them a lot, so, I mean, all the teams are doing good so far.”
Do any teams you’ve played so far play like KSU
“I mean, every team you play is different so you prepare for that team. At the end of the day, football is football, and I feel like that’s the special part of the game. Every team brings something different to their game style. I’m excited, man, and this is a team I haven’t played before. So, I’m excited.”
On Spurs player and UCLA alum Kyle Anderson
“Absolutely, yeah, Kyle’s by buddy, you know, uh, I’m excited, he’s been playing well so it’s pretty cool.”
Did they get any Christmas time with their families
“Oh yeah, absolutely, we spent Christmas with families and we had a great couple of days off, it was much-needed. And now we have to work. So there you go.”
On having the bowl later
“Yeah, I mean, we’re ready. We came here to play football, so I mean, we’re excited to play a bowl game no matter what day it is. We’re here to play ball and we couldn’t be more happy to be here at the Alamo Bowl.”
Talking about where his leadership comes from
“I mean, I wouldn’t say it comes from anything in particular. I just try to lead by example and try to let everything else follow suit.”
Anything that Waters does differently than any other running QBs they have faced
“Um, it’s kind of like a little delay, if you’ve seen the film. It’s not like a run right away, not really a pass right away, it’s kind of like a little, there’s a couple of seconds where you don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s the tricky part.”
Kansas State Head Coach Bill Snyder at Team Arrival
On the bowl system
“Well I think it is important to a lot of universities and certainly to us. You can remember way back when Kansas State University had an opportunity to compete in bowl games and it did so much for our program. It bonded our following together. I always talk about having the three largest crowds in college football cross the state lines to see their team play and that wouldn’t have happened without the purpose of the bonding. That brought our Kansas State family together very, very much. But not only for us, but for other schools as well.”
The 1998 Alamo Bowl trip
“Well the things that come to mind real quickly is that it was a championship ball game that we played, had a substantial lead but end up losing that ball game and the disappointment that went along with it and then kind of dropping off the bowl picture and then we come to the Alamo Bowl and it is almost an exact replica of championship game.”
On bowl game preparation
“I like to think it has been time well used and if it isn’t then that falls back on me. I think it has gone about as well as it can. I think our youngsters are invested in it right now and I think we have had good practices. There can be a lot of distractions, obviously, but I think they’re prepared to deal with that.”
On UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley
“I think he is comparable to some of the young people we have in our conference, you know, the obvious two, Petty and Boykin, all are very fine and talented quarterbacks and I think Hundley fits in that category. I think he does so many things well. He throws the ball well. He can run the ball well. Makes good decisions. That is enough for us to be concerned about, for sure.”
Bowl Game Practices
“I think we have kind of been up and down. I don’t think we’ve been… I don’t think I could say the negative things about the preparation early like the things of past years bowl game but we still have room to improve. We are not where we need to be yet.”
On senior Offensive Lineman BJ Finney
“BJ (Finney) is a young guy who walked onto our program, earned a letter, became a starter right away, became a captain immediately. He is so invested in what we do and how we do it, has a value system set in place that allows him to do exactly that. He is a hard worker, disciplined, cares, great teammate, quality person, great leader. You could go on, and on, and on.”
Kansas State Offensive Lineman BJ Finney
On playing in a bowl game
“Its huge for development, for the next years teams and for the seniors because you want to send them out the right way, send them out with a championship. You want to win that last game and then building off the preparation for next years team as well getting them reps and getting them in so you can coach them up.”
On player accountability
“The coaches are going to get on you when you mess up because that’s their job, but as a player when you want another player accountable, other players are going to hold you accountable so you want to get your job as well help the other player get his job done so its not holding anyone back. There’s right ways and there’s wrong ways to go about it, but holding each other from a peer-player standpoint is a huge and effective way to lead.”
On career coming to an end
“I’m not thinking about it, I’m not letting hit me until the end of the game. When that thought enters my mind, I immediately distract myself , because this place has been very special to me and we accomplished a lot of things and we still have a lot more to accomplish and there’s ways to make it more special.
Keys to the game
“The key is that everyone wants to get off to get a good start ,that’s the way to get momentum in your favor early in a game and it helps you keep it throughout the game. The key in bowl prep is keeping everyone focused, keeping them into practice, getting that game like speed because we are not going to get the looks that were going to get on gameday on practice. They’re fast and physical, they’re better athletes than the scout team, that’s just the way it is, but we have to give great effort.
Kansas State Defensive End Ryan Mueller
On Preparing for the bowl game
“Preparing, getting ready to prepare for 3-4 weeks of preparation, um, but, you know, we really took that full prep serious and, um, it was just instilled in our minds early on that we want to win, we want to know what it’s like to be champions at the end of the season, whether winning the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl or whatever, so uh, that’s what we got in our minds that we wanted to end as champions. We have the same mindset this year, we want to end as champions. There’s a huge difference between 9-4 and 10-3, and holding a trophy up at the end of the game and not holding a trophy up at the end of the game. Nobody likes to end their season on a loss in the losing lockerroom. You want to go out on top and as champions.”
Does this year remind him of what they did last year
“Yeah, you know, I think having guys on our team, the senior leadership that we have on our team, guys who have been in championship lockerrooms, they know how to carry the torch and to lead the guys who are younger. Football is a total team effort, you need seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshman, everyone banding together if you want to win.”
On career journey at K-State
“I certainly didn’t think I’d have the success I’ve had at Kansas State. But Kansas State has presented an opportunity for me to excel and take advantage of it. All I needed to do when graduating high school was to get my foot in the door. Give me an opportunity, I promise I’ll take advantage of it and you know I kept my word and fought like heck to earn a starting position and had great guys to look up to along the way. BJ (Finney) standing right here beside me, definitely paved the way for a lot of walk-on guys. BJ was kind of like the first freshman walk-on, in my class, to get an opportunity to play on the field. You know, once we saw that, it really inspired guys across the board in my class of walk-ons to get an opportunity.”
Putting his career in perspective
“Um, you know, I see what you’re trying to ask me, but I really thought when I first walked in the door that I just have to get my foot in the door, and then from that point on once I was accepted onto the team, when I had the opportunity to be a part of this team, I really took it from there. That’s kind of what I’ve done and that’s kind of been my approach. I’m very confident in my abilities, I’m very confident in my preparation, I feel like if you practice enough against quality challengers, you’re going to get better from it. Just working diligently day in and day out, and listening to what your coach is saying and absorbing information and then applying it out on the field. It’s a real simple philosophy. ‘I’m going to tell you what to do, go out there and execute it. And if you have any questions, you need to ask beforehand, so when you go out there on the field and execute it, you don’t look dumb.”
Thoughts on the bowl game and looking forward
“I want to end as a champion. I’ve been to five different bowl games and I’ve only won one. I’ve been in big bowl games where we’ve lost and it’s a total different feeling than being in a lockerroom, being proud as a champion. I think that’s something this team would take a lot of pride in, with the senior class I came in with, a lot of walk-ons, a lot of guys who play with a chip on their shoulders. If we can finish, if we win this bowl game and have a chance to finish top 10 in the country, that would be pretty cool considering our class is probably rated 60-70 in the country. We’re interested in the top 10. Just shows how great of a coach that Coach Snyder is, and we have to take advantage of the opportunity at the end of the week.”
On playing with a chip on your shoulder and why K-State is often overlooked
“Yeah they certainly don’t, and I don’t know why. Kansas State gets overlooked, that’s just the way it is. I’d say from a media standpoint, and analysts and all those guys get overlooked. But as far as teams that are lining up and playing against us, I certainly don’t think they look past us by any means. We’ve had very successful teams the last four or five years, I certainly think we’re a team that is scheduled on other team’s schedules and they look at it and are like ‘It’s going to be a dogfight. We’re going to need to play exceptionally well to beat Kansas State University.’
Thoughts on the season so far
“Yeah it’s been really impressive. A lot of credit goes to Coach Snyder, of course, but you know the coaches are facilitating everything but at the end of the day, players are the ones who have to make it happen on Saturdays. And that begins with leadership across the board. I think that’s really where we’ve excelled.”
An interview with:
KANSAS STATE DEFENSE
THE MODERATOR: It’s my pleasure to introduce Kansas State defensive coordinator Tom Hayes.
COACH HAYES: Thank you. Obviously we’re pleased to be here. We’re excited to be a part of the Alamo Bowl, the great committee hospitality they’ve shown us.
We got here in a hurry and we’ve been busy on the field, as you guys know. We’re excited to play. Our guys are ready to play.
You prepare a long time for a bowl game. Every team in the country does. But we are excited to be a part of this.
I want to introduce the players that we have here today, guys that have put in all the work and helped us get where we are on our defensive side of the ball.
First, Randall Evans. He has a tough job. Out there on an island a lot of times during the game. Started for three years at Kansas State.
Weston Hiebert, a special teams player, tremendous teammate, great leadership skills. All these guys have that going for them. That’s why they’re here sitting at this table.
Next is Ryan Mueller, defensive end, literally the hardest playing player I think I’ve ever been around. I admire him so much for that. There’s times when he plays his own defense once in a while, so I get on his case. Like to mess with him. He is an outstanding player. Been great for Kansas State.
Jonathan Truman, inside linebacker. We asked him to play Will, then Mike. He does a lot of things for us. He’s an outstanding player, as well. Our leader, making calls up front.
Then at the end is Dante Barnett, our free safety. He makes a lot of calls, gets us in the right defense, right checks. Has a lot of responsibility of making every call every game. Really fun to work with him because he does a nice job.
That’s the group. We’re here to help you any way we can.
THE MODERATOR: Joining Coach Hayes is special teams coordinator Coach Snyder. We’ll take questions.
Q. Tom, can you talk about UCLA’s offense, the things you’ve seen in the Big 12 over the course of this year are all seen in that offense and how that’s helped you prepare?
COACH HAYES: Clearly UCLA is an outstanding opponent, a heck of a team. They do a lot of the same things that members of the Big 12 do on offense, averaging 470 total a game, 200 rush, 270 pass. They try to be balanced. They work at being balanced, as all good teams do. That presents problems for us on defense because you can’t just gang up on one thing.
They have an outstanding quarterback who is completing 70% of his passes. That’s a high number in modern day football. They throw it down the field, short, make you run all over the field and tackle in space. They spread you out a good bit.
They have the ability to bring them all in in short yardage or goal line situations and do what everybody traditionally does, power the football as well.
They have a big offensive line that’s talented, young, gaining great experience for them this past season. They’re a really good offensive team, a good machine. It’s going to be a real challenge for us.
Q. Tom, who is going to start opposite Dante at safety tomorrow or in the game?
COACH HAYES: We’re going to start Nate Jackson in there. He’s been a backup nickel, backup corner. Now he’s playing safety. The good thing about Nate is he’s a mature player, a player that learns quickly. He’s had to because we’ve had two injuries at that position during the course of the year, so we’re down a few.
You know as well as I do, that this is the next man up business that we’re in. The next guy that’s ready to play happens to be Nate in this case. He’ll do a good job. He’s a guy that’s detailed in his assignments and will be a good partner alongside Dante.
Q. Tom, you’ve been in this rodeo before with others. How taxing has that become? I know it’s next man up, but just in the gelling part of everything, getting everything going in the back end with a new face?
COACH HAYES: It’s a challenge because there’s a lot to do. You have no margin for error. If Ryan’s group and the defensive line, if they make a mistake, the linebackers cover them. If the linebackers make a mistake, we’ll take care of it. The only guy back there in the secondary watching them is me.
It’s not easy, but it’s something that you have to understand going in. It’s one that I make certainly to the whole defensive teams, and our coaches do a great job of this as well. That is a backup football can’t settle for being a backup. He needs to be trying every day in the meeting room, on the field, in the weight room trying to become a starter. So when your number gets called, you get it done. To me that’s important.
That’s why it can work. Nobody likes injuries, but they happen. Dante is down at the end of the table. Ty Zimmerman went down, long time starter, the first game, he plays against Baylor two, three years ago. He had to go in there, he made 14 unassisted tackles in the game. Now, he had a couple of mess ups, too, as he’ll tell you. Again, inexperience. But he played and he’s played well since then.
Q. Randall, you’ve been in this position playing several different positions. Talk about Nate and what he’ll bring to the secondary.
RANDALL EVANS: Yes. Like coach say, Nate is our utility back. That’s what they call me. When you look at Nate, he is a guy who can play cornerback, nickel back, and now he’s playing safety.
That’s my roommate right now. I talk to him all the time. I told him, It’s an advantage for you. Once you know all the positions, you know where everybody is at in coverages. When he is a safety, he knows where the nickel and safety is supposed to be.
Q. You coached at UCLA. It’s been a little while back. Could you relate your experiences from that time, how much different it was to counter offenses in those days?
COACH HAYES: Well, it was different in many way. One thing is I had a lot more hair and it was dark (laughter).
Back in the ’80s, I spent a decade there with Terry Donahue, a tremendous football coach, tremendous opportunity he gave me to become the secondary coach in 1980. I was 31 years old. I spent a decade with that team. We were very successful.
We kind of were I think the champs of the PAC 10 at that time. We went to three straight Rose Bowls and won them all, won seven bowl games in a row, set a national record until Florida State beat it in the ’90s.
It’s about good coaches, good players, guys working together. Terry got that done and orchestrated. We had a great staff, stayed together the entire time. I have great memories, great family memories, of UCLA.
Q. Coach Snyder, does the competitiveness of this game mean you might try to be more aggressive on special teams?
COACH SNYDER: I think both teams look for that advantage they can find. As Coach Hayes was saying, when you have a lot of time to prepare, there’s a lot of things you can look for, try to take advantage of.
As we will, they will as well. It will be interesting what pops up out there.
Q. Tom, UCLA ranked number two nationally entering this game red zone offense. How daunting is that in the face of knowing what kind of offenses you have faced in the pair of Big 12 defeats? How do you guard against that?
COACH HAYES: The first thing you notice is they’re well coached in every phase, but they’re certainly determined when they hit the red zone. I don’t know an offense that isn’t successful that way. They’re all that way. If they’re making touchdowns instead of field goals, we’re having a long day on defense.
Our mantra is people moving to that area. We’re ranked fairly high in the country and in the conference. I think our players do an excellent job down there.
It’s going to be a good matchup because, again, our guys are working to keep them to field goals when they hit that spot, and they’re working to make touchdowns. Again, the battle is on.
That’s what you have to work on on defense, keep them out of their end. At least you don’t give them the touch, you give them the field goal.
Certainly it will be the same in this game.
Q. Coach Hayes and Ryan Mueller, UCLA has given up a large number of sacks. When you see those stats, does that make you more aggressive or stick with the same approach as you’ve had?
COACH HAYES: It’s interesting, people ask me about my approach. I’ll let Ryan talk about this, too. Each week we look at the opponent by strategies, but we also look at them by personnel. If there’s matchups we can find where you can get an extra advantage in rushing the passer, we try to find it. Every defensive team does that.
But the most important thing is that UCLA is probably not happy with that sack number. But they make a lot of good plays throwing the football, too. Whatever their number is, 36 sacks for the year, like I said, they’re probably not happy with that number, but they still make enough plays down the field to make up for those sacks.
What we have to do is make sure we make him uncomfortable. You can’t always count on sacks, but as we tell our rush guys, we’re trying to get after the quarterback and affect him, get in his face, cause a bad throw, give us a chance to pick a ball or whatever.
Ryan, you got it.
RYAN MUELLER: Coach Hayes pretty much said it all. We have to affect the quarterback. That statistic is certainly eye popping. Again, probably something UCLA is not proud of. It’s something we need to take advantage of and do everything in our power to get to the quarterback, get after him, either knock down his passes, tip balls, get those sacks, tackles for loss.
He’s an athletic quarterback. He can move around in the pocket. That’s something we’ve had trouble with. But next Friday presents an opportunity for us to capitalize and come away with a victory.
Q. Ryan, the zone read, UCLA runs a lot of that, you’ve seen a lot of that this season, starting with Auburn. What are the things you look for both in your individual jobs there on the zone read and how difficult is that to handle?
RYAN MUELLER: It’s not something that’s too difficult to handle. All the practices, we’ve worked on that. It’s trusting your fundamentals and taking your practice reps and applying them to the game reps, keeping an eye on the mesh. What I mean by that is when the quarterback is getting ready to put the ball in the runningback’s lap, whether he pulls it or not, that’s the mesh point. Just keeping on eye on that and don’t blink because you might miss.
JONATHAN TRUMAN: I mean, Ryan covered a lot of it. I piggyback off of what he said.
As a defense, we all work together as one unit. Obviously as a linebacker, I have different responsibilities than Ryan does. If the quarterback wants to pull it, that’s more Ryan’s deal. Who wants to give it to the runningback, that’s my deal. I have to make the right read, get in the gap, make my play if it comes to me.
Q. Jonathan, tell us about your journey from walk on to today.
JONATHAN TRUMAN: I get that question a lot from a lot of media all the time. Walk ons can attest to that.
It’s been a great ride. I’m just extremely honored to be on this team. To have come this far with my teammates, with my brothers, it’s been an amazing time. We just need to finish strong.
Q. You have four guys up here that are former walk ons, which is remarkable. What has that meant for your program, your dad’s program at Kansas State?
COACH SNYDER: In our walk on program, we’re going after guys, recruiting, whether they come in on a scholarship or whether they come in as a walk on. We’re recruiting those guys to be players.
Some schools don’t take that approach. They take the approach of we got some guys out here that can fill a scout squad. Our approach is more recruiting guys that can come in and be players.
Eventually if all goes well, they get rewarded with a scholarship and can continue to be successful.
That’s our approach to it. It’s kind of the heart and soul of the program. It’s what we built off of.
Q. Dante, do you have a memory about you and Tyler growing up?
DANTE BARNETT: I would say the first year we ever played football together, he invited the whole football team to his birthday party and he didn’t invite me (laughter). I was upset about that for about a year and a half.
Q. Randall, talk about what you think is going to be in your mind as you run through the tunnel on Friday night.
RANDALL EVANS: A lot of emotions running through my mind. Last game to be in this purple. It’s been a great journey. Never thought that last game would come to an end. But it’s coming to an end.
It’s going to be remarkable. We just want to finish strong and start fresh for the 2015 program. Talking about it with a couple other players, our first game, we played UCLA. Now we’re finishing our last game playing UCLA. I think that’s something real special just to finish the season out with.
Q. Coach Hayes, how would you define the personality of this defense?
COACH HAYES: The best term I would use is ‘hard working.’ They go a hundred miles an hour every day in practice. Do I have to get after them a little bit every once in a while to remind them to do that? Yeah. But that’s my job. I don’t have to do it very much.
This has been a really good group, led by a bunch of great seniors right down this row. As I’ve told them many times in team meetings, the team is going to go as they go. We coach the players, that’s a given. But every good team I’ve ever been on at anyplace I’ve been has been always driven by the ownership of the players. They take ownership of what they do. When they do that, I think you got a chance to be successful. These guys have done a great job of that.
Q. Dante, being the underclass guy here, what would it mean for you to be able to go out with 10 wins? Before Christmas, you talked about last year’s bowl win catapulted you.
DANTE BARNETT: Last year, that bowl game set the foundation to winning bowl games into the future. Going into this season, we wanted to have another big season, build on our season from last year. Getting a 10 win season has been our goal, or even better.
We want to finish the season with a win this year so next year we can go into the next season prepared to have a better season next year.
Q. Ryan, Coach Hayes alluded to the fact that you sometimes play your own defense. Do you agree with that? If so, whose defense are you playing?
RYAN MUELLER: I think I have to agree with that if I want to be able to play on Friday (laughter).
You know, sometimes when you’re going a hundred miles an hour, you’re not always going to play perfect. You might make some mistakes along the way. I’ve always been told that if you play the game as hard as you possibly can, good things are going to happen.
I can’t say the same thing for golf. If you hit the ball as hard as you can, you don’t know where it’s always going to go. But with football, sometimes it happens.
Q. Weston, talk about the special teams unit that leads the nation.
WESTON HIEBERT: It was a niche I found when I came in as a walk on. The coaches gave me an opportunity to get out there. I take a lot of pride in it because that’s my time when I’m out there. There’s a lot of guys on the team that do the same thing.
Jonathan started out playing on special teams. I think it’s a good way to get guys invested in a team, shows they can make an impact regardless of their time on the field.
Q. Ryan, tomorrow we’ll have the opportunity to talk to Jake Waters your quarterback. How long has it seemed since the days in Dallas? What has the journey been like witnessing what Jake has been able to do?
RYAN MUELLER: Well, I certainly saw the work ethic was there to be a great player from the moment Jake came onto the team and participated in workouts.
I kind of talked about this in our senior speeches, a lot of guys got up and spoke the night before Baylor. That was one of the things I said to the entire team, but directly pointing out to Jake, how much I admired his work ethic from the moment he got here.
When I’d be conditioning and working, I’d look across the field and I would see Jake competing. I always saw him finishing through that line first. That gave me confidence that our quarterback wants the number one spot, wants to be a leader.
For him to have that work ethic while nobody is watching him, Jake wasn’t aware I was looking over there counting on him to push himself. Every guy up here would say the same thing about Jake, he just works extremely hard. To see him thrive in the last two seasons that he’s had, we expected Jake to do that just because he works so hard.
Then this season and last season, he was able to show off his talents, get noticed for it. But certainly it’s something we all saw coming.
Q. For any of the defensive players. Oftentimes you guys are referred to as overachievers. Is there any kind of misconception to that label or something you embrace?
RYAN MUELLER: I think every guy at this table works extremely hard. To look at it that guys up here don’t have any talent would be absurd.
College football presents an opportunity to you to where if you take coaching, you believe in yourself, you apply everything you learned from your coaches and apply them out onto the field, anybody can be a good football player.
Yes, you have to have some athletic ability, which every guy at this table does possess. But at this level, you can be a successful player just by out working people.
That’s what everybody at this table does.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the UCLA defensive press conference. It’s my pleasure to introduce UCLA defensive coordinator.
Introduce your players and make an opening statement.
COACH ULBRICH: We have Eric Kendricks, Myles Jack, Owamagbe Odighizuwa.
We’re excited to be here. It’s an unbelievable opportunity to finish the season the way we want to, take these seniors out the right way. Kansas State is a great opponent. They’re going to challenge us, especially defensively.
We’re excited about it.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll take questions.
- I know you all are defensive players, but how has Brett Hundley been a leader for you guys?
ERIC KENDRICKS: I think starting in the spring, Brett really took charge of this team, play calling, improving his role as a quarterback, leadership mentality. Practice got a lot more competitive. We all embraced him.
MYLES JACK: Just the change in Brett’s demeanor, mentality pretty much starting in the spring, in San Bernardino. Pretty much took the reins over everything. He had full control over the offensive line. His understanding of the playbook, he knew what he was doing. He knew it just as good as the OC.
Just his development and everything, he’s been a leader, very vocal this year. When things aren’t right, he’s going to say something. His development has been phenomenal.
OWAMAGBE ODIGHIZUWA: Just to piggyback what they say, Brett, he’s been a great asset to our team this year just from a leadership standpoint, his maturity, his understanding of football.
It’s been big for us as a team this year. It’s been helping a lot of the young guys who needed a figure to look up to and a role model and an example of how to carry yourself as a football player.
He’s been big for us this year. I’m excited we get one last game with him. He’s been awesome.
- Talk about the tone that Eric sets, give me examples of how he goes about it.
COACH ULBRICH: I think the greatest leaders, they’re authentic, they’re real, they’re genuine, they’re honest. That’s what he is. He’s not trying to be anybody but himself. He’s the same guy every single day, whether it’s practice, games, classroom, meeting room, he’s provided a great example for the linebackers, the entire defense.
I’ve said this more than once, I truly believe he’s the heart and soul of this team. Yeah, he’s a guy that makes everyone better, from the scout team guys to the starting guys. It’s going to be hard to replace a guy like that, it is.
MYLES JACK: For me personally, since day one, Eric has been that example for me since I got here. He’s been on me, always giving me ways to get better. I soak up everything he tells me.
It means the world. Like coach says, he’s going to be irreplaceable. There’s a reason he won the Butkus Award. I came into a great situation.
This is going to be my last game playing with him. I’m going to make the most of it and enjoy it.
OWAMAGBE ODIGHIZUWA: I’ve had the opportunity and the pleasure of playing and being with Eric Kendricks for five seasons. Like everybody has been saying, he’s a great leader, like Coach Brich has been harping on, he pushes everybody to get better, he loves the game of football. It translates to how he plays on the field. UCLA has been very fortunate to have a guy like that to represent UCLA to the max.
Going forward, he’s going to do great things, but the type of person and leader he is, the type of work ethic he brings to the football field every day.
- Eric, where does that come from, that desire to do things the right way?
ERIC KENDRICKS: I think it’s how I was brought up, how I was raised, the values my mother and my family, like my father, instilled in me.
I guess I owe a lot to my older brother Michael as well. We grew up competing with one another. He never let me get away with anything, let me slide on anything.
Can’t really tell you where it came from. I guess it’s just who I am.
- Myles, does this feel like a pass‑the‑baton game for you, you being a leader of the defense next year?
MYLES JACK: I guess you could say that. Last year was Anthony, this year is Eric, and I guess next year it will be me. I guess you could kind of look at it that way.
Big shoes to fill. I have a long way to go for me to claim that position. Still have a lot of stuff I need to work on.
I guess you could say that. The time is coming up. I think it’s my time. I’m going to have to fulfill that role.
- Jeff, Coach Mora said some great things about Tyler Lockett. Can you say what you’ve seen on film?
COACH ULBRICH: He’s a pain in the ass now. He’s obviously being extremely productive. It’s funny because you watch tape, there’s times where you know he’s getting the ball. You think the opposing defense is aware of that as well. He finds a way to make the play.
