Sunday, December 29th, 2002

Texas Longhorns Offensive News Conference

An overall assessment of the LSU defense:
“When I first started watching LSU, the first thing I thought was very athletic. That’s the first thing that you see. Big up front, very strong guys up front. And then the linebackers are a very athletic group of linebackers, led by the (Bradie) James Gang. Just all over the field. Very bright player, obviously a very bright student too from what I read. Their secondary is very aggressive, not afraid to play man-to-man, will bump some, will change it up. But overall the first thing I thought was athletic.”
An assessment of the year quarterback Chris Simms has had:
“He’s had a great year. I think Chris would be the first to tell you that he would have benefited from being able to redshirt. When he came in, we did not have that luxury. He was No. 2 the day he got to campus so we had to throw him in the fire, and he has just gotten better and better. Tremendous progress from last year to this year, just in little things such as carrying the ball in the pocket, pocket presence ... I think his potential is unlimited, and I think he will be better and better as he goes ... He’s not a guy who has maxed out. Sometimes we see high school players, and you wonder how come they never reach the same deal in college. In many cases, it’s because they were maxed out ... Chris enjoys practicing, works at it.”
What does it mean for it to be Simms’ final game:
“He has had some big games against some big defenses. He threw for over 400 yards in Lincoln this year and that’s not an easy thing to do ... It’s another opportunity to play. It’s another opportunity on national TV. I know he’s looking forward to it.”
On the influence of LSU head coach Nick Saban on the LSU defense:
“They’re not a team you would classify generally as an all-out blitz team. Their numbers are about 38 percent of the time. Those numbers are higher in third-down situations. But there’s a very, very distinct pro flavor, especially on third down.”
On the athleticism of LSU:
“(Demetrius) Hookfin looks to me on tape to be a very bright guy, understands splits and coverages and where his help is going to be at all times. Norman LeJeune is, I think, a heck of a player. Reminds people in the Big 12 of a Roy Williams (Oklahoma, Dallas Cowboys) kind of guy ... Very good tackler. A very talented group.”
On the importance of winning in Dallas:
“I do think of past settings, past games, but it has no affect on me. I realize that we haven’t had very successful games there, but it had nothing to do with the field we played on or the stadium ... I’m excited, I would like to end up in the Cotton Bowl on a good note ... It is rare when my dad gets to come, so I’m glad he will get to see the game. But all in all, I’m more happy that people back home in New Jersey get to wake up on New Year’s Day and wake up to me playing football. That’s the most exciting thing about it.”
On the weather:
“I probably worry about the weather more than any other player. I’ve got to throw the football. I don’t want it to be wet or windy. I like it to be perfect throwing conditions.”
On ending on a good note and the future of the program: “I’m a football fan. I realize what other people are thinking. I want to leave a lasting impression in people’s mind and have people end the season thinking good things about the University of Texas and our football team ... Everyone is aware of our struggles we’ve had. I’m sick of talking about those really ... We’d like to win this game and get the next crop of guys thinking that this is our city so they have the attitude to come in here next year and play Oklahoma ... For us as seniors, we just want to win our last game and have a good memory, and take our jerseys off as winners and not losers ... I’m not bitter toward people and how they perceive me. It’s a sport where a lot of people have different opinions. I just worry about what I have to do on the field. What everyone else wants to think about me, I just let that be and hope my playing does the speaking.”
Looking back on his college experience:
“I am excited to move on. But it hasn’t been exhausting. There have been some times when things haven’t gone as smoothly as I would like them to, but all in all I’ve had a great time, and made so many great friends and met so many good people. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. The bad times, the lessons I’ve learned, they were worth it. They’re going to make me a better player and a better person in the long run, and I truly believe that.
Did he have a good college experience:
“I did. Maybe not the typical college experience, but I’m not going to complain. You’re not going to hear me complain. I had fun. Hey, my college experience was that I got to play in front of 83,000 people every week. If I’m going to complain about that, then I’m crazy.”
On his dream game: “I’d like to be 25 of 30, four touchdowns, and somewhere in the 350 range. That would be nice. É I know a lot of these (Cotton Bowl) records. I’ve been a football fan. I’ve watched the Cotton Bowl every year since I was little.”
On importance of the Cotton Bowl:
“It’s a big game, but it’s also another game. You’ve got to show up and have the same attitude you have in other games ... I got to see a lot of film on LSU, and they do look good. Their linebackers look athletic. The y move well to ball. I think they’re going to be all over the field.”
On winning in Dallas:
“I’m sure it has crossed some people’s minds, but I don’t see what the city has to do with the outcome of a game. But we’ve talked about taking back Dallas and things like that. We’re going to go out there and battle hard for the victory.”
On the pressure that has been placed on Chris Simms during his college career:
“You look at a guy like that who goes through so much because of who is father is ... But he has handled it so well, you couldn’t even believe it. When you go back and just sit at his apartment and talk to him, he’s not even worried about all of that. He’s just Chris Simms, and that’s the type of guy he is.”
On the LSU defense:
“We’re going to have to make some individual plays, and we’re going to need a lot of time from our offensive line. They have a great defensive line, and their DBs are so aggressive. It’s going to be a tough challenge for us, kind of like the K-State secondary when we played up there.”
On playing again after several weeks off:
“Just being excited, just being ready to play, that’s how you handle that. You get a chance for another game. That’s how we have to handle that.”
On the LSU secondary:
“They have a lot of talent, especially No. 36 (Norman LeJeune) and No. 21 (Randall Gay) ... Anytime a person comes up in your face and tries to play you man-to-man, to me I think that’s disrespecting me. It’s telling me that the person is thinking, ‘I’m going to shut you down by myself.’ It really makes me mad. That’s part of getting ready for the next level because they play man-to-man. It makes me better.”
On the importance of playing well in his last game as a senior:
“I want this to be my best game since this is my last game. I’ve been playing with Chris (Simms) for four years, and it’s unfair the criticism and what he has had to go through. We’re going to try to go out with a bang. We’re going to do our best job to protect him.”
What Big 12 team the LSU defense resembles:
“Probably Kansas State. Good front four, physical front four. Those two tackles at Kansas State were big and physical. The linebacking corps was real fast and physical ... They’re (LSU) ranked No. 5 in the nation (on defense) ... If we play well up front, everything else will handle itself. We have the key guys we need in the skill positions to perform.”
On the importance of winning the final game of the season:
“We haven’t performed well here in Dallas. This is our last game, and we don’t want to lose ... We’re going to do whatever it takes to take back Dallas. That is the whole theme and motto for this week ... If we go 11-2, people across the country will see we have a winning program, and hopefully they’ll want to join that winning program.”