THE MODERATOR: This it’s my pleasure to introduce Noel Mazzone. If you could introduce your players and make an opening statement.
NOEL MAZZONE: Sure, Jordan Payton, one of our wide receivers from California. Where are you from in California?
JORDAN PAYTON: Santa Monica.
NOEL MAZZONE: Santa Monica, California. Next guy is Brett Hundley from Chandler High School, Phoenix, Arizona; Thomas Duarte from the three stripes Mater Dei; Jake Brendel from right here in Dallas, Plano East. And actually Paul Perkins, our running back Jake is the center, Thomas plays basically our wide position, and Paul, our running back from Chandler. Actually Paul and Brett played high school ball together at Chandler High School for Coach Aguano in Phoenix.
THE MODERATOR: Could you talk about the week and preparations for the game?
NOEL MAZZONE: Yeah, first of all I want to thank, you guys have done an awesome job. It’s been a lot of fun to be in San Antonio. I spent, I think, six years at TCU in Fort Worth, so I have some friends down here, and it’s been fun to get back, and a great job you guys do with the bowl.
I think practice has been going well. I don’t know, we’ll find out Friday night how well it’s been going, about 5:40. But no, it’s a pleasure to be here and have the opportunity to get a chance to play against Coach Snyder and Kansas State. Obviously a very good head coach and a very good program. I don’t know if they’ve won like 38 games over the last four years, so it’s going to be a great challenge, big test for us.
Q. Can you talk about your group and the fact that you’re so young and what you’re building here at UCLA?
NOEL MAZZONE: I’m trying to think, the only one that was there before I got well, Jake, you and Brett came in the same class, right? So it was really kind of a neat deal to come and be on the ground floor because we were such a young football team. I think there was a point last year where we started three true freshmen in our offensive line, and Jake is kind of the old man of the offense, in the O line, so it’s like, what freshman do I have to start next to this week, so it’s kind of been a revolving door.
They’ve done a great job. It’s been fun watching these kids grow up in the system and with Coach Mora, the culture that Coach Mora is developing at UCLA, and it’s been something that after doing this coaching business for 34 years, it’s given me a lot of great memories of I mean, it’s an experience that I haven’t had a chance to go through is to grow up with a football team, and this is the first time that I’ve had a quarterback actually play three years for me. It’s been a lot of fun.
I think Thomas now Jordan, Jordan is going to be a senior, too, right? J.P. is going to be a senior, so these guys are kind of the guys that laid the bricks, that built the foundation for the program, for what Coach Mora is getting done at UCLA. They dug the footings and poured the cement and all that, and I think they’ve done a great job and given us a chance to kind of build the type of program that UCLA will be proud of.
Q. Jordan, have you had time to reflect on everything you and your teammates are building and using this game as a springboard for next year?
JORDAN PAYTON: Yeah, just being able to play in this phenomenal program, being with Coach Mazzone and Coach Mora has just changed everything at UCLA. Getting a win Friday night would definitely help us springboard into next season, especially since we have such a young team, so definitely builds experience for us and starts 2015 off right for us.
Q. Jake, this is your third time in the last 13 months playing in your home state. Just talk about that and talk about how many friends and family are going to be coming down here for the game.
JAKE BRENDEL: Well, it’s always great to be back here in Texas. I just like the way of life around here. It’s always kind of a refreshing feel to come back here.
I have a few family members. I have my dad and my stepmom coming down, and then I have a few friends from high school because my mom and stepdad actually moved to Phoenix, so I don’t have any immediate family here anymore. But yeah.
Q. I’m doing a story on Jerry Neuheisel. Can you or any of the other guys talk about the exhilaration you guys had after the UT game and carrying him off the field and what all that was about and the feelings you have for Jerry?
JAKE BRENDEL: Yeah, just that whole game, it was actually pretty amazing. We really were neck and neck the entire game. We unfortunately lost Brett with like an elbow injury, so just knowing that we had a backup that was really prepared and knew the entire offense front and back, I never really stressed at all about it. I knew that Jerry would do a really good job, and he went out there and he led us to the victory. It was a really exhilarating win knowing that we have that depth at that spot, and if something were to happen to Brett again that we do have a successful solution for it.
