Darrin Chiaverini – Co-Offensive Coordinator
Brian Lindgren – Co-Offensive Coordinator
Jeromy Irwin – Jr., OL
Phillip Lindsay – Jr., RB
Sefo Liufau – Sr., QB
Devin Ross – Jr., WR
Shay Fields – Jr., WR
THE MODERATOR: It’s my pleasure to introduce the co-offensive coordinators Darrin Chiaverini and Brian Lindgren.
DARRIN CHIAVERINI: It’s great to be here in San Antonio. Obviously this is a big-time bowl for us and our football team. Just excited to be down here and be part of such a great tradition.
Q. Jeremy, when you look back to last season and suffering the ACL tear and getting back to where you are here, how much more satisfying is it to be in this position back home after having gone through all that?
JEROMY IRWIN: Oh, it’s very satisfying even just making the postseason since we haven’t done that in a while here and especially recovering from that injury. You know, being off the field isn’t really fun obviously. So being able to come back on the field and being able to contribute to a very successful year at the Alamo Bowl is very gratifying for us, my teammates.
Q. Darrin, spending a couple years in the Big 12 with Texas Tech, what did you learn about this OSU team and their reputation?
DARRIN CHIAVERINI: We’re going to play a very, very talented football team, well-coached, speed on offense and defense and special teams. I was always impressed with the job that Coach Gundy and their staff does in all phases. Defensively they’re going to give you multiple looks. They’ll play a three-down, a four-down, bring zone pressures and also play some man. We have our work cut out for us. Definitely proud of these guys, just to see their development throughout the year and what we were able to accomplish as an offense and as a football team, really, really proud of this group. Obviously Coach Lindgren and I working together for the first time was also a lot of fun working with him. We did some really good things this year and want to keep working hard to put on a great show for San Antonio and for Buff nation.
Q. Brian, can you talk about the development of Sefo Liufau, your quarterback, from when you first got him under your wing and how he’s developed since then?
BRIAN LINDGREN: Yeah, you know, he was kind of thrown into the fire there his freshman year, and I think it was maybe the fifth game against Arizona State, we were going to try to redshirt him as long as we could in that year, and our starter was struggling in that game, and we said, you know what, we’re going to throw him in there, and it was Todd Graham was bringing blitzes from everywhere in that game, and we were struggling up front, and he went in there and first drive led us down for a touchdown against those guys, which was pretty impressive.
Very excited about the way that he’s developed. It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch it and be involved with him. He’s just an impressive person, and he’s faced a lot of adversity in his time at, Colorado from injuries that he had to overcome this past off-season to just kind of the ups and downs and kind of going through building a program. We were very young when we started out with a lot of these seniors and guys that have been here, and they’ve taken a lot of lumps, and he took a lot of heat as a quarterback during those tough times, and just to see him and how he handled it and to stick with the process and keep working hard, it’s been a real pleasure to see him kind of break through this year and get us to where we’re at today.
Q. Phillip, from what I understand you have two cousins who actually played at Oklahoma State. What was your family’s reaction when you found out that’s who you guys were playing in the bowl game this year?
PHILLIP LINDSAY: I mean, both my cousins did play for Oklahoma State at quarterback. Both of them were excited to hear that I was going to be in the Alamo Bowl. Actually my cousin the quarterback actually did play his first bowl game in the Alamo Bowl versus Purdue I want to say. It was exciting to hear that and be able to joke around with them and everything else, and they will be attending the game, so it’s exciting.
Q. Sefo, can you speak to Jeremy’s performance kind of protecting you this year, and having kind of gone through that same off-season recovering that he did, what’s just your sense of him coming back and working to protect you?
SEFO LIUFAU: Yeah, he’s done a very good job of rehabbing and getting himself into the position that he needs to be so that he can play at his best this year. I was hurt around the same time he was, and just to see all the hard work that he put in and seeing him stay over breaks and not go home just so he could have the opportunity to play on the field was a great feeling for me just to know that he wanted to be back as bad as I did. He’s played very well this year. I always joke with him, he’s one of my good friends on the team, and so I’m just happy, and I think he deserves everything that he’s gotten this year.
