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Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

TEXAS TECH MEDIA DAY QUOTES

COACH MIKE LEACH

On being in the Cotton Bowl:

“We’re excited to be at the AT&T Cotton Bowl. It’s certainly a thrill for any school from the state of Texas, any players from Texas or anybody who even has a pulse and watches football because of the storied tradition of this bowl game. All right, that’s the best opening statement I’ve done in quite some time.”

On letting more players speak with the media than usual:

“What they might say has really never been one of my fears. I just wanted to make sure they avoided distractions of their own. We had a process where we had too many guys kind of aspiring to be team spokesmen. I thought it was kind of a distraction for our team. It’s not the media’s fault. But I just didn’t think they handled it well. It (media access to players) will be further restricted as the week goes on until after the game.”

On ways to exploit the Alabama defense:

“I don’t see a lot of weaknesses in the Alabama defense. They run just a basic good, old-fashioned defense, and they execute it real well. I think the strength of that team is the fact that they don’t have a lot of weaknesses. But I feel like we’re a good team and we execute well. The challenge is going to be to go out there and out-execute Alabama. The thing that I thought is probably most impressive about them is how they play together as a unit. That whole unit plays together well.”

On what makes the Tech offense effective:

“The fact that we try to utilize all of the skill positions to touch the ball and to contribute to the offensive effort makes us effective. I’ve always felt our best games are when we get the most people involved. If we’re able to do that effectively, that gives us a better chance to get first downs. É It (the Leach offensive system) has been borrowed and stolen, I would like to think, from the best offenses in the country. We don’t have a lot of original stuff. It’s not hard to find good ideas because football is loaded with great ideas. There are good ideas everywhere. The trick is trying to package the good ideas that match your team and that work for you, using plays that complement each other. É You want to attack the whole field and have a manageable number of plays that you feel are good plays. The hard part isn’t finding good ideas, it’s making choices of what plays you’re going to select to be good at.”

On the splits used on offense:

“We’ve had good luck as we’ve kind of tinkered with it, moving them in and out. Sometimes they’re tight, sometimes they’re wider. But the wide splits have worked pretty good for us and we’ll probably keep doing it until we change our mind.”

On why more teams don’t copy the Tech offense:

“It’s a question of packaging. There are run-and-shoot guys who do some things that are like our offense. And then there are the West Coast offense guys, and we’re kind of a portion of that. É What we’re running wasn’t specifically invented. But did a lot of other teams select these plays? Well, not necessarily. But I know that in

the state of Alabama some of the more prominent high schools run our offense because I know those coaches at Hoover and Russellville.”

On how playing in the Cotton Bowl helps Dallas-area recruiting:

“It definitely doesn’t hurt. It’s hard for me to gauge. Anytime you go to a bowl game, I think that’s huge. One of the most important things is to play well regardless of where you are.”

On how SEC football compares to Big 12 football:

“I think there is a lot more than either side would care to mention. I think they’re the two best conferences in college football. The SEC is supposed to be the fast one and the Big 12 is supposed to be the physical one. But the last time I checked, the SEC was awfully physical. And the last time I checked, the Big 12 was pretty darn fast. I think there are a lot of similarities. Both conferences really had great defenses this year. É It seems like there was a little more offensive variety in the Big 12. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. There are kind of revolving offenses it seems in the Big 12. É Everybody is trying to score points, and do the best they can, and learn from the other guy.”

On the Tech defense:

“Our defense has played really well this year. We’ve really had some good defenses in this conference, and our defense is one of them. We’re mainly a junior defense, but a lot of these guys have played since they were freshmen.”

OL E.J. WHITLEY

On preparations for the Cotton Bowl to this point:

“We’ve been doing really well. But we still have a lot of work to do, especially for the great defense that we’re about to go up against in Alabama. But I think so far our tempo has been great, and I think we have been practicing well.”

On what impresses him most about the Alabama defense:

“They’re very fast, very physical and very, very relentless. It’s not one move and stop. It’s one, two and three moves. It’s whatever it takes to get to the quarterback and get the job done. I’m very impressed with how physical they are and how fast they play.”

On whether Alabama compares to any defenses in the Big 12:

“You really can’t compare them to anyone, but I definitely would put them in the top two, up there with Texas. They’re a great defense, and they’re going to play great against us. Hopefully, maybe we can get a few plays on them.”

