Dec. 30, 2011
Fiesta Bowl Media Day Quotes
COACH Mike Gundy
Q. Stanford is a really heavy run team. Have you faced a team like them this year?
COACH GUNDY: Texas was similar in style and play to Stanford. Obviously there was a big difference in quarterback play. We're facing what we would all expect to be the number one player picked in the draft.
But as far as tight ends, some movement fullback play, a lot of power, a lot of counter. Texas would be the one team we faced that was similar.
Kansas State used some of the same sets, some of the same personnel; was different in the quarterback running attack compared to what Stanford is.
Q. Is the toughest thing their ability because of Luck to be able to pass out of those formations and balance those two?
COACH GUNDY: You're saying what's toughest to defend?
Q. How different does it make it? They cannot only run the ball but pass the ball because of Luck.
COACH GUNDY: I have always said at any level of play, whether you are in middle school, high school, college or professional, when you have a good quarterback, you have a chance to win games.
And with his ability to make plays off play action, throw the ball down the field, how he uses his tight ends, try to get receivers behind the safeties in the running game.
But, in my opinion, when I watch him, where I think he is really effective, does a great job of dumping the ball down the flats, uses his fullback and his backs, and he is really effective.
We break down our quarterbacks each week, where their success is, whether it is in the pocket, out of the pocket, where we think they are vulnerable. We don't find any weaknesses with him. He is certainly the best player. This is the best team we have faced this season.
Q. What can the impact of this game, your first BCS game, be on this Oklahoma State program?
COACH GUNDY: Every game we play in is important. Our players understand the responsibility of preparation. They owe it to each other to go out and play hard and have fun in the game.
It has been a special season for them. Obviously won 11 games, first Big 12 championship. Now they have an opportunity to win 12 and they are competing against a very, very good football team in a BCS Bowl. They understand that.
So I feel like our preparation has been really good and the players are looking forward to playing.
Q. Has there been any difference in Bowl preparation compared to the past Bowls you have been to?
COACH GUNDY: The preparation has been the same. Our players have practiced well before the break. We talked about that in Stillwater. And then once they have arrived here, we had a couple heavy practices. We backed off a little bit. We were heavy yesterday. We will be moderate today. So the preparation has been the same this year as it has been the last few for Bowl games.
Q. A lot of talk, people have seen you play, they look at your defensive numbers. They say, man, they are not very good defensively. But everybody I talk to says "but" there are a bunch of turnovers that you be able to create. You have done it every game. How do you continue to get those turnovers?
COACH GUNDY: Like most teams, we talked about turnovers since last spring and the importance in what we believe today's football has evolved in the direction that you have to get the ball in your offense's hands more so than it used to be because of the style of play, especially with what we do on offense.
We have been fortunate each game, our defense has done a nice job of forcing turnovers. Stanford does a nice job of not turning the ball over.
This will be a challenge for us especially when you are competing against a quarterback that has as much experience, as talented as he is. We need to force turnovers, get the ball on the ground, find a way to get on top of it and get our offense back on the field.
Q. Do you blitz him, or are you talking about his experience, how do you approach dealing with Andrew Luck?
COACH GUNDY: I think you got to do it all. He knows what's going on. In my opinion, you are not going to surprise him. He's obviously a student of the game. I'm not in their camp, but when you watch him, it is important to him. You got to try to catch him off guard some, but it is very difficult. We got a very good quarterback playing on our team.
It is what it is. There is a reason why he is going to be the first player picked in the draft, because he is very good at what he does and he's had a lot of success the last couple years.
Q. I'm sure you are aware of what happened in last night's game. Is there such a thing as too much offense?
COACH GUNDY: Not for me, I'm an old quarterback. But I'm sure for some of those defensive guys out there, there may be too much offense.
We've watched Baylor for two years. We watched them do it all season long. And there's been people talk about Baylor has ability to move the ball just against Big 12 defenses. That talk has gone across the nation.
But they're really good on offense. Robert wins the Heisman Trophy, makes a lot of plays, did again last night.
There are probably people that feel like there was maybe too much last night. We can only control what we do. We believe in up tempo. We try to be as productive and get as many plays and score as many points as we can. We think the fans like to see it.
And we continue to work hard to try to improve in the defensive area each year. We've gotten a little bit better in defense, in my opinion, every year. Statistics may say otherwise. But we're better on defense now than we were last year and we expect to be even better in the upcoming season.