Q. Phillip, Tony was your head coach, correct, in high school?
PHILLIP LINDSAY: Yeah, my uncle was my head coach back in high school, and then it’s his son, so that’s my cousin. It’s Tony Jr. that you guys are talking about. He was also a coach. He was the offensive coordinator back in high school.
Q. Tell me what kind of coach he was.
PHILLIP LINDSAY: Quiet, kind of reminds my of Coach Lindgren actually. Quiet, kind of lets everybody do their thing, and let’s just play ball.
Q. I don’t know if Darrin or Brian wants to address this, but Oklahoma State’s defensive line is a real strength for them. What have you seen out of their fronts, and specifically Vincent Taylor is a guy that has kind of made a name for himself at a position that you don’t actually have a lot of names, but the overall defensive line and specific what have you seen out of those guys?
DARRIN CHIAVERINI: They’re very active. You’re going to get a lot of twists, a lot of stunts. They’re going to play some Okie, play some four-down. They do a really, really good job of getting to the quarterback, and what I’ve noticed, they do a really good job of creating turnovers and that’s been a strength of their defense, something we’ve got to obviously avoid as an offense, but they’re impressive what they do, not only on their defensive front but also on the back end. Their safeties are talented. We have our work cut out for us and we’re excited to play. Obviously the last time we played we weren’t at our best, and we want an opportunity to get back out there and show what we’re about.
Q. Devin, for the receiving corps, the conference you guys play in is very pass happy, throw the ball a lot. How have you guys been able to stand out?
DEVIN ROSS: Maybe it came from the off-season. That’s where it started. When Coach Chiav came in and Brian and him came together to get the game plans together and practicing every day, just getting the raw concepts and the connections with the quarterbacks and us. It’s just a process, and we just represented and showed it in the season throughout, and I’m proud of our success and I feel like we can get even better for this game and for next season, also.
Q. Brian, how do you evaluate just how your offensive line and the experience that it’s had this year, how that consistency has sort of helped you guys to get to where you are?
BRIAN LINDGREN: It’s been huge, and I think that Klayton Adams, our offensive line coach, this is his first year working with those guys, he does a tremendous job of getting that group together. But for the most part, we’ve been able to stay healthy the whole year, and in the past, a year ago, that had kind of hurt us, and I think it’s really important when you can stay healthy for most of the season, and those guys get used to playing with each other.
But those guys have gone up against some pretty good defensive fronts and have held their own. I’ve been really proud of the way they’ve competed week in and week out, and I felt like we got a lot better as the season went on, and like I said, Coach Adams has done a good job with that, and we’ve had some leadership from some of the older guys, Jeromy Irwin, Alex Kelley, that has helped, as well.
Q. Coach Chiaverini, Devin was asked about being in a pass-happy conference and how did their receiving corps stick out in a pass-happy conference. That’s all you lived in. How would you compare? I know you’re not going against Oklahoma State’s offense, but how would you compare the offenses in the Big 12 that you worked in in that league and the Pac-12?
DARRIN CHIAVERINI: Yeah, you’ll see a lot of similarities with concepts and schemes. I think the one thing that you see in both conferences is you see elite quarterback play, and that’s what makes teams go. In college football you notice the teams that are throwing for a lot of yards and scoring a lot of points like Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, those schools, Oklahoma, they have very good quarterback play and they also have very talented receiving corps. So this year for us and our progression and how we progressed throughout the year, Sefo had an unbelievable year, but also what we were able to do with him is open up the run game for him, too. So you’re able to get some six-man boxes, get some five-man boxes, and then when they want to play man, we’ve been able to hurt some people with Devin and Shay and Bryce Bobo and also getting Phillip Lindsay going has been huge for us. So to answer your question, I think you see a lot of similarities because of quarterback play and also open concepts where you are playing three, four-receiver sets, and that’s a lot of similarities that I see.
Q. Sefo, your head coach has won about every Coach of the Year honors that there are this year. What do you value most about his mentorship and leadership in this program?
