THE MODERATOR: Welcome to today’s press conference with the University of Texas defense. I’ll ask Coach Robinson to introduce his players and make an opening statement.
COACH ROBINSON: Fine group of young men here starting with senior Jackson Jeffcoat, Q Dog or Quandre Diggs, we have ADP or Adrian Phillips, then the Long Reed, Cedric Reed, then Carrington Byndom. Show them that smile again, please, CB. There it is.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about the bowl preparation so far, coach.
COACH ROBINSON: Prior to getting down here and then getting here, it’s been a lot of good work. I’ve been very impressed with the way our guys have gone about things. I think their intent and attention to detail has been outstanding really. This is a team, they’ve got a lot of different weapons. It’s going to take all these guys and a whole lot of other players that are going to be out there to really get done what we want to get done.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Coach, to get done what you want to get done, what do you have to do against Oregon?
COACH ROBINSON: Contrary to what I think some people think, you see their spread offense, you see their tempo, they’re throwing the ball all over the lot, and they will throw the ball all over the lot. They are very determined to run the football. Anytime you have a team that can be two‑dimensional, it isn’t what you like on defense. We’ve got to find ways to control their running game and do everything we can to disrupt the passing game. It’s easier said than done, but it’s really what you go about trying to get done.
Q. Jackson, they have a ton of speed. You’re going to have to tackle in space. How are you addressing staying fundamentally sound and making sure you can tackle?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: The most important thing to tackle guys in space is have everybody, all 11 guys, aligned to the ball. That’s the most important thing. Everybody has to slide to the ball after a catch is made or anything. Runningback has the ball, everybody swarm him.
COACH ROBINSON: Go ahead, Q. Talk to them about how you’re going to get around that ball.
QUANDRE DIGGS: Like Jackson said, you just got to run to the ball. Everybody do their assignments. You be in the right spot at the right time. Everybody running to the ball, create turnovers, get those guys off the field. We’ll just play our game, come out running to the ball like we’ve been practicing the last two weeks and all throughout the season. It will all work out fine.
Q. Greg, Baylor and Oregon seem like carbon copies of one another offensively.
COACH ROBINSON: I think in the sense that they both will do everything they can to be effective, running the football as well as throwing the football.
I think there’s some things about their styles that are a little different, but really it comes down to they want to spread the field, get the ball in the hands of people that are good athletes. That’s really the challenge.
Q. (Question regarding the quarterback.)
COACH ROBINSON: This guy has good wheels. He can move around. He can run the ball up the field. But he can maneuver in the pocket, as well. He’s pretty good at trying to stay alive so he can chuck that ball downfield.
Q. Jackson and Ced, can you talk about what you’ve seen from Marcus on film? How different is he from any of the running quarterbacks you’ve faced this year?
CEDRIC REED: Marcus is a good player. He was a Heisman candidate. He’s a little different in that he can run the ball and throw the ball the same.
On the run, he can throw the ball, get it right there on point. He’s strong enough to throw it back shoulder, he can put it 50 yards down the field. That’s one of the things that makes him deadly. While he’s running, he can still complete a pass. His pocket presence is pretty good, too.
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: He’s a talented guy. We’re going to have to be in his face all night. That’s the thing, we have to put pressure on him, get to him, make him uncomfortable in the pocket. If you let him sit back there, he’s very comfortable in the pocket moving around. He’s got good feet in there and will find a way to escape. We have to make sure we stay in our rush lanes.
Q. Jackson, talk about how you’re feeling.
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: I thank my teammates. Without these DBs and Ced, I wouldn’t have been able to make the plays I did. They really helped me out. We helped each other out.
I’m excited for this game. I can’t wait to play Oregon. Big‑time No. 10 team. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Q. Jackson, has Alex Okafor challenged you and Cedric to match his numbers?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: He didn’t directly say it to us. But I think he was talking to coach a little bit about it. We like a challenge. For our boy Oak, we’re going to try to go out there and get those numbers or get more.
Q. Jackson, have you talked to your father at all about defending the Ducks, specifically Marcus, Oregon’s offense? Has he shared anything that he gained from coaching against them at Colorado?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: Yeah, I have talked to him about it. I was just in Colorado watching film. He saw me, we watched it together. He says it’s a very talented team, guys that will make you miss. Like coaches have preached to us all week and all year, run to the ball, swarm tackle, everybody get on the ball. He said these guys, they’re fast. They have athletic offensive linemen, they can move. You just got to play your game, do your responsibilities, do what you have to do. He said as a team, you just have to keep going with them. If we play our game, it should be a good one.
Q. Greg, what is your impression when you watch a year’s worth of film De’Anthony Thomas?Has that changed over a period of time?
COACH ROBINSON: You mean over a period of time has it changed?
Q. This season.
COACH ROBINSON: I think it ebbs and flows in the style. I think they kind of seem to kind of go and move along as an offense. You’ll find this guy is hot, that guy is hot, this runner is doing this, this runner is doing that. They have people that have real strengths in certain areas and I think they really try to utilize these people. You’ll see at different times of the year where they’ll have a spurt and really be doing well because of the way they’re attacking defense.
