Tuesday, December 30th, 2003



Opening Statement:

“The Cotton Bowl is a tremendous experience for our team. The agenda and the width of scope of the events the Cotton Bowl undertakes on behalf of their participants are as fine of bowl events as there is. We really appreciate participating and would like to add our thanks to those people who have made our stay so memorable.

“The Ole Miss team is a team that is full of fine people. Our Oklahoma State people run across Ole Miss coaches and players and you know they are wonderful people. I want to pay that compliment to Coach Cutcliffe. We are very fortunate to represent two schools and two groups of people who are loyal and committed to their school and yet enjoy the opportunity to participate equally with our opponents on a very friendly basis. The Dallas Cowboys and their staff for allowing us to use their stadium. It has been a great place for us to prepare for this Cotton Bowl game. And of course we have enjoyed being in Dallas. This is very much of a homecoming for many of our players and myself. We are very comfortable with Dallas. And again, we look forward to the game.

“The Ole Miss team is a tremendous football team on both sides of the ball and on special teams, and we look forward to a very competitive game.”

Does the extra time to compete for a bowl game benefit the offense or the defense?

“I’ve been in games that were shootouts and games that were close and low scoring. It really kind of depends on the team. Defenses get equal amount of time to prepare for the offenses they are facing. It depends very specifically on the team that you are facing and where their expertise and abilities lie.”

On OSU defensive coordinator Bill Clay:

“Bill has always been in places where he was under matched in talent and had the ability to engineer defenses that had the opportunity to beat ranked teams and really, really good football teams. His great experience in coaching was a strategic fit. And then when you meet Bill Clay, you realize that he is team and family and that the things that are important to him are things that make this football team better. It is easy to be attracted to Bill Clay.”

On the importance of this game in terms of recruiting:

“We enjoy the proximity with Oklahoma State. We are in here on a regular basis. This is very much an in-state area for us. The opportunity to play in a postseason contest, one that is so noteworthy and so traditional and to be right in the center of our recruiting area, it could not have been a finer destination for us minus a championship opportunity.

On having players back from injuries:

“It is nice to see Darrent Williams, our corner, and Tatum Bell, our tailback, back running at full speed and capable. Cory Hilliard, our tackle, was lost late in the season but is back and playing well. Adding those personalities has re-energized the group. And we are a much better football team than we were at the end of the season with the addition of those guys.”

On the interaction of players at the end of game and how they act:

“The positive examples that are out there have to be shown and magnified, and hopefully the wrong actions are minimized we hope, and we go beyond. I can’t imagine that Ole Miss or Oklahoma State, other than what would be an instinct reaction, would make the mistake of the magnitude that was made in earlier bowl games. We really look to a great, competitive football game, one that is decided late in favor of either team, and one where the spirit of competition will be rich and enjoyed.”

On Coach Miles’ career path to becoming a head coach:

“I have been very fortunate to have worked with quality coaches and had the opportunity to, as an assistant, see real strong leadership. We try to, as best we can, to learn from those experiences and integrate them into those things that you would want to do with your program. Nothing prepares you for this job except doing the job. You find out on a regular basis that you are called to react how you see your program needs to react. It takes resources that are not necessarily just coach oriented.”

How important is this game from a confidence standpoint?

“We want to be a bowl team on a regular basis. We want to aspire to championship opportunities within our conference and have the opportunity to be a in a championship series bowl game. That is where our goals are headed. This great destination and traditional bowl site fits very comfortably in that line. We have achieved, and we want to make sure that the bar stays there as best we can.”

Does Ole Miss remind you of any team you have faced?

“They are committed on defense to stopping the run, which looks a little like our defense, maybe even Baylor’s by scheme. They are as talented as Kansas State, and their personnel is awfully good. On offense they have a great quarterback, and the opportunity to run the football will give you the problem of trying to defend a balanced offense with a great passer. There are some similarities drawn from Big 12 teams.”

On Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning:

“Eli Manning has great physical skills. It is real obvious when he is on the field. He has great command of the offense and understands everything that is going on and is much like a coach on the field with great talent. It is obvious that Eli Manning comes from a great line of successful quarterbacks and he is going to be difficult to defend.”

On how convenient it is to be able to recruit from the same household:

“We were real fortunate to have Rashaun Woods on campus when we got here. He was a talented wide receiver who hadn’t caught a touchdown pass yet had a tremendous work ethic. You saw surrounding him a family that was supportive with great values. You could tell that the way they raised their sons that the boys have intangibles that all the great players have had. Rashaun developed as a player into a leader. It made us even more attracted to the two younger brothers. We are fortunate that they chose to come to Oklahoma State. We expect the other two we have to have similar successes to what Rashaun has had.”

On having Tatum Bell back and the success that Vernand Morency has had:

“Tatum Bell lost his opportunity to play because of injury. He is our best back and has the opportunity to hit the home run when he is on the field. He has great speed. He is a tremendous player. In the meantime, in his absence, Vernand Morency has distinguished himself as being very capable and talented and certainly will be a back to be reckoned with for Oklahoma State for quite some time. You can expect that both backs will play. It is not as necessarily as important to me on who takes the first snap as to who takes the majority of the snaps and has the hot hand. Both backs will see significant action, and it is not that important in my opinion who takes the first snap.”

On the momentum gained by winning the bowl game:

“A victory in the bowl setting is one that momentum carries very comfortably into the off-season preparation and recruiting, and it is a tremendous lift. I also think that an experience such as the Cotton Bowl has its own momentum, so a taste of the elite bowl sites and the January 1st and later bowl games give a team great incentive. A victory is very much an added momentum.”

What elements of Ole Miss’ offense has you concerned?

“The offense that Ole Miss runs, they get the ball to so many people both in the running game and passing game. When you look at the potential areas of concern, it spreads the defense thin, and it is a concern more than the game and a challenge that hopefully our defense will be ready for.”

Any good stories from the Beef Bowl?

“I really enjoyed our visit to Lawry’s. It was great food. I can tell you that there were a number of opportunities to participate, Lawry’s being one. Scottish Rite Hospital was a visit that I really enjoyed, and I loved our kids. The experience to meet people less fortunate than us, I thank the Cotton Bowl for making that an event that we had the opportunity to attend. Those young men will not be able to recreate that opportunity. They will take back memories from that visit that are much greater and stay with them much longer than any number of things that they will do this week.”