I want to really thank again the AT&T Cotton Bowl. You all are the best. Our players had one of the best times ever in their life. Our seniors will never forget it. The memories are just awesome, to be in the last historic game right here in this stadium. This is the first time I've seen this stadium and the work that has been done is just awesome.
But what I'm proud of is these guys. They have tremendous character. We did the thing we talked about not doing, which was fall behind early. We're down 14-0 and turned the ball over twice. Texas Tech isn't the team you want to turn the ball over to, not with a fastbreak football team. You can see why they're the seventh ranked team in the country. They're spectacular. But these guys have had such great character and have gotten better each and every week.
For their first bowl experience, I was really concerned because there are so many good things to do, so many functions, the food, everything's great. But when it was time to go to work, these guys went to work. Our preparation was just outstanding.
We knew the type of team we were playing and I'm just really proud of our defense. Our defense stopped them time and time again. They never were discouraged when we turned the ball over. I can't say enough about that – the effort, the attitude. I'm really proud of our seniors, the way they took ownership of this team and got better every week. It's just a wonderful day.
On the play of quarterback Jevan Snead:
Over the last seven weeks, Jevan really came on. This is his first year to play if you get right down to it. I think he's done a remarkable job. I'm so proud of him. We do a lot of formations and he has to be kind of the traffic controller getting the people in and out. He's watching the clock. He's the manager.
But over the last seven weeks, he's been so accurate. Our receivers are so fast and he's been very, very good on a deep ball. The LSU game, Florida game, if you look at those big games, sometimes quarterbacks will shy away from a big game, but the pressure doesn't bother Jevan. With Michael Oher up there protecting and Dexter and Michael Wallace, the way the defense gives us such good field position, we've played together. But Jevan has executed the plays we call and it keeps teams off balance when you can stretch the field and also run it. You've got what you want. You've got balance.
On the entire Cotton Bowl experience:
It's just so big. You just can't put it all into words. Our players, the expressions on their faces, every time they went to a function, went in their hospitality room. But what I'm so proud of is the way they went about it. The hotel people said that my guys are such class guys. Some of them went to the medieval deal or different Dallas Mavericks games and I kept getting feedback from the classiness of the guys.
It starts with our seniors. They took ownership of this team and they're the example. I wish we could keep this team and bring it back. The same team. Bring it back one more time. But getting back to your question, the Cotton Bowl is special. It's special to me. I'm just so thankful. And Rick, we'd like to go ahead and make the announcement that we'll come back next year, right now, let's go.
On the transformation from last season to this season:
When I walked in the very first team meeting, I saw these beautiful athletes and they looked the part. They fill out a uniform just right in the SEC. But the thing that I saw early was there were a lot of individuals. It's wasn't all their fault, but they just hadn't had very much success. They didn't win a game in the conference and I noticed a lot of times they didn't look people right in the eye or hold their head up right.
I have to give credit to our staff. They did a real good job with our guys. Coach Rocker played in the NFL and coached a guy like Peria Jerry. He was an Outland Trophy winner and Lombardi winner. He understands what it takes and it seemed like he and Peria connected really early, just like everybody else on our staff. Coach Nix, Coach Dickerson with the wideouts, Coach Austin. It takes everybody. Our theme has been one heartbeat. But those are just words. It takes things like going by their apartment, coming out to my house and my wife feeding them. It takes all those things. They have to know you're real, because you can't fool them. They're smart. You can't be counterfeit. They don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Once they knew we cared, and that sunk in, we took off. When you look at it, we could have won a few more games. But I'm proud of what we won, though.
On what this win means going forward:
That's the questions, because we're losing some good players. Michael Wallace, he got by a lot of defensive backs this year. We've got to get a speed guy like that. You lose a Michael Oher that protects the left side and most important side, you lose Peria Jerry. You can't draw those people up. They're special. What this win does, though, it really helps. We don't have many scholarships left. They know who they are out there. They need to come join us and it's going to be a whole lot easier holding up that trophy in the next few weeks in recruiting.
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