Media Schedule / Information
Once teams and practice schedules are announced this year’s schedule will be posted.
For availability outside of what is listed below, please work through the school’s respective sports information office.
Media Hotel & Headquarters
San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk
889 East Market Street
San Antonio, Texas 78205
The Marriott Riverwalk Hotel (next to the Marriott Rivercenter Hotel) is the official media hotel.
Please stop by Media Headquarters at the Marriott Riverwalk Hotel for the latest information during Bowl Week and to pick up your credentials.
The media headquarters number is 210-299-6586 during posted hours or you can reach Valero Alamo Bowl Media and Public Relations Coordinator Seth Krug by cell at 913-710-1736. Headquarters Fax: 210-299-6581
Alamodome Press Box Phone (Game day only): (210) 704-6200
Alamodome Press Box Fax (Game day only): (210) 704-6201
Valero Alamo Bowl Media Hospitality
A number of media functions are scheduled during Bowl week. Please consult your media event schedule for specific dates, times and locations.
Media Hotel Room Rates
Room rates for the Valero Alamo Bowl media are $139 per night plus tax, which includes Internet access in the sleeping rooms, lobby, and restaurants (separate code needed on the media/ballroom level so ask media headquarters). These rates are only valid from December 25 – December 31, 2013. All media rooms must be booked through the bowl’s website. The Marriott Riverwalk will not accept room reservations directly from media members. Late arrivals (after 6:00 p.m.) must provide a credit card to the Valero Alamo Bowl or the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk directly to guarantee a room(s) after December 25. Please note that the bowl will not assign rooms until December 19, so the hotel will not have a record of your name until after that date. Media members should include their hotel arrival and departure information on the Valero Alamo Bowl media credential application.
ESPN/Valero Alamo Bowl TV Station Policy
- Television stations will be allowed to film from the sidelines during the game. However, the Valero Alamo Bowl’s contract with ESPN prohibits the use of game highlights on local newscasts prior to the completion of the game. A distribution amp will also be provided adjacent to ESPN’s production truck in the loading dock area of the Alamodome for use by television stations wanting game highlights.
- Credentials will not be issued to TV assistants or “grips.”
- Television standup reporters will not be permitted on the sideline during the game. All reporters will be seated in the press box. With five (5) minutes remaining in the game, media will be allowed access to the field.
- Beginning a half-hour prior to kickoff until ESPN is off the air, there will be absolutely no live telecasts or transmissions from inside the Alamodome. Live shots can be originated at any time from outside the Alamodome.
- Microwave transmissions are not permitted within the Alamodome. All satellite dishes and/or ENG trucks must be positioned outside the Alamodome in the designated area located southwest of the building.
Team practice sites will be at University of the Incarnate Word (Pac-12) and Alamo Heights High School (Big 12).
Parking and Media Shuttle
A limited number of Alamodome parking passes for media covering the Valero Alamo Bowl are available. Media, especially those staying in the media hotel, are urged to utilize the shuttle service provided from the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter Hotel to the Alamodome. The media shuttle will be stationed at the Southeast corner of Bowie Street and Market Street and will be marked with a yellow flag. The shuttle service will begin at 2:00 p.m. and run post-game until the press box is empty. The San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter is a 10-minute walk to the Alamodome.
TV ENG Truck Parking
Parking space for TV ENG trucks at the Alamodome, located in the southwest corner of the parking lot, is extremely limited. Please contact Sarah Fieger of the Alamodome (210-207-3607) as soon as possible concerning a parking location and specific needs.
All interviews with coaches and/or players must be cleared through each school’s sports information director. To aid the media in its coverage of the Valero Alamo Bowl press conferences with coaches and players are scheduled throughout bowl week at the Marriott Riverwalk. Please consult your media schedule for exact times and locations. If you require specific interview needs please work through each school’s sports information director.
The Valero Alamo Bowl will provide a fax and email service upon request at no charge. This service will be provided during bowl week at media headquarters and at the Alamodome on game day. Please notify bowl staff members of your needs and supply fax numbers and telephone billing instructions. Following the game a PDF of the official stats will be on the bowl’s home page and will be emailed upon request.
Press Box Telephones/Internet Access
Two (2) telephones are available on a first-come, first-serve basis in the Alamodome press box for third party collect and credit card calls only. Media outlets requiring telephone and/or internet services for exclusive use must order directly from the Alamodome at (210) 207-3629 at least two weeks prior to game day. The Alamodome will provide telephone instruments on phone orders placed for the Valero Alamo Bowl.
Press Box Monitors
Television monitors are located in the Alamodome press box to assist media in its coverage of the Valero Alamo Bowl. ESPN will provide video with a direct feed to these monitors through the Alamodome’s in-house system.
The Valero Alamo Bowl has a dedicated URL for stats for your use at alamo.statbroadcast.com.
A mult-box will be provided for electronic media at all press conferences conducted at the Marriott Riverwalk and post game at the Alamodome. Radio stations will need to provide cassette recorders with any combination of mini, alligator clips or RCA cables. TV crews will require normal XLR plugs.
Valero Alamo Bowl Outstanding Players
The Outstanding Offensive and Defensive Player for the Valero Alamo Bowl will be named through online media voting. Visit alamo.statbroadcast.com during the fourth quarter, then click on the link on the right-hand side to place your vote.
Alamodome Media Elevators
The Alamodome’s media elevators are located on the east side of the building at the East Plaza Entrance. The writer’s press box is located on the mezzanine level (Level 3) with the broadcast and coaches booths located on Level 4. All media are asked to enter the press box facilities through Level 3. There is easy access through private stairs to Level 4.
Post-Game Field Access
The quickest way to get to the field and locker rooms from the press box is via an internal stairwell that is adjacent to the East elevators. Directional signage will be posted. Media can access the field and the post-game interview room by taking the Alamodome East elevators outside the press box to level 1 and making a left toward the locker rooms. Media can also the field through the Media Pass Gate at Section 122. To get to Section 122 take a right out of the press box (toward the South Entrance) and go 40 yards to the southeast stairwell. Go down one floor to Level 2. Follow the main concourse over three sections and enter Section 122. Take the stairs down to the field.
Coaches and/or selected players will be available to the media following the conclusion of the game. A formal interview room for each school will be clearly marked and located directly across from the visiting team’s locker room. Each school’s sports information office is responsible for overseeing its respective interview room. If you have a question regarding post-game interview procedures please contact each school’s sports information director. Only media with proper credentials will be admitted to the interview rooms. Admission to each school’s locker room will be granted in accordance with each school’s post-game interview policy.
Directions from San Antonio Airport to Marriott Riverwalk (Media Hotel)
Take Highway 281 South, which will turn into Interstate Highway 37 South heading toward Corpus Christi. Exit at the Commerce Street/The Alamo exit and turn right on Commerce. Proceed west on Commerce one block to Bowie Street. The Marriott Riverwalk will be on the southwest corner. To get to their parking garage, you will need to continue west on Commerce and turn left at Alamo and left onto Market which is a one way street. The Marriott Riverwalk address is 889 E. Market and their phone number is 210-224-4555. Approximate drive time: 11 minutes.
Directions from San Antonio Airport to Alamodome
Take Highway 281 South, which will turn into Interstate Highway 37 South heading toward Corpus Christi. Exit at the Durango exit and take a left on the turnaround under the bridge and head back north on the Durango access road. Turn right into Lot A. The southside entrance of the Alamodome just past the marquee. The Alamodome address is 100 Montana. Approximate drive time: 11 minutes.
Directions to Heroes Stadium from the Media Hotel
Take Highway 281 North toward the airport. In a quarter mile take Interstate 35 toward Austin. In 9 miles take exit 167 toward Starlight Terrace/Thousand Oaks Drive. Turn left onto Starlight Terrace/Thousand Oaks. The stadium address is 4799 Thousand Oaks. Hildebrand exit (less than 2.5 miles). Approximate drive time: 14 minutes.
Directions to Alamo Heights High School from the Media Hotel
Take Highway 281 North toward the airport. Exit at the East Basse exit (less than 3 miles). Take a right on Basse and then take a right at the second stoplight (Forestshire at the Clear Channel office) and then a quick left on Tuxedo which dead ends at Broadway and the school will be directly in front of you. Go left on Broadway and then turn into north end of school at Gaylord Finley Road which takes you to football field. The school address is 6900 Broadway. Approximate drive time: 14 minutes.
All credential requests must be completed online through the PressPass system. To fill out a request, please click here.
Preference will be given to media who cover all the home and away games of participating teams as well as South Texas media who routinely cover events on the Valero Alamo Bowl’s year long calendar. Media that cover all the home games of either of the two schools receive the next priority.
As a general rule, if either school hasn’t credentialed you for multiple games during the regular season, you won’t be credentialed for the Valero Alamo Bowl.
Specific outlets must meet the following guidelines to be credentialed:
Newspapers: All newspapers must be dailies with a Sunday edition and circulation above 30,000.
Television: All stations must have regular nightly sports segments with a full-time sports director/talent.
Radio Stations: Radio stations must have a sports director and regular daily sports shows. These stations must cover either the two teams (as determined by the two team’s SIDs) and/or the Valero Alamo Bowl on a regular, year-round basis.
Photographers: Staff photographers who represent accredited daily newspapers and national magazines are given first preference on sideline credentials. There is no photo space available in the press box. All photographers on the sideline must be carrying professional cameras. No cutline writers, grips or messengers will be allowed in this area due to congestion.
School Outlets: Maximum of two press, two photo will be provided to designated school newspapers. Maximum of one reporter, one photo pass will be provided to school educational TV. Maximum of one photo pass will be provided to school yearbook.
Credentials are for official business only and are non-transferable.
No spouses, dates or children, except those performing in a working capacity, will be allowed in Alamodome media facilities or on the sideline.
The Alamo Bowl reserves the right to revoke any credential used by individuals not fully accredited, or an individual not in compliance with press box and/or sideline standards.
NFL, professional football teams: The Valero Alamo Bowl will issue credentials to NFL and professional football scouts on an “as-available” basis. After a capacity number is met, scouts will have to purchase a game ticket.
Photo Credentials: Credentials for sideline photographers will be issued on the same basis of priority as working press. Similarly, photographers must adhere to the following guidelines:
- Photo credentials must be worn in plain sight at all times.
- Anyone wearing a photo credential and not shooting game action will be required to surrender their credential and leave the facility immediately.
- Photographers are permitted on either sideline or endline.
- Persons with sideline access are not permitted within the TEAM BENCH AREA (inside the 25-yard lines) at any time. NO EXCEPTIONS. Persons in violation of this policy will be required to surrender their credential and leave the stadium.
- Persons with sideline access must remain behind the 12-foot restraining line surrounding the field at all times.
- No cameras are permitted in the sideline area other than those shooting in a working capacity for official media organizations. All persons possessing photo credentials must have proper professional equipment and be shooting actual game action.
- Television stations will be allowed to film from the sidelines during the game. However, the Valero Alamo Bowl’s contract with ESPN prohibits the use of game highlights on local newscasts prior to the completion of the game. A distribution amp will also be provided adjacent to ESPN’s production truck in the loading dock area of the Alamodome for use by television stations wanting game highlights.
- Credentials will not be issued to TV assistants or “grips.”
- Acceptance of credentials constitute agreement by the bearer and his/her media organization to abide by the conditions as prescribed by the Alamo Bowl.
- Credentials will not be mailed. Individuals may claim all passes issued to his/her media organization.
- Lost or misplaced credentials will not be replaced.
- All media credentials remain property of the Valero Alamo Bowl and must be surrendered upon request.
