Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Missouri Tigers Defensive News Conference - Transcripts

On Missouri defense getting production from players that weren’t highly rated recruits
“To begin when you say highly-rated, I’m not sure who makes those rankings. Have you ever seen any of those people who give those stars? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But we have a certain system at Missouri that will follow and go through our little checklist. Like I always tell people, to me my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world. You might not think so, but I do. To us these players were what we were looking for and what we evaluated. I think they are great players when they came out.”

On number of defensive playmakers
“Coming out of last season, Kony (Early) made a big statement toward the end of the season, so people were kind of zeroing in and finding out where Kony was on the one side. And Michael (Sam), who is very, very talented was very productive and all of a sudden they realized they had to take care of Michael. Also with Shane Ray and Markus Golden, it is kind of a like a four-headed monster where everyone is being very productive and playing well for us.”

On Oklahoma State offense
“They are a very explosive offense. They have a great quarterback. Their two tailbacks are phenomenal. They have receivers that can get the ball and play well in space. Then they stretch out all over the field. Then all of a sudden they flip a switch and they come in with those big fullbacks and the tight ends and stuff. I think Mike (Gundy) has done a great job with his personnel and changing his personnel. We will have our hands full.”

On importance of recruiting Texas for Mizzou Football
“The history and evolution of us being there is when we first got here, there were only two coaches in Texas. And then like anything you learn and you grow. Obviously we were in the Big 12 (at that time), so Texas was a big mainstay. Going from two people to five or six people down here, and then we made the move over the SEC, especially here in the Dallas area this area specifically, has been very, very good to us and productive. Outside of the state of Missouri, Dallas is one of the number one or number two alumni bases for the University of Missouri. So Dallas has always been very good for us. Coach (Bruce) Walker and I split this area in recruiting. Cool (Assistant Coach Craig Kuligowski) does a really good job in Houston. We kind of cut back, because with the SEC we have gotten into Atlanta and into Georgia, Florida and stuff. Now it is more receptive there because it is SEC country. I think with Texas A&M being in the league and all that stuff, Texas is still good ground for us and it is great high school football.”

On Oklahoma State running game
“I know their run game is very, very good and very effective. With the misdirection and the reads and the way they run their fullbacks and cross their backs and things of that nature. It doesn’t seem complicated, but it is. They have a great offensive line that comes off (the ball). Our run defense, we just want to be in our gaps and tackle the guy with the ball.”

On Oklahoma State passing game
“Clint Chelf has gotten better and better with each football game. The two main receivers, No. 87 (Tracy Moore) and No. 5 (Josh Stewart) are just great receivers. They complement that with No. 18 (Blake Jackson), No. 81 (Jhajuan Seales) and No. 17 (Charlie Moore). They get the ball on the perimeter. The thing that is really good about Mike’s (Gundy) spread offense is that they have those great tailbacks with great hands that can catch the ball out of the backfield. So it is going to be a challenge. Our theory is to keep people in front of us, break on the ball and try to tackle them.”   

On whether limited number of sacks against Oklahoma State is due to getting rid of the ball quickly or offensive line blocking well
“I think it is both. Why I say that is I think their offensive line is very, very talented. I also think the quarterback has a quick release. I think he is well coached in where he has to get the ball and where he has to throw the ball. And then they are a play action team. When you a run team, that gives you a little extra step when you play action team. So I think it is a multiple of all of that. But I think it goes back to the trenches and the offensive line because they are very good pass protectors.”

On how Oklahoma State’s hurry up offense and scheme is similar to Auburn
“What they do is that they pull linemen one way and run the opposite way. They cross their backs a lot. Misdirection in that they try to use your keys against you from a defensive perspective.”

On what makes Defensive End Michael Sam special
“Michael Sam is carefree, fun-loving and loves to play football. He loves to play football. He goes out there and I really think he does a great job of practicing hard, which a lot of kids don’t do these days you know. I think Michael that as a biologist that is his laboratory. He really enjoys football. He loves playing football. He has a great passion and he is very vocal about it too. It is contagious.”