Q. This is Brandon's last game. Have you given any thought to how you are going to fill the hole that Brandon is going to leave next year?
COACH GUNDY: You don't really replace a guy like that. For what he has meant to Oklahoma State football, not only as a player but as a great ambassador and as a leader for us, difficult to replace a young man and what he has accomplished at Oklahoma State. He is going to leave here as the best quarterback in the history of the school.
We've got young players in our program that we have a lot of confidence in. They don't have any experience, but we have been in this situation before. And once he moves on, we'll bring another one in and continue with what we have done the last few years.
Q. Will you have to look in other areas and take some of the pressure off the young quarterback who is going to step in?
COACH GUNDY: We are fortunate that we have good running backs coming back. We have three that played this year. Two of them have contributed considerably and are sophomores. We have a freshman that has made plays for us. We expect to bring another one in.
We'll sign what would be three or four wide receiver types that can come in and contribute. We have young wide receivers in our program now that haven't played that we feel like will contribute next season. And we have enough returning offensive linemen for whoever the quarterback is to have success.
Q. Is Jeremy Smith healthy? Has he been practicing this week?
COACH GUNDY: He has practiced full speed the last couple days.
Q. There has been one team that's given Stanford problems: Oregon. Albeit, they run more than Oklahoma State's offense, they still like to spread it out like you guys and attack the edges and speed tempo. Have you seen anything from those game tapes where you feel like you're confident you can do the same thing with the same style of tempo?
COACH GUNDY: Well, tempo is similar, spread is similar, but strategy is not very similar to what Oregon does. Oregon has had success, but if you look, Oregon has had success against everybody, been very good.
So there are a few things we can grab from that game. But quarterback play is so important in football, in our opinion, and the style of quarterback from ?? I think their quarterback's name is Thomas ?? and Weeden are completely different.
Q. Do you feel there was another team you saw on tape that you feel like you get more strategy?wise out of it? Is there more tape you favor like USC with Barkley or Foles with Arizona? What team stood out to you on tape?
COACH GUNDY: There were similarities with SC at times, when they got in that one?back attack. But you have 12 games to look at. So you have to pick and choose throughout the season.
There are other teams that played and lined up in the same system that we have. But, again, a running quarterback, a dual?threat quarterback, a younger quarterback for another team is not going to have as much success or not going to see things the same way that Brandon Weeden would. So you just kind of pick and choose.
But, ultimately, you have to run your plays. Whatever we're good at and whatever we have had success with in the last two years, we have to be able to execute our offense.
Q. Has it been a process of years to try to change what's possible for Oklahoma State football? Has it been a five?, six?, seven?year deal to change and make it "we can do this attitude"?
COACH GUNDY: Yes. We talked about a number of years ago when I got the job that it was going to take some time to get all the values and the hard work and things instilled in the players that we felt like we needed to have success. We had a change ?? multiple changes at the coordinator spot on defense. Then we've had changes on the offensive coordinator spot because guys left to be head coaches.
It took about three or four years for us to finally settle in on what schemes we wanted to use on both sides of the ball. And so we're comfortable with where we're at now. But it takes some time.
There's a sense urgency out there in college football because of money, the television money, the salaries for coaches. But we believe, and I believe, that it still takes more years than what people expect in order to build a program and do it the right way.
Q. Do you think you grew with the program, as the program grew? You grew as a coach?
COACH GUNDY: I would think ?? you guys have been around me for what will be going on eight years now. I changed ?? I feel like I changed considerably about three years ago. I grew more patient in dealing with everybody, dealing with assistant coaches, dealing with players, the discipline aspects of our team, and even dealing with the public and the media. Realizing that you can't let things get personal. It is a business for everybody, for the most part, except for the players.
And so by being more patient and relaxing, I have been able to enjoy my job more and I think it has translated to the players and I think they are more comfortable and I think they play that way.
Q. Can you describe how this game is having an impact on your recruiting already?
COACH GUNDY: I don't know. I'm sure there are certain rules that I can't mention recruits. But we've already been contacted by players that are within a four?hour drive of here, several of them. We don't really recruit in this area because, from a business standpoint, it is too easy us for us to just ride to Texas. It has been interesting that we have had a number of players out in this area contact us just from the last week.
Q. You say three years ago you changed. Why? What caused you to change?
COACH GUNDY: I'm not sure. I think I just kind of realized ?? well, you know, you pick your battles. It is kind of like being married. You figure that most of those you are going to lose so you might as well just get along.
