THE MODERATOR: Coach, we’ll have you make an opening statement about the bowl preparations.
COACH FROST: It’s been great being down here. We expected warmer weather, but we’re used to that. We’re making due with that. We got in quite a bit of bowl preparation before we left Eugene. Kind of laid they groundwork for what we wanted to do during this game when we were back home. So this week is really just kind of gearing back up after our Christmas break, kind of ironing out all the wrinkles, trying to get ready for the ballgame.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Marcus, can you talk about where your mindset is, how healthy you are? Not finishing top six in the Heisman was maybe a disappointment. Maybe there’s extra fire.
MARCUS MARIOTA: Right now I feel good. Since the last month, I feel the most healthy I’ve been. About the Heisman, that’s out of my control. I don’t really care about that. But I feel good. This team is in a good spot. We’re looking forward to playing.
Q. Josh, how much will it mean to you if you do set some records on Monday? Is that very important to you?
JOSH HUFF: Not as important as a win. Records come and go. But the wins stay forever. As long as we get the win, I could care less about the records.
Q. Scott, how do you describe the first year as a play‑caller? Has it gone as smoothly as you thought, progressed well?
COACH FROST: Like I’ve said all along, it’s been a lot easier for me to be the play‑caller and offensive coordinator with Mark ahead of me. He’s got the experience, a lot of expertise, made the transition for me easier. The other thing that has made it easy is having guys like these executing the plays when I call them. You can call a lot of things. When you have Marcus and Josh and Keanon and Hroniss and Byron running the plays, a lot of things work. There’s been a couple games where we executed really well. There’s been a couple games where we didn’t. We played well in almost every game. There’s some things we need to improve and keep working on. It’s no different for coaches. There’s quite a few games where our game plan was really good, and some others where it wasn’t as good. We’ll keep growing from here, moving forward. The first step is this game coming up.
Q. Keanon, you went and saw the burn unit. Can you tell us about that experience.
KEANON LOWE: There were nine of us. Marcus was there. Hroniss had a chance to go. It was an amazing experience. I didn’t know too much about it before we got there. It was truly inspiring. I’ve never been in a place with so much positive flow and positive energy coming out of it. You see guys that don’t have arms, don’t have legs, you’re just inspired. They’re happy, grinding just like us. They went through injuries. Their injuries are life and death. We pull hamstrings, stuff like that. Puts things in perspective. It was a great experience, really touched me. I’m sure it really touched everyone who went.
Q. Scott, what specifically have you learned from Nick Aliotti, the way he runs his unit, that you’ve taken and used in your role as a coordinator?
COACH FROST: Nick has been a great coach at Oregon for a long time. I think any young coach is foolish if he doesn’t try to learn as much as he can from guys that have a lot of experience. There’s a lot of smart guys in this business, but once you think you know everything, then you’re done learning and improving. Nick is one of several guys on our staff that work hard every single day and have worked hard for long time at the University of Oregon to make us great. I’ve learned a lot from all of them. We’re sorry to see Nick go. He’s been a big part of our family. But we’re happy for him in retirement.
Q. Byron and Keanon, obviously you have had a month off since November, some of the struggles you had during that month. What has the time away done for you and also for your confidence after the way the season finished up?
KEANON LOWE: As far as the time off, it was a chance for us to get healthy, relax for a couple days right after the Oregon State game, just get healthy and get back on track.
We had a great bowl preparation in Eugene. We’ve had great practices in San Antonio. I think guys are just excited, ready to go. You have a month off. A month off of hitting people, you’re just ready to get back out there and try to compete.
Q. What does it do for your confidence?
KEANON LOWE: As far as confidence, it was a chance to look back and work on the fundamentals first and foremost. In Eugene, we really stressed that, ball security, just fundamentals. As far as confidence, I think we have a confident group going into this game and we’re excited to play.
BYRON MARSHALL: Just definitely had a chance to recover. Different look watching it like a coach than as a player. You see different things. Definitely a different outlook from that, a different opportunity to learn. Like Keanon said, we’ve been grinding ever since Eugene and here. We’re anxious to get back out there. My confidence hasn’t dropped in myself or my teammates. I’m just really excited to see what myself and this team can do come Monday.
Q. Marcus, what makes Josh such an effective receiver? Scott, can you describe Josh this season?
MARCUS MARIOTA: First and foremost, Josh is an unbelievable athlete and he gets open. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he does special things with it.
We try our best to get him the ball as much as we can. That guy is going to get touchdowns and first downs for us. He’s an exciting player and has done a whole lot for this offense.
COACH FROST: Really proud of Josh. To add to what Marcus said, he’s an unusual combination of speed and power. It’s allowed us to do a lot of things with him in the running and passing game and use him as a blocker. You don’t find guys that you can do those things very often. I’m proud of Josh this year. I think you would have seen this out of him the last two seasons. He had some unfortunate bad luck with injuries that nagged and hampered him both his sophomore and junior year. If he hadn’t had those things happen, I think he would have had similar numbers both those years, too. It’s great to see him have this kind of year in his senior year on his way out.
Q. Marcus, you had requested an NFL Draft evaluation going forward. A lot of other players around the country said they received theirs back. What do they say they think you can get better on next year?
