THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Oregon. Questions, please.
Q. Coach, do you want to talk about the game real quick.
COACH HELFRICH: Sure (laughter). Just a huge team win. A total team win. Started off by pitch six here, setting the tempo for our defense playing a great game. Made some schematic adjustments coming into it to combat their bigger bodies with one of our slightly smaller bodies than them. That’s a great team that we beat. Unbelievably talented man for man. Led by a guy that’s an icon for the game of football. Mack Brown, can’t say enough good things about his contributions to college football and obviously to Texas and the University of Texas.
Total team win. Very happy to send Nick out on the right note. I think his guys were playing for themselves, certainly playing for him, of being a much maligned group these last weeks, coming up huge. Finishing it, bookending it with pick sixes. I’m not sure how Derrick Williams scored. We need to do a physiological study on that kid because he’s welded together, packed, there was some sawdust in there, spackled him together and somehow he scored.
A huge win and something our young guys need to build from and use as a boomerang into our next phase academically and strength training, etcetera, on into spring ball and sending out these seniors in a real winning fashion is something that is very pleasing.
Q. Avery, what did you do differently after they went for the 84‑yard touchdown drive as far as adjustments?
AVERY PATTERSON: Not much. I mean, we kind of stuck to our game plan, just brought a little pressure off the edge still. Our D‑line did an incredible job today. They’re kind of the reason we won I feel like.
Q. Avery, what did you see on that interception? It was tipped right to you. You were in the right spot at the right time?
AVERY PATTERSON: I was just following his eyes. I told Ifo, I got it. We kind of sandwiched him together and I was able to get lucky and get a pick.
Q. (Question regarding Coach Aliotti.)
AVERY PATTERSON: That’s the first person I thought about when I caught the ball. I wanted to score for him. He’s the most special person to me that’s ever coached me. I just wanted to do it for him. Like I said, we both come from the same high school. It felt real good to do that for him.
Q. Avery, defense scoring more points than Texas’s offense did. For Nick, was that on your guys’ mind? Was that an inspired performance because it was Nick’s last game?
AVERY PATTERSON: It definitely was. Even in our clap session today, he told us he wanted some touchdowns on the defensive side. He didn’t specify how many touchdowns he wanted. We were able to get two today.
Q. Did he say anything to you guys special beforehand about coaching you guys?
AVERY PATTERSON: I mean, he was himself. He didn’t want this to be about him. All us players, all us defensive players, we knew it was for him. We wanted to do it for him. We wanted to send him out the right way.
Q. Avery, that’s your third career touchdown. Think you missed your calling? Should have been a receiver maybe.
AVERY PATTERSON: I kind of joke with the coaches a lot. I want to play on the opposite side of the ball, but sometimes my hands aren’t up to par (laughter).
Q. Josh, you talked about wanting to get a little measure of revenge against a program that didn’t recruit you.
JOSH HUFF: Man, I just came out, tried to do everything I can for my team to get a W. We was able to do that. I mean, I wouldn’t call it revenge. But I just came out and played my game against a great Texas defense. We was able to come out with the victory.
Q. Mark, can you talk about your seniors, what the senior class has meant to you, having them win this ballgame.
COACH HELFRICH: We could be here for a long time (smiling). No, this group of guys is incredible. I’ve been coaching 19 seasons. This group of guys has never existed before. And I’ve coached with some great guys and for some great guys. These two guys, unbelievable, bedrock type of guys. Not only the guys that are marquee guys, Taylor Hart, Daryle Hawkins, and Dustin Haines, those guys get you. Their contribution to Oregon football will endure forever. Not only the fact that this is the most successful group cohorts in Oregon history, but a guy like Dustin Haines is so telling of this class, the guy never played a meaningful snap other than as a holder, never played a meaningful down, and I think he was the best leader in our program. That says a lot about these guys, their willingness to lead and be led by a guy like that. Certainly as a rookie in this, I couldn’t have been with by a greater guy. I let them down by not having a hyphen‑zero at the end of our record. But these guys are awesome.
Q. Josh, talk about Marcus’ play.
JOSH HUFF: He was incredible all night. Marcus stepped up big for us, especially when we had some drives, getting penalties. He was able to use his legs and stay in the pocket and find receivers downfield. Again, he came up big each and every time we needed him. That’s why he was the MVP of the game.
Q. Coach, Marcus had over 130 yards. Were you surprised?
COACH HELFRICH: That’s what we talked about a lot coming into this game, when you look at how Texas has played a mobile quarterback, whether it’s the Oklahoma State guy, I apologize for not knowing his name, Bryce Petty, other guys in his conference. There were some things there for the quarterbacks to make some hay, how they fit their coverage route‑wise. A lot of it was one, two, open space, get out and do your deal. He’s closer. He’s still not 100%, which is scary. But the guy is special. You can see these guys hunt up blocks. When he was kind of closer to being capital M, Marcus, our guys felt that, things were better. Certainly we would have liked to have punched in a few more touchdowns instead of field goals. Some will be happy and some will be mad that we kicked some field goals.