And you guys know this. You have worked with me for 20 years as a player and coach. Everybody has a job to do. Media has got their job to do. They have a story to report. Coaches have their job to do. The players are the ones that we want to enjoy themselves and be able to still play the game even though it is more pressure packed from them than ever.
I think I finally realized that I was fighting a battle that there was no return. I was just wasting my time.
Just enjoy the situation you are in. Be happy you are the head coach. Get your staff together. Let them have fun. Let your players have fun. Just enjoy where you are at and see where it takes us.
Q. Looking back, those two years you were your own coordinator, do you look back and say "how did I ever do that"?
COACH GUNDY: In my opinion, it is like Boone Pickens says, in order to lead a program, you have to aim and fire, you can't just keep aiming and aiming and aiming and never fire.
So I felt like that I had to make quick decisions. And at that particular time, it was important for our offense to stay the same and in order for that to happen, I had to call the plays in my opinion. And so we went through that for two years and we were still pretty good on offense and had success. But when I look back on it, I know that it affected our team, but I didn't know it at that time.
So would I do it again? No. It about beat me down. I was ?? I got down about 168 or ?70 pounds or something. Just the wear and tear on me physically translated over into our team. And I think it made everybody ?? put everybody on edge. I just don't think the players play well.
And that's what I was mentioning earlier. I'm so much more comfortable and relaxed with our situation now that I think it spills over into our players' attitudes, and they're enjoying being on the team more which gives us a chance to have more success.
Q. When you said last year ?? whether you hired an offensive coordinator last year, you said it added ten years to your life. To some extent, you were being literal?
COACH GUNDY: Yeah, meaning that ?? well, for example, everybody knows ?? we all work all the time. They say coaches work all the time. Everybody works all the time. You guys work all the time.
But from the last week in July until February, first week in February, our coaches will never take more than two days off, and that's only during the open week. Because we will have recruiting weekends, travel, games, everything.
During that time, whenever I was calling the plays, my day started at 61:5 in the film room and didn't end until 10:30, with the exception of Thursday and Friday night. That went on from whether it be August up until the end of the Bowl game.
And so ?? and then I would try to run out of there and do the media and then run out of there and coach. So it was ?? to a certain extent, it was counterproductive, in my opinion.
What I was referring to was, once I stopped doing that, my day starts early but there is more time from 8:00 until noon for me to sit down and think of other things which would be assistant coach situations, player situations, discipline situations, recruiting situations, media situations, fund?raising. That allowed me to sit and think and probably make ?? I know for a fact it allowed me to make better decisions than I would have made if I was still calling plays.
WEEDEN: Guys are taking the right approach and practicing well.
Q. Have you had a chance to know Andrew Luck this week?
WEEDEN: I haven't seen him. A couple of our guys ran into him at the mall, but I haven't talked to him. I have been pretty wrapped up and busy.
Q. He doesn't play golf?
WEEDEN: He don't?
Q. I guess.
WEEDEN: I don't know. I'm sure if he would, he would have called me. I thought we would have a lot more time to get out and play a little bit. I got 11 holes in and a drive. That was it.
This weather is perfect. I can play 36 a day after we're done. Maybe I can stay here and play 36 a day on the 3rd.
Q. When teams have this much time to prepare in Bowl games, a lot of times you see the advantage go to the defense because they have been able to dissect things. But offensively, just to try to counter what you know they are going to see, you still don't change that much, do you?
WEEDEN: No, you can't. You got to do what you do. You go in there and try to revamp everything you do, you are not going to be crisp. You will have wrinkles and different ways of doing things.
I think these things like this, not necessarily Bowl games in general, there is so much time off, it is who is the hungriest and who wants more. You have seen that through the first few Bowl games that have been on T.V.
You don't change much, you really get good at what you do while throwing some wrinkles in they haven't seen. And, like I said, defense has a little bit of a hand because they are able to dissect you a little bit more.
Q. We talked so much about both offenses. What in your mind is the underrated part?
WEEDEN: The defense has come a long ways from the first game. I think they are playing really, really well right now. And Stanford's team is really good as well.
So I think everybody talks about the offenses and the weapons on offense, but these are two really good defenses.
That's why this matchup is so intriguing for everybody else. I think everybody is looking to see how it all pans out. Obviously No. 3 and No. 4 in the country and two good offenses, what I feel is like two really good defenses.
It is going to be a good football game.
