Here are excerpts from the conference call with Bobby Bowden of Florida State and Karl Dorrell of UCLA, as well as the Executive Director of the Emerald Bowl, Gary Cavalli.
Emerald Bowl Executive Director, Gary Cavalli
This matchup is really the kind of thing you dream about as a bowl director. The last couple of years there was no Pac-10 team, so we really hit a home run with Florida State and UCLA. We've been building the game for five years and this matchup takes it to a new level. We feel very lucky and very privileged, to host two of the recognizable brands in college football.
Based on how are tickets are moving, this game will be a sellout. We are anticipating a sellout. This is a hot ticket in the Bay Area. I am discovering friends I never knew I had.
Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden
I think we're very lucky to be going and playing in the Emerald Bowl. One of the reasons is we haven't had our normal success, so for the first time we're playing on the West Coast. I don't know if I have one player that has been to San Francisco. We've been playing in New Orleans, Jacksonville, the Orange Bowl. And normally, we're playing in January, but we're playing in December, so the kids time off will come afterwards instead of before.
On the season
It's been a very disappointing season for me, because we thought it would be a good season. My staff will be in tact for the bowl, but then changes will be made. My son (Jeff, his offensive coordinator) will coach through the bowl game. Yes, this season was a disappointment, but you've got one more game to make it right.
On recruiting California native Lorenzo Booker
I'm sure he is excited about playing there. He's been very patient. He came to Florida State the highest rated player then he redshirted here. He requested it, waited his time and played all four years. This year, has been very valuable to us. He doesn't have the numbers; we just weren't able to get them for him. He's done everything we've asked. I think he's the luckiest one on the football team, getting to return to his home state to play his last football game.
On the quarterback situation
Well our QB situation is this: Drew Weatherford started our last game, Xavier Lee started the 2-3 before. Drew has started more. We haven't had the success this year, of even the previous year when they were freshman. All the quarterbacks we've had, the Heisman Trophy winners, were redshirt juniors when they started. So the next year, we'll have, for the first time redshirt juniors We have been playing them both, and we plan on doing that again, unless one looks like a million dollars in practice and the other doesn't.
On UCLA's win over USC
I saw that. I watched every down on television. They can run and they showed you they're capable of beating any team in the country. If you can beat Southern Cal, you can beat any team. They've found themselves. They're about to where UCLA can be. You have to say that UCLA is one of the elite programs in the country. After I saw them on TV, I started looking at some other names we'd rather play. I would say the biggest surprise, was their being able to keep them out of the end zone more than they did. Being able to stop them on short yardage, on two fourth-and-ones. The last one they made, you can't beat that last play that he made, the great play that kid made, deflected it and then intercepted the ball. You have to be a great player to make that.
On defense being the focus of the Emerald Bowl
If you'll take the games over in this part of the country, people down here are so defensive-minded. You take Wake Forest playing Georgia Tech for the conference championship. Neither team scored touchdowns. Can you stop someone from making a big play? When you're playing someone like them with a good defense, can you keep a big player from getting loose and making plays? But yeah, I think you'll see a defensive ballgame.
On if this game is the end of 2006 or beginning of 2007
It depends on whether we win or lose. If we lose, its last year. If we win, we're looking ahead. You love to go into the winter worksouts, spring training and next fall, with momentum from a bowl win.
On if he sees similarities to UCLA
I sure do, you'll see a lot of good athletes running around the field. They look like they've found themselves the last three ball games. They're coming into the game with a 3-game winning streak, just knocking off the #2 team in the country. We nearly knocked off what is now the #2 team. You play Miami, you're going to see as good as defensive speed as you're gonna see. Florida, Miami, they look like they belong in that group.
On a kick to decide it
Yeah, I think you have to say it. We're playing UCLA. You know what LA means to us? Law of Averages, so I'll take my chances with the Law of Averages.
UCLA Head Coach Karl Dorrell
On the win over USC
I haven't experienced it that in four years. It was a great win. It was an unbelievable feeling and tt was really exciting. Our players really orchestrated a game plan for that game. We feel that the last three games, we're playing our best football. We decided after Cal that since we were not in the conference championship run, our one objective was to get bowl eligible. Finish the year 3-0 and get a chance to get into a bowl game. We reduced our thinking to what was in front of us. We just kind of dropped everything. Only thing we can worry about now, is right in front of us. I've won that game as a player, and that was the first significant game (as a coach). But it was more significant for our players and our seniors. Now they can leave this program and know what it feels to win that game and they haven't had that feeling in a long time. It was a great relief, at that time, when the game ended. We lost a very tough game at Notre Dame so I wanted to make sure the game was completely over. It was a great feeling, I saw it in our players eyes, and it made me feel better to see them have that kind of euphoria. It's just a great feeling for the program.
