Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Missouri Offensive News Conference - Transcripts

On playing alma mater (Oklahoma State) and former program at which he coached
“I see a lot of familiar faces and have a lot of familiarity with the people around the program. Other than that, you take the emotions out of it obviously. It is just another game and the truth is that every day I am with the guys in this room and on the Missouri team. That is where my heart and soul is every day in preparing to win the game. Obviously, do I have special feelings toward Oklahoma State, sure I do, it is my home it is where I played, the team I grew up loving. But at the end of the day, we are certainly looking forward to doing our very best to win this game Friday night.”

On whether experience in meeting room with OSU Head Coach Mike Gundy gives either team an advantage because of familiarity
“I don’t know. It has been a while since we have been together. I don’t think it gives either person an advantage because both offenses have changed so much since we were together. We were really a two-back offense at the time. I know what Coach Gundy likes to do from a play-calling standpoint because I got to sit beside him for four years while he did it. He hasn’t been beside me yet. I know this, he still likes to throw the ball down the field and that is a great characteristic of their offense.”

On influences on him as a coach
“I have been around a lot of coaches who have had an impact on me. I have just been fortunate in my career to be around a lot of great coaches starting with Les Miles, who coached me in college and was my position coach and gave me a chance to be full time there at Oklahoma State. And then I moved on with him to LSU. I was around a couple of great coordinators at LSU in Jimbo Fisher and Gary Crowton and those guys are rocks and great minds. Obviously I have just done a lot of great things in this profession. When I got to Missouri with Coach (Gary) Pinkel and David Yost was our offensive coordinator. We were a different style of spread offense. So it was kind of kind of my first time to live and die with the spread. Even beyond that there are some other guys in there that I have had some close relationships with Todd Monken, who is the head coach at Southern Miss now. I have talked a lot of football with Coach (Mike) Gundy. I spent a lot of time talking football and being in the room. The opportunity that I have been blessed with early in my career and early in my life to be around all those coaches, I just feel like that if you are smart you take something from every one of those guys and apply it to what you are going to become. I am just very blessed and thankful for the opportunity to be around a lot of great coaches.”

On Oklahoma State defense
First of all you see a defense that really swarms the football. They play very hard. They swarm to the ball. I think the other thing you see is a defensive line that is I think atypical for what I have been used to in the Big 12. They are really physical and they have been built in a big strong manner. They are big strong guys and they run to the football. They are big guys and they run to the football real well. They roll a lot of players in and out of there. I think the other thing you see besides them being physical in the run game is on the back end they can really cover. They have some good cover corners and good safeties and they don’t miss a lot of tackles in open space. They tackle real well. At the end of the day, what they do is they just make you work for everything you get. They just make you execute all the way down the field to get your yards and to get your scores. So they don’t give up a lot of big plays. We are going to have our work cut out for us.”

On whether the number of turnovers Oklahoma State forces is alarming to him as an offensive coordinator
“Yes, yes it is. Obviously this game is about turnovers. If you look at both teams, something you look at is turnover margin and both of us have been very good at it this year. I think they have done even a little better than we have. Both of our turnover margins have been outstanding. That is obviously a key to every big game is winning the turnover battle.”

On how wide receiver L’Damian Washington has transformed since first arriving at Missouri
“When he got to Mizzou, he was about 160 pounds. He had some tough circumstances in his life. As far as his parents passed away and he didn’t have a lot of things in high school that most guys have, but even with that he made great grades, he took care of his business off the field as well as on the field. I remember the first time he got there we took him to the cafeteria and he was just smiling ear to ear. But what he has done is just work really hard to change his body and to have the kind of weight he needs to have. He can really run. He has great hands. He is a big-play threat for us. Beyond all that, he is even a better leader for our team. He is a team captain and just does an excellent job for us.”

On what need to do to win the game
“We probably need to do the tenable things. We have to protect the football. We have to move it. We have to be more efficient than we were in the SEC Championship Game. We have to be better on third down. Obviously Oklahoma State has got an explosive offense and will score some points. We have to be ready to keep our drives alive by controlling the ball, by converting third downs and protecting the ball. We can’t turn in it over. We can’t give them easy opportunities to score.”

On whether surprised by Henry Josey’s comeback
“Knowing Henry it is not really a surprise to any of us. He is just a great person and his work ethic is just phenomenal. So knowing him, it is not a surprise to us. I know on the outside of things, even I had a friend that is a doctor and he said he will have trouble walking again much less playing football, when he looked at the injury and all the things he had. The biggest thing I think you can say about Henry Josey is he is a huge inspiration to our team. I thought we were going to have a fight during the SEC Championship Game when he got kind of knocked into the sideline over there. There is no doubt our team rallies around him. He is an inspiring figure for our team.”