Q. Do you feel like you have simulated enough what Stanford and Andrew Luck will do for you guys?
WEEDEN: It's hard to say. I'm not over there with those guys. I am on a separate field. I would say yeah, our coaches are going to get them prepared. It is hard. It is hard to simulate scout team guys. It is different. I would guess our coaches have done everything they can.
Q. What's the biggest key to the game in you guys getting a win?
WEEDEN: Taking care of the football. That's our number one thing. Secondly, getting first downs. Don't stall out, keep our defense off the field and continue to get first downs and score touchdowns. Don't kick field goals. Against an offense like that, you can't kick field goals and win. Mostly just ball security and taking care of the football.
Q. There has been a lot of talk about transforming the culture of Oklahoma State football. A lot of that is obviously Coach Gundy's seven, eight years. Have you seen that in your time there, the transformation from "oh, you can't do that" to "yeah, you can do that"?
WEEDEN: Absolutely. When I first got here, we were ecstatic to be able to go to a Bowl game. The guys ?? the realm of going to a BCS game was out of the realm.
So I think the players that Coach Gundy has brought in, I think bringing in Coach Holgorsen and Coach Monken and Coach Young, the quality of coaches he has brought in has made a difference and recruited really good players.
The quality of player we have today versus when I got here in '07 ?? we had good players. Across the board we are two deep. We weren't that way as you know back then. It has definitely changed.
Q. The limits, people used to put limits on, well, OSU might be able to do this. But you guys don't seem to ?? you haven't felt that way the last couple years. Is that just a completely different thing from five years ago, four years ago?
WEEDEN: I think it is just the expectations. I think as players, we expect to be in the game of this caliber every year. Hopefully that doesn't change from here on out. I think guys have kind of taken on the feeling we like to win games, we won a lot of games the last four years.
Obviously this has been our biggest Bowl game. I think you are exactly right. I think this has kind of become an expectation in our locker room. I think that's the right way to approach it.
If you settle for less, you set yourself up for failure.
Q. Stanford is a team that likes to get after the quarterback. Big pass rusher team, ranked 7th in the nation. Some say Levy is the key to the calls.
WEEDEN: He is the anchor, he makes all the calls. They are blitzing from the side. He usually ?? unless I see something, he sees it, he communicates. Without him ?? he is tough. He is the core of what we do offensively. I would agree.
Q. Grant said he usually tries to get everything called before everyone gets to the line, down in their stance because he knows you have the receivers to worry about, whether they have their route to run. Is he faster than normal for centers that you are seeing to be able to do that?
WEEDEN: You can tell he prepares throughout the week because he knows ?? he has a feel for what they do depending on the front and the look they are giving, whatever it is. He is able to kind of dissect that and get a feel for it early. He is also good about ?? while he is down and everybody is lined up, he is also good about seeing stuff and going from different sides.
I don't know how he does it. It is pretty impressive. He is able to digest a lot of information pretty quick. Like I said, I'm going to miss him. He is pretty doggone good.
Q. Is that one of his underrated skills?
WEEDEN: No doubt about it. He is so smart about understanding what we do. We move fast. You know that. We play fast. And so he has to make a lot of decisions kind of like I do in a short amount of time. He doesn't get the pub as far as that goes. He is one of the biggest reasons we have a lot of success on offense.
Q. Part of the secret is out, a black Jersey, everybody wants to know, what are the Cowboys going to come out in the Fiesta Bowl Monday night?
WEEDEN: I don't know. This could be a hoax. We do have four other combinations. We wore this one just because the players wanted to wear it today. Monday night might be totally different. You never know.
Q. Talk about the different combinations. Has been the most popular with the players throughout the season?
WEEDEN: I think everybody has a different opinion. I think the guys like the black/orange. My favorite was probably Missouri when we went all white. I think that was one I was really looking forward to.
Really and truly, there has not been one that I haven't liked. I feel like we have done a pretty good job. I was a big fan of the gray jerseys. We weren't able to wear them as much as we would like.
Q. The guys we talked to go right back to you: It is what Brandon Weeden tells us. How much have you involved in this decision? Who else is involved in the decision?
WEEDEN: Throughout the regular season, I had a lot of the say. But I got with our equipment guys and tinkered with them a little bit and went with what we thought was best. During the regular season, I had a lot of say. I had a lot of pull when it came to that.
This one, as far as the Bowl game, we had a group of seniors that came together and decided and we actually all agreed which is nice.
