Nov. 19, 2012
S Adrian Phillips
On being able to compete for the Big 12 Championship: It makes you feel real good to know that you're back in the mix. The biggest thing for us right now, we just have to buckle down and stay focused on TCU, take it one game at a time and not let the hype get to us.
It's not really surprising. We talked about it as a team that we need to buckle down and get back on our game. When you put in hard work, this is what pays off. It's not surprising at all.
On playing a national game on Thanksgiving: It makes you feel real good to know that you're at a prestigious university like this. It makes you feel real good to know that you're the only game on Thanksgiving day. People all across the nation are going to be watching you, so you have to show your best. It's not really added pressure at all because people watch you every week, so it's not really that much more pressure added on.
On any changes in the defense: The main thing that's changed is this: We had to make it in our mind that we were going to be a dominating defense out there. Before we had given up too many big plays, missed tackles, angles, so we just went back to the basics. We went to practice, worked hard, our work ethic improved a lot better, everyone is running to the ball, and it just all pays off in the game. If you work hard in practice it'll all show in the game.
On not facing A&M this week: That was a good rivalry, but now that it's over, we have to get ready for TCU. I mean, you don't want them to leave, but they left, so you can't worry about any of that anymore.
On TCU: TCU, they're a real good team, and I know that they're going to try to come out and hit us in the mouth, so we just have to be ready for that. We know that they're going to be amped up for this game because it's their first time playing on Thanksgiving. So we know that they're going to come out real energized, and we just have to go out there and take it.
On which senior has influenced him the most: Out of all the seniors, I would probably say [S] Kenny Vaccaro and [FB] Ryan Roberson. Those are probably the two closest seniors that I'm really close to. They mean a lot to me. I mean, Robo, with his role, he tries to do everything that he can, and Kenny is just the most physical player out there on the field. He always gives it his all, and he'll shoot it to you straight when you need it.
On maintaining momentum after a bye week: The main thing with a bye week, you have to attack the bye week. You can't be lazy during a bye week. If you're lazy, then it'll come back to hurt you. So we just went through this past week [like] we have to attack it and get better and work on fundamentals and make sure that our Ps and Qs are straight.
RB Johnathan Gray
On playing in his first Thanksgiving game: It's going to be fun and exciting. TCU is a great team, and we're one of the only teams that's playing, so we've got to give our fans what they want to see.
On if he heard any stories about playing on Thanksgiving: I've heard a little bit of stories, not too much. We were supposed to play A & M, and that was a good game on Thanksgiving, and it brought a lot of emotions to the game. And now that we're playing TCU, I guess you could say it's going to be one of those A & M Thanksgiving games. We're excited to play and ready. It feels really different from playing on Saturday to play on Thursday. You know, the game is getting here shortly. Practices have been going well, and it feels like a [Wednesday] today because we had a Tuesday practice yesterday. Feels weird, but you know, getting ready, getting prepared and ready to play TCU.
On what is at stake: Everything is at stake with what happened this bye week with KState and Baylor and West Virginia and Oklahoma. Anything is possible. Us, we have to take it one game at a time and hopefully win out and see what happens there.
On having a chance for the Big 12 Championship: We put ourselves back in the mix. After those two losses we took against West Virginia and Oklahoma, we had to do some soul searching and say, “Hey, we can still go 10 and 2.” Right now we're on that path and playing hard each and every week and ready for each opponent and getting better.
On him having a ‘breakout’ game: Breakout game, there's still time to do it. You want to have a breakout game each and every game. That's what I work hard on and work hard at practice. As an RB, you always want to have that breakout game, so you work hard, thanks to the offensive linemen and your blockers and just get prepared for it.
On winning the Tom Landry Award in high school: It meant a lot. It meant a lot for not just myself but my teammates - how hard we worked at that goal there and how those guys helped me get those awards. I say it's a team award because without those guys I wouldn't get any award. I felt like it was a team effort, and getting those awards, I always gave them to my teammates. And for me I felt that that was needed. Tom Landry was a legend, and knowing that, getting that award meant something special because it actually meant something and it felt like in honor of him. It was a big award. So getting that award meant a lot, and it was a blessing.
