Postgame Interview: A.J. Tarpley

Linebacker A.J. Tarpley has become increasingly prominent as the season has progressed, first moving into the spotlight after the injury to Shayne Skov, then taking over Max Bergen's starting role. Tarpley led all Stanford defenders against Cal, with eight tackles and one pass broken up.

The Bootleg caught up with A.J. Tarpley after the game to get his thoughts on Stanford's defensive performance in the Big Game and an early look at Notre Dame.

The Bootleg: How big was it for you guys to be able to bounce back after that game against Oregon and get a win here?

A.J. Tarpley: It was big. Some people were saying—obviously not our team, not our players and our coaches—but you knew that some people were like, ‘How are they going to react after the loss, the first loss of the season against Oregon?' It wasn't pretty by any means, but we played well enough to win—we're enjoying it right now, but we'll start getting ready for Notre Dame tomorrow.

How much of an issue were the field conditions for you as a defense? Did it really affect your play at all?

AT: We just needed to get our hips down. They're playing on the same field as us, so I'm not going to say, too bad for us, that's why we didn't play as well as we could have. We definitely learned our lesson last week when we were slipping—most people had different cleats and whatnot. We just got to keep our hips down in conditions like these so we can keep our footing.

Keenan Allen had 97 yards in the first quarter and zero for the rest of the game. Did you guys make any special adjustments to be able to contain him like that?

AT: No. I mean he's a very good player; he made some good plays in the first quarter. I actually didn't know that stat until you told me. We didn't necessarily change up—we knew he was one of their go-to guys and he made some plays in the first quarter, but apparently we shut him down the rest of the way.

Talking about that last drive that California had on offense, how much were you guys looking to make a stop rather than just keep them inbounds and burn off the clock?

AT: I don't think that was our mindset at all. We wanted to get three-and-out right away and end the game. We're not one of those teams that plays not to lose, we want to win the game here and now on every drive. They made a couple of plays and we made a couple of penalties, and that's why the drive kept going.

Can you talk about some of those penalties? I saw players a couple times getting a little unhappy with the calls that went against you.

AT: If the ref calls it a penalty, it's a penalty. You can't say much about that.

Going into Notre Dame next week, there were a lot of upsets in college football this week. Are you guys going to look at that tomorrow, and how will that affect your mindset going into that game?

AT: I'm sure we'll see it on TV, but the coaches always tell us and we know that we have to take care of business. You get caught up in games and you start looking ahead. We have one game left in our season besides the bowl, and we're going to try and come out and get that win. Everything will go our way if we just win that game.

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