Saturday, December 27th, 2003



Opening Statement:

“Oklahoma State is very glad to be participating in the SBC Cotton Bowl. This is the place that we wanted to come. It’s an elite destination. It’s traditional football. And it happens to be the center of our recruiting area. Between Oklahoma and Texas we have a great number of participants on our team Ñ players that will have family and friends here. We’re looking forward to the game.”

On the impact of WR Rashaun Woods’ career on the Oklahoma State football program:

“Rashaun Woods has been a tremendous ingredient on this football team since we arrived. In our first year he makes this sensational catch that allows us to finish the season with a victory. But he’s always led by example. His work ethic at practice has been excellent. As you saw him develop, you understood why he has, as all the great players have, a real pride and a penchant for the big play, but also the willingness to work hard, prepare, for each game. He is the style of leader that is quiet and understated in many ways, but by example he expects his team to play at a very high level, as he expects himself to play at the same level. He has been a part of a football team that has accomplished very significant things at Oklahoma State. We look forward to our attachment to Rashaun Woods for years.”

On preparing for the SBC Cotton Bowl:

“It comes in phases. First of all you’ve got conditioning. You’re really doing off-the-field work. And then you start your preparation off-site. It’s a get-your-feet-back-on-the-ground, understand football and reattach yourself to your task within the team. Then you expect the pace to quicken. Then you take your break for the holidays. When you hit site, there must not be distractions. We have to enjoy our time here, but it can not take away from the preparation of the game, either by the coaches or by the players. It takes a mature team to do that. A year ago, this team showed the team we’re currently with how to operate at a bowl. This is similar to the organizations that I’ve been through at several of my other stops in college. When we get on-site, we reduce our week to a game week. It becomes the flow of a natural game week for us in Stillwater, or playing in any game. The preparation is key. But the experience this team has through the year, having played in the Big 12 Conference, having played great teams, really prepares you for a bowl game. We have a great respect for Ole Miss. I understand their abilities, but we’ll be prepared.”

On playing Ole Miss in the SBC Cotton Bowl:

“They run the football effectively, very efficiently. They have great play action. They have the ability to gun and run and do a variety of things. And then Eli Manning makes it all work, with great talent. He’s a great field general and great competitor. We’re going to have to stop the run, put pressure on the passer and try to contain a great player. On the offensive side, they are very talented inside. They have quickness and great speed on their defense. They have made a commitment to stop the run by how they play their defense. We’re going to have to take what they give us and execute our style of offense. We have a great special teams match up as well. We look forward to some of the things we’ll be able to do on special teams. If we put all three together, that’s how we win.”

On Oklahoma State’s defense:

“They’ve faced great quarterbacks throughout the season. It’s a great test for a defense. It’s one where our guys have to rise to the occasion, play an inspired game on defense to slow down a great, talented Ole Miss offense. They’ve been there before. They understand that challenge. Come game day we’ll see how they perform.”

On the character of his team:

“Week in and week out, you’re looking at a team that gets banged and bruised and we ask another player to step into the fray and perform for us. Any time you have injury in a season when you achieve to the level of 9-3, it takes everybody in your program. I really feel like, when we turned and called on a player on our team to step in there for an injured player, they stepped in and played extremely well. When you look at disappointments through the year, it takes a resilient football team Ð it takes character Ð to get beyond an opening loss, to get beyond a traditional rival loss. We had opportunities to win and be ahead in some of those games. We didn’t take care of business, finish those things strong. I think they’re looking forward to having the opportunity to compete with a talented Ole Miss team.”

On being in high-scoring games:

“Shootouts happen very much independent of the desire of the head coach. The defense needs to let the air out of the ball and slow it up. The offense needs to score at will. The opportunity for their team to score at will is not by design. It is not something we look forward to happening. When you get in a shootout, a competitive fire takes over, on one side or the other. You look forward to a play that needs to be made. It can happen on either side of the ball. Every play becomes key. It takes a group of guys on both sides of the ball that want to be competitive, and not necessarily getting everything they want to get done, having to fly by the seat of their pants, in certain instances, and then finding a way to win. That’s the characteristic that this team has demonstrated in those style of games.”