Q. Look into the future, talk about those that are set to follow you, what will the quarterback position look like at Oklahoma State in 2012 without Brandon Weeden?
WEEDEN: We will be fine. We will be fine. Coach Monken does a great job. He has made me a great quarterback. He has done that with J.W. and Clint as well. I'm curious to see those guys fight it out. I think they will make each other different. J.W. likes to run around. Like Zac Robinson. And Chelf in the same deal. There will be a zone red. The quarterback will run the ball more than I did.
I think we will be fine. I think the offense will continue to click.
Q. Is this program at a stage where it has reached a consistent level where it will always be a contender?
WEEDEN: That's what we like to think. We have really good players, even young players. We think we have put ourself on the map and we don't want to go anywhere. We plan on being around here for a long time.
Q. What are your hopes for the draft?
WEEDEN: There is an unknown. There is so much that goes on between now and the draft. There is a lot of evaluation to still be done. If someone told me where I would be drafted today, they would be lying to me. I rather they not tell me in general. I have no idea. I have no idea. I have to go out and play well in the senior bowl and do some good things throwing the football around and let the pieces fall where they may.
BLACKMON: We will have to go out there and execute and keep the turnovers to a minimum.
Q. It is the last college game for the Weeden and Blackmon hookup. Have you envisioned what you would like to see between you guys?
BLACKMON: Not really. Like I said, we got a game plan and we are going to go out there and execute it. We will not try to do anything out of the ordinary just because it is Brandon's last game or because it is my last game or could be my last game or this is the last time we are on the field together.
We are not going to do anything out of the ordinary. We will run the same offense we have been running all year and just try to execute all the plays.
Q. Would you like to see maybe two of those Weeden into the Blackmon lobs?
BLACKMON: I'm not going to ?? of course, I would love to see some of those (smiling).
Q. Do you know who Griff Whalen is?
Q. He is Stanford's leading receiver. You obviously don't have to worry about their offense. But tell me ?? talk to me about as a guy who has so much talent, comes in, how hard is it for a walk?on to get nervous in practice?
BLACKMON: It is very hard. Every time that somebody comes on scholarship they kind of get thrown in front of you. It is always you got to work your way up from the bottom and try to get up there to the top.
So, as I said, it is very difficult.
Q. Talk to me about reps in practice, when you are running the first team, every drill you do, you are probably the first guy in the drill, right?
Q. It is a pecking order that everyone sees. How aware is everybody of that pecking order?
BLACKMON: I wouldn't say ?? I mean, it is more of like if you are going to be the leader and you are going to call yourself leader, I think you have to be up in the pecking order.
You got to lead by example. I try to be the first one up there for every drill because I know I might have just gone doing it, but I know I'm supposed to be the leader of this group whether I'm tired or not. I got to get up there and lead by example.
Q. And the coach uses you as the guy ?? if you are not doing it, picks on you and everybody else ??
BLACKMON: Everybody else leads from there. If my attitude is bad, then everybody's attitudes follow from that. I try to go with a positive attitude and just try to do everything 100 percent and you let them know that this is what we're here to do.
Q. Tell me, did you watch the game last night?
BLACKMON: I did.
Q. What were you thinking as you were watching that?
BLACKMON: I was thinking probably the same thing everyone was. It was an exciting game. Like I said, I couldn't turn it off. I watched it, the whole game. It was an excited game to watch. There wasn't a lot of defense being played.
But, like I said, it was a high?scoring game. It could have gone either way up until then. It was a very exciting game to watch.
Q. What does it mean for Oklahoma State to break through into the BCS?level teams? Do you feel like a sense of accomplishment? Do you feel like you have helped bring this program to a tier it hadn't been before?
BLACKMON: I think it means a lot to this team and Oklahoma State in general for us to break into the BCS thing.
I mean, it is kind of ?? we built on from each year and we have gotten better each year. I think some of our seniors back when I was a freshman, it was instilled. We were going to be better than the group that just left. So we built on that from there.
Q. I was asking the guys about the Tulsa game and how strange it was to be out on the field at 3:00 in the morning. What do you remember?
BLACKMON: I remember being locked in a little locker room for hours and about ready to kill myself. It was horrible. And I don't eat peanut butter and jelly, so I didn't eat. I ate four pieces of bread.
Q. Do you have a nut allergy?
BLACKMON: I'm allergic to nuts.
