Jim Harris with the Buzz: Hogs Basketball & Bielema’s Texas Bowl Prep


Each Tuesday Jim Harris appears on 103.7 The Buzz FM at 11 a.m. during the The Zone with Justin Acri and Pat Bradley. This week Jim and the crew discuss the Razorback basketball team’s continuing road-game issues. They also talk in detail about the suspensions of Rohan Gaines and Carroll Washington and what Bret Bielema is doing to get ready to face Texas in the Texas Bowl. Full audio is below, and if you will scroll just a little bit more, you can see what Texas players and coach Charlie Strong have said about Arkansas and the bowl game.

And here is a transcript of what the Texas Longhorns’ head coach and several players are saying about facing the Razorbacks.

Head coach Charlie Strong and players met with the media Tuesday morning to review the regular season and preview the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl. The Longhorns are preparing to face Arkansas on Monday, Dec. 29 at NRG Stadium in Houston. Below are quotes from the availability.

Head Coach Charlie Strong

Opening Statement: We’re right in the middle of final exams.  What we’re trying to do right now is fit practice around their schedule.  We’ve been practicing at different times, really haven’t started to focus yet on Arkansas.
So what we’re doing is just going over basic fundamentals and technique practice, but we’re getting some really good work in.  Final exams are on the 17th, and starting on the 18th, we’ll start our preparation for Arkansas, and we’ll practice all the way through till the game.  It’s been really great just their overall attitude right now.  Some of them are coming in tired because they’ve been staying up studying all night.

This is a good game for us, good rival game for us.  You can always think about the history and how long this game has been played.  The memorable moments go back to 1969, and that game has always had a lasting impression on everyone’s mind.  Just excited about it.

Had the press conference last week, had a chance to sit down and talk with [Arkansas Head Coach] Bret [Bielema].  We go way back to his Wisconsin days.  We recruited against one another.  I think they kind of took the same road we took where they had to go there at the end and win some important games, where they shutout LSU and beat Ole Miss to get bowl eligible, kind of what we did.

The thing we didn’t do is end on a good note against TCU.  Just looking forward to this game and looking forward to this matchup.

On how important the game is for momentum heading into the offseason:  This is a very important game, Chuck.  You’re right. You look at getting it right with TCU and now you have a really good opponent in Arkansas.  Also to give us a jump start going into the offseason and get our attitude right.  I know we have a lot of work, but just want to finish up the right way this season.

On message to QB Tyrone Swoopes after he struggled in the TCU game: We have a lot of work, going to get a lot of practices in.  Still [Swoopes has] got to get better.  He’s no different than anyone else on the team.  He’s really visible with his position.  A lot of positions that need to get better, but we have this chance to really work with him.  He understands that.  The young man, he’s not very pleased with his effort.  He knows that, but he knows that he can play a lot better than what he did.

On how he splits practice reps between starters and backups: I split it up with our personnel set.  What we’re going to do is I just break it down, have like two normal down situations, first and second down.  Then I come back with two third downs, red zone look.

What I try to do is with each period there’s a number of plays we’re going to run.  Let’s get those plays ran out.  If they’re not run the right way, we’re going to come back in there and run them again.  What we do is we get the plays run, and then we try to get out.  I just count up the number of plays.  If it’s where I start off, it’s always going to be a kicking period.  There’s always go to be an individual period, and then I go six with the ones on offense, six with the ones on defense, get out of that period and go to the next period.

I just try to keep it down and make sure we get the number of plays we need to get, especially when we start our focus on Arkansas, knowing that we have some days there.  It’s not a week where we have to get ready, where we just try to just give it all to them at one time.  We know we have some days where we can really work with it and just take our time and making sure we take our time and get the number of reps in that we need to get done.

On how long it took to get over the TCU loss: Jane, it took me a while.  I don’t even know if I’m still over that.  The thing about it, that loss that hurt so bad, it was for your seniors, and we were playing at home.  We were doing well, and you get to that game.  The stage was set.  You had a big stage.  You would have thought that we would have come out and performed better than what we performed.

It was just a hard one to swallow.  It really was because I think back, and like you said, I want to do it so bad for the seniors and what they put into it and how well we were playing down the stretch.  It just was a performance that we can’t be pleased with at all.

On working practice around finals schedule and the holiday season:  What we’re going to do is practice all the way up.  I think we’re going to travel on Christmas Eve because I don’t want to be on the road on Christmas Day.  We’re going to travel on Christmas Eve, leave out that afternoon.  Everyone has to show up at the hotel at a certain time.  Christmas Day, I just want everyone to gather so we all have a gift and that way the whole team is together, and we’re going to give them something so that we can enjoy Christmas Day.  We’re going to practice and then also enjoy Christmas Day.