SEFO LIUFAU: I think the biggest thing for me and probably most of the other guys is how much he actually puts into the program. A lot of people on the outside won’t really see it, but just to know that he gives everything to us to make sure that we’re successful, it really means a lot for us, and we know that he’ll go to bat for us, and that’s something that’s really appreciated by the guys and myself.
Q. Sefo, what was your initial thoughts when you knew you were going to have co-offensive coordinators this year, and how do you feel like that dynamic has worked out this year?
SEFO LIUFAU: I didn’t know what to think at first. I’ve never really heard of a co-offensive coordinator kind of system. But throughout the year and throughout — as the year progressed, it’s been wonderful. I think the cliché of saying two minds are better than one or however it goes, it’s been great. Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses, and they’ve both helped me grow a lot as a quarterback. They’ve helped this offense grow tremendously and allowed us to do a lot of positive things this year. It’s been nothing but great things. Coach Lindgren, I’ve been with him for four years now, and he’s always on me in a quiet way, always letting me know. And then Coach Chiav is kind of a little more outgoing with fire. He’ll let you know you messed up when it happens and so it’s been great overall just to have both of them back there helping run the offense.
Q. Shay, can you talk about your development specifically, your game this year and how you think you might have gotten better and what you improved over years past?
SHAY FIELDS: I mean, I would say I’ve come a long road, leadership wise, skill wise, talent wise, kind of like the speed drills we kind of did over the off-season, the cone work, the hands, getting on the jugs, it all made me a better player that I am today. It just comes with the hard work that we all put in, especially since I knew I had some weaknesses so I asked some of the other players what can I do, other drills and stuff, and it all comes as a team effort.
Q. Brian, you guys played in the Pac-12 Championship, now you’re in a premier bowl game. Colorado hasn’t played in these level of competitions in a long time it feels like. How has that really impacted the recruiting trail for you as coaches?
BRIAN LINDGREN: It’s been — he’s going to speak to this year as the director of recruiting — director? Recruiting coordinator. It’s all these titles now. It’s been unbelievable. You know, just being able to play, I think, the last three or four games of the year we were playing nationally televised on Fox national, and that’s been huge, just for people to be able to — kids to be able to see us play on that stage, and then also I think the excitement that winning created around Boulder as far as our home crowds, and I think those last two against Washington State and Utah were great crowds at Folsom. It was packed, it was loud and people were standing the entire game and it was just a really live environment, and recruits were able to see that. It’s really helped a lot, and then the building of that new facility has helped a little bit for us, as well.
DARRIN CHIAVERINI: You know, obviously my background playing at Colorado and being on some bowl championship teams, this is where Colorado is supposed to be. This is where we’re supposed to be. You know, winning I think it lit a fire not only from our alumni and people that follow the program, but kids that we’re recruiting or the kids that are committed to our class, they didn’t get a chance to see Colorado like I did growing up. So it’s been great not only for recruiting, for our players, for everybody around the program, but in my mind, this is long overdue. This is where we’re supposed to be. We’re supposed to be in the national spotlight. We’re supposed to be on national television, and it’s been — I take it very personal because being a Buff and someone who wore the Black and Gold and someone that sung that fight song hundreds of times in those locker rooms, I think it’s where we’re supposed to be, and I can’t really express it in the words that I want to, but when you talk to kids and you see them talk about CU football and you see people wearing the logo and wearing the brand, it’s special, and it’s just the beginning for us. We’re heading the right direction.
Q. Sefo, your opposing head coach Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State is a former quarterback, and he’s kind of hard when he describes quarterbacks, and one of the ingredients in a great quarterback that he especially likes to see is toughness, and he’s complimented you several times before they got to San Antonio about what kind of tough player he thinks you are. Talk about that aspect of your game, and also getting a compliment from an opposing head coach on your toughness.
SEFO LIUFAU: I think I got my toughness from my dad and him being in the military, and I think starting in third grade I went and I was with the unit all the time doing PT, which is just working out in the morning. I was never allowed to complain really or say anything, so it helped me really mature very quickly, and to be able to get a compliment like that from the opposing coach is just an honor.
It’s just a blessing to be able to receive that honor, and yeah, we’ll just try and display that toughness again when we play Oklahoma State.