Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Oklahoma State Defensive News Conference - Transcripts

Opening remarks

“It’s great to be here. We’ve had a tremendous experience so far. I’ve been to a lot of bowl games. This is hands down the best bowl in the nation, year in and year out. Somebody asked me yesterday if there was disappointment after losing the OU game and realizing we weren’t going to the Fiesta Bowl, and that disappointment turned right into elation when you find out you’re coming to the Cotton Bowl.”

On safety Daytawion Lowe
“He’s been a mainstay for us for years. He played early on in his career. Somebody did an article on him a few weeks ago about, ‘Coach, if you have one guy that maybe doesn’t get the national attention but is so important to you, who would that be?’ I didn’t think twice about saying, ‘Daytawion Lowe.’ It’s a very physical position. He’s not the biggest safety in the nation but when you watch tape he brings it. Unbelievable character. Most definitely we wouldn’t have accomplished what we’ve accomplished over the past few years and especially this year without his heartbeat with us.”

On cornerback Justin Gilbert
“Justin has the same demeanor, same intensity level. Justin is a little quieter than anybody else in this room, keeps to himself, but Justin has gotten the national accolades and much well deserved. He’s in a [high] profile position, is going to get tested many times during the bowl game. I’ve asked him to do some more difficult things this year than I have in the past, played more aggressive out there on the corner, some stuff schematically we’ve never done here at Oklahoma State before, and I would not have been able to do those things if it wasn’t for [Gilbert].”

On linebacker Shaun Lewis
“Shaun is a guy who has started since his freshman year. What has allowed Shaun to play as a freshman and be a mainstay for us, all-conference performer, is unbelievable focus and attention to how he approaches this game. He approaches it like a professional week in and week out, the amount of film study he puts in. I always tell these guys, especially at that linebacker position, there’s a fine line between anticipating and guessing. And Shaun lives on the edge there. That’s why he can make such big dynamic plays for us over the years because up here between his ears he’s a champ.”

On linebacker Caleb Lavey
“I would say if there’s one guy that had the heartbeat of the defense, it would be him – by far the top go-getter for us. He’s a defensive captain. As a coach, he’s what you dream of. And he’ll tell you this: He’s not the fastest guy out there; he’s not the quickest; he’s not the strongest. But he just makes plays and that’s because he’s smart and intelligent. He’s a fierce competitor. He’s a vocal guy on the sideline. To me, he’s had a tremendous career. New guys, guys out there all of a sudden on the Caleb Lavey bandwagon … I’ve been on the Caleb Lavey bandwagon since he was a freshman.”

On defensive tackle Calvin Barnett
“You’ve got to have some guys up front that are tenacious, that are powerful and explosive, that can get off blocks and disrupt blocking schemes, and that’s Calvin to a ‘T.’ He’s not a guy that’s going to get a ton of tackles because those guys don’t have the [opportunity]. He’s getting beat up from the right and the left. He’s taking double teams and he just keeps doing the job week in and week out. … He’s a big reason that we have made the turn. Statistically, when you look at numbers, why we’ve been able to do what we’ve done the last couple of years is because we’ve got a guy like him in the middle that’s very disruptive.”

On Missouri’s offense and how to defend it
Well, it’s hard because you watch them on film, what they’ve done against supposedly some better teams in the nation, better defenses in the nation, week in and week out they’ve moved the ball on them up and down the field. They score points. You can’t find a weakness. They’re so balanced. As a defensive coordinator, you go in wanting to stop the running game first. With [Henry] Josey and his backups, they’re all explosive backs. Then you get a running quarterback involved. That gives them an extra number, so they’ve got that element. They will have the strongest, fastest receivers we’ve seen all year. They come down with the ball. It doesn’t have to be a perfect throw because they’re so tall and they know how to catch the ball at the highest point. The good thing: You get called up and they say you’re in the Cotton Bowl. The bad thing: You’re in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri. It’s a great challenge. … You can’t get away from what we do defensively. You can’t get away too much from what has brought you here, but you’d better have some answers also when things start going wrong, and that’s the challenge with any defense. So hopefully we come up with adjustments when we have to and have some answers.”