Q. Josh, staying on Marcus, we saw how good the offense was when he was able to run like that. If he was able to run like this all season, do you think you would have lost?
JOSH HUFF: Who knows. When he’s healthy, he’s great to the offense. He just makes the offense go. Just got to wait to make sure to find out.
Q. Josh, you said school records wouldn’t matter if you didn’t win the game. Now that you won the game, how much do the records mean to you?
JOSH HUFF: Still doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s a pleasure to be in the record books. But records come and go, but the victories stay forever. The memories that I made with my teammates today and this season, you know, it’s been a great thing to put in the back of my mind and take that with me to my deathbed.
Q. Josh, when Tyler got hurt, was on the sidelines, you had a talk with him. What did you say to him?
JOSH HUFF: Tyler is like a best friend of me. Ever since he’s come in, I’ve taken him under my wings. He’s like a brother to me. At that moment, I’ve never seen him cry the way he did. I knew it was something serious. I just told him that I’m always going to be here for you, we’re going to get the victory for you, I’m going to play my hardest for you. We were able to do that.
Q. Mark, I’m sure Cedric and Jackson Jeffcoat kept you up all night a lot of nights this week. Talk about how your offensive line protected them and kept them at bay against Marcus?
COACH HELFRICH: I slept really well except for our three‑year‑old daughter because of how we prepared (laughter). Our guys, we had that little lag point of finishing finals, some practices on the weekends that more or less kind of just keep your timing, stay fresh, a little bit of conditioning, some tackling work you try to maintain during that period.
But when we went to game plan and we started preparing for Texas, these last two weeks were our best two weeks of practice all year. That helps you sleep at night. That is an incredibly talented defense and they do a great job. They did a real good job scheming us tonight. We did a good job for the most part recognizing things and attacking their front. That led to some of the big runs by Marcus and big runs by the tailback.
Q. Josh, Marcus said this week the last time he came to Texas he played emotionally. Can you describe your emotions tonight during the game and also now.
JOSH HUFF: Last time I came to Texas, we was playing LSU, I believe. Kind of was overly excited. I feel like I drained myself during pregame. I took my time. I took my regular pregame rituals and applied them to this game. I didn’t get too excited. I just got excited at the time it was to get excited for. My feelings now is it’s great. I feel great. Leaving off on a high note. Just being around my teammates, celebrating in the locker room, it’s something great and special. It’s going to last for a lifetime.
Q. Mark, now that your first year is in the books, how do you describe it? Do you feel like it was a success?
COACH HELFRICH: That’s for you to decide. I don’t think in those terms. I think about how well we can prepare these guys and what’s next. We’re going to celebrate tonight with a Diet Pepsi, Gatorade, Propel Zero, enjoy it, then we’ll get back to recruiting, get back to our winter phase of conditioning, hammer out this next phase. There’s not too much time in this business to relax. Spending more time with Coach Brown this week, it’s funny hearing how he talks, after a win, how your emotions go, then how devastating a loss is. You don’t get to celebrate. I’ll take his advice and think about it for 24, 48 hours, then get back to work, celebrate New Year’s.
Q. Coach talked about being disappointed not finishing unbeaten this season, but how good does it feel to close the season with a win like this?
AVERY PATTERSON: We talked about it a little bit in our meetings. That’s one thing we wanted to do, is finish off on the right note. That’s what we did out there. I’m just glad we got the victory.
JOSH HUFF: To back door what he said, yeah, it wasn’t the season that we hoped for. But the month of November was a tough stretch for us, but we was able to come together as a team and continue to fight for one another. You know, that was probably one of the best ones I’ve had, even though we didn’t finish off the way we wanted to during November. But just being around a great group of guys, continuing to fight for them, just fight for the locker room. We was able to finish off on a right note with a victory today.
Q. Avery, what will you remember most about Nick and this game tonight?
AVERY PATTERSON: I mean, I’ll remember this day for the rest of my life. I’m kind of trying to hold back my emotions right now because that man means so much to me. He’s done so much for this team and this program.
But I’m just happy we were able to send him out right and get a W for him because he’s done so much for us.
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Marcus Mariota. Questions, please.
Q. Looks like you’re limping. Are you okay?
MARCUS MARIOTA: I’m okay. Just out of shape. Got some cramps second half.
Q. How did you feel tonight running and be able to move like that, have so many open lanes?
MARCUS MARIOTA: It’s so good. Credit to the guys up front and the guys outside. They made key blocks for me to get some yards. Coach Frost was joking all week he thought I would get 200 yards. I was just like, Okay. But, yeah, that’s mostly on me. I should have been running after practice. It’s been a while since I’ve been running like that. It’s been a couple months. That’s totally on me. I have six months to get back into shape.