On the TCU defense: Their defensive line with their ends and Dtackles and their secondary, with them leading the Big 12, those guys play hard, as you can tell on film. And each and every week they play hard. So we have to bring it, play hard with them, and whoever comes out on top plays hard.
On which senior influenced him the most: The senior that's impacted me the most would be Jeremy Hills. With him being my big brother, he showed me the ropes of what I need to do to get better and how to perform each and every week and how to take care of my body and doing the things on and off the field to be a successful person and someone who looks up to you. Those guys always have to go on, and you hate to see it because you learn so much from them. I'm glad that it's their senior year, and I'm playing hard for them so they can go out with a win.
On his favorite Thanksgiving meal: My mom made a killer Thanksgiving meal. I couldn't pick out one. Everything is good from the potato salad, the pie, the turkey, the stuffing. I mean, green beans, everything was good. I can't wait to get some of her cooking.
P Alex King
On his first Thanksgiving game: Haven't played on Thanksgiving day yet, but I guess you always watched the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and it's pretty cool to be able to play on such a great day, and I'm sure there will be a lot of emotions going through a lot of our heads. But hopefully we can focus and take care of TCU.
On knowing the whole country is watching: Obviously that's exciting, but those kind of thoughts don't really run through your head when you're playing in the game. You've just got to try to focus on what you can control and pretty much that's just playing our best against TCU.
On having two senior nights: Right. That's a great question. I obviously already had my senior night at Duke, and that was kind of an emotional day, and I didn't have my best performance. So hopefully I can sort of manage my emotions a little better this time and really hone in and focus and punt the ball as best I can.
On how the Texas team has embraced him: I couldn't think of a better place to come to in that regard. The guys on the team have been awesome. I feel like I've known them for four years. You know, from the day I got here, it was really easy to make friends. The guys were just really friendly guys, and they recognize that playing football here is it's demanding. Everybody who's here, we realize how lucky we are to be here, and we're really just looking forward to playing on Thursday and finishing the season out the right way.
On the most punts he’s had in a game: Somewhere around nine or ten, and that was a lot.
On how many times he punts on gameday: Probably do about 100 on gameday in warmups and stuff. That's a lot of punts [29- UT record] in the game. Hopefully a lot of those are pooch punts so you don't have to kick them too far.
OT Luke Poehlmann
On if he will be emotional on senior night: I'm an emotional guy just because I love the game and I enjoy playing football, and this place is a special place, and I will miss it. But I don't want to put too much emphasis on it because it is just another game, and I want to approach it just like that and enjoy the moment.
On not playing against Texas A&M this Thanksgiving: Honestly it's just a blessing to play on Thanksgiving. I think that's always been a cool tradition around here, and I'm thankful to just get to play on Thanksgiving, and whoever our opponent is, I'm excited to play them.
On TCU: They're a really good bunch. They play really hard. They're a great football team, and I've watched a little film on them, and they have great defense, and I'm excited. It's going to be a great challenge for us.
On if giving up few sacks is a good measure of how well an offensive line plays: I think that's part of it, but part of it is moving the ball and part of it is how well we're playing as a team. Because obviously if your offensive line does a great job and we're not winning games, then it doesn't really matter.
On still being able to win the Big 12 Championship: Well, honestly I don't think there's more at stake than there ever was. You're right, I wouldn't have seen that coming after playing OU, but at the same time I think it's a testament to this team how well we've been able to come back and keep playing football because we love football and because we get to play a game. And that's all there is to it. Things have gone our way, and we've won quite a few since we've played OU, and it's been great. I think that's a great focus thing to look at is how well our team has played. We didn't know we would have a chance at the end of the season, but all we knew is we were going to go back to work and do the best we can, and that's what we've done. And it's played out well for us. Now we are sitting in a position that that is a possibility, but that's all it is, just a possibility. And my hope is that we will just go back to work and keep doing the same things we've been doing, and hopefully at the end of the season we'll be able to look up when the dust clears and there will be something great there for us.
On if he will play various positions on the line: I have no idea. Wherever the coach asks me to play and wherever the team needs me the most is where I'm going to line up at. It's just a blessing just to be able to play football. I don't really care where.
