Sunday, December 28th, 2003



On going against Ole Miss’ offense:

“An old coach at Oklahoma State who is a good friend of mine, Pat Jones, was visiting with me years ago and we were talking about how to build a program and some of the things that you do so you have a good football team. And he made a statement that I have always remembered and that statement was ‘The tough teams are the ones who can run it and know how to throw it.’ That exemplifies Ole Miss’ offense. They can run it and they know how to throw it. And that exemplifies our own offense as well.

“It has been a good development for us to go everyday in practice against our own offense because there are a lot of similarities in that we are going to run the football.

“I like to blitz when the blitz is working. I prefer to blitz, but then again everything that you do there is a calculated risk in any call that you make. The risk gets more involved as you add people to the rush, but it also becomes more of a problem for them. They have to keep people there to block. It is a numbers game. We want to do anything that we can, and I don’t think you can approach it from any single angle about how to get a good quarterback out of his comfort zone.

“Basically it always comes down to, in my opinion, when it is a running play, it is those guys in the trenches including the linebackers making the right decisions and being tough enough to meet strength for strength.”

On Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning:

“He is a big guy, 6-5. They don’t get in the shotgun as much as Texas Tech did, and Texas Tech has a pretty good sized quarterback with Symons. With Eli at 6-5, in the shotgun it takes a little time for the ball to be snapped from the center back to you. Even if you want to get it out there quick, you have to wait for the ball to get to you. I see them with the quarterback under because he is tall and it gives them an additional bullet in the chamber because he can take a one-step drop. If you are playing back a little bit, he doesn’t have to wait for you to snap the ball to him. He can get it and pop it out there or he can hit you underneath with slants.

“All of those receivers, none of them have had another quarterback except for him, so they know each other pretty good. He likes to throw the ball to Collins obviously, but he doesn’t have blinders on.”


On Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning and how he compares to quarterbacks Jason White of Oklahoma and B.J. Symons of Texas Tech:

“Manning is calm and collected in the pocket, and he can pick you apart. They have their own style of games. You can’t just look at them and say. They just have different styles of games. They are all good quarterbacks. Jason White is real loaded with his cast, and Ole Miss is the same way.”

Does Manning finishing so high in the Heisman voting give you extra motivation?

“We have faced two Heisman Trophy candidates this year. It is going to take a team effort. Offense, special teams and defense need to come out and play our style of football and have fun.”

Do you feel program is headed in the right direction?

I feel like we are. You can see as far as Coach Miles and Coach Clay have been here, we have progressed every year. The first year we were getting adjusted to the new system. We were just players away from a bowl team that year. We are all playing with great confidence. The mental aspect, we let the coaches take care of. All of the effort, all the players and individuals take it upon themselves.”

On practicing at Texas Stadium and the extra motivation:

”It has been wonderful to be out there. You see the games on the TV and you always wonder how the stadium looks just being there. This was my first time to be there, and I am really enjoying it. It feels like you are already off in the NFL or practicing for a pro team out there, so it is exciting.

“It is fun to see your teammates and your guys flying around. Once you see one guy make a play, everyone wants to make one. Everybody wants to be seen on the big Jumbotron, and it is an exciting experience for us right now to be out there practicing on the Dallas Cowboys’ home field.

“What we are doing now is just preparing ourselves like we should. We want to be ready when we are supposed to be ready, and that is January 2. I’m pretty sure we’ll be ready when it is time to kick it off.”

On having so many guys back from last year’s bowl team:

It is a great for us. We have more guys who are going to be able to come in and out. You won’t see one guy playing every snap the whole game, and then the guys can step up and make the play.”


On what you need to focus on:

“Gang tackling and just wrapping up. If you’re the first person to get there, make sure you wrap up and secure the tackle. That is what I focus on.”

Can you compare Collins to any other receiver you have faced this year?

“Something similar to (Michael) Clayton. I didn’t see Clayton as a big 30-yard type receiver. I see him as a receiver who will catch the ball at 10 yards and go get 30 more yards after the catch. That is the type of receiver I see him as being something similar to Clayton.”

