Dec. 18, 2012
S Kenny Vaccaro
On what the bowl game means to the program: It is a big game. Just like I had said last year for the Holiday Bowl, it is a momentum game for the guys next year. We want to walk away with a win.
On defensive changes occurring during practice: We have all been switching around, honestly. [Assistant head coach/defensive backs] Coach Duane Akina does that for every bowl practice. Everybody is going crazy about it, but Coach Akina just puts us in different positions because he wants the four best players on the field and if it is four corners, then it is four corners. That is just they way he does it.
On how close the program is to taking the next step towards BCS bowl eligibility: A lot of people would say this year wasn’t so good, but we will win one more than last year if we win this bowl game and it will take us one step closer to [a] 10-win season.
On thoughts about the Oregon State Beavers: They have got a good offense. I think they are a good all-around team, honestly. They have two outstanding receivers, and their quarterback is good. They are just a good team.
On thoughts about Coach Major Applewhite’s new role: Applewhite has been around here a long time, and he is a Longhorn legend. I think everybody just really, really respects Coach Applewhite. I know I do so much and everything he says, I listen to it. I only get to have him during special teams meetings, but I listen to everything Major says because he really means everything he says and he does it for a reason. I think a lot of guys trust Major Applewhite.
On the best thing about his time on the Texas Football team: My high is just the relationships I have built with my teammates. People say this and that about me, but in the locker room I have earned their respect and when the team voted me MVP, honestly, it said they love me. And I love them. I will forever be on that wall. That meant a lot for me. None of the other awards meant that much for me, the All-American or the All-Big 12. It was that my team respected me, and that is all you want. You will remember that for the rest of your life.
QB David Ash
On thoughts about playing in the Alamo Bowl: I am really excited. I have been through a lot, obviously, in the couple years I have been here. I guess the coaches and God keep giving my opportunities to do something I love with people I love. I will always be thankful for that.
On the impact of Coach Major Applewhite’s new duties: I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Applewhite. It was cool whenever I found out he was going to be my coach. Things that he had told me—never a lot but every once in a while he would give me a piece of advice and all those things he had told me before had flashed in my head, and I realized that everything he has ever told me has been spot on. It has really helped me and working with him the past couple weeks has been awesome. I love the guy, and I am really looking forward to play for him.
On Applewhite’s history at Texas being helpful to the team: Absolutely. He has experienced all the things we are going through and he knows how to deal with and in those regards, that is really helpful.
On Oregon State’s defense: There are multiple. They do a lot of different things. They are well coached. They play hard. They have some special players on their defense, but we are just going to do what we do and compete for four quarters.
On what this game means for the program: It means win number nine, which is an improvement from last year. It is also a jump start into off-season with a good taste in your mouth and a hunger to get better and win more than nine next year.
On thoughts about playing the bowl game close to home: Well, it will be fun because friends and family will be able to drive down, and we will get to play in front of some of the people who have supported you through out the season, too.
OG Mason Walters
On goals for the bowl season: We have to continue to improve with everything going on and go out and win this bowl game. That’ll be big for us and to jumpstart next year. From a player perspective, we just need to look to get better each day. These bowl practices are an opportunity to do that and to send the seniors out the right way. Those are the only two things we’re concerned about as players. We’ve been working all week to get ready for that. We’ll be as prepared as we’ve ever been for somebody because we have a ton of film. We’ll be well rested because we have a lot of time off. Really, with the goals we’re setting for next season, they start right now. We’re attacking it with that ferocity.
On co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Major Applewhite: He and Coach [Bryan] Harsin worked well together when they were both here, so there’s not a whole lot of turnover. We’re still doing the same things and trying to improve on them. I think they’re pretty similar in their coaching style. They handle players a little differently, I’ve seen. He [Applewhite] is real quick to correct things. He’s really hands-on, as was Harsin. We’re all happy for Coach Harsin. He’s getting to go live out his dream. Congratulations to him and we wish him well. At the same time, we’re still here at Texas and have to do our jobs. We don’t need to worry about anything outside of that. People can come and people can go, but this is still Texas. We need to get this place on the right track. It’ll be a little different [without Harsin on the sidelines], but it’s something we’ll have to adjust to. That’s the name of the game – adversity. At the same time, he and Coach Applewhite have worked side by side this season. Knowing this offense, it’s something they both produced. They both understand the philosophies and what’s going into it. Again, you’re really talking about inside zones and gap schemes. Maybe coaches call it different things, but it’s not a whole lot different.
On QB David Ash: When you say he’s stoic that’s great for us when there’s a storm coming and we’re having to batten down the hatches and weather it. When we get the momentum, he’s starting in practice, and late in the season, to get the guys riled up and ride that momentum. David and Case [McCoy] have both worked extremely hard all season long. Whenever the opportunity comes for either one of them to get out there and play, they’ve earned it. It’ll be exciting for David. At the same time, Case will be right there, and if anything happens he can jump in and play well.
On Oregon State’s defense: They’re good. They have a good run defense. The only team I’ve seen that really ran the ball on them was Oregon. With that attack, it presented a few of its own challenges. They’re good against the run and haven’t played poorly against the pass, either. We’re going to have a tough challenge in San Antonio. We’re looking forward to it. It’ll be an in-state game and we’re going to have a lot of fans there. We’re definitely looking forward to the challenge and ready to get it going.
On OG Sedrick Flowers: He has really come in and understood the urgency of Trey [Hopkins] not being able to go. Sed is going to have to get in and, at times, we’re going to need him to play. He’s really taken it upon himself to improve. He’s worked really hard all year and improved during these bowl practices. He plays hard every play. He tries to knock somebody over every time he comes off the ball. That’s exciting. He wants to learn more. He understands if he brings that mentality, with the right technique, he can be a great player.
DE Alex Okafor
On Oregon State running back Storm Woods: I know that whole family. One of my best friends is Storm’s cousin. I’ve known Storm for a while. We were close when we played in high school. It’s a matter of bragging rights in this game. Whoever wins will be able to go the entire offseason saying, ‘Whatever you did, you didn’t beat us.’ It’s a friendly rivalry between the two of us. More than anything it’s a great opportunity for our city. Pflugerville will get a lot of exposure. It’ll let people know that we produce athletes. We have a lot of players in college from Pflugerville. That’s the biggest deal.
On the time off before the bowl game: You get a lot of time go to back to the basics and sharpen up on those things. It’s kind of like an early spring practice. That’s how we’re treating it right now. We’re incorporating a lot of the younger guys and going full speed hitting and tackling. I feel good right now; the time off has done me well.
On what this game means: It’s a building block into next season. Kenny [Vaccaro] and I were talking about it the other day. We have to still lead our guys, but also make sure the younger guys are picking up that leadership. Essentially, after this game, it’s not our team anymore and we have to make sure there’s a smooth leadership transition.
On what the defense could be like next year: The whole team has a chance to get so much better next year. With so few senior starters, this team could be amazing next year. It starts with winning this game right here. This game will be a great building block to next season. The way we approach this game will be able to be built upon for next year.
On Oregon State’s offense: They have two tremendous receivers. If we don’t stop the run, they have a chance to run all over us and get us through the air. It starts with slowing down Storm and the other two backs. I think we can do that. It’s going to be a great challenge for us. They’re No. 13 in the country for a reason. They could have very easily beaten Stanford earlier this season. It’s a great opportunity for us to end it on a good note. A win would send a great message across the nation that we’ll mean business next season.