AUDIO: Rose Bowl Presser - Jay Valai

Wisconsin safety Jay Valai addresses the media Wednesday morning at the Los Angeles Marriott, three days before the 97th Rose Bowl.

Wisconsin safety Jay Valai -


Q. Everyone talks about their defense. Their running game is a little bit under the radar a little bit. Just talk about what you see.

JAY VALAI: TCU has a strong running game, very physical runners, great offensive line. With Dalton back there you've got to expect the pass just as much as anything else. TCU has a great running game, nationally rushing yards per game and stuff like that, so you've got to give them a lot of respect.

Q. You're a veteran with this whole media thing. Have the younger guys been able to block out --

JAY VALAI: Yeah, I think we've done a pretty good job blocking it out. I think people realize we're here for a game first and foremost. You come out here to enjoy this weather and enjoy LA and go get killed, that's not going to be a pretty sight. I think guys are pretty much focusing in and we've got to go out there and perform on Saturday night.

Q. (Inaudible.) Who else has graced you with their presence?

JAY VALAI: Basically just Coach Lasorda. Coach Alvarez talked to us before, too. I'm trying to think who else. Nobody else, really. We don't really need too many other people. I think just being here in LA, Pasadena, speaks enough for itself. I don't think we'll need any outside motivation to be motivated for Saturday.

Q. Can you talk about what Devin Smith has brought to the last four weeks, spread defenses, and what he's done as the nickel?

JAY VALAI: Yeah, brings us more -- I guess more speed on the field, more athletic ability. Being in the pass coverage with Devin on the field or even if Shelton is out there as nickel, as well, too. I think having an extra DB out there helps us a lot and Devin has done a great job the last four weeks.

Q. What did Coach Alvarez tell you?

JAY VALAI: Basically you've got to win. Nobody remembers a loser at the Rose Bowl. The main thing we've got to do is focus, focus first and foremost. You can let everything else go around, you take everything else in, but we've got to focus first and foremost. That's one thing he really preached about.

Q. Talk about how tough TCU's receivers are. They've got several you've got to keep an eye on.

JAY VALAI: Yeah, they're from Texas so I give them a lot of respect. I'm a Texas boy myself. You've got Kerley but then you have a bunch of other receivers, a bunch of receivers who are ready to go out there and they'll attack you down the field. They keep you honest first and foremost, so you've got to respect them, and if you don't know where they're at, you can't just focus on the run game. If you focus on the run game, the pass game gets you, and that's why TCU has been so effective all year.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JAY VALAI: Well, he went to Katy, so he's been doing that for a while. Katy I call the south of the south, I guess. Andy Dalton was a great -- very accurate quarterback. He's athletic, too. You see him throwing the football around, but when he runs the ball, he runs the ball very effectively, as well. I think first and foremost great decision maker. He's been an effective quarterback to have a great college football career such as he's had.

Q. You've probably been asked this question but did you ever think about going to TCU?

JAY VALAI: Yeah. I mean, yeah, but it wasn't as strong as -- because I committed to Iowa and then decommitted and came to Wisconsin. TCU is a great program. As I've been saying all year, they're the best program right now in Texas to be honest with you, and I give them all the respect in the world.

Q. Can you describe what their program was like when you were in high school?

JAY VALAI: Yeah. I mean, there were the L.T. years before, which was more middle school for me, but L.T. was holding it down. It was up and down for a little bit, up and down for a little bit, but the last six, seven years it's been a great football program when you have a great head coach like that and also recruiting in a Texas-based area eventually it's going to come together. When everybody bought into the program and started working good, you see how great they've been playing.

Q. Do you cheer for Texas teams when you're not playing them?

JAY VALAI: Oh, man, I always cheer for Texas. TCU I cheer for, I'm not going to lie. Basically any Texas schools. Oklahoma or Texas school, hey, I'm cheering for them because Oklahoma is basically a Texas school, so is Oklahoma State. Except if we're playing against them, I cheer for them, so much respect.

Q. Why did you go north to college?

JAY VALAI: Why did I go north? Because I had never been north. It was the first time -- I had gone on an airplane once in my life before going to Wisconsin, so it was like, hey, got to see the world. Wisconsin was the No. 1 they said like sports college town or whatever, No. 1 party school, I'm not going to lie, and No. 9 education. I said, hey, let's make a change and see what happens.

Q. Did it live up to that?

JAY VALAI: Yeah, I mean, all of it lived up to it. And the cold really lived up to it, too. That was a wake-up call. But I think it makes me a diverse and a better character now after dealing with -35 degree weather. It's a little different, but it's all good.