On safety Elbert Craig not being able to play in the bowl game:

“Elbert Craig, he is like a brother to me. My freshman year, I would say that he took me under his wing because he encouraged me to stay comfortable out there. When I was out there on the field nervous as a freshman, he just took me in and reminded me of things I was thinking about and he would say, ‘Alright, watch this. This is what you need to do.’ He’s like a big brother to me, because we are always kidding around. It is a real big loss to not have him out there.”

On facing Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning:

“It is a big excitement, because we have faced Jason White and we faced B.J. Symons who are similar quarterbacks to Eli Manning, but we haven’t been up to this challenge before.

“Everybody talks about playing hard and getting the sack or getting the interception off of Manning. And I just look forward to playing against him.”


On playing Ole Miss:

They are real good. They are talented in every skill position. They rotate their backs so well. You have to be prepared for everything against these guys. They rotate their backs so much, and they are always fresh all of the time, so that gives them and advantage. Surely they have an advantage at quarterback. The guy is real smart out there and makes hardly any mistakes.”

How does Manning compare to other quarterbacks you have faced this season?

“What we talked about with the coaches and players, we think (Manning) is every bit as good as any of those guys, and a lot of the pro scouts think so, too. He is probably going to be the No. 1 draft overall, so he compares pretty well with any of them.

“He is just so smart. He has a strong arm, and he makes very few mistakes.”

Is Ole Miss’ offense one of the best you have faced all year?

“Oh yes, I guarantee you. They have Collins at wide receiver. He is all SEC and they rotate their backs so well, so every one of them is fresh every time they come out there.”

On being part of a program on the rise:

“It feels so good. We haven’t been to a January bowl game since 1945 or something like that. It is a great experience.

“Collins is a great wide receiver. And their offensive line is good. They are underrated, but they are really good.

“We have to change up our coverages a little bit. We have to disguise a lot better against (Manning) because you make one mistake and it is a touchdown.”


On practicing where the Dallas Cowboys play:

“It is pretty cool. It is a pretty historic stadium and it is a lot of fun.”

On being part of program on the rise:

“It is nice because you can look back and say that all the hard work really paid off. You just have to keep building on that foundation and rise up.

“We have to stop the run first of all. They are a first down and second down running team and like to throw a lot of play action off the run game. If we are successful at stopping the run, then we can pin our ears back and rush the passer.”

Does Eli Manning compare to any other quarterbacks you have faced?

“He is different because he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He doesn’t force the ball. He can make those first guys miss and then get out of the pocket and throw the ball. He doesn’t take a lot of sacks, and that is a combination of the O-line and him.

“On the play action, it can happen fast. You’ve got to recognize run or pass and you have get up the field and put some heat on him.”

Is Ole Miss any better than a lot of the teams you played in the Big 12 this year?

“I would say so. I would say that they rank up there. They could play in the Big 12 just like some of the good teams in the Big 12 could do really well in the SEC. They are a big-named team, just like the Texases, the Texas A&Ms, the Nebrasakas and the Kansas States.”


What do you need to do to slow down Manning and the receivers?

“Keep pressure on him and disguise and run different things. Don’t let him know what kind of defense you are going to run. You have to keep mixing it up, because if you keep running the same things, he is a good quarterback and will keep checking off. We have to try and be successful with their receivers and keep pressure on them.”

What other teams have you faced this season that are similar to Ole Miss?

“I would compare them to Kansas State, because they like to run the ball. They have a good group of running backs and run the ball hard. And they can hurt you on the pass too, like Kansas State.”

How does it feel to be practicing at Texas Stadium?

“It feels real good. It makes me feel like I am a Dallas Cowboy. I am a Cowboy at Oklahoma State. Being out there on the star and seeing the stadium, seeing all the retired jersey numbers and things like that. It feels good. I always watch their games and they are my favorite team, so it is a real good feeling to be practicing out there.”

On making second consecutive bowl appearance:

“It makes you feel real good. It makes you feel like you changed something or you are part of change and are a part of turning the program around. The guys in the future who might compete for a national championship can look back at us and say we were the first guys to put the program back on the rise and bring the program around.”

On your personal goals for this game:

“Just to come out and play my best game of the season. Every game you want to play your best game, and this is the next game of the season, and I feel like I am a better than what I was a few games back. I just want to come out and have my best game of the season and show everybody that I am one of the best corners in the nation.”