Saturday, December 28th, 2002


On Texas’ speed on defense:
“I don’t know if you can beat it, but you’ve got to learn to maybe trick it. They’re a very athletic team. They have great speed not only in the secondary but the linebackers and the front guys. (Corey) Redding comes off the edge; he can bring it. The linebackers can run. They’re a man coverage team. (Texas defensive coordinator) Carl (Reese) knows they have great athletes. He’s maximizing their athletic ability by playing the man coverage. It’s going to be a huge challenge. We’re having to work hard to beat the man coverage. The bad part about it is when you beat the man coverage sometimes it takes time. But the way they rush the passer, you can’t hold the ball very long. It’s like a double-edge sword. Their front complements their secondary very well.”
On comparing the style of Texas’ defense to the SEC schools:
“They do a lot of the things that Florida does. They will be in some different fronts, some three-down stuff and a lot of blitzing. I say a lot of crazy looks or unorthodox looks that cause you a lot of protection problems. You think it’s unorthodox, but when you look at it, it’s very, very sound. (Florida defensive coordinator) John Thompson does some things like that; had some athletes at Florida. Tennessee has got the same type of guys it seems the past. I would say Alabama but Alabama didn’t do the looks; their looks are a little bit different. But athletically and scheme-wise, (Texas) is a lot like Florida and Tennessee that I’ve seen in the past in the SEC.”
On Texas’ Carl Reese as a defensive coordinator:
“I think Carl is at the top. To say someone is the best, I don’t know if you can. He’s in the top five percent of the guys in the country. He does a great job. He not only beats you with schemes and does a great job scheming you and using his athletes, they are very tough. He does a great job with toughness (and) coaches toughness. And the kids play hard. I’ve known Carl for a while. I think he’s one of the top guys in the country.”
On LSU having a balanced run and pass offensive attack against Texas:
“When you play great people, you can’t be one dimensional. Defenses today are taking the attack mode. It used be everybody sat back, you played your certain two or three things and you reacted to the offense. What defenses have done, I think the last six to eight years, especially in college and it’s been happening in the pros (are) they attack offenses. The one-dimensional teams have a very hard time moving the football. You look across the country and they do. We have to keep them off balance (on offense). When they think we are going to pass, we’ve got to run and when they have want us to run, we have to keep on passing. Down and distance will dictate that. It’s going to be a huge challenge to keep that balance because they (Texas) create so many negative plays with their big-play people (on defense). They get you behind the eight ball down-and-distance-wise and then when you become one dimensional, they lay their ears back and it’s tough. They’ve done a great job with that all year.
On Marcus Randall using preparing for the Florida game to help him play against Texas:
“He didn’t play in the (Florida) game but he prepared for the game. Coach (Nick) Saban does some things that are different and unorthodox (on defense) that creates a lot of protection problems. So it’s similar to some things we have seen in practice. It’s no secret what we do all year. I think he will have seen it but it’s just going to be recognizing it in a game situation. The thing you don’t know and can’t judge until you play somebody is how fast, how strong they’re doing it. It’s how quick you can adjust to what they are doing. They will have two or three wrinkles we haven’t seen and hopefully Marcus will seem, adjust to them or won’t make a bad play when it happens. We’ll make the adjustments from the sidelines and go from there. It will be a great challenge because Carl (Reese) is a great football coach.”
On the play of Marcus Randall:
“He did the things he had to do for us to win (in the Arkansas game). At quarterback, what he has to do with his job is put your team in a position to win the game. If he can win it, win it; if he can’t, don’t loose it. And I think that’s what he did in the Arkansas game. He gave us an opportunity to win the game. He played well, played within himself and didn’t make crazy mistakes. We had a chance to win the game but they made a few plays at the end. But if he does that, I’m hoping he can put us in the position to win. That will mean we’re hanging in there and one play can dictate it.”
“I think the last two ballgames, I saw him make strides. He played very well in the Ole Miss game coming off the bench and played a very solid Arkansas game. He did the things he had to do. I think he realized when he didn’t start the (Ole Miss) game; it took some pressure off him. He got back there and said ‘you know this can be fun.’ It doesn’t have to always be a lot of pressure. It was a very good situation for him to come off the bench and have success. Then when he started again against Arkansas, you really didn’t see the real tensed-up type guy. He was very relaxed and had fun with it. That’s the way hopefully he will continue to play that way in this game.”
On the LSU offense:
“We’re such a quarterback-oriented offense. It’s like a computer. When your computer disk overloads and it’s full and you keep trying to put things in it, it blows the fuse. Nothing on the computer works and it forgets everything else it had on the computer. And that can kind of happen with a player or a quarterback especially when you’re in an offense like ours that’s quarterback-oriented. You want to keep feeding him and you want to keep making steps. All of a sudden as soon you start to see it overload, then you start to see little things that happen everyday start to drift away. Then you have to cut it back.”
He’s (Marcus Randall’s) gotten a ton better. That’s why you’ve start to see us do a little more because he’s more comfortable with those things and just the game management part of it.”
On getting off to a good early start vs. Texas:
“When you get behind a team who is great on both sides of the ball, then you have to start taking chances and doing things you don’t want to do. Playing from ahead hopefully, we need to do that. If we get behind, we’re going to have to be smart on how we do it. You can’t say you’re going to let it all out because you don’t want to create mistakes and let them blow you out. You’d just have to be smart about it on not only defense but offense because when you don’t move it, they have enough skill guys on offense to knock it in.”
