S Adrian Phillips
On the SEC: The SEC is a strong conference. The Big 12 is strong as well. So when we go out there, it's just another game. We're really not worried about conference play. We're worried about winning.
On the Ole Miss offense: I heard between the two, they have a good quarterback, running back, receiver. I heard their quarterback is a playmaker on the team, so when we practice this week, we have to make sure that we're on our P's and Q's and that we're tuned in.
On Ole Miss: They're a good team. I know that they've had some problems in the past, but that's every team in America. So since they're back on their horse, they're trying to build the thing back up. So when we go in there, we just have to make sure that we're on our stuff.
On confidence after the shutout: It feels good, but we can't worry about that shutout anymore. It's in the past. We have to worry about Ole Miss. Their team has [given up]fewer points than our team. So a shutout is a good thing, but we're not worried about that anymore.
On if this game is just a tune-up for conference play: No, we look at this as a big game. Each week it's a big game. Ole Miss is a good team, so this week we have to make sure that we go in there and hit them in the mouth.
On the first road game: It can get really exciting for the younger guys. So when we go to practice, we have to make sure that they're in the playbook. We have to make sure that they're not worried about the SEC atmosphere that's out there. We have to make sure when we're actually traveling, they stay calm and not overly excited about the game. After that first hit or contact, they'll be fine.
On why this is a big game: Because it's the next game. Every game is a big game. This is our next game coming up, and it's a big game for us. We have to make sure we're on top of everything.
On September 11, 2011: I was young back then. I really didn't have insight on what really was going on. I just knew back then that somebody had crashed a plane into our towers. But as I got older, I knew more about it.
On DS/DB Nate Boyer: Nate Boyer is a really good guy. He's in our DB room, so we treat him like family. We don't worry about his age. That's why I didn't know his nickname. For us, it doesn't matter if he's 32, 42 or 52. We're going to treat him the same way. I think he came here with a little more love than everyone else just because we knew what he's been through. We knew everything that he's encountered in the past. So there is a little more respect out of that. But he's still a really down to earth guy. He's not acting like just because of what he's done in the past that we have to treat him a certain way. He just wants us to treat him normal.
On Boyer never having played HS football: Yes, he never played high school football, but he said he wanted to come out here and get an education and try out for the team. That's what he did, and he succeeded at it. He still had some questions, but for the most part, he knew about football. Just because he didn't play before, it didn't leave him out to dry.
On his goals this week: We want to get a faster start as a defense and as a team. We want to come out with the win and continue to get better.
OG Mason Walters
On if it makes him proud to see WR Marquise Goodwin block so well: Definitely does, but I came to college to block people. Marquise came here to catch the ball, get it in space and score touchdowns. I think that's what's encouraging to see a guy doing that, and it's not his job. He's taken it upon himself to go out there and help his teammates win. That's the effort it's going to take week in and week out to accomplish what we want.
On the first road game: Any time you have an away game, always be ready for something to go wrong. Whether that be the buses being late, not getting to your hotel in time, room being dirty, fire alarm going off. Something's going to happen throughout the week when you're traveling away that you're not going to expect. Just be ready to handle that. Don't get too caught up in it. Just go past it and focus on the game.
On the team’s routine changing with a road game: Well, you'll do your little walk through you usually do out in the rec center right across from Moncrief, the field house. We'll go do that at the stadium, check it out and see it. Usually traffic isn't as friendly to us when we go away, just because it's not set up by us, and it is what it is. We'll stay in a hotel a little further away from the stadium than you're used to when you're playing at home, and you have a little more travel time. So you just have to have that laser focus on the game and just go in, play the game, and get out as quickly as possible. That's what we'll do.
On how he feels about the team: We've had some good things happen to us the past couple weeks. We've had some bad things. You don't really feel good or bad about something you're improving on. You feel a sense of urgency to get better, and I think that's how the team feels right now.
On the offense: It has progressed. I don't think we should be satisfied with how it's progressed. I think we should make it better. Just tighten everything up. Every play is designed to score from the offensive coordinator standpoint, that's what they've told me, and we didn't score on every play. So to the point that we want to try to get that good, and we won't stop trying and improving until we're at that point.