Q. There was nothing else to get?
BLACKMON: They thought that was the easiest thing to get.
Q. Nobody could get a ham sandwich?
BLACKMON: I ate four loaves of bread.
Q. How many hours were you in the locker room?
BLACKMON: Two, three hours.
Q. Out of all the Weeden?Blackmon passes, do you have one in particular that you liked the most?
BLACKMON: I would say the one against Colorado my freshman year.
Q. The first one?
BLACKMON: The first one. Yeah, that was the first one, yeah. First Weeden?Blackmon pass.
Q. That was your favorite?
BLACKMON: Yeah, because it set up the one for that game.
Q. What do you remember about it?
BLACKMON: I remember it was a busted play. And I didn't even play that position that I was in, so I was just kind of running around out there. And he still threw it up, and luckily I came down with it.
Q. That touchdown kind of does describe how you guys have played together ever since.
BLACKMON: It has. It is weird how it all played out. Everything just clicked.
Q. Are you in favor of a football playoff?
BLACKMON: I think it would be fun. You would play more games. Like I said, it doesn't really matter. Whatever y'all pick or whoever votes for it, we will have to do whatever it is.
I think it will be cool. It would shake things up a little bit because you would have to show up every week, week in, week out. No. 1 team is not guaranteed to make it all the way to the championship. So I think it would shake it up a little bit and make things more interesting.
Q. Are you a yes?
BLACKMON: I'm an undecided. BCS has been here for years and I haven't complained about it yet. I'm not going to start complaining now because it didn't work in our favor.
SAFETY Markelle Martin
Q: What's been the key to your secondary getting all the interceptions this year?
A: There are certain times where as a DB you have to take a chance once in a while. They are plays you want to take a chance on and when the opportunity presents itself hopefully you get the chance to make a play.
Q: Was your team disappointed in the number three ranking and what's the mindset?
A: I think a little bit. I think at the time we felt like we should have been No. 2 in the BCS and play in the big game, but being out here and being No. 3, we can live with that. It gives us just another chance to go out there and prove that we should be at the top. We can play some great offense and we have a great offense. I think everyone on the team is ready to go and very excited to be here.
Q: What is the legacy of this senior group?
A: We continue to strive to get better and make that next step to improve our team. We showed the young guys that hard work pays off. We showed them to continue to work, and not to question or complain about anything. We taught them just work, work, work, and when the opportunity presents itself, step up. That's why you work hard.
Q: With your talent improving each year, how has this team made sure it doesn't rest on its laurels?
A: We got to the point where we needed to set more goals as a team. In the beginning, we didn't have the style of team that was setting goals. Not just laying back in the off-season, etc. But since I've been here, we have set goals every year and we have met those goals. Maybe we should have changed those up this year: we started off with the goal of just wanting to be a BCS team, and maybe we should have been more specific about what we wanted to accomplish, but the BCS was the next step for this team. I wouldn't be surprised if next year the goal for this team is to win a BCS National Championship. I think it should have been national championship this year.
Q: Is it time to put the hype aside and play some ball?
A: It's getting kind of hard to practice against the same guys and its about that time where everyone is getting anxious and getting ready. Just being around it, and seeing so many Stanford guys out here, it's just kind of like we can't wait to get on the field.
Q: Have you had the opportunity to look back on your career?
A: I'll do that later on. Right now, I'm just excited having another week to be with the guys that I've been working with for four years and I just want to enjoy myself. This is an experience that I am loving being out here and enjoying.
Q: How do you defend against Andrew Luck?
A: We understand that he is more of a calm and composed guy. To be successful, we're going to have to try and confuse him a little bit. That's something we haven't seen a lot of defenses do. Especially the way that we do things, we have to get pressure on him. We understand that they have a great offensive line, a center and a guard that are tremendous. We're going to have to do certain things to get pressure, but ultimately we just have to play our game. We understand that he is going to make plays, so we have to be in control of ourselves and fix whatever problems we have on the sidelines and then go back out there and make stops. We have a plan and we have to play the game.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN Grant Garner
Q: It feels like your offensive line clicked this year, compared to last year. Why was that?
A: Just playing together, we got a lot of reps together in practice, and Coach is the kind of coach that likes to move guys around every day, so you're at a different position every day. Being in the same position, game in and game out, it just made us more comfortable with regards to which assignments and which tackles you're going to block. So I think it had a lot to do with comfort level and starting to mesh together.
Q: How has the whole bowl experience been for you?
