Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Stanford Cardinal Defense
LANCE ANDERSON: Next to me I have starting safety Justin Reid; to his left, starting inside linebacker, Bobby Okereke; next to Bobby is starting cornerback Quenton Meeks; and finally on the end, starting outside linebacker Peter Kalambayi.
I think we had a great week of preparation. We’re excited about this opportunity, playing a top-15 opponent that has a very explosive offense, a lot of great skill players, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us. But I’m really excited that we have the opportunity to go out and play another game as a defense, as a unit. Really like how we have improved as a defense as the year has gone on. We’ve had our challenges, but I think we’ve gotten better and better. You look at their run defense, and it hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve gotten better and better as the year has gone on.
We’re excited to go out there and play as a unit one more time. We’re excited about playing a good football team.
Peter, what have you seen from the TCU offense? What are the things that impress you about them the most, especially what’s your thoughts about Kenny Hill?
PETER KALAMBAYI: One thing that really pops off the film is their speed overall. Their receivers are fast, the backs are fast, the quarterback himself is fast, and on top of that, their tempo is fast. A lot of times they choose to go high tempo with a fast-paced offense, very similar to the Pac-12 offenses that we’re used to playing. It’s nice to play another high-tempo offense, similar to a lot of the Pac-12 teams we’re playing, and we’re excited for the challenge.
Can you talk about memories you have from past bowl experiences and how it’s shaped your approach for this week?
PETER KALAMBAYI: Yeah, so this being my fifth bowl, fourth one I’ve actually played in, it’s always a good time going to these bowl games, enjoying time at all the events with your teammates and doing fun stuff, but at the end of the day, we’re here to win a football game. And as I’ve gotten older, I’m getting a better understanding of how to do both and have fun but also focus on the game, and I try to pass that on to the younger players to make sure their heads are straight and make sure they’re ready and locked in to go every day at practice and watching film on top of having fun at the bowl events.
Quenton, how have things gone for you this week in San Antonio? Have you had a chance to enjoy the city very much? And specifically, I don’t think you got in to swim with the dolphins, right, at Sea World?
QUENTON MEEKS: No, that wasn’t me.
I know that Brandon got into it, though, right?
QUENTON MEEKS: Yes, he did. I’m actually pretty jealous, I’m not going to lie. I really wanted to do that. But I got to see some cool animals. I got to see some Burmese pythons, a bald eagle, and a porcupine, and I got to pet all of them and take pictures with all of them, so it made up for it definitely.
And what are your thoughts about Kenny Hill and their receivers, as well?
QUENTON MEEKS: I mean, like Peter was saying, they’re very fast, they’re athletic, like to get the ball to their playmakers in space, like to do a lot of horizontal passing, a lot of screen passes, and then hit you over the top deep. So you’ve just really got to stay disciplined. They like to go fast, go tempo, so it’s important for us to get the call quickly and get lined up and know our assignments so that when we do get out there that we know what we’re doing and that the pace doesn’t get the best of us, but we’re used to seeing it. We see it all year in the Pac-12, so it’s just another offense that we’re used to going against, but they’ve got a lot of talent, so you’ve got to be on your P’s and Q’s.
Can you just talk about how creative and diverse TCU is and how you balance preparing these guys for everything you might see versus the sense of like trying to cram everything in that you might see?
LANCE ANDERSON: They’re definitely creative. There’s a lot of diversity in their offense. A lot of different ways to get their playmakers the ball, whether it’s 18, 25, one of the running backs. They’re going to put them at unique positions; it might be a reverse; it might be some kind of screen. They’ve got double passes, all kinds of stuff. So for us our biggest challenge is just to go out and do our job, execute our defense, be disciplined with our eyes, be assignment sound. If we do that, I think we will match up well.
Could you talk about your in-game adjustments when you talk to Justin during the game and how you incorporate that into this game?
LANCE ANDERSON: On game day I’m up in the box, and I think that’s easier for me just to be able to see everything from up there, and we’ve got constant communication with the other coaches, so we’re always going back and forth and discussing things, so those guys, whether it’s our DB coach Duane Akina talking about the DB’s, Coach Hansen talking with the inside backers, Coach Reynolds with the D-line, so we’re getting feedback on what these guys are seeing, what they’re thinking, and then we can start to incorporate that into what we do. There’s always some feeling out from the opponent, too. You go in, you have an idea of what you might see, what they might do, but they always have a few new wrinkles, and especially going into a bowl game when there’s been that extra prep time, and we’ve got to be prepared for the unexpected and just go out and execute our assignments.
Bobby, have you thought about putting on your pads for the last time as a Stanford Cardinal and walking through the tunnel?
BOBBY OKEREKE: Not exactly sure if it’s my last time yet, but definitely excited for another game coming up.
What do you think walking through the stadium is going to feel like on game day?
BOBBY OKEREKE: It’s going to be pretty cool. I’ve never play in a dome before. Talking to some of my teammates who played in the Army All-American game here, they said it was crazy, loud environment, so I’m excited for it.
Can you talk about a strength of Coach Anderson and how you think he would be as a head coach?
JUSTIN REID: I guess I’ll start. The amount that Coach Lance Anderson knows is incredible, the type of schemes we do here at Stanford University, it’s compared to NFL schemes and NFL environments, and that’s why so many of our guys are able to transition into the league so easily, because it’s not like they’re learning a whole bunch of new concepts and new schemes. We already are equipped with the tools from what Coach Anderson teaches us through our installs and throughout the year to be successful in the league and be successful in college and all around.
I think Coach Anderson would be an incredible head coach if he chose to do that, if he chose to pursue that as his career, because he has the right type of mentality about it; he has the right type of work ethic. He puts in the work and he cares about his guys to do well and succeed.
