COACH MIKE LEACH
On being in the Cotton Bowl: Were excited to be at the AT&T Cotton Bowl. Its certainly a thrill for any school from the state of Texas, any players from Texas or anybody who even has a pulse and watches football because of the storied tradition of this bowl game. All right, thats the best opening statement Ive done in quite some time.
On letting more players speak with the media than usual: What they might say has really never been one of my fears. I just wanted to make sure they avoided distractions of their own. We had a process where we had too many guys kind of aspiring to be team spokesmen. I thought it was kind of a distraction for our team. Its not the medias fault. But I just didnt think they handled it well. It (media access to players) will be further restricted as the week goes on until after the game.
On ways to exploit the Alabama defense: I dont see a lot of
weaknesses in the Alabama defense. They run just a basic good, old-fashioned defense, and
they execute it real well. I think the strength of that team is the fact that they dont
have a lot of weaknesses. But I feel like were a good team and we execute well. The
challenge is going to be to go out there and out-execute Alabama. The thing that I thought
is probably most impressive about them is how they play together as a unit. That whole
unit plays together well.
On what makes the Tech offense effective: The fact that we try to
utilize all of the skill positions to touch the ball and to contribute to the offensive
effort makes us effective. Ive always felt our best games are when we get the most
people involved. If were able to do that effectively, that gives us a better chance
to get first downs.
It (the Leach offensive system) has been borrowed and stolen, I
would like to think, from the best offenses in the country. We dont have a lot of
original stuff. Its not hard to find good ideas because football is loaded with
great ideas. There are good ideas everywhere. The trick is trying to package the good
ideas that match your team and that work for you, using plays that complement each other.
You want to attack the whole field and have a manageable number of plays that you
feel are good plays. The hard part isnt finding good ideas, its making choices
of what plays youre going to select to be good at.
On the splits used on offense: Weve had good luck as weve
kind of tinkered with it, moving them in and out. Sometimes theyre tight, sometimes
theyre wider. But the wide splits have worked pretty good for us and well
probably keep doing it until we change our mind.
On why more teams dont copy the Tech offense: Its a
question of packaging. There are run-and-shoot guys who do some things that are like our
offense. And then there are the West Coast offense guys, and were kind of a portion
What were running wasnt specifically invented. But did a lot
of other teams select these plays? Well, not necessarily. But I know that in
the state of Alabama some of the more prominent high schools run our offense because I know those coaches at Hoover and Russellville.
On how playing in the Cotton Bowl helps Dallas-area recruiting: It
definitely doesnt hurt. Its hard for me to gauge. Anytime you go to a bowl
game, I think thats huge. One of the most important things is to play well
regardless of where you are.
On how SEC football compares to Big 12 football: I think there is a
lot more than either side would care to mention. I think theyre the two best
conferences in college football. The SEC is supposed to be the fast one and the Big 12 is
supposed to be the physical one. But the last time I checked, the SEC was awfully
physical. And the last time I checked, the Big 12 was pretty darn fast. I think there are
a lot of similarities. Both conferences really had great defenses this year.
seems like there was a little more offensive variety in the Big 12. Im not saying its
good or bad. There are kind of revolving offenses it seems in the Big 12.
is trying to score points, and do the best they can, and learn from the other guy.
On the Tech defense: Our defense has played really well this year.
Weve really had some good defenses in this conference, and our defense is one of
them. Were mainly a junior defense, but a lot of these guys have played since they
OL E.J. WHITLEY
On preparations for the Cotton Bowl to this point: Weve been doing really well. But we still have a lot of work to do, especially for the great defense that were about to go up against in Alabama. But I think so far our tempo has been great, and I think we have been practicing well.
On what impresses him most about the Alabama defense: Theyre
very fast, very physical and very, very relentless. Its not one move and stop. Its
one, two and three moves. Its whatever it takes to get to the quarterback and get
the job done. Im very impressed with how physical they are and how fast they play.
On whether Alabama compares to any defenses in the Big 12: You
really cant compare them to anyone, but I definitely would put them in the top two,
up there with Texas. Theyre a great defense, and theyre going to play great
against us. Hopefully, maybe we can get a few plays on them.