A: It's been great and I've really enjoyed it. I think it's a great way to end your career and go out on top. I'm sure once the game is here, it will be the game, but for right now the most memorable part has been the opportunity to hang out with teammates and buddies for one last time, to get out on the practice field and being able to cut up and make fun of each other.
Not that I didn't expect it, but the hospitality has been a nice surprise. Everyone here has gone above and beyond the normal to make us feel welcome.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE Nigel Nicholas
Q: How has the team responded to injuries throughout the year?
A: Guys on this team are just looking for the chance to get out there, have fun and play hard. When guys on this team get a chance, they take that opportunity to make a lot of plays and do great things out there.
Q: You know their line will be coming at you with the run. Do you prefer that to chasing the quarterback?
A: Me personally, I would rather just chase a quarterback all night, but if we can't rough him up with contact, we'll get in there against the line and play hard-nosed football, try and come away with the win.
DEFENSIVE END Richetti Jones
Q: Can you carry forward what you accomplished in the OU game to this game?
A: They want to know what you're going to do now. So with that being said, we have to take our momentum from what we had versus OU and take it up a whole another level and keep on going.
Q: How does it feel that this is your last collegiate game?
A: I believe it will sink in the game of the day. Once we start our game day rituals and I realize, this is it, I will never get to do this again. I'm just going to take it and embrace it. I just want to play to the best of my abilities.
Q: What do you say to the predictions that this game will be a shoot out?
A: I'm a defensive player. I don't want to hear anything about a shoot out. The only kind of shoot out I want to hear about is my offense shooting their lights out. We don't want to sit here and have a Baylor-Washington game, they scored over 100 points. Coach Young will not have that. He'll stop the game and pull us off to the side, let us have it, and tell us that we'd better go out there and play some real football.
Q: Would you be happy with a win if it had a similar score to the LSU-Alabama overtime game?
A: As long as we win, it doesn't matter how we get it. If we were to have a victory like that, it would just give more credit to both our defenses. But I don't see that happening. You have Brandon Weeden and Andrew Luck; these guys are stud quarterbacks. At the same time, I am a defensive guy and we are going to give it the best shot we have.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN Levy Adcock
Q: Would a win in this game be a statement win for this program?
A: I think it would be huge to put a cap on the season. Rolling out with a BCS bowl win and moving up from third would be huge. We're focused and we're ready to roll. We've been here a while; we like Arizona, but we're ready to play this game.
WIDE RECEIVER Justin Blackmon
Q: How has everything gone with bowl week?
A: Our coaches have done a great job with letting us go out and have a good time and let us experience Arizona with our teammates. When it's time to go to work, we lock in. We work for three to four hours.
Q: What's been the best part of the week so far?
A: I'd say the eating, where they've taken us to eat. They've taken us to a few different spots that have been really, really good.
Q: How important is it for the offense to get out to a quick start?
A: I think it's very important. That's what our offense revolves around, the tempo and getting first downs that ultimately lead to touchdowns. I think it's very important that we start off quick and fast and set the tempo for the game.
Q: How has the mindset been from not playing in the BCS title game to now?
A: We still have the same mindset that we did then. We don't control who votes and who puts us into the national championship. We're still excited to be here and we're going to play just like we are at the national championship.
Q: How do you want to be remembered?
A: I guess to be remembered as someone who worked hard and just loved to go out there and compete.
Q: What have you tried to emphasize to younger guys at OSU?
A: If you work hard and you buy into the system and if you are coachable, you can do anything. Things will work out in your favor.
Q: What's been your most memorable moment?
A: This whole year. I've enjoyed it all. It's been a lot of fun and it's probably been one of the best years that I have ever experienced.
Q: Is this what you anticipated when you decided to come back?
A: This is it. We said we wanted to come back and win the Big 12 and play in a BCS bowl and we're here right now.
Q: Anything you feel like you left on the board?
A: I wasn't really trying to leave things on the board. I wouldn't say so but I probably have. I don't think about leaving things on the board.
Q: What's been the best part of this year?
A: I'd say how close we are as a team and just being around these guys. It's been a lot of fun throughout this whole year.
Q: How do you feel when people say you are the best receiver in the country?
A: It doesn't really make me feel like anything. I guess it's fun to be up there with the names, but if they said I was the worst I'd still go out there and compete the same way I do now. That's just someone's opinion and I just try to go out and prove it on the field.
Q: How hard do you work on your stamina?