DE Alex Okafor
On what he was thinking watching college football on Saturday: At one point I was watching the games, and both KState and Oklahoma was losing at the same time, and I'm like, “No, this can't possibly happen.” But one of them lost, and it definitely helps our chances of getting back into the Big 12 contention. But anything can happen in college football. There's good teams.
On being in the mix for the Big 12 Championship: We've definitely earned the right. After the OU game we could have easily faltered and put the season in the tank, but that shows the resilience of our team. We fought back. The Big 12 is a good conference. Anybody can lose any Saturday, and that's what happened this past weekend. It's hard to say but it blows my mind, actually. I remember after the OU game people were talking down on us. We had lost two straight games, got blown out, and now if another team loses we could easily be back in the mix. I mean, it's great for us, and it definitely creates a buzz around this program.
On motivation to finish strong: You could say it's extra motivation, but we already have enough motivation as it is. We know that if we win out we've got a chance to go to a great bowl. Not sure what it is yet, but we know it's going to be a great one. That's our motivation as of now.
On his emotions playing his last home game: Like you said, this just kind of wraps up my career here in central Texas. I wasn't born [in] but went to high school in Pflugerville. So I've been around this area for a while now. This area has definitely shown me a lot of love, and I want to go out with a bang this Thursday.
On how his career here at Texas has transpired: It's definitely been a roller coaster career filled with glamour and disappointment. I've seen it all basically. The senior class has seen it all. We're just trying to get this thing back right.
On how not to get too emotional: Because we know we still have our best football ahead of us. We have a great game after this TCU game, and then we have essentially, hopefully, a great bowl. There's still a lot of excitement to look forward to after this game, and this game is essentially just another one, and you can't put too much into it.
On if he will be emotional: I probably will when I see my folks on the field with me. But I've got to suck it up and make sure it doesn't affect my play.
On playing on Thanksgiving: I'm happy to be playing on Thanksgiving. It's a primetime game, as big as any game in the season. Honestly if you're going to mention A & M, I feel sorry for them not being in this game anymore because they don't get the opportunity that we have to play in front of the whole country. So that's what I'm excited about.
On his and S Kenny Vaccaro’s friendship: Kenny has been by my side since I got on campus, and since our 2009 recruiting class, he's been there right with me every step of the way. And I've done the same for him. For us to be senior leaders on this team and on this defense just means everything to me. I'm glad to have the opportunity to play with him.
On TCU’s offense: They probably throw more formations at us than any other team that we've played, so it'll definitely be big on the defense this week. Whenever you have two weeks to prepare for a team, the offense usually starts off slow because defense knows what's coming. So we're going to have to put it upon ourselves to shut them down and give our offense time to start picking things up.
On the possibility of losing because of being too emotional: No. I mean, I don't expect that to happen, and I know it won't happen if we come to play. That's the issue; it's about us, man. If we come to play like we've played the last few weeks, they won't beat us.
On his favorite Thanksgiving dish: No, I love my mama's sweet potato pie. I can't get over that right there. But also I think dressing has slipped. Dressing is one of the best sides for Thanksgiving, and not a lot of people put a lot of appreciation into that.
S Kenny Vaccaro
On his emotions with his final home game coming up: I think it's going to be an emotional game not just because it's my last game but because it's the last time I get to run out of that tunnel. It's on Thanksgiving, everybody is going to be watching. And it means a lot to our team to win this game and get to the goals we wanted to get to the whole year because they're out there and available for us.
On his senior year: I came to Texas wanting to win it all obviously every year, and like I said, after my junior year, that was my goal, and now the goal has changed. Now the biggest game we can get in now is probably a BCS game. I still think we can get there, we've just got to keep pushing and focus on TCU this weekend.
On what changed after the OU game: I mean, we were pretty beat down, but we knew the Big 12 was such a dynamic conference that I didn't think everybody was going to win out. I might have said it in the press conference if y'all remember. I said I think some guys are going to lose and might help us out.
On playing a national game on Thanksgiving: Like you said, I think it's a real emotional game. I think all the guys are going to be really fired up. I think only Dallas [Cowboys] and us play as far as from Texas on that day. So everybody is going to be watching, all your friends, all your buddies, all the family. It's kind of like you're getting exposed out there, so just have to play well.
