Monday, December 29th, 2003



On leaving TCU to return to Ole Miss as an assistant coach:

“I’d coached at Ole Miss before and my family had grown up there when I was very young. We loved Fort Worth; we loved TCU. Coach (Gary) Patterson was a first-year head coach and he’d been the previous defensive coordinator. I don’t know if Gary ever wanted to not be defensive coordinator. I enjoyed my experience there but I wanted to be the guy in charge and to be the guy about making decisions and at TCU, Gary was really handling most of those things. (It was) that and the fact of wanting to get back into the Southeastern Conference. I’d always followed what Ole Miss has done at every place I’ve ever coached and I knew Coach (David) Cutcliffe was right on the edge of getting a team that could compete year in and year out for the SEC title. I wanted to be a part of it.”

On using the 4-2-5 defensive scheme:

“The 4-2-5, if any of you guys have done your homework, is old eight-man front football. It is exactly what Jerry Claiborne ran at Maryland years and years and years ago except we have substituted a defensive back for an outside linebacker. I was at Western Michigan. It was my fourth year there the year 2000. We wanted to make a change with what we were doing on defense and we wanted to come up with something a little different. I’ve always been an eight-man-front guy and we always went out running out eight-man front things. So I actually talked to Gary Patterson at TCU and Dick Bumpus; those guys had been out in Utah. They had run that package. We brought Gary in, spent about three days with him and we put (the defense) in. We had a tremendous amount of success in the 2000 season. I think we ended up in the top five in quite a few defensive categories and top 20 in all of them so we’ve been with it ever since.”

On the challenges on preparing for Oklahoma State’s offense:

“They have great tailbacks. They’ve got a quarterback that understands the system and is very mobile. They go a great job of directing him (in) whose hands to get the ball. And obviously they’ve got the wide receiver, (Rashaun) Woods. I think all of the receivers are good and they have a physical line with big tight ends. They will be a tremendous challenge to play against.”

On the similarities between Ole Miss and Oklahoma State:

“Our two defenses are similar. Our alignments are very, very similar. Offensively, there are not a lot of similarities in offensive sets that we see from our offense and from what we will see from Oklahoma State’s. That’s probably where the similarities stop. When you start talking about good receivers and good offensive linemen and those things, then there are a lot of similarities that come back into play.”

On Jesse Mitchell as Ole Miss’ defensive MVP:

“In my mind he is. He’s invaluable. He’s got great courage, great leadership and (is) really smart graduating with an accounting degree. He’s the kind of guy when you finish your practice in fall camp and everybody heads in after two-a-days, he’s got all the freshmen out there and he’s teaching them some skill that he felt like they didn’t understand when the coach was teaching it. He’s been nothing but absolutely fun to be around. He’s been a tremendous leader for us.”

On the hype surrounding the offensive side of the ball for this game:

“We’re used to that. You look at anything we put out it’s offense, offense, offense and it should be. We have some absolutely wonderful stars when you talk about a Heisman Trophy candidate, when you talk about a Lou Groza Award winner and in my mind Chris Collins is one of the best receivers in the country. I’ve told our guys forever we go against outstanding receivers and a great quarterback, I think the best quarterback in the country, every single day. It doesn’t bother me at all. They’ve got a great offense and we have a great offense. We’re just glad to be here and be a part of it.”

On the defense improving during the season after a tough start:

“We’ve gotten better. Our kids have kept theironfidence. We’ll go into this game with a good opportunity to play good defense to hopefully keep it from not being a blowout. That’s what we would like to try to do.”

On Oklahoma State WR Rashaun Woods:

“He’s got great ball skills; I mean absolutely fabulous. He knows where the ball is and uses his body to shield defenders. He’s perfected the art of pushing off as good as I’ve seen. That will be an NFL talent that I’m sure those people will be interested in. He can get open and he can make catches. I tell you what he blocks too. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a total football player.”


On comparing Oklahoma State’s offensive line to previous opponents:

“The offensive line we compare (them) to (is) Arkansas because they’re big, physical and look like they are pretty athletic. Their running backs are pretty good. They have two or three running backs that run behind their pads.”

On the advantage of practicing against multiple running backs:

“We’ve got good running backs so that puts us in a great position to practice against good running backs so when game time comes around we’ll be prepared.”

On scouting Oklahoma State’s running backs:

“We’ve watched about four or five different teams. From all the teams we watched, you could only control them for so long then they would pop a big run against you. Our main concern is to stop the 10 to 15 yards on us.”

On keys to success against Oklahoma State’s offense:

“I believe if we can get them in long third-down situations then we can try to control them. It will be a long day for us if we can’t come out and stop them early.”


On the defense not getting much as attention as the offense:

“We kind of like being the no-name guys. It doesn’t bother us. I think everybody knows how well we’ve been stopping the run especially and our defense overall. It’s a great bunch.”

On stopping the run:

“That’s where we always like to start out stopping the run. Most teams are kind of like that but that’s definitely our goal is to stop the run first, maybe get ahead, let Eli (Manning) score some touchdowns hopefully and force them into passing situations.”

On Ole Miss as an under-sized defensive unit:

“I think that’s what our defense is built around--speed and quickness. We’re an attacking-style type defense with gap control. As long as we have people running the field and running all over the place, we’ll be great defensively.”


On keys to stopping the Oklahoma State offense:

“I think personally we have to stop the running game and make them pass. Once we get them in the pass, put some heat on them with our front four and try to let our linebackers lay back in coverage and not bring the blitzes as much. If we can do that successfully, we’ll be alright.”

On being undersized as a defensive tackle:

“Coach (Rick) Petri and the rest of the staff knew what I could do and Coach (Chuck) Driesbach believed in what they told him. We work well together. His defense complements my style of play.”

On what makes Ole Miss’ defense successful:

“Our defense definitely is predicated on our speed. Everyone on our defense can run. We converge on the ball as quickly as anyone I’ve ever seen. That’s a big plus for us. No, we’re not as big as most defenses but we can move and get to the ball. And that’s what counts.”


On Oklahoma State WR Rashaun Woods:

“He’s an outstanding receiver. He’s big, physical and he’s strong. He runs excellent routes. He doesn’t have blazing speed but he makes up for it in his ball skills and his understanding of the game. Like I said, he’s a great receiver and we’re going to have our hands full.”

On keys to containing Oklahoma State’s passing game:

“You can’t let the quarterback just sit in and know what coverages you’re going to run. You have to confuse him hopefully. You just have to go out and make plays.”

On staying focused through playing up and down throughout the season:

“As a defensive back, you have to have the mindset ‘let the last play go.’ If you have an interception, you have to let it go because you have the next play. You have to have the confidence in yourself and I have the confidence in myself and Travis (Johnson) to come out and make good plays.”

On ending his college career playing in the SBC Cotton Bowl:

“To come to a bowl like the Cotton Bowl that’s known nationally as a great bowl for a long time is an outstanding opportunity.”