Q. Can you talk about Josh Huff today overall, how much you’re going to miss him next year.
MARCUS MARIOTA: He’s been like a brother to me since I’ve gotten here. He means a lot to me. I wish him the best in his future endeavors. I felt like he had a really good game in his final game. He really stepped up as a leader today and was really just pushing us to finish drives, just to go out there and do it for each other. Like I said, he’s like a brother to me, I love him, and I wish him the best.
Q. You and the team walked over from the hotel. What was the emotion like?
MARCUS MARIOTA: That was a pretty cool experience, to be honest with you, just getting the feel. We talked about it like a gladiator feel, where you’re walking in there, you against the world. You had Texas fans. Majority of Texas fans. It was a little tough. But just to walk through there, it kind of sets you up mentally for this game. I thought it was a pretty cool experience.
Q. You told us you were healthier. You looked healthier in the Civil War. You said you’ve been feeling better since then. Did you feel it was possible in this game, given your health, that you could return to somewhat of mid‑season form as an offense?
MARCUS MARIOTA: Yeah, I feel that just having that dimension where I’m able to kind of run really just helps our offense. At the same time, you know, things happened in November. It’s the way the ball bounces sometimes. As an offense, I thought we finished the season off well. We could have finished a lot of drives throughout the game. I mean, really I’m proud of those guys. We’ve come a long way. Really looking forward to next year.
Q. You mentioned when we talked to you in the lead up, when you finally got out there and had to run for the first time, what was that like for you mentally? Did the instincts take over?
MARCUS MARIOTA: My instincts just kind of took over. You said it best. I had no doubt in my mind that I felt comfortable with my knee. I just wanted to go out there and play and instinctively play. I was able to do that today.
Q. What were you seeing on those read options?
MARCUS MARIOTA: Texas was just taking away the runningback. They were just giving me the opportunity to pull it. Like I said earlier, the guys outside, Josh and Bralon, Keanon, those guys did a great job of blocking outside, allowing me to get as many yards as I could.
Q. Could you talk about the disparity between how you played in the Stanford game as to how you played tonight performance‑wise.
MARCUS MARIOTA: I feel I played better obviously this game. I felt comfortable. I just had all the confidence in our preparation. I’m not saying for the Stanford game I wasn’t prepared. But at the same time there were some things that were bothering me. You know, it’s just the way it happens sometimes. You just got to play through injuries. Kind of learned a lot about myself out there.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARCUS MARIOTA: Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t say I was 100%, but I’m as close as I could. Stanford, it was a really tough week to get prepared for. But, yeah, I felt a lot better this game.
Q. At the end of the game you seemed to have a little conversation with Mack Brown. What did he say to you?
MARCUS MARIOTA: I mean, the man is a very classy person. He just came up to me and said, Good game. He wished me the best. It meant a lot for someone of his stature to come talk to me about that. I wish him the best. I told him, you know, enjoy it. It really meant a lot.
Q. Was there one theme there tonight about inside the red zone?
MARCUS MARIOTA: I think we just kind of hurt ourselves. Penalties were kind of the big thing in the red zone. We had a holding call, a couple false starts. It kind of puts you behind the eight ball in the sense of down and distance. That’s always tough. But three points is always good, especially in these types of games where Texas’ defense is playing really hard and really well. I think, no matter what, we’re going to come back and look at the film. Obviously we want to finish drives better, but we were still able to get successful points.
Q. Looking forward, your first 20 starts you scored about 50 points a game. The last five games you scored 100, 125. What does this team need to do to get back to the form it was in your first 20 starts?
MARCUS MARIOTA: Just finish drives. We move the ball well down there, and we tend to kick field goals. We can’t leave points up on the board like that. That comes from me. That comes from making some throws, some key throws. I was a little behind on Bralon and he was able to break it up. At the same time we have an off‑season to prepare for that kind of stuff, just continue to push finishing. We’ll get it done.
Q. What was said when you hugged Tyler? When Everett came in, did anything change?
MARCUS MARIOTA: I told Tyler that I loved him and I hoped everything was okay. It was unfortunate what happened. But I just told him to keep his head up, we’d finish this game off for him. We have all the confidence in Everett. He went out there and played well. Huge for him. He’s a senior. This was his last game. That’s a credit to all those guys. They all were prepared. Coach always talks about the next man up. Really kind of exemplified that tonight.
Q. I know you haven’t had time to reflect, but what do you think you’ll remember about this season?
MARCUS MARIOTA: You know, I was kind of talking a little bit to Coach Frost. I think the biggest thing was through adversity we were still able to kind of pull through and get 11 wins. That’s hard to do in today’s day and age. 11 wins says a lot about where we’ve come as a program. It says a lot when they look around and they think it’s a disappointing season.
To us, 11 wins, I mean, that doesn’t happen very often. Just to come back out here and to finish the bowl game strong really sets us up for the future, builds a solid foundation for next year. Like I say, we’re looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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