BOBBY OKEREKE: Yeah, I’ll follow up on that. Coach Anderson does a really good job with us preparing us through the week, but I would think the biggest thing is probably in-game adjustments. Coming in at halftime, he’s up in the box looking at everything, and he’s able to detail exactly what we’re doing, and he’s like, you know what, we’re going to mix in some different calls, maybe we’ll go two high, maybe we’ll go one high, and just really putting us in great positions to make plays and trusting us to make plays.
QUENTON MEEKS: I would probably say play calling. You know, being the son of a defensive coordinator and someone who his dad had to go through play calling and knowing how difficult is probably is to call a game and know what the offense is doing and the amount of studying that a coach has to do, especially a defensive coordinator in our conference, to know the offenses because the Pac-12 is so diverse, and I feel like we have the best calls of any defense in the nation, and we always are able to match up to our opponents extremely well no matter who we play, and that’s just a testament to Coach Anderson, how hard he works. You need that in a head coach. You need somebody who’s also going to motivate your players to do better and to want to play for you, and that’s one thing that when you come to Stanford, you know that playing for Stanford’s defense, we’re expected to be great, and Coach Anderson definitely lets us know that that’s the expectation, and you want to play for a guy like that, that has the expectation to be great and has the expectation in all of us to be great, and that just raises your level of play.
PETER KALAMBAYI: I think in terms of becoming a head coach, Coach Anderson would definitely be a great head coach. Firstly if you talk to the other coaches on the staff, you hear Coach Anderson is the last guy out of the building almost every night. He works extremely hard in compartmentalizing all the different parts of the defense, and I think even if he had to deal with an offense, too, he’d do a great job making sure everything meshed together, understanding how things, special teams, offense, defense flows together and how they could all fit together. And on top of that, like Quenton said, he holds us always to a high standard. Even if we win a game, how can we get better. And he doesn’t allow complacency in his defense, and I think he would do that to his team, too, and he’d definitely make a great head coach.
JUSTIN REID: I’d love to see more defensive-minded head coaches, too, in and around the conference, too.
Continuity with the coaching staff has been kind of a hallmark with the Stanford staff. Why do coaches stay, and how does that continuity help the program?
LANCE ANDERSON: It’s just a great place to coach. First off, it’s a beautiful area, great place to live. Coach Shaw is tremendous to work for, and you see here to my left the kind of players that we get. That’s one of the reasons I love it so much at Stanford is we’ve got great guys to coach, guys who want to be great, guys who want to go play at the next level, who want to be the best they possibly can. But the other thing, these guys have other aspirations, too. They come to Stanford, they’re going to get an education, and whatever football may end for them, and hopefully it’s a long ways down the road after they’ve played a long time in the NFL, but they’re going to have a powerful degree that’s going to go allow them to be very successful in other parts of life, as well. Those are such attractive things.
I think we’ve got a tremendous defensive coaching staff. Coach Akina is the best DB coach there is out there; Coach Hansen, tremendous linebacker coach; Coach Reynolds on the defensive line. We’ve got a great chemistry. We work really well together, no egos. It just makes for a lot of fun coming to work every single day, and I think we enjoy that, and no reason for it to change.
Bobby, I’d like to ask you a couple of questions about the running backs. Darius Anderson, I’m not sure what number he is, but their top runner, what do you think of him? Does he remind you of anybody in the Pac-12 at all?
BOBBY OKEREKE: They’re good. I think running style, they run a lot of read, a lot of boss, kind of similar to maybe like a Washington or a Cal, but they do a really good job. They’re not going to hurt themselves, they’re not going to really make negative plays, they’re just going to get their yards and keep rushing.
Bobby, what have you seen from Bryce Love this week? Does he look like he’s 100 percent?
BOBBY OKEREKE: Yeah, he looks fast. He looks good.
As good as ever?
BOBBY OKEREKE: Yes, I would say so.
Justin, can you talk about the different ways that they use Turpin? They seem to find just about everything for him to do. He’s pass rushed, caught a touchdown pass this year. I think he’s got return touchdowns. Can you talk about what you’re seeing from him on film and how they like to use him?
JUSTIN REID: Yeah, KaVontae is a very explosive player, and it’s great for them to have a player like that because you’ve got to put your playmakers in spaces so that they can make plays. So they move him around; they put him in the one spot to catch screens; they put him in the two spot to just do all types of different movements. They sometimes put him in the backfield so he can get the ball there. They just try to find unique ways to get him the ball so that way he can do what he does and try and create yards and make some plays for them so that way they can get points down the line. Going against him will be a fun challenge for us personally because you always love to go against good players. It wouldn’t be a fun bowl game if you didn’t have star players to go against, so we’re definitely excited for the opportunity to go against him.
Quenton, you’ve stepped up in past bowl games with game-changing plays. Is there something else that has you flip on a different switch for a bowl game when the lights are brighter?
QUENTON MEEKS: I guess it’s just that you have so much time to prepare, so you just have time to — during the bowl game you get time to relax and recuperate and reflect back on the season. I go back and watch all my games I’ve played throughout the season and just see what I need to work on, whether it being the strengths or whether it being the weaknesses, and just go on and try to put together a kind of finale to the season that the fans will be proud of and that will definitely help my team win. I love winning, and I’ve always — a bowl game is like the championship game to your season, and you want to always go win on a good note, and I just put a little extra focus, I guess, into a bowl game. But it’s not like it’s intentional, it’s just that when you have more time, you just have more time to look at little things and get little details that you wouldn’t with just a week’s time to prepare.