Media Will Call
Credentials are available for pick-up at the Media Hotel (Marriott Riverwalk) duirng posted Media Headquarters hours. At 2:00 p.m. Media Will Call will be moved from the hotel to the east side of the Alamodome at the East Plaza Entrance (50 yard-line by train tracks). A table will be located inside the East Plaza Entrance, with the media elevators also located adjacent to the will call table.
THE MODERATOR: We’d like to welcome everyone today’s head coaches press conference, our final official press conference of the 2013 Valero Alamo Bowl. This year Texas is the home team and Oregon is the visitor. I would like to introduce Coach Mack Brown, if you could do opening statements and then we’ll introduce Coach Helfrich.
COACH MACK BROWN: Thank you. It’s been a great week. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Mark and his staff. His defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti is one of the great ones in our business, and for him to be stepping away is significant because he’s such a great coach, and been that way for so many years. Mark’s done a tremendous job of taking over for a program that was winning like they are now, and he’s continued to keep it in the same light and will continue to do so. The players have gotten along great this week. The city of San Antonio continues to be awesome for hospitality. The Alamo Bowl and the city are just a great combination for fun for kids, but it’s always fun when you can appreciate and enjoy. The coaches on the other side and the players last night had a lot of fun together. So that’s fun and builds up to a great game. What we did on Christmas Day when we got here is we told our players that this was not about farewells; this was not about where I am in life, it’s not about where the coaches are in life. What this is is a reward for them for winning the games they won this year in fighting back and coming from behind and playing a great opponent on Monday night. So we have actually asked them not to mention the coaching situation because that would be very, very unfair to the Alamo Bowl, to Mark or to them. This is about them. It’s about the seniors’ last game. It’s about the younger players moving forward. So we have not talked about that all week. And if you watch Oregon on video, that takes your mindset away. You don’t have to worry about what happens on Tuesday. So we’re excited about the game. It’s been a great week, and Mark.
MARK HELFRICH: Thank you. Can I just say ditto to a lot of that? But it has been a great week. We’ve had ‑‑ the reception here from the top down has been outstanding. The people associated with the Alamo Bowl have been outstanding. Pat and Derek and everybody else we’ve come in contact with has been beyond our highest expectation. City of San Antonio has been a lot of fun, had a great time last time, as Coach Brown said, with our players and families out on the River Walk for a great event. And like Coach said, a tremendous challenge of watching Texas on tape woke us up immediately of starting to prepare for the buildup to this game, and our guys had a great couple of weeks of kind of Texas prep as well as getting a jump with our younger players for advancing their jump on spring ball a little bit. And I will talk about the coaching change a little bit because Coach Brown, just again, I call him an icon of our game, and as I’ve been around him more and more this week, it’s made it more and more difficult. I like to get a little anger going before the game; and when you’re around him, it’s just more impressive, more classy, you know, just better than the high expectations that I had coming into this deal. I’ve had a ton of conversations with him about things that I’ll take with me forever and will hopefully make me a better coach, and just can’t say enough about how impressive it is to be around him and his wife Sally. And again, like he said, the players, every player that I have come in contact with at Texas have been top‑notch human beings, and I think that’s, again, a testament to him and his staff. As for the game, we’re excited to go. I think we’ve had a great week down here of focused football and then fun when it’s time to have fun, and we’re getting closer and closer to kickoff, so it feels more like a football game than a bowl game.
Q. Mack, there was a story out this week that you stepping aside was not your choice. I wonder if you can address that.
MACK BROWN: I can address that after watching Oregon’s video, we have been totally focused on Oregon and nothing else.
Q. Mack, the players came in yesterday. We talked to Greg Robinson yesterday. They all seem to be full speed ahead. How have you managed the information so that your players are doing nothing but being focused on the game?
MACK BROWN: This has been one of the more fun groups that I’ve ever coached, being around the assistant coaches and the players. From our poor start and a lot of speculation and negative things being said early, these guys have focused on winning. And they had that great run for six weeks, and they had a chance to beat Baylor in the last half for the conference championship and came up short, but at no time have they not given us their best and been focused each week. And the assistant coaches the same way. After Ole Miss these guys committed to us that they would continue to do everything they could do to help Texas, because that’s really important to us that Texas play well and do well. And I asked the assistant coaches even this week, let’s focus on this game; let’s don’t talk about other jobs. If you need me, I will help you, but I’d rather do it after Monday night. I’d rather do it Tuesday. So let’s do nothing but give Texas our best this last week and let’s give these young people our best. And it would have been impossible for us to ask them to focus and give us respect and discipline and effort for the last week unless we gave them the same. So we think that’s all worked out for both. Very proud of everybody in the Longhorn organization.
Q. Mack, real quick about Malcolm Brown. You know, he talked yesterday about he felt that there was an opportunity around the OU game to sort of step in, make his mark. I know Joe had some issues there, and then Jonathan had some fumblitis issues. Was that game as a staff where y’all felt, hey, Malcolm, here’s your chance and he really took off with it?
MACK BROWN: Yeah. We felt since he’s been here it’s ready to happen. Ole Miss two years ago he was unbelievable, just had an amazing game, and in the third play of the game against Oklahoma State he hurts his ankle and really doesn’t come back for the rest of the year.
He played a little bit the latter part of the year, but he was never the same. So this is the first year he’s been healthy all year, and I just think he’ll have an opportunity to leave obviously, but I think if he comes back, and I would think he would come back, that he would be one of the better running backs in the country next year.
Q. Coach Helfrich, we have an Alamo Bowl hash tag question. What was your reaction and player reaction to the end zones?
MARK HELFRICH: I didn’t actually ‑‑ I walked around the Texas end zone I saw it; it looked fantastic. I didn’t get a chance to get down to the Oregon end zone. So hopefully we’ll find that Monday night. But we just went in, took the team picture and hustled here. But anything that Nike has designed has been fairly impressive, and I’m confident it’ll be fantastic on television for the crowd in attendance.
Q. Mack, have you come close to reaching terms on your buy‑out agreement with Texas?
MACK BROWN: We are excited about Oregon and Monday night. So I can’t wait. Great week. I said at the first of the week we would focus on these kids and this game, and that’s absolutely what I’m going to do. Every ounce of my energy will be doing the best I can do to coach this game on Monday night. And by the way, we’ve even said we’re not coaching it like it’s the last one. We’re going to coach it to do everything that we would do if it was 16 years ago to win the game. So we’re going to do our best, and that’s our job and our responsibility. It would be disrespectful to Mark and his great team and staff. It would be disrespectful to the Alamo Bowl for me to sit up here and talk about me today because this isn’t about me.
Q. Do you worry about being overly emotional in your last game with the Longhorns?
MACK BROWN: I’m overly emotional for 16 ‑‑ 30 years I’ve been a head coach. So that’ll probably be the same.
Q. Coach Helfrich, we talked to Josh yesterday. Talk a little bit about the edge of your offense, the attitudes they have. We talked to Marcus yesterday. We talked to Josh. Kind of how they manage themselves and the vigor with which they play offense.
MARK HELFRICH: Well, that’s something we take a lot of pride in is not only the tempo we play at, but we want to play physically as well. We don’t want to be a run‑and‑shoot‑esque type of edge to our deal. And one of those things that we always point out is our ability to block on the perimeter. And that’s something that we take great pride in, our receivers blocking in this case some tremendously talented secondary people that Texas has. That’ll be something that will be huge in the game, as it is every week. And we do need to play with an edge. We don’t need to play with chaos. The last time we were in Texas Josh was a little over emotional at the beginning of the game and so we’ve talked about that a little bit of playing within ‑‑ right on the fine line of that edge and still executing.
Q. Mark, I know in talking to your players this week, they said the last four or five weeks have really been good for them to get their edge back. Do you get the feeling that since November they’ve kind of got their mojo back as far as approaching what they were doing early in the season rather than late in the season?
MARK HELFRICH: We sure hope so, I guess. I think when we lost our first game and the world came to an end, you know, we realized when we woke up the next day that, hey, maybe the world didn’t come to an end, but there were still some stragglers and there was absolutely some disappointment, kind of punched‑in‑the‑gut type of feeling for a few guys that just needed to grow up and realize that there was a lot of ball left to be played, and as it played out, we could have played ourselves into a better situation, quote, unquote, but we didn’t earn that.
And I think a part of that is how I managed that, that I can do better. Part of that is realizing that the guys in the helmets are the guys that make it happen and earn it. Like I said the other day, they don’t give us points because the O shows up and we step on the field and we put 27 points on the board. Can we do that, by the way? 28 maybe?
MACK BROWN: I’ve been saying 65.
MARK HELFRICH: But just that mentality of grinding out everything, earning everything is something that has been our calling card for a long time, and especially our younger guys just need to realize that, and I think the disappointment or whatever those emotions were we handled as well as we possibly could in some regards. In some facets of our team we didn’t handle that so well. But these last couple weeks I think our guys have prepared well, one, out of respect for our opponent, and another, of playing Oregon football.
MACK BROWN: The expectation for both of these programs is to be playing in the last game at the end of the year, and neither one of us are doing that, but a lot of people would love to be in Oregon’s situation as a Top 10 team that lost to a great team and then had a tough one on the road, and that’s it, and have a lot of people back for next year. So those guys have been on a great run. Their run, and I told their staff this the other night, their run as of late here has been like the run we had from ’04 to ’09 and it’s been fun to watch them.
Q. Hey, Mark, Nick said that we wanted to retire after the Fiesta Bowl last year and you talked him into coming back and helping the transition. Is that accurate, and if so, what does it mean for you to have him this year?
MARK HELFRICH: As I said the other day, Nick’s contributions have been ‑‑ you can’t overstate them enough, and I think that’s the best way to put it of his contributions on and off the field have been immeasurable, as Coach Brown just said, the advancement, so to speak, of our program. There was never a talking into or talking out ‑‑ I don’t think that’s ‑‑ that’s exactly how I put it to him. That’s a lifetime decision that you’re making. He’s at a point in his life where he’s happy and healthy. His wife and his family are happy and healthy; go play golf. Make some tee times. I guarantee you he and Coach Brown already have two for a foursome at their country club of choice for years to come. That timing was totally his call.
MACK BROWN: Nick told me he was a 20 handicap.
MARK HELFRICH: 24.
MACK BROWN: Oh, there’s no question. I didn’t buy any of it.
MARK HELFRICH: Smart man.
Q. Mark, you said that your team couldn’t quite match up from a talent standpoint to Texas. Where do they rank among the other teams you’ve played this season?
MARK HELFRICH: Really high. The context of that, somebody had asked how do you prepare for a Malcolm Brown, how do you prepare for the offensive line. Like most people, we don’t have those guys laying around. We don’t have a Malcolm Brown on our team let alone the third guy or the fourth guy that can simulate that guy in a scout team situation, but Texas is obviously legendary for its ability to recruit, and obviously the talent in the state in a talent‑rich state and a talent‑laden roster of those in‑state guys, and just seeing them at the banquet last night, that was not fun. But you know, we’ve got some things that we hope we’ll be able to do and our guys will certainly show up and play hard.
MACK BROWN: The problem for us is we tried to catch some of theirs leaving the banquet. We couldn’t catch them either.
Q. Mack, can you talk about what you’ve seen from Tyrone Swoopes in these bowl preparations?
MACK BROWN: Yeah. Tyrone has done very well, so we’re very proud of him, and I think he’s got a great future ahead.
Q. Mark, last year at the Fiesta Bowl you were offensive coordinator; your responsibilities certainly were different. Can you talk about how you’ve managed as a head coach this year the bowl responsibilities as a head coach?
