Assistant Coach Steve Greatwood
On the challenges TCU brings to the table
It’s a definite challenge. Their scheme presents a lot of problems. They do a lot of movement up front and a lot of big slants and angles with it. They’re basically trying to occupy two gaps with one defender. Your conventional zone footwork and zone concepts have to be modified and adjusted. We’ve been working our tails off on it and hopefully our guys will be able to go out there and stop some of those charges and let our backs do what they can do. But we all have to work as one. Running backs have to do a great job of pressing the line of scrimmage and getting linebackers to flow and fit. Our footwork has to be on the mark so we can stop the penetration and get up to the second level.
On the development of his offensive line this year
We’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to keep everyone relatively healthy this year, unlike last year. So we’ve had really great leadership from our center Matt Hegarty, Tyler Johnstone and our other senior group which has been great. I’ve been very pleased with them. They’ve just worked hard with kind of a blue-collar mentality but it’s paying off.
On offensive lineman Tyler Johnstone’s injury vs. Texas in the 2013 Valero Alamo Bowl
Tyler is very focused and very motivated. When we first found out we were getting the bid here I said we’re going back to the scene of the crime. He can’t wait to go and get back out here and basically complete his mission. I can’t say enough about him. He basically tore his ACL twice and had to sit out all of last year. But he did a fantastic job of leadership for us. He was at every practice even though he knew he wasn’t going to play and just did a great job of keeping our guys focused.
When asked about the evolution of offensive lineman Cameron Hunt heading into his senior year
Well, Cameron has grown more than any other player I’ve coached this year just as far as his maturity, the way he approaches the game, his work ethic and attention to detail. I’m just really pleased with him. I see him as just a fourth-year senior being the cornerstone of the group next year. I’m going to put a lot on his shoulders but I think he’s at the point in his career when he’s ready to handle it.
When asked if he thought it was unprecedented that Hunt will be a four-year starter
Well we’ve had a couple. Tyrell (Crosby) will be one also and we’ve had some guys like Jake Fisher, although Jake was only a part-time starter as a true freshman. It’s becoming more and more of the norm, which is kind of a testament of times where we are right now.
Defensive Back Arrion Springs
When asked how he felt when he knew he was coming back to play in San Antonio
It felt very joyful. Then I realized I had to get a lot of tickets. But it’s really fun to come back home and play in the Alamodome.
On today’s weather being more like Oregon weather as opposed to Texas weather
It happens everywhere we go. Everywhere we went this year we brought the weather with us. I was enjoying 80 degrees, t-shirts and shorts for a long period of time until we showed up yesterday.
On his year
I had a rough start just trying to get some experience under my belt. I caught on late in the season pretty well and since then I’ve just been trying to get better. I feel that the whole defensive unit has stepped up since the first game.
When asked what he sees when he watches film of TCU
They’re really good, I’m not going to downplay it. They have good receivers, a good running back in Aaron Green and their quarterback is really good. We have to make sure we get some pressure, cover guys on the ball and try to eliminate the big plays on defense.
When asked if he played against TCU running back Aaron Green
I was a freshman so I watched. I went to the game and said “oh, snap”. But I watched him and he was pretty good.
On the unique challenges TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin brings to the table
He’s a great player. I’m pretty sure he’d be up for the Heisman right now if he hadn’t gotten hurt. So we just have to try and contain him and not let him get outside the pocket and extend plays with his feet. So we’ve just got to contain him.
When asked if Boykin’s running and passing skills make him a dual threat
Exactly, we’ve got to stay in coverage a little longer, maybe drop someone out of coverage to spy him a little bit and make sure he doesn’t just take off. So it’s definitely a defensive challenge.
Oregon DB Sean Kilpatrick
When asked how he and his brother Devin Kilpatrick, DB at TCU, ended up at their respective schools
We wanted to take different paths, so he went TCU and I just wanted to get out of state and be with Oregon. So it was just luck of the draw.
When asked how often he and Devin would talk to each other throughout the season
We would talk to each other about once a week. When we were leading up to the bowl, I was just telling my team how great of an opportunity it would be to play my brother for one last time. He’s graduating so this would be his last game and his last season.
When asked if he and his brother played against each other growing up
Yeah, a lot. This will be the first and the last time we play each other in college. It’s going to be great.
Assistant Coach John Neal
With WR Josh Doctson, Garry Patterson said he’s out – Does that change at all your feelings on the wide recievers?