On the SEC being “down” as a conference this year:
“I don’t know if you say down. It’s like everybody was equal. I don’t know if that’s down or not. I think what you had is you had some coaching changes. I think you had some quarterback changes. It seems like the guys that had some quarterbacks, had some injuries or had some coaching changes so that took some time and chemistry. And the ones that had the coaches had the quarterback changes so that took more time and chemistry. (In) today’s football you’ve got to run it and the quarterback plays such a huge role, especially with the kind of offenses in our league. It takes time to build that. I think that’s why you might have seen the inconsistency in certain teams. In that league, everybody is so close to each other, as soon as you dip down, they’re going to bite you.”
On having LaBrandon Toefield back in the offensive backfield:
“It’s going to be huge to run the football. You can slow the front down a little bit. It least makes them respect the run so your play-action stuff can get it off and get down the field. He brings toughness to us and always has with our team. Our team has always fed off him. When he was healthy, he’d always make a couple of runs in the gameÑbreak two tackles, break three tacklesÑand our team fed off that. You always have guys you fed off (because) of their energy. He’s always been a guy like that. Domanick (Davis), we play off his playing space; Toefield, we fed off his toughness. I think it’s going to be critical to get him off and get him going in the football game.”
“Toefield has always been a great inside runner without making big plays. He is a tackle-to-tackle bruiser. Two-yard gains become four-yard gains; four-yard gains become six-yard gains because the pile is always getting pushed. It gives you a lot different play calling. It gives you a toughness like I said--a more physical, dominating player back there.”
On the keys to be successful against Texas’ defense:
“Basically, just coming out and be able to see the blitzes; then being able to pick up the blitzes and find the hot routes.”
On Texas DE Corey Redding:
“He had a great season this year. He’s a great player and a great rusher, something like a Jevon Kearse. But I have a great (offensive) line also. I’m going to peep at him a few times when I come up (to the line), just to keep my eyes on him.”
On the “Bluegrass Miracle”:
“We threw a pass right before that pass to Michael Clayton. He made a great catch. Then we called a timeout. When I threw it, I thought the game was over. They shot their fireworks and their fans rushed the field. Then I peeped down again, I saw all of our players running out on the field. I said he (Devery Henderson) must have caught it but I really didn’t see him catch it until he was running out of the back of the end zone. That was one the greatest plays I ever saw a part of.”
On dealing with being injured in the fifth game of a season with a broken bone in his left arm:
“There’s nothing you can really do to prevent an injury. You just have to go and play. If it happens, it happens. It’s how you come back from it. I try not to worry about it.”
“It wasn’t disappointing (to suffer the injury). I would have been disappointed if I wouldn’t have come back. I did a lot of things to come back and to be with this team right now. I’m pretty happy.”
On LSU’s season:
“We’ve got another goal we can accomplish. One of our goals was to make it back to the SEC championship game and win. But it didn’t happen so we just have to move on to the next goal: go to a bowl game and win. It’s been an up and down season. But the attitude from everybody is still good and everybody still have their heads up. And they want to go out and win. “
On the SBC Cotton Bowl experience for LSU:
“It’s been great. We’ve eaten really well. We’ve experienced practicing in the Cowboys’ stadium, which has been a good experience. It’s been a fun time for us. We’ve had a lot of free time to check out the city. We’ve had early morning practices and we’ve worked hard to get that out of the way. We’ve basically had a lot of free time to explore and it’s been really fun.”
On playing against Texas:
“Everybody is excited that we are in this game. We get to play a championship ballclub, a dynasty ballclub (like Texas). We want to make our fans proud of us. We want to play the best we can in this game and try to win the ballgame.”
On the offensive keys for LSU:
“I think establishing the running game first (will be key); then off that, being able to complete plays down field. I think we’re going to have to have a lot of big plays to win the ballgame. That’s been the case for us all season.”
On establishing the running game against Texas:
“The games we’ve been successful in and won this year have been the games we have run the ball early. Coming to Texas and kind of playing in their backyard with a probably home crowd for them, it’s going to be crucial for us to start running the ball early. It will also open up the pass for us.”
On the speed of the Texas defense:
“That’s really their biggest asset with all of their talent and speed. The main thing we’re going to have to do is make it a 60-minute war and keep coming at them. We need to turn it into a real physical game and just stay after them the whole game. Speed doesn’t always help you the ball downhill. They’re talented but we’re going to show our toughness.”
“You can throw the football and still be tough. We’re going to throw everything at them. It’s a one-game season. We’re going to throw our whole playbook at them.”
On getting tired when LaBrandon Toefield was out, handing running back and returning duties:
“I did it all through high school going both ways (on offense and defense).”
On the key to have a special teams unit:
“It’s all on the other guys, especially on punt returns. If they block the right way they supposed to block with no penalties, I can get a chance to do exactly what the play is designed to do. You have to take care of the gunners on punt returns. If you block the gunners, you have a chance to go for six.”
On what he looks for on a punt return:
“The first thing I look for is the gunners. If they are blocked and I hit it straight up the middle, that’s my first key. That’s my main thing.”
On having him and LaBrandon Toefield both in the backfield:
“LaBrandon is the type to come in there and run clean over somebody. I’m the type if I have to run over somebody I will but I prefer to run around them and shake them. I can come from the backfield and catch passes. It’s just a great thing with me and LaBrandonÑgreat combination.”