RB TAUREAN HENDERSON
On what to expect from the Alabama defense: Weve had a chance to check them out on film. Theyre great on all sides of the ball. Its definitely going to be a test for us, but were looking forward to playing a great defense.
On what it means to play a bowl game in Dallas: Its so close
to home (Henderson is from Gatesville) that its a good feeling. All of my family
members will be here. A lot of our people on our team are from this area.
a great atmosphere, a home base atmosphere.
On the Tech offensive strength: Weve always been coached to
play hard, and thats what we like to do.
OL MANUEL RAMIREZ
On what it means to be a part of a team in the Cotton Bowl: Its nice. Ive never been part of a team like this. Its nice being part of the build up of Techs program.
On Alabamas defense: Its going to be nice to go against
a defense like that. Their front seven is mostly seniors. They know what to do. When they
make contact with the offensive linemen, if we stop them, theyre not just going to
stand there. Theyre going to keep moving. Theyre experienced enough where one
move is not enough.
On how Alabamas defense compares to the University of Texas defense: Theyre
both good, though they have different styles. I would say Alabama is probably a little bit
faster. I would say they have more experience because of the seniority on their defense.
WR JOEL FILANI
On the Tech offensive scheme: Were on the same page. We run a
lot of timing routes, and we just play well together. A lot of it depends on the
quarterback. Cody (Hodges) has been playing well, and when he plays well, we play well
with him. He can adjust on the run. Things go pretty well when hes playing well.
On the offensive system of Coach Mike Leach: He brings in people
who can work in the system.
But the players are playing well. Alabama has a great
defense. They have great talent. Its going to be fun. Its definitely a step
On film review of the Alabama defense: Weve done a lot of it.
We watch breakdowns about every day. Their secondary is pretty tough. Its going to
be a great challenge for us.
LB JOHN SALDI
On what its like to play a game that starts at 10 a.m.: Its
early. But weve had some games that started at 11 a.m. Were looking forward to
On how to balance the events of the week with game preparation: We
know when its football time, and we know when its time to relax a little bit
and have a good time.
QB CODY HODGES
On ending his career in the Cotton Bowl: Its great. Its
a perfect way to end my college career. It has been a long process, four years of not
really playing a whole lot. To go 9-2, to get in the Cotton Bowl and to go against a team
like Alabama for my final game is picture perfect.
On the challenges presented by Alabamas defense: Their defense is one of the tops in the nation. Theyve won a lot of ballgames for their club all year. If Im not mistaken, they havent given up more than 200 yards passing in a single game. So personally, it is a big challenge for me. I have to take care of the football. ... We have to do things early and not kill ourselves early on.
On what makes the Tech offense work: Were pretty consistent.
We do the same things every day at practice. Since Ive been at Tech for five years,
practice has been the exact same, every day of the week, seven days a week. We do the same
things over and over. Coach Leach has really bought into the idea that were going to
stick to the pass. A lot of teams, if on first and second down they dont get it,
they go back to the run. If weve got four downs, were going to throw it.
If its a product of the system, Im just happy to be in this system. I
dont want to be in any other system. Regardless of whether its first-and-10,
second-and-20 it its the first play of the game or the last play of the game,
were going to throw the football. Coach Leach is committed to that, and his players
On the Alabama secondary: Theyre one of the tops in the
country. Weve gone against Texas secondary and OUs secondary. Overall,
their team speed is faster than anybody weve played. The windows are going to be a
lot smaller to get the ball in against Alabama because theyre going to get
interceptions, and those can turn into big plays for them. If you watch them on film,
everybody is around the ball. They have 11 guys by the ball whether its a run play
or a pass play.
On Tech offensive goals: Our goal as an offense is to score points
every time we have the ball. Is that realistic? Against Alabama, probably not. We need to
get first downs early and move the ball. Obviously, we know theyre going to run the
ball. We need to take advantage on offense of every opportunity we have because we may not
get a lot of possessions.
On what it feels like to be in the spotlight as the quarterback of a Cotton Bowl
team: Its fun. Im just trying to soak up as much as I can. But
our job is to win the football game. Dallas is great, and we have a lot of friends here.
But if we dont play well, then really none of this matters. Our job is to win. Its
my last college game. I dont want to go out with a bad performance or a loss.