On if it is strange playing TCU instead of Texas A&M: I mean, a little bit. But for me, like I've always say, the next game is a big game for me. I'm excited to play whoever we're getting to play.
On keeping his emotions in check until after the game: Yes. I'm really trying to focus on just being strong for my team and getting this win before I show any emotion or anything like that, because I'm an emotional guy anyway as far as a player and real passionate about football. So that's all going to tie into the game. A lot of other guys we're going to play are my friends. [TCU QB] Casey [Pachall] is not getting to play. He's one of my best friends since I was little. A lot of the receivers are good friends of mine, so it's going to be an emotional game for me, but I'll be all right. I think I'll hold up.
On how the team is playing: I think we’re playing hard, and I think we're playing tough. I think as far as on both sides of the ball, I think we're just not giving up. When things go bad, we just put our head down and keep playing, and that's the biggest thing.
On him being a mentor and calming influence to other players: I mean, you're right. A lot of people think I'm wild. They see the tattoos, but I'm really trying to be the best friend I can to all my teammates. I talk to everybody. I think I'm a guy that's liked in the locker room. I don't have any enemies. There's no beef in the locker room. I mean, I think guys can come talk to me and I'll take care of them, whatever they need. I'm a senior, I've been around here for a long time, and I think they know they can come to me and I can face any problem with them. And that's what I try to bring as far as leadership.
On his legacy being more than what he’s done on the field: Definitely. People are going to have an image of me regardless because that's the way the world is now. I can play hard, I can say this, I can do that, but people are going to have their image of me. I truly know what type of person I am, and I think all my teammates do. They know that I'll never stop playing. I'll play as hard as I can for them every play. I play for them. Every time I'm covering somebody, I think of Alex Okafor. He's my best friend. I'm thinking of him getting a sack. That's just the way I am. That's just the way I'm wired.
On being in the mix for the Big 12 Championship: I think it brings confidence to the team. Everybody wants to win championships, you don't want to just settle for a bowl. I think [defensive coordinator/linebackers] Coach [Manny] Diaz said there's the BCS game, and the rest are just bowls. If you think about it, they're all just bowls. That's our mentality, and that's the way it should be at Texas.
On his favorite memory during his time at Texas: I think it's not really even an onthefield thing. I think just growing up as a man - coming from a small town, losing my dad early on in my life, [defensive backs] Coach [Duane] Akina just helped me grow so much and just become a better person because I didn't start off so good here. Things were rocky, and I think I've grown every year, and that's the thing I'm most proud of as far as an individual standpoint.
On the TCU offense: I watched a little bit of film on them. I think they're a good offense still. I think their young quarterback is always tough to play with, and I think they're getting better and better each week. All their losses have been tough losses. I think they're a good team, just from what I've seen.
On what is different with Boykin at quarterback for TCU: You've got to account for his legs. It's hard to account sometimes when you're doing your run fits it's hard to account for a quarterback with legs. It makes it tough.
On if he thinks he made the right decision to come back for his senior season: Honestly, I played way better than I played last year. People might not know it, but Coach Akina sat me down and said I'm having as good a year as he's seen, and I'm going to keep doing it. I think I'm at the same point I was last year right now as far as stats and everything go, and I have three more games left.
On being a father-type influence on his brother, S Kevin Vaccaro: I've tried to steer him in the right direction. I've tried to tell him when he gets here just work hard just like that's the way I started out, didn't play much, was on special teams, and I told him that's the key. You start slow, earn the respect of your locker room, then everything will unfold for you.
On if Coach Akina was the biggest influence on him: Oh, no doubt, Coach Akina. He stuck with me. He told me one day I could be a great player, and he said, “Let's just get that out of you.” He said he didn't want me to settle to be a good special teams player. My sophomore year he said,”I want you to be a good player.” And then after my junior year when I came back in my senior year he said,”I want you to be a great player. I want you to be AllAmerican.” And that's just the way he's stuck with me.
On believing they can win against TCU: That's going to be my mentality, of course, but you've got to think just like what happened to KState, you've got to give everybody the respect they deserve and play like it's a championship team.