MARK HELFRICH: Just trying to make sure everybody’s on time and working hard. I think for the most part of having a plan coming into it of kind of how we’ve managed in the past in tweaking some of those things or getting some different input, whether it’s from Jim Radcliffe, first string coach or just peaking on Monday night. That’s the whole point of this. And how we managed Christmas and all those things. We didn’t do anything terribly different from a logistical standpoint from the last couple years, but just getting, I think, more or less just the psychological nature of things, getting everybody’s minds rested, happy and healthy and ready for these last couple of weeks of pure Texas preparation.
Q. Mack, hindsight obviously being 20/20, but if you look back at this season, is there anything you could have done differently or you would have done differently as you look back on things or did it play out just the way it was kind of meant to play out?
MACK BROWN: No. I would have won all the games. That would have been the better thought for me if we could have done that, by a lot. Played a lot of guys, had happy moms and dads and happy media and happy fans, that would have been fun. We’ve done that, and it’s a lot more fun.
Q. Mark, what went into your decision to have Nick announce his retirement on Friday?
MARK HELFRICH: Well, you know, he’d been talking about this for a while, and again, his thing that he kept saying is he wanted to manage the message or be able to control the message which in the modern Twitter verse that’s difficult if you don’t make the announcement. And so he was bringing this up, and the only way to do that would have been to do it before the game because he wanted to tell the team and he wanted to tell the staff before anybody else, and to do that you have to do that before Monday night. There’s no other way. And I think the timing of it just of how he wanted to do it with the press conference the next day was something that worked out. But that was definitely a group decision.
Q. Mack, if the four‑team playoff was in effect now, do you think Oregon would be good enough to be one of those four teams?
MARK HELFRICH: Let me give you his answer. Yes.
Q. Ranked No. 1?
MARK HELFRICH: No. I’d go four.
MACK BROWN: Four with the best chance to win. (Laughs). No, I said Mark announced Nick, so our farewell party wouldn’t be good. He’s got their defense pumped now for that stage.
No, I do think that’s one of the great things about the playoff moving forward. I’m hoping that at some point if you get a great team like Oregon that has an injury or two and it costs you a game at mid season, I’d rather see it be eight teams and see who the best teams are at the end. I think right now a loss in college football is the most difficult loss in any sporting event across the country. And I’m not saying that about Oregon. There’s some other teams that we’d all like to see a playoff. What a great playoff if we had about four more weeks of the best teams playing the best teams instead of some of the bowls we’re watching, very honestly, and still let those bowls be out there, but let’s don’t take a great team and have them in a lesser bowl. Let’s let them have a chance to play for it at the end and I think that’s where we’re headed. I wish it was more than four, because next year we’re going to be worried about who’s five and who’s six and somebody’s going to get left out that’s a really good football team, because now I think we’re going to see a national champion with two losses at some point in the next four or five years, and that’s just where we are. I think we’re headed more to an NFL model than ever before in my coaching career, and there are some things that are positive about that, but there are some things that are negative. But it would give a team like Oregon a chance right now to be back in the mix instead of walking off the field against Stanford, everybody talking about you’ve lost your chance. I mean that’s not fair. It shouldn’t be that way in my estimation.
Q. Mark, what’s your time table for hiring a defensive coordinator? And as someone who was promoted from within, is that a priority for you to promote from within and keep continuity at that position?
MARK HELFRICH: Go last first. The priority is what’s best for Oregon football, and the second part of that, no time line. Our priority, A, No. 1, AAA, No. 1, is to beat Texas, and our focus is 100 percent on that. And we’ll manage that behind the scenes, and we have some great coaches on our staff and there are some great coaches we’ve either been around or been in contact with in the past that will be in the mix in that regard. And I’ve read a lot of things that I’ve done over the last three or four days that I haven’t done. So it’s been exciting to see those developments.
Q. Welcome to Texas.
MARK HELFRICH: Yeah, exactly. But in due course. There’s no hurry at all.
MACK BROWN: Mark asked me about it last night if I was interested, and I told him with all due respect, we should wait till Tuesday.
MARK HELFRICH: Tuesday morning. (Laughs). Had to wait for the negotiations.
Q. Mack, since we’re not going to be able to see you on Tuesday ‑‑
MACK BROWN: We’re not hanging out?
Q. He’s going to be in Bora Bora. A lot of people want to know do you want to keep coaching. What have you envisioned for yourself come Tuesday and beyond?
MACK BROWN: I have envisioned doing the best job I can do for this football team between now and Monday night, and it would be unfair for me to have even thought about anything else. And then after that I’ll obviously have some time to think, but it would be unfair and disrespectful to everybody here for us to keep talking about me.
Q. (No microphone).
MACK BROWN: No. I don’t drink coffee. (Laughs).
Q. Mark, in the Stanford game why did you decide to let Marcus keep playing after he partially tore his MCL and how much healthier is he now?
MARK HELFRICH: You know, Marcus was our best option. There was no point at which the medical team, you know, in any way was, hey, this guy’s in danger, a detrimental kind of situation to reaggravate something would come up, and he was our best option. Marcus is a great player, and if we make two plays at the beginning of that game, it’s a totally different story. Make a couple special teams plays on defense, like anybody, when you play against a great team, the margins are very slim. What was the second part?
Q. How much healthier is he now in his ability to run, which makes the offense a lot more dynamic?
MARK HELFRICH: One percent.
MACK BROWN: He’s looked really good in practice.
MARK HELFRICH: How do you know? (Laughs).
MACK BROWN: We’ve been out there.
MARK HELFRICH: We are in Texas.
Q. I just wanted to get your impressions, Coach Helfrich, of the Texas defensive line, Jackson Jeffcoat and your overall impressions of the defense.
MARK HELFRICH: Outstanding. You can certainly see the impact of the coaching change was immediate. The scheme was different, their pursuit of the ball was different, and that’s one of those things that, you know, is a tough deal ‑‑ tough call to make in season, but the impact was huge. And Jackson Jeffcoat is one of the many, many things that make them really good on defense, two great corners that can cover anybody. And you see the best of the Big 12 getting locked up every week, and they do a great job of mixing a ton of coverages. They’re very similar to Stanford in that way of a bunch of different coverages, a bunch of ways that they can attack formationally from a defensive standpoint, and then up front they do a great job of mixing and matching by game plan. They’ll play one team completely different, then another team completely different, then another. So it kind of gives you a bunch of straws to pull at as far as what they’re going to do against us. So it’ll be a game of adjustments at some point and then a little bit of a game of just do what you do.
Q. Mack, as far as your offensive line with Kennedy Estelle out, and I assume Josh Cochran out and maybe Desmond Harrison, you got any new players coming in there?
MACK BROWN: Yes. I’m sorry. We’ve recruited four guys this week off the waiver wire. Desmond Harrison did not make the trip because he’s had a personal family issue at home, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers as that continues to progress. Hopefully it’ll improve. Kennedy Estelle is obviously at home. Josh Cochran will not play tackle. He’s played some tight end, but he’s lost too much weight after his shoulder injury to do that so he comes in in short yardage and goal line, some at tight end, so what you have to do is move Trey Hopkins to right tackle and Sedrick Flowers to left guard and move forward.
And also Hassan is out with an arm injury. And he will not play in the game, will not dress or play.
Q. Mack, throughout the season how much have injuries affected how you play and change what you have to do?
MACK BROWN: The biggest thing is it’s part of the game. You know, you go back and look, probably eight of our Top 10 players will not dress Monday night. So it’s been a difficult thing.
One of the things a new coach is going to have to look at is why we’ve had so many injuries over the last three years, and I think nationally we’ve all gotta look at it. It seems like there are more injuries out there this year than maybe in the past, or maybe we’re just hearing about them more. But I think the biggest impact is at quarterback when the quarterback that you’re playing isn’t ‑‑ he doesn’t run the same plays as the one that you were playing, so obviously you have to make a major change, because Case is not a guy that’s going to run the option and quarterback draws and do the things that David did. So that’s been a pretty big burden for transition for our offensive staff to change as much as we’ve had to. But I think they’ve done a good job and Case has done a good job stepping up. It also affects you on special teams. That’s one of the things. When you look at a team to see how well they’re coached, Oregon has probably had as many punt returns and kickoff returns for touchdowns as anybody in the country. One of the things I always look to first is the speed of your team always shows up on special teams. The depth of your team shows up on special teams, but also your coaching, because a lot of teams can run an offense; a lot of teams can run a defense, but these guys win a lot of games with kicking game. And that’s very impressive.
Q. Mark, would you ‑‑ we talked to some of the guys yesterday about embracing the challenge of this being a semi road game, considering it’s here in Texas. Would you talk about that a little bit, about embracing being on the road? And I think the numbers are 80 percent are going to be Texas families in the Alamo Dome tomorrow night.
MARK HELFRICH: Yeah, that’s probably a conservative number, too. But yeah, we’ve approached it exactly like a road game and a hostile road game. And just being in the Alamo Dome, it’s the first time I’ve been in there. It’s very similar to, what’s it called now, University of Phoenix stadium in terms of it’s a big basketball arena. That’ll be a great atmosphere. Along the lines in our conference of a Washington‑Oregon kind of hostile environment on the road, and it’ll be loud and hopefully we can do our part to keep that 20 percent doing the noise making.
Q. Mack, what’s the best memory from your time at Texas?
MACK BROWN: Oh, boy. There’s too many. I mean 16 years is a long time, and it’s been a wonderful ride. I’ve had a great time, and University of Texas has been wonderful to me, our family. We couldn’t have had the memories and made the friends that we’ve had anywhere else as well as we’ve had at the University of Texas. Some people have asked me that question, then when I start, I say, oh, no, that one, too; no, this one; gosh, that was fun. Oh, my gosh, I forgot about that. There’s just way too many. I’ll probably be able to reflect that somewhere down the road sometime, but not right now.
THE MODERATOR: Any final questions? Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
An interview with:
COACH NICK ALIOTTI
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone. We’re going to do the Oregon defense. It’s my pleasure to introduce defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. Nick, if you could introduce your players.
COACH ALIOTTI: To my left is Taylor Hart, defensive end. Next to him is Tony Washington, outside linebacker. In the middle we have Brian Jackson, safety. I have Derrick Malone, Will inside backer. On the end there, that’s just Ifo, great corner.
One thing I will say, I’ve been blessed. These are not just good football players. A lot of times you’re around good football players. These five guys right here, these are great young men. They represent everything that you want in a college athlete. It’s been a pleasure to coach them.
Instead of getting too long‑winded, which I tend to do, ask them questions.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Nick, the announcement an hour ago that you’re retiring. First off, what led to that decision? How long was that decision in the making? When did you decide? What were the main factors?
COACH ALIOTTI: We’re going to try to keep this brief. I will try to answer this as succinctly as I can, then we’re going to talk about the Alamo Bowl because that’s why we’re here. I’ll give you the shortest version I can.
I was going to retire last season when we won the Fiesta Bowl. When the game was over, I went out to the middle of the field, grabbed some turf, put it in a plastic bag, it’s still in my briefcase.
When Chip left, I decided to stay along with Mark to finish up the recruiting because it seemed like a tough time. We were on 13 kids, wanted to finish the deal. I’m not trying to be a martyr or pat myself on the back. I believe in and love Oregon. I wanted to do a good job by Mark. I wanted to do a good job by these kids without having something to say.
This is something that was going to happen last year. I told Mark I would go one more year, and therefore I did. After 38 seasons, I coached the very first year after I stopped playing, and so I’ve had a good ride.
It’s not about me. Let’s move on to the Alamo Bowl. I’ll answer those at another time.
I’m at a good place. Especially when I have these five guys to my left, I’m at a better place.
Q. Taylor and Tony, can you talk about what you’ve seen from the Texas running game. Who would you compare it to in terms of teams you faced this year?
