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Sat, Dec. 28 - 6:30 pm CST
Sat, Dec. 28 - 6:30 pm CST
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Don Pellum

DeForest Buckner

Rodney Hardrick

Charles Nelson

Joe Walker

Oregon Ducks

THE MODERATOR: Our first press conference is with the Oregon defense. Coach, if you could introduce your players and open with a brief statement.

DON PELLUM: We’re excited to be here. It’s been a wonderful journey thus far. The hospitality, accommodations have been great. Our kids have been working hard. We’re feeling really good about where we are right now.

At the table accompanying me today is DeForest Buckner, Charles Nelson, Rodney Hardrick, and Joe Walker.

Q. When you first got here, you were talking about the matchup with Trevone, how difficult that might be. What is your reaction to the fact he’s suspended from this game?
DeFOREST BUCKNER: Yeah, it’s unfortunate for the team. Their team is still ready for us. Their backup win against Oklahoma a couple weeks back. They almost pretty much won this game. We were just talking about it.

It’s just one little pass. DB came up on his coverage. All he had to do was really dump it over, didn’t win the game.

They’ll be ready for us. We’re still preparing like every day, getting ready every day and all that stuff. We’re not taking it lightly.

Q. Don, you have put in the game plan for this game weeks ago. Given Boykin out, how does that change your approach on what you can do well?
DON PELLUM: They’re a very talented team. That program has won because they persevered through some injuries, but they have a lot of talent. In the times when the starting quarterback was out, they have other ways of running that offense. They have a wildcat system, the quarterback that played against Oklahoma did a nice job of orchestrating that. He has some skills.

Our preparation hasn’t changed. We don’t expect any letdown. What we’re expecting is an even more fiery team because they’ve lost something. They’ll come back. Sometimes when you’re injured, sometimes when you lose someone, when the troops rally, you can come back stronger. I think that’s what we’re going to get.

We’re preparing for the same offensive attack. It may be a wildcat quarterback, we don’t know that, but we need to be prepared for everything.

Bowls, you get everything. A bowl game is like the first game of the year. We have to be prepared for everything.

Q. Rodney, you were improving up until basically the second half of the Oregon State game. How do you get back to where you were?
RODNEY HARDRICK: All comes down to how we practice and how we prepare. We’ve been focused on finishing the season off the correct way. We put our faith in coach and trust the game plan so we can actually finish this one.

Q. Don, how did you get the news about Boykin? What was your reaction?
DON PELLUM: We were traveling to breakfast and one of the players mentioned it. I didn’t pay much attention. First I thought they were joking, then later on the way to practice, after meetings, kind of a buzz.

My reaction was the same. We’ve got to beat TCU. One of the things everybody has to understand, they have a ton of really good players. Right now if you look at TCU, they’re second in their conference tied with Oklahoma, tied for second. They were the best team in the state of Texas. A lot of great football players in Texas.

It’s not just the quarterback, it’s not just the receiver. There’s a lot of good players on that team. We have had to prepare the same way.

You know what, they lose some dynamicness at that quarterback position, but there’s play-makers all over the place. There was no excitement, jump for joy. Now we’ve got to be prepared for something else.

Q. When you practice tomorrow, will you make any changes in light of the developments?
DON PELLUM: No. Our game plan has to be able to handle a lot of different situations. We will not all of a sudden change everything. We’re going to do the same things we’ve been doing. Once we get in the game, we’ll have to adjust to whatever they’re doing.

Q. Don, you’re probably the sharpest-dressed individual at any press conference I’ve seen. What is your thinking?
DON PELLUM: That we were going to be here for eight days, so I needed three or four suits (laughter).

Also I’m always trying to provide a positive role model for these guys. Press conference, some coaches may take it a different way. This is a big deal. Everything football-wise is a big deal. It’s an occasion to dress up and be excited.

Q. DeForest, who was the first person you told when you were PAC-12 defensive Player of the Year?
DeFOREST BUCKNER: My parents. Called them when I found out the news, after I did a little interview, before they were going to air it, I wanted to let them know first.

Q. Charles, thoughts on the change in quarterback, your reaction when you heard, how it changes preparation for the secondary?
CHARLES NELSON: I don’t think it changes preparation at all. It’s very unfortunate for him. But the show must go on.

Q. DeForest, a lot of people hear that Boykin is gone, Oregon is ready to eat. Does it take away luster that you don’t get to go against their best?
DeFOREST BUCKNER: Yeah, definitely. Every time you go against a team, you want to go against their best guys. Like we said, it’s unfortunate for him not to be in the game, go against an elite player.