Well, they got a whole bunch of them but when you take one of the five best wide receivers in the country out of the game plan yeah there’s a little bit of a relief – but they’ll replace him with somebody. They got a lot of production in that team and a lot of great speed. It’s a tough break for them but it doesn’t really change anything for us. We got to figure out how to stop everybody else. We have to stop the run too.
Talk about the evolution of your secondary and how it’s progressed.
Well, we are still working at it. We aren’t anywhere we need to be. We hope this game can give us some idea because they’re going to challenge us at a high level so maybe after the game, I’ll feel a lot better about it but we got Chris (Tewhill) back, so we got a healthy starter back that gives us depths, gives us a lot more knowledge and experience. The evolution is still in progress and this game is going to be a tell-tale.
Talk about DB Arrion Springs. Of course he’s the local kid and how he’s improved?
Yeah, he has. Arrion’s deal is when Arrion’s on, he’s a really good player and right now he just has to be one of those kids that learns how to remain focused and for a full game. When he does, he’s really good. I expect him to be really, really good this game. There’s a lot on the line and it’s a great deal for him being from here and playing a Texas school and playing a team as good as TCU. I expect him to have his best game of his career.
Does he have the makings to be a really good corner? How so?
Absolutely. Strength, size, and he’s intelligent. And when he wants to go, he’s really good. He’s a big guy. He’s almost 210 pounds. That’s a big corner.
Does he have that short memory that corners need?
I think so. He just needs to not lose his focus and when he does, he does lose it. When he doesn’t, he’s a good player.
What are the unique challenges that QB Trevone Boykin will bring to you guys?
It just puts a great deal of stress on us. You can play perfect coverage, everything’s great, and he runs for 30 yards because he’s that talented. He can break the pocket. They got the quarterback run plays. Things that modern football has made defensive coaches hate football. He’s got it all. When he’s on, he’s really fun to watch. He’s as close to Michael Vick as I’ve seen in a while just in terms of his body movement, speed and the arm he’s got.
Tyree Robinson, DB
How did Darren find out about the news about New Mexico’s Markel Byrd?
I was the one who gave Darren Carrington the news because he didn’t know and it was just sad.
He grew up in your school district?
So you guys played together on the same teams?
How did you find out?
I found out from one of his cousins. It was late at night. Markell had called me and Darren and let us know he was going to come down. He had just gotten done playing his bowl game and everything. We were just sitting there waiting for the phone call and kind of figured something was going on just because he should have been home already. Once we got the phone call, it was kind of shocking. We didn’t know why him. He was such a good kid. He did everything. He played basketball, football just like me. We always played everything. Just athletes growing up. He played baseball and everything. Just to lose somebody like that who always gave it 100% with everything he did and I just think that the good die young. The only thing we can do is kind of live for him, especially me and Darren, because we were really the only guys from San Diego that still playing football and continue our dream.
How was it like picking up the phone and telling Darren?
It was hard just because I just didn’t know how to tell Darren. When I gave him the phone call and everything, I couldn’t even want to believe it. Only thing I wanted to do was be there for Darren. That was his best, best friend. He was my good friend but that was his best friend. I understand losing a best friend because I lost mine my freshmen year in Oregon. All I can do is be around him and be around my teammates to keep me up in spirits. We are on a business trip right now, but right after the game, we are going to go right back to San Diego.
How has practiced helped?
It does help just because the way our team is, the way our coaches are, you know, we are a family. As soon as everyone found out, we had numerous calls just checking on us, seeing how we were doing. We really appreciated that. Like I said, it’s never going to go away. The pain is always going to be inside. All we can do now is live for him because that’s what he would want for us and continue our dreams. We aren’t just playing for ourselves, we are playing for our whole community back home.
How did the team practice?
We practiced very well. Everyone was ready to practice. Everyone was excited to see each other. The momentum was just there. We try to keep that going and everything and get ready for TCU because those guys are practicing as hard as us.
How far have some of the young guys come since the opener? Not sophomores and freshmen anymore or is there still a lot of work to do?
At the beginning of the season we had to tell them they aren’t young sophomores. They have to play big. Their opportunity is now. You can’t be out there saying ‘oh I’m a freshman. It’s going to be okay if I give one or two mistakes.’ You have to be out there and play with confidence. That’s one thing Coach Neal puts in our head. I think that they really have grown a lot, really matured out there on the field. They are out there talking in confidence now instead of just looking out there for the call. That’s one thing the young secondary has improved one which is helping me out there already too. Freshmen just out there being commanders but now we are out there listening to the young guys cause they’re out there making the correct calls. I think that’s going to help us out a lot. Like I said, everything is running really smooth.
