Dec. 29, 2011
I thought our offensive and defensive staff made good adjustments at halftime, and we made some plays offensively. [QB] David [Ash] made some plays. [Co-offensive coordinator] Bryan [Harsin] put us in a good position on a couple of plays in the second half and even the latter part of the second quarter. But when we force at least two turnovers and have not turned the ball over more than twice, we have won eight times this year and that's been the difference in the football games. And our defense has been patient to hang in there and let the offense grow up and work its magic at the end to make a play or two to win the game because we weren't an offense to run up and down the field. But I thought David played well, Marquise made the great plays and these two linebackers [Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson] are going to be missed next year because they played great all year.
We had a holding penalty on the third and four where we had a first down right before the half. We have a fake punt that's a 20-yard gain, and we had a misalignment. So we had too many penalties in the first half, but I was proud of the guys. All we needed to do was win. Proud of the way they hung in there. We said there would be a lot of adversity in this ballgame, and they handled that and proud of them and [this] helps us with momentum going into spring.
On the throwback TD to QB David Ash: Bryan grew up in the Boise system and that's the stuff that Jeff did with Oregon back in the early 2000's, and that's one of the reasons I hired Bryan. He believes in running the football and being physical, but he's got enough toys in his pocket that he's going to take advantage of things when he can. And if you're not moving the ball he's got enough different things, imagination in the offense to make a play.
On WR Marquise Goodwin: What Goodwin has done this year is unbelievable. He didn't go through spring practice, wasn't here for summer workouts, wasn't in a position meeting. He didn't go through two-a-days, so to come back and show his passion for playing after the long jump in the World Games has been unbelievable. Actually in the first part of the year they were telling him what to do leaving the huddle, and they would say, "Come over here and run a hitch," or "Run a corner." And I think he's saved us because it hasn't been a year where we were healthy at wideout and deep. And each week he's gotten better and better and he can change a game like he did tonight with his speed even with the reverse that we ran. There was nothing there and he made 20 yards out of it because of his great speed. David and I talked about it if David keeps him in bounds he's got another touchdown that's probably a 95-yard touchdown because we were trying to get off the goal line and the field position got huge. Another one Goodwin got shoved out-of-bounds and didn't fight to stay in and makes a great catch, but they ruled that he ran out of bounds on his own. So there were two or three opportunities that we didn't cash in on even above what Marquise and David did tonight. You've got to have a "go to" guy, and we've got to improve our passing game and that started tonight.
On Cal's defense: I thought Cal's defense played great early. They were all over the place. We didn't block them. We couldn't run the ball and when we started running it, a little better [in the] second quarter, it enabled us to throw the ball deep. They came into the game obviously to keep our backs from being able to run the ball and David and Jaxon hit a couple of balls down field.
On if the 8-5 season is satisfying: There will only be 16 champions in 38 bowl games, and that's all we could accomplish tonight and that was our goal and the guys are happy.
On finishing strong with the Holiday Bowl win: It means a lot because David [Ash] said it; these seniors finished third in the country and had a tough deal with the BCS competitors in their first year. They lose a national championship game, finish second in the country the second year. Last year I didn't do a very good job and got off track. So we had a chance to win at home against Kansas State [this year]. We hold them to 127 yards, and we didn't win the game. We had the chance to win the last game against Baylor, and we played poorly. So all the sudden all you've got left is to give your seniors a win and send them out whether we like it or not. You all write better about 8-5 than you do 7-6. You write better when you're 13-0 than 8-5. I've been doing this a long time, but the guys can walk out of here with their heads up. We're not jumping up and down screaming, but this was a pivotal game to let the seniors go out and show that they have us headed back up the hill where he want to be. We played in the Holiday Bowl in '03, won a BCS [game] in '04 and won a championship in '05. We lost the national championship in '09, so hopefully this is a step forward and we want to make sure that what the seniors did is make sure we were headed in the right direction.
On QB David Ash getting the start today: We could have played either. Case [McCoy] has played well. Both have done good things and both have struggled some, and we felt like Cal is a west coast team [that] didn't see option much. And [Cal defensive coordinator] Clancy Pendergast is - his roots from the envelope coaching with the [Dallas] Cowboys and the [Arizona] Cardinals, and they have one of the best front fours that we have seen all year. And we knew we weren't going to block them all the time, so we felt like David's strength and his ability to run the option gave us a few opportunities early.