MARCUS MARIOTA: For me, it was obviously ball security, accuracy, different things like that. Becoming more consistent as a passer. All things I can work on in the off‑season.
I’m really looking forward to this upcoming year, to get better, not only as a football player, but as a person. I’ll earn my agree, grow with a lot of these guys and just enjoy it.
Q. Coach and Marcus, long season, you’ve been dinged up here the last month and a half. Can you talk about going into this game at full strength now.
COACH FROST: You get beat up during the course of the season. We’re no different than anybody else. I talked to the Texas coaches last night. They talked about losing quite a few really good players to injury this year. Over the course of the football season you’re going to get hurt. The bowl preparation gives you a chance for some of the guys with minor injuries to get back healthy again. Certainly some of these guys are still a little beat up. But I think they’re excited and healthy enough to fight it out with Texas and really looking forward to the game.
MARCUS MARIOTA: Yeah, just to add on what Coach Frost was saying, you know, this extra month to have to recover, to get healthy. Obviously everyone is going to have their nicks here and there. But just get back on the fundamentals, focus on recover and just getting better. I think from that standpoint we’ve improved and we’re really looking forward to this game.
Q. Josh and Marcus, what concerns you most about Texas’ defense?
JOSH HUFF: They’re just athletic. They run to the ball. They pose a great threat when they become physical at the line of scrimmage. The secondary, they have good corners in the secondary. But we’re going to look to do our best to take advantage of those things we see weaknesses in.
MARCUS MARIOTA: Yeah, Texas is a pretty aggressive defense. They’re going to come out. Obviously they have a lot to play for. We just got to continue to be on our Ps and Qs, understand our assignments. If everybody is on the same page, if we’re all reading the same music, we should be okay.
Q. Hroniss, can you talk about the evolution of the offensive line a little bit?
HRONISS GRASU: I think everybody’s done a great job. I think all four of the guys deserve as much credit as I’ve been getting. They make my job a lot easier with the calls and all the communication. The whole offensive line, they do a great job of that. As far as the guards, they’ve been stepping up. Hamani, Mana, and Cameron, also Everett Benyard, they’ve been doing a great job of stepping up, providing extra size inside.
Q. Coach and Marcus, Texas has struggled at times this year with their quarterback that’s been able to run. Is that something you’ve seen and something you’ve seen?
COACH FROST: Marcus is healthy and ready to go. Texas has played great in some games. I think since Coach Robinson has been there, you haven’t seen as much of the issues they had with the running quarterback as before. I spoke to him a little bit last night. He’s a great guy. We don’t expect there to be a lot of glaring holes in what they do. Especially when you have extra time to prep for a bowl game, there’s not much that’s going to surprise you. We have to try to line up with them and beat them. That’s what we’ll do. We’re expecting Marcus to tuck it under and run it a little bit.
MARCUS MARIOTA: You know, they’ve developed a great game plan for us. We really just have to go out there and execute us. Whatever plays they call, I have all the confidence in the world. With all these guys right next to me, we can do our best and execute what we have to.
Q. Scott, you ran the option at Nebraska. Compare and contrast this option attack to the one that you ran at Nebraska.
COACH FROST: There’s similarities and there’s differences. The best offenses to me are complete systems. That’s the biggest similarity. When you have a complete system, no matter what a defense is doing, there’s usually an answer built into the system. There’s actually quite a few plays that are similar from what I ran to this. I would have loved to play in this offense. It’s fast‑paced, exciting. This one is definitely a lot more spread.We throw a little bit more. Marcus is about a hundred times better passer than I was. So we’re going to use that skill as much as we can.
Q. Scott, did you study the Baylor and Oklahoma State films?
COACH FROST: There’s quite a few teams in the country that are similar in what they do. I think everybody has their own unique fingerprint. Baylor and Oklahoma State are pretty similar to what we do. Ole Miss does quite a few things that we do. What’s tough as a coach is when you have extra time like we do getting ready for a bowl game, I think we’ve seen every one of those games three or four times. Over the course of a regular season week, you kind of have to cram it all in, see each game once. We have all the time in the world to watch those games till we have them memorized. We definitely saw some things in those games that we liked, some other games, too. But we’re going to be our own team and do what we do for the most part.
Q. Scott, speaking of Nebraska, do you have any special memories of playing over in the Alamodome back when you were a quarterback?
COACH FROST: We played a really good game there. Second Big 12 championship game against Texas A&M. We were angry and ready to play in that one because the year before, we got upset by Texas in the first Big 12 championship game. I haven’t gotten a chance to see Texas since then, so I’m looking forward to it. I remember it was a very loud stadium at the beginning of the game. It was about 80% Texas A&M fans, which I expect will be about the same in a couple days in the Alamodome. Our guys have to be prepared for that noise and that distraction. We’re probably going to be playing basically an away‑game down here.
Luckily, in that game, we took the fans out of it pretty quick. If I had a suggestion for these guys, I’d say do the same thing.
Q. Marcus, do you have a favorite signal play card on the sideline to see?
MARCUS MARIOTA: There’s some pretty unique ones. I think my favorite is probably the LeBron James one. We have some pretty unique plays in there, trickery ones. It’s a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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