Friday, January 2nd, 2009



On calling two touchdown passes to the tight end
“We saw it was open early on, but we didn’t know if it would score. We thought it would be a first down or gain eight or nine yards. Man, I’m just really proud of the whole offense.”

On whether he expected the highest-scoring game in Cotton Bowl Classic history
“I was hoping that we would be able to score. I knew they were going to score. I was thinking about 35 points. I was really proud of what our defense did. (Texas Tech WR Michael) Crabtree scares you to death. I thought our corners were awesome. Our defensive line kept pressure on them. Although we might not have had as many sacks as we wanted, we hurried their quarterback. That’s what makes it go – when you hurry him.”

On the Ole Miss offense
“We had 35 minutes of time possession. That’s huge. We wanted to keep the clock going and make first downs. … The turnovers early were frustrating. But they kept hanging on. They’ve got character.”


On WR Dexter McCluster’s performance being a surprise
“I don’t think I would be surprised with Dexter. Dexter played well but a lot of other people around him played well.”

On having WR Dexter McCluster in the Wild Rebel formation
“It’s not just his ability to make people miss and how good he is in space; you have to have ball skills and ball-handling skills. He played quarterback in high school some as well as tailback. You have to have a little moxie about you. You can’t be flustered being put in that situation out in space like that. You have to have the intangibles to be able to be in that personnel group and in that formation and he’s got it.”

On the success of the Ole Miss running game
“We always want to run the football. We play in a conference where you have to run the football to be successful. Our offensive line took ownership of that. We’ve been gradually getting better throughout the year running the football where we can sustain our aggressiveness and our physicality for a longer portion of the football game and not just have it in spurts. When they (the running backs) got called upon in the second half, they took ownership of it.”

On Jevan Snead
“He’s come a long way and he’s got a lot of room to go too, which is good. The game slowed down for him finally and it only happens by playing. As a quarterback, you can’t get better just in practice. You’ve got to play real games in real situations against really good teams and in all different kinds of pressure scenarios because, as a quarterback, the most valuable thing you can gain is experience playing.”


On the week in Dallas
“It’s been a long week. It was kind of rush before but it finally came. For the most part I’m just glad we got a win.”

On how big it was to get a safety just after the Ole Miss offense had turned the ball over
“That gave us another level of energy. It was one of the big plays in the game. We hadn’t had a safety all year, and it was something we needed to do at that point. For the most part, our defense played well.”

On whether Texas Tech was surprised by the Ole Miss defense
“I don’t think they were surprised by the game plan. I just think they were surprised by an 8-4 team playing this way. We knew we could come in and win. We’ve been playing well all year. This was the last game. We couldn’t look back.”

On not giving up big plays to Texas Tech
“Basically, everything they showed us we were already prepared for. They made some catches. We missed some tackles. But for the most part, we hung in there. Coach (Tyrone) Nix prepared us for everything they showed us.”


On the punt return for touchdown called back for stepping out of bounds
“I don’t think I stepped out of bounds but the cameras don’t lie. I was too excited I guess.”

On today’s game
“Basically, we knew this was going to be a big time game. Texas Tech was ranked No. 7 coming into the game. They had (Michael) Crabtree who was a Heisman candidate and also (Harrell) was a Heisman candidate. We knew that, in all of the fuss, to win this game we were going to have to run to the ball and we were going to have to bring our A game. That’s what we did.”

On what makes the Texas Tech offense so difficult to defense against
“I would say it’s a little bit of the spread offense and the no huddle. Anytime you have that (on offense), you’re going to be tired and it makes it hard to focus (on defense). We focused and were able to come out with this victory.”


On the success of the Ole Miss offense against Texas Tech
“First of all, it just came down to wanting to win the game. Our offense line, I just think is real big up front. We average about 315 pounds up front. Our offensive line really got off the line of scrimmage and moved them back. Dexter (McCluster) and Brandon (Bolden) really did a good job running the ball today.”

On WR Dexter McCluster
“He’s so quick and has so much body control. He’s an unbelievable player. I really like playing with Dexter. He really has me trying to do the things he’s out there doing. He’s cutting across the field doing all type of things so that makes me want to try to do those things. It’s really fun playing with Dexter. You can’t ever sleep on Dexter. If he’s at running back, you can’t ever stop blocking. He doesn’t ever want to go down. He’s a really good player.”


On the success on the Ole Miss defense today
“It was just a team effort. Everybody held their own with no weak links on the defense. That’s one of our mottos as team. We saw this as a big stage to make a stand and earn some respect in the nation’s eyes. We knew that our offense could score and could put up points. We knew we had to make stops and that would be a wrap for the game.”


On the attitude of Ole Miss players coming into the game
“All week, we had great practices. We’ve been having a ball out here. … We just wanted to come out here and play Ole Miss football no matter what everybody else said. We knew we could get the job done if we played our game, and that’s what we did.”

On whether Texas Tech was surprised by the Ole Miss schemes
“I think they were surprised by some things. In the past, we would get ahead and not finish it. We finished today. … We had a lot of speed out there. All I need is one crease, and I’m going to hit it. My hat goes off to (strength coach Don) Coach Decker for getting me faster and bigger. We had a lot of speed on the field today.”

On whether Tech did anything that was not expected
“It was pretty much what we planned for. We knew we just had to come out there, execute our plays and get the job done. … This was more of a zone team, so we had to find the open hole. In the SEC, there’s a lot more man-to-man coverage. … Texas Tech is a great defense, but we executed our game plan and got it done.


On the Ole Miss offensive line play
“It was about being physical and getting that mindset. Practice makes perfect. We had a month to get ready and to learn about their defense. We came to play today.”

On attacking the Texas Tech defense
“We were told by Coach (Mike) Markuson to run vertical and get physical. That’s what we did. Once we did that, it opened up things for us. … I knew we were going to come to play. I don’t know if we caught them off guard or not. I just know that we have a great football team. We can play with the best.”

On the Ole Miss confidence level coming into the game
“I kept telling my teammates we should blow them out. Watching them on defense, they weren’t one of the better teams we had played.”

On his personal performance in his senior year
“I saw something fresh when Coach (Houston) Nutt came to Ole Miss. It was a fresh start. He made me believe. To come to the Cotton Bowl and dominate is big for me. … I expect Ole Miss to be in the top 10 next year. I expect the program to go up. I feel like Coach Nutt is going to retire at Ole Miss.”


On having an interception returned for a touchdown in the first half
“I have been in that situation before unfortunately. I knew I couldn’t dwell on it. I knew I had to pick my head up and keep going. It’s important for a quarterback to have a short memory. … I knew I had to play for my teammates.”

On being able to utilize WR Dexter McCluster
“He makes my job a whole lot easier whether he’s in the backfield as a running back, playing as a wide receiver or at quarterback. Just having him there provides a spark for our offense and makes the rest of us better.”

On growing up in Texas and watching the Cotton Bowl as a child
“Watching Cotton Bowls like this one, you always dreamed of playing in them. It’s huge. It makes it pretty special. I am excited to be here and have my family and friends here. To play against a team like Texas Tech is a huge accomplishment. To play them and win is unbelievable. I feel fortunate to be here and couldn’t be more excited. … I thank God for leading me here.”

On falling behind 14-0
“We have matured as a team. That is the kind of thing we are able to handle better now. Our players did a great job. Our coaches did a great job. We knew we were not out of it. We have been in this situation before. It’s one of those things you learn as you go. You can come back from 14-0 down and win. We gained confidence throughout the season to know we could be in situations like that and win. It was pretty calm. We calmed down and realized there was still a lot of time to play.”