Hawkins: Yep. We used to do it on purpose. R.J. knew they would do that at times. We knew that's kind of been their tradition that if you hit them on return, they'll come back and they'll squib it.
He was crushed because he knew it and it still ended up happening.
Q: Is that whole game pretty much how you drew it up?
Hawkins: Umm, I'll tell you this: I believed we were going to win it. I totally did. I wasn't exactly sure how. I really felt like if we played a clean game on our side and got a little chemistry and energy going — but it kind of went the other way where we kind of stubbed our toes a little bit and it ended up being a close game.
Q: What were you thinking in the third quarter when they went up by two scores?
Hawkins: I really am just such a philosophical person. I've won so many games and been on so many championship games. You really have to define yourself by some principals. You can't really become a champion until you adhere to some of these things.
Last year, we started fast. That was our credo. But we didn't finish. And you've got to be able to finish. You've got to be a guy who finishes no matter what – rain, shine, bad calls, bad plays, injuries – you've got to be able to finish.
That was my big thing with guys on the sidelines. I told them, ‘Guys, just finish.' No matter what happens. A good play happens, refocus. A bad play happens, refocus. Go all the way to the end, lay it on the line and let it happen.
Q: You said to the fans after the game ‘We're back.' How much can this do in that regard?
Hawkins: Like Cody said, ‘You can talk about progress, new indoor, new locker room.' But it's like, ‘OK, whatcha got to show for it.' I think it is big for the fans to get reinvigorated and get back into it.
Q: Fourth and 4, can you talk about the decision process on the sidelines (to go for it)?
Hawkins: I'm always going to play to win. If you want your team to have a certain sort of swagger and a certain sort of confidence, they've got to know their coach has their back on that. It had nothing to do with Kevin. It had to do with that we were playing well on offense. Let's be a group that they have to stop us.
You have to deserve to be successful. If you're going to play not to lose all the time, then you don't deserve to be successful. So I want our guys to say, ‘Hey, we play to win.'
Q: Can you talk about Cody's play?
Hawkins: I thought he did OK. He'd be the first one to tell you he missed a few throws. But in general, not bad. I was more pleased with the overall team effort and given what went on as far as the highs and lows, to finish.
Q: Can you talk about the contribution of the younger guys on this team? It seemed like they really stepped up.
Hawkins: Yeah, and they need to. We said, you're not in a situation where you can sit around for a couple of years and watch, you've got to get mentally ready to go. We're going to count on you. They did, they made some plays today.
Q: How much did the game plan change when Hugh went down?
Hawkins: Not a bunch.
Q: Cody seemed to play above his years. He didn't seem to overwhelmed by it at all.
Hawkins: He's just been around this thing so many times. I can't tell you how many times when we were in games, whether it was at Georgia or at Arkansas or at the Liberty Bowl. And he's standing there, ‘You oughta do this, you oughta do that.' He's been on the bus, he's been in the police escort, he's been in the big stadiums. That stuff, to him it's another day in the park. I knew, emotionally, he's just not going to have a problem with it.
And then he's just been around our family long enough; certainly, I coach this way and we parent this way, but you have to sort of move out of this ‘being afraid to fail, being afraid to put it on the line.' If you live like that, that's nothing. That's a shallow life.
He's got enough guts to get out here in front of 65,000 people and lay it on the line. If everybody else thinks I'm an idiot and I'm a terrible player, and if they think the only reason I'm playing is because my Dad's the coach, his Mom's going to have unconditional love for him. And that's enough for him. That's enough for him.
Q: How much do you allow yourself to be the proud father right now, not just the coach?
Hawkins: It's awesome to have him around because he's a positive guy and all that. But I'm not walking around like the doting father going, ‘There goes my boy right there.' I don't really look at it like that.
I'm certainly happy for him, but I'm more happy for the Buff Nation. I'm happy for our team. I think T-Wheat really vocalized it well. You walk around in this ‘Bad Luck Schlep Rock' and you're going, ‘Now, can we get the schnide off our back.' To me, that's the biggest feeling that I have.