On the SEC: A lot of people talk about it. I really don't ever have many thoughts going on about conferences. I play for the University of Texas. I know that's in the Big 12. But I don't know much more about the Big 12. I know I want the University of Texas to be good. I know we have to play Ole Miss next week. I know they're in the SEC. But I don't know what entity the SEC is other than that collection of schools. So it's not really something I've put too much thought in. I know the team we have to beat. We don't have to play the whole conference, we just have to play Ole Miss.
On why this is a tough test for the team: I think a combination of things. Ole Miss is a talented team. I've gotten to watch film on them. They were good on defense. You hear good things about their offense. Then it's an away game. We've talked about the adversity that we might face going on the road. So the combination of those two things. Then it's the next game like you said. It's the next one on the schedule and the one you have to win.
On this being a ‘chapter ending game’ with conference play next: Well, maybe so, I get so bogged down in the season just thinking about the next week and next week. The coverage goes down for us. We have an off week. So I can see it being in that first part, but we haven't really talked about it. We want to get this game out of the way first.
On DS/DB Nate Boyer: It's a pretty amazing story. The guy that didn't play high school football to really go through the military, do what he did. He was the top dog, Green Beret, great guy. Then really after that wanting to advance his life. He came back to college and said he wanted to be part of something, and he's worked really hard to be part of something. I know he's an extra point and field goal snapper for us. Just getting to work with him dayin and dayout is such a pleasure. He's a great guy, very humble, and has a lot that you can learn from.
DE Jackson Jeffcoat
On the defense not reading about themselves: No, you never want to go and read all that. That stuff just makes your head big. So you always have to stay working and keep working on your craft and get better every week. You always want to get better.
On the challenges of the Ole Miss offense: Well, we're playing a team that kind of wanted to get you close and tight and run it outside. Then it's fun to get out and go play against the spread team. It's similar to teams in our conference. So it will be exciting to see the spread. Like I said before, it's always exciting to play a different type of offense each week.
On the challenges of a road game: Well, most of the people there are against you, so it's not your home crowd cheering for you. But it is also exciting. It gets you pumped up when you have other teams booing you and all that. It's a lot of fun. It presents a big challenge, and it's fun to do.
On the highlight of the New Mexico game: Just the win. We got the win, and I was glad we got the win.
On the Big 12 vs. the SEC: No, there are a lot of things people have been trying to hype up. But when you look at it, it's two different teams coming against to play each other. All of that is just making a bigger deal than it is. Realistically everybody thinks their team or conferences are the best. So you can't come in and if you play a team from another conference, [say] we're better than them because we beat them. You can't say all that.
On the challenges of the read option for defensive ends: With the read option, you have to be disciplined. You have to make sure you watch for the dive. You can't be so set on going to get the quarterback that you let the dive go inside of you. So you have to watch the dive and make sure you have good eye progression and looking at dive first and quarterback next.
On going against a team with a “Vince Young offense”: Well, if you're going against a team with a Vince Young type offense, you know you have to take into account that the quarterback's going to run. So you have to be able to contain him and make sure he doesn't get out of the pocket. So that is a big challenge for us. We have to make sure we don't have overhang plays and guys playing with their responsibilities. So in a sense, it's similar to the triple option. You have to be disciplined. You have to make sure you play your play.
On September 11, 2001: Nine-eleven, I was a fourth grader and attending Trinity Christian Academy. I went to school and we were about to head to school and my mom had the TV on. We started the plane had crashed into the towers, and it was just crazy. Being a kid like that, I was a little scared just because of school. I didn't know if something would happen at my school or anything like that. But my mom reassured me. She said God will protect you, just have faith and you'll be fine. So we went to school. They ended up letting us out early.
On DS/DB Nate Boyer: A lot of us have thanked him. He's such a great dude. He really fits in with us. Being an older guy you would think that he would feel we're all immature to him, but he really fits in. He's like a big brother to us, and we're just lucky to have him.
CB Carrington Byndom
On DS/DB Nate Boyer: Nate's a great guy. A hard worker, a guy that just loves serving people and whoever else it is. Like I said, we're definitely grateful to have a player like Nate on our team.
On if he is happy with the defense vs. New Mexico: I think we are happy with the way we played. Any time you have a shutout, it's definitely a positive, but you can always go back in and find some things that we need to correct. We still have to do a lot of stuff, a lot more progress we need to make.
