Player press conference quotes: Dec. 18
DT DEREK LOKEY
On the importance of a fourth straight bowl win and another 10 win season: It's huge. It's an opportunity to win 10 games a year for all four years that we've been here and it's also an opportunity to win four bowl games in a row. There's never been a class that has won four bowl games in their time and that is something we are shooting for and is important to the senior class. It's a big game and we really want to win it.
On if he has had time for Christmas shopping: I haven't even thought about it. We've been up here working so hard these past couple of weeks and we've been practicing really hard. We've been running after practice and doing all these things that we felt like we needed to do to get the team chemistry back and bond as a unit. I think these early morning practices have really done that. I haven't even had time to think about Christmas.
On going against a Pac-10 team: It's exciting. I think a lot of the offensive line play in the Big 12 is similar. To go out and try to get somebody new and different with different blocking schemes is going to be fun. It's going to be a challenge and we are looking forward on playing something a little different.
On the "Not Our Standard" practices and drills: That is something we started a couple of years ago and it has always been geared to more of a game time thing. When you watch film on Sunday after the game, the coach would kind of look and count up how many times he thought you weren't playing up to the Texas standard and then we would do up-downs and running type stuff for that as kind of a punishment. But this year, we took practices to a whole new level and we started counting our N.O.S.'s during practice. I think that's been huge for our team in terms of accountability, because if a guy messes up four or five times, he's got to get out in front of his whole defense and tell the guys he loafed the day before and the whole team has to do up-downs for him. It really steps up the accountability level for all of us. So I've really been happy that we've been doing that. It's not fun and it's a struggle during practice, but it's good for our team and it's going to help us out.
DT FRANK OKAM
On the idea that all positions are up for grabs: Right now we just want to win and do what is best for the team. It's business and you have to take your personal things and set them aside.
On Arizona State's offense: Rudy Carpenter is one of the top quarterbacks this year and he has almost thrown for 3,000 yards this season and he has an amazing touchdown-to-interception ratio, so he obviously makes good decisions. They have a running back that runs a 4.4 or a 4.3, so you have to worry about that and then worry about their receivers. They have a lot of talent. Their offensive line does a great job and I've seen teams do every kind of blitz and stunt and they do a great job of what they do. They're not 10-2 for nothing.
On the defense's game plan: The game plan for us is just to be physical and aggressive. You have to win your one-on-ones when you get them and take advantage of that and try to make plays. We have to try to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback because they do a lot of things based on timing and anything to disrupt that timing will help us out.
On the trip out to San Diego: It definitely is a business trip and it would be our Christmas present just to win the game. That obviously stresses the importance of what the game means to us. Getting up early at 5:00 every morning definitely sends a message to you. It's important that we get our 10th win and our fourth bowl game in a row because the bowl season is really useful the next season.
OG CHRIS HALL
On preparing for the Holiday Bowl: It's been a great two weeks of practice. It's been really good for the offensive line. Just to have consistent time practicing with each other and just playing football together has been really good for our line. I think there's been a real gelling for the team as a whole and I think you can see that in the offensive line as well. We're definitely going to be playing a really good opponent in Arizona State. They've got a really good defense and they are ranked in the top 30 in a number of categories. Their front seven plays really fundamentally sound, so it's going to be a great challenge.
On knowing they have Jamaal Charles in the backfield: It gives you a lot of confidence in the huddle before the play starts knowing that if you give this guy just a crease he may take it for 80 yards and give us six. So that gives the offensive line a lot of confidence and the offense a lot of confidence and we're thankful we have him here.
On Dallas Griffin: Dallas is a wonderful teammate. I was roommates with him the first year that I traveled and he really took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. He is such a great leader for our football team this year, and it's unfortunate that we are without him to finish the season in the bowl game. But it was a great thing for him to receive the Draddy Trophy, because I don't think that his career should have ended any other way. He deserves that for the work that he puts in, the way he has played and the way he has benefited this program.
S MARCUS GRIFFIN
On the defensive mentality: I think our team has changed since the A&M game and the way we run towards the football. I think during the season at some point in games we would tend to relax and hope that our person makes the tackle instead of being accountable for it. I think just running to the ball as a team has improved over the past couple of weeks.