TAYLOR HART: Yeah, they obviously have a power running game. With that they’re very physical up front, the offensive linemen. They have multiple runningbacks back there that can do the job.
I would kind of compare them to Stanford in some ways. But for us, we’ve faced it all. We just have to figure out the ways to stop this run and go against Texas.
TONY WASHINGTON: Same thing he said (laughter).
Q. Ifo, since we’re in the spirit of making announcements, have you made a decision on your NFL future? Also, can you give us a memory of Coach Al, what makes him so effective?
IFO EKPRE‑OLOMU: At this time I still haven’t made a decision of what I’m going to do. I feel that I’m going to wait probably until I have a time to sit down with my family and actually think things through.
I’m really worried about the Alamo Bowl right now and that’s really it. I haven’t been worried about that too much.
For Coach Al, I’d have to say definitely his everyday work ethic. He comes with that relentless passion every day to get the best out of each player. Even when players might not take it for what it’s worth, he’s made everybody better at this program and he’s done it day in and day out. I thank him for that.
Q. Brian and Derrick, does Coach Al’s retirement add extra as far as sending him out as a winner?
BRIAN JACKSON: Yeah. About this, I feel if we wanted to make this about coaches, we wouldn’t be doing any game planning.
He just told us not that long ago. I feel like that’s his decision and I support him in every single way.
Right now he wants us to focus on this football game. That’s what we’ve been doing this whole time. We came here almost like it was a work visit. People who have conferences away from where they normally work at, they come there for a reason, they come to get some work done. That’s why we’re here.
I respect him. I’m glad he made this decision. Like he said, we need to get out there and play some football.
DERRICK MALONE: We’re here to win this game, no matter what happens. We all have the mindset, we need to get things done. No matter what happens, who is staying, from coaches to players, we know we have one common goal.
Q. Nick, because you knew this year it was probably going to be your last year, did you enjoy it more? What was it like coming back for the extra year?
COACH ALIOTTI: I might have been a little softer than I usually am, but they might not agree with that (laughter).
You know, I don’t think I changed in any way, shape or form. Coached the same, as hard as I always have. Same passion, same work ethic.
But I did enjoy this group of kids. This is a good group of young men. I know we’re going to put our best foot forward to try to beat a very good Texas football team. That’s what I hope we do on Monday night.
Q. What are you going to do now going forward?
COACH ALIOTTI: I haven’t really thought that far ahead, to be honest with you. Right now, just like my men said, the focus today should be ‑‑ I know this announcement came, and I want to squelch that. This is not about Nick Aliotti. This is the timing that Mark and myself decided on. This is not, Win one for the Gipper. I want to make that perfectly clear.
This is about trying to win the Alamo Bowl. We’ve worked toward that before we got here. We’re here to try to beat a very good, athletic Texas team. That’s our goal. That’s why we’re here.
Nothing has changed. Nothing will change. We’ll do everything as we always do till the final gun. But thanks for asking.
Q. Taylor, you’re an Oregon guy. You grew up watching Nick Aliotti’s defenses. What is it like to play for him? What is your favorite memory from being with Nick for the past few years?
TAYLOR HART: I mean, everything. Coach Al, he’s like a second father to me. It’s been an amazing experience. He always comes with the attitude that he’s just got the energy, we’re always going to find a way to win, we’re always going to struggle. He hasn’t changed at all.
That’s what we’ve done this week against Texas, to be able to prepare for them. I mean, I can’t say anything bad at all about Coach Aliotti.
Q. Derrick, you had the shoulder. Has this month of bowl practice been good for you? Do you feel ready to go?
DERRICK MALONE: Yeah, definitely. I feel real good, ready to go. Extra work in all areas with many things that I do, working out, studying film. I’m really excited about letting my preparation meet the field.
Q. Tony, what do you see as the biggest challenge with the Texas offense for you guys?
TONY WASHINGTON: I just think with so many personnel groups, they can give us a bunch of different looks. This past couple weeks, guys have been focusing on all possibilities, all different styles of plays, runs, passes, all different things. Just be prepared for everything.
They’re great at running it, great at throwing it. We have to be great in all phases.
Q. Brian, so much of these bowl games are about which teams want to be there. Oregon was a team that could have gone up to the BCS. Here you are playing an unranked Texas team. What is the mindset of Oregon right now? What’s the hunger factor for this game?
BRIAN JACKSON: I think that’s an easy question to answer. We’re here to play a good Texas team. This is more of a home game for them, if anything. Man, we’re coming out here into hostile territory. We’re here to do something we haven’t done before: play a great Texas team, play some great football.
These two styles of football really mix up well. We’re bringing the West Coast, ground and pound, throw some deep balls. I like the way this matchup is. I feel like it’s hard for anyone not to be excited to play in this kind of game of this caliber.
I was just cruising around the streets with my friend yesterday, just headed over to the mall somewhere. They’re advertising the game is sold out, four tickets left. I mean, people want to see this game. For us to not want to play in a game like this, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.
Q. Taylor and Tony, you guys play in a program where the offense gets a lot of publicity. Their style puts a lot of pressure on your defense because they don’t keep the ball very much. Could you describe how difficult it is to play defense at Oregon sometimes facing all those snaps from opposing teams.
TAYLOR HART: You know, sometimes it makes it difficult on us. But when they put up 60 points, it’s pretty easy.
For us to be able to stay out there, we rotate a lot of guys. That’s something that helps us out as a defense. For us to be able to play these high‑velocity snaps, play as hard as we can, the way we practice, prepare for these teams. For us, it’s just all about preparation. To have the offense go as fast as it does, it doesn’t bother us. It’s actually a cool deal the way they can do it.
TONY WASHINGTON: Off of what he’s saying, I think the rotation is always great. Me personally, I love how exciting our offense is now, how often we get in the end zone. Gets me an opportunity to go out there and play. I love playing this game. Any chance I get, I’ll take it. It’s great to be part of this team.
Q. Coach, how would you describe your guys’ run defense the past month? Do you feel the need to make any adjustments or tweaks since the last game?
COACH ALIOTTI: Obviously the stats bear that we haven’t played very well against the run the last couple games. Going back the last month ‑ I’ll try to make this answer short and sweet ‑ Stanford, I don’t care we played that bad against the run, contrary to what everybody might think. They ran the ball 66 times. They didn’t have to throw it.
Tough to answer it this way, but we didn’t play very well on offense. The fact we didn’t play very well on offense, they didn’t have to throw the ball. You run the ball 66 times, you get 200‑something yards, that’s the nature of the beast.
Utah we played well. It was over.
Arizona, for whatever reason, you can point the finger right here, we weren’t ready, okay? I didn’t have them ready. We didn’t play great. It’s probably one of our worst games that we’ve played that I can remember.
But it wasn’t because of these guys. Arizona had a good plan. They’re a good football team, too. They’re on scholarship last time I checked also. Other teams are getting scholarships, too. We just didn’t play very well.
Oregon State, didn’t want them to run for that many yards, but they throw the ball, so we wanted to make sure they didn’t throw the ball all over the place. Maybe to some degree the fact they run the ball helped us win.
As far as this game, we’ve practiced a lot of things. The thing about defense, the one thing that people don’t understand, on defense you don’t get to practice tackling live for a month before you play a bowl game. That’s for both teams. That’s always something that concerns coaches. You can’t tackle live for a month. You never really play a game without tackling live for a month except for a bowl game. That will affect both teams, who tackles well, who tackles in space.
Secondly, offenses can decide what personnel groups and what plays they want to run from those personnel groups. We have to prepare for war in time of peace. We have to be ready for everything. If they line up in empty, we can’t call timeout and say, Hey, we didn’t practice that this week, so you guys can’t do that. We have to prepare for everything.
This is not an excuse. I’m answering your question.
Thirdly, we’ve done everything within our power to get ready to stop this good Texas running game, okay? I have no idea what the outcome’s going to be or how it’s going to turn out, but in every game that we’ve played where it was a big‑time run team, that we weren’t going to stop the run, they were going to run all over the space, and they were going to score a lot of points ‑ Colorado, Kansas State, Auburn ‑ we stopped the run.
Q. Brian, what would a win mean to you personally being that this is Nick’s last game? Nick, what would a win mean to you?
COACH ALIOTTI: That’s a nice question, a nice sentiment. Obviously you want to win your last game or play well in your last game.
This is not about me, but it would mean a lot if we won the game. I’ll be happier to win the game for these guys. These are the guys that deserve to win the game.
I’ve played in a lot of games. I will feel good if and when we win. But I’ll feel better at how hard these guys are going to play.
BRIAN JACKSON: Yeah, you know, both teams come into this planning to win the game. We obviously want to win this game. It would mean a lot to me, especially being my last college game.
I came here, Coach Aliotti, we were talking the other day about how he went and ate at a restaurant for the first and last time when he came for my visit. I’ve been here with him the whole time.
It’s been a great ride for me. I want to come out here with a win, just something to help me remember this better by. I really enjoyed my time here. A win would be incredible.
Q. Ifo, Case McCoy is a different kind of quarterback. How would you describe his throwing style and how to defend him?
IFO EKPRE‑OLOMU: Definitely he can run. He’s able to extend plays. They have great receivers that we’re going to have to be able to cover and cover for a long time.
A quarterback that can scramble. They’re able to extend plays and create stuff that normally wouldn’t be there. Me, Terrance, Avery, Brian Jackson, we’re all going to have to play great defense every play because they have a lot of great athletes. They have players that are able to spread the ball around and make things happen after the catch.
Q. Ifo, after having such a great year, what aspects of your game do you think you can still improve on?
IFO EKPRE‑OLOMU: Every day I look at improving my entire game. I never really have been to a point where I thought, Oh, I’m good enough here, I’m doing good enough at this spot. I feel like every day I come with the attitude of trying to get better and trying to improve in everything I do.
I mean, every day I want to be a better player than the day before. That’s all I can really say.
Q. Derrick, we see Coach Al as this gregarious, out there, funny guy. What do you see behind the scenes that we don’t see?
DERRICK MALONE: That’s kind of hard.
He’s hard on us when we’re not doing things right. He expects a lot from us, everything like that. But he’s also there to nurture us and show us love when it’s needed. That’s what I truly reflect upon him.
He’s not going to let us fall short of our potential. He wants to maximize our potential and get the best out of each and every one of us, no matter if you’re a scout team guy, special teams guy, defensive team guy. He wants you to reach your potential.
He’ll get on you hard. When you do something great, he’ll be the first to high‑five you and jump up and down with you in our huddles with you and show you love. Behind the scenes you don’t really get to see that. That’s really what I respect about him.
Q. Nick, as a guy who just made a very big decision, what would you tell Ifo about the decision that he had to make about the NFL? Do you think he’s ready right now to play at that level?
COACH ALIOTTI: First of all, Ifo is ready to do whatever he wants to do. I respect that young man enough that whatever he chooses to do, I’m 100% behind it. Whether I stayed here or not, I would still be 100% behind Ifo because the young man has to do what’s best for him and his family.
When it’s all said and done, if you listen to him talk, he’s pretty intelligent. He’ll figure it out. I support him in whatever he chooses to do.
Q. Derrick, you go up against Marcus in practice. I don’t know how much you guys hit the quarterback, probably not much. How good is he as a runner, and what does he bring to the field?
DERRICK MALONE: He’s real good. Sometimes I sit back and just look. Marcus has the ball. He’s running like a runningback, he’s so fast, so elusive. He has so many weapons. He can run the ball, throw the ball, find open receivers, do it all.
It’s always a challenge when we go against our offense. It’s fun to try to chase him down, contain him in the pocket, stop all his weapons. He’s a really great quarterback.