On the first road game: I think just for us, we'll still prepare the same way as the past two weeks. But definitely the atmosphere is going to be the toughest thing for us as a team. So I think we just need to handle that, handle the adversity and overcome the challenges and the ups and downs that may happen during the course of a game.
On the younger players staying focused on the road: It's like playing here for the first time. You have those same jitters, those same butterflies. But once that first ball or first tackle is made, it all goes away. It's the same preparation, like I said, that goes into the home games, going into the away games. It's just dealing with everything else that comes with going to the away game.
On the Ole Miss offense: I've seen and watched a little [tape] earlier. It looked a little bit like a mix between New Mexico and Wyoming. So I definitely think these first two games have been key for us and kind of seeing what we'll face against Ole Miss.
DS/DB Nate Boyer:
On September 11, 2001: Nine-eleven is a bittersweet day, actually. So many good things have come out of that on such a tragic day. But some of my memories about it are the night after, I was living in California at the time, and I was in Southern California in Los Angeles, and a lot of times you don't necessarily think that of as a patriotic place. But I remember hordes of people marching down the streets wearing red, white and blue, and everybody coming together. That was just a real special thing to see and experience. Now it's 11 years later now, and it still seems like it was three years later to me. But that day changed my life as it did so many other people. I definitely wouldn't be where I am right now if it had never happened.
On serving time in Iraq: I mean, no picnic. I'll say that. It's not America. We're so fortunate here. It's unbelievable how lucky we are. Whenever you hear people complaining about stuff like petty stuff - I do it, too. Everybody's guilty of it. You've just got to stop and think. For me it's easy to just put things in perspective. Because over there those people have nothing. So many of them are happy with the nothing that they have, happier than we are. So that's inspiring. Contrary to popular belief, they don't all hate us. I don't know. I learned a lot from those people, too. They inspire you in a different way because it's a totally different culture, and they live a different way and a lot of them are very proud of where they come from and what they're all about. Like I said earlier, to be so content without stuff is something that a lot of us in America don't really understand.
On his decision to join the military: When I was in high school, I wanted to join the military and it was something that I looked at. I ended up not doing it at the time. Then after 9/11 it definitely ignited that spark again. I didn't go in right away. I waited and did some other things. I actually went over and did some relief work in Africa, in the Darfur region for a while, and it was kind of after coming back from that that I just realized that I wanted to keep doing those things. Being part of the special forces, it's not just learn how to shoot and be a warrior, necessarily. You're over there and you're working with indigenous forces and you're training them up and fighting with those guys. So you're fully immersed in the culture and all that stuff. So that was something that interested me. At the time, they opened up a contract where you could come in off the street and if you scored high enough on tests - and I think you had to be 21 at the time - you got a shot to potentially go to selection after basic training and airborne school. A lot of guys signed up for that, and not that many of us made it through. But I was fortunate enough to be one of those people, so I got to be with the greatest unit in the Army.
On the transition to playing college football: Football is something I always wanted to play growing up. I played other sports, and football just never really worked out. The high school I ended up graduating from didn't have a team at the time. They actually do now. So, yeah. It was one of those things that I knew I could do it, it just never happened. I kind of regretted that, I guess, growing up. When I was coming out of the military and I was going to be going back to school I figured, why not? Why not give it a shot. Obviously, Texas is a great team and a great program and all of that. But I just felt confident that going through what I had gone through, that I could make the team and help out in any way and at least be a part of it. I was in Colorado Springs coming out of the military. I worked out at a Human Performance Center there the NSCA it's called, National Strength and Conditioning Association. So some of the guys there had football backgrounds and what not. So they helped me out with foot work and what not, and then I came down. I knew I was in good enough shape to do it, so I tried out and made it.
On if he then called Coach Brown to join the team: I definitely didn't call Coach Brown (laughing). Yeah, I just came down here and actually met [assistant athletics director for strength and conditioning] Coach Jeff Madden or “Mad Dog” as you guys know him, and told him it was something I was interested in doing. He said, all right. Just make sure you're in shape and be ready. They definitely put you through a strenuous tryout. It's really physically demanding. But it wasn't anything I couldn't handle.
