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Valero Alamo Bowl: Texas vs Utah

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Andy Ludwig

Tyler Huntley

Darrin Paulo

Zack Moss

Brant Kuithe

Utah Utes

THE MODERATOR: We’re going to begin the Utah offense press conference. It’s my pleasure to introduce coordinator Andy Ludwig. Could you introduce the players you brought with you today and talk about bowl preparations in an opening statement?

ANDY LUDWIG: I will. I will start with the introduction to my left is senior running back Zack Moss, his left sophomore tight end Brant Kuithe, senior quarterback Tyler Huntley and at the far end senior left tackle Darrin Paulo.

Thank you for this opportunity to represent the Utah football family today. We are excited and have worked very hard in our preparation for this football game. We look forward to representing the University of Utah and the Pac-12 Conference against a very talented and physical University of Texas football team.

We’re very grateful to the people of San Antonio and the sponsors of the Alamo Bowl. We have enjoyed a great week of football preparation mixed with the best of what San Antonio has to offer.

Q. Andy, with Cam Rising being eligible, is he your plan to be the No. 2 backup at quarterback?
ANDY LUDWIG: He’s not. He’s the No. 3 quarterback for this football game. Drew Lisk will be the No. 2 quarterback. Cam Rising has been in redshirt mode the majority of the season becoming eligible here in the month of December for the bowl practices. He has repped predominantly with the scout team through the majority of the year. He has not had great exposure to the Utes’ offensive system in terms of taking actual reps, so he will be the third quarterback in this football game.

Q. Andy, with Texas’s defensive staff changes, do you expect to see what they’ve done for 12 games this season, or do you have to factor in some other possibilities now?
ANDY LUDWIG: Well, we are preparing for other possibilities. Again, how much can change in three weeks of practice, I don’t expect wholesale changes, but all the statistical data that we’ve accumulated in terms of breaking down film is pretty much useless with a new play caller calling the defenses, but you have to have a starting point to go off of so we’re going off of what we see on tape. We feel very confident in our preparation so far, and that needs to put us in a great position to adjust on the fly, which is going to be an absolute necessity in this football game.

Q. Tyler, what do you feel like you’ve learned in the last three weeks or so since that championship game?
TYLER HUNTLEY: We just learned that we’ve got to take every play as if it could be your last. We’ve got to fine tune a lot of things over these past three weeks, got better as a team, and just looking forward to this game.

Q. Coach, what has Tyler Huntley’s leadership meant to your team this year?
ANDY LUDWIG: I think Tyler Huntley, Tyler has a great leadership presence about him. I believe it all starts with his work ethic and passion for the game and his passion to be a great teammate. He’s a leader of the offensive unit, he’s a leader of the football team, and you really can’t ask for much more out of a young man in that regard, especially in his senior season. Again, he’s worked very hard in his bowl preparation. We’re looking forward to him and all these men up at the front row, the entire Utah football team, putting on a great show this Tuesday night.

Q. Zack, can you talk about what you’re going to be feeling when you walk out that tunnel on Tuesday night, your last time putting on a Utah jersey?
ZACK MOSS: It’s really hard to put into words what I could possibly be feeling that night putting on this jersey and this helmet one more time with my guys. It’s going to be definitely special to me, and it will be a night that I remember forever. But it would be a lot sweeter if we come out of here with a W.

Q. Tyler, you’ve been very efficient passing the ball this year, completing a really high percentage. What’s the key to that within your offense, how you’ve been able to get that done?
TYLER HUNTLEY: First it’s preparation with Coach Lud, Coach Lud do a great job of preparing the whole quarterback unit and the whole offense for what we expect out of the defense and how we’re going to attack that, and just a lot of film study and just knowing where my receiver is going to be and how they’re going to get open and everything.

Q. Tyler, do you feel like Utah as a program is still kind of under the national radar because it is a more remote location, it’s not in the south or southeast, obviously, and you have the late night Pac-12 at dark kind of thing?
TYLER HUNTLEY: Yeah, definitely. Utah hasn’t been on the map for a little bit now, and it’s an improvement of the program, just getting better over the years, and you can see it, and we’re making great strides, and it’s only going to go up from here. I feel like we don’t got that exposure as other teams on the other side, but we’ll continue to go out every week and try to show everybody why Utah should be considered whenever you’re talking about good teams.