Like Charles said, the show must go on. They have other good players to replace him. It’s not just at the quarterback position like Coach Pell aluminum said, they have good players in the receiving corps, their runningbacks. We have to prepare for their best.

Q. Rodney, talking about the second half of that Civil War. Talk about the guy to your left right there, his return what that means for this defense.
RODNEY HARDRICK: Joe is great to play next to. We have a great chemistry. Great guy on and off the field. Helps out with the communication. He’s a great leader, as well.

Him being back on the field is great for us. It will help us out a lot.

Q. Don, as a coaching staff, what do you do in terms of curfews, talking to players, to avoid situations when you’re in a bowl game where they can be out at 2 in the morning?
DON PELLUM: I think most universities, you have a system. First, it’s year-round. Year-round, Coach Helfrich has a plan where we’re educating our guys. We bring in guest speakers. Every time something happens in the newspapers to a college football player, athlete, pro athlete, we’re going to use it as a learning experience, as an example for our players, here is where this person was, here is where you can be. A lot of those decisions are about that quick (snapping fingers).

We try to educate them year-round. We bring in specialists, former players, people that have had substance abuse problems. We bring a lot of people.

It’s a year-round process. At the end of the day the tough thing is that they are kids. DeForest, he’s growing. You have to continue that process of trying to educate them. At some point they’re out there and they have to make some tough decisions, but that’s part of growing up.

Q. Don, any kind of letdown, is that a concern at all?
DON PELLUM: Our players have seen the film. These guys are really good. I mean, they’re really good. You miss a tackle, it’s a touchdown, regardless of which guy it is. They roll guys in and out.

I’m not worried about that. We will have to play a great game on defense, play a complete game. I’m not worried.

Q. Will you remind these guys in the next 24 hours to mind your Ps and Qs sort of thing?
DON PELLUM: Coach Helfrich, when we arrived, he outlined and touched on all those different things, the conduct to adhere to.

I’m not going to touch on it, but our kids know. They all know. It’s a sad situation, but it’s a teachable moment.

Q. They also lost Josh Doctson. How much do you think they’ll change with that loss?
DON PELLUM: When you watch the film, when Doctson was out, there was another receiver that came in, probably 6’4″, extremely fast, extremely long.

I think their offense is going to operate the same. We’re going to approach it that way.

I didn’t notice a lot of different routes. I didn’t notice a lot of scheme changes. I notice they’re running a lot of their same patterns. So that’s what we’re anticipating.

CHARLES NELSON: Once he was out, they brought in the next man. It wasn’t anything different. Like we stress here, next man up. Somebody came in and got the job done. We’re going to deal with the man that we’ve got.

Q. Rodney, we hear about coach always trying to grow and develop you guys as players. What is your personal relationship with Coach Pellum?
RODNEY HARDRICK: He’s helped me a lot off the field, has shaped me more as a man as I continue to grow.

I mean, he’s helped me a lot. He’s very influential. He’s always been there for us.

Q. Going off that, why do you think he said you’d make a good coach?
RODNEY HARDRICK: I’m not sure. Maybe the smarts of the game, very knowledgeable of the offensive schemes and defensive schemes, and I would make a great coach.

Q. Coach Don, have you seen TCU’s backup quarterback?
DON PELLUM: When you watch their film, you see every single player because there’s extra time. I see pretty much the same offense. He may not run as fast, but the threat of a running quarterback…

I see the same type of offense. May not be the home run. But then again, they supplement that with a couple different other guys in there.

The offense to me has been the same. All those guys are capable. Once again, that’s a very talented team.

Q. What has your curfew been this week? As young men, how do you fight the temptation to not sneak out and go out?
JOE WALKER: I mean, like Coach Pellum said, Coach Helf kind of instills it into us throughout the year. Nobody has a desire to go out. We’re here to play a football game.

Our curfew, till game day, it just gets sooner.

Q. For all you guys. What sparked the incident was a heckling thing. Is that something that’s unusual?
RODNEY HARDRICK: We just decided to not pay attention to that kind of stuff. The opinions that we have within our team is what matters to us.

DeFOREST BUCKNER: We try not to put ourselves in that kind of situation, in other people’s territory, all this stuff. We’re in Texas. We got a lot of Texas fans. You don’t want to put yourselves in situations where things will get heated.

Coach always preaches, when something hostile comes amongst one of the players, we got to get our guy out. We’re not here to be tough guys off the field, to try to start up fights and everything. We just try to get our guy out and kind of turn the other cheek in a way, just walk away.