Q. Coach, win or lose, are you going to grab some turf from the Alamo Bowl or water out of the River Walk?
COACH ALIOTTI: I’m not sure yet. I know this: win or lose, I’m going to make sure I see all our seniors, everybody on defense, and tell them thanks for what a great ride they’ve given me. I’m hoping it ends in a win so we’re all smiles. But so does Texas. They hope they end in a win so it’s all smiles.
We’ll see how that plays out at the end. The bottom line is I want to make sure I touch every one of my guys when the game is over and tell them thanks. I hope they all have a smile on their face when the game is over. That’s what’s important to me.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
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.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
An interview with:
COACH MAJOR APPLEWHITE
THE MODERATOR: We welcome the University of Texas offense. I’ll introduce Coach Applewhite who will introduce his players.
COACH APPLEWHITE: We have Mason Walters, senior offensive guard; Trey Hopkins, senior offensive guard and tackle; Mike Davis, senior wide out; Malcolm Brown, junior runningback; senior quarterback, Case McCoy.
THE MODERATOR: How has bowl preparation gone?
COACH APPLEWHITE: Gone well. We got here Christmas Day. Guys had three great days of practice. We’ve enjoyed our time here. We’re ready to get going for the game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. What is the difference between coaching in the booth and on the field?
COACH APPLEWHITE: I like the booth a lot better. A little bit more calm up there than it is down on the sidelines. You want to be down there at certain times for certain players, but then there’s other things you can be up in the booth. Especially working with Case, I feel better working from the booth. With my eyes up there, I don’t feel like I need to be out on the field with him. I like being up there in that environment.
Q. Major, you have had the injuries on offense, had to change week‑to‑week. Now that you’ve had a month to prepare, do you feel this like this unit going into the game is ready to play as well as they can?
COACH APPLEWHITE: Yeah, we still had some of those same things. We got some guys that won’t be playing with us in a couple days. We’ve had to kind of fill those positions, build some depth at those positions, whether it be O‑line, runningback, wide receiver. So we’ve been working on kind of filling some of those spots and getting some of the younger guys reps so they’ll be game ready.
Q. Major, and Case, you had a chance to look at film of Oregon. What have you seen about their defense? Case, you’re going up against two corners.
COACH APPLEWHITE: First, I think they’ve got great guys outside. A lot of man coverage. They’re multiple in the back end. They’ll play man, zone, match patterns. Do a lot of things up front in terms of the front game, disguising their blitzes. Guys are difficult to get ahold of.
They’ve done a great job outside. They have great players, very athletic, fast. Their safeties are good players, too. They can play well in man coverage. Kind of reminds me a little bit of the way Coach Akina tries to train our secondary, to where all four of them can play man coverage if need be.
There’s not one guy that’s a tackler that’s down in the box. They’re all pretty versatile. So when you look at third down, they can be effective in third‑down situations, get some turnovers. I think that’s why they’ve got so many this year.
CASE McCOY: Yeah, exactly, they’re incredible athletes out there, played a lot of ball. For the most part looking at them, they play together very well. They put those guys on islands out there, trust their safeties to make plays, but also get down in the box and make plays.
Definitely you can see when you watch them on film, they played a lot of ball together and they know what they’re doing back there.
Q. Malcolm, a lot of runningbacks in the last month of the regular season had a lot of success rushing against Oregon’s defense. What do you see from that 3‑4 that you might be able to exploit?
MALCOLM BROWN: You know, first of all, they do have a great athletic defense. Have a great front, great linebackers.
The 3‑4, we feel like we can do a great job of running the ball right at them. Like you said, past teams have had a whole bunch of success in regular zones, powers, things like that. Just got to be more aggressive. I know our offensive line is going to do a great job, so…
Q. Major, talk about Malcolm’s season, how he’s done.
COACH APPLEWHITE: Somewhere early around I guess maybe the third week of fall camp, something happened. I don’t know if it was an ankle or a hip or something. Got set back a little bit, not much. Jonathan and Joe were doing some good things in the first couple games. When we got to the Oklahoma game, we had some ball security issues. Malcolm always did a great job of taking care of the ball.
Really felt like that Oklahoma game, might play a big role in that game in terms of it’s a man’s game, you know. You got to be mature. You have to be able to handle the ebbs and flows of that game. Recruiting Malcolm, seeing him around his family, the kind of young man he is, I knew he would be ready for that opportunity.
He went out and played a great game, and the offensive line did a great job in that game. Really kind of gave us a little bit of an identity to go on a six‑game stretch right there. We did a great job of running the football, both Joe, Jonathan and Malcolm. All three of those guys did a tremendous job. We were able to kind of get in the hunt.
Give Malcolm a lot of credit. But I know that Malcolm would be the first guy to tell you to give those other guys a lot of credit, too.
Q. Case and Malcolm, you came in the starting lineup midyear, now that you’ve had a month with this group, do you feel like the preparation for this game set you guys up to have the best offensive game against Oregon?
CASE McCOY: That’s what we’re hoping for, no doubt about it. Obviously we’re starters now. Obviously we filled in roles throughout the season. We’ve been playing these roles for quite some time now. We’re expected to play like starters.
Fully expect Malcolm to go out and play a great game. I got to play great. I got to take care of the ball. When I take care of the ball, in the games we’ve won, that’s been the circumstances.
That’s our plan. Malcolm would probably give you the same answer.
MALCOLM BROWN: Definitely. He hit it right on the head. It’s football. Guys go down, guys have to step up. Me and Case, we chose to be those guys to step up in those roles. We’re enjoying it. We have a great team around us.
Q. Now that you’ve begun practicing, has the atmosphere and the preparations changed knowing this is Mack’s final game?
CASE McCOY: I think we as a team, and our coaches as well, prepare hard. That’s never been a difference. Win or lose, that’s not a critique whether we prepare or not. I know the preparation we put in week in, week out, that’s not going to change going into this game being his last one.
As we saw who we were playing, we were all in the film room the next day. This is a big game for us, no doubt about it, playing a top‑10 team that’s well‑coached. Five weeks ago they were in a hunt for the national championship.
We understand what’s at stake. We’ll play hard. Coach Brown will coach hard. If we play that way, we take care of the ball, I think it will be a good night for us.
Q. Major, the 2000 Holiday Bowl is pretty well‑remembered by Duck fans. What are your memories?
COACH APPLEWHITE: I remember getting beat, quite honestly. I didn’t get a chance to play. I was injured. I wasn’t cleared to play. Maybe I’d just been cleared.
I just remember, I think it was Onterrio Smith had a great game. Joe had a great game. Rashad Bauman, corner. Just kind of vague memories. I remember we had some shots at the end zone we didn’t capitalize on. I remember Victor Ike taking a kickoff return back, but nothing more than that. We came up short. I think we lost by 5.
Q. Major, the 2000 Holiday Bowl, your perception of Oregon then as a player, 13 years ago, as opposed to now?
COACH APPLEWHITE: Well, just a tremendous amount of respect for any set of coaches that can go in and raise the expectations of their program and can make it a nationally recognized program and a prestigious program. Whoever that coach may be who can do that to his program. I have a great amount of respect for that coach and his coaches around him.
That’s something that Chip Kelly and Coach Bellotti was the beginning of that, now Coach Helfrich is carrying that on. They’ve put themselves on the map. Now kids want to pay attention and look at that school.
Q. Mason, the Oregon offense, does that put pressure on you to get off to a quick start?
MASON WALTERS: I definitely think so. Just watching film, every now and then you’ll get a chance to turn on the other team’s offense and see what your defense is going to go up against, seeing how effective they are. Knowing every time you go out and don’t capitalize on a drive, 6 points, a touchdown. That gives them room and they’re able to blow people out.
As we take the field, you have to put the onus on us. The game starts at 0‑0. That’s how we’ll be taking it as an offense come Monday.
Q. Major, in your game against Baylor, are there a lot of similarities between the Baylor offense and defense and what you have seen against Oregon?
COACH APPLEWHITE: You know, first of all, from the offensive standpoint, I don’t study those guys as much. I know that Baylor is high tempo, runs the ball a lot. Oregon is the same way. A little bit different in terms of how they throw the football, how they approach the throw game. Going fast, trying to wear down teams, make their hay that way, very similar.
Defensively, Baylor’s a four‑man structure. A little more simple in the back end. You really see, you know, Oregon’s multiplicity throughout the season. When you watch a 12‑game season, you can see all the different fronts and coverages they get into. As Case and I were talking, one thing about the secondary, other than being athletic and trusting their guys in man coverage, there’s a lot of ball. There’s two seniors and two juniors back there. A lot of football between those four guys.
Reminds me a lot of Oklahoma State’s defense. So when you talk about Gilbert and Lowe, all those guys that have played back there for Oklahoma State, you understand why their turnovers or take‑away numbers are high. They’ve seen a lot of routes, they’ve seen a lot of pass concepts, at the same time they have a lot of instinct.
Q. Mike, can you tell me how Ifo, No. 14, compares to Justin Gilbert?
MIKE DAVIS: I’d have to say he’s a very good player. He is just a good football player. Can he cover, run. He’s not afraid to tackle.
How he compares to Justin or Rhett, they’re similar in size. From Oregon, he’s a little bigger. Justin Gilbert is taller. I feel like he’s probably more athletic.
All them guys are good. I’m looking forward to going against him.
Q. Case, you mentioned your preparation. I read an article that said preparation helped set you apart against that Oklahoma team. What is this pattern and routine you’ve gotten into? Can you describe what’s helped you be good at preparation.
CASE McCOY: I mean, I take that on my shoulders being the quarterback. I didn’t know what all these guys needed to do on every play. I get that from Major. That’s what I’ve been coached to do my whole life.
Just having this long amount of time to prepare and know the game plan front and back, know all the ins‑and‑outs, the checks, that’s where we’re at right now. That’s why I think we’ve had an incredible week of practice so far. We’re on top of things. We’ve repped it. We know what we’re doing. Now we’ve just got to go execute it on game day.
Q. Major, as far as being without Daje and Kennedy, having to leave them behind on this trip, the impact on the offense.
COACH APPLEWHITE: As we’ve said before throughout this season, whether it is BYU, Kansas State, where Mike had an ankle injury, whether it be ‑‑ doesn’t matter what the game is, Texas Tech, we don’t have Daje there. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. These guys have rallied through a whole hell of a lot this season. Really proud of them.
Obviously we wanted to win that game in Waco and be conference champions, but we didn’t. Really proud how these guys made ‘no excuses’ their motto. It will serve them well in life.
Q. Major, you have spent a lot of time with Case over the months here now. You know him as a person, as a player. How would you describe how he has survived and thrived in the Texas fishbowl being the quarterback?
COACH APPLEWHITE: He’s been tough. He’s been tough. That’s what it is. You’re going to get a lot more credit than you deserve, a lot more blame than you deserve. You’re going to have people say things about you that you couldn’t fathom as a player. That’s okay, though, because you want that pressure if you play quarterback. If you’re a coach’s son, you grow up the son of a coach, your dad’s kind of the hero of the town, looked up to, expected to produce, you’re kind of raised in a household of pressure.
When your older brother has already been through that position, it’s like growing up in a family full of cops. That’s what you’re expected to do, handle that pressure and go do it.
Case has done a fabulous job. The team has done a great job of playing around him in that six‑game stretch. What we need him to do is go out and play 60 minutes of great football one more time.
Q. Mason and Trey, the front four, a lot of seniors are in there. What do you see from that line? Anybody in particular that you focused on and see as maybe their most dangerous defensive lineman?