We’re not certain how they’re going to try to attack us. It will probably become apparent pretty soon in the game. Then you have to do everything you can to improvise and adjust.
Q. Carrington, how tough do you think the Oregon wide receivers are going to be Monday?
CARRINGTON BYNDOM: We know they have two guys that have the majority of their catches, Josh Huff and Bralon Addison. They’re good receivers. We faced good receivers in the Big 12. It will just be another challenge for us in the back end. Looking forward to what they throw at us.
Q. They run the ball, they throw the ball. How do you keep your heads where they’re supposed to be and not worry about supporting the run and staying on your assignment?
ADRIAN PHILLIPS: Basically it just comes down to our assignments. Through bowl practice, we’ve been through it. We’ve understood we can’t really worry about what’s happening on the other side of the field. You have to stay tuned into our game plan because they’re liable to do anything. When we see them doing tricks or things we haven’t seen before, we just have to stay tuned and do all right.
CARRINGTON BYNDOM: For us, it’s big to just staying with your responsibility, not just for us, but for the whole defense in general. That’s our job. That’s a thing that’s been lacking for us at times this year, people trying to do too much. I think we just need to focus on things we need to do during that play and it will happen from there.
Q. Ced, can you talk about Greg and what he’s meant to the defense this season and why it worked when he stepped in.
CEDRIC REED: Coach Greg, he’s meant a lot to us. He came in, gave us the opportunity to just go out and play freely. Well, not freely, assigned football, but freely in our minds. Just to go out there and have a chance to go after the quarterback is one reason I really like him.
He gives us a lot of blitzes. He gives us a lot of reasons to make the quarterback uncomfortable. He came in with a tough situation. It was mid‑season almost. He just came in and he put his arms around us and told us what we’re going to do. We done that and we trusted him and his assignments.
Q. Greg, can you talk about the challenge of coming in in the middle of the year. Now you’ve had a few weeks in a row without a game, how has that helped you?
COACH ROBINSON: It was very difficult. First of all, I got to tell you the defensive staff, they’ve carried me through the season because I had to adapt to them as opposed to really everybody having to adapt to me. So I start with them. Those coaches have done an incredible job of working with me, getting me up to speed as best I can. Then working with these guys. These are really, really good football players right here. I can go down the line. I mean, Jackson is Jackson. Quandre now is a nickel outside linebacker. He’s got so many different things he’s got to do. He puts it all together. AP is the glue. He’s the guy in the back end. He’s supporting the run, playing the pass. Ced is doing his thing. Then there’s the man out there on the island in Carrington. That’s been really a good thing. Lost a couple guys. We’ve had some younger guys step up and do a pretty good job for us. So that’s really what it’s been about for me, is kind of getting to know these guys, really leaning on that staff to help me along.
Q. Greg, we’ve seen some defensive teams take injuries to slow down Oregon’s tempo. Do you have any thoughts on that practice in general?
COACH ROBINSON: No, that’s not our game. Really isn’t. I think we’re in shape. I think we deal with tempo every day in practice. Our offense will go through a period of tempo that we’ve been doing really every Tuesday and Wednesday that we go against the offense. I’m not telling you it’s not demanding. But, no, we don’t need to fake injuries to get through the game.
Q. Quandre and Jackson, it’s easy to forget now just how things were after the BYU game. Can you talk about coach coming in here. Seemed like it was a huge calming influence, settled you down, when things could have been disastrous.
QUANDRE DIGGS: Yeah, no doubt. Coach Robinson came in in a tough situation. I can remember the first meeting. He came in, told us what he wanted to do. He had guys he wanted to be leaders and step up, bring the unit together. These guys, myself, Jordan, guys like that, we had to take it upon ourselves to lead the defense as being the older guys that played the most football on the team.
We could have laid down. One thing I said about this team all year is we’re very resilient, come out with a lot of fight. This is one of the closest teams I ever played on. It’s definitely one of the closest teams I played on. I enjoy going out and battling with these guys every day. I wouldn’t take anything back. I’d do it all over again. It just taught us life lessons that we’ll take with us to the future.
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: Yeah, it was definitely a tough time we had. We’re very close. We came together and let everybody know, Hey, we can’t let this break us. We can still do things this year. We got to keep playing. We’re very resilient. You can’t get too high on the highs and too low on the lows. You have to stay in the middle and stay in the middle.
Q. Coach, which player on Oregon’s offense keeps you up most at night?
COACH ROBINSON: I sleep well (laughter). No, they’ve got good players. You know what, I know them by numbers. I like 6. This guy can be all over the darn field. 9 is a good runningback as well. 8, the quarterback, he’s got his game. I call him 11 or 1. Carrington has their names down. Even these two young tight ends that play for them. They got a good group of people. They’ve got two or three offensive linemen, you look at it, you figure down the road they probably have a future, too. They’re the No. 2 ranked offense in the country and there’s a reason for it. It’s the kind of thing where it’s not so much about them as it is about us. These guys are saying it. A couple things you got to do. You got to do your job, then give great effort. If you give the great effort, do your job to the best of your ability, I think good things are going to happen for us, too.
