Valero Alamo Bowl press conference quotes: Dec. 27
Dec. 27, 2012
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
On the defense this season: I think there's 99 reasons we didn't play the way we wanted to play. Some that were in our control, and some that were not in our control. But we're responsible for all of them. The bottom line is what I was proud of our defense as the year went on, despite the fact we played very poorly, especially in the middle part of the season. I thought we were resilient. I thought we hung together, and I do think we improved as the year went on. Sort of the theme this month [and] we talked about it over the last three, four, five weeks, the time for resilience is over. We've proven we can take a punch, but that the time for that is over. Now it's time to start moving forward and having, I think, what's important,I think, the guys understand this is having a higher expectation of the man playing beside you. And higher expectation of yourself and higher expectation of what you demand of the man that plays beside you. And that's really, like I said, it's a process. We have to go play a game on Saturday. I'm sad we can't practice next week, because every day it's a matter of just grinding closer to that goal.
On CB Quandre Diggs possibly taking over S Kenny Vaccaro's nickel position next year: To me you would have to come back in the spring time, find out who you've got, where everybody fits in the best positions. I think one thing [assistant head coach/defensive backs] Coach [Duane] Akina has been doing an unbelievable job is cross training all guys for all positions. With the injuries we've had in the back seven of our defense, there are guys up here that know, between nickel and dime and safety and things like that, and because Coach Akina makes a big point of trying [to say] we don't want just DBs we don't want cover corners, we want complete football players. So I think all of our guys have a lot of versatility in the ways they can help the football team.
On the loss of LB Jordan Hicks this season: It's like losing the quarterback of your defense. Jordan's a guy that was going to make all the calls. It didn't hurt us at one spot, I thought it hurt us at three and four spots because with him being out that affected some of the inexperienced guys that were around him. But I think what we learned this year it's not about losing Jordan Hicks. It's about the preparation level of the guys that had to step up and take his place. I think the lesson for our football team going forward is injuries are going to be part of the game and what it really shined the light on, it shined the light on the preparation of our guys that it shouldn't have put us in a four week hole the way that it did. And coaches, we preach it. You never know, [a reserve is] one sprained ankle away from being a starter. But that's ultimately my responsibility as a coach is having our team prepared to handle anybody's absence.
On what he was proud of about the defense this season: I think, like I mentioned before, with all the negativity I thought we were resilient. I thought the guys focused on getting better. Defense is about trust. And it's really hard to play great defense if you don't have a high level trust of the man next to you. That's where we had to find our way. You have to earn that. You can't just sit there. We can't get a secret handshake and learn to trust each other. It's got to be forged through practice, through workouts, through things like that. As our guys were improving and with the leadership of guys like Alex [Okafor] and Kenny [Vaccaro], we were able to bring our young guys along. The problem we have when we were doing it, we were going against a run of outstanding offenses in the middle part of the season. What happened is everybody else in our conference went ahead and played those offenses as well. And sort of had their day ruined, too. We sort of had the perfect storm. It all kind of happened for us right there in the middle of the year. But I am proud of the guys being resilient. But I'm tired of being resilient now. It's time to be something else.
On the linebacker play this season: It's obviously been a work in progress. But I would say that the room has improved. I'm very proud of the improvements that they've made actually in the last couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to them playing well on Saturday night. But you mentioned Peter Jinkens and Tevin Jackson. In the early part of the season with Peter being brand new and Tevin still being relatively inexperienced, they were just trying to make their name in special teams and being trustworthy in terms of their assignments running down in kickoff coverage, let alone being able to handle playing defense. But they've really stepped up their attention to detail. Tevin Jackson played well against Kansas State, and we look forward to him improving. And Peter Jinkens has added a little bit of spunk, which I think these guys would agree. At linebacker we're young, and we're naturally quiet guys once we lost Jordan. And Peter brought a little bit of bravado to our bunch and got in some play we can get excited about.
On the style of Oregon State QB Cody Vaz: I think the thing that stands out about him is that his first start since high school was at Provo, Utah against a BYU defense which is probably one of the best defenses in the country this year. And he just tore them up. They couldn't stop him. They came out, I think the first drive, they might have thrown it four of the first five plays of the game. They obviously had a lot of confidence in him. And as these guys know, they've got a lot of great weapons. It's a quarterback friendly offense because the tight ends catch the ball well, the backs catch the ball well. They have a advanced screen game to help out the quarterbacks. And the two main guys running down the field, also play action stuff. But he came out all guns blazing in that game and that certainly caught everybody's attention.
On the possibility of taking a head-coaching job: Well, you don't leave the University of Texas for any position unless it's a perfect situation. And so that was on one side of the equation. The second side of the equation you have some pride about yourself. And there's something that I came here to do. There's something we started last year, and we had a setback this year. And there's something that every day when you wake up in the morning you just you want to get back at it. And you want to get back to getting these guys playing the type of defense that we're capable of. There was a little bit of unfinished business here. I think we've got some guys [that] I think they understand that we have a little bit of chip on our shoulder now. I think we've seen both sides of the sort of the equation in the last 12 months. And that's going to fuel us going forward.
CB Carrington Byndom
On staying confident: I think great defenses come from within themselves, and when we put all of God's plans together and try to get to that one goal, that is when you start getting great defenses. When you start letting people from the outside affect what's happening on your inside, then it is distracting. I think just trying to keep it together was a key for us.
On thoughts about Oregon State wide receivers: They definitely have explosive receivers, and they make plays without the ball and with the ball. We are going to have to bring our "A" game to stop these receivers and eliminate the amount of yards and catches that they have.
CB Quandre Diggs
On what you seen in bowl practice that gives you a good feeling about the defense for next season: It's changed since that last game of the season. And just the intensity, the things we do at practice are just a different level that we've been taking it to. So being the guy that's going to be here next year for sure, we have to step up. We know we have to get this defense back on track after having a setback this year. So it's going to be fun. And you guys stick with us. We're going to bounce back, I can promise you that.
On Major Applewhite calling the offensive plays: He deserves it. I feel like he is the right person for that job, and I have so much respect for him. I know it is a dream for him to continue to step up that ladder. It is going to be fun watching the offense knowing that it is going to be his offense.
DT Desmond Jackson
On staying confident: I feel like with the work ethic we have put in after the season, I think a lot of guys have matured since the Kansas State game. I feel like all the work that we have put in is going to show our success.
On the importance of this bowl game: A the game is coming up, we feel like this game is one that will make a real big statement going into next year. Just pressing forward to next year and showing everybody that we can do a lot better things than we did in games this year. Our best is yet to come, I feel like.
DE Alex Okafor
On what he has been told about playing former teammate RB Storm Woods: It's more like a message from our whole city. Everybody has been like, `Oh Alex, you better not let Storm run over you' or `You better not let Storm chase you.' It's not really me talking, it's all of our friends talking outside of our teams. I think they are building the hype around this.
On thoughts about career at Texas: I feel like I have had a good career here at UT. I just want to go out on the right note, on a bang, and just have a game to stamp my career here at UT.
S Kenny Vaccaro
On playing in his last game for Texas: I don't think it's hit me yet. Honestly, I've just been preparing all week. I think it will when I get out there and start warming up.
On how college prepared him to go professional next year: This year I have faced some great receivers and some great quarterbacks that will get drafted high, so I think the Big 12 has been a great training ground for me to just bring my skills to the NFL that I have learned from this pass-happy conference.
On thoughts about the offense with Major Applewhite calling plays: Major just brings a new spunk to the team, honestly. I have always been cool with Major, and I have always respected everything he has said. He talks to a lot of players and the way he references football to life is just unbelievable.