He’s a guy that’s got great hands, runs great routes. Has an unbelievable knack to come back to the ball. When he gets the ball in his hands, he’s explosive, can make you miss.
It’s going to be a great challenge for us. Our secondary, they’re excited about this opportunity, to take a player of his caliber, see how they stack up. If you want to be the best, you got to play the best. He’s definitely in that conversation for college football this year.
It will be fun.
- Jeff, with K State’s offense, I saw a quote from Jim calling it exotic. How would you describe what you see from the offense? How tough is that to stop?
COACH ULBRICH: Yeah, it throws a lot of challenges. A lot of different personnel groups, a lot of different formations. It’s common with the trend in college football nowadays where it’s this run‑pass option stuff that it makes it extremely difficult for a defense. The triple option has suddenly become the quadruple option that you don’t have an answer for schematically.
We have to win our one‑on‑one battles. It’s not something where we can draw it up, say, This is how we’re going to stop it. It’s going to come down to guys playing with great technique and effort.
Schematically it’s tough, but at the same time the guys embrace it, understand it at a high level, play hard. They’re a physical team. It’s going to be tough. But our guys are excited about it.
- Owa, you were here in San Antonio for the Army All‑American Bowl. Do you remember anything about that game and do you communicate with any of the players that were in there?
OWAMAGBE ODIGHIZUWA: About the game, I just remember having a great time, being so excited to play on a stage just as big as that.
I remember in high school when I was a sophomore, I saw that game for the first time, I think it was with Terrelle Pryor, one of the quarterbacks. I remember thinking to myself, One day I want to play in that game.
Just being able to play in that game was so exciting. Being able to compete at a high level with players around the country was something I looked forward to, something I relished when I was there. It was definitely a great time.
I had a lot of fun with guys that went to different schools. Definitely did keep in communication for a while with some of them. A lot of them was on the UCLA team, so it was even better.
MYLES JACK: Pretty much what I remember, it was a blast just playing against the top players in the nation. Played high school in Washington, there’s talent, but no talent like the All‑American game, guys you see on the cover of ESPN and everything. Coming out, competing, seeing where you measure up with those guys.
I enjoyed it. I enjoyed San Antonio.
THE MODERATOR: We’re also joined by Anthony Jefferson and Kenny Clark.
- Eric, can you talk about what you’ve seen from Kenny Young in terms of development this year and that he’ll step into your role? Is he ready to take that on?
ERIC KENDRICKS: When we started in San Bernardino, he was all over the place. That’s expected of a freshman. He’s a hard worker. He’s willing to fix mistakes. As long as you have those two combinations, you’ll be all right.
So far he’s soaked in everything I’ve had to say to him. He’s learned a lot this year. He’s become a better player. He’s not a freshman any longer.
I can’t predict what he’s going to do. I know he’s going to be a great player because he has a great work ethic. We can expect a lot of things out of him in the future.
- Kenny, what are you trying to accomplish this year, outstanding last bowl game?
KENNY CLARK: Same thing. Work hard. Stop the run. Stop the pass. Get a good bowl win.
It’s a good opportunity for us to get 10 wins this year, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.
- Kenny, can you talk about how you and Eddie dealt with the double‑teams?
KENNY CLARK: Just staying stout in there. They double‑teamed us, just gives the linebackers opportunities to make plays.
We take pride in taking double‑teams, just playing for our teammates, so…
We got to stay stout in there and do our job.
- Anthony, Kansas State’s wide receivers, can you talk about them.
ANTHONY JEFFERSON: They have a pretty good receiving corps. Leading them is Tyler Lockett, he’s a phenomenal player, dynamic player. He can do it on offense, special teams. He’s there go‑to target. That’s going to be one of our main focuses on maintaining him.
They have a really good quarterback, too, with Waters. If you control Lockett and be able to get pressure on the quarterback, we’ll have a good game, it will be in our favor.
- Coach, your role as a coordinator, have you approached this game differently?
COACH ULBRICH: Different just in the way that we’ve had more time to prepare so we’ve been able to give these guys a few more looks, few more opportunities to meet. It’s always beneficial for us.
Other than that, not much has changed.
You need to bring their offensive staff in next year, fight‑night weigh‑in, face‑to‑face altercations. It would be awesome (laughter).
- Myles, did you find Mexican food?
MYLES JACK: No, I haven’t went yet. I went to Hooter’s two nights in a row. Scratch that (laughter).
But I will get Mexican food tonight.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Dimel, if you could introduce your players and make a brief opening statement.
DANA DIMEL: Sure. Want to introduce starting off right here with Cody Whitehair, our offensive tackle; Curry Sexton, one of our wide receivers; Jake Waters, our quarterback; BJ Finney, our center; and Tyler Lockett, our wide receiver.
Obviously we’re very excited to be here in the Alamo Bowl. We feel like any time you have a nine win season, there’s a lot of positive things that go into it, and we know that we have a great challenge against UCLA. They have a really talented ballclub.
As I talk about them defensively, they’re very sound in what they do. They’re very good at not giving up big plays. They keep everything in front of them. Personnel wise, up front, they’re very solid. They have three a nose guard and two defensive ends that are very stout and do a very good job of stopping the run. They have some good edge rushers in their two outside linebacker positions, and then their inside linebacker, obviously Kendricks being the Butkus Award winner and Young being another good player there, so we feel like the second level of their defense is very good and has some real good athleticism. Myles Jack coming off the edge is an outstanding pass rusher and so is Hollins, No. 58. Those guys really create some issues in the passing game.
And then their secondary is very, very athletic and talented, and like I mentioned before, do a really nice job of making sure they keep everything in front of them.
As you look at them, their numbers might be a little bit misleading. They’re very similar to us as far as they don’t throw up those huge numbers, but they’re very, very efficient in what they do. When you start looking at 3rd down numbers, you start looking at red zone numbers, you start looking at even their passing defense, you know, you look at them and they’re ranked a little bit higher in the country, but when you look at their efficiency against the pass, they only give up about six yards per attempt, which is really, really good. They don’t give up many touchdowns in the red zone. They keep you out of the end zone, and they also have you kick field goals a lot down there, as well.
I think they’re going to be a real test for us as we go into the game Friday. Any time you’re playing a top 14 football team, you know you’ve got challenges ahead of you. We’ll open it up to questions after that.
Q. Talk about your offense. It’s kind of viewed as methodical yet always viewed as ranked high in yards per play.
DANA DIMEL: Yeah, that’s the thing we try to do more than anything is really look at the big picture of things and how can we most of all keep the defense off the field, number one, and number two, we’re very similar to UCLA when you start looking at efficiency stats and what we do in yards per attempt in the passing game. We’re really one of the most prolific passing teams in the country when you really start studying the efficiency of what we do throwing the football, and we’re really proud of that, and then we’re also the leading team in the country. We don’t punt and we don’t turn the ball over, so if you don’t punt and turn the ball over you’re doing something else, and that’s scoring, so I believe we’re No. 1 in the country in scoring efficiency. Those are things we pride ourselves in the most, being very efficient in what we do.
Q. Coach Miller, can you talk about the progression from Jake Waters from the time you recruited him until now?
DEL MILLER: Well, we were very fortunate in getting Jake to start with. Jake came off of a National Championship junior college team and led his team to a very high honor, and he also was completing a very high percentage of his passes out of junior college. We were able to inherit that to start with.
Jake also, he’s a very bright young man, very much a winner, very passionate about what he does, and he picked up our offense very well. I kept always talking to him about adding tools to his toolbox, and he probably knows as much as any of our coaches right now and getting us into the proper plays at the proper time. Just an outstanding young man, an outstanding quarterback.
Q. Jake, why did you choose K State and how has it turned out for you?
JAKE WATERS: It was probably the best decision I’ve ever made football wise in my life. I just kind of wanted to go to a spot that I felt comfortable and I felt part of the family, and on my visit Tyler was my host, and I met all the guys, met the coaches and it felt at home for me. Once I made that decision to come, I never looked back. I’ve been accepted into the family, and I respect these guys. I love these guys, love the coaches, and I wouldn’t trade my decision for anything.
Q. Tyler, your dad seems so happy on the sidelines when you’re breaking all of his records. What did he tell you in private?
TYLER LOCKETT: I mean, in private he was proud of me. I’m pretty sure it’s a great accomplishment for him to see his seed grow up and do great things just like he did in his time. So I think that for the most part, my dad just calls me and he tells me he’s proud of me. He appreciates everything that I’ve been doing on the field and off the field, and that’s one of the things that he’s been trying to instill in me growing up.
Q. The bowl record is 240 all purpose yards. Can you break it Friday?
TYLER LOCKETT: I’m not worried about that. Honestly the main thing that’s on my mind is winning the game.
Q. Curry, when you look at this defense, what do you see from UCLA?
CURRY SEXTON: Like Coach Dimel said, they’re very talented all across the board. Like he said, I don’t really focus much on their front four, but their linebackers are really talented, really athletic, guys who fly to the ball, and their secondary, they can all run very well. They’ve got great ball skills. Like Coach said, they don’t really let you over the top. We’re going to have to fight for everything we’re going to get against these guys. It’s going to be a real tough challenge. They’re a really talented, well coached group, and they’re going to make us bring our “A” game in order to do some good things.
Q. Del, I’d ask you to comment a little bit further on Jake and just the way he has played this year, the consistency with which he’s gone about it. I know you’ve coached a lot of good ones. Where would you put him in that grouping?
DEL MILLER: Well, he would certainly be among the very top. You know, I would never put them in ranked order because I’ve been very, very fortunate, very blessed to have some awfully good ones, and Jake certainly would be one of those.
You know, one of the things I haven’t said anything about, but he’s also a tremendous leader for our football team and a great mentor for our younger players, as well. He’s the heart and soul of his football team in my opinion.
Q. Question for BJ: How do you like the tempo of your practices so far since you’ve arrived in San Antonio, just the tempo of your practices and the attention to detail and that kind of thing? How is everything going out there?
BJ FINNEY: These past couple weeks with practices our tempo has been higher than it usually is. Our attention to detail is always there, especially with the coaches fine tuning things, getting different looks, making sure we get the right plays for the right looks, and right now these last three or four practices we’ve just been we have our entire game plan in, it’s just been fine tuning. We’ve had some good practices through this last week, so I’m pretty happy with it.
Q. Jake, just the group here has a rare opportunity of winning back to back bowl games. What would that mean to you to finish things out with back to back bowl wins?
JAKE WATERS: Well, it would be huge just to get a win against a great team. I’m not really worried about winning back to back, I’m just worried about winning this game for these guys because we’ve worked so hard and the coaches worked so hard to get us prepared. For us it’s like our last go around kind of with these seniors, but we don’t really focus on that too much, we focus on executing our stuff, preparing the right way and getting ready to play our best game possible.
Q. Dana and Del, just the season that Curry has had, close to 1,000 yards receiving, were you guys anticipating that kind of production from him, and how much has he meant to the offense?
DANA DIMEL: We really felt like losing Tramaine Thompson last year was going to be a tough person to replace in the system. Curry has always throughout his career been that playmaker type of guy, but he’s stepped up and really filled that big void we were concerned about with the loss of Tramaine. He’s been a pleasant surprise, but when you study his whole career he’s been playmaker the whole way, but he’s had obviously an outstanding season this year and seems to make every play when we need it.
DEL MILLER: Yeah, Curry can make plays for sure. When you combine Curry and Tyler, now you have a real problem. I think Curry has provided some awfully good leadership, too, for our football team, and yeah, it would be nice to get him over that thousand. I think we’ve got a great opportunity to do that.
Q. BJ, obviously this group has been huge for K State. You’ve been with Coach Snyder the entire way. What would it mean to get a big win for your last game in a K State uniform?
BJ FINNEY: Well, as you say, we’ve been here a long time. We’re not really focusing on it being our last time. We’re working towards a 10 win season, something truly special to have. Just one more win is what this group is really after against a great opponent. UCLA is a great team, and we’re going to have our hands full, but for this senior class, it’s about leaving a legacy, and we know that if we want to leave a truly special legacy, then we can’t get lost in all of our emotions and everything quite yet. We’ve done a really good job of staying focused and trying to accomplish the task at hand.
Q. Dana, yesterday I noted that there was four former walk ons up there out of the five players. Today you’ve got three Kansas kids, an Iowa kid and a Oklahoma kid. Can you talk about the unique way you guys as coaches, and Del, you’ve put together this team and kind of followed your own script that nobody else really follows?
DANA DIMEL: Yeah, when we’ve been asked in the past how you build a program at K State, there’s been a lot of people that have asked us those questions through the years how the program has been built. For me it’s evaluation, number one, and what we try to do through the recruiting process is evaluate talent and certain things that we think are a great fit at Kansas State, number one, and then number two, our player development. We really try to stress a great deal of player development in our system, and so these guys are all proteges of that. They’ve really come through the systems and developed themselves as players each and every day, so they’ve done it the K State way.
Q. Jake, UCLA has had some trouble stopping running quarterbacks this season. I know Eric Kendricks was kind of describing your running style as one of the more physical that they’ve gone up against. Is that kind of how you’ve seen yourself, you don’t really shy away from contact when you’re running like that?
JAKE WATERS: I don’t know about that. I’m not the biggest guy, but I’m just going to do whatever it takes for my team to get that extra yard, if it’s a 3rd down, selling yourself, laying your body on the line for your team to get the win, and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. I wouldn’t describe myself as a real, real tough runner, I just do whatever it takes.
Q. Cody and BJ, the running game has struggled somewhat in some games this year. I’m wondering if that’s been a disappointment, one, and also, if you still kind of keep plugging away for this bowl game because UCLA has had some trouble stopping the run.
CODY WHITEHAIR: Got to give it to UCLA. They’re a tough front seven, front six, whatever you would say. They’re pretty stout. But our guys have been working hard through the bowl prep, and we’ve seen some improvement both on the offensive line and in our running backs, so we’re looking forward to this challenge.
BJ FINNEY: Along the same lines, you can’t really stop working towards something you’re trying to correct and improve, the running game. We haven’t done as well as we wanted to this season, but the other thing you’ve got to look at, too, is we’re still building for next season, as well, so we always have to keep working on the run game, we always have to keep improving because we know if we can run the ball successfully we have an opportunity to win.
Q. Curry, you’re 45 yards short of 1,000 receiving yards. What do you attribute your breakout season to?
CURRY SEXTON: Tyler, Jake. (Laughter.) No, I’m just kidding. Yes, that is true.
I think just the system. You know, there’s a lot of things you can attribute it to. I think obviously being alongside Tyler is huge. Having a quarterback like Jake who constantly works to get on the same page as us is huge. The offensive line up front obviously with the protection, the system, the play calling, everything, has allowed me to be in spots where I’ve been able to make some plays, and I’ve been fortunate for all the people that have been surrounding me, so I can’t really attribute it to one thing, but those are some of the things that stick out in my mind.
Q. Jake, Coach Snyder took a bunch of the offensive players over to Center for the Intrepid to see some wounded warriors. Can you talk about that experience yesterday?
JAKE WATERS: It was a humbling experience. You know, you go over there, and we didn’t see too many of the patients or the wounded warriors or anything, we saw a couple, and hear some of their stories, it was kind of crazy because when you think you have it tough going through an injury in football or you don’t want to practice one day, and these guys are losing legs and can’t see, and it was truly humbling. I’m so glad I got the chance to go, and then seeing all the technology and the type of facility they have there is truly outstanding. I can’t give enough respect to those guys that do those things for us.
Q. Jake, can you talk about the fan turnout? What do you expect from the fans, 25,000 expected to be here? What can you say about that?
JAKE WATERS: Our fans are great. I expect them to be out in full force, loud, because that’s what they’ve done every single game, no matter how we’re playing or anything. Last year they still came out to every game, packed the Bill Snyder Family Stadium. I expect them to come out because we have some of the most loyal fans in the country and I really expect them to be out there just like a normal home game for us.
Q. Dana, can you talk about the senior class, kind of what they’ve meant to K State? Obviously they’ve been around for a while, but what have they meant for the K State goals?
DANA DIMEL: They had the challenge of coming in and rebuilding the program. They came back, and we got involved in it. We obviously had to take some big steps in rebuilding, and so they started from the ground up, just taking the principles that are part of our program and growing with them each and every day, and then they’ve accomplished some really special things, obviously having a chance to win a Big 12 Championship and then having a chance to challenge for wins again heavily this year, but the big thing they’ve done is provided great leadership and now they’re teaching the young guys, and the young guys are going to learn from what they’ve left as a legacy. They’ve really shown these young guys how to work hard and do things the right way, so we’re obviously very, very proud of them.
THE MODERATOR: This it’s my pleasure to introduce Noel Mazzone. If you could introduce your players and make an opening statement.
NOEL MAZZONE: Sure, Jordan Payton, one of our wide receivers from California. Where are you from in California?
JORDAN PAYTON: Santa Monica.
NOEL MAZZONE: Santa Monica, California. Next guy is Brett Hundley from Chandler High School, Phoenix, Arizona; Thomas Duarte from the three stripes Mater Dei; Jake Brendel from right here in Dallas, Plano East. And actually Paul Perkins, our running back Jake is the center, Thomas plays basically our wide position, and Paul, our running back from Chandler. Actually Paul and Brett played high school ball together at Chandler High School for Coach Aguano in Phoenix.
THE MODERATOR: Could you talk about the week and preparations for the game?
NOEL MAZZONE: Yeah, first of all I want to thank, you guys have done an awesome job. It’s been a lot of fun to be in San Antonio. I spent, I think, six years at TCU in Fort Worth, so I have some friends down here, and it’s been fun to get back, and a great job you guys do with the bowl.
I think practice has been going well. I don’t know, we’ll find out Friday night how well it’s been going, about 5:40. But no, it’s a pleasure to be here and have the opportunity to get a chance to play against Coach Snyder and Kansas State. Obviously a very good head coach and a very good program. I don’t know if they’ve won like 38 games over the last four years, so it’s going to be a great challenge, big test for us.
Q. Can you talk about your group and the fact that you’re so young and what you’re building here at UCLA?
NOEL MAZZONE: I’m trying to think, the only one that was there before I got well, Jake, you and Brett came in the same class, right? So it was really kind of a neat deal to come and be on the ground floor because we were such a young football team. I think there was a point last year where we started three true freshmen in our offensive line, and Jake is kind of the old man of the offense, in the O line, so it’s like, what freshman do I have to start next to this week, so it’s kind of been a revolving door.
They’ve done a great job. It’s been fun watching these kids grow up in the system and with Coach Mora, the culture that Coach Mora is developing at UCLA, and it’s been something that after doing this coaching business for 34 years, it’s given me a lot of great memories of I mean, it’s an experience that I haven’t had a chance to go through is to grow up with a football team, and this is the first time that I’ve had a quarterback actually play three years for me. It’s been a lot of fun.
I think Thomas now Jordan, Jordan is going to be a senior, too, right? J.P. is going to be a senior, so these guys are kind of the guys that laid the bricks, that built the foundation for the program, for what Coach Mora is getting done at UCLA. They dug the footings and poured the cement and all that, and I think they’ve done a great job and given us a chance to kind of build the type of program that UCLA will be proud of.
Q. Jordan, have you had time to reflect on everything you and your teammates are building and using this game as a springboard for next year?
JORDAN PAYTON: Yeah, just being able to play in this phenomenal program, being with Coach Mazzone and Coach Mora has just changed everything at UCLA. Getting a win Friday night would definitely help us springboard into next season, especially since we have such a young team, so definitely builds experience for us and starts 2015 off right for us.
Q. Jake, this is your third time in the last 13 months playing in your home state. Just talk about that and talk about how many friends and family are going to be coming down here for the game.
JAKE BRENDEL: Well, it’s always great to be back here in Texas. I just like the way of life around here. It’s always kind of a refreshing feel to come back here.
I have a few family members. I have my dad and my stepmom coming down, and then I have a few friends from high school because my mom and stepdad actually moved to Phoenix, so I don’t have any immediate family here anymore. But yeah.
Q. I’m doing a story on Jerry Neuheisel. Can you or any of the other guys talk about the exhilaration you guys had after the UT game and carrying him off the field and what all that was about and the feelings you have for Jerry?
JAKE BRENDEL: Yeah, just that whole game, it was actually pretty amazing. We really were neck and neck the entire game. We unfortunately lost Brett with like an elbow injury, so just knowing that we had a backup that was really prepared and knew the entire offense front and back, I never really stressed at all about it. I knew that Jerry would do a really good job, and he went out there and he led us to the victory. It was a really exhilarating win knowing that we have that depth at that spot, and if something were to happen to Brett again that we do have a successful solution for it.
Q. Brett, a lot of the K State players have compared you to Trevone Boykin for TCU. I was wondering if there was a quarterback growing up that maybe you patterned your game after in the pros or if there’s someone in the pros right now who you feel like you’re very similar to.
BRETT HUNDLEY: Does he still have to be in the pros right now?
BRETT HUNDLEY: I like Donovan McNabb. I talk to him at least once a week, and he’s been a good mentor for me. I’ve sort of learned from him and sort of developed things.
Q. How did that relationship come about with you and McNabb?
BRETT HUNDLEY: He lives in Arizona, and he gets his hair cut at the same place I do, so that’s sort of where I started.
Q. Thomas, can you make some comments about your bigger role in the offense, and what do you attribute that success to?
THOMAS DUARTE: I really attribute it to the preparation. I’ve learned how to prepare for games, prepare and practice and just get better every day.
Q. Brett and Paul, just talk about your journey together playing in high school and college, and can each one of you describe what the other one does best on the field.
BRETT HUNDLEY: It’s been fun growing up with Paul, and it’s an honor, and especially to be able to have somebody you grew up with and somebody you went to high school with, and our families have known each other since day one with the Cheetahs, and to have him playing for the same college team and to be in the backfield together, you always have that special bond. Paul is good at we’ll sit back there and talk to each other in the backfield, during the games, and we just have that special bond. We’re sort of good for each other.
PAUL PERKINS: Yeah, it’s always good having a friend in the backfield just to calm your nerves and in the heat of the game. It’s always good to have a former teammate and a friend back there just to help you see the game, slow the game down, and just relax.
Q. Brett, obviously you had high expectations coming into this year. A lot of people had those expectations for you. Where do you see your game this year? How has it grown on and off the field?
BRETT HUNDLEY: I think off the field the most, I think understanding the game, getting a better feel for it, and just growing physically on the field but as well as off the field understanding defenses, talking to Mazzone and putting together game plans and stuff like that. I think both sides.
Q. Coach, K State plays a really interesting kind of patient defense. They give up some things underneath. Can you talk about how they approach some of these offenses like yours and how your offense fits together with their defense?
NOEL MAZZONE: Yeah, obviously do a great job. I think they’re ranked 16th, 18th. I mean, they’re very high in a lot of categories. They don’t give up a lot of big plays, and they’re in a conference that play very similar offenses to what we do, you know, spread, tempo, get the ball out quick, and they do an awesome job of when you watch them play, they’re very well coached, all right, they’re very good in their run fits. They’re very good in angles and fitting and controlling their tackling on the back end. They’re really good tacklers. I mean, just a really well coached defense. They bend a little bit but they don’t break a lot, so I think like the key when you play for us is which I have none, is to have patience, because we’re kind of when you’re a tempo guy, you want to score on like three plays, and if you don’t, you start getting very impatient. You guys are listening to me, right, over here? You’ve got to be patient, all right, stay on schedule and just keep ourselves on the field. But no, it’s going to be a great challenge for us. As you watch the guys that have played this year, they’re lined up against Baylor and Texas Tech and Okie State and Oklahoma, all those kind of guys, and those guys have got some good offenses that they’ve controlled fairly well.
Q. Brett, K State has shown a difficulty handling a mobile quarterback. Have you kind of noticed that yourself, and how do you plan on attacking that and using your legs against this K State defense?
BRETT HUNDLEY: Running and throwing. You know, basically that’s what it comes down to, just running and throwing.
Q. Jake, can you talk about how far this offensive line has come looking back on this whole season, and given that none of the major guys are going to leave, can you talk about what you see for the future knowing that you’re going to have this whole group back?
JAKE BRENDEL: You know, just one really good thing that the whole UCLA football family does really well is like football never really stops for us. Just being able to come back with the same five guys next season is going to be really great. We can take this off season and really just hone in our skills and work on just our simple techniques and work on just a lot of the simple things, just break everything down, and really just progress as a unit. You know, it’s always nice to have five selected guys that are going to be starting, and then once the new class comes in, we can just see who fits in where.
Q. Brett, we had a social media question. The day after the bowl game is the Army All American game. Did you participate in that, and do you remember any recollections or any of the players you correspond with still today?
BRETT HUNDLEY: I played in the Under Armour game
THE MODERATOR: Coach Snyder will start with an opening remark about bowl week and tomorrow’s game?
COACH SNYDER: Well, as most of the players on both teams would probably tell you, they’re anxious to play and it’s time to play. It’s been a long time since the last ballgame for both of our programs. We’re just honored to be here, pleased to be here. It’s a wonderful opportunity to play against what I think is a tremendously talented football team in UCLA and extremely well coached. I think our players, our practices themselves have gone reasonably well. As I said, I think our guys are just anxious to play and hope they get some rest and make sure that they get their minds right, and that’s our job as coaches, I guess.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Mora?
COACH MORA: First of all, I want to thank the city of San Antonio for welcoming the UCLA Bruin Nation. We’ve had a great time here, very welcoming, very warm. I’d also like to thank Valero and the Alamo Bowl Committee for inviting us, and congratulate Coach Snyder on a great year. It’s truly an honor for us to play such a great program as Kansas State and measure ourselves against one of the top teams in the country, and we’re anxious to do that.