RB Jeremy Hills
On how to manage his emotions on Senior Night: I don't know yet. I don't know yet. I guess I'll find out Thursday. I mean, I've been around for a few senior days, and I've seen how those guys get. I'm sure I'll be the same way. [RB] Cody Johnson last year, man, he was excited, pumped up and ready to go. That's kind of what I'm hoping my same emotions are.
On if there will be tears: How I'm feeling right now, save the tears for after the game. Don't go in there too emotional. The whole point of the game is to win it, so we've got a job to do. We've got to go in with the same mentality we've been going in with these last few weeks.
On being in the mix for the Big 12 Championship: Well, yeah, it's crazy. After the OU game even Coach Brown said he feels like this league is so good that the winner of it may have two losses, and then four or five weeks later we're sitting up here and we could be in that mix. It's crazy.
On characterizing his time here: It's been fun. It's been fun. I mean, I had a chance to play in two BCS Bowl games early on, the National Championship, Big 12 Championship, played against some great opponents - played here at Texas all these years. It went by real fast when I think back on it. But my time here has been real fun, and I'm ready to finish it off the right way.
On Coach Brown knowing the Big 12 Champion might have two losses:
I've come to know that Coach Brown somehow knows what he's talking about, even when it doesn't look that way right then and there. So I took it and said he may be right, and he is right. I'm not surprised at all.On playing a national game on Thanksgiving:
I'm not going to lie, that's exciting. That's exciting. I've got a lot of friends that play ball all over the country, and they all say we get to watch this time, we get to see this time. We're all getting to see each other's families - my brother. Just everybody is watching. America - anybody that likes football is watching you with their family that night. I mean, it's like we're the focal point. It's like us and the Cowboys I want to say that's playing. We're the only college team playing that night. It's exciting. It's exciting. On not playing against Texas A&M:
It was fun while it lasted. Like I said, we won the first, the last and the most, so that's done. That chapter is done. It's exciting playing on Thanksgiving, period, no matter who we're playing, and the fact we get a chance to play TCU, and this is the best rushing defense that we've faced all year and just a real good, solid team. Plus I've got a few guys over there that I'm going to enjoy going against.This game on Thanksgiving, no matter who the opponent is is always going to be a great game, I feel like, for Texas.On being a leader to Johnathan Gray and other underclassmen:
J-Gray was probably too kind with his words. That just means that I'm doing my job. I'm doing what I've been taught, and that's kind of how the Texas tradition goes on. Because it's not who's recruited or who comes in, it's kind of like what's passed down from the players before you. So I learned a lot from [former Texas running backs] Vondrell McGee
, Chris Ogbonnaya
, Fozzy Whittaker, those guys, and then I tried to take everything I've learned and pass it down. And JGray is going to be sitting here in three years and he'll look up and it'll be another young guy coming in that he'll pass it down to. And that's just what makes this place special, because like you just said, for him to say whatever he said, I'm sure it's probably the same thing I was saying about Fozzy two years ago. I'm happy that he feels that way. I hope that he takes on the responsibility of passing it on to the next guy after him.
DS Nate Boyer
On his reaction when he found out he won the 2012 Disney Spirit Award: I mean, it's an honor. I definitely read over the list of all the past winners, and there are some pretty amazing people on there with some amazing stories. I honestly don't think I deserve to be on that list, but I appreciate it. I think it's great for - it's great recognition for the soldiers. And I know it's good for the University. I mean, good for anybody involved in any way. I definitely am very grateful and honored to receive it. But yeah, it was pretty -- it was a big surprise. And like I said, I went back and looked at everybody on there, and I think everybody should [win] that hasn't. It's pretty incredible some of the guys, some of the stuff people have done there and have been able to overcome.
On not only making the football team at Texas but is also winning a number of awards: Yeah, surreal is a really good word. Because I really don't, I can't really - it just hasn't registered yet. I guess I won't really realize what it's like until, I guess, I go down there for the [reception]. But I don't know. It's really great, but honestly, I'm so focused on just winning the next two games right now. I don't want to say I'd trade this for that or whatever, but that's just where my mind's at right now. And it's awesome and it's great, but Thursday is important. I want to do what I can to help us win. We need it.