Q. Jackson and Quandre, you have gone from allowing six yards per carry to 3.5 yards per carry. What are specifics you feel you’ve changed to increase that?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: Really just focusing on the mistakes that we made. Even when we had a good game, we focused on the mistakes to make sure we didn’t repeat them. Building our strengths, building up our weaknesses, making them strengths, that’s the biggest thing. Everybody making sure they get off blocks and make plays. That’s most important. You have to get out there and make plays, tackles for loss, turnovers.
QUANDRE DIGGS: I feel like the other part of that is we’re tackling better. At the beginning of the year, we were having a tough time tackling. We kind of went back to some of the things we were doing the year before. We fixed some of those things. If you tackle and have a lot of guys pursuing the football, it takes away some of those missed tackles. One‑on‑one tackle, you know your guy is going to be running to the ball. I think that helped a lot, too.
Q. Adrian, what is your mindset going into the game, last game, injuries?
ADRIAN PHILLIPS: It came fast, but the main thing in my mind now is getting a win. I’ll handle the rest after the game. Right now I’m just totally set on getting this win for our team because we need it. We need to finish strong. I know our team’s mindset is the same.
Q. Greg, with all the stuff that’s played out here, all the potential distraction for these players, what’s been the message from you and the assistant coaches and what have you seen from the players as they’ve gone through this?
COACH ROBINSON: When you’re talking about the distractions, what are you specifically hitting on?
Q. Mack stepping down the last game.
COACH ROBINSON: I think Mack Brown would tell you the same thing. This team, they haven’t skipped a beat. Mack won’t allow that to be the attention. Our guys are focused on what they’re doing, and that’s to try to win a football game. It’s been very evident to me that they are very focused and very in tune to what they want to get accomplished. I’ve been very, very impressed. You know what, this group of guys right up here now, they really are guys that take the bull by the horns. They’re fine leaders, they really are. It’s been a pleasure to watch, it really has, especially this bowl preparation. I’ve been very, very pleased in watching the way we’ve worked.
Q. Greg, you talked about the many weapons that Oregon has. Maybe you can touch on your philosophy as far as containing those weapons, playing zone and man‑to‑man, zone to contain the weapons, man you’re taking a chance.
COACH ROBINSON: First of all, I think our style has been multiple, a multiple defensive attack. We’re going to be sound in the running game. That’s very intent in the way we work to control the running game. Our players do a good job of really being in tune to where we need to be.
Then you peck away at different things that you want to make sure you’re taking care of. It always comes down to this: if you can start slowing down the run, then your focus has to be how are you going to disrupt that quarterback. Sometimes it’s with coverage. Sometimes it’s with pressure. There’s different things that you’ve got to do. In a game like this, you’re going to have to have different styles of play to try to get them out of balance a little bit.
Q. Jackson and Quandre, Oregon is one of those teams that everybody talks about. How different are they from anybody you’ve ever seen?
QUANDRE DIGGS: I feel like their offense is similar to a Big 12 offense. We go up against this type of attack each and every week. They do some things that other guys in the Big 12 do.
They also present some things that we haven’t seen this year. It will be a great challenge. Like you guys heard from me all year, I’m always just ready to go play football. It doesn’t matter who is on the field.
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: I’m just ready to play football, too. They have a quick offensive line. They run the stretch, everything like that. They’re a quick offensive line. They pull fast. That’s a little different. We have a lot bigger guys, I feel like, on the teams we have played before. They might not be as big, but they move well and are strong. It’s going to be a little different to us.
All in all, it’s football. I mean, you have to put the ball down and line up. That’s what we’re going to do. Like I said again, we’re very excited to play Oregon.
Q. Quandre and Jackson, how much of a factor is it for the players that this is Mack’s last game?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: It’s big to us. Coach Brown is very important to us. Like Coach Robinson said, Coach Brown doesn’t allow that to be a distraction. No matter what, we’re going to play our butts off regardless of what was going on. If this wasn’t happening, if it wasn’t Coach Brown’s last game, we would play just as hard. We’re not going to go out there and play a mediocre game. We have to play our best. It’s the last game for the seniors. The seniors have to go out on the right note.
QUANDRE DIGGS: The way I feel, just the type of man Coach Brown is, he deserves to go out on top. I feel like we need to go out and win this game for him ‑ not only for him, but for ourselves, for the rest of the state. This is a chance for us to go out and put a show against the No. 10 team in the nation, big opponent, a team that was up for a national championship five or six weeks ago. When you get an opportunity like this, you have to capitalize on it. It will be a big game for us. I’m just ready to go out and play.
Q. As explosive as they’ve been offensively the last couple years, the one team defensively that’s done a nice job against them has been Stanford two years in a row. From watching how Stanford played them, what did you take away from that that was important for how well they did?
CEDRIC REED: The Stanford D‑line, they got after the quarterback. They put Mariota in situations where he was very uncomfortable. He had to escape the pocket, make something up on his own. I think that’s the main objective to winning this game, is getting out there. I think the offense runs through him and he’s a big part of it.
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: Everybody has to fly around and get to the ball.
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