On his coaching philosophy before a bowl game: It’s about your preparation, but then it comes down to just how bad guys want to go out and practice and how important it is to them.  Right now our attitude is pretty good because you can always tell the first few days whether they really want to go to the bowl game or just want to go through the motion.

The key thing is it’s almost like the first game at the start of the season – the preseason. You have some days there where you have a lot of time, and we just want to make sure we’re so locked in and so focused.  If you can get players to get locked in and all of a sudden they practice so much and they know [the opponent] so well that they can recognize formations, recognize just different adjustments, different personnel groupings, then it becomes automatic for them.  Now when they line up to go play, it’s repetition now.  Let’s go get it done.

On significance of the Texas-Arkansas rivalry and impact on recruiting in East Texas: 

Recruiting, the second part of that is we’ve been recruiting.  So we’ve locked in and know who we want to recruit.

But [the 1969 Texas-Arkansas game], I was young at the time, but I grew up in Arkansas, grew up an Arkansas fan because it’s a major university in the state.  So many memorable games.  Like I said, the ’69 game was an unbelievable game.  At that time, I was very young.

But just being around the stadium, growing up around it, you just know how big it was and how important it is to so many people.

On the state of recruiting: You look at it, and you’re right.  Sometimes guys make early commitments, they’re making a reservation.  So you’ve got to continue to recruit.

That’s going to be our philosophy.  You’ve just got to continue to recruit guys.  One day they’re on the board.  One day they’re off the board.

Still, though, we know our needs and what we have to get done, and we’ve got to continue to go.  You replace one.  If you lose one, there’s always someone else to replace him with.

On if recruiting is where he would like it to be: It is.  There’s still some key guys left out here.  What’s happened here is we’ve been so — where it’s been, guys have already committed, and we already have our full allotment, but it’s not happening right now because some of the key players are still sitting there and haven’t made up their mind what we want to do yet.

On if he has noticed if The University of Texas means more to out of state kids than it does in state and importance of junior college recruits:  You’ve got to look at it like there’s some key players in this state that haven’t made a commitment yet where they want to go to school.  So we’re going to recruit those players.  Out of state, a lot of times it’s because of workouts and recruiting in those areas, they know those coaches and have relationships.  Some of those players, when you say University of Texas, which it should, it means a lot, which it should mean a lot to a lot of people.

On recruits committing early in the state of Texas and if that has impacted the 2015 class: 

No.  I mean, it’s still — if you look at it, just looking at the board, you still have about 10 to 12 players still left, and they’re really good football players.  So it’s not like they’re just going to — they’re still waiting to see.  But that’s what’s happening now.  Guys are making the early commitment.

On depth of linebacker for next season:  The thing about it, Alex, is the box position, [D’Onta Foreman is] not fit for the box position.  He’s not fit for that position. With Naashon [Hughes], we move him around so much. The linebacker position, it’s different for him.  Even though he’s a box, there’s certain reasons, certain things he would have to do.

On if there was more of a culture change needed then he thought when he first got to Texas: I don’t know so much it was a culture change.  I think following Coach [Mack] Brown and the job he did here was unbelievable.  I know that and will always respect that.  But it’s just that sometimes — you know, that’s what any time you walk into a program, same thing when I walked into Louisville.  There’s going to be certain guys that think they’re going to do things their way.  It doesn’t matter who’s sitting in that chair as a head coach, you’ve just got to make decisions on how you want to run your program.  And once they understand that it’s certain things that you’re just not going to deal with, then you’ve got to make a change.

But even with the suspensions and dismissals, those were — those players are gone, but still we lined up with a football team where we could have played a lot better.  It had nothing to do with the guys who we didn’t have.  I always say this.  You’re going to win with the ones you have and not with the ones you don’t have.  So with a lot of those players not being — with us playing with what we had, we were good enough.  We just didn’t play well.  We didn’t play well at the right time.

On what he sees in Arkansas:  If you look at it, they have two backs [Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins] that have rushed for 2,000 yards.  The quarterback [Brandon Allen] does a good job of just managing the game.  He throws the ball, but he throws it well enough where he does get completions and they’re able to move the chains.  Defensively, they come with so much pressure.  The ends are unbelievable outside, where they’re able to force the pocket, push the pocket.  When you do try to sit back, they can get the pressure on you.