We’ve had a good week of practice. The young men are focused. They’re anxious to play. I look forward to an exciting game, a well played game, two teams that I think play with a lot of integrity and class. It will be a tooth and nail battle, and as I said, I think a great measuring stick for where we are as a program playing against such an established program as Kansas State. So look forward to tomorrow night and all of the excitement that it brings. Just want to say thanks, again, to the city of San Antonio.
Q. You talked about great admiration with Coach Snyder. Have I learned anything coaching takeaways from your interaction this bowl week?
COACH MORA: We’ve had a couple of chances to interact. We haven’t necessarily spoken about X’s and O’s or philosophy, but just in general, observing a legend gives me a chance to learn. I’ve been very fortunate in my career to be around some tremendous coaches and tremendous administrators, and I’m sitting next to one of the finest that college football has ever known. I’ve enjoyed watching him deal with the media, deal with his players, listening to him speak to the crowds, and I think that I’m always in a position to learn and I try to do so.
Q. Coaches Snyder and Mora, thank you for being with us here on New Year’s Day. Happy New Year. Wanted to ask you all, we’ve seen a lot of great games here in the history of this game. Some tremendous offensive shows in particular come to mind. RG3 a few years ago put up 67 points or something, and it was a fantastic game that way offensively. You two guys have some pretty good offenses. What do you think what type of game do you think is in store for fans this year?
COACH SNYDER: Well, I have no idea. Sometimes our offense has been pretty good. Maybe they’re not as consistent as you would like all the time. I probably would imagine Jim feels the same way. If we have two good offenses, then we better play some defense on both sides of the ball. I think all of it is the same thing that you would say, ballgame in and ballgame out, you’ve got to do the things that give you a chance to win. We can’t afford to turn the ball over. I’m sure UCLA feels exactly the same way. I think we have to be good on our special teams. I’m sure they feel the same way. Defensively you can’t give up those big plays.
Same things you hear week in and week out. But they’re all true. They all manifest themselves in winning or losing, I think.
COACH MORA: I think it’s hard to predict what kind of game you’re going to see, but I know you’ll see two disciplined, well coached, hard playing teams. I know this. When you look at Kansas State on defense, they’re extremely sound. They play very well. It’s going to be tough to get yards and points on them. We’ve done some things well offensively this year, but they’re searching for a little consistency throughout an entire game, so that will be one of our goals. As coach said, one of the keys is protecting the football, blocking people up, getting the tough yards, and there will be tough yards against this defense.
Q. Coach Mora, now your third bowl game, talk about what your experience was and how you changed from year one to year three and how you created bowl week?
COACH MORA: Yeah, I don’t have near the experience as the man to my right has in anything, but particularly bowls. So it’s a chance for me to learn how to handle the week more efficiently, prepare our players better to be ready to go at kickoff. We’ve tried to mirror as much as possible what we thought was successful for us in the last two bowls through the week, most particularly last year at the Sun Bowl. Really what you try to do is create as much normalcy as you can in an environment that’s not normal.
At this point in time, after the luncheon, things then settle into the typical routine that you have created through the season leading up to kickoff. So that’s our objective.
Q. How many more years do you plan on being head coach at Kansas State?
COACH SNYDER: I have no idea, and how did I know you were going to ask that question? For those of you that are not local in Manhattan, this is the master of the question down here. He’s always got one that I never want to deal with.
Q. In that case, I was just curious, what keeps you young in this game? What keeps you going?
COACH SNYDER: Trust me, I’m not young. Jim said certain things that he didn’t have that I have. He’s got everything that I have with the exception of a hundred years. He does everything extremely well, so he’s not lacking for anything there.
Q. Kind of along the same lines, when the 49ers job opened up earlier this week, there was immediate speculation that they might contact you. Have you been contacted? If so, would that interest you to listen to them about what they might offer?
COACH MORA: I prefer to concentrate on this game tomorrow night at 5:50 against Kansas State University. I think you do everyone a disservice that’s put so much into this season and gotten to this point if you think about anything other than the task at hand, and the task at hand is kicking off and playing well against a great Kansas State team tomorrow.
Q. So it doesn’t become a distraction, can you just say now that I’m going to be staying at UCLA?
COACH MORA: I have no plans to coach anywhere but UCLA at this time.
Q. I remember you taking questions about that at a Holiday Bowl about UCLA a long time ago. That’s interesting. It strikes me that every program has to build their roster their own way. But over the last couple days we’ve had ten players in here, five were former walk ons and five or six from Kansas. Can you talk about how you’ve gone about building this roster and the unique script you’ve had to follow to get to this point?
COACH SNYDER: I can’t tell you that that segment of it is scripted. They’re young guys all over, and we’re kind of isolated in the midwest. An awful lot of people, I think, get overlooked because of that. When I say overlooked, it’s not necessarily the ability to run 4.3, 40s, and bench press 350 pounds and all that goes along with it. There are just character traits that are significant. You’ve heard me say this so many times that really are significant. I mean, you can put a young guy in a weight room and he can go from 220 to 300 if that’s what you want. I mean, you can do all those things. You remember a young guy, Jason Johnson came in a long time ago. Jason’s 215 pound tight end and spent we moved him to center, and pretty soon he’s a 305 pound center and he’s got a seven or eight year NFL career with it. It’s just being able to identify young people that have those character traits with value system in place that you know you can develop over a period of time. That’s true no matter whether they’re 4.3, 40 guys or 5 flat 40 guys. The character assessment is really a value to us.
Now that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some athletic ability. You take any of the guys that you’re talking about, whether it’s Jonathan Truman, B.J. Finney or Ryan Newman or any of those guys and so many more, I could go on and on. Those are the guys that came and are in the category that you’re talking about. But that doesn’t mean that they were without talent. I mean, they had the ability to play the game. What we’re interested in is how far can you go with it and what your value system will allow you to do. Is it going to temper your improvement or is it going to give you the opportunity to continually improve? And those guys have done exactly that.
Q. You know as much about dual threat quarterbacks as anyone around. Can you just talk about Hundley and what special problems he presents if your defense?
COACH SNYDER: Well, there’s always talk about how well he throws the ball, how well he runs with the ball. I think he manages the offense extremely well which is vital for a quality young quarterback. But those guys that can do it all and can bring it down and bring it out at any time, whether it’s on the perimeter or whether it’s inside, and that’s a threat that neutralizes your defense a great deal, and he’s good at it and makes good decisions with it, I think. So he’s got good eyes and plays the game with them quite well. He’s a very talented young guy.
From what I hear, I haven’t met him yet. But from what I understand, Jim could tell you, I certainly couldn’t, but he certainly seems like a quality young man and seems like a quality leader in the program as well. All of those things fit into that category. I think you have to have it all to be the kind of quarterback that he is.
Q. Coach Mora, having coached in both the NFL and college, I was curious how you think Coach Snyder’s schemes and philosophies would translate to the NFL if he ever did try it? Coach Snyder, what was it was there ever anything about the NFL, coaching there, that did intrigue you in some way?
COACH SNYDER: Well, I think the people from Manhattan, our area, could tell you that way back when there were all those opportunities. I’ve just never been interested in it. That doesn’t make it bad by any stretch of the imagination. It always concerned me when you’ve got players that make more money than their coaches. You kind of wonder who is the authority figure and that alignment. Jim can tell you more about it than I can. I remember a story.
We had a young player, I won’t mention his name, that was a quarterback in the NFL. He was a starting quarterback and the back up quarterback they brought in and paid him a substantial amount of money more so than the quarterback that we had, and the night before one of their ballgames, I don’t remember which one, the back up quarterback went to the general manager of the program or whoever was in charge, and they had some dialogue and the quarterback that I was familiar with got a call in the middle of the night and said you’re not starting anymore.
You know, it’s who has the control whether you can really coach or not. You see the same thing. There is talk right now in the NBA with a player and a coach and who has control over the program. That’s something that I’m not a control freak, but I think it’s important that you have control over your program, and I don’t know how much that exists. Certainly there’s most programs perhaps do have total control as a coach. I don’t know. But it didn’t seem like that, and that was my thinking why I didn’t venture into any of that.
COACH MORA: Football at every level in my humble opinion is about fundamentals, it’s about effort, it’s about discipline, it’s about technique, it’s about talent, it’s about having standards. I don’t think it’s about formations and plays. I think it’s about coaching. We used to say players and not formations and plays are going to win games for you. So I think you can take any style of offense and defense, and if you execute it properly with good players who have bought into the system, then you can have success.
Q. I can’t imagine you not being back because you’d miss the witty banter back and forth between us each week, so I’ll start off with that. But I’m curious over the years how successful have you been engaging the readiness of your football team, which seems like a silly question to ask, but I’m wondering how much capacity for surprise is there even at this stage of your career as it relates to the readiness of your football team to play a game?
COACH SNYDER: You know, it really isn’t a silly question. It’s one that I think Jim would ask himself the same question as I do. Is how well, how mentally ready is each member of your football team. And it’s different for each and every one of them. It’s not always something that you gauge correctly. I certainly haven’t always gauged it correctly. I’ve been surprised both ways, I think. Try not to, you know, try not to impose the impression that I totally have the answer. I mean you have a way that you approach each day of the week, and night before the game, and throughout the game you have a routine and you have certain things that you know are important. That you feel, at least, that are important in your program. We do, Jim does, and those are the things that you address. More often than not, those really are just experience over a period of time allows you to find that those things are appropriate for the preparation of your football team. But guessing exactly how they internalize it all is a very difficult task. It’s an impossible task, as much as anything. If you guess right, you’re fortunate.
Q. Coach Mora, Coach Snyder has had to answer this question weekly about Tyler Lockett. As someone who has coached on both sides of the college and NFL barrier, when you see someone like Tyler Lockett who doesn’t have the maybe prototypical size, how do you evaluate him as a receiver and his potential to move on to the next level?
COACH SNYDER: I think he’s a tremendous player. I think he’s got a lot of the same qualities as a young man like Marvin Harrison has. A guy that’s a precise route runner that is good after the catch, that’s not afraid to go over the middle. That knows how to read coverage and get himself open. You add in his returnability particularly as a punt returner, and this is a dangerous young man. In my opinion, he’s the best receiver we’ve played all year, and I think his statistics would prove that, and it’s going to be a great challenge for us.
But I think the skill set that he has translates well at any level. And I would imagine, and Coach can answer this, he’s probably one of the hardest working players on your team. So at least he plays that way.
Q. Coach, how do you address your team about a situation that happened in the BYU postseason game?
COACH SNYDER: Well, if you’re referencing the altercation, is that what we’re talking about? Again, that’s not something that you go in the night before a ballgame or during the course of the ballgame and say this is the way we have to manage these situations. That is engrained in your program from the very beginning. From day one, there is a code of conduct, if you will, for virtually any program in the country. I’ve certainly been watching as much tape as we do of Jim’s team, you’ll see that they handle themselves in an appropriate way.
It’s selfishness that creates those situations more than anything else. I think our young people have been good, spur of the moment reactions sometimes is hard to come by and difficult to assess. But I think you can’t wait. It’s just something that’s engrained in your players that these things do not happen. We are not going to allow them to happen, and it has to be a mindset, and you have to understand the value of it, and you have to have enough poise, I think, in order to walk away from those things. I’m proud of our young guys because they certainly do that and have done that.
COACH MORA: I think it’s engrained in the culture of your program from day one. You impress upon your student athletes that they’re going to play hard, they’re going to play tough, they’re going to play physical, but at the same time it’s mandatory that they respect their opponent and honor this great game.
Q. Coach Snyder, for those of us in a certain age group, Coach, has AARP asked you to be a spokesperson?
COACH SNYDER: No, but I have a card (laughing).
Q. Coach, this time last year you were talking about the preparation for the bowl game against Michigan and said it was one of the best preparations you’ve been a part of for a bowl game. How would you evaluate the preparedness of your team entering this one and what parallels have you noticed between this team’s preparation for this bowl game and last year’s?
COACH SNYDER: There were some similar situations. Again, that goes back a year ago, and what I can remember a year ago you can put in the palm of your hand. But there was that period of time prior to that preparation where, and you know the story, where we just weren’t into what we were doing. From practice standpoints collectively as a team we kind of had one of those get togethers and things changed. They only changed because players choose to change, and they made those changes and our preparation was very good from that point on.
I think it wasn’t to the same degree this year. But I think we went through a similar process, and I think our players have responded quite well. So I think we’ve practiced reasonably well. Up and down, of course, but reasonably well.
Q. You’re certainly deserving of the honor, but I was curious if it’s at all odd to be coaching and also be on the Hall of Fame ballot, and what your reaction was when you saw your name on it?
COACH SNYDER: Well, as any coach would be, you’re honored and pleased, but it makes you think back about all the people that have invested so much to allow something like that to take place. First and foremost really we talk so much about family and that means a lot of people. But my immediate family has gone through, as all coaches families do, they go through some trials and tribulations over a period of time to give you an opportunity to do the things that you do because it’s very demanding.
Sean’s here with me today, and his investment in all of that has been so very, very significant. Then you take all the wonderful young people that you have in our program and take all the very talented and wonderful coaches and support staff and administration, and all of the people that have been invested in it, it means so much. Hopefully it’s meaningful to them. I think for the most part, it truly is. And that really is, in all honesty, what transpired in my mind. So anyway, it was very humbling event.
Q. You took your offensive unit over to see Wounded Warriors at the Center For Intrepid. Could you talk about that experience?
COACH SNYDER: You know, it was really important for us to do those kinds of things. We have so many community service things in place. I know Jim does as well and that’s so valuable to young people and their development and their growth. When we went over I was really looking forward to our young guys having an opportunity to spend time with the Wounded Warrior aspect of Intrepid. It just happened to be a day that there weren’t a significant number of those individuals available. But we did have the opportunity to visit with a number of young guys that were, I thought I say young, young and not so young who had been wounded severely in the line of duty. It was a remarkable experience for our players to have the opportunity to share with them. It’s meaningful too. It certainly was meaningful to the people that they visited with.
But they walk away with a tremendous appreciation for what others do on their behalf. That’s the value of it and that’s what I look forward to in our visit over there. They were very gracious to us as well.
January 2, 2015
UCLA – 40
Kansas State – 35
A Postgame Interview With:
COACH BILL SNYDER
Q. Bill, are you going to remember the 10 points that you left on the field and the 14 points off of turnovers in the first half more, or are you going to remember a pretty courageous second half comeback that comes up a little shy?
BILL SNYDER: Well, I’ll remember both. I’m proud of our young guys, what I shared with them just a little bit ago. They didn’t give in, fought back. Not quite enough. But I’ll also remember the first half, as well, and all those things that you mentioned. My count we left 28 points on the field in the first half, and that’s our fault. It wasn’t anything other than that. UCLA is a very fine football team, played extremely well. They were just so much better than we were in the first half. The execution wasn’t there.
Q. What was your message to the team at halftime to get them to come out and start playing a little bit better?
BILL SNYDER: Well, some of it is probably personal. I alluded to a couple things. Houston was down today 27 points going into the fourth quarter and scored 29 and won the ballgame, so it’s doable, it’s manageable. Also some thoughts about whether we had heard a TV announcer indicate in another ballgame that a football team had quit, and that’s the last thing in the world anybody wants to hear on national TV, I assure you that, and I reminded our youngsters of that, that we weren’t about to let somebody say that about us. And they didn’t. They didn’t. They made the best effort.
We made some mistakes. Still, we played our way back into the ballgame, and then we played our way out of it. We’re still mistake prone, and at the end of the day, that was a problem.
Q. Coach, can you talk about the difficulty that Hundley and Perkins caused for your defense today with their rushing attack?
BILL SNYDER: Well, they’re both very, very talented young guys, and I think they use them extremely well. I don’t know what the statistics were, but there were major issues, particularly in the first half. In the second half we played well defensively until we broke down, and that was not not that he couldn’t run well, but we just broke down and didn’t fit we left a gap unfit and they put it in the end zone and that ended the ballgame, so to speak.
THE MODERATOR: We’re also joined by Jonathan Truman and Ryan Mueller.
BILL SNYDER: These are both defensive guys, and there’s nobody that cares more, there’s nobody that plays harder, there’s nobody that’s more of a family member, there’s nobody that’s a better teammate than these two guys right here. These two, tremendously so. When you’ve invested as much as they’ve invested, it is going to be painful, but they’ve been dynamic for our football program.
Q. What was the injury at the end? It looked fairly serious.
BILL SNYDER: Without having any X rays yet, we believe there was a fracture, lower leg fracture.
Q. Who was the player?
BILL SNYDER: Boston Stiverson.
Q. Bill, I believe Jake was sacked seven times. Can you talk about the pressure they put on him, and also moving B.J. over to right tackle in the game?
BILL SNYDER: Well, we kind of got out of sorts. We’re thin in our offensive line, and guys have to play multiple positions, which they do, but we had some difficulty with our protection. I mean, it was that simple. That’s what I was sharing a little bit ago. It was not that they weren’t making the effort, it’s just UCLA is a good pass rush team, they’ve got good guys coming off the edge, and they did, and they did so successfully, and consequently we took ourselves out of opportunities to get 1st downs and got into those extra long yardage situations. Those are pretty hard to overcome.
BILL SNYDER: Well, as I said, virtually all of our guys work at all positions up front, so it’s not that it’s just something out of the blue. Obviously he has had far less practice time there than he has at the center position, but we have to make do with what we have. But B.J. is like these guys right here; B.J., I mean, you don’t find a better person. You don’t find somebody that cares more about his football team. You don’t find anybody that works as hard, gives as much of himself. He’d play wherever you put him.
Q. The young man that just sat down to your right, he went out on top for K State, and him connecting with Jake on a couple more touchdowns in his last game, just remark a little bit on his career and what he was able to do tonight.
BILL SNYDER: Well, you know, it’s not what he’s been able to do tonight, it’s what he’s been able to do through his entire career at Kansas State University. Just what I said about these other two young guys, the two offensive players that have joined us have done exactly the same thing, and they’re the same kind of people. And you specifically asked about Tyler. Tyler is all the things I’ve said so many times. You’ve heard it. He works as hard as anybody can possibly work. He stays after practice. He does everything he can to try to get himself better. He’s a wonderful person. He cares about his teammates. He’s a great family man, a great individual, high character. All of these guys are. I could echo all those thoughts with each and every one of these young guys. They’re really special.
Q. Jonathan, talk about how you guys changed defensively because Hundley and Perkins just kind of seemed to not run wild but were more successful in the first half than they were in the second half.
JONATHAN TRUMAN: Yeah, I have to give a lot of credit to the UCLA coaching staff as well as their players. They prepared really well and they executed really well. In the first half, I can say that we didn’t run our fits very well defensively. Our coaches defensively did a great job game planning things. I think it was more the players. We just didn’t execute. We didn’t get the job done, and going into halftime we understand that we’re behind a lot, but this is a group of guys that doesn’t quit, and I’m just really proud of my team for pulling it together and trying to be the best that we can be.
Q. Tyler, what do you think the team’s mental reaction was when they got on you that early and you look up and see 31 6?
TYLER LOCKETT: I mean, honestly, we’ve been there before. Maybe not by that much, but we played TCU and was down 14 0 and came back, played Baylor down 14 0 and came back. Honestly, when it was 17 0, I knew we still had a chance. We’ve been watching a lot of crazy bowl games. We watched Baylor go up 20 against Michigan State and all of a sudden Michigan State came back. We just heard about Houston, down by 30 points in the fourth quarter, coming back and beating Pittsburgh. We understood at halftime we still had a chance. We’re a team who never gives up, we’re a team who will always keep fighting until it says 0:00 on the clock, and that’s exactly what we did. We had a chance to come back. We made a great rally. Everybody saw it. Unfortunately we just came up a little short.
Q. Jake, on that final touchdown to Tyler late in the game, can you describe that play and just the emotions that were going through as you guys headed off the field together after the touchdown?
JAKE WATERS: Yeah, that last play we just kind of we ran the same play the whole time down the field and just kind of hit different things. I ran for one, hit Curry for one, hit Lockett for one, 10 and in. I just told him we kind of looked at each other and knew, hey, just do a 10 in and go and just get a little variation off it and Tyler did the rest, got wide open. Walking off the field together, it was pretty emotional. You put so many hours in that people don’t see that kind of goes unnoticed, and for that to be the last time was hard to hold back.
Q. Jake, how much was the fact that there have been so many late comebacks, Baylor, Houston came back to beat Pitt, how much of that was on your mind in the second half?
JAKE WATERS: Yeah, that’s just a great example of what can happen, and we knew that we’re not going to give up, like Tyler said, until it says 0:00. I’m never going to count out my guys. We go into halftime and we’ve just got to correct the mistakes. We made a few plays here and there and we were right back in it, and we had a chance to win it at the end. That’s all you can ask for.
Q. Jake, was UCLA doing something with the pass rush that you hadn’t seen before or were they using their speed and getting in for the sacks?
JAKE WATERS: They changed it up. Every bowl game they provide stuff you haven’t seen on film or stuff you haven’t prepared for. And they’re great players, too, so they caused some problems for us. My O line did a great job, except a couple plays.
Q. Ryan, can you talk about the gut check at halftime, put it into words what you guys were feeling, anger, disappointment? What was the motivation, and can you describe how you reacted to it, please?
RYAN MUELLER: At the end of the
Q. At halftime getting ready for the second.
RYAN MUELLER: Well, before I answer that, first and foremost, I just want to thank Coach Snyder for the opportunity to play for this university. Coach is over here right now, but thank you, Coach, for the chance. You know, it’s been an honor play with Tyler Lockett, phenomenal athlete, phenomenal person, just a total workhorse for this university. I want to thank all the Kansas State fans that made the bowl trip down here. I know these bowl trips are expensive, but it was great seeing the whole stadium filled up with purple. I know we didn’t execute according to plan.
To answer your question, sir, we tried to come out the second half relentless, tried to be fearless, respect everybody, fear no one, and we just we tried, and everybody looked to their guy to the left, looked to their guy to the right, looked in their eyes and said I’m going to give you my absolute best for the next 30 minutes. We fought, we certainly didn’t quit, and UCLA was the better team. Hats off to Brett Hundley, tremendous quarterback, made some good plays, when he would throw the ball or run the ball, made a lot of plays on his feet, tremendous player. I’ve got a lot of respect for UCLA. They’re a first class program.
Q. Ryan, when you look up and you see the 17 0 deficit and the way Hundley was able to get you guys defensively early on, what’s going through your head at that moment, just being down like that?
RYAN MUELLER: You know, 17 0, that’s nothing. I’m fully confident in my offense, fully confident in Jake Waters, fully confident in Tyler Lockett. When we see 17 0, that’s nothing. Plenty of ball to play. When the clock is 0:00, that’s when it’s over. And that’s football.
Q. I was curious with both Jonathan and Tyler, you guys have played in a bowl game every year you’ve been here, just what kind of momentum or base do you think that could build for this program after you guys are gone?
JONATHAN TRUMAN: Yeah, just coming into this program five years ago, 2010, that was the first bowl game, that Pinstripe Bowl was the first bowl game that this program has been to since the Texas Bowl in like 2006, I believe, and I know there’s a lot of pride in this group coming in, just being able to get to that bowl game and then getting to four consecutive bowl games after that. There’s a lot of pride. Obviously winning the bowl game is the most important, but I hope that this group of young guys that we have, I know that they have the same attitude that this great class of seniors has, and they’re going to keep working hard and just keep working towards another bowl game and a win.
TYLER LOCKETT: Yeah, I mean, every since I was in high school, Coach Snyder came back, he really turned this program around. He’s done a great job. I watched Truman and everybody play whenever they were in the Pinstripe Bowl, and being able to come to Kansas State, it was just a great opportunity. I was playing under guys like Collin Klein and Chris Harper and Emmanuel Lamur, just some great athletes, great leaders who have the desire and motivation to win. So just being able to look at everybody who we had the chance to play with throughout the four years and seeing the bowl games that we went to, we went from a Pinstripe a Cottom bowl, we went from the Cotton Bowl to the Fiesta Bowl. Then all of a sudden, we acquired new people. New people, new transition, new players, that means we had the same style, just different types of players that we’ve got to be able to use. We went to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, finally won. The odds were in Michigan’s favor, and we came out there and we won. We proved to everybody that we could be able to win. Even being able to have the opportunity to be in the Alamo Bowl, we played a lot of great teams throughout this year. I’m not sure where people saw us ending in the Big 12, but we finished third. We played against TCU. We had a chance to win the Big 12, playing against Baylor, not too many people get the chance to win two Big 12 Championships at that, and we had a great opportunity for that.
And then also just ending our bowl game here in the Alamo. I would have rather finished it here than anywhere else. Of course you want to make it to the playoffs and stuff like that, but since we didn’t make it, I’m glad we came to the Alamo. They did nothing but show us love. They did a lot of great things, great events, we met a lot of great people out here, and unfortunately we lost, but I’m going to just miss these guys, and that’s really all I have. I think it’ll motivate our team next year, as well, because we ended with a loss so it’s going to motivate them to keep going.
COACH JIM MORA
JIM MORA: Well, first of all, it’s an honor to be sitting up here with these five young men. Tremendous representatives of all that’s good about college football, great student athletes, leaders, great football players, men of integrity. The ones that are leaving, and those are the three right in the middle, we’re certainly going to miss them and they’re going to have long and productive careers. We’re going to get to watch them on a lot of Sundays. But Eric, Owa and Brett have met so much to this program, and I don’t think it can be overstated the impact that they’ve had on UCLA football and the UCLA football program. We’re going to miss them tremendously. We wish them the best of luck. I want to just tip my hat to Kansas State University and their football program. They’re fun to play because they play the right way. They play hard, they play physical, they play tough, they’re disciplined. They’ve got a lot of class. They travel very well.
We came to a bowl came and it was pretty much a hostile environment. But these guys have excelled in hostile environments all year, were undefeated on the road, and then to our fans that made the trek from California, we heard them and we appreciate them being here. It means a lot that they would come all this distance to support their football team, and we certainly do appreciate it.