On potency of TCU’s offense being a test to momentum for next year.
Definitely, TCU puts up a lot of points. I think every team we’ve play in the PAC 12 is similar to them, especially Washington State. They are going to air the ball out. They have that extra weapon, their quarterback Boykin is a running guy. He can throw the ball. He can kind of do it all. I think he’s healthy now so he’s going to have a chip on his shoulder because they really wanted a match up at the end of the year, just like us. We just have to play our game.
Corner or safety?
Right now, it really doesn’t matter to me. I just want to show that I am an athlete and I am versatile. I am really comfortable at playing either or.
When did you first meet Markel?
We grew up playing Pop Warner against each other, he played for Las Toros I played for Clermont, so we knew of each other but then we played on the same basketball team 6th grade summer to 7th grade. We wanted him to come to my school for junior high but that didn’t work out. We kept playing each other for all of junior high on the same club teams, and the he ended up being able to come to my high school freshman year, and ever since seventh grade we’ve become best friends
Why do you think you got along so well?
I don’t know, I was closer to him than anybody in my family. I have two sisters, so for me to have a brother that was my quarterback was a dream come true. We just clicked right away. He had two older brothers, and they were close. Either I was at his house everyday or he was at my house. We had everything in common, we played every sport. Basketball, football, baseball, volleyball, anything, and we always played together. We were inseparable. We were like the same person.
When did you last speak with Markel?
I actually talked to him that morning, I FaceTimed him. I was waiting for him to come down, that’s the main reason I went home honestly. That’s the only reason I used to go home. We used to work out, hang out. We don’t get to see each other because they’re on semesters and we’re on quarters, and it was finally going to be our first Christmas together since high school. I talked to him that morning and I was like, “Bro, I got you some cleats!” and he was super happy. He was telling me that he was just getting in the car and they were taking off. I was just like “I love you bro, make it safe,” and he was like, “for sure brother, love you too, I’m going to call you when I get closer.” And then, he never called, and it was just tragic.
What does it mean to wear his number in the Alamo Bowl?
It means a lot to me honestly, I just know he’s in a better place now. He’s a man of God, just like I am, and I know that he is being taken care of up there and he’s watching over me. Just to wear his number down here on Earth means a lot, and hopefully I can put on a good show for him.
What has this last year been like for you?
Honestly this year has been a rollercoaster, probably the toughest year of my life. Coming from January 1st, the beginning of the year, from the suspension, and being able to come back off of that. Then, with my best friend dying, it’s been hard. But I’ve been able to stay strong and keep persevering through all my struggles. Honestly, I always told Vernon and Markel, because whenever I FaceTime Markel I was either with – he knows everyone on the team. They all know of him and know he’s my best friend. I always told Vernon – he and Vernon are like the same people. I always told Vernon that. He is the older version of Markel and Markel was my quarterback in high school and Vernon is my quarterback in college. It is just crazy how much of a resemblance there were and I feel like God put Vernon on our team for this last year. He knew this was going to happen and it’s just cool to have him around.
He was the guy that helped you through the suspension from last year and all the ups and downs?
Honestly, Markel was the first person that knew when I first found out. I didn’t even call my parents. I was too scared to call my parents. I called Markel and I was like, ‘Bro, I’m not going to be able to play,’ and he was just like, ‘It’s all good man like you going to be back. You’ll be back and whenever you come back, you’re going to put on a show.’ Then he told me, ‘forget the haters, man. I love you. I don’t care.’ Every day I talked to him. I didn’t want to talk to anyone else. I talked to him every day since high school. I talked to him every day, FaceTime him before every game. Every game since I’ve been in college and since we’ve been away from each other. It’s kind of hard being here but like I said, he’s here with me but he’s not here with me.
Hard to focus on football?
I feel like getting back to practice has helped me a lot. That’s one thing that we loved. No matter what. In high school if we got in trouble or had a bad day, whenever we came to the football field, it was all jokes and smiles. Just feels good to be back out here with my brothers. I lost a brother but out here, it feels good to just be around these guys that I love and love playing with. It’s just like high school again.
How did practice feel after a week off?
Actually I went home and I couldn’t do anything. I just stayed in the house mostly. I was honestly going through it. Back home, all I wanted to do was work out because whenever I work out, I feel like a sense of relief and I could relax. So I just stayed on the football field at home and today felt pretty good. Honestly, I think it’s going to be a good week and a good game.
Is the number change to 22 permanent or just for the Alamo Bowl?
We’ll see after this season. I’ll probably – I might make it permanent but we’ll see.