On the play of Defensive End Kony Ealy down the stretch of the season
“The thing that helps us is as a defense, as a whole, we are playing really well as a team and a unit and the chemistry is great. I think Kony has done a great job of coming on because, Michael (Sam) was going on and then people had to scheme Michael. So Kony has a good day. They have to worry about four defensive ends. It is a checkers game that goes back and forth.”

On Oklahoma State wide receivers

“They have some great receivers. Tracy Moore, number 87, he is really a great receiver. I think he will play at the next level. Honestly, the don’t remind me of the SEC-type receivers, but going back to the Big 12 when we were there, they definitely remind me of the type of receivers that Oklahoma State has had through the years.”

On whether previously playing in the Big 12 gives Missouri an idea of the style of play of Oklahoma State
“Yes, definitely. A lot of the young guys haven’t seen the Big 12 play like I have. It definitely takes you back so I am excited to see the ball in the air a little bit more than the SEC does.”

On what it is like for the secondary to have Michael Sam and Kony Ealy up front
“It is lovely having guys like Michael Sam and Kony Ealy rushing the quarterback. I tell them also a lot of those sacks are because of me, so I will take credit (laughter). I take some credit. But no, it is definitely great having those guys up front.”
On what defensive line needs to do in the game to be successful

“We definitely need to come off the ball and get off our blocks. We have to wrap up on our tackles. We definitely have to frustrate the offense as much as possible and get them out of their comfort zone in the beginning.”

On Oklahoma State offense
“They are athletic. Their running back is pretty elusive. If he gets a step he is gone so you definitely have to wrap up, tackle and maintain gaps. The quarterback is a great dual-threat and makes good decisions whether to throw, to give or to keep. The offensive linemen are pretty good with the run block. The wide receivers are processionals type receivers that are really good at catching it and getting to the sticks and getting up field. Overall, I think they are a great ball club. We will do our best to try and get the victory.”

On how defense has been able to create some many turnovers
“It’s is about what we do every day in practice. Our coaches teach us turnovers, turnovers and just running and getting after the ball. It doesn’t matter whether the ball is 70 yards down the field or five yards in the backfield, our job is to get to the ball and try to create havoc.”

On Oklahoma State offense

“They are very talented, athletic group. They can move and they have some guys.
They just keep finishing their blocks more than most teams I see. We just have to throw off blocks and try to make the plays and not let the offensive linemen get to the second level and just try to make plays as a defensive line like we have most of the year and we will be fine.”

On Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf
He is a great quarterback. He is a dual-threat guy and he can run extremely well. He is one of the better runners I have seen. He has good accuracy on the run as well. And he has good targets at wide receiver. So we are going to look to E.J. (Gaines) and the other guys in the secondary to lock some of those guys down and give us a few extra seconds to get the quarterback and make some plays like we have all year.”

On what it would mean to win the Cotton Bowl to cap memorable season
“It would be an unreal feeling. I can’t explain it. It would be pretty remarkable. We had one heck of a season, one heck of a turnaround from last year playing in the SEC. We were SEC Eastern Division champs. If we could just come out on top as Cotton Bowl champs it would be one of the best feelings of my life.”

On Oklahoma State offensive line

“I am very excited about coming back to my home state. I haven’t played on a Friday night in my home state since November 2008. It is very meaningful for me and it is going to be very exciting. Expect a lot from Michael Sam on Friday.”

On what win in the Cotton Bowl would mean for the Mizzou program
“The win would just prove that we belong in the SEC and we should be respected by everyone in that conference. Which I think we earned a lot of respect from our conference just the nation to show we belong where we are and we are one of the best in the country.”

On concentrating on finishing strong in the fourth quarter

“You can only win the game in the fourth quarter, we always say that. We try to finish everything we do, practice, drills, weightlifting, everything and the coaches build that in your mind then the fourth quarter is a big thing for us.”

On how last year’s tough losses helped motivate team for this year’s success
“It motivated us a lot. We had a chip on our shoulder all throughout last season, through spring ball. We started the season unranked and no one thought anything of us. We carried that chip on our shoulder throughout this season.”

Toll Free: 888-792-BOWL (2695)
One AT&T Way, Arlington, TX 76011

Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2018. Cotton Bowl Classic. All rights reserved. Design and development by Blythe Spirit Design and Development.