On military service helping him to live without regrets: Yeah, even before the military, I was always a believer of living without regret. If there's something you want to do, go do it now, don't wait. I don't think you're ever too old to do anything. You've just got to be willing to work harder than everybody else around you. Part of it was not wanting to regret it. But another part of it was just because I knew I could handle it. I knew it was possible. I knew a lot of people thought I couldn't, and that it wasn't, so that motivated me also.
On the hardest thing he dealt with overseas: I mean, I'm not going to get into specifics about some of the stuff that went on overseas. But there is a lot. Everybody that goes over there has a story. There is a lot of tragedy. Just really hard stuff to take in and deal with. But like I said earlier, there is a lot of positive stuff and a lot of inspiring stuff. You learn more about yourself on the battlefield than you will anywhere. The mindset we have when we go over there is you're fighting for the guy next to you. That's it. That's all that matters. So I don't know. When you get into a tough situation like that and bad, scary stuff is going on all around you, if you're focused on that stuff, you don't even really like I don't know. All your fears kind of go away and you just focus in and keep moving forward.
On if he was nervous Saturday night deep-snapping for the first time: Honestly, I was probably more nervous with that first snap Saturday night than I ever was in Iraq. I had a lot of people relying on me out there too, and I wanted to do well. My first snap was my worst snap. But it all went up from there. But, yeah, it's definitely a different kind of nerves. But I think if you're not nervous, you're not a little bit scared in whatever you're doing, you probably shouldn't be doing it. You should do something a little tougher and challenge yourself a little bit. Whenever I feel too comfortable in life, I just get bored, so having nerves is a good thing.
On his reaction went sent to Iraq: From the minute I joined the Army, I was doing whatever I could to get to Iraq as soon as I could. That's what I wanted to do. That's why I joined. I joined because I wanted to fight for my country. As soon as I found out I was going, I was happy. That's what I wanted to do. That's why I came in. I didn't come in for the money. I joined in a time of war. If I've got my buddies going over there, risking their lives and fighting for me, then I'm going to do the same thing for them. Yeah, I was relieved, I'll say, when I got that call. It was finally my chance to put my training to use and do what I could to help the mission's success.
On this difference between the Iraq call and the call to play on Saturday: I mean, it's a big difference. I've worked hard over the last year learning the snap. All I wanted was a chance, and that's what the coaches gave me. I can't thank Coach Brown, and [offensive line] Coach [Stacy] Searels, and [co-offensive coordinator/running backs] Coach [Major] Applewhite for giving me a shot. I mean, I kind of step out of my shoes sometimes and put myself in theirs. One day when you're not getting the shot you think you deserve, you're always wondering why, but you've got to put yourself on their side and say, look, I'm 31. I just started snapping last year. I've never played football before. If I was a coach, I don't know if I'd put that guy in either. But they're obviously taking a chance with me, just like I've taken a lot of chances in my life. I know I've got a good work ethic, and they know that I've done what I can over the last year to learn that position and getting better at it every day.
On the decision to deep snap: Last year both the long snappers were seniors. So I knew they were going to be graduating, and I knew we had other people coming in to compete for the position, too. But coaches always say they're looking for depth at every position, so it's just I thought it was the best way that I thought I could be a part of the team and really help out on the field, not just with my leadership. That's obviously important with all the work I did on scout teams the last couple years, too. But I just thought that it was the best way I could help the team. So, yeah, I just watched the other deep snappers, picked up a ball and tried to copy them, and just figured it out. It's just one of those things. You've got to just do a lot of reps, and it's like shooting a free throw. Once you get the hang of it and you know what it feels like when you get a good one off, you just go from there.
On receiving a scholarship this year: When I got offered the scholarship it was pretty amazing. I still don't know. I definitely don't think I deserve it anymore the other walkons. But I'm not going to turn it down. I also know a lot of the reasons I was given the scholarship. It's not necessarily for the work I've done on the field, but it's a lot of the work that, the work ethic and the leadership. It feels like I'm a walkon, because, I mean, I am a walk on.
On the details of his military career: I went on active duty for five years. Now I'm in the National Guard. So I'm actually still in through the guard. There are some special forces units in the guard. Where for me I'll deploy in the summertime for a little bit and go overseas and do some work, then I'll come back before school starts.
S Kenny Vaccaro:
On the challenges of a road game: It's our first, like you said, our first road game. It's going to be a test. We're going into SEC country, so it's going to be a hostile environment. [Strength and conditioning head coach for football] Bennie [Wylie’s] been talking all week about how crazy it gets down at Ole Miss. So we're ready for it.