TREY HOPKINS: I spent a lot of time watching No. 66. He’s a great player. I mean, all four up front are great players. They’re great athletes. They show a lot of looks for the front four up there. They have different ways of disguising their blitzes, making sure you don’t get up to their linebacker level.
No. 66, he plays defensive end. He’s shown he can be physical. That’s something that’s set him apart from people we’ve played before. The bottom line, when it comes to looking at lines of scrimmage, it’s who can be the most physical for the longest throughout the game. It’s something we’ve focused on. We have to finish blocks, we have to extend drives through being efficient on first and second downs in the running game.
MASON WALTERS: I’ll say the same. You go against a 3‑4 defense, you have to be showing the front of that, be able to contain the gap at linebacker level. 66 and 92, guys that flash, are able to do that. Makes it tough to run on them at times, but we have seen some things that we like in their defense that we think we can capitalize on if everybody executes.
That’s what it comes down to. You see some guys running the ball on Oregon at times later this year. It’s simple execution. Guys doing their job in those games that other teams weren’t able to do. There’s really no magic or trick to it. Just go out there and execute the game plan. Everybody runs the plays we’re going to run.
Q. Mason, the fact it is Mack’s last game, is that more motivation or distraction? Could that possibly even be a factor during a game?
MASON WALTERS: Everybody is motivated by something. It’s been a drawn‑out process since we’ve known he’s going to retire. Getting to the game, I think all the emotions of that are going to be worn off. Maybe they’ll resurface around game time. No matter any game, what’s going on outside of the field, once you get on it, the only thing you’re thinking about is your job and the guys out there doing it with you.
Q. Trey, people are wondering what the atmosphere is like around practices with assistant coaches who are looking for jobs, trying to hold on to recruits, get you a game plan to beat a top‑10 team. Take us inside what the atmosphere has been like with all that going on around this team.
TREY HOPKINS: I mean, you always have the excuses of distractions. We’re all seniors up here, except Malcolm. When you come out there, for the two hours you’re at practice, the hour and a half you’re in meetings, it comes down to being a man, being able to focus on what is at hand. We still playing for Texas, we still wear the Longhorn emblem. We’re still on in it to win this last game. That’s where you put those things to the side. You put those things behind you when you’re on the field.
You really play for each other. It’s not really about you or anything else you have going on in your life, distractions. I think we’ve done a good job, everybody on this team, of focusing and playing for each other, not letting things on the outside become distractions for us.
Q. Major, both teams now have coaches who are going to step down. Nick Aliotti for Oregon is going to step down. Do you know Nick? What are your impressions of him?
COACH APPLEWHITE: I don’t know him personally. Just a tremendous amount of respect for him. Been in the business a long time. Been at the place for a long time. Obviously, when you’ve done that, you’ve done things right on and off the field. Just a tremendous amount of respect for him. He’s obviously developed a lot of goodwill in that community.
As a young guy, you admire guys that can stay in it that long and do it at that level.
Q. Trey and Mason, have you watched any of the Stanford versus Oregon film in your preparation? What was your take away from watching Stanford’s offensive line?
MASON WALTERS: They’re a physical front. Everyone sees that when they run that power down. It’s something we’ve kind of tried to look at, really emulate that. One thing you see is they were able to extend drives just by being physical up front. That’s something you have to do going up against a high‑powered, explosive offense, make sure you keep the ball in your hands, control the time of possession.
TREY HOPKINS: I’d say the same thing. Stanford has built their identity on that, being a physical run team. That’s Stanford, that’s what they do. I think they did a great job. It worked out to their advantage.
We’re going to have to put our own spin on it. We’re not Stanford. We’re the University of Texas. We have our own identity. It might be similar, but I think we’ve got the people and the plays to get the job done.
Q. Mike, I know last year you thought about maybe going to the NFL early. How do you feel like this year went for you? Are you glad you stayed?
MIKE DAVIS: As of right now, I’m glad I stayed. My whole goal and stuff was to come back and have a conference championship, beat OU, try to play for a national championship. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that taken care of.
I’m just proud of this team. I’m not really worried about the NFL until after this game. Right now I’m just focused on this game. Being proud of what we’ve done this year, how we bounced back. I’ll just miss all of it.
Q. Case, how much more does this game mean as Mack Brown’s last game?
CASE McCOY: Yeah, I mean, obviously we want to send him out right. The man has done a lot around this university, for college football. You can’t look past that by any means. You can look at his records. You can look at what he’s built at Texas.
For all of us, for the senior class, for him, for the coaches that are going to be here, for the coaches that are going to leave, we all love this university. If you came to this university, you accepted a job, you accepted a scholarship, you want to play here, you all have that pride.
There will be no doubt or no question if we’re going to go out there and fight and play hard. There’s not going to have to be a whole lot of motivation for that. Everybody is going to want to go out there and finish this thing right.
Event: Valero Alamo Bowl Team Arrival – Oregon
Date: Tuesday, Dec. 25 2013
Location: Marriott Rivercenter
Mark Helfrich, head coach
Hroniss Grasu, center
Brian Jackson, safety
Speaker: Mark Helfrich
On BCS expectations that Oregon carries & if motivation will be a problem for his players…
“It’s a chance to compete. Our guys are excited to play. I think if there would have been any evidence of a lack of motivation then it would have shown up on the tape and in our preparation. It’s a huge challenge. This is a great program”
On what Texas brings to the table…
“I think their sheer talent. We can’t match up with that in terms of just man for man talent. I think you know they are a very well coached team and like us have very high expectations. They want to finish right. There is the added motivation with Coach Brown retiring but our guys will be excited to play”.
On the offensive strategy against Texas…
“Well we want to be balanced. We want to be balanced with everything. Right, left, middle, deep, short, everything from an offensive perspective. Being balanced is the key”.
On if he has ever been to San Antonio before…
“I have. I’ve been recruiting here many times. I’ve been here for the coaches’ convention a couple years ago. This is a great city, a great area. I’ve actually got some relatives in the area as well. It’s going to be fun for everybody, but it will be a lot more fun if we win the game”.
Speaker: Hroniss Grasu
On if being in the Alamo Bowl feels different than coming to a BCS bowl game…
“It only felt different to me because I came early. I was at the hotel before everyone else. The Alamo Bowl is a great Bowl game and it’s an honor to be playing here against Texas.”
On if motivation will be an issue against Texas…
“No it’s not at all. We understand that it is their head coach’s last game and it will be very emotional. We are in their home state and it is going to be a home game for them. We all know that. It makes us all the more focused. We just need to go there and execute our own game plan and not worry about what is going on outside of our program. I think if we can take care of that we will take care of business.”
On being a veteran on this team & his advice for the younger players during bowl week…
“Just stay focused. When I was a young guy I had Jordan Holmes take me under his wing and I followed him everywhere. I tell the young guys to pick the guy they look up to and stick to him. Don’t walk around by yourself. Stick with older guys you look up to.”
Speaker: Brian Jackson
On if he has ever been to San Antonio…
“I haven’t actually. But my best friend lives out here so I’m sure he will show me around. We are going to check out the riverwalk and I really just can’t wait to hang out with my best friend. He just came back from Afghanistan this week so I just can’t wait to go see him. It’s been awhile. I think he is stationed here and he literally just got back this week. We grew up in elementary and middle school together and reconnected within the last couple years. We are definitely going to go kick it.”
On your first time not being in a BCS bowl game…
“I feel like they have treated us really well. This is a great place to stay. We are in a great city. I can’t wait to go check out all this stuff. They have a lot of things planned for us. I feel like everybody has just been treated so well. There is no reason to look down on something like this. We are going to play a great football team and have a great place to stay I don’t really think you can ask for anything else”.
On his impression of Texas thus far…
“They are a talented team. They struggled early on but they got everything together. You can tell when this team starts to click. They are a physical team and they play hard. These guys have a passion for the sport of football. I think that’s great because it matches well with us. We all love the sport of football. Oregon vs. Texas…it’s going to be a great college football game”.
On if motivation is an issue…
“Well you can nitpick reasons for motivation on anything. You can say that our motivation to win is that it is our coach’s first season. You can go that route if you want to talk coaches. I think it will come down to who comes in ready to play, who comes in more prepared and who really thinks more of this football game. This is a lot of people’s last football game. I think it boils down to what is going to happen between the lines. It’s all about the X’s and O’s”.
For full audio of this presser visit: http://media.alamobowl.com/browse/2013/audio
THE MODERATOR: I’d like to welcome everyone. I’ll introduce the head table, we’ll take comments, then we’ll take questions.
With us today, president and CEO of the Valero Alamo Bowl, Derrick Fox; University of Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich; University of Texas head coach Mark Brown; from Valero CFO Mike Ciskowski; and our chairman Pat Frost.
PAT FROST: Thank you all so much for coming here today. We are very excited at the Valero Alamo Bowl to introduce our two head coaches we are so fortunate to have participating in this game.
But at this time I’d like to introduce Mike Ciskowski, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Valero.
Valero has been our sponsor since our inaugural game in 1993 and our title sponsor since 2007. We’re are very grateful they’ve renewed their title sponsorship for another six years through our 2019 game. God bless Valero.
MIKE CISKOWSKI: Thank you, Pat.
Valero is proud to be title sponsor of the Valero Alamo Bowl and thrilled to be part of this matchup which should grow the bowl’s track record of exciting games, capacity crowds and record TV ratings.
Valero and the Alamo Bowl are two San Antonio‑based institutions that provide support for higher education, drive tourist activities, and deliver a strong economic impact for the City of San Antonio.
The Valero Alamo Bowl gives the City of San Antonio a second life during the holiday season by filling the hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions during the bowl week.
At this time I’d like to introduce Derrick Frost, president and CEO of the Valero Alamo Bowl to introduce the coaches.
DERRICK FOX: Thank you for your support, Mike, and Valero’s long‑term support of the Valero Alamo Bowl. To have Valero onboard until 2019 is unbelievable, and we couldn’t do it without them.
Our advertising slogan this year is: Bowl week is the week the other 51 are jealous of. That certainly holds true this week. Thanks to these two outstanding universities with tremendous football teams and coaches. The 2013 Valero Alamo Bowl promises to be a great game delivering many lasting memories of a lifetime.
Now it’s going to be my pleasure to introduce our two respective head coaches.
First up is our visiting head coach, Mark Helfrich from the University of Oregon. It’s Coach Helfrich’s first season as coach of the Ducks, following four seasons as the offensive coordinator during which he was twice named Football Scoops national quarterbacks coach of the year.
This year’s quarterback, Marcus Mariota, finished the season ranked in the top 10 in five major passing categories, helping the Ducks to average nearly 47 points a game.
The Ducks finished season with a 10‑2 record and are ranked 10 in the final BCS poll.
Coach Helfrich, welcome to San Antonio. Glad to have you here in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
COACH HELFRICH: Thank you.
On behalf of the University of Oregon, our fans are excited to get down here. I think San Antonio is one of those great cities of America to visit, something for everybody. It’s one of those places you’d have to try to not have a great time.
Obviously it is an honor to compete in the Alamo Bowl. Thanks to Valero and everything they’ve done for college football and everybody associated with this game.
It’s an honor for me personally to sit next to Coach Brown and compete against the University of Texas. He’s an icon of our game, an iconic program. Very excited to prepare to compete against them. As I started watching film on these guys, that’s not much fun. They’re big, fast and physical.
But our players, our coaches, our families, we’re ecstatic to get down here and compete against Texas.
DERRICK FOX: I’ll now introduce no one who needs an introduction from our standpoint, a great friend of the Valero Alamo Bowl, Coach Mack Brown.
Coach Brown is in his 16th season at Texas, and one of only two coaches nationally to direct teams to 20 bowl games in the last 21 seasons, and 22 winning seasons in the last 23. He has a 10‑4 bowl record at Texas, and a perfect 2‑0 in San Antonio.
