Longhorns react to Holiday Bowl selection
HEAD COACH MACK BROWN
On the team goals heading into the game: As a team, our focus will be on getting that 10th win and keeping our bowl winning streak alive. This group of seniors has won three straight bowl games and is playing to become the only UT class ever to win all four of their bowl games so that's a special opportunity for them. We've got a lot of work to do if we're going to accomplish that. The Holiday Bowl always seems to be a wild game with lots of sudden changes so we're looking forward to getting back on the practice field and preparing to play.
On Arizona State: Arizona State presents a tremendous challenge. Dennis (Erickson) is a great friend and one of the winningest coaches in college football history. He is a terrific coach who really got things going in his first year at Arizona State to take them to a 10-2 record and a share of the Pac 10 title. He's a guy that's been around a long time and won everywhere he's been. He's put together a really good and balanced team that we'll have to be ready to play our best game to compete with.
Like most of the Pac 10 teams we've faced, they have a high-powered offense but they've also been one of the nation's top defenses all year as well. Their offense is averaging better than 400 yards and 32 points per game and on defense, they're really aggressive and physical. They got off to an 8-0 start, were as high as fourth in the polls and have been a Top 10 team for most of the year. They were a team that was in the BCS talks all the way up until the end so we're facing a team that is definitely one of the best in
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GREG DAVIS
On when practice will resume: We will start practicing this week. We'll have a couple early morning practices on Tuesday and Thursday. We'll have the banquet this weekend and then finals will start so most of our bowl preparation practices will be early in the morning. We'll be going in at about 6:30 a.m. so we can have everybody there and not have any conflicts with tests.
On motivating the players: We talked quite a bit on Sunday after the Texas A&M game and to have the opportunity to be the only team in the country to win 10 ballgames seven years in a row is a great goal to try and finish up with. It will be a challenge because we'll be playing an outstanding football team. We just told them to finish and try and make sure that everybody is doing their part. We talked a great deal about accountability in our meeting with the players.
On Arizona State's defense: I really have not got into them in any great detail because we don't have any tape on them yet, but I just know from some film and statistics I've seen that they're a very aggressive team and will force the issue, so we'll have to be buttoned up on all of those kinds of situations.
On what the team is working on offensively: Well, we're working on trying to be more consistent. We want to figure out why this team has had so many lulls offensively and then all of a sudden hit a stretch where we were in a rhythm. What causes that and how do you get out of that? And this football team has turned the ball over too much and we've got to do a better job of that.
On playing Arizona State, a potential BCS contender: The team is very excited about it. As early or as late as last week we thought we might end up playing the winner of the Oregon-Oregon State game because that was a possibility that had been tossed about, and either one of those teams would have been a tremendous challenge also. But Arizona State started the season 7-0 and got as high as three or four in the national polls, so it's a very good football team.
On Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson: Well Dennis has done a great job everywhere he has been. (Defensive co-coordinator) Larry Mac Duff was saying that this would be the seventh different team that he has played against Dennis. So he's done a great job everywhere heís been and it's not a surprise that they've done so well this season.
On practice leading up to the Holiday Bowl: Well it's different because for the first two practices just Coach (Duane) Akina and I will be there. It will be a lot of teamwork and a lot of running. One of the things you want to make sure you do during this time is keep up your cardiovascular (activity) so that the team stays in shape, so there will be a lot of that over this week. And then the only difference after that is that we'll be practicing in the morning. We'll still have meetings and breakdowns and everything else we do, so the only big difference is working around finals and stuff.
On when they'll leave for San Diego: We just told the team that they have to be in San Diego the afternoon of December 22nd.
On the benefits of extra practices: I think in some cases the young kids get a lot out of the extra practices because you almost pick up an extra spring training. So one of the things that we've tried to do over the years here is make sure that we get the younger kids a lot of extra practice to get them ready to compete in spring ball.
On getting the team excited: I think they'll be excited. I think the quality opponent that it is and the opportunity to get 10 wins for the seventh year in a row will get the team excited.