It was a heck of a football game. You know, they’re always going to be like that. You get out to a lead, and you get in an environment where you’re playing the No. 11 team in the country, coached be a future Hall of Famer, and you know that they’re going to fight back. We hung in there, and I think that’s been a symbol of our team, the grit, the toughness, the character, all year. We won 10 games this year with the toughest schedule in college football. We played 10 bowl teams. There was a few teams that played 11, but we played 10 teams that are playing in bowls, including Kansas State. Depending on what happens with the Washington game, I believe going into today the teams that we’d play that are playing in bowl games are 6 2, and so to win 10 games two consecutive years I think is a tremendous accomplishment, especially for such a young team.
Besides Brett and Owa and EK, we’re going to lose AJ, Hof, Jordon James, some other contributors, but we’re really a young football team. You look at Myles here. Myles is a sophomore. You look at Perk and Perk is a sophomore, and so I think the future looks bright for UCLA football. That’s probably enough, huh? I’ll turn it over to these guys.
Q. Jim, can you talk about what the biggest difference between the first half and the second half was for you guys?
JIM MORA: Well, we didn’t have the ball much in the second. In the third quarter I think we only had five or six plays. They had that time consuming seven minute and 32 second drive for a touchdown there where they converted the fourth downs and we had trouble getting off the field, and then we had the fumble and then they scored. And then we Brett made the nice run, went down and kicked a field goal, but we didn’t have a lot of plays in the third quarter. Any time you play a quality opponent let’s remember now, this is the 11th ranked team in the country. It’s not going to be easy. And you know what? It’s more fun when it’s not easy, man. These guys love to compete, don’t you? They love to compete. They love it when it gets tight and gritty. Yeah, we like to blow people out, but you find out who you are as a man when it’s tough like that, and we won, and that’s the objective. We won.
Q. Jim, I know penalties have kind of been an issue all season. Specifically today, was that one of those things that were just kind of standing in your way, especially in the second half?
JIM MORA: Well, I felt like in the first half we hurt ourselves with a couple of penalties, and certainly in the second half. Yeah, they started to pile up on us. We got a little emotional. It got tense. Like I said, some of those penalties were by young guys. They’re going to learn from those things. They’re going to learn how to relax in those situations and just execute. Every opportunity that you have to go out and compete is an opportunity to learn and grow and get better from, and I think that as we are this year from last year, next year we’ll be a much improved team in terms of penalties because we’ll be more mature. We’ll understand our system better. We’ll be more relaxed in pressure situations.
Q. Granted, the No. 11 team, you guys have been resilient, but what still needs to be learned to close out games when you have that kind of lead?
JIM MORA: Well, we won the game, so that’s closing the game out, pal. It’s not easy. It’s not easy. When you’re playing the 11th ranked team in the country, if they don’t fight back, then they don’t deserve to be 11th, and they deserve to be the 11th. Anyone that has a question about us closing out a game, walk right out onto that field and look up at the scoreboard and tell me who won the damn game. Goodness sakes. We just won 10 games for the second year in a row, in case you don’t know that.
Q. What was it about your defense that was able to get to Jake Waters so many times?
JIM MORA: Guys like Owa and Deon and Kenny and Eddie and those guys being tenacious, and Eric, tenacious in their pass rush, excellent coverage on the back end. You know, any time that you can rush the passer and have success, it’s a team proposition. It’s guys executing great in coverage and it’s guys being relentless in their pass rush.
Q. Jim, what did you see in Deon Hollins this year and his growth?
JIM MORA: He was our most improved defensive player this year.
Q. Paul, on that onside kick, that was you out there; did you recover the ball? It came to you. Did you end up with it?
PAUL PERKINS: Yeah.
Q. Tell me about it. Did you fumble it and get it back or hold on to it the whole time?
PAUL PERKINS: Yeah, we just go through a routine every day on Friday, picking our blocks and picking our assignments.
Q. You kept the ball, you didn’t fumble it?
PAUL PERKINS: Yep.
Q. What was going through your mind? Are you normally out there on the all hands team?
PAUL PERKINS: Usually we don’t get in that situation, but yeah, I’m on the hands team.
Q. What was going through your mind when the ball came to you?
PAUL PERKINS: I need to secure it, get this game over with.
Q. Brett, how does it feel to have played in your last game, and what was going through your mind as you were kind of going down the sidelines shaking hands with fans and your family?
BRETT HUNDLEY: I think speaking on behalf of all the seniors, it’s just a good way to go out on top I think for all of us. We really wanted this game everybody wanted the game, and we came in ready to get the 10th win of the season.
Q. Myles, your role as kind of a DB seemed to expand as the season went along. What did it feel like to get that pick?
MYLES JACK: It felt great to finally get an interception. Yeah, it’s been a while since I had one. I just remember just getting the guy and turning around and I knew the ball was going to be there because he kind of beat me over the top, but I just had a good release on him when I was with him and the ball just came to me. I tried to score, but I didn’t.
Q. Brett, can you just talk a little bit about Paul and what his development has meant to you and the offense this year?
BRETT HUNDLEY: Huge. Huge. Paul has always been to me the best back in the country. He showed that today. And I think this offense, having Johnathan Franklin, and then everybody is wondering who was going to replace him, Paul stepped in and did an amazing job, and has done that consistently this year every time he plays.
Q. Eric, can you talk about your emotion, getting that defensive player of the game trophy and kind of standing up there for the final time?
ERIC KENDRICKS: It’s pretty cool to end my Bruin career on the podium like that. I mean, obviously a dream come true. I put the work in this week in practice with my teammates. We all did, and that’s why we won.
Q. Owa, it seemed like you guys were a lot more aggressive on defense, especially to start the game. Is this kind of the style that you guys maybe wanted to play all season?
OWAMAGBE ODIGHIZUWA: I think we did definitely play with an aggressive style this game, something that Coach Mora and Coach Ulbrich has been preaching to us all season, and I think it’s just our commitment at practice to executing our assignment, listening to what our coaches’ game plan is, and just today’s game was a testament to that. I think we’ve been really developing and meshing as a team all season, and I think what we did today is just a display of going forward what the defense is going to be like.
Q. Paul, describe your touchdown run and how that hole just opened up.
PAUL PERKINS: Yeah, the offensive line, like they’ve been doing all year, has been doing a great job. Couldn’t ask for a better group of guys up there. They keep improving every game, and man, anybody could have ran through that hole.
Q. Also, when they were making their comeback, there’s been so many late comebacks this year in other bowl games, Baylor, Michigan State came back, Houston came back on Pitt. Did any of that go through your mind at all?
PAUL PERKINS: Oh, no, I had confidence in our defense and our offense that we were going to get the job done, and obviously we did.
Q. I was going to ask Myles the same thing. Did you have any thoughts of losing that lead like some of the other teams in bowl games have done?
MYLES JACK: No, not at all. I had confidence in what we were doing and just what our offense was doing and what our defense was doing, and I just knew they just caught momentum for a second, and I knew we’d weather the storm, which we did, and gave the ball to Perk and he took it to the house. I knew eventually it would all even out.
Q. Coach, I was wondering if you could address your postgame exchange with Coach Snyder.
JIM MORA: With regards to what?
Q. As far as the handshake at the end.
JIM MORA: I’m not sure what you’re talking about, I’m sorry. Just a normal handshake, congratulate him and we go on our way.
Q. It looked like there were two hand shakes, one quick one
JIM MORA: Well, I ran into him again as I was working back to the podium. Good coach, man, he’s a great man, tremendous man. Honor to be able to compete against him.
Q. Myles, you’ve known Deon pretty good for a couple years now. What has he shown you this year that’s marked improvement?
MYLES JACK: I think just his level of determination, like Coach said. He’s our most improved player, and I think this year he really put it all together. He’s my roommate when we travel and everything, and just how hungry he is to help this team out and contribute. I think he was not frustrated last year, but he was just eager to get on the field, and he knew this year was his chance. I remember specifically playing the game, this game where he jumped offsides, and then the next play he made the sack. He apologized to us like 100 times. He was like, I swear I’m going to make it up. And the next play he made the sack. That shows you what type of guy he is. He’s eager to contribute, and he’s just improved.
Q. On the onside kick what did you see?
MYLES JACK: Coach Mora grabbed me, but I just wanted to protect my guys. It’s a dog pile, and it’s not a safe place to be, so I was just trying to protect my guys. Perk was on the bottom there, and Lord knows what’s going on underneath that pile, so I was trying to help him out.
Q. Eric or Myles, what was it like trying to contain guys like Sexton and Lockett?
ERIC KENDRICKS: I mean, he’s crafty. There’s a reason they won so many games and he was so successful this year. He definitely has a thing to him that you can’t really guard. That’s what makes him unique and that’s what makes him such a good competitor. But it was fun playing against him and we did our best to contain him, and I think we did a pretty good job getting some pass rush on him.
MYLES JACK: Me personally, I was guarding Sexton and I had to bring my “A” game the whole game. He was a great receiver. He was a great challenge. I just brought my best, and in regards to Lockett, you guys saw what he can do, punt return, kick return. He’s definitely a challenge, and he deserves all the credit he gets. He’s a talented player.
Q. Owa, what did you guys do defensively to get to their quarterback, especially in the first half, get all those sacks and hurries, quarterback hurries?
OWAMAGBE ODIGHIZUWA: Honestly, we just were very aware of their situation, and we exploited it. We did a good job of watching film, the way they kind of like we knew they were a team that liked to do different splits. They liked to kind of keep things keep defenses on their toes, and I think what we did a great job of is picking up on it, understanding passing situations, how their splits were, their protections, how everything broke down, and I think guys like Deon and other guys on the D line did a great job of just attacking it and putting pressure on the quarterback.
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Texas players. We’ll take questions.
Q. Case, you had that great drive that capped off with a touchdown. What happened to the passing game tonight?
CASE McCOY: We just done a couple things wrong. Dropped a couple third down conversations. They played a couple right coverages on the third downs. That’s basically what happened in the passing game. We were trying to run the ball, control the clock most of the downs, got some third‑down situations, had a couple drops, a couple missed cues. Played some bad balls.
Q. Case, I know coach said this wasn’t about him and his farewell. How tough is it not to finish the way you wanted to for him?
CASE McCOY: Oh, it’s tough. There’s no doubt about it. We thank y’all and our Texas fans for the way they sent him out. They treated him right tonight.
It’s tough. We would rather have gone out with a win for sure. We love the man. The man loves us. Inside that locker room we know we fought for him. That’s all that matters.
Q. Jackson, there was a lot of emotion out there. What was it like at the end of the game?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: Like Case said, it’s tough not to get a win for him. We love Coach Brown. I mean, Mrs. Brown is like a mom to us. She takes care of us when we’re on trips.
Coach Brown loves us. He is never shy to show that he loves us. He cares about us other than football. So it’s tough to see him go. Even though me and Case are moving on, I mean, we are Texas. I mean, this is the place we want to come back to and see Coach Brown. It’s always going to be tough not having him there.
Q. Coach, what is going through your mind right now?
COACH BROWN: Disappointed in the game. Guys played hard. We couldn’t move the ball as well as we needed to. The offensive guys tried. It just didn’t work. They did great on defense.
Kicking game was pretty good. We didn’t have problems with it. That’s something they’ve done really well. And defense played really well. Just disappointed as hard as the guys tried with all the distractions, me being one of those distractions, they’ve done everything right for two weeks. They worked really hard in practice. I thought they tried as hard as they could tonight. We played a really good football team. I thought that quarterback looked like one I saw play for us a while back.
Q. Coach, can you elaborate on the defense. You hold them to one touchdown.
COACH BROWN: Defense played great. Defense was disappointed in the one right before the half. That was a long one. Offensively we’re sitting there at 13‑7 with the ball in our territory for two straight series and couldn’t move it and couldn’t score. We actually could have been ahead at halftime. To not be able to take advantage of that, give the long drive before the half was disappointing. I was also proud of the way the kids fought the second half.
Q. Coach, how difficult have the last two weeks been on you? What’s going to be the most difficult part going forward not being the head coach at Texas?
COACH BROWN: It is what it is, and you do what you got to do. I’ve gone to work every day. I’ve done the same things I would have done regardless of the circumstances. I haven’t really thought much about tomorrow. Sally and I decided we would do everything, we asked our assistant coaches and we asked our players to do everything they could do to win this football game and we committed to them to do the same. So I’m proud of the coaches. They haven’t been out looking for jobs, not showing up for meetings. Nobody was late. The guys did everything they could do. Everybody in this program did everything in the last two weeks we would have done the last year or the year before. As far as the future, I haven’t gotten there yet.
Q. As well as Malcolm did in the first half, was it so much the game dictated you guys trying to throw more in the third quarter?
COACH BROWN: Yes, yes. We were trying to win, not get yards.
Q. As much as you were focused on this game and the outcome itself, did anything hit you when you were walking out of the tunnel with Sally at the end there?
COACH BROWN: Yeah. I wish we would have won. 158 times we won, feels better than the others.
Q. Has the reality of you not coaching sunk in yet?
COACH BROWN: Probably not. I’ll probably get up at 6:00, and be watching a video and be worried about somebody. I told them to stay out of trouble tonight, that I didn’t need a call.
Q. Jackson, the past three games for you have gone well. This being your last game at Texas, how do you take that to the possibility of the next team?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: I just use this as motivation. That’s what I do. I use it as a chip on my shoulder and just go back to work. I might have played a good game, but when the team loses, I mean, your goal is to win. I’m not going to feel happy about what I did. It’s a team effort. We needed to win the game.
Q. Mack, you told us in the past you’re not one to reflect. Will you allow yourself to reflect in these next few days about the last seasons?
COACH BROWN: I don’t know. I’ve never been here before. I know after I left North Carolina, I never looked back, never thought about any of those games. Since I’ve been here, I never really looked back. I want to be driven and look forward. I don’t know. That will be something that I really do not see myself doing. But I also need to look at where we go next, what we do as a family. That’s something that we haven’t taken much time to do. We’ll take some time off here and visit and talk and see where we go.
Q. Malcolm, on the game, you had 102 yards by the end of the second quarter. Do you look and thing what happened?
MALCOLM BROWN: Like Coach Brown said, we needed to try to score points. We needed to pass the ball more to the receivers. You can’t keep running and try to get yards. You got to put points on the board. Oregon offense was great. Their defense was great, as well. They were stopping us. We just couldn’t get going.
COACH BROWN: Obviously, they put the ball on the line of scrimmage to start the second half. Malcolm touched it two or three times the second half. They did a good job of that. We had to be more balanced. I’m proud of Malcolm. 132 yards, coming back home. Had a great year. Stayed healthy. Can’t wait to see what the future brings for him.
Q. Mack, even with the tough year, you talked about having a soft spot for the senior class. How do you see yourself remembering this group as time goes on?
COACH BROWN: I told them in the dressing room, this will be one of the best senior classes we ever had because they held a very tough situation together at 1‑2. They’ve never wavered. They’ve always been positive. They’ve always led the team. When we’ve asked them to do something, they’ve always done it 100%, and that’s including the last two weeks and tonight.
This will be a very successful senior class in their life when they get out of the here.
Q. What do all the tributes from the fans mean to you?
COACH BROWN: Our fans have been great for 16 years. It’s unbelievable. Sally and I can’t even answer all the emails, texts, Facebook messages, tweets for the last two weeks. It’s been wonderful. But it’s really been that way. You hear a lot of the negative stuff. I honestly have never had and Sally has never had anything negative said to us in person since we’ve been here. Fans have been wonderful. Fans were wonderful tonight. They’ve been wonderful on bad games. Sally and I have absolutely no regrets. We’ve had a wonderful 16 years. We’re glad we came here. We’ve met so many great friends and had so many moments with these players and so many ex‑players on that sidelines tonight and in that dressing room.
Those are the memories you have, what you might have meant in a young man’s life.
It’s been a wonderful 16 years. It’s been a great ride. Now we have to reassess and see where we’re going. We want this bunch to have success moving forward. That’s what you told the young ones in the dressing room is to get better, let’s get back in the top 10, back in the BCS mix the next year. It will be the first time we ever had a playoff as such. Texas should be in that. There’s a lot of great players coming back. New energy, everybody will be all excited. Y’all got tired of my stories. You got tired of my jokes. Honestly, I got tired of some of yours (laughter). It’s good to have a new story to write about.
Q. Coach, Aliotti also in his last game today. Did you get a chance to talk to him?
COACH BROWN: Yeah, I’ve known Nick for probably 25, 30 years. He challenged me in golf. He said he was a 20. I heard he was a 25. He’s probably a 16. That’s the way those defensive guys act (laughter). He had a great career, has done a wonderful job, and he will be missed.
Q. Coach, you were focused on this game tonight. Over the two weeks since you made your decision, have you had any regrets about making that decision?
COACH BROWN: I have not. I think it’s best for Texas. It’s best for me, it’s best for the players. We need to win more than eight games. Last year was nine. I really thought we had a chance to win all the games this year. It didn’t work. It’s my job to make that work. I told them tonight, the only regret I had is we didn’t win enough games this year. We didn’t win as many games as we had good players. I feel like a lot of great players are coming back. New energy, new staff, new ideas will really, really help these kids move forward. Sometimes you get to a point, as I said, you got here and the fan base needed to be pulled together because it was very divided in 1997. We pulled them together. We had a great run. DBs got out of the box. Now there’s some for you, some against you. That’s not fair to these guys. They need to have positive energy all the time. That’s what I want for them. I’m excited to get back to that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH BROWN: Thank you, all. Appreciate you guys. Thank you very much.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Oregon. Questions, please.
Q. Coach, do you want to talk about the game real quick.
COACH HELFRICH: Sure (laughter). Just a huge team win. A total team win. Started off by pitch six here, setting the tempo for our defense playing a great game. Made some schematic adjustments coming into it to combat their bigger bodies with one of our slightly smaller bodies than them. That’s a great team that we beat. Unbelievably talented man for man. Led by a guy that’s an icon for the game of football. Mack Brown, can’t say enough good things about his contributions to college football and obviously to Texas and the University of Texas.
Total team win. Very happy to send Nick out on the right note. I think his guys were playing for themselves, certainly playing for him, of being a much maligned group these last weeks, coming up huge. Finishing it, bookending it with pick sixes. I’m not sure how Derrick Williams scored. We need to do a physiological study on that kid because he’s welded together, packed, there was some sawdust in there, spackled him together and somehow he scored.
A huge win and something our young guys need to build from and use as a boomerang into our next phase academically and strength training, etcetera, on into spring ball and sending out these seniors in a real winning fashion is something that is very pleasing.
Q. Avery, what did you do differently after they went for the 84‑yard touchdown drive as far as adjustments?
AVERY PATTERSON: Not much. I mean, we kind of stuck to our game plan, just brought a little pressure off the edge still. Our D‑line did an incredible job today. They’re kind of the reason we won I feel like.
Q. Avery, what did you see on that interception? It was tipped right to you. You were in the right spot at the right time?
AVERY PATTERSON: I was just following his eyes. I told Ifo, I got it. We kind of sandwiched him together and I was able to get lucky and get a pick.
Q. (Question regarding Coach Aliotti.)
AVERY PATTERSON: That’s the first person I thought about when I caught the ball. I wanted to score for him. He’s the most special person to me that’s ever coached me. I just wanted to do it for him. Like I said, we both come from the same high school. It felt real good to do that for him.
Q. Avery, defense scoring more points than Texas’s offense did. For Nick, was that on your guys’ mind? Was that an inspired performance because it was Nick’s last game?
AVERY PATTERSON: It definitely was. Even in our clap session today, he told us he wanted some touchdowns on the defensive side. He didn’t specify how many touchdowns he wanted. We were able to get two today.
Q. Did he say anything to you guys special beforehand about coaching you guys?
AVERY PATTERSON: I mean, he was himself. He didn’t want this to be about him. All us players, all us defensive players, we knew it was for him. We wanted to do it for him. We wanted to send him out the right way.
Q. Avery, that’s your third career touchdown. Think you missed your calling? Should have been a receiver maybe.
AVERY PATTERSON: I kind of joke with the coaches a lot. I want to play on the opposite side of the ball, but sometimes my hands aren’t up to par (laughter).
Q. Josh, you talked about wanting to get a little measure of revenge against a program that didn’t recruit you.
JOSH HUFF: Man, I just came out, tried to do everything I can for my team to get a W. We was able to do that. I mean, I wouldn’t call it revenge. But I just came out and played my game against a great Texas defense. We was able to come out with the victory.
Q. Mark, can you talk about your seniors, what the senior class has meant to you, having them win this ballgame.
COACH HELFRICH: We could be here for a long time (smiling). No, this group of guys is incredible. I’ve been coaching 19 seasons. This group of guys has never existed before. And I’ve coached with some great guys and for some great guys. These two guys, unbelievable, bedrock type of guys. Not only the guys that are marquee guys, Taylor Hart, Daryle Hawkins, and Dustin Haines, those guys get you. Their contribution to Oregon football will endure forever. Not only the fact that this is the most successful group cohorts in Oregon history, but a guy like Dustin Haines is so telling of this class, the guy never played a meaningful snap other than as a holder, never played a meaningful down, and I think he was the best leader in our program. That says a lot about these guys, their willingness to lead and be led by a guy like that. Certainly as a rookie in this, I couldn’t have been with by a greater guy. I let them down by not having a hyphen‑zero at the end of our record. But these guys are awesome.
Q. Josh, talk about Marcus’ play.
JOSH HUFF: He was incredible all night. Marcus stepped up big for us, especially when we had some drives, getting penalties. He was able to use his legs and stay in the pocket and find receivers downfield. Again, he came up big each and every time we needed him. That’s why he was the MVP of the game.
Q. Coach, Marcus had over 130 yards. Were you surprised?
COACH HELFRICH: That’s what we talked about a lot coming into this game, when you look at how Texas has played a mobile quarterback, whether it’s the Oklahoma State guy, I apologize for not knowing his name, Bryce Petty, other guys in his conference. There were some things there for the quarterbacks to make some hay, how they fit their coverage route‑wise. A lot of it was one, two, open space, get out and do your deal. He’s closer. He’s still not 100%, which is scary. But the guy is special. You can see these guys hunt up blocks. When he was kind of closer to being capital M, Marcus, our guys felt that, things were better. Certainly we would have liked to have punched in a few more touchdowns instead of field goals. Some will be happy and some will be mad that we kicked some field goals.
Q. Josh, staying on Marcus, we saw how good the offense was when he was able to run like that. If he was able to run like this all season, do you think you would have lost?
JOSH HUFF: Who knows. When he’s healthy, he’s great to the offense. He just makes the offense go. Just got to wait to make sure to find out.
Q. Josh, you said school records wouldn’t matter if you didn’t win the game. Now that you won the game, how much do the records mean to you?
JOSH HUFF: Still doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s a pleasure to be in the record books. But records come and go, but the victories stay forever. The memories that I made with my teammates today and this season, you know, it’s been a great thing to put in the back of my mind and take that with me to my deathbed.
Q. Josh, when Tyler got hurt, was on the sidelines, you had a talk with him. What did you say to him?
JOSH HUFF: Tyler is like a best friend of me. Ever since he’s come in, I’ve taken him under my wings. He’s like a brother to me. At that moment, I’ve never seen him cry the way he did. I knew it was something serious. I just told him that I’m always going to be here for you, we’re going to get the victory for you, I’m going to play my hardest for you. We were able to do that.
Q. Mark, I’m sure Cedric and Jackson Jeffcoat kept you up all night a lot of nights this week. Talk about how your offensive line protected them and kept them at bay against Marcus?
COACH HELFRICH: I slept really well except for our three‑year‑old daughter because of how we prepared (laughter). Our guys, we had that little lag point of finishing finals, some practices on the weekends that more or less kind of just keep your timing, stay fresh, a little bit of conditioning, some tackling work you try to maintain during that period.
But when we went to game plan and we started preparing for Texas, these last two weeks were our best two weeks of practice all year. That helps you sleep at night. That is an incredibly talented defense and they do a great job. They did a real good job scheming us tonight. We did a good job for the most part recognizing things and attacking their front. That led to some of the big runs by Marcus and big runs by the tailback.
Q. Josh, Marcus said this week the last time he came to Texas he played emotionally. Can you describe your emotions tonight during the game and also now.
JOSH HUFF: Last time I came to Texas, we was playing LSU, I believe. Kind of was overly excited. I feel like I drained myself during pregame. I took my time. I took my regular pregame rituals and applied them to this game. I didn’t get too excited. I just got excited at the time it was to get excited for. My feelings now is it’s great. I feel great. Leaving off on a high note. Just being around my teammates, celebrating in the locker room, it’s something great and special. It’s going to last for a lifetime.
Q. Mark, now that your first year is in the books, how do you describe it? Do you feel like it was a success?
COACH HELFRICH: That’s for you to decide. I don’t think in those terms. I think about how well we can prepare these guys and what’s next. We’re going to celebrate tonight with a Diet Pepsi, Gatorade, Propel Zero, enjoy it, then we’ll get back to recruiting, get back to our winter phase of conditioning, hammer out this next phase. There’s not too much time in this business to relax. Spending more time with Coach Brown this week, it’s funny hearing how he talks, after a win, how your emotions go, then how devastating a loss is. You don’t get to celebrate. I’ll take his advice and think about it for 24, 48 hours, then get back to work, celebrate New Year’s.
Q. Coach talked about being disappointed not finishing unbeaten this season, but how good does it feel to close the season with a win like this?
AVERY PATTERSON: We talked about it a little bit in our meetings. That’s one thing we wanted to do, is finish off on the right note. That’s what we did out there. I’m just glad we got the victory.