No jinx or anything (laughter).
At last year’s Valero Alamo Bowl the Longhorns defense recorded a record 10 sacks. This defense this year is anchored by Jackson Jeffcoat, the AP Big 12 defensive player of the year. Jeffcoat had five sacks in the last two games.
This year the Longhorns finished with an 8‑4 record overall and 7‑2 in Big 12 play.
Coach, welcome back to San Antonio.
COACH BROWN: Thank you, Derrick.
There’s no better town or city in this state or country that’s great to the Longhorns more than San Antonio. We’ve been down here twice with the Iowa game a number of years ago, then coming last year in both cases where we needed to pick up when we came. The crowds were unbelievable. The games were great. We have to come back to win both games. The whole week was fun.
Looks like the ticket sales are going wonderfully already for us. I’m sure Oregon will sell out theirs, which should be another sell‑out.
We appreciate you and Mike, what you and Valero do, for college bowl games and football. Without the sponsors, we couldn’t share all these wonderful experiences with all these kids.
You always want to be challenged in a bowl game so you won’t come in without an edge. We got that, without a question. We have a BCS‑type team in the Alamo Bowl. Oregon could be as good as anybody in the country. They had a couple slip‑ups because of some injuries that were key injuries. Mark has done a tremendous job taking over what was already a great program and moving it forward. That’s not an easy thing to do.
Our players were disappointed we didn’t come out of the Baylor game winning the Big 12 championship, but at the same time it didn’t take them long to bounce back when they see who we’re going to play in the bowl game.
Oregon has been one of the best teams in the country since these guys have been playing college football. Now they’ll have a chance to play.
I thought last year our bowl game was one of the best in the country. I think this one could be. We have to live up to our end of it, because obviously Oregon has. We didn’t finish the way we wanted to finish. That will be exciting and can’t wait to get all that started.
There’s been a little speculation about my job situation throughout this week, if some of you haven’t noticed. I told Mark with all respect to he, Derrick, the bowl game, I would address it very briefly. But we’re here to talk about the Alamo Bowl and the matchups. We’re not here to talk about me. That would be wrong of me spending a lot of time with that.
My situation has not changed. I’ve got the best president in the country with Bill Powers. He’s unbelievable. He’s done a tremendous job for eight years. What.
We did lose in an iconic athletic director, DeLoss Dodds, that has been here 32 years and has run the best program in the country, without question. He’d been my boss for 16 years.
We’ve hired what I think is a great athletic director with Steve Patterson. I got a chance to visit with him a little bit the other day in New York. Anytime your athletic director changes, that changes the game. With all due respect to him, I want to sit down with he and Bill in the near future and talk about where we’re going and our program is going.
I’m excited about our team, the way they fought back this year. They’ve had more adversity than any other team. We weren’t excited to be 8‑4, but we were excited about the way they fought and competed. It was a great message for all of us.
Moving forward, I’m looking forward to my meeting with Bill and Steve. We’ll all get on the same page and move forward.
Again, I want the focus to be on these kids and the focus to be on this bowl game because that’s what we’re here for. I apologize to you for having to put up with this.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll now go to questions.
Q. Mack, along those lines, we’ve talked about distractions all year. This season has been nothing but. When you do get to talk with your team, what can you tell them to get everybody’s mind right?
COACH BROWN: Beat Oregon. That’s the only thing that’s important. This is about the kids. This isn’t about me. It’s about the kids moving forward.
That’s what we are. Mark and I are guys that try to keep a staff moving in the right direction, keep all the distractions away from that. It’s about the University of Texas playing against Oregon, it’s about the kids in this game. We sure don’t want that to be a distraction.
I haven’t seen our kids since the Baylor game. Like Mark, it’s a tough day for us because we’re both recruiting. The dead period starts on Sunday. We have to get done as much today as we can. We have our banquet Friday night. I look forward to seeing the kids because I know they were down after the Baylor game. We’ll have our first bowl practice on Saturday and get started towards the ballgame.
Q. Mack, do you believe this is your last game as the head coach of UT? If so, what does it mean to you?
COACH BROWN: You know, I’m excited about the game. I said we wouldn’t talk about me or my future because I am going to have that meeting with Bill and Steve Patterson. I look forward to that meeting.
We’re not going to discuss that anymore today. We’re just going to talk about the ballgame.
Q. Mark, I was wondering with you recruiting, finals going on this week, how are you as a staff beginning game prep? Sneak in film review whenever you can?
COACH HELFRICH: Yes, we are a little bit of everything. This is a tough time of year, like Coach Brown was talking about. We’re transitioning from an end‑of‑the‑year regular season to hit the road recruiting immediately. We throw our banquet before we go recruiting to make it more challenging.
We’ll finish up tomorrow afternoon recruiting, then we’ll have a short practice Friday. We’ll practice Saturday, Sunday, kind of begin in earnest on Monday on a game plan as a staff.
Q. What was your reaction when Marcus said he was coming back? Should he have been invited to the Heisman announcement?
COACH HELFRICH: We think Marcus is pretty special. If there’s six better players in the country, and that’s not in any way disrespectful of those players, those guys are really great players.
But Marcus Mariota is a top‑notch guy in every form, excellent person, excellent student and excellent football player, a guy our guys have rallied round.
His coming back, he had been hinting at that for a long time. It wasn’t a huge surprise. It was a nice pickup in the recruiting class, absolutely.
COACH BROWN: Will he be at the bowl game (laughter)?
COACH HELFRICH: We’re talking about Jeffcoat, too, by the way (laughter).
Q. Coach Brown, can you talk about Oregon’s offense. Is anybody comparable in the Big 12?
COACH BROWN: No, I don’t think anybody compares. They do a good job of running the ball. They started the up‑tempo stuff to be as fast as anybody in the country. They don’t give you an opportunity to line up. It makes it very, very difficult. They have tremendous team speed.
Where they do not get the credit is their lines of scrimmage. That’s where they’ve improved so much, even when we played them back in the Holiday Bowl in the early years.
Their quarterback to me is as good as anybody in America. He’s unbelievable. He can run, he can throw, he’s the leader. He’s the guy. When their backs touch it, they have a chance to score every time they touch it. Their receivers, you have to spend so much time on their receiving game, one‑on‑one situations, it puts you in a bind.
I think their offense is one that all of us are continuing to look at and trying to emulate.
Q. Mark, what would you say is the difference between your play in October and November?
COACH HELFRICH: It’s colder in November (laughter).
As the season wears on, there’s always kind of nicks and dings that take effect. We played an excellent Stanford team that obviously had a great run here recently, and lost. That was extremely deflating to a lot of guys. We’re both at places where after one loss, there’s some element of huge disappointment, or the season’s over. I think that permeated a couple of our younger players.
But I thought our guys rallied pretty well. Our win, especially against Oregon State, Utah as well, those were kind of just those games from the outside that it’s like, That’s just another win. Those were grind‑it‑out, gut‑it‑out, shorthanded‑type of wins that you have to do to be as consistent as our guys have been and win as many games as our guys have won. You have to win those every once in a while. Part of it is playing great people.
Hopefully we’ll get healed up and get ready to go for Texas.
Q. Coach Brown, have you ever thought of doing uniform changes as frequently as Oregon?
COACH BROWN: When I got to Texas, Coach Royal sat down with me and he says, You know our colors are burnt orange and white, right?
I said, Yes, sir.
He said, You know we like our uniforms, right?
I said, Yes, sir.
He said you’re not planning on changing them, ever, right?
I said, No, sir.
I think that answers the question (laughter).
With due respect, Phil Knight is a friend of mine and we love our Nike uniforms.
Q. Talk about your Texas player on the roster and the importance of doing a showcase when you are here in San Antonio.
COACH HELFRICH: Texas has been great to us in recruiting. It’s a place that high school football is I should say second to none in this room, but there are a couple other states that would argue that.
Oregon’s population doesn’t have the depth of athletes across the country in our kind of wheelhouse states, California ‑ Texas among them hopefully. But it’s a great place to grow up as a young man and play high school football. So many great programs around the state that could compete with anybody.
The coaching, the education system top to bottom is good. You know what you’re going to get from Texas. We try to sneak in every once in a while and get a guy or two.
Q. Coach Brown, with losing the game to Baylor, how do you expect the players to respond to that, plus the added distractions of everything else going on right now?
COACH BROWN: I’m not worried about the other stuff. You always worry when you lose your last game. It meant so much. You worry about creating an edge for your next game, the bowl game. For me, the team that has the best edge in bowl games is the one that usually wins. There’s more upsets in bowl games than at any other times in our season.
I thought we were lucky. I wasn’t sure when we got the call from Derrick, but I thought we were lucky when we drew one of the best teams in the country. A lot of teams aren’t going to have the opportunity to be challenged like that. I was worried who we would draw and would our guys be excited about it. That got answered very quickly.
Just talking to them, having texts from them, our staff that’s been around them, there’s such a buzz right now for the opportunity to be challenged by a great football team. They respect them. That’s fun.
I really think, again, this town is going to be abuzz. Oregon has great followers. Our bunch will be here in full strength. I just think it’s a tremendous matchup, and I do understand and want to be honest, we got to hold up our end. They’re going to hold up their end because they’re really good.
COACH HELFRICH: You’re really good at this, really good at this (laughter).
COACH BROWN: But it is true. I’ve watched them. I’ve sat there. In fact, when they were throwing out all the different combinations of things that could happen, I said, Huh‑uh, huh‑uh. Derrick called. I said, Derrick, we were there last year. He said, It will be so much fun. I said, We got it.
From that standpoint, I think both teams will respect each other. Our coaches like their coaches. There’s a lot of relationships between the two. I think it’s fun. That also matters.
Derrick could tell you, in bowl games if you’re coaching against somebody you don’t like as a coach, it’s not comfortable because you’re around each other all week. If the staffs don’t like each other, it’s more uncomfortable.
But this will be fun. We’ll all enjoy it and have a great game. Mark has never lost a bowl game, and I have (laughter).
Q. Mack, when your back was against the wall, this team did respond against Oklahoma in a big way. Have you had a chance to reflect on why this team, with its makeup, is going to be a special one to you?
COACH BROWN: I think it’s the senior class. No team has put up with more stuff than this team. You really like them and appreciate them. Whether it was early coaching changes, they responded to it, responded to me, trusted me, played their rear‑ends off.
The amount of injuries, I’ve never seen this many injuries. There’s probably eight of our top ten players that won’t be playing in the bowl games. These guys have said no regrets, no excuses. Let’s just keep playing. Let’s don’t sit around and talk about what’s wrong, let’s talk about what’s right.
They’ve been a fun group to coach. They’ve been attentive, played hard. We missed an opportunity at Oklahoma State and Baylor, which was really disappointing, because we turned it around since the early losses. They’ve given it their best. That’s all you can ask a team to do.
Q. Both of your teams started out looking to higher goals, maybe championships. Now you’re here and happy to be here. What does it say about your team, what lessons have they learned now that they didn’t end up where they set out to do? Why is it important for them to play in this game as hard as they would in any other?
COACH HELFRICH: We’re both at places where if your record doesn’t end in ‘hyphen zero’ there’s problems. Those things are exaggerated. Maybe the guy just didn’t line up right. How do we fix that? Sometimes when you win, you get lucky. Okay, we need to fix that, too.
Top to bottom, our guys will be very excited for this challenge, to finish it right, to win your bowl game, whatever that is. If it’s a BCS game, whatever is considered toward the bottom of the rung, is huge. It’s an opportunity to work with our young guys, develop our depth. We’re a young football team. Put those guys in those situations, playing against a program like this, they’re going to be physically challenged big‑time. Then you want to put an exclamation point at the end of the season rather than dot, dot, dot.
