TRACY CLAEYS: Today we’ve got two great leaders for our football team this year in the seniors, Peyton Pelluer and Hunter Dale.
STEVE SPURRIER JR.: We’ve got two outstanding players quarterback Gardner Minshew II and Jamire Calvin, who’s a sophomore.
Q. Coach Claeys, talk about the game this weekend.
TRACY CLAEYS: We’ve had a good time since we’ve been down here. It’s a good city, a lot of things to do, and at the same time, had great practices. The guys have been focused and prepared. It’s important that they’re fun but they’re a lot more fun if you win. But the city has been great to us. The Alamo Bowl has been great to us, and we’ve had a good week of preparing, and looking forward to the game.
Q. Coach Spurrier, can you talk about the Iowa State offense, what you knew before, what you know now?
STEVE SPURRIER JR.: I know nothing about their offense and don’t know anything this week about their offense. Haven’t watched them at all. Yeah, Iowa State is a talented team. They started off the year 1-3 and 7-1 the last eight games, so they’ve got a lot of momentum. They’re kind of standard in the front, they play a three-man front and they mix it up in the secondary a good bit. Their leading tackler No. 12 does an excellent job flying all over the place. They’re a sound team. They tackle well. We’re going to have to play well and execute well to beat these guys.
Q: Coach Claeys, can you tell me what the process was like for you coming in this year?
TRACY CLAEYS: Well, the best thing was they didn’t change a whole lot. I thought it was better for me to learn some things, and we changed as little as possible. Obviously personality-wise there were a couple things that I like to do that they weren’t doing much of, but I would say 80 percent of it was built around what they’ve already been doing, and they’ve been great. We had to get to know each other, but like I say, had great senior leadership, so overall, the transition was really pretty easy.
Q. Peyton, last season your season was cut short due to injury. This season you’re leading the team in tackles. What have you learned in your recovery process, and how has it impacted your game this year?
PEYTON PELLUER: Yeah, I think I’ve had a different perspective on football coming back from that injury. I’ve had a newfound appreciation just for the game itself. Each practice is that much more fun for me just because I’ve never really sat out like a full year like that before from an injury, so I guess before that injury I kind of took it for granted a little bit. This season has just been that much more fun, one, because we’ve been winning. I’ve got a great group of guys around me, guys like Hunter Dale on the defensive side of the ball that help me out and allow me to make plays when I’ve got the opportunity. But just having that new appreciation for this game that I’ve been playing since I was just a little kid just makes it that much more fun.
Q. Gardner, is there one more thing going to go viral before game time?
GARDNER MINSHEW: There’s no telling. We’ve got a lot of personality on this team, so I’d probably keep some cameras around just in case something pops up but there’s nothing in the works yet.
Q. Peyton, your defense as a team has improved a lot since you came to the program. What differences have you seen and what was the turning point for you as a group?
PEYTON PELLUER: You know, we’ve got a close-knit group of guys. We have fun together. Each practice is just a blast, loads of energy. Coach Claeys, like he talked about earlier, came in, didn’t really change much, new verbiage here and there, but for the most part we did what we’ve been doing the last couple years. I feel like that really helped out the young guys because it is kind of a younger defense, and they just keep getting better week in and week out.
We try to focus on getting better each week, especially with all the practices we’ve had this bowl season. We just try to focus on getting better and prepare our butts off each game, and this week is no different.
Q. Hunter or Peyton, you played against a lot of good quarterbacks in the Pac-12. Who have you seen that compared to Brock Purdy’s play in the Pac-12?
HUNTER DALE: I mean, in the Pac-12 they do have a lot of good quarterbacks, and because he’s a freshman, I think he’s doing a phenomenal job leading that team. He’s making his receivers better and he’s making everyone around him better, too, and it looks like he’s giving his people around him a lot of confidence and each quarterback has his own style. I really wouldn’t compare him to anybody in the Pac-12 because I think he has his own style, and we’re going to have to do a good job of containing him and showing him different looks and things like that. He brings his team up, and he elevates their team’s play.
PEYTON PELLUER: What he said.
Q. Coach Claeys, could you talk about their receiving running back? Hakeem has got a lot of hype. Do they compare with anything you’ve seen on tape, those two?
TRACY CLAEYS: Well, it’s a matter of with their size and their skill levels, having a running back and two big wide receivers and got a tight end that runs good as they make you defend everything. Vertically and horizontally, they make it hard to cheat anywhere and then mixing up their tempos on you, it’s a challenge, but each week is, and we’ve had good practices, but looking forward to it. But it will definitely be a challenge with their talent and some of the things they’re doing.
Q. Jamire, their defense has had some success against some air-raid schemes all year. What have you seen from them and their safety Peavy?
JAMIRE CALVIN: Just kind of a leadership role. He kind of leads the whole defense, comes down, makes good tackles. Actually they’re a really good tackling team. Just going to have to go out there and do what we do every week and just make plays, set holes in zones and come out with a victory.
Q. Coach Spurrier, when you were at South Carolina you went to a lot of bowl games with your dad and won a lot of bowl games. What impact does a bowl game have on recruiting?
STEVE SPURRIER JR.: Yeah, bowl games are big, especially as you get into later in December and January where everybody is watching them. Everybody sees this, and Washington State we have pretty good reach. We’ve got a lot of kids from Florida, Michigan, Texas. To be in the state of Texas obviously means a lot for us to be here. We need to play well. We’ve brought a good team with us, and we’re looking forward to putting on a good show. But yeah, it definitely influences kids. They get to watch you play, and they want to see a team that plays well, that plays hard, that has fun and can win games, and we’ve done that a bunch this year. We’ve got an opportunity to be on TV a good bit, and GameDay coming out there to Pullman was a big deal for us, so any time you’re on TV and you’re representing your program, it’s a big deal, and it’s a big deal.
Q. Gardner, I’m just curious, how much would someone have to pay you to shave off your mustache?
GARDNER MINSHEW: I don’t know if it’s even in dollars right now. You know, maybe I’d trade it for like three wishes from a Genie or maybe, I don’t know, executive power of the United States of America, something like that. But to put a dollar figure on it is just absurd. So good question.
Q. Gardner, what do you think running out of that tunnel, what is going to be going through your mind when you see the big crowds, the Friday Night Lights, the only game on TV?
GARDNER MINSHEW: I’m fired up. We’re glad to be here. You know, I always kind of imagined when I run out of the tunnel, kind of like Mike Winchell running out on Friday Night Lights. I’m in Texas so I’ll probably do something like that. It’ll be a lot of fun. It’s a huge stage, big bowl game against a really good team, and we’ve just got to go out and do what we do, and the rest I feel like will take care of itself.
Q. Jamire, with neither USC or UCLA going to bowl games, you being from Southern California, your family and friends down there, have they sort of adopted Washington State?
JAMIRE CALVIN: I would hope so. I mean, that would help a lot. There’s a lot of good guys that come out of California. USC and UCLA kind of been on the decline, but I’m sure they’ll get it together and figure it all out. They’re historically great programs, but hey, come join us at Washington State.