JOSH HUFF: To back door what he said, yeah, it wasn’t the season that we hoped for. But the month of November was a tough stretch for us, but we was able to come together as a team and continue to fight for one another. You know, that was probably one of the best ones I’ve had, even though we didn’t finish off the way we wanted to during November. But just being around a great group of guys, continuing to fight for them, just fight for the locker room. We was able to finish off on a right note with a victory today.
Q. Avery, what will you remember most about Nick and this game tonight?
AVERY PATTERSON: I mean, I’ll remember this day for the rest of my life. I’m kind of trying to hold back my emotions right now because that man means so much to me. He’s done so much for this team and this program.
But I’m just happy we were able to send him out right and get a W for him because he’s done so much for us.
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Marcus Mariota. Questions, please.
Q. Looks like you’re limping. Are you okay?
MARCUS MARIOTA: I’m okay. Just out of shape. Got some cramps second half.
Q. How did you feel tonight running and be able to move like that, have so many open lanes?
MARCUS MARIOTA: It’s so good. Credit to the guys up front and the guys outside. They made key blocks for me to get some yards. Coach Frost was joking all week he thought I would get 200 yards. I was just like, Okay. But, yeah, that’s mostly on me. I should have been running after practice. It’s been a while since I’ve been running like that. It’s been a couple months. That’s totally on me. I have six months to get back into shape.
Q. Can you talk about Josh Huff today overall, how much you’re going to miss him next year.
MARCUS MARIOTA: He’s been like a brother to me since I’ve gotten here. He means a lot to me. I wish him the best in his future endeavors. I felt like he had a really good game in his final game. He really stepped up as a leader today and was really just pushing us to finish drives, just to go out there and do it for each other. Like I said, he’s like a brother to me, I love him, and I wish him the best.
Q. You and the team walked over from the hotel. What was the emotion like?
MARCUS MARIOTA: That was a pretty cool experience, to be honest with you, just getting the feel. We talked about it like a gladiator feel, where you’re walking in there, you against the world. You had Texas fans. Majority of Texas fans. It was a little tough. But just to walk through there, it kind of sets you up mentally for this game. I thought it was a pretty cool experience.
Q. You told us you were healthier. You looked healthier in the Civil War. You said you’ve been feeling better since then. Did you feel it was possible in this game, given your health, that you could return to somewhat of mid‑season form as an offense?
MARCUS MARIOTA: Yeah, I feel that just having that dimension where I’m able to kind of run really just helps our offense. At the same time, you know, things happened in November. It’s the way the ball bounces sometimes. As an offense, I thought we finished the season off well. We could have finished a lot of drives throughout the game. I mean, really I’m proud of those guys. We’ve come a long way. Really looking forward to next year.
Q. You mentioned when we talked to you in the lead up, when you finally got out there and had to run for the first time, what was that like for you mentally? Did the instincts take over?
MARCUS MARIOTA: My instincts just kind of took over. You said it best. I had no doubt in my mind that I felt comfortable with my knee. I just wanted to go out there and play and instinctively play. I was able to do that today.
Q. What were you seeing on those read options?
MARCUS MARIOTA: Texas was just taking away the runningback. They were just giving me the opportunity to pull it. Like I said earlier, the guys outside, Josh and Bralon, Keanon, those guys did a great job of blocking outside, allowing me to get as many yards as I could.
Q. Could you talk about the disparity between how you played in the Stanford game as to how you played tonight performance‑wise.
MARCUS MARIOTA: I feel I played better obviously this game. I felt comfortable. I just had all the confidence in our preparation. I’m not saying for the Stanford game I wasn’t prepared. But at the same time there were some things that were bothering me. You know, it’s just the way it happens sometimes. You just got to play through injuries. Kind of learned a lot about myself out there.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARCUS MARIOTA: Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t say I was 100%, but I’m as close as I could. Stanford, it was a really tough week to get prepared for. But, yeah, I felt a lot better this game.
Q. At the end of the game you seemed to have a little conversation with Mack Brown. What did he say to you?
MARCUS MARIOTA: I mean, the man is a very classy person. He just came up to me and said, Good game. He wished me the best. It meant a lot for someone of his stature to come talk to me about that. I wish him the best. I told him, you know, enjoy it. It really meant a lot.
Q. Was there one theme there tonight about inside the red zone?
MARCUS MARIOTA: I think we just kind of hurt ourselves. Penalties were kind of the big thing in the red zone. We had a holding call, a couple false starts. It kind of puts you behind the eight ball in the sense of down and distance. That’s always tough. But three points is always good, especially in these types of games where Texas’ defense is playing really hard and really well. I think, no matter what, we’re going to come back and look at the film. Obviously we want to finish drives better, but we were still able to get successful points.
Q. Looking forward, your first 20 starts you scored about 50 points a game. The last five games you scored 100, 125. What does this team need to do to get back to the form it was in your first 20 starts?
MARCUS MARIOTA: Just finish drives. We move the ball well down there, and we tend to kick field goals. We can’t leave points up on the board like that. That comes from me. That comes from making some throws, some key throws. I was a little behind on Bralon and he was able to break it up. At the same time we have an off‑season to prepare for that kind of stuff, just continue to push finishing. We’ll get it done.
Q. What was said when you hugged Tyler? When Everett came in, did anything change?
MARCUS MARIOTA: I told Tyler that I loved him and I hoped everything was okay. It was unfortunate what happened. But I just told him to keep his head up, we’d finish this game off for him. We have all the confidence in Everett. He went out there and played well. Huge for him. He’s a senior. This was his last game. That’s a credit to all those guys. They all were prepared. Coach always talks about the next man up. Really kind of exemplified that tonight.
Q. I know you haven’t had time to reflect, but what do you think you’ll remember about this season?
MARCUS MARIOTA: You know, I was kind of talking a little bit to Coach Frost. I think the biggest thing was through adversity we were still able to kind of pull through and get 11 wins. That’s hard to do in today’s day and age. 11 wins says a lot about where we’ve come as a program. It says a lot when they look around and they think it’s a disappointing season.
To us, 11 wins, I mean, that doesn’t happen very often. Just to come back out here and to finish the bowl game strong really sets us up for the future, builds a solid foundation for next year. Like I say, we’re looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
THE MODERATOR: We’d like to welcome everyone today’s head coaches press conference, our final official press conference of the 2013 Valero Alamo Bowl. This year Texas is the home team and Oregon is the visitor. I would like to introduce Coach Mack Brown, if you could do opening statements and then we’ll introduce Coach Helfrich.
COACH MACK BROWN: Thank you. It’s been a great week. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Mark and his staff. His defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti is one of the great ones in our business, and for him to be stepping away is significant because he’s such a great coach, and been that way for so many years. Mark’s done a tremendous job of taking over for a program that was winning like they are now, and he’s continued to keep it in the same light and will continue to do so. The players have gotten along great this week. The city of San Antonio continues to be awesome for hospitality. The Alamo Bowl and the city are just a great combination for fun for kids, but it’s always fun when you can appreciate and enjoy. The coaches on the other side and the players last night had a lot of fun together. So that’s fun and builds up to a great game. What we did on Christmas Day when we got here is we told our players that this was not about farewells; this was not about where I am in life, it’s not about where the coaches are in life. What this is is a reward for them for winning the games they won this year in fighting back and coming from behind and playing a great opponent on Monday night. So we have actually asked them not to mention the coaching situation because that would be very, very unfair to the Alamo Bowl, to Mark or to them. This is about them. It’s about the seniors’ last game. It’s about the younger players moving forward. So we have not talked about that all week. And if you watch Oregon on video, that takes your mindset away. You don’t have to worry about what happens on Tuesday. So we’re excited about the game. It’s been a great week, and Mark.
MARK HELFRICH: Thank you. Can I just say ditto to a lot of that? But it has been a great week. We’ve had ‑‑ the reception here from the top down has been outstanding. The people associated with the Alamo Bowl have been outstanding. Pat and Derek and everybody else we’ve come in contact with has been beyond our highest expectation. City of San Antonio has been a lot of fun, had a great time last time, as Coach Brown said, with our players and families out on the River Walk for a great event. And like Coach said, a tremendous challenge of watching Texas on tape woke us up immediately of starting to prepare for the buildup to this game, and our guys had a great couple of weeks of kind of Texas prep as well as getting a jump with our younger players for advancing their jump on spring ball a little bit. And I will talk about the coaching change a little bit because Coach Brown, just again, I call him an icon of our game, and as I’ve been around him more and more this week, it’s made it more and more difficult. I like to get a little anger going before the game; and when you’re around him, it’s just more impressive, more classy, you know, just better than the high expectations that I had coming into this deal. I’ve had a ton of conversations with him about things that I’ll take with me forever and will hopefully make me a better coach, and just can’t say enough about how impressive it is to be around him and his wife Sally. And again, like he said, the players, every player that I have come in contact with at Texas have been top‑notch human beings, and I think that’s, again, a testament to him and his staff. As for the game, we’re excited to go. I think we’ve had a great week down here of focused football and then fun when it’s time to have fun, and we’re getting closer and closer to kickoff, so it feels more like a football game than a bowl game.
Q. Mack, there was a story out this week that you stepping aside was not your choice. I wonder if you can address that.
MACK BROWN: I can address that after watching Oregon’s video, we have been totally focused on Oregon and nothing else.
Q. Mack, the players came in yesterday. We talked to Greg Robinson yesterday. They all seem to be full speed ahead. How have you managed the information so that your players are doing nothing but being focused on the game?
MACK BROWN: This has been one of the more fun groups that I’ve ever coached, being around the assistant coaches and the players. From our poor start and a lot of speculation and negative things being said early, these guys have focused on winning. And they had that great run for six weeks, and they had a chance to beat Baylor in the last half for the conference championship and came up short, but at no time have they not given us their best and been focused each week. And the assistant coaches the same way. After Ole Miss these guys committed to us that they would continue to do everything they could do to help Texas, because that’s really important to us that Texas play well and do well. And I asked the assistant coaches even this week, let’s focus on this game; let’s don’t talk about other jobs. If you need me, I will help you, but I’d rather do it after Monday night. I’d rather do it Tuesday. So let’s do nothing but give Texas our best this last week and let’s give these young people our best. And it would have been impossible for us to ask them to focus and give us respect and discipline and effort for the last week unless we gave them the same. So we think that’s all worked out for both. Very proud of everybody in the Longhorn organization.
Q. Mack, real quick about Malcolm Brown. You know, he talked yesterday about he felt that there was an opportunity around the OU game to sort of step in, make his mark. I know Joe had some issues there, and then Jonathan had some fumblitis issues. Was that game as a staff where y’all felt, hey, Malcolm, here’s your chance and he really took off with it?
MACK BROWN: Yeah. We felt since he’s been here it’s ready to happen. Ole Miss two years ago he was unbelievable, just had an amazing game, and in the third play of the game against Oklahoma State he hurts his ankle and really doesn’t come back for the rest of the year.
He played a little bit the latter part of the year, but he was never the same. So this is the first year he’s been healthy all year, and I just think he’ll have an opportunity to leave obviously, but I think if he comes back, and I would think he would come back, that he would be one of the better running backs in the country next year.
Q. Coach Helfrich, we have an Alamo Bowl hash tag question. What was your reaction and player reaction to the end zones?
MARK HELFRICH: I didn’t actually ‑‑ I walked around the Texas end zone I saw it; it looked fantastic. I didn’t get a chance to get down to the Oregon end zone. So hopefully we’ll find that Monday night. But we just went in, took the team picture and hustled here. But anything that Nike has designed has been fairly impressive, and I’m confident it’ll be fantastic on television for the crowd in attendance.
Q. Mack, have you come close to reaching terms on your buy‑out agreement with Texas?
MACK BROWN: We are excited about Oregon and Monday night. So I can’t wait. Great week. I said at the first of the week we would focus on these kids and this game, and that’s absolutely what I’m going to do. Every ounce of my energy will be doing the best I can do to coach this game on Monday night. And by the way, we’ve even said we’re not coaching it like it’s the last one. We’re going to coach it to do everything that we would do if it was 16 years ago to win the game. So we’re going to do our best, and that’s our job and our responsibility. It would be disrespectful to Mark and his great team and staff. It would be disrespectful to the Alamo Bowl for me to sit up here and talk about me today because this isn’t about me.
Q. Do you worry about being overly emotional in your last game with the Longhorns?
MACK BROWN: I’m overly emotional for 16 ‑‑ 30 years I’ve been a head coach. So that’ll probably be the same.
Q. Coach Helfrich, we talked to Josh yesterday. Talk a little bit about the edge of your offense, the attitudes they have. We talked to Marcus yesterday. We talked to Josh. Kind of how they manage themselves and the vigor with which they play offense.
MARK HELFRICH: Well, that’s something we take a lot of pride in is not only the tempo we play at, but we want to play physically as well. We don’t want to be a run‑and‑shoot‑esque type of edge to our deal. And one of those things that we always point out is our ability to block on the perimeter. And that’s something that we take great pride in, our receivers blocking in this case some tremendously talented secondary people that Texas has. That’ll be something that will be huge in the game, as it is every week. And we do need to play with an edge. We don’t need to play with chaos. The last time we were in Texas Josh was a little over emotional at the beginning of the game and so we’ve talked about that a little bit of playing within ‑‑ right on the fine line of that edge and still executing.
Q. Mark, I know in talking to your players this week, they said the last four or five weeks have really been good for them to get their edge back. Do you get the feeling that since November they’ve kind of got their mojo back as far as approaching what they were doing early in the season rather than late in the season?
MARK HELFRICH: We sure hope so, I guess. I think when we lost our first game and the world came to an end, you know, we realized when we woke up the next day that, hey, maybe the world didn’t come to an end, but there were still some stragglers and there was absolutely some disappointment, kind of punched‑in‑the‑gut type of feeling for a few guys that just needed to grow up and realize that there was a lot of ball left to be played, and as it played out, we could have played ourselves into a better situation, quote, unquote, but we didn’t earn that.
And I think a part of that is how I managed that, that I can do better. Part of that is realizing that the guys in the helmets are the guys that make it happen and earn it. Like I said the other day, they don’t give us points because the O shows up and we step on the field and we put 27 points on the board. Can we do that, by the way? 28 maybe?
MACK BROWN: I’ve been saying 65.
MARK HELFRICH: But just that mentality of grinding out everything, earning everything is something that has been our calling card for a long time, and especially our younger guys just need to realize that, and I think the disappointment or whatever those emotions were we handled as well as we possibly could in some regards. In some facets of our team we didn’t handle that so well. But these last couple weeks I think our guys have prepared well, one, out of respect for our opponent, and another, of playing Oregon football.
MACK BROWN: The expectation for both of these programs is to be playing in the last game at the end of the year, and neither one of us are doing that, but a lot of people would love to be in Oregon’s situation as a Top 10 team that lost to a great team and then had a tough one on the road, and that’s it, and have a lot of people back for next year. So those guys have been on a great run. Their run, and I told their staff this the other night, their run as of late here has been like the run we had from ’04 to ’09 and it’s been fun to watch them.
Q. Hey, Mark, Nick said that we wanted to retire after the Fiesta Bowl last year and you talked him into coming back and helping the transition. Is that accurate, and if so, what does it mean for you to have him this year?
MARK HELFRICH: As I said the other day, Nick’s contributions have been ‑‑ you can’t overstate them enough, and I think that’s the best way to put it of his contributions on and off the field have been immeasurable, as Coach Brown just said, the advancement, so to speak, of our program. There was never a talking into or talking out ‑‑ I don’t think that’s ‑‑ that’s exactly how I put it to him. That’s a lifetime decision that you’re making. He’s at a point in his life where he’s happy and healthy. His wife and his family are happy and healthy; go play golf. Make some tee times. I guarantee you he and Coach Brown already have two for a foursome at their country club of choice for years to come. That timing was totally his call.
MACK BROWN: Nick told me he was a 20 handicap.
MARK HELFRICH: 24.
MACK BROWN: Oh, there’s no question. I didn’t buy any of it.
MARK HELFRICH: Smart man.
Q. Mark, you said that your team couldn’t quite match up from a talent standpoint to Texas. Where do they rank among the other teams you’ve played this season?
MARK HELFRICH: Really high. The context of that, somebody had asked how do you prepare for a Malcolm Brown, how do you prepare for the offensive line. Like most people, we don’t have those guys laying around. We don’t have a Malcolm Brown on our team let alone the third guy or the fourth guy that can simulate that guy in a scout team situation, but Texas is obviously legendary for its ability to recruit, and obviously the talent in the state in a talent‑rich state and a talent‑laden roster of those in‑state guys, and just seeing them at the banquet last night, that was not fun. But you know, we’ve got some things that we hope we’ll be able to do and our guys will certainly show up and play hard.
MACK BROWN: The problem for us is we tried to catch some of theirs leaving the banquet. We couldn’t catch them either.
Q. Mack, can you talk about what you’ve seen from Tyrone Swoopes in these bowl preparations?
MACK BROWN: Yeah. Tyrone has done very well, so we’re very proud of him, and I think he’s got a great future ahead.
Q. Mark, last year at the Fiesta Bowl you were offensive coordinator; your responsibilities certainly were different. Can you talk about how you’ve managed as a head coach this year the bowl responsibilities as a head coach?
MARK HELFRICH: Just trying to make sure everybody’s on time and working hard. I think for the most part of having a plan coming into it of kind of how we’ve managed in the past in tweaking some of those things or getting some different input, whether it’s from Jim Radcliffe, first string coach or just peaking on Monday night. That’s the whole point of this. And how we managed Christmas and all those things. We didn’t do anything terribly different from a logistical standpoint from the last couple years, but just getting, I think, more or less just the psychological nature of things, getting everybody’s minds rested, happy and healthy and ready for these last couple of weeks of pure Texas preparation.
Q. Mack, hindsight obviously being 20/20, but if you look back at this season, is there anything you could have done differently or you would have done differently as you look back on things or did it play out just the way it was kind of meant to play out?
MACK BROWN: No. I would have won all the games. That would have been the better thought for me if we could have done that, by a lot. Played a lot of guys, had happy moms and dads and happy media and happy fans, that would have been fun. We’ve done that, and it’s a lot more fun.
Q. Mark, what went into your decision to have Nick announce his retirement on Friday?
MARK HELFRICH: Well, you know, he’d been talking about this for a while, and again, his thing that he kept saying is he wanted to manage the message or be able to control the message which in the modern Twitter verse that’s difficult if you don’t make the announcement. And so he was bringing this up, and the only way to do that would have been to do it before the game because he wanted to tell the team and he wanted to tell the staff before anybody else, and to do that you have to do that before Monday night. There’s no other way. And I think the timing of it just of how he wanted to do it with the press conference the next day was something that worked out. But that was definitely a group decision.
Q. Mack, if the four‑team playoff was in effect now, do you think Oregon would be good enough to be one of those four teams?
MARK HELFRICH: Let me give you his answer. Yes.
Q. Ranked No. 1?
MARK HELFRICH: No. I’d go four.
MACK BROWN: Four with the best chance to win. (Laughs). No, I said Mark announced Nick, so our farewell party wouldn’t be good. He’s got their defense pumped now for that stage.
No, I do think that’s one of the great things about the playoff moving forward. I’m hoping that at some point if you get a great team like Oregon that has an injury or two and it costs you a game at mid season, I’d rather see it be eight teams and see who the best teams are at the end. I think right now a loss in college football is the most difficult loss in any sporting event across the country. And I’m not saying that about Oregon. There’s some other teams that we’d all like to see a playoff. What a great playoff if we had about four more weeks of the best teams playing the best teams instead of some of the bowls we’re watching, very honestly, and still let those bowls be out there, but let’s don’t take a great team and have them in a lesser bowl. Let’s let them have a chance to play for it at the end and I think that’s where we’re headed. I wish it was more than four, because next year we’re going to be worried about who’s five and who’s six and somebody’s going to get left out that’s a really good football team, because now I think we’re going to see a national champion with two losses at some point in the next four or five years, and that’s just where we are. I think we’re headed more to an NFL model than ever before in my coaching career, and there are some things that are positive about that, but there are some things that are negative. But it would give a team like Oregon a chance right now to be back in the mix instead of walking off the field against Stanford, everybody talking about you’ve lost your chance. I mean that’s not fair. It shouldn’t be that way in my estimation.
Q. Mark, what’s your time table for hiring a defensive coordinator? And as someone who was promoted from within, is that a priority for you to promote from within and keep continuity at that position?
MARK HELFRICH: Go last first. The priority is what’s best for Oregon football, and the second part of that, no time line. Our priority, A, No. 1, AAA, No. 1, is to beat Texas, and our focus is 100 percent on that. And we’ll manage that behind the scenes, and we have some great coaches on our staff and there are some great coaches we’ve either been around or been in contact with in the past that will be in the mix in that regard. And I’ve read a lot of things that I’ve done over the last three or four days that I haven’t done. So it’s been exciting to see those developments.
Q. Welcome to Texas.
MARK HELFRICH: Yeah, exactly. But in due course. There’s no hurry at all.
MACK BROWN: Mark asked me about it last night if I was interested, and I told him with all due respect, we should wait till Tuesday.
MARK HELFRICH: Tuesday morning. (Laughs). Had to wait for the negotiations.
Q. Mack, since we’re not going to be able to see you on Tuesday ‑‑
MACK BROWN: We’re not hanging out?
Q. He’s going to be in Bora Bora. A lot of people want to know do you want to keep coaching. What have you envisioned for yourself come Tuesday and beyond?
MACK BROWN: I have envisioned doing the best job I can do for this football team between now and Monday night, and it would be unfair for me to have even thought about anything else. And then after that I’ll obviously have some time to think, but it would be unfair and disrespectful to everybody here for us to keep talking about me.
Q. (No microphone).
MACK BROWN: No. I don’t drink coffee. (Laughs).
Q. Mark, in the Stanford game why did you decide to let Marcus keep playing after he partially tore his MCL and how much healthier is he now?
MARK HELFRICH: You know, Marcus was our best option. There was no point at which the medical team, you know, in any way was, hey, this guy’s in danger, a detrimental kind of situation to reaggravate something would come up, and he was our best option. Marcus is a great player, and if we make two plays at the beginning of that game, it’s a totally different story. Make a couple special teams plays on defense, like anybody, when you play against a great team, the margins are very slim. What was the second part?
Q. How much healthier is he now in his ability to run, which makes the offense a lot more dynamic?
MARK HELFRICH: One percent.
MACK BROWN: He’s looked really good in practice.
MARK HELFRICH: How do you know? (Laughs).
MACK BROWN: We’ve been out there.
MARK HELFRICH: We are in Texas.
Q. I just wanted to get your impressions, Coach Helfrich, of the Texas defensive line, Jackson Jeffcoat and your overall impressions of the defense.
MARK HELFRICH: Outstanding. You can certainly see the impact of the coaching change was immediate. The scheme was different, their pursuit of the ball was different, and that’s one of those things that, you know, is a tough deal ‑‑ tough call to make in season, but the impact was huge. And Jackson Jeffcoat is one of the many, many things that make them really good on defense, two great corners that can cover anybody. And you see the best of the Big 12 getting locked up every week, and they do a great job of mixing a ton of coverages. They’re very similar to Stanford in that way of a bunch of different coverages, a bunch of ways that they can attack formationally from a defensive standpoint, and then up front they do a great job of mixing and matching by game plan. They’ll play one team completely different, then another team completely different, then another. So it kind of gives you a bunch of straws to pull at as far as what they’re going to do against us. So it’ll be a game of adjustments at some point and then a little bit of a game of just do what you do.
Q. Mack, as far as your offensive line with Kennedy Estelle out, and I assume Josh Cochran out and maybe Desmond Harrison, you got any new players coming in there?
MACK BROWN: Yes. I’m sorry. We’ve recruited four guys this week off the waiver wire. Desmond Harrison did not make the trip because he’s had a personal family issue at home, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers as that continues to progress. Hopefully it’ll improve. Kennedy Estelle is obviously at home. Josh Cochran will not play tackle. He’s played some tight end, but he’s lost too much weight after his shoulder injury to do that so he comes in in short yardage and goal line, some at tight end, so what you have to do is move Trey Hopkins to right tackle and Sedrick Flowers to left guard and move forward.
And also Hassan is out with an arm injury. And he will not play in the game, will not dress or play.
Q. Mack, throughout the season how much have injuries affected how you play and change what you have to do?
MACK BROWN: The biggest thing is it’s part of the game. You know, you go back and look, probably eight of our Top 10 players will not dress Monday night. So it’s been a difficult thing.
One of the things a new coach is going to have to look at is why we’ve had so many injuries over the last three years, and I think nationally we’ve all gotta look at it. It seems like there are more injuries out there this year than maybe in the past, or maybe we’re just hearing about them more. But I think the biggest impact is at quarterback when the quarterback that you’re playing isn’t ‑‑ he doesn’t run the same plays as the one that you were playing, so obviously you have to make a major change, because Case is not a guy that’s going to run the option and quarterback draws and do the things that David did. So that’s been a pretty big burden for transition for our offensive staff to change as much as we’ve had to. But I think they’ve done a good job and Case has done a good job stepping up. It also affects you on special teams. That’s one of the things. When you look at a team to see how well they’re coached, Oregon has probably had as many punt returns and kickoff returns for touchdowns as anybody in the country. One of the things I always look to first is the speed of your team always shows up on special teams. The depth of your team shows up on special teams, but also your coaching, because a lot of teams can run an offense; a lot of teams can run a defense, but these guys win a lot of games with kicking game. And that’s very impressive.
Q. Mark, would you ‑‑ we talked to some of the guys yesterday about embracing the challenge of this being a semi road game, considering it’s here in Texas. Would you talk about that a little bit, about embracing being on the road? And I think the numbers are 80 percent are going to be Texas families in the Alamo Dome tomorrow night.