COACH BROWN: We told our guys you don’t get to choose where you go. You have to win to go where you get to go. So it is what it is.
If we would have won all the games, then there would have been options other than this one. We got to come to a fun place, a good place that we enjoy. We love this city. This bunch is loved by a lot of Texas Longhorn fans and we’re playing against a good team.
Not everybody gets that. Not everybody is that fortunate. Some people that are in bowls that are considered maybe at a different stature don’t get to play who they want to play.
We told ours, You play your way into bowls, you don’t talk your way into bowls anymore. It is what it is. You are who you are. You take what you do.
DERRICK FOX: On behalf of the Valero Alamo Bowl, we have two of the best coaches not only as coaches but as people. We see them week in, week out. They welcome us behind the scenes win or lose. They are tremendous people. This is an exclamation point here for the Valero Alamo Bowl. Thanks for coming down.
COACH BROWN: Thank you, Derrick.
COACH HELFRICH: Thank you, Derrick
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Texas players. We’ll take questions.
Q. Case, you had that great drive that capped off with a touchdown. What happened to the passing game tonight?
CASE McCOY: We just done a couple things wrong. Dropped a couple third down conversations. They played a couple right coverages on the third downs. That’s basically what happened in the passing game. We were trying to run the ball, control the clock most of the downs, got some third‑down situations, had a couple drops, a couple missed cues. Played some bad balls.
Q. Case, I know coach said this wasn’t about him and his farewell. How tough is it not to finish the way you wanted to for him?
CASE McCOY: Oh, it’s tough. There’s no doubt about it. We thank y’all and our Texas fans for the way they sent him out. They treated him right tonight.
It’s tough. We would rather have gone out with a win for sure. We love the man. The man loves us. Inside that locker room we know we fought for him. That’s all that matters.
Q. Jackson, there was a lot of emotion out there. What was it like at the end of the game?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: Like Case said, it’s tough not to get a win for him. We love Coach Brown. I mean, Mrs. Brown is like a mom to us. She takes care of us when we’re on trips.
Coach Brown loves us. He is never shy to show that he loves us. He cares about us other than football. So it’s tough to see him go. Even though me and Case are moving on, I mean, we are Texas. I mean, this is the place we want to come back to and see Coach Brown. It’s always going to be tough not having him there.
Q. Coach, what is going through your mind right now?
COACH BROWN: Disappointed in the game. Guys played hard. We couldn’t move the ball as well as we needed to. The offensive guys tried. It just didn’t work. They did great on defense.
Kicking game was pretty good. We didn’t have problems with it. That’s something they’ve done really well. And defense played really well. Just disappointed as hard as the guys tried with all the distractions, me being one of those distractions, they’ve done everything right for two weeks. They worked really hard in practice. I thought they tried as hard as they could tonight. We played a really good football team. I thought that quarterback looked like one I saw play for us a while back.
Q. Coach, can you elaborate on the defense. You hold them to one touchdown.
COACH BROWN: Defense played great. Defense was disappointed in the one right before the half. That was a long one. Offensively we’re sitting there at 13‑7 with the ball in our territory for two straight series and couldn’t move it and couldn’t score. We actually could have been ahead at halftime. To not be able to take advantage of that, give the long drive before the half was disappointing. I was also proud of the way the kids fought the second half.
Q. Coach, how difficult have the last two weeks been on you? What’s going to be the most difficult part going forward not being the head coach at Texas?
COACH BROWN: It is what it is, and you do what you got to do. I’ve gone to work every day. I’ve done the same things I would have done regardless of the circumstances. I haven’t really thought much about tomorrow. Sally and I decided we would do everything, we asked our assistant coaches and we asked our players to do everything they could do to win this football game and we committed to them to do the same. So I’m proud of the coaches. They haven’t been out looking for jobs, not showing up for meetings. Nobody was late. The guys did everything they could do. Everybody in this program did everything in the last two weeks we would have done the last year or the year before. As far as the future, I haven’t gotten there yet.
Q. As well as Malcolm did in the first half, was it so much the game dictated you guys trying to throw more in the third quarter?
COACH BROWN: Yes, yes. We were trying to win, not get yards.
Q. As much as you were focused on this game and the outcome itself, did anything hit you when you were walking out of the tunnel with Sally at the end there?
COACH BROWN: Yeah. I wish we would have won. 158 times we won, feels better than the others.
Q. Has the reality of you not coaching sunk in yet?
COACH BROWN: Probably not. I’ll probably get up at 6:00, and be watching a video and be worried about somebody. I told them to stay out of trouble tonight, that I didn’t need a call.
Q. Jackson, the past three games for you have gone well. This being your last game at Texas, how do you take that to the possibility of the next team?
JACKSON JEFFCOAT: I just use this as motivation. That’s what I do. I use it as a chip on my shoulder and just go back to work. I might have played a good game, but when the team loses, I mean, your goal is to win. I’m not going to feel happy about what I did. It’s a team effort. We needed to win the game.
Q. Mack, you told us in the past you’re not one to reflect. Will you allow yourself to reflect in these next few days about the last seasons?
COACH BROWN: I don’t know. I’ve never been here before. I know after I left North Carolina, I never looked back, never thought about any of those games. Since I’ve been here, I never really looked back. I want to be driven and look forward. I don’t know. That will be something that I really do not see myself doing. But I also need to look at where we go next, what we do as a family. That’s something that we haven’t taken much time to do. We’ll take some time off here and visit and talk and see where we go.
Q. Malcolm, on the game, you had 102 yards by the end of the second quarter. Do you look and thing what happened?
MALCOLM BROWN: Like Coach Brown said, we needed to try to score points. We needed to pass the ball more to the receivers. You can’t keep running and try to get yards. You got to put points on the board. Oregon offense was great. Their defense was great, as well. They were stopping us. We just couldn’t get going.
COACH BROWN: Obviously, they put the ball on the line of scrimmage to start the second half. Malcolm touched it two or three times the second half. They did a good job of that. We had to be more balanced. I’m proud of Malcolm. 132 yards, coming back home. Had a great year. Stayed healthy. Can’t wait to see what the future brings for him.
Q. Mack, even with the tough year, you talked about having a soft spot for the senior class. How do you see yourself remembering this group as time goes on?
COACH BROWN: I told them in the dressing room, this will be one of the best senior classes we ever had because they held a very tough situation together at 1‑2. They’ve never wavered. They’ve always been positive. They’ve always led the team. When we’ve asked them to do something, they’ve always done it 100%, and that’s including the last two weeks and tonight.
This will be a very successful senior class in their life when they get out of the here.
Q. What do all the tributes from the fans mean to you?
COACH BROWN: Our fans have been great for 16 years. It’s unbelievable. Sally and I can’t even answer all the emails, texts, Facebook messages, tweets for the last two weeks. It’s been wonderful. But it’s really been that way. You hear a lot of the negative stuff. I honestly have never had and Sally has never had anything negative said to us in person since we’ve been here. Fans have been wonderful. Fans were wonderful tonight. They’ve been wonderful on bad games. Sally and I have absolutely no regrets. We’ve had a wonderful 16 years. We’re glad we came here. We’ve met so many great friends and had so many moments with these players and so many ex‑players on that sidelines tonight and in that dressing room.
Those are the memories you have, what you might have meant in a young man’s life.
It’s been a wonderful 16 years. It’s been a great ride. Now we have to reassess and see where we’re going. We want this bunch to have success moving forward. That’s what you told the young ones in the dressing room is to get better, let’s get back in the top 10, back in the BCS mix the next year. It will be the first time we ever had a playoff as such. Texas should be in that. There’s a lot of great players coming back. New energy, everybody will be all excited. Y’all got tired of my stories. You got tired of my jokes. Honestly, I got tired of some of yours (laughter). It’s good to have a new story to write about.
Q. Coach, Aliotti also in his last game today. Did you get a chance to talk to him?
COACH BROWN: Yeah, I’ve known Nick for probably 25, 30 years. He challenged me in golf. He said he was a 20. I heard he was a 25. He’s probably a 16. That’s the way those defensive guys act (laughter). He had a great career, has done a wonderful job, and he will be missed.
Q. Coach, you were focused on this game tonight. Over the two weeks since you made your decision, have you had any regrets about making that decision?
COACH BROWN: I have not. I think it’s best for Texas. It’s best for me, it’s best for the players. We need to win more than eight games. Last year was nine. I really thought we had a chance to win all the games this year. It didn’t work. It’s my job to make that work. I told them tonight, the only regret I had is we didn’t win enough games this year. We didn’t win as many games as we had good players. I feel like a lot of great players are coming back. New energy, new staff, new ideas will really, really help these kids move forward. Sometimes you get to a point, as I said, you got here and the fan base needed to be pulled together because it was very divided in 1997. We pulled them together. We had a great run. DBs got out of the box. Now there’s some for you, some against you. That’s not fair to these guys. They need to have positive energy all the time. That’s what I want for them. I’m excited to get back to that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH BROWN: Thank you, all. Appreciate you guys. Thank you very much.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
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.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Sophomore defensive lineman Arik Armstead:
(On defensive coordinator Nick Allioti…)
“He’s a funny dude. He tells a lot of jokes. Probably the thing I’m going to remember the most is just him going on his rants and not saying anything specifically because you can’t understand him. He’s always pushed me to be a better player by continuing to be on me and telling me I can do better.”
Sophomore wide receiver Bralon Addison:
(On the Texas defense…)
“They have guys that can run really well. Sometimes, they have mental lapses, but they run really well and get to the ball pretty well. I think the big play has hurt them a lot of times this season, but they run really well and get to the ball. They cause havoc if they are on their p’s and q’s.”
(On the value of the time off between games for the offense…)
“I think it’s been a huge difference. You get all this time off for bowl practices. You get all this time to recover and heal. Especially for the young guys like myself and some of the freshmen, we get this time, like spring ball, where you get these practices during December without a game at the end of the week. You’re just able to get better over this last month. It helps a lot of guys. I think a lot of the people that redshirted were better this month than they were this whole season. It’s just about reps and we got a lot of reps this past month.”
(On the new uniforms…)
“I like them. Any way, shape, or form that we continue to improve is always good. Nike does a great job with continuing to make something better. We [players] sit around and talk all the time about how they can continue to make it better when it is already great, but they always find a way.”
Senior linebacker Boseko Lokombo:
(On defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti’s retirement…)
“I thought it was a good time for him. I feel like he’s done a lot for the program. It’s about that time. I wasn’t really surprised. I think he kind of hinted it last year. It was just good timing for him.”
(On his emotions going into his last collegiate game…)
“I’m pretty excited. I’m just excited to play another one and finish strong. Hopefully, we can do what we can to win this game.”
(On the value of the time off between games…)
“A lot of people are healthier now, so it will be good to play at our full strength.”
Sophomore offensive lineman Tyler Johnstone:
(On the defensive ends of Texas…)
“Those guys are high motor and super athletic. [Texas senior defensive end Jackson] Jeffcoat is kind of an anomaly because he is 245 pounds, but he can bull rush a guy better than a 330 pound guy can. With him, it’s just his leverage. He knows how to use his weight. He knows how to use his muscle. He’s really good at keeping his hands off of you, so that is the biggest challenge: locking on to him and keeping him going. That is the most difficult thing.”
(On the group of Oregon players who have played in the AlamoDome in the past…)
“It’s kind of funny, because the few of us that have been here, we’re going around town like we know everything. I have only been here one time for five days and they keep you busy. So for the guys that have been here, it’s pretty special.”
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.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
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