RB TAUREAN HENDERSON

On what to expect from the Alabama defense:

“We’ve had a chance to check them out on film. They’re great on all sides of the ball. It’s definitely going to be a test for us, but we’re looking forward to playing a great defense.”

On what it means to play a bowl game in Dallas:

“It’s so close to home (Henderson is from Gatesville) that it’s a good feeling. All of my family members will be here. A lot of our people on our team are from this area. É It’s a great atmosphere, a home base atmosphere.”

On the Tech offensive strength:

“We’ve always been coached to play hard, and that’s what we like to do.”

OL MANUEL RAMIREZ

On what it means to be a part of a team in the Cotton Bowl:

“It’s nice. I’ve never been part of a team like this. It’s nice being part of the build up of Tech’s program.”

On Alabama’s defense:

“It’s going to be nice to go against a defense like that. Their front seven is mostly seniors. They know what to do. When they make contact with the offensive linemen, if we stop them, they’re not just going to stand there. They’re going to keep moving. They’re experienced enough where one move is not enough.”

On how Alabama’s defense compares to the University of Texas defense:

“They’re both good, though they have different styles. I would say Alabama is probably a little bit faster. I would say they have more experience because of the seniority on their defense.”

WR JOEL FILANI

On the Tech offensive scheme:

“We’re on the same page. We run a lot of timing routes, and we just play well together. A lot of it depends on the quarterback. Cody (Hodges) has been playing well, and when he plays well, we play well with him. He can adjust on the run. Things go pretty well when he’s playing well.”

On the offensive system of Coach Mike Leach:

“He brings in people who can work in the system. É But the players are playing well. Alabama has a great defense. They have great talent. It’s going to be fun. It’s definitely a step up.”

On film review of the Alabama defense:

“We’ve done a lot of it. We watch breakdowns about every day. Their secondary is pretty tough. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

LB JOHN SALDI

On what it’s like to play a game that starts at 10 a.m.:

“It’s early. But we’ve had some games that started at 11 a.m. We’re looking forward to it.”

On how to balance the events of the week with game preparation:

“We know when it’s football time, and we know when it’s time to relax a little bit and have a good time.”

QB CODY HODGES

On ending his career in the Cotton Bowl:

“It’s great. It’s a perfect way to end my college career. It has been a long process, four years of not really playing a whole lot. To go 9-2, to get in the Cotton Bowl and to go against a team like Alabama for my final game is picture perfect.”

On the challenges presented by Alabama’s defense:

“Their defense is one of the tops in the nation. They’ve won a lot of ballgames for their club all year. If I’m not mistaken, they haven’t given up more than 200 yards passing in a single game. So personally, it is a big challenge for me. I have to take care of the football. ... We have to do things early and not kill ourselves early on.”

On what makes the Tech offense work:

“We’re pretty consistent. We do the same things every day at practice. Since I’ve been at Tech for five years, practice has been the exact same, every day of the week, seven days a week. We do the same things over and over. Coach Leach has really bought into the idea that we’re going to stick to the pass. A lot of teams, if on first and second down they don’t get it, they go back to the run. If we’ve got four downs, we’re going to throw it. É If it’s a product of the system, I’m just happy to be in this system. I don’t want to be in any other system. Regardless of whether it’s first-and-10, second-and-20 Ð it it’s the first play of the game or the last play of the game, we’re going to throw the football. Coach Leach is committed to that, and his players know that.”

On the Alabama secondary:

“They’re one of the tops in the country. We’ve gone against Texas’ secondary and OU’s secondary. Overall, their team speed is faster than anybody we’ve played. The windows are going to be a lot smaller to get the ball in against Alabama because they’re going to get interceptions, and those can turn into big plays for them. If you watch them on film, everybody is around the ball. They have 11 guys by the ball whether it’s a run play or a pass play.”

On Tech offensive goals:

“Our goal as an offense is to score points every time we have the ball. Is that realistic? Against Alabama, probably not. We need to get first downs early and move the ball. Obviously, we know they’re going to run the ball. We need to take advantage on offense of every opportunity we have because we may not get a lot of possessions.”

On what it feels like to be in the spotlight as the quarterback of a Cotton Bowl team:

“It’s fun. I’m just trying to soak up as much as I can. But our job is to win the football game. Dallas is great, and we have a lot of friends here. But if we don’t play well, then really none of this matters. Our job is to win. It’s my last college game. I don’t want to go out with a bad performance or a loss.”
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