On next season: We'll have a great spring. David was kind of like [Marquise] Goodwin with his progress. He got very few snaps in the spring because we had three older guys with Case and Connor [Wood] and Garrett [Gilbert]. So those guys took about all the snaps and in the summer I asked David and the receivers how much did David get 7-on-7, and they said none. So to be a high school senior out here doing what he did tonight is special, and it will give Bryan [Harsin] an opportunity to coach both Case and David, a chance to coach them in the spring, and we want to progress offensively and we want to do the things that Boise has done offensively. And they have a great scheme and offense, and we're so close to that I can see where we're going and I'm excited about it. I thought Bryan did a great job tonight of showing patience. He had more than I did and hanging in there and waiting for his opportunities because the defense was playing so well and not forcing turnovers. And I thought he and David were on it. And I noticed there were the most punts in any Holiday Bowl game all together and that won't be in the score. Doesn't matter. We didn't turn it over as we won the game, and that's a great credit as a team win.
On WR Marquise Goodwin staying for spring football: Marquise is getting so much better every day, and we just get him half a year so what he's learned to do is he and [wide receivers] Coach [Darrell] Wyatt have a great relationship. He will be around us some, be able to work some, be able to work in the weight room some and we want him to win the Olympics. So we're pulling him in a lot of directions, but he's matured and grown up and I'm glad he came back this year and I think we see the fruit [of] what he's done tonight through the year and what is out there for us for next year.
On being prepared for the game: I got play in during practice and the coaches had me well prepared for the game and I [tried] to settle in and make sure we started out with things right. And we have a great defense and we're going to use that and not make any dumb mistakes early.
On the 8-5 season: We like 13-0, that would be ideal. You know, it is what it is, and we grew from it and we won a Holiday Bowl. And there is a lot of good things that happened, but we're on the way up and that's what we're excited about at Texas.
On your thoughts on the season: Looking back on it, there was a lot of up's and down's and thankfully I have a strong base. My family. My faith and coaches are great and these players have encouraged me throughout the whole year. A lot of times, it was hard because, you know, I felt like I let down my team during a certain portion of the year. And felt like we could have won more games had I played better, but to get through all that and come out and get a great Bowl win versus Cal, it's been a long journey, and great to finish on that.
On the defense dominating after Cal's first drives of each half: That's one of the things we needed to key in on. The field goal is fine. The touchdown is unacceptable, especially since they drove the length of the field and they had big plays on third down that they were able to execute. At the same time, we have higher standards and that's where pretty much the rest of the game we made those changes and we had to stop them on third down. Getting off the field on third down.
On the defense: Basically we played our ball. We stopped them from running it on first down. Second down it was either pass or run. We just did a great job of doing the third downs and making sure we put them in pressure where it's third and long, third and seven-plus. So when we did that they gave us time for our D-linemen, whoever is on blitz, to get to the quarterback and we wanted to make plays.
On this win creating momentum for next year: Basically the plan was to win this game and send our seniors out on a good note. You don't want to send them out with a bad taste in their mouth, and this win is great for the team and it gives us some momentum heading into the off-season, training with each other and getting better. Get us moving back in the right direction toward where we want to be and where we need to be.
On QB David Ash: David has matured a lot, since I first met him. He's matured mentally and physically. He's managed to handle pressure well, and he's a fighter. He's been grinding it out every day, working hard. I commend him for the things he's done because he's a young guy coming in, and it's hard to have the pressure on his shoulders. So he did a great job of handling it well.
On his TD catch: He was manned up. And he was playing me outside and I knew he was going to jump outside so I gave him a move and went inside and got back outside and David threw a perfect ball and I caught it.
On how pleased he is with the defensive effort: I'm so pleased. If we forced more than two turnovers, we have won every game. So knowing that, we played to the odds and we were able to come out and force the turnovers. The offense did a great job of limiting them and if you have five turnovers, you should win the game. So defense did a great job, and the ball rolled our way finally.
On if Cal did anything to surprise them: Not necessarily. We had three weeks to study for them. Our GA's [graduate assistants] and our coach, Coach Diaz, did a great job of preparing us. The linebacking corps is intelligent, so when you give us that amount of time I think we should have the game mastered. And credit to Keenan and others. They caught us off guard, but when they started to be who they were all season we started to get a feel for it.
On his decision to play next year: I'll be back next year. I want to win the Thorpe [Award], that's it. And I want to go to South Beach, that's where the Orange Bowl is.
On the win creating momentum for next year: I think it's momentum for our team next year and as far as me and Jackson, even younger guys being leaders, it's a stepping stone toward next year and that's all guys making plays. My boy "Tank" [DT Desmond Jackson] and other guys making plays and hopefully this will trend off of next year.