On offensive playmakers

“As an O-line we feel like at any moment the ball can go for a touchdown or Henry (Josey) can break a big run or any of our backs. All we have to do is do our job the best we can and we know our playmakers can make any given play.”

On Oklahoma State defense
“They are a high-motor team. They don’t stop until the whistle blows. They are similar to our defense in a way. They rotate a lot of guys. They stay fresh. There is a reason why they are also here at the Cotton Bowl with a good record. They do what is right and they are well coached.”

On inspiration of Henry Josey
“Henry (Josey) is special to me because I saw him get hurt. I saw him battle through it emotionally, mentally and physically and to see the way he came back the way he did. And then I got hurt kind of in the middle of hid deal, so he was freshly walking kind of. He was kind of my mentor in a way to get me back quickly. He is special to me and always will be.” 

On how experiences and challenges last year have contributed to success this year

“I think last year is a big contributor to our success this year because last year we lost about four games in the fourth quarter. And this year during camp, two-a-days, we said ‘Hey, we are going to make fourth quarter a part of practice.’ So we blow the horn about three times and it is fourth quarter. It is time to dial it in. In the SEC, you have to finish in the fourth quarter. We made that a part of practice this year and it has paid off. In the fourth quarter this year, we have basically dominate games in the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter is our quarter. That is the mentality that we took over from last year because we lost so many games in the fourth quarter. And also the injury bug changed the way we practiced (last year). We have been mostly healthy this year. James (Franklin) went out in the (Georgia) game. But last year we lost a lot of guys, offensive linemen, in two a days. This year we were healthy.”

On quarterback James Franklin’s ability to make a play when the play breaks down
“Usually I am in scramble drill, but with James Franklin, a guy that will tuck the ball and run and run over somebody, I’ve seen it a couple of times. So just to see the ball in his hands, he is a playmaker. He is definitely a high guy on the offense. And I love when the ball is in James’ hands. He can make anything happen at any time.”


On when you knew that this could be a special year

“Probably in two a days. As an offense, we won the competition for the first time since we started it and just the connection and the bond we had as a team. That was when we all noticed that we were going to be able to do something special.”

On what took from last year’s season
“I just think going through all the adversity and the negativity and learning how to be positive through that. To turn that into a positive and not let that affect how we play and how we work together as a team. And it just really helped us to understand that whenever we got to a point where we are going through a tough time to not let it get to a point to where it got last year.”

On what winning this game would mean to cap career
“I would definitely like to go out with a win. I think it would signify to get a 12 win season for the second time, for the most times in school history. I think that would be a great win.”

On how this game can help build the program for the future

“It is huge. Especially when this game means 12 wins. When with 12 wins you can tie the school record for most wins in the history of Missouri. That is huge. But at the same time, it is the seniors’ last game and could be the last game for some of our non-seniors that we don’t know about yet. So we are going out and playing football like we have been the last 15 weeks of this year. It is going to be a little bit more special after the game knowing that it is my last game with Max (Copeland) and my last game with Justin (Britt), and James (Franklin) and L’Damian (Washington). Just going out there and giving it all for them. I already told them, I looked them in the eyes and I said ‘Guys, this is your last game let’s go out and have fun. But at the same time I am going to give you my all, all that I can for every single play because I want this to be a special game.’ You can tell it means something to them and that they are going to miss it. They are all focused and are ready to go.”

On Oklahoma State defense
“They have a lot of athleticism. They are quick. They get to the ball and they have a never-quit attitude of getting to the ball. Their secondary is a great secondary. It is going to be a fun matchup on the edges. I feel like the game will be won inside with the offensive lines of Oklahoma State and Missouri and the defensive lines of Missouri and Oklahoma State. If you want to watch the game it is going to be right there, because you have two athletic offensive and defensive lines going against each other. That is where it starts and that is where the game is going to be won and lost.”


On his game winning touchdown run against Texas A&M to clinch SEC Eastern Division championship
“It was like third down and one and I was just trying to get the first down to keep the drive alive. The two guys in here, Justin Britt and Evan (Boehm), Max (Copeland), Mitch (Morse) and Connor (McGovern), it was five yards before I even had to make a decision on what to do. They really dominated that whole thing. That was like the biggest hole possible. Coach (Pinkel) could have run through it. That is how big it was. And I only had one guy to make miss. Luckily, like they always do, they tried to take my legs out and I got to jump over it. I saw the end zone and I just told myself ‘Please Don’t get caught.’ That was the only thing going through my mind. Don’t get caught right now. It was crazy to finish off the year like that was a blessing for my whole story.”

On how he was able to go through all the injury rehabilitation to get back on the field
“Everyone can say it was all me, but I had people all around me. I had someone next to me at all times. I had someone talking to me. Also I just prayed a whole lot. The people around me just kept lifting me up and pushing me forward.”

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