On the accountability of the team: I've kind of enjoyed having the N.O.S.'s during practice. For the first few days we had to do a lot of up-downs and there were a lot of N.O.S's, but over the past few days, you can see that the N.O.S.'s have been running down.
On the Arizona State offense: They have a good quarterback and good receivers and they also have three big tight ends. To add to that, their running back can hurt you too. We have to be technically sound when they play them.
CB BRANDON FOSTER
On Arizona State: They have a lot of athleticism and they have a season-ready quarterback and a great corps of receivers. We're going to have our hands full, and all we can do here is to continue to have great practices like we've had and play a physical defense.
On controlling Rudy Carpenter: It's very important to keep him under control. He's the captain of their offense, so we're definitely going to try to get him out of his groove and hopefully not even let him get in a groove. We're going to try to get pressure on him and hold up in our coverages as well.
On what it means to him to get another bowl win: It'll be great to get that 10th win for our program and for our seniors. We have a bad taste in our mouth right now from the A&M game, so we definitely we want to go out with a win to end our season.
On covering the smaller and quicker Pac-10 receivers: I don't think anybody is smaller compared to me (laughing). It's going to be a little different but I rather go against the smaller and quicker guys because I am a smaller guy myself. It's going to be a challenge, but they have just as much talent as we do, so we're going to have our hands full.
OT ADAM ULATOSKI
On Arizona State: They have a really good defense. Number 58, Dexter Davis, is a really good player, and he is who I will be going against for most of the game. He has 10.5 sacks on the season and he is a really good player.
On how practices leading up to the bowl game are different: It's different and fun, and it's like mini spring training because we get to scrimmage at the end of practices. It's also fun because not even half the teams get the chance to be doing this, so it is a privilege for us. You don't want to take that for granted that we are still out here practicing and not at home.
On the practices after final exams: It's always fun because you don't have to worry about anything else. It's all about football and you don't have to worry about studying. When you have to go home to try to study, it takes it out of you in both school and football because you are worried about staying up late and studying and coming to practice early in the morning.
QB COLT MCCOY
On the importance of having a strong running game: The running game and the passing game definitely go together. When you can run the ball, then you can definitely pass it as well. So you feel pretty comfortable when you have a guy who can run the ball effectively and on a consistent basis, so that is important.
On how all positions are open for the taking: Coach Brown said that all positions are open and everybody has been fighting for their job and for their spot. It's made practice pretty interesting and fun. We've definitely gotten after it and we've had some really tough practices. They've all been at 6:00 in the morning, but they have been really effective. Coach Brown challenged us to be accountable and he challenged us to play better and to play with passion and be more excited about your work and what you do. I think that has really hit home. I don't know why it hasn't been like that all year, but I know that things have changed and that everything is happening for the better for us right now.
On the N.O.S.'s during practice: It really is effective. We have done similar things but this has worked really well. When Coach Brown challenged us about accountability, we realized you have to be accountable to your teammates, your team and this program. I think it's really made guys step up. It's helped us come together more as a team and understand that each player has to do their job to make this team the best that it can be.
On rebounding after a loss: When you talk about ups and downs, that's kind of how our season has been for this team all year long. We haven't played as consistent in the first three quarters, and then we come out and play outstanding in the fourth quarter. We've got to figure out what has made us not do that and why we haven't played as well as we should've been. We obviously know that we can, we just have to go out there and do it, and that's what we've been working on every week since we started our six or seven practices. We know it's possible and we know we can play well. We know that when we play well, we are hard to beat. We've just got to be more effective, play with more passion and be more consistent. Obviously, we want that to happen against Arizona State and we are working towards that and we're excited about the opportunity to play again.
On the Sun Devils: They're pretty tough. They are pretty big, they play in the Pac-10 where they were co-champs, and I know their defense is really aggressive and big up front. Their secondary doesn't give up any big plays, and very rarely do they give up deep balls. They're going to be tough and challenging, but we like challenges and we'll be ready.
On Arizona State's safeties: The first time that I watched film, I knew they were good and they play well together. Then I looked at the depth chart and they've played there for a long time and they are experienced, especially their corners. The safeties play well with their corners. They don't make many mistakes and they are kind of like a bend but don't break kind of secondary. They're not going to give up big plays, but they're going to give you some balls underneath and you just have to take what they give you. I think the most important thing for us is to limit our turnovers. We can't turn the ball over and expect to win.