Q. Did you play under Coach Cunningham?

JAY VALAI: Yes, Coach Cunningham, exactly. Me and old goofy boy Christian Ponder did. Yeah, "Goofy," that's what I call him. He's a goof. But yeah, we played under Coach Cunningham, who was a great head coach and a great human being, a great man. Once again, it was -- even though we didn't make the playoffs when I was there, which is -- I think we underachieved. Right after we left they did it big, but it's all good though.

Q. What are two or three things you need to do as a secondary to be successful on Saturday?

JAY VALAI: Read your keys, No. 1. Like I said, with a team as effective as they are in the play action game, if you don't read your keys correctly it's going to be a field day. I mean, you gotta trigger on the run and be responsible on the pass because that's how a lot of the guys get wide open because people are either really trying to stop the run or really trying to stop the pass. You've got to play them straight up and honest. Another thing we've got to do, we've go to tackle. These are great shake and bake players, and the running backs, they will truck you. I seen that on film, and they run aggressively, so I think that's what you really want and it's going to be a fun game.

Q. Since you are from the Dallas Fort Worth area, what does it mean to you personally (Inaudible.)

JAY VALAI: It means a lot. It means a lot of kids from my high school will be talking noise to me. It means it's just going to be exciting. Have a middle school football coach that's coming down here that went to TCU. He's been talking noise to me. Appreciate it, Coach Turner. It's exciting, man, playing against another Texas school. I met Dalton earlier in the week. We played him at Seven on Seven State my senior year. We beat them. I forgot and didn't realize that he was the quarterback down there. I mean, it was just good reminiscing and seeing boys from Texas because it's a little different than Wisconsin. But it was good meeting those kids. It means a lot to play a team from Texas, especially a great team like TCU.

Q. Have you gotten a lot of ticket requests from family members and friends?

JAY VALAI: Over-the-top ticket requests, but once they saw the ticket price to fly over here, the ticket requests kind of dropped a little bit more. It was all good, though. But what more can you expect?

Q. (Inaudible.)

JAY VALAI: Yeah, I remember TCU was recruiting me but I already committed to Iowa first and then I decommitted and became a Badger. I mean, I'm happy where I'm at right now.

Q. What made you decommit to Iowa and what led you to commit to Wisconsin?

JAY VALAI: That trickster Coach Cooks got me, and then it was just Wisconsin was the No. 1 -- like I told them before, No. 1 party school, No. 1 college sports town and No. 9 education. I said, hey, you live once, why not Wisconsin. It's been a great move, and except dealing with that cold, cold weather, not good for my African blood. Besides that it's all good, though, man.

Q. What do you like most about going to Wisconsin?

JAY VALAI: Just, I mean, the fan support is outrageous. I think one thing being at a school at Wisconsin and being in Madison, there's not a professional sports team, so we're basically a professional sports team. Even the whole entire state to be real with you has our back, even though we have the Packers first and foremost, but Wisconsin is right there with them. You've got to respect that so much, especially coming from where I'm from. That's why TCU doesn't get as much respect, because they're in Cowboy city and the Mavericks are around the corner for basketball and stuff like that. That's one thing we've been blessed with being a college sports town.

Q. When you were growing up did you have a favorite college team?

JAY VALAI: Yeah, I had a couple, big time Texas fan, Vince Young, big time Georgia fan. They had Greene at quarterback or even Quincy Carter. But yeah, I was a big time Texas and big time Georgia fan.

Q. When TCU was recruiting you, how serious were you about (inaudible)?

JAY VALAI: I know I was getting letters and you get stuff in the mail and stuff like that. But for me I told my mom, I've got to get out of the state of Texas because I've never flown -- like I said, I flew once in my life before getting on the flight to Wisconsin. I said, I've got to be cultured, let me get out of here for a little bit. I regretted it after my first year when it was cold as you-know-what up there, but you get adjusted. It's been a blessing ever since, so you take it all in.

Q. Is there a difference between the people in Wisconsin and the people in Texas? JAY VALAI: A little bit. I mean, fans -- not hating on Texas or anything like that, but I think Wisconsin people, they're pretty strong no matter what's going on. They have your back and stuff like that. Being a Cowboy fan myself, I've done this up and down, I get upset real quick. We're used to winning so much, we get angry very quick after one game, one loss they'll be all over you. But Badger fans, they're Packer fans, they're not going to kill you, they'll still support you. But Texas people, we're a little more hot blooded, I think, and a little more angry, quick to get angry.

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