Texas to play Cal in Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
Dec. 4, 2011
The University of Texas (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) has accepted an invitation to be the Big 12 representative in the 2011 Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl where it will face the California Golden Bears (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) of the Pac-12 Conference on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. Central on ESPN in San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium.
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
On getting into the Holiday Bowl: We are fired up. We are excited to go to a great bowl with a great tradition and a great history. We are playing another opponent from the Pac-12 conference in Cal, who had a big win to finish the season. The big thing we are excited about is the continuing growth of our program, and that’s what playing in a bowl game gives you the opportunity to do. It gives you two and a half weeks of practice opportunities and a chance, for us as coaches, to continue the investment in the future of our football team and the future of our program. Every one of those practice days is invaluable. We know that we will see the results down the line.
On what the extra practices mean to the new coaches: Football is a hard sport to get better at unless you are playing football. We have 15 days in the spring, and then we don’t really see them again until August. You can do conditioning drills and things like that, but you can only play football during the season. What you have with a bowl preparation is you will take the first week and a half or so and just work on Texas playing Texas. You won’t be into game plan stuff, so you won’t be working on schemes or working on anything other than fundamentally improving yourself as a football team. The experience of that is, ultimately in the development of a program, if I am in this program for four or five years as a player, then I have had four more months of practice over the course of my career to improve. So that when I leave here, I have had almost an entire other season of practice to get better as a football player. That is vital for us.
On playing Cal: I know that they had a big win against Arizona State the last game of the season. I have seen them on TV a couple of times, but we will get familiar with them here over the next coming weeks.
On getting a week break after a rough end to the season: I’m the opposite. I would practice tomorrow and play on Tuesday if they would let us. You want to get right back in the saddle and get going. I know our players need a break, and they deserve a break. We will have to turn our attention to final exams because we need to conquer that mountain first. I’ve never been at a point where I am as excited about the future of our program and getting around our guys. We just had a defensive meeting and I asked our defense to stand if they have never been to a bowl, and three quarters of the team stood. I’ve got two linebackers in my linebacker room that have been to a bowl game. When we think of programs, we think of tradition and history, but when you look at our football team with as many first and second year football players as we have, those guys have never been to a bowl game. They are saying, “Holiday Bowl, that sounds great to us.” We are excited for those guys. We are excited to get there and excited to go. As coaches, we are excited for what the practice opportunities can provide for us.
On Cal’s offensive weapons: [Head] Coach [Jeff] Tedford is obviously known as one of the top offensive coaches in college football. You know when you go against one of his teams, it is going to be a challenge for you defensively. We will get back to trying to do what we do well defensively. They will provide a test for us in all three phases. All we can do is work on improving ourselves so that we are a stern test for them as well.
On if he will watch Cal’s film or Texas’ film: We will do both. We also have recruiting going on at the same time. We can evaluate what we have done and what we’ve done well. At the same time, we want to make sure we have a good plan on Cal so when it comes time to get into the game-plan type of practices we know what we are doing against them.
Freshman CB Quandre Diggs
On Qualcomm Stadium and making the trip to where older brother/former Longhorn/current Chargers CB Quentin Jammer plays: I’m really familiar with it. It actually fits right into my Christmas plans. I usually go out there to spend some time with my nephews and my brother. So it’s going to be a great trip for us.
On this being the first bowl game for a number of guys on the team: In the defensive [meeting] room, we just had a meeting. And we had 11 guys sitting down when [defensive coordinator/linebackers] Coach [Manny Diaz] said, “If you’ve never been to a bowl game stand up.” And it was only 11 or 12 guys that didn’t stand up. So it’s great to be able to go to a bowl game. We get those extra practices in. And it’s something a lot of guys haven’t experienced.
On if he was rooting for the Holiday Bowl: No. I’m rooting for the National Championship [game] every year. That’s where I want to go. That’s a team goal. I want the opportunity to play in the National Championship every year.
On if this bowl game could help the team prepare for a future national championship: Of course. That’s the main thing. Our slogan this year has been “brick by brick.” So this is one of those bricks. It’s going to help us to build up this program. We’re up and coming. We’ve got to get this win at the bowl game to keep the momentum going.
On the excitement about the bowl game: Everybody’s excited about it. You get to go out to a place like San Diego that has great weather. Do some of the activities that they have out there. Even just being able to play another game. There’s a lot of people that can’t say they’re going to play in a bowl game. So we’ve got to be blessed by that.
On what he knows about Cal: I’ve heard they have a great offense. They’re a great team. We’ve both got 7-5 records. So we’ve got to go out and play. It’s probably going to be two even teams that will have to go play their hearts out.
On the biggest adjustment he’s had to make as a freshman student-athlete: I would have to say just going through the college lifestyle each and every day. You enjoy those days in high school. But when you get here everything is business. You’ve got to be prepared to go through that. So that’s one of the main things that I had to adjust to.
On having gone to a number of San Diego Chargers games: I’ve been to plenty. So I know the stadium. I know the ins and outs of the stadium. I know San Diego in and out. I’m excited to be able to go back out there.
On playing a game in the stadium that brother Quentin Jammer plays in: They told us that we would be in the same locker room that the Chargers are in. I’ve been in that locker room. So it’s great. Just to be able to play in the stadium that your older brother plays in. It’s the same as here. So hopefully we’ll go out and execute and win the game.
On if he would rather reset or jump right back into practices: We need time to reset. But once practices get going, all the guys are going to be upbeat and ready to go.
On how he would gauge the success of this season: I wouldn’t say it was a great year. We’re 7-5, but it’s better than last year. All we can do is build off of this. So we’ve got to continue to fight. Get things going. Texas is going to be back on the rise. Be back on the top in the next few years.
On Cal and the Pac-12 typically having strong offenses: Those guys play football just like we do. They’ve got to put their uniforms on just like us. We’re going to go out there and execute our thing. We can’t worry too much about what they do.
Senior TE Blaine Irby