DT FRANK OKAM
On if he is disappointed in not playing in a BCS Bowl: You always hope to play in the National Championship game every year, but you have to win all your games to be able to do that. But not this year, itís been a crazy year in college football. You want better things, but you have to be happy where you are because there are a lot of teams out there sitting at home.
On having the chance to play one more game: You always want to have an opportunity to end on a good note, but weíve been given a chance to do it again, so weíre excited about the opportunity to play. Weíre going to try to play our hardest to try to make up for the things that happened in the A&M game.
On if he has seen Arizona State play: I actually watched them play Arizona. They are a very talented team and their quarterback moves out of the pocket a lot. Heís been throwing great balls to his receivers, and they throw the ball more in the Pac-10, but they have a great running back this year as well.
On the next couple of weeks: Itís a little different, but weíve had school all year. But these next few weeks are important because they are the last ones before I graduate. This week, there is a lot of school to focus on and we have a couple of practices as well. But after this week, weíll get into the core of it.
On how much the extra weeks of practice help: They help out a lot, especially for an opponent youíve never played before. We obviously can get a lot in the film room. But being able to go against some kind of simulation of them will help out a lot.
On reviewing the A&M game tape: Clearly, you can learn a lot from that game. We could have obviously taken a lot of their yards if we had tackled better, taken better angles and improved on our pursuit on the ball. We have to stop big plays. They had big plays that went for touchdowns on three of their scores.
On how the Holiday Bowl has had a reputation of a high-scoring game: The thing about bowl games that Iíve learned since I have been playing them, is that usually the first couple of quarters the teams are feeling each other out, and after the teams get comfortable with each other, they start playing their normal style, and thatís when you usually see the breakouts on offense. Thinking back to the National Championship game [against USC], it was 16-10 at halftime, and it ended up being a 41-38 game. You have to be aware of the realization that the teams have to feel each other out first.
On how hard it is to refocus for a bowl: Itís not that hard. Obviously, itís not where you want to be, but having another chance to play means a whole lot to me and our seniors here. Just to have one last game and one last chance to put on that Texas uniform and represent our University is big for us.
On how important it is to have another 10-win season: Just to be able to say for all four years that youíve won 10 games means a lot to me as a senior. Itís just a standard of tradition for these guys. This is a standard and nothing less than this is acceptable.
On the opportunity to go undefeated as a senior class in bowl games: I donít know if that has ever been done here, and obviously thatís an unprecedented streak to try to go for. Thatís another tradition we want to keep going as well.
On if he has ever been to San Diego before: Iíve never been there. This is going to be my first time, so I really donít know what to expect. I hear the area stays kind of the same all the time, and I hear they have a good zoo as well.
On who Arizona Stateís style of play reminds him of: USC. Their style of play and usually most Pac-10 teams, they throw the ball around a lot. They try to mix in a power running game to go along with that. Their running back is great, and he has great vision on finding holes. Itís going to be a challenge, they were 10-2 and second in their conference, so itís going to be a good match-up, probably one of the better bowl games this season.
On how they match up with Arizona Stateís offensive line: They are very experienced up front and they do a great job with giving their quarterback time. Itís definitely going to be a challenge for us and our defensive line to try to get pressure on their quarterback.
On how important it is to get pressure on ASUís quarterback: Itís very important because their receivers make some amazing catches. If you give him time, he will pick you apart. He does a great job of getting out of the pocket when heís flustered. The most important thing when teams are unfamiliar with each other is to get the quarterback out of rhythm. If we can get some pressure to do that, it will help us out in the long run.
WR QUAN COSBY
On getting the opportunity to play in the Holiday Bowl: I think itís great. I think itís a wonderful opportunity. Iíve only been to San Diego once and Iíll be able to go back and spend a few days to hang out and then work out. We have to go out there with a business attitude and then go out and try to take care of business.