About his play this season

“I think the season has gone pretty well for me as Coach Spencer mentioned I haven’t made near as many big plays as last year but that comes with the game. I think it has gone pretty well doing what I do with the scheme of the defense.
I have drawn a lot of attention, helping my linebackers make plays and people like Justin (Gilbert) and Daytawion (Lowe) able to cover the way they cover make it a lot easier for me. Coming where I came from (Navarro CC) where I was always the one making the plays, I had to find my unselfish side. Now as I hit a gap or a gap opens up that is not my gap and Shaun (Lewis) or Caleb (Lavey) flies through at full speed and make the plays I did my job and they did their job too. I get happy when they do their job well and that is the good part about it.”

Forcing turnovers

“I guess the secret is that you have to give all the credit to the coaches because what they stressed in practice, every single practice is you have to get five turnovers or you are running, if you get four you’re running, if you get three you have to run three gassers. It is just one of those things that we practice and practice on every single play -- strip it; try to get the ball out, play the ball. The coaches have instilled in us if you are running to the ball every play at full speed with relentless effort when you get there something is going to happen. If you have eight of the eleven orange jerseys over there near the ball the likelihood of you getting that fumble or catching a pitch are better and if enough guys are there a play is going to be made.”

Playing in the Cotton Bowl

“We are happy to be here and I think this is one of the best bowls in the country. We are excited to come and play a great SEC opponent and could not have asked for more.”

On AT&T Stadium
“It was crazy, so surreal for me.  I haven’t been in a stadium like that. I have been in some pretty nice stadiums but that is one of the best if not the best stadium in the country from all levels of athletics. It was a nice experience for me and I am blessed with the opportunity to play in the stadium on Friday.”

About Career Journey
“For me it’s been a lot of ups and downs. We came as a team so close a few times but then we captured the Big 12 title my sophomore year, my junior year we went through a bit of a struggle, but this year has been everything you could ask for. It is even deeper than that when you think about the relationships that you develop with teammates and coaches over the years. I wouldn’t trade any experience I have had the past four years for anything else in the world.”

Lessons of the Season

“It has been a long year and there is a lot you can take from it. But the one thing I can take from this year is the loss to West Virginia and how the team came together. How much better we seem to practice after the loss and do the things to get better. The group is stronger than individuals and that is definitely something I can take out of this year.”

Unity of Defense and Trust
“It starts with trust, practicing hard. I know at practice that Justin (Gilbert) is going to do his job so I don’t have to worry about trying to help him do his job and try to do mine at the same time. I know I can just focus on my job and get it done because I trust my other guys to get their job done. Trust is just cut and dry, they (coaches) are going to let you know how it is going to be and what we need to do. But it is not all really about that, but more about us being a veteran group and know that you  can’t do both because the guys on the field have been playing a long time and they know what it takes and how to win. A lot has to do with the maturity level of the guys on the field.”

On returning for Senior Year

“I felt I owed this team a lot more than I gave them last year. Coming back and playing my fourth year was something I thought about a number of times and just making that decision may have been one of the best decisions of my life. During the season last year Coach Gundy brought me in and had a little talk about the production I wasn’t having and how they expected more out of me and they knew what I could do. The thought (of staying at OSU) really bumped in around that time. I think it was better for me and the guys playing around me. After seeing those guys work hard every day and coming out with the devotion I didn’t have at times last year taught me a lot. Watching those guys compete made a difference.”

On Missouri Offense
“They are very well balanced, they pass the ball well and they run the ball. I couldn’t tell you much about the offensive line because you have to ask the guys in the trenches about that. We have to do a good job of containing those guys or they are going to make it hard for us.”

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