MARK HELFRICH: Yeah, that’s probably a conservative number, too. But yeah, we’ve approached it exactly like a road game and a hostile road game. And just being in the Alamo Dome, it’s the first time I’ve been in there. It’s very similar to, what’s it called now, University of Phoenix stadium in terms of it’s a big basketball arena. That’ll be a great atmosphere. Along the lines in our conference of a Washington‑Oregon kind of hostile environment on the road, and it’ll be loud and hopefully we can do our part to keep that 20 percent doing the noise making.
Q. Mack, what’s the best memory from your time at Texas?
MACK BROWN: Oh, boy. There’s too many. I mean 16 years is a long time, and it’s been a wonderful ride. I’ve had a great time, and University of Texas has been wonderful to me, our family. We couldn’t have had the memories and made the friends that we’ve had anywhere else as well as we’ve had at the University of Texas. Some people have asked me that question, then when I start, I say, oh, no, that one, too; no, this one; gosh, that was fun. Oh, my gosh, I forgot about that. There’s just way too many. I’ll probably be able to reflect that somewhere down the road sometime, but not right now.
THE MODERATOR: Any final questions? Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Sophomore defensive lineman Arik Armstead:
(On defensive coordinator Nick Allioti…)
“He’s a funny dude. He tells a lot of jokes. Probably the thing I’m going to remember the most is just him going on his rants and not saying anything specifically because you can’t understand him. He’s always pushed me to be a better player by continuing to be on me and telling me I can do better.”
Sophomore wide receiver Bralon Addison:
(On the Texas defense…)
“They have guys that can run really well. Sometimes, they have mental lapses, but they run really well and get to the ball pretty well. I think the big play has hurt them a lot of times this season, but they run really well and get to the ball. They cause havoc if they are on their p’s and q’s.”
(On the value of the time off between games for the offense…)
“I think it’s been a huge difference. You get all this time off for bowl practices. You get all this time to recover and heal. Especially for the young guys like myself and some of the freshmen, we get this time, like spring ball, where you get these practices during December without a game at the end of the week. You’re just able to get better over this last month. It helps a lot of guys. I think a lot of the people that redshirted were better this month than they were this whole season. It’s just about reps and we got a lot of reps this past month.”
(On the new uniforms…)
“I like them. Any way, shape, or form that we continue to improve is always good. Nike does a great job with continuing to make something better. We [players] sit around and talk all the time about how they can continue to make it better when it is already great, but they always find a way.”
Senior linebacker Boseko Lokombo:
(On defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti’s retirement…)
“I thought it was a good time for him. I feel like he’s done a lot for the program. It’s about that time. I wasn’t really surprised. I think he kind of hinted it last year. It was just good timing for him.”
(On his emotions going into his last collegiate game…)
“I’m pretty excited. I’m just excited to play another one and finish strong. Hopefully, we can do what we can to win this game.”
(On the value of the time off between games…)
“A lot of people are healthier now, so it will be good to play at our full strength.”
Sophomore offensive lineman Tyler Johnstone:
(On the defensive ends of Texas…)
“Those guys are high motor and super athletic. [Texas senior defensive end Jackson] Jeffcoat is kind of an anomaly because he is 245 pounds, but he can bull rush a guy better than a 330 pound guy can. With him, it’s just his leverage. He knows how to use his weight. He knows how to use his muscle. He’s really good at keeping his hands off of you, so that is the biggest challenge: locking on to him and keeping him going. That is the most difficult thing.”
(On the group of Oregon players who have played in the AlamoDome in the past…)
“It’s kind of funny, because the few of us that have been here, we’re going around town like we know everything. I have only been here one time for five days and they keep you busy. So for the guys that have been here, it’s pretty special.”
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to today’s press conference with the University of Texas defense. I’ll ask Coach Robinson to introduce his players and make an opening statement.
COACH ROBINSON: Fine group of young men here starting with senior Jackson Jeffcoat, Q Dog or Quandre Diggs, we have ADP or Adrian Phillips, then the Long Reed, Cedric Reed, then Carrington Byndom. Show them that smile again, please, CB. There it is.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about the bowl preparation so far, coach.
COACH ROBINSON: Prior to getting down here and then getting here, it’s been a lot of good work. I’ve been very impressed with the way our guys have gone about things. I think their intent and attention to detail has been outstanding really. This is a team, they’ve got a lot of different weapons. It’s going to take all these guys and a whole lot of other players that are going to be out there to really get done what we want to get done.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Coach, to get done what you want to get done, what do you have to do against Oregon?
COACH ROBINSON: Contrary to what I think some people think, you see their spread offense, you see their tempo, they’re throwing the ball all over the lot, and they will throw the ball all over the lot. They are very determined to run the football. Anytime you have a team that can be two‑dimensional, it isn’t what you like on defense. We’ve got to find ways to control their running game and do everything we can to disrupt the passing game. It’s easier said than done, but it’s really what you go about trying to get done.
Q. Jackson, they have a ton of speed. You’re going to have to tackle in space. How are you addressing staying fundamentally sound and making sure you can tackle?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: The most important thing to tackle guys in space is have everybody, all 11 guys, aligned to the ball. That’s the most important thing. Everybody has to slide to the ball after a catch is made or anything. Runningback has the ball, everybody swarm him.
COACH ROBINSON: Go ahead, Q. Talk to them about how you’re going to get around that ball.
QUANDRE DIGGS: Like Jackson said, you just got to run to the ball. Everybody do their assignments. You be in the right spot at the right time. Everybody running to the ball, create turnovers, get those guys off the field. We’ll just play our game, come out running to the ball like we’ve been practicing the last two weeks and all throughout the season. It will all work out fine.
Q. Greg, Baylor and Oregon seem like carbon copies of one another offensively.
COACH ROBINSON: I think in the sense that they both will do everything they can to be effective, running the football as well as throwing the football.
I think there’s some things about their styles that are a little different, but really it comes down to they want to spread the field, get the ball in the hands of people that are good athletes. That’s really the challenge.
Q. (Question regarding the quarterback.)
COACH ROBINSON: This guy has good wheels. He can move around. He can run the ball up the field. But he can maneuver in the pocket, as well. He’s pretty good at trying to stay alive so he can chuck that ball downfield.
Q. Jackson and Ced, can you talk about what you’ve seen from Marcus on film? How different is he from any of the running quarterbacks you’ve faced this year?
CEDRIC REED: Marcus is a good player. He was a Heisman candidate. He’s a little different in that he can run the ball and throw the ball the same.
On the run, he can throw the ball, get it right there on point. He’s strong enough to throw it back shoulder, he can put it 50 yards down the field. That’s one of the things that makes him deadly. While he’s running, he can still complete a pass. His pocket presence is pretty good, too.
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: He’s a talented guy. We’re going to have to be in his face all night. That’s the thing, we have to put pressure on him, get to him, make him uncomfortable in the pocket. If you let him sit back there, he’s very comfortable in the pocket moving around. He’s got good feet in there and will find a way to escape. We have to make sure we stay in our rush lanes.
Q. Jackson, talk about how you’re feeling.
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: I thank my teammates. Without these DBs and Ced, I wouldn’t have been able to make the plays I did. They really helped me out. We helped each other out.
I’m excited for this game. I can’t wait to play Oregon. Big‑time No. 10 team. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Q. Jackson, has Alex Okafor challenged you and Cedric to match his numbers?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: He didn’t directly say it to us. But I think he was talking to coach a little bit about it. We like a challenge. For our boy Oak, we’re going to try to go out there and get those numbers or get more.
Q. Jackson, have you talked to your father at all about defending the Ducks, specifically Marcus, Oregon’s offense? Has he shared anything that he gained from coaching against them at Colorado?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: Yeah, I have talked to him about it. I was just in Colorado watching film. He saw me, we watched it together. He says it’s a very talented team, guys that will make you miss. Like coaches have preached to us all week and all year, run to the ball, swarm tackle, everybody get on the ball. He said these guys, they’re fast. They have athletic offensive linemen, they can move. You just got to play your game, do your responsibilities, do what you have to do. He said as a team, you just have to keep going with them. If we play our game, it should be a good one.
Q. Greg, what is your impression when you watch a year’s worth of film De’Anthony Thomas?Has that changed over a period of time?
COACH ROBINSON: You mean over a period of time has it changed?
Q. This season.
COACH ROBINSON: I think it ebbs and flows in the style. I think they kind of seem to kind of go and move along as an offense. You’ll find this guy is hot, that guy is hot, this runner is doing this, this runner is doing that. They have people that have real strengths in certain areas and I think they really try to utilize these people. You’ll see at different times of the year where they’ll have a spurt and really be doing well because of the way they’re attacking defense.
We’re not certain how they’re going to try to attack us. It will probably become apparent pretty soon in the game. Then you have to do everything you can to improvise and adjust.
Q. Carrington, how tough do you think the Oregon wide receivers are going to be Monday?
CARRINGTON BYNDOM: We know they have two guys that have the majority of their catches, Josh Huff and Bralon Addison. They’re good receivers. We faced good receivers in the Big 12. It will just be another challenge for us in the back end. Looking forward to what they throw at us.
Q. They run the ball, they throw the ball. How do you keep your heads where they’re supposed to be and not worry about supporting the run and staying on your assignment?
ADRIAN PHILLIPS: Basically it just comes down to our assignments. Through bowl practice, we’ve been through it. We’ve understood we can’t really worry about what’s happening on the other side of the field. You have to stay tuned into our game plan because they’re liable to do anything. When we see them doing tricks or things we haven’t seen before, we just have to stay tuned and do all right.
CARRINGTON BYNDOM: For us, it’s big to just staying with your responsibility, not just for us, but for the whole defense in general. That’s our job. That’s a thing that’s been lacking for us at times this year, people trying to do too much. I think we just need to focus on things we need to do during that play and it will happen from there.
Q. Ced, can you talk about Greg and what he’s meant to the defense this season and why it worked when he stepped in.
CEDRIC REED: Coach Greg, he’s meant a lot to us. He came in, gave us the opportunity to just go out and play freely. Well, not freely, assigned football, but freely in our minds. Just to go out there and have a chance to go after the quarterback is one reason I really like him.
He gives us a lot of blitzes. He gives us a lot of reasons to make the quarterback uncomfortable. He came in with a tough situation. It was mid‑season almost. He just came in and he put his arms around us and told us what we’re going to do. We done that and we trusted him and his assignments.
Q. Greg, can you talk about the challenge of coming in in the middle of the year. Now you’ve had a few weeks in a row without a game, how has that helped you?
COACH ROBINSON: It was very difficult. First of all, I got to tell you the defensive staff, they’ve carried me through the season because I had to adapt to them as opposed to really everybody having to adapt to me. So I start with them. Those coaches have done an incredible job of working with me, getting me up to speed as best I can. Then working with these guys. These are really, really good football players right here. I can go down the line. I mean, Jackson is Jackson. Quandre now is a nickel outside linebacker. He’s got so many different things he’s got to do. He puts it all together. AP is the glue. He’s the guy in the back end. He’s supporting the run, playing the pass. Ced is doing his thing. Then there’s the man out there on the island in Carrington. That’s been really a good thing. Lost a couple guys. We’ve had some younger guys step up and do a pretty good job for us. So that’s really what it’s been about for me, is kind of getting to know these guys, really leaning on that staff to help me along.
Q. Greg, we’ve seen some defensive teams take injuries to slow down Oregon’s tempo. Do you have any thoughts on that practice in general?
COACH ROBINSON: No, that’s not our game. Really isn’t. I think we’re in shape. I think we deal with tempo every day in practice. Our offense will go through a period of tempo that we’ve been doing really every Tuesday and Wednesday that we go against the offense. I’m not telling you it’s not demanding. But, no, we don’t need to fake injuries to get through the game.
Q. Quandre and Jackson, it’s easy to forget now just how things were after the BYU game. Can you talk about coach coming in here. Seemed like it was a huge calming influence, settled you down, when things could have been disastrous.
QUANDRE DIGGS: Yeah, no doubt. Coach Robinson came in in a tough situation. I can remember the first meeting. He came in, told us what he wanted to do. He had guys he wanted to be leaders and step up, bring the unit together. These guys, myself, Jordan, guys like that, we had to take it upon ourselves to lead the defense as being the older guys that played the most football on the team.
We could have laid down. One thing I said about this team all year is we’re very resilient, come out with a lot of fight. This is one of the closest teams I ever played on. It’s definitely one of the closest teams I played on. I enjoy going out and battling with these guys every day. I wouldn’t take anything back. I’d do it all over again. It just taught us life lessons that we’ll take with us to the future.
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: Yeah, it was definitely a tough time we had. We’re very close. We came together and let everybody know, Hey, we can’t let this break us. We can still do things this year. We got to keep playing. We’re very resilient. You can’t get too high on the highs and too low on the lows. You have to stay in the middle and stay in the middle.
Q. Coach, which player on Oregon’s offense keeps you up most at night?
COACH ROBINSON: I sleep well (laughter). No, they’ve got good players. You know what, I know them by numbers. I like 6. This guy can be all over the darn field. 9 is a good runningback as well. 8, the quarterback, he’s got his game. I call him 11 or 1. Carrington has their names down. Even these two young tight ends that play for them. They got a good group of people. They’ve got two or three offensive linemen, you look at it, you figure down the road they probably have a future, too. They’re the No. 2 ranked offense in the country and there’s a reason for it. It’s the kind of thing where it’s not so much about them as it is about us. These guys are saying it. A couple things you got to do. You got to do your job, then give great effort. If you give the great effort, do your job to the best of your ability, I think good things are going to happen for us, too.
Q. Jackson and Quandre, you have gone from allowing six yards per carry to 3.5 yards per carry. What are specifics you feel you’ve changed to increase that?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: Really just focusing on the mistakes that we made. Even when we had a good game, we focused on the mistakes to make sure we didn’t repeat them. Building our strengths, building up our weaknesses, making them strengths, that’s the biggest thing. Everybody making sure they get off blocks and make plays. That’s most important. You have to get out there and make plays, tackles for loss, turnovers.
QUANDRE DIGGS: I feel like the other part of that is we’re tackling better. At the beginning of the year, we were having a tough time tackling. We kind of went back to some of the things we were doing the year before. We fixed some of those things. If you tackle and have a lot of guys pursuing the football, it takes away some of those missed tackles. One‑on‑one tackle, you know your guy is going to be running to the ball. I think that helped a lot, too.
Q. Adrian, what is your mindset going into the game, last game, injuries?
ADRIAN PHILLIPS: It came fast, but the main thing in my mind now is getting a win. I’ll handle the rest after the game. Right now I’m just totally set on getting this win for our team because we need it. We need to finish strong. I know our team’s mindset is the same.
Q. Greg, with all the stuff that’s played out here, all the potential distraction for these players, what’s been the message from you and the assistant coaches and what have you seen from the players as they’ve gone through this?
COACH ROBINSON: When you’re talking about the distractions, what are you specifically hitting on?
Q. Mack stepping down the last game.
COACH ROBINSON: I think Mack Brown would tell you the same thing. This team, they haven’t skipped a beat. Mack won’t allow that to be the attention. Our guys are focused on what they’re doing, and that’s to try to win a football game. It’s been very evident to me that they are very focused and very in tune to what they want to get accomplished. I’ve been very, very impressed. You know what, this group of guys right up here now, they really are guys that take the bull by the horns. They’re fine leaders, they really are. It’s been a pleasure to watch, it really has, especially this bowl preparation. I’ve been very, very pleased in watching the way we’ve worked.
Q. Greg, you talked about the many weapons that Oregon has. Maybe you can touch on your philosophy as far as containing those weapons, playing zone and man‑to‑man, zone to contain the weapons, man you’re taking a chance.
COACH ROBINSON: First of all, I think our style has been multiple, a multiple defensive attack. We’re going to be sound in the running game. That’s very intent in the way we work to control the running game. Our players do a good job of really being in tune to where we need to be.
Then you peck away at different things that you want to make sure you’re taking care of. It always comes down to this: if you can start slowing down the run, then your focus has to be how are you going to disrupt that quarterback. Sometimes it’s with coverage. Sometimes it’s with pressure. There’s different things that you’ve got to do. In a game like this, you’re going to have to have different styles of play to try to get them out of balance a little bit.
Q. Jackson and Quandre, Oregon is one of those teams that everybody talks about. How different are they from anybody you’ve ever seen?
QUANDRE DIGGS: I feel like their offense is similar to a Big 12 offense. We go up against this type of attack each and every week. They do some things that other guys in the Big 12 do.
They also present some things that we haven’t seen this year. It will be a great challenge. Like you guys heard from me all year, I’m always just ready to go play football. It doesn’t matter who is on the field.
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: I’m just ready to play football, too. They have a quick offensive line. They run the stretch, everything like that. They’re a quick offensive line. They pull fast. That’s a little different. We have a lot bigger guys, I feel like, on the teams we have played before. They might not be as big, but they move well and are strong. It’s going to be a little different to us.
All in all, it’s football. I mean, you have to put the ball down and line up. That’s what we’re going to do. Like I said again, we’re very excited to play Oregon.
Q. Quandre and Jackson, how much of a factor is it for the players that this is Mack’s last game?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: It’s big to us. Coach Brown is very important to us. Like Coach Robinson said, Coach Brown doesn’t allow that to be a distraction. No matter what, we’re going to play our butts off regardless of what was going on. If this wasn’t happening, if it wasn’t Coach Brown’s last game, we would play just as hard. We’re not going to go out there and play a mediocre game. We have to play our best. It’s the last game for the seniors. The seniors have to go out on the right note.
QUANDRE DIGGS: The way I feel, just the type of man Coach Brown is, he deserves to go out on top. I feel like we need to go out and win this game for him ‑ not only for him, but for ourselves, for the rest of the state. This is a chance for us to go out and put a show against the No. 10 team in the nation, big opponent, a team that was up for a national championship five or six weeks ago. When you get an opportunity like this, you have to capitalize on it. It will be a big game for us. I’m just ready to go out and play.
Q. As explosive as they’ve been offensively the last couple years, the one team defensively that’s done a nice job against them has been Stanford two years in a row. From watching how Stanford played them, what did you take away from that that was important for how well they did?
CEDRIC REED: The Stanford D‑line, they got after the quarterback. They put Mariota in situations where he was very uncomfortable. He had to escape the pocket, make something up on his own. I think that’s the main objective to winning this game, is getting out there. I think the offense runs through him and he’s a big part of it.
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: Everybody has to fly around and get to the ball.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
THE MODERATOR: Coach, we’ll have you make an opening statement about the bowl preparations.
COACH FROST: It’s been great being down here. We expected warmer weather, but we’re used to that. We’re making due with that. We got in quite a bit of bowl preparation before we left Eugene. Kind of laid they groundwork for what we wanted to do during this game when we were back home. So this week is really just kind of gearing back up after our Christmas break, kind of ironing out all the wrinkles, trying to get ready for the ballgame.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Marcus, can you talk about where your mindset is, how healthy you are? Not finishing top six in the Heisman was maybe a disappointment. Maybe there’s extra fire.
MARCUS MARIOTA: Right now I feel good. Since the last month, I feel the most healthy I’ve been. About the Heisman, that’s out of my control. I don’t really care about that. But I feel good. This team is in a good spot. We’re looking forward to playing.
Q. Josh, how much will it mean to you if you do set some records on Monday? Is that very important to you?
JOSH HUFF: Not as important as a win. Records come and go. But the wins stay forever. As long as we get the win, I could care less about the records.
Q. Scott, how do you describe the first year as a play‑caller? Has it gone as smoothly as you thought, progressed well?
COACH FROST: Like I’ve said all along, it’s been a lot easier for me to be the play‑caller and offensive coordinator with Mark ahead of me. He’s got the experience, a lot of expertise, made the transition for me easier. The other thing that has made it easy is having guys like these executing the plays when I call them. You can call a lot of things. When you have Marcus and Josh and Keanon and Hroniss and Byron running the plays, a lot of things work. There’s been a couple games where we executed really well. There’s been a couple games where we didn’t. We played well in almost every game. There’s some things we need to improve and keep working on. It’s no different for coaches. There’s quite a few games where our game plan was really good, and some others where it wasn’t as good. We’ll keep growing from here, moving forward. The first step is this game coming up.
Q. Keanon, you went and saw the burn unit. Can you tell us about that experience.
KEANON LOWE: There were nine of us. Marcus was there. Hroniss had a chance to go. It was an amazing experience. I didn’t know too much about it before we got there. It was truly inspiring. I’ve never been in a place with so much positive flow and positive energy coming out of it. You see guys that don’t have arms, don’t have legs, you’re just inspired. They’re happy, grinding just like us. They went through injuries. Their injuries are life and death. We pull hamstrings, stuff like that. Puts things in perspective. It was a great experience, really touched me. I’m sure it really touched everyone who went.
Q. Scott, what specifically have you learned from Nick Aliotti, the way he runs his unit, that you’ve taken and used in your role as a coordinator?
COACH FROST: Nick has been a great coach at Oregon for a long time. I think any young coach is foolish if he doesn’t try to learn as much as he can from guys that have a lot of experience. There’s a lot of smart guys in this business, but once you think you know everything, then you’re done learning and improving. Nick is one of several guys on our staff that work hard every single day and have worked hard for long time at the University of Oregon to make us great. I’ve learned a lot from all of them. We’re sorry to see Nick go. He’s been a big part of our family. But we’re happy for him in retirement.
Q. Byron and Keanon, obviously you have had a month off since November, some of the struggles you had during that month. What has the time away done for you and also for your confidence after the way the season finished up?
KEANON LOWE: As far as the time off, it was a chance for us to get healthy, relax for a couple days right after the Oregon State game, just get healthy and get back on track.
We had a great bowl preparation in Eugene. We’ve had great practices in San Antonio. I think guys are just excited, ready to go. You have a month off. A month off of hitting people, you’re just ready to get back out there and try to compete.
Q. What does it do for your confidence?
KEANON LOWE: As far as confidence, it was a chance to look back and work on the fundamentals first and foremost. In Eugene, we really stressed that, ball security, just fundamentals. As far as confidence, I think we have a confident group going into this game and we’re excited to play.
BYRON MARSHALL: Just definitely had a chance to recover. Different look watching it like a coach than as a player. You see different things. Definitely a different outlook from that, a different opportunity to learn. Like Keanon said, we’ve been grinding ever since Eugene and here. We’re anxious to get back out there. My confidence hasn’t dropped in myself or my teammates. I’m just really excited to see what myself and this team can do come Monday.
Q. Marcus, what makes Josh such an effective receiver? Scott, can you describe Josh this season?
MARCUS MARIOTA: First and foremost, Josh is an unbelievable athlete and he gets open. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he does special things with it.
We try our best to get him the ball as much as we can. That guy is going to get touchdowns and first downs for us. He’s an exciting player and has done a whole lot for this offense.
COACH FROST: Really proud of Josh. To add to what Marcus said, he’s an unusual combination of speed and power. It’s allowed us to do a lot of things with him in the running and passing game and use him as a blocker. You don’t find guys that you can do those things very often. I’m proud of Josh this year. I think you would have seen this out of him the last two seasons. He had some unfortunate bad luck with injuries that nagged and hampered him both his sophomore and junior year. If he hadn’t had those things happen, I think he would have had similar numbers both those years, too. It’s great to see him have this kind of year in his senior year on his way out.
Q. Marcus, you had requested an NFL Draft evaluation going forward. A lot of other players around the country said they received theirs back. What do they say they think you can get better on next year?
MARCUS MARIOTA: For me, it was obviously ball security, accuracy, different things like that. Becoming more consistent as a passer. All things I can work on in the off‑season.
I’m really looking forward to this upcoming year, to get better, not only as a football player, but as a person. I’ll earn my agree, grow with a lot of these guys and just enjoy it.
Q. Coach and Marcus, long season, you’ve been dinged up here the last month and a half. Can you talk about going into this game at full strength now.
COACH FROST: You get beat up during the course of the season. We’re no different than anybody else. I talked to the Texas coaches last night. They talked about losing quite a few really good players to injury this year. Over the course of the football season you’re going to get hurt. The bowl preparation gives you a chance for some of the guys with minor injuries to get back healthy again. Certainly some of these guys are still a little beat up. But I think they’re excited and healthy enough to fight it out with Texas and really looking forward to the game.
MARCUS MARIOTA: Yeah, just to add on what Coach Frost was saying, you know, this extra month to have to recover, to get healthy. Obviously everyone is going to have their nicks here and there. But just get back on the fundamentals, focus on recover and just getting better. I think from that standpoint we’ve improved and we’re really looking forward to this game.
Q. Josh and Marcus, what concerns you most about Texas’ defense?
JOSH HUFF: They’re just athletic. They run to the ball. They pose a great threat when they become physical at the line of scrimmage. The secondary, they have good corners in the secondary. But we’re going to look to do our best to take advantage of those things we see weaknesses in.
MARCUS MARIOTA: Yeah, Texas is a pretty aggressive defense. They’re going to come out. Obviously they have a lot to play for. We just got to continue to be on our Ps and Qs, understand our assignments. If everybody is on the same page, if we’re all reading the same music, we should be okay.
Q. Hroniss, can you talk about the evolution of the offensive line a little bit?
HRONISS GRASU: I think everybody’s done a great job. I think all four of the guys deserve as much credit as I’ve been getting. They make my job a lot easier with the calls and all the communication. The whole offensive line, they do a great job of that. As far as the guards, they’ve been stepping up. Hamani, Mana, and Cameron, also Everett Benyard, they’ve been doing a great job of stepping up, providing extra size inside.
Q. Coach and Marcus, Texas has struggled at times this year with their quarterback that’s been able to run. Is that something you’ve seen and something you’ve seen?