On getting used to a different style of play: It's pretty tough. But the best thing is that you have 10 or 11 games of tape on them. It's hard to find offenses like ours that play against them, but you can find different formations and different plays that kind of do the same thing and see how they react to it. That's all part of the bowl game, all the hype leading up to it and being able to play somebody you normally wouldn't schedule on your regular season schedule. It's fun. They are a great team, and we're practicing hard and we're excited about going out to San Diego.
On how going out to San Diego is more of a business trip: It is and it's been tough. We had so much to play for at the end of this season and we didn't take advantage of it. That has been a hard pill to swallow, but we've come together and we're working hard and doing the little things. I think those little things are what will make us more accountable to each other, to the university and to this program. It's tough, but we're looking forward to it. Coach Brown challenged us and we're going to respond to that.
On any personal goals for the bowl game: I just want to win. That's why I play the game. I love to win and I love to play with my teammates, and I think that is the mentality that we all have. We all want to get out there and get our 10th win and that's important for this program and us.
On the importance of keeping up the 10-win season streak: It's extremely important to us and we take a lot of pride in that. Arizona State is a tough team and they are going to come out and play really hard. They have won 10 games already in the Pac-10, so you know theyíre a tough opponent. But being able to get 10 wins and have the opportunity to get 10 wins is something that we're really trying to reach.
On the city of San Diego: Itís going to be a fun trip and I think they have a lot of things lined up for us. There's Sea World, the San Diego Zoo and going to the Chargers game and many other things for us to do. I think every day they have something fun for us to do. It'll be fun. I've never been to San Diego myself, so I'm looking forward to it.
On the importance of being able to scramble out of the pocket: I think it will be important. Coach Davis has really instilled in me that being able to make the play with your feet really helps this team offensively. Most of the time it's just busted plays and broken plays where you are trying to make something happen. Those have worked out for us this year I think that will still be a part of what we do.
On if he feels like he has something to prove after the A&M game: I think we all have something to prove. Like I said, we had so much to play for and why we didn't play as well as we should've early on, I don't know, but that is something we're trying to figure out and trying to improve on. There are things you can do to improve, and those are what we are doing now. We all want to go out as a team and play well in our last game and come out with a victory.
CB RYAN PALMER
On the possibility of not starting: If it happens like that, then it happens like that. I feel like that in our secondary, we have capable guys, so if I donít start, it doesnít really matter. As long as we go out there as a team and win. Starting doesnít really mean anything to me as long as we win. As long as we win and get this school back on the winning track, thatís all I really care about.
On if having positions open really motivates the team: We go out there and compete every day. As a unit we are so close, if someone makes a big play we all want to make a big play. I think Coach Brown putting an emphasis on all positions being open has made us compete even harder.
On Arizona Stateís quarterback: Heís a good quarterback and he has a lot of stats. They have good receivers and they can run really well. They have two running backs, oneís a power back and the other is kind of shifty. They have a good offense, they like to spread the ball around, so we have to keep watching film and continue to have good practices.
On Arizona Stateís receivers: Theyíre nice. They do a lot of things that we havenít seen. They run a lot of routs that we havenít seen this year in the Big 12. Theyíre kind of bigger receivers in the Big 12. ASU isnít the biggest weíve seen, but theyíre a lot quicker and they get off their breaks a lot quicker. Itís going to be a challenge for us, weíre used to going up against big physical guys. Itís going to be a good challenge for us to see how we can guard the quick shifty receivers. In my opinion, the smaller receivers are harder to cover because theyíre so quick. We all can run so thatís never a problem with us.
On going up against an unfamiliar team: Itís always a challenge when you donít get to see a team as much. We just started watching film this week on Arizona State. Itís going to be a challenge, but I think as we go to practice and get our schemes and have our scouts mimic what they do, it makes it a lot easier for us as we continue to practice. Nothing is like the game. Nothing is like being out on the field with them running routs. We just have to go out there and be ready to play and fight to get a win.
