Dec. 30, 2008
On today's practice: Today was a get-the-trip-and-the-holidays-out-of-their-system practice. We only stayed out about an hour and we were in shorts. We'll really start our preparation tomorrow. We'll be in full pads tomorrow, and we should have a really physical practice tomorrow. Guys will be excited about the week. They had a lot of carryover from home and we felt like things went really well.
On approaching game-week practices prior to a bowl game: We kind of combine both. But it is a business trip and we need to win, like Ohio State needs to win. We have a tight curfew. We tell the guys they can't drink. They need to get in and rest in the afternoon some. At the bowl practices you work really hard, and then with the events you find yourself worn out by the end of the week. You've got to rest some in the afternoon. Having energy and working hard is really important. But the Yellow Coats in Phoenix will make sure we have enough fun. They're going to a Suns game. They're going to the Insight Bowl tomorrow. There are a lot of things they'll do together as a team, but it's still about the game.
On the matchup with Ohio State: It's really unique that we haven't played for 115 years and then all of a sudden we're going to have three games in four years. They've been out here more than we have, but I think it is a great matchup. They'll have the best defense we played this year. They're one of the best defenses we've seen since we've been in Texas. They're tough and physical, which is what we saw in the two other games when we played them. They have a great kicking game. We haven't seen a back like Beanie Wells. He is a big timer. He is a great player. And Jim (Tressel) is talking about using both quarterbacks and they are both really good players. Ohio State has a lot of speed, so it is going to be a great matchup for us and for two storied programs.
On facing a team like Ohio State that can run the football: When you are playing somebody that has the ability to run, you've got to stop the running back first or at least try to control it some. We have not seen anybody who can run the ball like they do. We've got great stats against the run, but we are in a passing league. The ability to try to slow Beanie Wells and the running game down is what we have to focus on, which makes it easier for them to throw the ball, and we understand that. We tried to recruit Terrelle (Pryor) last year. He's a great athlete and he is a great player. He can run and throw. People don't give him credit for his throwing ability. He's got very few interceptions and a good number of touchdowns and 63 percent completion (percentage). He's done a much better job than people would have thought.
On comparing Terrelle Pryor to former Texas QB Vince Young: Well Vince (Young) redshirted, so it's a little bit different, and I would think that Terrelle may be further along right now. Vince could run but I think we would have to go back and look at it. I'm not sure we were at 63 percent completion at that time, but both are great players. I said the other day that Terrelle is going to have them in the national championship hunt for the next three years after this one. He'll do for them what Vince did for us.
On Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis: Well Colt (McCoy) laughed and said that he helped make him an All-American in his sophomore year with that interception he ran back right before the half. Our guys have been around him a lot. He is the prototypical Ohio State linebacker. He's big. He's tough. He's strong. He can run. He plays hard every play and he will knock you out. He's fun to watch.
On WR Jordan Shipley returning next season: Jordan (Shipley) laughed today that they are already starting to call him the old man for next year's team because Quan (Cosby) will be leaving. Jordan said that "Adam Ulatoski is six days older than I am, so he will be the old man." Jordan is excited. It was a concern for him that he would not get to come back and that he would be forced to go to the pros. He didn't want to do that at this time. He and Colt being roommates and best friends, they are really excited about next year.
On the mentality of the team entering the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: One thing this team has done and hopefully our coaching staff is able to do is look at things like they are and figure out what is available at that time and then move forward. That is what this team has done. Obviously, we wanted to play for the national championship in Miami and that didn't happen. We all discussed it. We thought about it and we moved forward. The only thing we can do is come out here and try to represent The University of Texas and the Fiesta Bowl, which we have never been to. Texas has, but not this group. And also play a great team and have a lot of fun doing it. Anybody who is pouting about this weather, this place and a great bowl and two Top 10 teams probably needs to mature a little bit.
On the practice facilities at Scottsdale Community College: It's unbelievable. It's really good. I didn't know that they were the Artichokes out here. I had to learn that today. So that was a little bit different. These are amazing fields and they have them painted up with all of the Texas stuff on it so we feel right at home. And this weather is pretty good.
On Colt McCoy's first game against Ohio State: I remember it being the redshirt freshman in his second ballgame against Troy Smith, who was really good enough for the Heisman. That is usually not going to work out like you want it to. I think Colt did some really good things that night. Troy was just hot. You couldn't stop them. We had a couple of turnovers. We had a turnover at the three going in that really hurt us, then the interception to start the second half. We didn't have enough firepower to catch up.
On whether this year has been the most fun he has had coaching: I think it is, without question, because they had so much fun together. They laugh and then they go do their business. That's the way they have been. That's why there hasn't been any disappointment (about not playing in the BCS title game). They've moved on. They're really resilient. It's a really good mix of young and old. The older guys really run the team. The older guys sit with us and discuss the curfew every night. And then I will go in and discuss it with them and the coaches and then we'll determine it. The seniors are working with me to determine that.
On the "Plus-One" bowl game scenario: You know, we've been discussing it as coaches for about six years and nobody ever listens to any of it. I don't think it matters what we think. I know there are about eight teams or 10 teams this year that look like they could maybe play for a national championship. And we talk about us not getting in, there are a lot of other teams that could be mad too when you look at it. And then you have a team like (Texas) Tech that wins 11 games and doesn't get to a BCS bowl. I just think that we need to continue to look at our system. It's hard to pick the best team in the country with our current system.