On the run to end the regular season
It started with Oregon State. Then we hadn't won a game all season on the road, so going to Arizona State to win that game was a pretty significant win. We had some personal tragedy too where we lost one of our team leaders from last years team, the Friday before we left. And then one of our current players mom's, we lost that morning. There were a lot of heavy hearts, but the kids played throughout and we beat them at Sun Devil Stadium
So we were 2-0 with the finale to play against USC and we had a bye before that game. It kind of worked out as well as you can make it, given all the heartache and the emotion we were experiencing. The week off let us go attend the memorial service and funeral. We had a good game plan defensively. Our special teams played solid. We did a great job with our coverage team. We did what we needed to do to keep the game in our favor. Everything kind of fell in place. It was a great victory for UCLA.
I did understand the part that we lost seven, so it was time for us to get back making this a really good series again, and it was our focus to make that happen this year.
On the momentum it creates
You want to continue to build the momentum. We don't have a huge layoff because we played last weekend. We have a chance to finish the season, complete the season against one of the best programs in college football and the winningest coach in college football. That's a challenge for UCLA. We have finals (this) week, and then we'll get a good 7-8 practices then a chance to play a good opponent that we're excited to play against.
On playing in a bowl game
They're excited about playing now. They're feeling good about what happened last week. That game is over with and it was a great win for the Bruin Family, but we're getting back down and getting ready for our next opponent. They're excited and they're talking about it. One of our goals of our 3-game season was to get bowl eligible, so they're excited about playing again.
On the quarterback situation
We're going to address that at some other time. When we resume practice, that's when we start worrying about personnel.
Everyone can see the progress and the upward trend. Even during the four game losing streak, we were playing competitively. It's a testament to the guys in the program to how they came out and competed. It just showed the character in these guys, that they keep pushing through in a difficult circumstance. We proved to everybody, we continue to fight, continue to get better and proved that here at the end of the season. We want to be a program to be reckoned with. People are going to see that from a recruitment standpoint.
On Aleksey Lanis
He broke a small bone in his forearm, and they say he will still be able to play. It's casted right now. He'll get some rest time, but he'll still be able to be functional for the game.
On beginning his coaching career in Florida
My first fulltime coaching job was Central Florida and it was a great experience. Gene McDowell came down from Florida State. I had real good players. Shawn Jefferson was one of my players, and he played a number of years in the NFL. I was very, very appreciative of Coach McDowell giving me a coaching job. I've been back and forth across the country. Every step of the way, I've learned a lot My head coach Terry Doanhue, saw something in me as a player and said I'd be an excellent head coach and be an impression in this community. He did a nice recruiting job on me.
On if his success helps other African-American head coaches
The background of the school I went to, there is so much ambition as a student at UCLA. I wasn't really concerned about my skin color. I was more concerned about if I was doing a great job for the coach I was working for. Do the very best job you can, that is how you build your resume. There is a level of responsibility. There are only a handful of African-American coaches that are out there in this profession. You want to make sure your representing this progression the right way, with integrity, by following the rules and your influence on young people and you use this to do that. I don't want to embarrass anyone in this profession. Its not just minority coaches, it's everyone who wants to be a coach. I've been fortunate.
On this being a defensive game
There are some parallels, both teams have good defenses and the offenses have not been as productive over the season. We're going to work and improve offensively. Defensively, we've been playing pretty well. I don't mind that at all. We have a lot of young players on our offense, only one senior starting and it's a lot of guys coming back and playing for the first time. We've gotten better we just need to get more consistent.
On Christian Taylor
Christian is a great young man. He is a walk-on from Air Force, a hard worker, tough mentally and plays tough. He's our defensive signal caller. He gets everyone adjusted well. He's the quarterback of that side of the ball. He's had a good year. He had some injures that hurt him some, but he's in fairly good health. He had a very good USC game with 11 tackles and had a solid year.
On the Mindset of Florida State
I think a program with the stature of Florida State gets anyone excited to play them. They've been a powerhouse program the last 20 years. It's been unbelievable what they've done. If you can't get excited for Florida State, I don't know what's wrong with you. It's East Coast vs. West Coast. It's just a great match up. We want to do what we can to be victorious. Do the positive things to end our season will have everyone feel so much better.