On playing an SEC team:
To me, it's another team. But the way the media has it, it's supposed to scare everybody. So to me, to our whole team, it's just the next opponent that happens to be in the SEC.
On the challenge of facing the Ole Miss offense: I think it's exciting. I'm up for the challenge. I mean, it puts stress on the defense to have a duelthreat quarterback. We've got to load the box and bring people out. So it will be a good challenge for us and a good ballgame.
On teams moving the ball early in games: I just think we need to start faster and get our feet in the ground and start playing faster from the first snap. So I don't think it's necessarily anything we're doing wrong.
On playng with DS/DB Nate Boyer: It’s a good feeling. We're glad to have him. He works hard. He brings so much to the team outside of football. All the things you need internally on a team, just the discipline and trusting the guy next to you. He's a great asset to our team, and I'm glad I get to play next to him.
On if this week will be a tough test: Yes, they're a good team. When you have a dualthreat quarterback like that, it puts stress on the defense. It will be a good test for us. Each week we need to come out and play strong.
On what a win would mean: I mean, for next week you obviously want to go on momentum, and you want to have a good week. You want to be happy. Everybody wants to be bouncing around. So a win would make that week so much better for us.
LB Jordan Hicks
On this week’s challenge: We're not really focused on who we're playing, we're just focused on how we play. So far we've done a good job. We're getting better each game. That's what we're going to try to continue to do. Continue to play good enough to win.
On the Ole Miss offense: They've got a lot of different things that they do. They apply a lot of different concepts, a few that we've seen already, a few that we haven't seen. So they've got good players. We've just got to be ready for them.
On Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace: I haven't seen much on him yet. [I’ll]Go in there today and look at him a little bit. But I've heard he's done well. I've heard their running back is doing well also, so we've got to is it stop them.
On the challenges of a road game: I think the crowd is definitely a big thing. We've had a great crowd here the past two games. They've been very supportive. I heard we got a lot traveling, but it's not playing here in front of 101,000. That will be a big thing. But it also brings a lot of excitement, being on the road, being us against the world mentality. It brings a lot of excitement, and I think it adds a fun factor to the game.
On how to not let the road game atmosphere be a distraction to the younger players: I think us as older guys we've got to kind of show them the ropes and show them how to handle themselves on the road. But I think if you channel the emotions right, it will be good for you.
OG Trey Hopkins
On the first road game: Just getting the guys who haven't had experienced on the road to stay focused. There are a lot of guys on the team I'm sure that haven't been on the plane before. I know I hadn't been on one before coming here. So it's just another fact that you have to be aware of and that you have to stay focused through that, too.
On this being a tough test: The next game is going to be the toughest test because you have to continue to improve. That is the biggest thing. You have to make sure you're not coming back and playing the exact same way you played the last game. If you're doing that, you're losing because the team that's even better will beat you in the long run.
On September 11, 2001: I was in fourth grade. So not too sure what my age was back then. I'm a year younger than everybody else. But I remember being in the fourth grade classroom, and they called, “Code orange, code orange.” All the teachers brought us in our rooms and gave us activities to do to keep our minds off anything. Lot of students got taken out of class that day. I just remember doing a lot of random, fun activities our teachers were told to give us to keep our minds distracted from the fact we had kids being pulled out of class. We had a lot of chaos going on around outside of us.
On watching DS/DB Nate Boyer: It's great. It's a testament to you practice how you play, because he busts his tail every day in practice. He does a great job. He knows his assignments, and he makes sure he's at full speed. As you see in the game, he's producing, so great job to him.
On Ole Miss: I know Ole Miss is a great team. It will be a great challenge for us. They're a physical team, I know that. They're going to pride themselves on us going there and them having the crowds and the excitement that the teams’ traditionally have, but that's about it.
On what he looking forward to in this game: I like traveling. I like going on the road and seeing different places. I like that aspect of the plane ride with the team and stuff like that. So I'm personally looking forward to that.
On if he looks at this game as a tune-up for conference play: I don't look at any game as a warm up game. Because any game's going on your record as a win or a loss. That's how we look at it each game. If you take a loss, no one's going to say, “Oh, well, that was just a warm up game for them.” They're not going to credit it like that.