Q. Brett, a lot of the K State players have compared you to Trevone Boykin for TCU. I was wondering if there was a quarterback growing up that maybe you patterned your game after in the pros or if there’s someone in the pros right now who you feel like you’re very similar to.
BRETT HUNDLEY: Does he still have to be in the pros right now?
BRETT HUNDLEY: I like Donovan McNabb. I talk to him at least once a week, and he’s been a good mentor for me. I’ve sort of learned from him and sort of developed things.
Q. How did that relationship come about with you and McNabb?
BRETT HUNDLEY: He lives in Arizona, and he gets his hair cut at the same place I do, so that’s sort of where I started.
Q. Thomas, can you make some comments about your bigger role in the offense, and what do you attribute that success to?
THOMAS DUARTE: I really attribute it to the preparation. I’ve learned how to prepare for games, prepare and practice and just get better every day.
Q. Brett and Paul, just talk about your journey together playing in high school and college, and can each one of you describe what the other one does best on the field.
BRETT HUNDLEY: It’s been fun growing up with Paul, and it’s an honor, and especially to be able to have somebody you grew up with and somebody you went to high school with, and our families have known each other since day one with the Cheetahs, and to have him playing for the same college team and to be in the backfield together, you always have that special bond. Paul is good at we’ll sit back there and talk to each other in the backfield, during the games, and we just have that special bond. We’re sort of good for each other.
PAUL PERKINS: Yeah, it’s always good having a friend in the backfield just to calm your nerves and in the heat of the game. It’s always good to have a former teammate and a friend back there just to help you see the game, slow the game down, and just relax.
Q. Brett, obviously you had high expectations coming into this year. A lot of people had those expectations for you. Where do you see your game this year? How has it grown on and off the field?
BRETT HUNDLEY: I think off the field the most, I think understanding the game, getting a better feel for it, and just growing physically on the field but as well as off the field understanding defenses, talking to Mazzone and putting together game plans and stuff like that. I think both sides.
Q. Coach, K State plays a really interesting kind of patient defense. They give up some things underneath. Can you talk about how they approach some of these offenses like yours and how your offense fits together with their defense?
NOEL MAZZONE: Yeah, obviously do a great job. I think they’re ranked 16th, 18th. I mean, they’re very high in a lot of categories. They don’t give up a lot of big plays, and they’re in a conference that play very similar offenses to what we do, you know, spread, tempo, get the ball out quick, and they do an awesome job of when you watch them play, they’re very well coached, all right, they’re very good in their run fits. They’re very good in angles and fitting and controlling their tackling on the back end. They’re really good tacklers. I mean, just a really well coached defense. They bend a little bit but they don’t break a lot, so I think like the key when you play for us is which I have none, is to have patience, because we’re kind of when you’re a tempo guy, you want to score on like three plays, and if you don’t, you start getting very impatient. You guys are listening to me, right, over here? You’ve got to be patient, all right, stay on schedule and just keep ourselves on the field. But no, it’s going to be a great challenge for us. As you watch the guys that have played this year, they’re lined up against Baylor and Texas Tech and Okie State and Oklahoma, all those kind of guys, and those guys have got some good offenses that they’ve controlled fairly well.
Q. Brett, K State has shown a difficulty handling a mobile quarterback. Have you kind of noticed that yourself, and how do you plan on attacking that and using your legs against this K State defense?
BRETT HUNDLEY: Running and throwing. You know, basically that’s what it comes down to, just running and throwing.
Q. Jake, can you talk about how far this offensive line has come looking back on this whole season, and given that none of the major guys are going to leave, can you talk about what you see for the future knowing that you’re going to have this whole group back?
JAKE BRENDEL: You know, just one really good thing that the whole UCLA football family does really well is like football never really stops for us. Just being able to come back with the same five guys next season is going to be really great. We can take this off season and really just hone in our skills and work on just our simple techniques and work on just a lot of the simple things, just break everything down, and really just progress as a unit. You know, it’s always nice to have five selected guys that are going to be starting, and then once the new class comes in, we can just see who fits in where.
Q. Brett, we had a social media question. The day after the bowl game is the Army All American game. Did you participate in that, and do you remember any recollections or any of the players you correspond with still today?
BRETT HUNDLEY: I played in the Under Armour game