On if it is hard to stay focused through the next month: Itís tough because we have finals coming up with a lot of school, tests and papers. In the situation we are in, I donít think it is at all. It is a situation where we have a bad taste in our mouths, so we definitely have to work hard, correct our mistakes and go take care of business.
On how difficult it is to shake off the A&M loss: Itís not too hard. Weíre all about work and we have a team that is all about work. We know the only way to do it is to go out there and get a win. It is more important now to go and get that 10th win for us, Coach Brown and his coaching staff, and to just go out on a good note.
On how to solve the lulls in the offense: We have to execute better. Thatís what creates lulls, is a lack of execution. Turnovers hurt us too. Just the little things that we did negatively in the A&M game, we have to have a lot less of that and more execution. We have to catch more balls and make more blocks, and just those different things that create explosive plays.
On preparing for Arizona State: We have to focus on executing and buying in on the game plan. Weíre fortunate enough to have (a) really good (scout team), as far our guys that give us a look and try to go out there and make it as close to game speed as possible. Again, we have to execute as much as possible.
On if having a month off hurts the team: I donít think that month is going to do anything. Itís a situation where you have to go out and prepare through film, but you have to be ready for the unexpected, because weíve had that a lot this year.
On how important it is to get a victory in the bowl game: It means ending the season on a good note and being the only team being able to get 10 wins for the past seven years. It means a lot, and weíre going to go out there with that in mind.
QB COLT MCCOY
On how exciting it is to be able to play in the Holiday Bowl: Weíre excited. Not very many people from this team have been out to San Diego to go to the Holiday Bowl, and I personally havenít. Itís exciting to get back on the field, and thatís what I think everybody on this team is itching to do, because we know how we performed the last time we were on the field, and how we should perform. That is something that is going to motivate us, and now weíre ready.
On how they match up against Arizona State: Like I said, I really havenít watched them play, and I havenít seen any film. I know that they are aggressive and we will have to be on top of our game. We have to go out there and play and have fun, and go out there and get our 10th win because that is important for this University.
On getting over the A&M loss: Itís a hard thing to swallow. You canít focus on that now that you know who your next opponent is going to be. Thatís what you have to focus on and take some positives out of the last game and just move on. It was disappointing, but at the same time, we knew what was at stake and we didnít take advantage of it. We have to figure out what we did, and what we have to do different to be a better football team, and that is what weíre focused on right now.
On the accountability of the team: Everybody has to be accountable for each other. We, as a team, have to be more accountable towards each other, towards this tradition and towards this program. That is something we can obviously do better. That is our goal and thatís what weíre looking forward to, and thatís why weíre ready to step back on the field and play again.
On the relief of finally knowing what their next destination is: Itís been tough, especially when you have a week off. You lift a little bit of weights and you donít know who you are going to play. Itís been tough, but now itís starting to get exciting again because you know who you are going to play and where you are going to play. Weíre ready to get practice started and start preparing for them, and weíre ready to go out to San Diego.
On the need to play consistently to end the year: Thatís one of the things weíve been talking about all year, is playing consistently. A lot of times, we havenít played consistently until it is crunch time in the third and fourth quarter, until we have to make something happen. That is something we have to change. We have to be able to come out strong and come out playing like we did against Texas Tech. Thatís when our offense can be really effective and stay on the field and give our defense some rest. We have to play together as a team and play consistent football. That is what we really have to work on. If we want to win 10 football games this season, we have to play consistently.
On having a month to prepare for ASU: We have a lot of time to prepare. We can go back and watch all 12 games that theyíve played and get a feel for them a little bit. At the same time, we know that people are going to do something different to us and something different to try to stop us. We just have to be prepared and know that as soon as we step on the field, we have to be prepared to play. We canít just relax until the third and fourth quarter. That is something that we can control and we have to do a better job at that.
On not being able to be home for Thanksgiving for Christmas this year: That is pretty tough, and it is probably harder on our families than it is on us. Itís going to be fun and weíre going to be able to spend Christmas with the guys that we are with everyday and our family here. Itís going to be fun.