On him feeling undeserving of being a Disney Spirit Award recipient: I mean, it's not that - I don't know. It's just, like I said, I read the stories of those guys [that have won the award in the past]. There's guys that have come back from cancer and done a lot of big things to raise money for that. And guys that have had really tough childhoods that have overcome some stuff. Last year was the Alabama Crimson Tide [football team] and everything that had gone on down there that they were able to overcome and really rise up like they did. And they ended up winning the National Championship. I mean, that's just incredible.
So I don't know. I guess I'm just really critical on myself. But I know it's a good thing that I'm doing, and I do appreciate the recognition. But yeah, like I said, I guess I just immediately compared myself to those other people. And I just guess it's whatever insecurities I have about it, I feel like I haven't done everything I can. A lot of those stories are really selfless stories about guys doing stuff for other people and really making a change in the world. And I don't think I've really done that yet. I want to and I will, it's just I don't know. I guess in that regard it's good because it's going to just motivate me. It's going to keep me accountable. And I'm going to have to do all those things that I'm always talking about to other people and thinking about. Instead of just talking about them, do them.
OL Mason Walters
On if he would have thought Texas would have a shot at the Big 12 title after the loss to Oklahoma: Well, it's a really competitive conference. You have to come to play every week and you seem to learn that just as we have. And I wouldn't have believed you if you would have told me it turned out this way, but that's just the way it works. We gave up the part of controlling our destiny when we lost those two games, so all we can do is keep playing after that. And we've got to keep taking it one game at a time, and who knows what'll happen. It'll be exciting to watch.
On if the Thanksgiving game is still as exciting as when they played Texas A&M each year: I really think it's more about the Thanksgiving tradition and being able to play here in [Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium]. That's great and that's Texas tradition. That's something that we do. So a lot of those same things are staying in place. TCU is a really good opponent and there's a lot of tradition with them, so we're just getting to learn some different things about them. But I'm really excited to get out and come out on Thanksgiving. It's one of those unique environments that not every college football player gets to play in, so I'm very grateful to get to play in this environment. And the stadium will just be rocking on Thanksgiving night. Then we get to spend the weekend with your family and watch everybody else play ball.
On giving up only seven sacks all season: I just know for us since last year it's something we've really worked on, is limiting the number of sacks we've given up. We've given up seven this season and we don't want to give up any more. We've got a couple of really tough challenges going into this week. TCU has two really good defensive ends, and their whole front seven is good and aggressive. So we've got a couple of challenges here at the end to keep those numbers where we want them, but we're excited for the challenge, and it'll just prove how far we've come from last year.
On TCU’s defense: They're physical, they're well coached, and they're going to play four quarters really hard. They don't blitz a whole lot. They don't do way too many things unique up front, but they're very sound in what they do, and they're going to be ready to play. I know Texas and TCU haven't played for a long time. There's some state pride that goes on in this game and both teams are going to be ready to go and take their best shot at each other. It'll be whoever plays the hardest the longest.
On if any of the seniors had an impact on him: I guess most of this graduating class, [senior S] Kenny [Vaccaro] and [senior DE] Alex [Okafor], I came in with. And [senior TE] Barrett Matthews. And those are guys just going through the whole college experience that I went through it with them, so they'll always be special to me. And then I think one guy that just comes out, thinking about it, is [senior RB] Jeremy Hills. He's a guy that's done everything right since he got here. He's a guy you can kind of model what you do after and know you're not going to get in trouble if you do anything that Jeremy does. The way he approaches the game of football, how selfless he is, I think that's really set the tone for the senior class. Just the lesson everybody has learned is to be good at football, you need to be selfless. You need to be playing for something bigger than you. And Jeremy, I really think, epitomizes that, and he's helped me along the way.
On his favorite Thanksgiving food: I already know what the answer is. When it comes to Thanksgiving food, my grandmother makes the best dressing ever. I'll put it up against Alex Okafor's grandmother's dressing any day. I might have to bring him some back, just so he knows. It's delicious, and we'll be having plenty of helpings of my grandmother's dressing this weekend.