COACH FROST: Marcus is healthy and ready to go. Texas has played great in some games. I think since Coach Robinson has been there, you haven’t seen as much of the issues they had with the running quarterback as before. I spoke to him a little bit last night. He’s a great guy. We don’t expect there to be a lot of glaring holes in what they do. Especially when you have extra time to prep for a bowl game, there’s not much that’s going to surprise you. We have to try to line up with them and beat them. That’s what we’ll do. We’re expecting Marcus to tuck it under and run it a little bit.
MARCUS MARIOTA: You know, they’ve developed a great game plan for us. We really just have to go out there and execute us. Whatever plays they call, I have all the confidence in the world. With all these guys right next to me, we can do our best and execute what we have to.
Q. Scott, you ran the option at Nebraska. Compare and contrast this option attack to the one that you ran at Nebraska.
COACH FROST: There’s similarities and there’s differences. The best offenses to me are complete systems. That’s the biggest similarity. When you have a complete system, no matter what a defense is doing, there’s usually an answer built into the system. There’s actually quite a few plays that are similar from what I ran to this. I would have loved to play in this offense. It’s fast‑paced, exciting. This one is definitely a lot more spread.We throw a little bit more. Marcus is about a hundred times better passer than I was. So we’re going to use that skill as much as we can.
Q. Scott, did you study the Baylor and Oklahoma State films?
COACH FROST: There’s quite a few teams in the country that are similar in what they do. I think everybody has their own unique fingerprint. Baylor and Oklahoma State are pretty similar to what we do. Ole Miss does quite a few things that we do. What’s tough as a coach is when you have extra time like we do getting ready for a bowl game, I think we’ve seen every one of those games three or four times. Over the course of a regular season week, you kind of have to cram it all in, see each game once. We have all the time in the world to watch those games till we have them memorized. We definitely saw some things in those games that we liked, some other games, too. But we’re going to be our own team and do what we do for the most part.
Q. Scott, speaking of Nebraska, do you have any special memories of playing over in the Alamodome back when you were a quarterback?
COACH FROST: We played a really good game there. Second Big 12 championship game against Texas A&M. We were angry and ready to play in that one because the year before, we got upset by Texas in the first Big 12 championship game. I haven’t gotten a chance to see Texas since then, so I’m looking forward to it. I remember it was a very loud stadium at the beginning of the game. It was about 80% Texas A&M fans, which I expect will be about the same in a couple days in the Alamodome. Our guys have to be prepared for that noise and that distraction. We’re probably going to be playing basically an away‑game down here.
Luckily, in that game, we took the fans out of it pretty quick. If I had a suggestion for these guys, I’d say do the same thing.
Q. Marcus, do you have a favorite signal play card on the sideline to see?
MARCUS MARIOTA: There’s some pretty unique ones. I think my favorite is probably the LeBron James one. We have some pretty unique plays in there, trickery ones. It’s a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
An interview with:
COACH NICK ALIOTTI
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone. We’re going to do the Oregon defense. It’s my pleasure to introduce defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. Nick, if you could introduce your players.
COACH ALIOTTI: To my left is Taylor Hart, defensive end. Next to him is Tony Washington, outside linebacker. In the middle we have Brian Jackson, safety. I have Derrick Malone, Will inside backer. On the end there, that’s just Ifo, great corner.
One thing I will say, I’ve been blessed. These are not just good football players. A lot of times you’re around good football players. These five guys right here, these are great young men. They represent everything that you want in a college athlete. It’s been a pleasure to coach them.
Instead of getting too long‑winded, which I tend to do, ask them questions.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Nick, the announcement an hour ago that you’re retiring. First off, what led to that decision? How long was that decision in the making? When did you decide? What were the main factors?
COACH ALIOTTI: We’re going to try to keep this brief. I will try to answer this as succinctly as I can, then we’re going to talk about the Alamo Bowl because that’s why we’re here. I’ll give you the shortest version I can.
I was going to retire last season when we won the Fiesta Bowl. When the game was over, I went out to the middle of the field, grabbed some turf, put it in a plastic bag, it’s still in my briefcase.
When Chip left, I decided to stay along with Mark to finish up the recruiting because it seemed like a tough time. We were on 13 kids, wanted to finish the deal. I’m not trying to be a martyr or pat myself on the back. I believe in and love Oregon. I wanted to do a good job by Mark. I wanted to do a good job by these kids without having something to say.
This is something that was going to happen last year. I told Mark I would go one more year, and therefore I did. After 38 seasons, I coached the very first year after I stopped playing, and so I’ve had a good ride.
It’s not about me. Let’s move on to the Alamo Bowl. I’ll answer those at another time.
I’m at a good place. Especially when I have these five guys to my left, I’m at a better place.
Q. Taylor and Tony, can you talk about what you’ve seen from the Texas running game. Who would you compare it to in terms of teams you faced this year?
TAYLOR HART: Yeah, they obviously have a power running game. With that they’re very physical up front, the offensive linemen. They have multiple runningbacks back there that can do the job.
I would kind of compare them to Stanford in some ways. But for us, we’ve faced it all. We just have to figure out the ways to stop this run and go against Texas.
TONY WASHINGTON: Same thing he said (laughter).
Q. Ifo, since we’re in the spirit of making announcements, have you made a decision on your NFL future? Also, can you give us a memory of Coach Al, what makes him so effective?
IFO EKPRE‑OLOMU: At this time I still haven’t made a decision of what I’m going to do. I feel that I’m going to wait probably until I have a time to sit down with my family and actually think things through.
I’m really worried about the Alamo Bowl right now and that’s really it. I haven’t been worried about that too much.
For Coach Al, I’d have to say definitely his everyday work ethic. He comes with that relentless passion every day to get the best out of each player. Even when players might not take it for what it’s worth, he’s made everybody better at this program and he’s done it day in and day out. I thank him for that.
Q. Brian and Derrick, does Coach Al’s retirement add extra as far as sending him out as a winner?
BRIAN JACKSON: Yeah. About this, I feel if we wanted to make this about coaches, we wouldn’t be doing any game planning.
He just told us not that long ago. I feel like that’s his decision and I support him in every single way.
Right now he wants us to focus on this football game. That’s what we’ve been doing this whole time. We came here almost like it was a work visit. People who have conferences away from where they normally work at, they come there for a reason, they come to get some work done. That’s why we’re here.
I respect him. I’m glad he made this decision. Like he said, we need to get out there and play some football.
DERRICK MALONE: We’re here to win this game, no matter what happens. We all have the mindset, we need to get things done. No matter what happens, who is staying, from coaches to players, we know we have one common goal.
Q. Nick, because you knew this year it was probably going to be your last year, did you enjoy it more? What was it like coming back for the extra year?
COACH ALIOTTI: I might have been a little softer than I usually am, but they might not agree with that (laughter).
You know, I don’t think I changed in any way, shape or form. Coached the same, as hard as I always have. Same passion, same work ethic.
But I did enjoy this group of kids. This is a good group of young men. I know we’re going to put our best foot forward to try to beat a very good Texas football team. That’s what I hope we do on Monday night.
Q. What are you going to do now going forward?
COACH ALIOTTI: I haven’t really thought that far ahead, to be honest with you. Right now, just like my men said, the focus today should be ‑‑ I know this announcement came, and I want to squelch that. This is not about Nick Aliotti. This is the timing that Mark and myself decided on. This is not, Win one for the Gipper. I want to make that perfectly clear.
This is about trying to win the Alamo Bowl. We’ve worked toward that before we got here. We’re here to try to beat a very good, athletic Texas team. That’s our goal. That’s why we’re here.
Nothing has changed. Nothing will change. We’ll do everything as we always do till the final gun. But thanks for asking.
Q. Taylor, you’re an Oregon guy. You grew up watching Nick Aliotti’s defenses. What is it like to play for him? What is your favorite memory from being with Nick for the past few years?
TAYLOR HART: I mean, everything. Coach Al, he’s like a second father to me. It’s been an amazing experience. He always comes with the attitude that he’s just got the energy, we’re always going to find a way to win, we’re always going to struggle. He hasn’t changed at all.
That’s what we’ve done this week against Texas, to be able to prepare for them. I mean, I can’t say anything bad at all about Coach Aliotti.
Q. Derrick, you had the shoulder. Has this month of bowl practice been good for you? Do you feel ready to go?
DERRICK MALONE: Yeah, definitely. I feel real good, ready to go. Extra work in all areas with many things that I do, working out, studying film. I’m really excited about letting my preparation meet the field.
Q. Tony, what do you see as the biggest challenge with the Texas offense for you guys?
TONY WASHINGTON: I just think with so many personnel groups, they can give us a bunch of different looks. This past couple weeks, guys have been focusing on all possibilities, all different styles of plays, runs, passes, all different things. Just be prepared for everything.
They’re great at running it, great at throwing it. We have to be great in all phases.
Q. Brian, so much of these bowl games are about which teams want to be there. Oregon was a team that could have gone up to the BCS. Here you are playing an unranked Texas team. What is the mindset of Oregon right now? What’s the hunger factor for this game?
BRIAN JACKSON: I think that’s an easy question to answer. We’re here to play a good Texas team. This is more of a home game for them, if anything. Man, we’re coming out here into hostile territory. We’re here to do something we haven’t done before: play a great Texas team, play some great football.
These two styles of football really mix up well. We’re bringing the West Coast, ground and pound, throw some deep balls. I like the way this matchup is. I feel like it’s hard for anyone not to be excited to play in this kind of game of this caliber.
I was just cruising around the streets with my friend yesterday, just headed over to the mall somewhere. They’re advertising the game is sold out, four tickets left. I mean, people want to see this game. For us to not want to play in a game like this, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.
Q. Taylor and Tony, you guys play in a program where the offense gets a lot of publicity. Their style puts a lot of pressure on your defense because they don’t keep the ball very much. Could you describe how difficult it is to play defense at Oregon sometimes facing all those snaps from opposing teams.
TAYLOR HART: You know, sometimes it makes it difficult on us. But when they put up 60 points, it’s pretty easy.
For us to be able to stay out there, we rotate a lot of guys. That’s something that helps us out as a defense. For us to be able to play these high‑velocity snaps, play as hard as we can, the way we practice, prepare for these teams. For us, it’s just all about preparation. To have the offense go as fast as it does, it doesn’t bother us. It’s actually a cool deal the way they can do it.
TONY WASHINGTON: Off of what he’s saying, I think the rotation is always great. Me personally, I love how exciting our offense is now, how often we get in the end zone. Gets me an opportunity to go out there and play. I love playing this game. Any chance I get, I’ll take it. It’s great to be part of this team.
Q. Coach, how would you describe your guys’ run defense the past month? Do you feel the need to make any adjustments or tweaks since the last game?
COACH ALIOTTI: Obviously the stats bear that we haven’t played very well against the run the last couple games. Going back the last month ‑ I’ll try to make this answer short and sweet ‑ Stanford, I don’t care we played that bad against the run, contrary to what everybody might think. They ran the ball 66 times. They didn’t have to throw it.
Tough to answer it this way, but we didn’t play very well on offense. The fact we didn’t play very well on offense, they didn’t have to throw the ball. You run the ball 66 times, you get 200‑something yards, that’s the nature of the beast.
Utah we played well. It was over.
Arizona, for whatever reason, you can point the finger right here, we weren’t ready, okay? I didn’t have them ready. We didn’t play great. It’s probably one of our worst games that we’ve played that I can remember.
But it wasn’t because of these guys. Arizona had a good plan. They’re a good football team, too. They’re on scholarship last time I checked also. Other teams are getting scholarships, too. We just didn’t play very well.
Oregon State, didn’t want them to run for that many yards, but they throw the ball, so we wanted to make sure they didn’t throw the ball all over the place. Maybe to some degree the fact they run the ball helped us win.
As far as this game, we’ve practiced a lot of things. The thing about defense, the one thing that people don’t understand, on defense you don’t get to practice tackling live for a month before you play a bowl game. That’s for both teams. That’s always something that concerns coaches. You can’t tackle live for a month. You never really play a game without tackling live for a month except for a bowl game. That will affect both teams, who tackles well, who tackles in space.
Secondly, offenses can decide what personnel groups and what plays they want to run from those personnel groups. We have to prepare for war in time of peace. We have to be ready for everything. If they line up in empty, we can’t call timeout and say, Hey, we didn’t practice that this week, so you guys can’t do that. We have to prepare for everything.
This is not an excuse. I’m answering your question.
Thirdly, we’ve done everything within our power to get ready to stop this good Texas running game, okay? I have no idea what the outcome’s going to be or how it’s going to turn out, but in every game that we’ve played where it was a big‑time run team, that we weren’t going to stop the run, they were going to run all over the space, and they were going to score a lot of points ‑ Colorado, Kansas State, Auburn ‑ we stopped the run.
Q. Brian, what would a win mean to you personally being that this is Nick’s last game? Nick, what would a win mean to you?
COACH ALIOTTI: That’s a nice question, a nice sentiment. Obviously you want to win your last game or play well in your last game.
This is not about me, but it would mean a lot if we won the game. I’ll be happier to win the game for these guys. These are the guys that deserve to win the game.
I’ve played in a lot of games. I will feel good if and when we win. But I’ll feel better at how hard these guys are going to play.
BRIAN JACKSON: Yeah, you know, both teams come into this planning to win the game. We obviously want to win this game. It would mean a lot to me, especially being my last college game.
I came here, Coach Aliotti, we were talking the other day about how he went and ate at a restaurant for the first and last time when he came for my visit. I’ve been here with him the whole time.
It’s been a great ride for me. I want to come out here with a win, just something to help me remember this better by. I really enjoyed my time here. A win would be incredible.
Q. Ifo, Case McCoy is a different kind of quarterback. How would you describe his throwing style and how to defend him?
IFO EKPRE‑OLOMU: Definitely he can run. He’s able to extend plays. They have great receivers that we’re going to have to be able to cover and cover for a long time.
A quarterback that can scramble. They’re able to extend plays and create stuff that normally wouldn’t be there. Me, Terrance, Avery, Brian Jackson, we’re all going to have to play great defense every play because they have a lot of great athletes. They have players that are able to spread the ball around and make things happen after the catch.
Q. Ifo, after having such a great year, what aspects of your game do you think you can still improve on?
IFO EKPRE‑OLOMU: Every day I look at improving my entire game. I never really have been to a point where I thought, Oh, I’m good enough here, I’m doing good enough at this spot. I feel like every day I come with the attitude of trying to get better and trying to improve in everything I do.
I mean, every day I want to be a better player than the day before. That’s all I can really say.
Q. Derrick, we see Coach Al as this gregarious, out there, funny guy. What do you see behind the scenes that we don’t see?
DERRICK MALONE: That’s kind of hard.
He’s hard on us when we’re not doing things right. He expects a lot from us, everything like that. But he’s also there to nurture us and show us love when it’s needed. That’s what I truly reflect upon him.
He’s not going to let us fall short of our potential. He wants to maximize our potential and get the best out of each and every one of us, no matter if you’re a scout team guy, special teams guy, defensive team guy. He wants you to reach your potential.
He’ll get on you hard. When you do something great, he’ll be the first to high‑five you and jump up and down with you in our huddles with you and show you love. Behind the scenes you don’t really get to see that. That’s really what I respect about him.
Q. Nick, as a guy who just made a very big decision, what would you tell Ifo about the decision that he had to make about the NFL? Do you think he’s ready right now to play at that level?
COACH ALIOTTI: First of all, Ifo is ready to do whatever he wants to do. I respect that young man enough that whatever he chooses to do, I’m 100% behind it. Whether I stayed here or not, I would still be 100% behind Ifo because the young man has to do what’s best for him and his family.
When it’s all said and done, if you listen to him talk, he’s pretty intelligent. He’ll figure it out. I support him in whatever he chooses to do.
Q. Derrick, you go up against Marcus in practice. I don’t know how much you guys hit the quarterback, probably not much. How good is he as a runner, and what does he bring to the field?
DERRICK MALONE: He’s real good. Sometimes I sit back and just look. Marcus has the ball. He’s running like a runningback, he’s so fast, so elusive. He has so many weapons. He can run the ball, throw the ball, find open receivers, do it all.
It’s always a challenge when we go against our offense. It’s fun to try to chase him down, contain him in the pocket, stop all his weapons. He’s a really great quarterback.
Q. Coach, win or lose, are you going to grab some turf from the Alamo Bowl or water out of the River Walk?
COACH ALIOTTI: I’m not sure yet. I know this: win or lose, I’m going to make sure I see all our seniors, everybody on defense, and tell them thanks for what a great ride they’ve given me. I’m hoping it ends in a win so we’re all smiles. But so does Texas. They hope they end in a win so it’s all smiles.
We’ll see how that plays out at the end. The bottom line is I want to make sure I touch every one of my guys when the game is over and tell them thanks. I hope they all have a smile on their face when the game is over. That’s what’s important to me.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
An interview with:
COACH MAJOR APPLEWHITE
THE MODERATOR: We welcome the University of Texas offense. I’ll introduce Coach Applewhite who will introduce his players.
COACH APPLEWHITE: We have Mason Walters, senior offensive guard; Trey Hopkins, senior offensive guard and tackle; Mike Davis, senior wide out; Malcolm Brown, junior runningback; senior quarterback, Case McCoy.
THE MODERATOR: How has bowl preparation gone?
COACH APPLEWHITE: Gone well. We got here Christmas Day. Guys had three great days of practice. We’ve enjoyed our time here. We’re ready to get going for the game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. What is the difference between coaching in the booth and on the field?
COACH APPLEWHITE: I like the booth a lot better. A little bit more calm up there than it is down on the sidelines. You want to be down there at certain times for certain players, but then there’s other things you can be up in the booth. Especially working with Case, I feel better working from the booth. With my eyes up there, I don’t feel like I need to be out on the field with him. I like being up there in that environment.
Q. Major, you have had the injuries on offense, had to change week‑to‑week. Now that you’ve had a month to prepare, do you feel this like this unit going into the game is ready to play as well as they can?
COACH APPLEWHITE: Yeah, we still had some of those same things. We got some guys that won’t be playing with us in a couple days. We’ve had to kind of fill those positions, build some depth at those positions, whether it be O‑line, runningback, wide receiver. So we’ve been working on kind of filling some of those spots and getting some of the younger guys reps so they’ll be game ready.
Q. Major, and Case, you had a chance to look at film of Oregon. What have you seen about their defense? Case, you’re going up against two corners.
COACH APPLEWHITE: First, I think they’ve got great guys outside. A lot of man coverage. They’re multiple in the back end. They’ll play man, zone, match patterns. Do a lot of things up front in terms of the front game, disguising their blitzes. Guys are difficult to get ahold of.
They’ve done a great job outside. They have great players, very athletic, fast. Their safeties are good players, too. They can play well in man coverage. Kind of reminds me a little bit of the way Coach Akina tries to train our secondary, to where all four of them can play man coverage if need be.
There’s not one guy that’s a tackler that’s down in the box. They’re all pretty versatile. So when you look at third down, they can be effective in third‑down situations, get some turnovers. I think that’s why they’ve got so many this year.
CASE McCOY: Yeah, exactly, they’re incredible athletes out there, played a lot of ball. For the most part looking at them, they play together very well. They put those guys on islands out there, trust their safeties to make plays, but also get down in the box and make plays.
Definitely you can see when you watch them on film, they played a lot of ball together and they know what they’re doing back there.
Q. Malcolm, a lot of runningbacks in the last month of the regular season had a lot of success rushing against Oregon’s defense. What do you see from that 3‑4 that you might be able to exploit?
MALCOLM BROWN: You know, first of all, they do have a great athletic defense. Have a great front, great linebackers.
The 3‑4, we feel like we can do a great job of running the ball right at them. Like you said, past teams have had a whole bunch of success in regular zones, powers, things like that. Just got to be more aggressive. I know our offensive line is going to do a great job, so…
Q. Major, talk about Malcolm’s season, how he’s done.
COACH APPLEWHITE: Somewhere early around I guess maybe the third week of fall camp, something happened. I don’t know if it was an ankle or a hip or something. Got set back a little bit, not much. Jonathan and Joe were doing some good things in the first couple games. When we got to the Oklahoma game, we had some ball security issues. Malcolm always did a great job of taking care of the ball.
Really felt like that Oklahoma game, might play a big role in that game in terms of it’s a man’s game, you know. You got to be mature. You have to be able to handle the ebbs and flows of that game. Recruiting Malcolm, seeing him around his family, the kind of young man he is, I knew he would be ready for that opportunity.
He went out and played a great game, and the offensive line did a great job in that game. Really kind of gave us a little bit of an identity to go on a six‑game stretch right there. We did a great job of running the football, both Joe, Jonathan and Malcolm. All three of those guys did a tremendous job. We were able to kind of get in the hunt.
Give Malcolm a lot of credit. But I know that Malcolm would be the first guy to tell you to give those other guys a lot of credit, too.
Q. Case and Malcolm, you came in the starting lineup midyear, now that you’ve had a month with this group, do you feel like the preparation for this game set you guys up to have the best offensive game against Oregon?
CASE McCOY: That’s what we’re hoping for, no doubt about it. Obviously we’re starters now. Obviously we filled in roles throughout the season. We’ve been playing these roles for quite some time now. We’re expected to play like starters.
Fully expect Malcolm to go out and play a great game. I got to play great. I got to take care of the ball. When I take care of the ball, in the games we’ve won, that’s been the circumstances.
That’s our plan. Malcolm would probably give you the same answer.
MALCOLM BROWN: Definitely. He hit it right on the head. It’s football. Guys go down, guys have to step up. Me and Case, we chose to be those guys to step up in those roles. We’re enjoying it. We have a great team around us.
Q. Now that you’ve begun practicing, has the atmosphere and the preparations changed knowing this is Mack’s final game?
CASE McCOY: I think we as a team, and our coaches as well, prepare hard. That’s never been a difference. Win or lose, that’s not a critique whether we prepare or not. I know the preparation we put in week in, week out, that’s not going to change going into this game being his last one.
As we saw who we were playing, we were all in the film room the next day. This is a big game for us, no doubt about it, playing a top‑10 team that’s well‑coached. Five weeks ago they were in a hunt for the national championship.
We understand what’s at stake. We’ll play hard. Coach Brown will coach hard. If we play that way, we take care of the ball, I think it will be a good night for us.
Q. Major, the 2000 Holiday Bowl is pretty well‑remembered by Duck fans. What are your memories?
COACH APPLEWHITE: I remember getting beat, quite honestly. I didn’t get a chance to play. I was injured. I wasn’t cleared to play. Maybe I’d just been cleared.
I just remember, I think it was Onterrio Smith had a great game. Joe had a great game. Rashad Bauman, corner. Just kind of vague memories. I remember we had some shots at the end zone we didn’t capitalize on. I remember Victor Ike taking a kickoff return back, but nothing more than that. We came up short. I think we lost by 5.
Q. Major, the 2000 Holiday Bowl, your perception of Oregon then as a player, 13 years ago, as opposed to now?
COACH APPLEWHITE: Well, just a tremendous amount of respect for any set of coaches that can go in and raise the expectations of their program and can make it a nationally recognized program and a prestigious program. Whoever that coach may be who can do that to his program. I have a great amount of respect for that coach and his coaches around him.
That’s something that Chip Kelly and Coach Bellotti was the beginning of that, now Coach Helfrich is carrying that on. They’ve put themselves on the map. Now kids want to pay attention and look at that school.
Q. Mason, the Oregon offense, does that put pressure on you to get off to a quick start?
MASON WALTERS: I definitely think so. Just watching film, every now and then you’ll get a chance to turn on the other team’s offense and see what your defense is going to go up against, seeing how effective they are. Knowing every time you go out and don’t capitalize on a drive, 6 points, a touchdown. That gives them room and they’re able to blow people out.
As we take the field, you have to put the onus on us. The game starts at 0‑0. That’s how we’ll be taking it as an offense come Monday.
Q. Major, in your game against Baylor, are there a lot of similarities between the Baylor offense and defense and what you have seen against Oregon?
COACH APPLEWHITE: You know, first of all, from the offensive standpoint, I don’t study those guys as much. I know that Baylor is high tempo, runs the ball a lot. Oregon is the same way. A little bit different in terms of how they throw the football, how they approach the throw game. Going fast, trying to wear down teams, make their hay that way, very similar.
Defensively, Baylor’s a four‑man structure. A little more simple in the back end. You really see, you know, Oregon’s multiplicity throughout the season. When you watch a 12‑game season, you can see all the different fronts and coverages they get into. As Case and I were talking, one thing about the secondary, other than being athletic and trusting their guys in man coverage, there’s a lot of ball. There’s two seniors and two juniors back there. A lot of football between those four guys.
Reminds me a lot of Oklahoma State’s defense. So when you talk about Gilbert and Lowe, all those guys that have played back there for Oklahoma State, you understand why their turnovers or take‑away numbers are high. They’ve seen a lot of routes, they’ve seen a lot of pass concepts, at the same time they have a lot of instinct.
Q. Mike, can you tell me how Ifo, No. 14, compares to Justin Gilbert?
MIKE DAVIS: I’d have to say he’s a very good player. He is just a good football player. Can he cover, run. He’s not afraid to tackle.
How he compares to Justin or Rhett, they’re similar in size. From Oregon, he’s a little bigger. Justin Gilbert is taller. I feel like he’s probably more athletic.
All them guys are good. I’m looking forward to going against him.
Q. Case, you mentioned your preparation. I read an article that said preparation helped set you apart against that Oklahoma team. What is this pattern and routine you’ve gotten into? Can you describe what’s helped you be good at preparation.
CASE McCOY: I mean, I take that on my shoulders being the quarterback. I didn’t know what all these guys needed to do on every play. I get that from Major. That’s what I’ve been coached to do my whole life.
Just having this long amount of time to prepare and know the game plan front and back, know all the ins‑and‑outs, the checks, that’s where we’re at right now. That’s why I think we’ve had an incredible week of practice so far. We’re on top of things. We’ve repped it. We know what we’re doing. Now we’ve just got to go execute it on game day.