On playing a Pac-10 team: Theyíre a good team and the funny thing about it is they should have been in a BCS bowl, so theyíre really going to have something to prove. I know theyíre going to come out firing on all cylinders so we have to be ready so we can fire back.
On the difference between practice now and during the season: Practice right now is really all out. Weíre just doing the little things that we kind of got away from. Practice has been going great and everyone is hyped about it. It may be early in the morning, but everyone is out there with intensity and ready to go.
On going to San Diego: Iím excited to go to San Diego, but Iím just more ready to go out and play. We lost our last game and I just hate losing. No matter how old you are, you just hate losing anything. Going to San Diego is fun, but Iím just ready to get down to business and try to get a win.
On N.O.S.ís: Say a defensive player doesnít run to the ball or messes up on an assignment or a receiver drops the ball, you have to get up in front of the team and say your name and say I have an N.O.S. or this is how many I have. Itís just making you want go out there and play harder. I can see the team coming back together. Weíre looking good out there and weíre ready to go.
WR NATE JONES
On if the team likes that mentality: It puts a lot of pressure on us, but at the same time, it brings the best out of us. We canít keep making mistakes. Iím really proud that he did that for us because everyone is going out there and playing terrific at practice and making sure they donít make any mistakes. We just went back to the N.O.S.ís, so if we have any mistakes in practice, the next day we to do up-downs before practice.
On making the team more responsible: Heís trying to make sure everyone is accountable to the team. You canít have any selfishness on the team. Heís trying to get all of that out of way and make sure everyone is accountable to ourselves and the team.
On Arizona State: Theyíre pretty good. They have a good defense and offense. They play a lot of man-to-man. They have a really good secondary. We just have to go out there and make plays when Colt throws the ball, and when Coach Davis calls running plays we have to make sure we block for Jamaal and give him space to run.
On Arizona Stateís defense: Itís going to be a tough challenge. We have to defeat our men on one-on-one coverage and make sure we do a great job of helping Colt see disguised coverages.
On this being his last game: I was thinking about it last night that this is going to be my final game with some of my teammates and guys that I came in with. Iím just going into this game with focus and try to make sure I can help this team get a win. I want these guys to know that I really enjoyed playing with them and stay in contact with these guys once I leave.
On the importance of getting the 10th win: Itís really important, I think this would be the seventh 10-win season. For me, I would get to leave as a winner. Iíll just be really proud to go watch this team play and being a part of getting the 10th win and keeping the tradition going.
DE BRIAN ORAKPO
On the reputation of the Holiday Bowl being high scoring: Coach Akina has a great game plan as far as being more physical and playing to our standards. That is the thing that we have focused on and basically not missing so many tackles.
On if the players feel like they let the coaches down: We feel like we let ourselves down as well as the coaches. They gave us the game plan and we didnít make those big plays like we needed. We feel bad, but we have to forget about it and move on. This is a game about wins and losses. Weíre still 9-3 and weíre able to get that 10th win and that fourth consecutive bowl game win. All the coaches are pumped right now. Weíre just focusing on Arizona State.
On Arizona Stateís running back, Keegan Herring: He has been making some sensational plays that Iíve been seeing on film. He is one of those great running backs that can break anything. He reminds me of Vondrell McGee because he can make plays happen with his power and quickness. Heís a guy that we want to try and contain before he gets in the open field.
On Arizona Stateís quarterback: Heís very accurate. I think he has thrown for over 3,000 yards and he can also scramble if he needs too. Thatís not his first option, heís not looking to do that, but he can as well. Heís one of those great accurate quarterbacks that gets the ball where itís needed, and so the receivers can make plays. He puts the ball on the money and heís been doing a great job for the team. Theyíre 10-2 and they easily could have gone to the BCS. I believe he led his team really well this season and itís going to be a great game when we meet up with them.
WR QUAN COSBY
On holding themselves accountable with the NOSís: The coaches make the game plan and they call the plays, but at the end of the day, we have to execute. You have to go out there and take care of business. I definitely believe in them (N.O.S.ís). I think itís awesome and we watch film now and weíre watching our position, but now weíre watching every other position too. It really brings that accountability out and it makes you very conscious of everything you do.