Q. Tyler, can you just talk about getting over the Oregon game and being so close to the College Football Playoff and the hurt? Do you feel like you guys can bounce back from that?
TYLER HUNTLEY: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, we was kind of sad, you know, very sad. But we’ve got another great opportunity to win another game right now, so we’ve got to go out and prepare the past few days as we’ve been doing, just getting ready for this game and just fine tuning the mistakes we made in that game.

Q. Zack, what are your thoughts on that? Are you confident the team can bounce back and get back to that level you were at when you won eight straight games?
ZACK MOSS: Yeah, definitely a small hiccup in our way that we had in that game. But I think our guys have done a really good job over the couple weeks of just being out here, being back in Salt Lake, preparing for this game and moving past it. We can’t dwell on a game like that because you won’t be able to move forward, and that’s in life. I think our guys have done a really good job of just making sure that we’re focused for this game because this is the one that really matters right now for us.

Q. Darrin, what’s been working for you guys as an offensive line this year? And then Zack, obviously you get all the love and the yards, but what’s it been like running behind those big guys in front of you?
DARRIN PAULO: Well, it’s been good. I think everyone knew that we were inexperienced. That’s what everyone called us, but it was good to show everyone what we can do, and when we have guys like Zack and Tyler behind us, and Brant running good routes and all that, it’s always good, and a confidence booster for us up front knowing that we’re protecting for a reason and straining, so it’s always nice having those guys in the back, but I’d like to think we did really well this year.

ZACK MOSS: They’ve been great, from the beginning of the year to now. They’ve allowed me to do a lot of good things, going with those guys and Coach Ludwig putting me in the position to do a lot of good things. But everyone knows the offense goes as the O-line goes. If you don’t have a great O-line and they’re playing very inconsistent, then your team is going to be very inconsistent. Those guys have really done a great job just being consistent all year, which has allowed me to go ahead and do a lot of good things for this offense.

Q. Zack, as under the radar as Utah might be, what are a couple guys from Florida doing in Utah? What is that connection?
ZACK MOSS: Just enjoying the time.

Q. How did they find out about you and why were you interested in Utah to start with?
ZACK MOSS: Well, Tyler probably could explain it a lot better than me. They were actually — him and our receiver, Demari Simpkins, were actually recruited by Utah before me. They committed, they came up there on visits and things like that. I at the time was committed to the University of Miami and still trying to figure things out on my side. But I mean, they came up, the coaches, I don’t know if they saw highlights or something like that, they liked me, so that was lovely. But we decided to come out here, us three guys from Miami, chasing a dream, trying to better ourselves as young men but also our families’ lives, and I think over the past few years we’ve done a really good job of just growing with each other, being there, seeing guys just mature on and off the field, and it’s been really good.

Q. Tyler, can you follow up on the experience coming out of Utah?
TYLER HUNTLEY: Yeah, they did a great job of sending Dennis Erickson down to come and get us. He had all three of us over at Demari’s house, and yeah, he just explained to us what Utah could be with us coming out and everything like that, so they just did a great job of winning us over.

Q. Tyler, is that the first time you saw snow was on that first recruiting trip?
TYLER HUNTLEY: Yeah, for sure, that was the first time I seen snow. I jumped in it, and I never jumped in the snow again after that. I was sick for about a week, so I learned my lesson.

Q. Brant, can you just talk about the senior class? You’re kind of the transition guy here. Can you talk about the guys coming back and the future of the program and maybe talk about what these guys have done to put the program where it is now?
BRANT KUITHE: Yeah, just after last year, just going to the off-season, we just really made a big focus of the seniors to take the reins and everybody else has got to follow. Did a great job throughout the whole off-season and throughout the season. Just got to finish it off this last game. The juniors are going to have to step up, and a lot of guys are going to have to put it — get in big roles, because there’s a lot of seniors leaving. I really think that if we start off this game strong and finish strong and just make a statement going into the off-season.

Q. Brant, what kind of contingent do you have coming over from Katy to watch? You’re obviously probably the closest —
BRANT KUITHE: Yeah, big Texas fan growing up. Not so much now. But that’s how a lot of guys go from not really getting recruited from loved Texas teams. But it’s good to be back. Played here once, so looking forward to it again.

Q. What game was that?
BRANT KUITHE: We played Cibolo my junior game.