Mack Brown Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl transcript: Dec. 27
Dec. 27, 2011
Opening statement: It’s really unique in this press conference that you sit next to the opposing coach. Everybody says, "What do you think of their quarterback? "He’s great." "What about their receivers?" "They’re great." Jeff’s not going to answer things about the other team. I don’t believe you there ever coaches next to each other the day before a game. Most coaches aren’t speaking the day before a game - to each other - much less bragging on each other as we get up here.
It’s been a great week in San Diego.What a great place. The weather has been outstanding. The Red Coats do as good as anyone in the country. They allow the kids and staff free time to do stuff, but also give them enough to enjoy their week whether it’s at Sea World or the zoo or going out to the ship yesterday. Our kids had a tour of the Navy Seal training facility afterward. They really loved it, especially at a time when we are constantly at war. We appreciate Bridgepoint Education for sponsoring the Bowl. The way money is so tight out there, we need the bowl system to continue to go, and it’s great to have the people to do that.
It’s also fun when you are coaching against a guy who you like, you admire. We’ve known Jeff and Donna for a long time. Jeff has done it right. He’s been a consistent winner at a very high level at Cal. You never see them in the news for bad things. There’s great respect from our players to theirs. The two institutions are two of the top public institutions in the country, so the young men who are playing are very bright. We all believe in the same things. That’s why I think you will see a great game tomorrow night.
You start looking at bowl practices, you have 12 practices to prepare, and you only have 15 for spring. So it’s a great opportunity, not only to finish this season, but to take momentum into next season. We’ve been able to work a lot of young guys in this bowl practice who will get a jump start in a month. When you are playing in an earlier bowl, you have a better opportunity for guys to get back home. Our guys will have about two weeks off before they come back Jan. 16 and start back to school.
Our bowl practices have been good. Our guys have tried hard. They want to finish right. We’re healthier than we’ve probably been all year. Not everybody is 100%, but right now we feel like everyone who is here has a chance to play and should be healthy enough to play in tomorrow night’s ballgame.
We’ve had great workout here. It’s such a young team. Probably more than half this team has never been to a bowl game, but we feel like they’ve handled it well. They’ve shown up on time, seem to have practiced well and had good attention to detail. When you watch bowl games, usually kicking game and turnovers are the difference in a bowl game, like an opening ballgame, and especially, who has the edge. Both of these teams have had good seasons, but neither one is at the standard we are used to and the standard that both teams have set. I think you’ll see both teams excited tomorrow night.
On RB Malcolm Brown: He is about like he was the last time we saw him, before he got hurt. He’s better than he was in the A&M game. He’s been full speed, and he’s done really well. We expect him to be fresh and ready to go.
On the quarterback situation: We’ve just been inconsistent because we’ve got two young ones with a brand new offense. We’ve been going thru a developmental process with them. David Ash didn’t get much work in the spring and summer because we had four quarterbacks. To go from four to two, both have played well at times this year and both have struggled. It’s just a developmental process. I thought we were getting better, getting back on track and then all our running backs and receivers got hurt at one point. So we didn’t help them enough. In this ballgame, we’ve got to help our quarterbacks. They [Cal] do a tremendous job on defense. [defensive coordinator] Clancy Pendergast is one of the better defensive coordinators in the country, in my estimation. We know of his history. He was the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals when they played in the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh. They give you so many different looks. We are starting three freshmen [and] a sophomore on the offensive line. They are really problematic with their schemes up front. We’ve got our hands full. Jeff has always run their offense, and he runs a pro-style offense that gives you a lot of looks. It’s very similar to some of the things we are doing. They can run the ball, run it first. They see the basic fundamentals of their team. They are going to stop the run. They’re going to run the ball and use play action off of it, give you different pressure packages, and they are always good in their kicking game.
On Cal RB Isi Sofele:
On having a young team:
On the uncertainty of the team's identity: We know about who we are right now, when our ‘backs our healthy and our receivers are healthy. We just need to get more stable at the quarterback position. We’ve got to get somebody who will step up and lead there on a consistent basis. Sometimes we’ve played very well at the position, and sometimes we haven’t. They’ve been through such an overhaul, this program itself, has been through so much change since last year. I’m proud of the seniors, proud of the way they’ve fought, competed. In some cases, a year ago, we didn’t do that. This is the first time this staff has ever had a bowl game together. It will be good to have our ‘backs back and some of the receivers more healthy so we can see if we can improve on offense tomorrow night.
On the challenge of playing a team on a hot streak: You try to win every game. You try to improve after every game. We are not on a championship run here. We’re a team that’s trying to win, trying to find ways to win. Right now, we are a team that has to do things right to win. You go back and look at the game at Missouri, the game at Baylor – we turned the ball over too many times to have a chance to win. You go back to Kansas State, they won 10 games, they’re good. We held them to 127 yards total offense and lost. Our two turnovers were on their end of the field, and we didn’t force any turnovers from them. We’re a team that needs to play well to win right now, and we understand that.
On what stands out about Cal: In knowing Jeff, and being an offensive guy myself, I’ve seen what he’s done. It’s interesting. The Longhorn Network hired Joey Harrington, I think, just to make me mad. I have to see Joey everyday. I have to hear him. I see that throw back to the quarterback every time I see his face. It’s not healthy for me. I go back to the Mike Bellotti days [at Oregon] when Jeff was the best offensive coordinator in the country. In studying their offensive plays and performance through the year, we knew what we would get on offense when we saw their team. We see a lot of Pac-12 games because they are on late. And I’m a game-watcher. I saw them play a lot. Defensively, they are different. They are big and strong up front. They can run. They are physical at the line of scrimmage. They’ve penetrated a lot and make it tough to run the football.
On the similarities between brothers Quandre Diggs and Quentin Jammer: They both love football. Quentin is obviously long-armed, taller and he’s been one of the best corners to play in the NFL, because he’s been here so long. We will be in the Chargers locker room and [assistand head coach/defensive backs coach] Duane Akina worked it out where Quandre will have Quentin’s locker, which will be really cool. It’s not going to make him taller, but he’s still going to have it. Quandre is a much better ball catcher. He’s physical, very fundamentally sound. He’s just a football player. He can return punts, kickoffs. He does so much for us.
On Cal WR Keenan Allen: I think he’s as good as anybody. He is at the caliber of guys we see at the highest level in the Big 12. He’s a great football player, not a good player. He can change a game.