On Arizona Stateís defense: They are really good. Theyíre really fast and physical. They have some really good corners and safeties. Itís going to be a good game and a tough task. They will be as good as we have played. Weíre getting ready to go down there.
On if it is exciting getting to play against a team from the Pac-10: Oh it is definitely exciting, that in general, going against guys that we donít see really at all. I actually lived in Arizona for a while. I was down there in Tempe and itís pretty weird playing the team that I use to be by their stadium all the time. Itís awesome to go play and even more, playing a team as good as weíre playing.
On what he is seeing out of the young guys: Itís impressive. They have some fire about them, theyíre passionate about what they do and itís kind of like their two-a-days or spring practices. It gets us fired up and the guys are really going out there and competing. Iíve seen guys who really want to get on that field next year. Guys are really going out there and competing and thatís what you want from them.
On winning being the most important thing: By far, getting that 10th win and ending on a good note is the most important thing. Coach Brown is going to put the best players out there that have the least amount of N.O.S.ís to give us the best chance to win. Again, Iím all for it and it basically boils down to being accountable and taking care of business.
WR JORDAN SHIPLEY
On how he likes the N.O.S.ís: Iíve been around that kind of thing my whole life. Itís really about accountability. You have to be accountable for the way you play and for your actions. Itís kind of interesting and itís fun. Just try to not have your name called. Everyone does them, youíre going to do some up downs, but you just save yourself the embarrassment of being called out in front of the team.
On if the positions being open brings a different energy to practices: Definitely. You have however many guys out there competing and trying to win a job. Thatís the thing about a program like this Ė if youíre not producing, theyíll find someone that will produce. I feel like itís not just right now, your job is never safe. If youíre out there playing and youíre producing, youíll continue to play, but if youíre not producing, theyíll find someone to replace you.
On practice: I feel like weíre playing really well. Everything is going well, the offensive line is playing great and the running backs are playing great. I think it has been nice to have a little time off and just take a step back and look at some things we could have done better and learn from them.
On what a 10th win means to him: Being one of the only teams to win 10 games seven years in a row is kind of a neat deal and weíre excited about that. That is one thing that we have been able to do the last couple of years Ė is re-focus and get ready for the bowl game.
On if the time off between games is difficult: It is kind of difficult for players. You kind of have to look at it as a whole new season. You take some time off and itís kind of one of those deals that as a player you would rather play your last regular season game then have a couple weeks to prepare then play in the bowl game. You just have to take a little time off, re-focus and then play the bowl game.
RB JAMAAL CHARLES
On if there were any chemistry issues with the team: Not really. Itís just that we didnít finish as a team as we should. Like at the beginning of the season, we didnít finish. Like the K-State game we should have played with more pride and not let them come into our house and beat us like that. The Oklahoma game, we should have finished at the end and I made mistakes. It was a good game for everyone, we just didnít finish at the end.
Against A&M, we didnít look like Texas. We came out flat. We moved the ball, but we didnít execute on the plays that we should have, we didnít make first downs when we needed to. It was an all right season, but it could have been better. We have good players on our teams and it was a good year even though we lost three games, but we can still win 10 games.
On what they can do to make sure they donít come out flat against ASU: Weíre not going to come out flat against Arizona State. Everyone knows we want to win and we know weíre going to work hard, weíve been showing that in practice the whole week, we have been more physical and everyone has been playing hard. Weíve been practicing really well. We get along and everyone is coaching the younger guys. Everyone has each otherís back. If one goes down, someone has to step up and weíve been doing that in practice.
On the season for him: The season for me was good, but it could have been better. You always want to do better than you expect, and 1458 yards isnít that bad. I went over 1,000 and have 16 touchdowns. Thatís still good too, because it shows that I can get into the end zone too. Playing this season was good for me knowing what I can do if Iím the only starter. Going back to my freshman and sophomore year when I was sharing the ball with Selvin (Young) and now everyone knows what I can do when itís just me in the backfield. I can run the ball and get used to being in the game. If you let me get comfortable, in the game I can show everyone what I can do.
On the early morning practices and N.O.S.ís: Being more disciplined and getting along with the coaches and our teammates, everyone seems like they are improving. We just started doing it at the end of the season, but most definitely if we carry it on to next season, we get more physical and more disciplined. Coach is doing a good job right now.