A: I just try to work hard in the offseason. I practice hard every week trying to get myself ready to be in the best shape for the game on Saturday.
Q: What challenges does Stanford pose?
A: They run a few coverages that we haven't seen. They do some different things we normally wouldn't see or haven't seen in our conference. They run a few things, they drop back a few people and things of that sort that we have to adjust to. Other than that, they run pretty much a basic defense.
Q: Have you faced anybody similar to Stanford?
A: I would say they are somewhat similar to Kansas State as far as their physicality. They are a physical team. They try to match-up and run a lot of man with you.
Q: How focused is the team after not making the BCS title game?
A: We took it real well. Nobody is talking about it. We are happy where we're at. We're just ready to go out and show the country what we can do.
Q: What's your relationship like with Brandon Weeden?
A: We have a great relationship on and off the field. He's a great person and he's someone that I hang out with when I'm not playing football. We just have a connection on the field.
Q: Are you ready to finally play this game?
A: It's about time where I think we're all anxious to get back out there and get in the game. Just to get out there on the big stage. We know it's going to be a big game at University of Phoenix Stadium. We're all ready to get there and play on it.
Q: What has it meant to you to play with Weeden?
A: It's been real special. We both started off together, being on the big stage and coming out. We both came up out of nowhere and we've both kind of made a name for ourselves in these last two years. It's been real special and it's been a lot of fun spending time with him.
Q: Stanford hasn't given up 100 yards to a receiver this year. Is that a challenge for you?
A: I didn't know that. It does kind of seem like a challenge. We'll just see what happens. They are a good defense and are really fundamentally sound. We are going to have to go out there and have our "A" game ready to go.
Q: Is there anything you see specifically in their secondary you can exploit?
A: I wouldn't say anything specific. We just have to go out there and play our game and not try to do anything out of the ordinary.
Q: Is the key to not change too much?
A: There isn't any need to change anything. This is how we've been playing all year. Why change something now?
Q: Would you want a game like the Alamo Bowl was?
A: I think one of those games would be fun. I'd want our defense to play some defense. One of those games would be fun to be in. If that was happening I might have to go over to Coach (Bill) Young and ask him to put me on defense to help them out.
Q: Did that seem over the top?
A: It did, but at the same time it made the game exciting. It was a lot of fun. You never knew how it was going to end up and it was questionable all the way through the fourth quarter when Baylor put it away.
Q: If Alabama wins and you win, what does that do?
A: I have no idea. I guess they'd be national champions and we'd be Fiesta Bowl champs. I wouldn't have a case to make for us. Maybe someone a little higher up than me. I'm not even thinking about it at that point.
Q: How much better have you gotten when teams get physical with you?
A: I think I've gotten a lot better. I've worked on it a lot this past spring and summer. I worked on being a little more physical at the line myself. I figure if you're a lot more physical than they are, they won't want to be physical. I try to put that in the game and try to be just as physical as they are.
Q: Is there a guy you've watched to add things to your game?
A: I look at a lot of players. From no names to big names, I've watched a lot film. Just watching how different people would use different things to get off press (coverage). I've watched film from the 80's before just to see different things.
Q: Has a defense player said anything on the field that made you laugh?
A: Most of the time I do laugh, just because I'm trying to show that it doesn't get to me. I don't want them to act like they defeated me. I'll give them a smile or a glance and then move on to the next play.
Q: Coach Gundy said you are best player ever at Oklahoma State.
A: I'm shocked. I wouldn't guess that. There are a lot of great players that have come from Oklahoma State. For him to say that is surprising.
Q: How do you think you can get better?
A: I can improve in many areas. If I keep on working all around, I can improve in certain spots.
Q: Has your NFL decision been made?
A: It's pretty much been made. It will be for sure made right after this game. It's probably 99% I'm going after this game.
Q: What did it mean to you to be honored by Coach Gundy before the OU game?
A: It means a lot. It shows what kind of coach he is. To let me be recognized knowing that I most likely wouldn't be coming back. It makes everything work out pretty well.
Q: How has the week been?
A: We're ready to go. It's been a lot of fun. I've been enjoying it with my teammates and we've been working. We are ready to play on Monday.
Q: How do you feel going into what could be your last college game?
A: I feel good. I feel like I do going into any other game. I'm focused on the game and whatever happens after the game happens. Right now I am real focused on the game. I'm preparing myself as much as I can for the Fiesta Bowl.