Q. Major, as far as being without Daje and Kennedy, having to leave them behind on this trip, the impact on the offense.
COACH APPLEWHITE: As we’ve said before throughout this season, whether it is BYU, Kansas State, where Mike had an ankle injury, whether it be ‑‑ doesn’t matter what the game is, Texas Tech, we don’t have Daje there. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. These guys have rallied through a whole hell of a lot this season. Really proud of them.
Obviously we wanted to win that game in Waco and be conference champions, but we didn’t. Really proud how these guys made ‘no excuses’ their motto. It will serve them well in life.
Q. Major, you have spent a lot of time with Case over the months here now. You know him as a person, as a player. How would you describe how he has survived and thrived in the Texas fishbowl being the quarterback?
COACH APPLEWHITE: He’s been tough. He’s been tough. That’s what it is. You’re going to get a lot more credit than you deserve, a lot more blame than you deserve. You’re going to have people say things about you that you couldn’t fathom as a player. That’s okay, though, because you want that pressure if you play quarterback. If you’re a coach’s son, you grow up the son of a coach, your dad’s kind of the hero of the town, looked up to, expected to produce, you’re kind of raised in a household of pressure.
When your older brother has already been through that position, it’s like growing up in a family full of cops. That’s what you’re expected to do, handle that pressure and go do it.
Case has done a fabulous job. The team has done a great job of playing around him in that six‑game stretch. What we need him to do is go out and play 60 minutes of great football one more time.
Q. Mason and Trey, the front four, a lot of seniors are in there. What do you see from that line? Anybody in particular that you focused on and see as maybe their most dangerous defensive lineman?
TREY HOPKINS: I spent a lot of time watching No. 66. He’s a great player. I mean, all four up front are great players. They’re great athletes. They show a lot of looks for the front four up there. They have different ways of disguising their blitzes, making sure you don’t get up to their linebacker level.
No. 66, he plays defensive end. He’s shown he can be physical. That’s something that’s set him apart from people we’ve played before. The bottom line, when it comes to looking at lines of scrimmage, it’s who can be the most physical for the longest throughout the game. It’s something we’ve focused on. We have to finish blocks, we have to extend drives through being efficient on first and second downs in the running game.
MASON WALTERS: I’ll say the same. You go against a 3‑4 defense, you have to be showing the front of that, be able to contain the gap at linebacker level. 66 and 92, guys that flash, are able to do that. Makes it tough to run on them at times, but we have seen some things that we like in their defense that we think we can capitalize on if everybody executes.
That’s what it comes down to. You see some guys running the ball on Oregon at times later this year. It’s simple execution. Guys doing their job in those games that other teams weren’t able to do. There’s really no magic or trick to it. Just go out there and execute the game plan. Everybody runs the plays we’re going to run.
Q. Mason, the fact it is Mack’s last game, is that more motivation or distraction? Could that possibly even be a factor during a game?
MASON WALTERS: Everybody is motivated by something. It’s been a drawn‑out process since we’ve known he’s going to retire. Getting to the game, I think all the emotions of that are going to be worn off. Maybe they’ll resurface around game time. No matter any game, what’s going on outside of the field, once you get on it, the only thing you’re thinking about is your job and the guys out there doing it with you.
Q. Trey, people are wondering what the atmosphere is like around practices with assistant coaches who are looking for jobs, trying to hold on to recruits, get you a game plan to beat a top‑10 team. Take us inside what the atmosphere has been like with all that going on around this team.
TREY HOPKINS: I mean, you always have the excuses of distractions. We’re all seniors up here, except Malcolm. When you come out there, for the two hours you’re at practice, the hour and a half you’re in meetings, it comes down to being a man, being able to focus on what is at hand. We still playing for Texas, we still wear the Longhorn emblem. We’re still on in it to win this last game. That’s where you put those things to the side. You put those things behind you when you’re on the field.
You really play for each other. It’s not really about you or anything else you have going on in your life, distractions. I think we’ve done a good job, everybody on this team, of focusing and playing for each other, not letting things on the outside become distractions for us.
Q. Major, both teams now have coaches who are going to step down. Nick Aliotti for Oregon is going to step down. Do you know Nick? What are your impressions of him?
COACH APPLEWHITE: I don’t know him personally. Just a tremendous amount of respect for him. Been in the business a long time. Been at the place for a long time. Obviously, when you’ve done that, you’ve done things right on and off the field. Just a tremendous amount of respect for him. He’s obviously developed a lot of goodwill in that community.
As a young guy, you admire guys that can stay in it that long and do it at that level.
Q. Trey and Mason, have you watched any of the Stanford versus Oregon film in your preparation? What was your take away from watching Stanford’s offensive line?
MASON WALTERS: They’re a physical front. Everyone sees that when they run that power down. It’s something we’ve kind of tried to look at, really emulate that. One thing you see is they were able to extend drives just by being physical up front. That’s something you have to do going up against a high‑powered, explosive offense, make sure you keep the ball in your hands, control the time of possession.
TREY HOPKINS: I’d say the same thing. Stanford has built their identity on that, being a physical run team. That’s Stanford, that’s what they do. I think they did a great job. It worked out to their advantage.
We’re going to have to put our own spin on it. We’re not Stanford. We’re the University of Texas. We have our own identity. It might be similar, but I think we’ve got the people and the plays to get the job done.
Q. Mike, I know last year you thought about maybe going to the NFL early. How do you feel like this year went for you? Are you glad you stayed?
MIKE DAVIS: As of right now, I’m glad I stayed. My whole goal and stuff was to come back and have a conference championship, beat OU, try to play for a national championship. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that taken care of.
I’m just proud of this team. I’m not really worried about the NFL until after this game. Right now I’m just focused on this game. Being proud of what we’ve done this year, how we bounced back. I’ll just miss all of it.
Q. Case, how much more does this game mean as Mack Brown’s last game?
CASE McCOY: Yeah, I mean, obviously we want to send him out right. The man has done a lot around this university, for college football. You can’t look past that by any means. You can look at his records. You can look at what he’s built at Texas.
For all of us, for the senior class, for him, for the coaches that are going to be here, for the coaches that are going to leave, we all love this university. If you came to this university, you accepted a job, you accepted a scholarship, you want to play here, you all have that pride.
There will be no doubt or no question if we’re going to go out there and fight and play hard. There’s not going to have to be a whole lot of motivation for that. Everybody is going to want to go out there and finish this thing right.
Event: Valero Alamo Bowl Team Arrival – Oregon
Date: Tuesday, Dec. 25 2013
Location: Marriott Rivercenter
Mark Helfrich, head coach
Hroniss Grasu, center
Brian Jackson, safety
Speaker: Mark Helfrich
On BCS expectations that Oregon carries & if motivation will be a problem for his players…
“It’s a chance to compete. Our guys are excited to play. I think if there would have been any evidence of a lack of motivation then it would have shown up on the tape and in our preparation. It’s a huge challenge. This is a great program”
On what Texas brings to the table…
“I think their sheer talent. We can’t match up with that in terms of just man for man talent. I think you know they are a very well coached team and like us have very high expectations. They want to finish right. There is the added motivation with Coach Brown retiring but our guys will be excited to play”.
On the offensive strategy against Texas…
“Well we want to be balanced. We want to be balanced with everything. Right, left, middle, deep, short, everything from an offensive perspective. Being balanced is the key”.
On if he has ever been to San Antonio before…
“I have. I’ve been recruiting here many times. I’ve been here for the coaches’ convention a couple years ago. This is a great city, a great area. I’ve actually got some relatives in the area as well. It’s going to be fun for everybody, but it will be a lot more fun if we win the game”.
Speaker: Hroniss Grasu
On if being in the Alamo Bowl feels different than coming to a BCS bowl game…
“It only felt different to me because I came early. I was at the hotel before everyone else. The Alamo Bowl is a great Bowl game and it’s an honor to be playing here against Texas.”
On if motivation will be an issue against Texas…
“No it’s not at all. We understand that it is their head coach’s last game and it will be very emotional. We are in their home state and it is going to be a home game for them. We all know that. It makes us all the more focused. We just need to go there and execute our own game plan and not worry about what is going on outside of our program. I think if we can take care of that we will take care of business.”
On being a veteran on this team & his advice for the younger players during bowl week…
“Just stay focused. When I was a young guy I had Jordan Holmes take me under his wing and I followed him everywhere. I tell the young guys to pick the guy they look up to and stick to him. Don’t walk around by yourself. Stick with older guys you look up to.”
Speaker: Brian Jackson
On if he has ever been to San Antonio…
“I haven’t actually. But my best friend lives out here so I’m sure he will show me around. We are going to check out the riverwalk and I really just can’t wait to hang out with my best friend. He just came back from Afghanistan this week so I just can’t wait to go see him. It’s been awhile. I think he is stationed here and he literally just got back this week. We grew up in elementary and middle school together and reconnected within the last couple years. We are definitely going to go kick it.”
On your first time not being in a BCS bowl game…
“I feel like they have treated us really well. This is a great place to stay. We are in a great city. I can’t wait to go check out all this stuff. They have a lot of things planned for us. I feel like everybody has just been treated so well. There is no reason to look down on something like this. We are going to play a great football team and have a great place to stay I don’t really think you can ask for anything else”.
On his impression of Texas thus far…
“They are a talented team. They struggled early on but they got everything together. You can tell when this team starts to click. They are a physical team and they play hard. These guys have a passion for the sport of football. I think that’s great because it matches well with us. We all love the sport of football. Oregon vs. Texas…it’s going to be a great college football game”.
On if motivation is an issue…
“Well you can nitpick reasons for motivation on anything. You can say that our motivation to win is that it is our coach’s first season. You can go that route if you want to talk coaches. I think it will come down to who comes in ready to play, who comes in more prepared and who really thinks more of this football game. This is a lot of people’s last football game. I think it boils down to what is going to happen between the lines. It’s all about the X’s and O’s”.
For full audio of this presser visit: http://media.alamobowl.com/browse/2013/audio
THE MODERATOR: I’d like to welcome everyone. I’ll introduce the head table, we’ll take comments, then we’ll take questions.
With us today, president and CEO of the Valero Alamo Bowl, Derrick Fox; University of Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich; University of Texas head coach Mark Brown; from Valero CFO Mike Ciskowski; and our chairman Pat Frost.
PAT FROST: Thank you all so much for coming here today. We are very excited at the Valero Alamo Bowl to introduce our two head coaches we are so fortunate to have participating in this game.
But at this time I’d like to introduce Mike Ciskowski, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Valero.
Valero has been our sponsor since our inaugural game in 1993 and our title sponsor since 2007. We’re are very grateful they’ve renewed their title sponsorship for another six years through our 2019 game. God bless Valero.
MIKE CISKOWSKI: Thank you, Pat.
Valero is proud to be title sponsor of the Valero Alamo Bowl and thrilled to be part of this matchup which should grow the bowl’s track record of exciting games, capacity crowds and record TV ratings.
Valero and the Alamo Bowl are two San Antonio‑based institutions that provide support for higher education, drive tourist activities, and deliver a strong economic impact for the City of San Antonio.
The Valero Alamo Bowl gives the City of San Antonio a second life during the holiday season by filling the hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions during the bowl week.
At this time I’d like to introduce Derrick Frost, president and CEO of the Valero Alamo Bowl to introduce the coaches.
DERRICK FOX: Thank you for your support, Mike, and Valero’s long‑term support of the Valero Alamo Bowl. To have Valero onboard until 2019 is unbelievable, and we couldn’t do it without them.
Our advertising slogan this year is: Bowl week is the week the other 51 are jealous of. That certainly holds true this week. Thanks to these two outstanding universities with tremendous football teams and coaches. The 2013 Valero Alamo Bowl promises to be a great game delivering many lasting memories of a lifetime.
Now it’s going to be my pleasure to introduce our two respective head coaches.
First up is our visiting head coach, Mark Helfrich from the University of Oregon. It’s Coach Helfrich’s first season as coach of the Ducks, following four seasons as the offensive coordinator during which he was twice named Football Scoops national quarterbacks coach of the year.
This year’s quarterback, Marcus Mariota, finished the season ranked in the top 10 in five major passing categories, helping the Ducks to average nearly 47 points a game.
The Ducks finished season with a 10‑2 record and are ranked 10 in the final BCS poll.
Coach Helfrich, welcome to San Antonio. Glad to have you here in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
COACH HELFRICH: Thank you.
On behalf of the University of Oregon, our fans are excited to get down here. I think San Antonio is one of those great cities of America to visit, something for everybody. It’s one of those places you’d have to try to not have a great time.
Obviously it is an honor to compete in the Alamo Bowl. Thanks to Valero and everything they’ve done for college football and everybody associated with this game.
It’s an honor for me personally to sit next to Coach Brown and compete against the University of Texas. He’s an icon of our game, an iconic program. Very excited to prepare to compete against them. As I started watching film on these guys, that’s not much fun. They’re big, fast and physical.
But our players, our coaches, our families, we’re ecstatic to get down here and compete against Texas.
DERRICK FOX: I’ll now introduce no one who needs an introduction from our standpoint, a great friend of the Valero Alamo Bowl, Coach Mack Brown.
Coach Brown is in his 16th season at Texas, and one of only two coaches nationally to direct teams to 20 bowl games in the last 21 seasons, and 22 winning seasons in the last 23. He has a 10‑4 bowl record at Texas, and a perfect 2‑0 in San Antonio.
No jinx or anything (laughter).
At last year’s Valero Alamo Bowl the Longhorns defense recorded a record 10 sacks. This defense this year is anchored by Jackson Jeffcoat, the AP Big 12 defensive player of the year. Jeffcoat had five sacks in the last two games.
This year the Longhorns finished with an 8‑4 record overall and 7‑2 in Big 12 play.
Coach, welcome back to San Antonio.
COACH BROWN: Thank you, Derrick.
There’s no better town or city in this state or country that’s great to the Longhorns more than San Antonio. We’ve been down here twice with the Iowa game a number of years ago, then coming last year in both cases where we needed to pick up when we came. The crowds were unbelievable. The games were great. We have to come back to win both games. The whole week was fun.
Looks like the ticket sales are going wonderfully already for us. I’m sure Oregon will sell out theirs, which should be another sell‑out.
We appreciate you and Mike, what you and Valero do, for college bowl games and football. Without the sponsors, we couldn’t share all these wonderful experiences with all these kids.
You always want to be challenged in a bowl game so you won’t come in without an edge. We got that, without a question. We have a BCS‑type team in the Alamo Bowl. Oregon could be as good as anybody in the country. They had a couple slip‑ups because of some injuries that were key injuries. Mark has done a tremendous job taking over what was already a great program and moving it forward. That’s not an easy thing to do.
Our players were disappointed we didn’t come out of the Baylor game winning the Big 12 championship, but at the same time it didn’t take them long to bounce back when they see who we’re going to play in the bowl game.
Oregon has been one of the best teams in the country since these guys have been playing college football. Now they’ll have a chance to play.
I thought last year our bowl game was one of the best in the country. I think this one could be. We have to live up to our end of it, because obviously Oregon has. We didn’t finish the way we wanted to finish. That will be exciting and can’t wait to get all that started.
There’s been a little speculation about my job situation throughout this week, if some of you haven’t noticed. I told Mark with all respect to he, Derrick, the bowl game, I would address it very briefly. But we’re here to talk about the Alamo Bowl and the matchups. We’re not here to talk about me. That would be wrong of me spending a lot of time with that.
My situation has not changed. I’ve got the best president in the country with Bill Powers. He’s unbelievable. He’s done a tremendous job for eight years. What.
We did lose in an iconic athletic director, DeLoss Dodds, that has been here 32 years and has run the best program in the country, without question. He’d been my boss for 16 years.
We’ve hired what I think is a great athletic director with Steve Patterson. I got a chance to visit with him a little bit the other day in New York. Anytime your athletic director changes, that changes the game. With all due respect to him, I want to sit down with he and Bill in the near future and talk about where we’re going and our program is going.
I’m excited about our team, the way they fought back this year. They’ve had more adversity than any other team. We weren’t excited to be 8‑4, but we were excited about the way they fought and competed. It was a great message for all of us.
Moving forward, I’m looking forward to my meeting with Bill and Steve. We’ll all get on the same page and move forward.
Again, I want the focus to be on these kids and the focus to be on this bowl game because that’s what we’re here for. I apologize to you for having to put up with this.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll now go to questions.
Q. Mack, along those lines, we’ve talked about distractions all year. This season has been nothing but. When you do get to talk with your team, what can you tell them to get everybody’s mind right?
COACH BROWN: Beat Oregon. That’s the only thing that’s important. This is about the kids. This isn’t about me. It’s about the kids moving forward.
That’s what we are. Mark and I are guys that try to keep a staff moving in the right direction, keep all the distractions away from that. It’s about the University of Texas playing against Oregon, it’s about the kids in this game. We sure don’t want that to be a distraction.
I haven’t seen our kids since the Baylor game. Like Mark, it’s a tough day for us because we’re both recruiting. The dead period starts on Sunday. We have to get done as much today as we can. We have our banquet Friday night. I look forward to seeing the kids because I know they were down after the Baylor game. We’ll have our first bowl practice on Saturday and get started towards the ballgame.
Q. Mack, do you believe this is your last game as the head coach of UT? If so, what does it mean to you?
COACH BROWN: You know, I’m excited about the game. I said we wouldn’t talk about me or my future because I am going to have that meeting with Bill and Steve Patterson. I look forward to that meeting.
We’re not going to discuss that anymore today. We’re just going to talk about the ballgame.
Q. Mark, I was wondering with you recruiting, finals going on this week, how are you as a staff beginning game prep? Sneak in film review whenever you can?
COACH HELFRICH: Yes, we are a little bit of everything. This is a tough time of year, like Coach Brown was talking about. We’re transitioning from an end‑of‑the‑year regular season to hit the road recruiting immediately. We throw our banquet before we go recruiting to make it more challenging.
We’ll finish up tomorrow afternoon recruiting, then we’ll have a short practice Friday. We’ll practice Saturday, Sunday, kind of begin in earnest on Monday on a game plan as a staff.
Q. What was your reaction when Marcus said he was coming back? Should he have been invited to the Heisman announcement?
COACH HELFRICH: We think Marcus is pretty special. If there’s six better players in the country, and that’s not in any way disrespectful of those players, those guys are really great players.
But Marcus Mariota is a top‑notch guy in every form, excellent person, excellent student and excellent football player, a guy our guys have rallied round.
His coming back, he had been hinting at that for a long time. It wasn’t a huge surprise. It was a nice pickup in the recruiting class, absolutely.
COACH BROWN: Will he be at the bowl game (laughter)?
COACH HELFRICH: We’re talking about Jeffcoat, too, by the way (laughter).
Q. Coach Brown, can you talk about Oregon’s offense. Is anybody comparable in the Big 12?
COACH BROWN: No, I don’t think anybody compares. They do a good job of running the ball. They started the up‑tempo stuff to be as fast as anybody in the country. They don’t give you an opportunity to line up. It makes it very, very difficult. They have tremendous team speed.
Where they do not get the credit is their lines of scrimmage. That’s where they’ve improved so much, even when we played them back in the Holiday Bowl in the early years.
Their quarterback to me is as good as anybody in America. He’s unbelievable. He can run, he can throw, he’s the leader. He’s the guy. When their backs touch it, they have a chance to score every time they touch it. Their receivers, you have to spend so much time on their receiving game, one‑on‑one situations, it puts you in a bind.
I think their offense is one that all of us are continuing to look at and trying to emulate.
Q. Mark, what would you say is the difference between your play in October and November?
COACH HELFRICH: It’s colder in November (laughter).
As the season wears on, there’s always kind of nicks and dings that take effect. We played an excellent Stanford team that obviously had a great run here recently, and lost. That was extremely deflating to a lot of guys. We’re both at places where after one loss, there’s some element of huge disappointment, or the season’s over. I think that permeated a couple of our younger players.
But I thought our guys rallied pretty well. Our win, especially against Oregon State, Utah as well, those were kind of just those games from the outside that it’s like, That’s just another win. Those were grind‑it‑out, gut‑it‑out, shorthanded‑type of wins that you have to do to be as consistent as our guys have been and win as many games as our guys have won. You have to win those every once in a while. Part of it is playing great people.
Hopefully we’ll get healed up and get ready to go for Texas.
Q. Coach Brown, have you ever thought of doing uniform changes as frequently as Oregon?
COACH BROWN: When I got to Texas, Coach Royal sat down with me and he says, You know our colors are burnt orange and white, right?
I said, Yes, sir.
He said, You know we like our uniforms, right?
I said, Yes, sir.
He said you’re not planning on changing them, ever, right?
I said, No, sir.
I think that answers the question (laughter).
With due respect, Phil Knight is a friend of mine and we love our Nike uniforms.
Q. Talk about your Texas player on the roster and the importance of doing a showcase when you are here in San Antonio.
COACH HELFRICH: Texas has been great to us in recruiting. It’s a place that high school football is I should say second to none in this room, but there are a couple other states that would argue that.
Oregon’s population doesn’t have the depth of athletes across the country in our kind of wheelhouse states, California ‑ Texas among them hopefully. But it’s a great place to grow up as a young man and play high school football. So many great programs around the state that could compete with anybody.
The coaching, the education system top to bottom is good. You know what you’re going to get from Texas. We try to sneak in every once in a while and get a guy or two.
Q. Coach Brown, with losing the game to Baylor, how do you expect the players to respond to that, plus the added distractions of everything else going on right now?
COACH BROWN: I’m not worried about the other stuff. You always worry when you lose your last game. It meant so much. You worry about creating an edge for your next game, the bowl game. For me, the team that has the best edge in bowl games is the one that usually wins. There’s more upsets in bowl games than at any other times in our season.
I thought we were lucky. I wasn’t sure when we got the call from Derrick, but I thought we were lucky when we drew one of the best teams in the country. A lot of teams aren’t going to have the opportunity to be challenged like that. I was worried who we would draw and would our guys be excited about it. That got answered very quickly.
Just talking to them, having texts from them, our staff that’s been around them, there’s such a buzz right now for the opportunity to be challenged by a great football team. They respect them. That’s fun.
I really think, again, this town is going to be abuzz. Oregon has great followers. Our bunch will be here in full strength. I just think it’s a tremendous matchup, and I do understand and want to be honest, we got to hold up our end. They’re going to hold up their end because they’re really good.
COACH HELFRICH: You’re really good at this, really good at this (laughter).
COACH BROWN: But it is true. I’ve watched them. I’ve sat there. In fact, when they were throwing out all the different combinations of things that could happen, I said, Huh‑uh, huh‑uh. Derrick called. I said, Derrick, we were there last year. He said, It will be so much fun. I said, We got it.
From that standpoint, I think both teams will respect each other. Our coaches like their coaches. There’s a lot of relationships between the two. I think it’s fun. That also matters.
Derrick could tell you, in bowl games if you’re coaching against somebody you don’t like as a coach, it’s not comfortable because you’re around each other all week. If the staffs don’t like each other, it’s more uncomfortable.
But this will be fun. We’ll all enjoy it and have a great game. Mark has never lost a bowl game, and I have (laughter).
Q. Mack, when your back was against the wall, this team did respond against Oklahoma in a big way. Have you had a chance to reflect on why this team, with its makeup, is going to be a special one to you?
COACH BROWN: I think it’s the senior class. No team has put up with more stuff than this team. You really like them and appreciate them. Whether it was early coaching changes, they responded to it, responded to me, trusted me, played their rear‑ends off.
The amount of injuries, I’ve never seen this many injuries. There’s probably eight of our top ten players that won’t be playing in the bowl games. These guys have said no regrets, no excuses. Let’s just keep playing. Let’s don’t sit around and talk about what’s wrong, let’s talk about what’s right.
They’ve been a fun group to coach. They’ve been attentive, played hard. We missed an opportunity at Oklahoma State and Baylor, which was really disappointing, because we turned it around since the early losses. They’ve given it their best. That’s all you can ask a team to do.
Q. Both of your teams started out looking to higher goals, maybe championships. Now you’re here and happy to be here. What does it say about your team, what lessons have they learned now that they didn’t end up where they set out to do? Why is it important for them to play in this game as hard as they would in any other?
COACH HELFRICH: We’re both at places where if your record doesn’t end in ‘hyphen zero’ there’s problems. Those things are exaggerated. Maybe the guy just didn’t line up right. How do we fix that? Sometimes when you win, you get lucky. Okay, we need to fix that, too.
Top to bottom, our guys will be very excited for this challenge, to finish it right, to win your bowl game, whatever that is. If it’s a BCS game, whatever is considered toward the bottom of the rung, is huge. It’s an opportunity to work with our young guys, develop our depth. We’re a young football team. Put those guys in those situations, playing against a program like this, they’re going to be physically challenged big‑time. Then you want to put an exclamation point at the end of the season rather than dot, dot, dot.
COACH BROWN: We told our guys you don’t get to choose where you go. You have to win to go where you get to go. So it is what it is.
If we would have won all the games, then there would have been options other than this one. We got to come to a fun place, a good place that we enjoy. We love this city. This bunch is loved by a lot of Texas Longhorn fans and we’re playing against a good team.
Not everybody gets that. Not everybody is that fortunate. Some people that are in bowls that are considered maybe at a different stature don’t get to play who they want to play.
We told ours, You play your way into bowls, you don’t talk your way into bowls anymore. It is what it is. You are who you are. You take what you do.
DERRICK FOX: On behalf of the Valero Alamo Bowl, we have two of the best coaches not only as coaches but as people. We see them week in, week out. They welcome us behind the scenes win or lose. They are tremendous people. This is an exclamation point here for the Valero Alamo Bowl. Thanks for coming down.
COACH BROWN: Thank you, Derrick.
COACH HELFRICH: Thank you, Derrick
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