So it’s going to be a good matchup for us.  Offensively, we have to move the ball.  Can’t get behind on first and second down.  Defensively, it’s going to be about us being able to stop the run.

On if he sees the 2015 recruiting class as the foundation of his success at Texas: You still have enough guys here where you look for classes just to build on what you already have.  You think that — when I look at this class, we’d like to sign anywhere from five — at least four to five offensive linemen.  We’re going to need to get some linebackers because of our linebackers that are leaving.  Secondary-wise, we’re going to need some corners.  We have to get some corners in the secondary.  Wide receiver, you don’t need many because you have enough receivers that are stocked now.  And then you’d like to get a running back.  And the quarterback position is critical for us.

So it’s all about you’re finding what you have right now and make sure you go out and recruit it and fulfill the needs and fulfill the positions that you need to go recruit at it.

On if Arkansas is better than their 6-6 record: You look at it, Chris, close game against Alabama, close game against [Texas] A&M, and they’ve been in games.  It’s just they didn’t finish.  If you look at the Alabama score, 14-13.  A&M, I think, beat them by seven.  Even with Mississippi State, I think when they were No. 1 in the country, it was a 17-10 game.

It’s a team that hasn’t turned the football over.  They just have been in those close games.  To go blow out LSU, and then they go blow out Ole Miss.  It’s a team that it’s a good football team.  I think it’s a really good football team.  But at the right time, they didn’t win those close games.

On reflections of his first season at Texas:  How would I describe this first year?  Up and down, Jane.  Could have played a lot better than what we played.  I said it to our coaching staff.  We lose six games, would never beat a standard here.  We could have played a lot better at times than what we did.  I think about those close games we were in.  You look at the UCLA game, look at the Oklahoma game.

Even that, the thing that was frustrating and disappointing is that, when you get into the game like BYU, it was a high score, then, boom, you just — you give up so many points.  TCU, you give up so many points.  Even at K-State, the score is sitting there 6-0, sitting there 13-0, then you end up losing 23-0.  But we could have played a lot better than what we played.

I said it to our team and our coaching staff.  I said, this is not an indication of this program, and we have to get a lot better.

On Arkansas featuring two 1,000-yard rushing running backs:  If you can get that, you can win.  It’s just got to be, when you get the 2,000-yard rushers, you know you’re a physical football team and you’re running the ball.  It is all about ball control.  At the end of the day, you still have to play great defense, which they’re doing right now.  They’re playing good defense at the right time.

On struggling with consistency over the season: Chuck, it’s a combination of things.  Not only the young quarterback and the young offensive line, I always say our defense, if we don’t play well, they don’t score either.  The thing you’ve got to do, when we talk about consistency, is you’ve got to play the whole game and finish the game.  It doesn’t matter.

At times you’re sitting there and you’re in the games and you feel like you’re in the games tight, 6-0 BYU at the half.  Now let’s go play the second half.  We didn’t show up to go play the second half.  And that happened a lot, which it can happen.  It’s all about just finishing, and we didn’t do a great job of finishing.

On what the offensive line needs to do against Arkansas: [Arkansas defensive end Trey] Flowers, I know, is a really good defensive end, and he’s done well and played well.  But you know what happens, one guy’s not going to go dominate a game on defense.  The thing about it, not only [Camrhon] Hughes but everyone else up front, we’ve just got to go block him.  It’s not just you place it on one guy’s shoulder.

With Desmond Harris, there’s no update.

On what he tells recruits and families on visits: It’s all about us recruiting and building it with recruiting, and we tell them we have really good players now, but it’s all about the university too.  You have a great academic institution; just athletically we’re going to get everything we need.  So it’s just all about us just making sure we get the right fit in this program.

It’s all about character, young men who wants to change their lives.  The thing about it, I’m not looking for players who want to be mediocre.  We don’t need to be mediocre.  That’s not who we are.  We need to recruit players who love football and want to do something special with our life.

On how he recruits offensive players when he’s a defensive-minded coach: You look at it offensively, and the thing you’re going to be able to do, you score if you have the right personnel and you get the ball in the right play maker’s team, you can score 40 points a game.  It doesn’t matter if it’s basketball on grass, controlled offense, whatever it may be.  You can get those things accomplished.

Still at the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to go play defense.  You’re just looking for play makers and get the ball in the play maker’s hands.  You look at it and you think about us offensively, we started off the season with [David] Ash, and then he goes down.  Then we go with Tyrone [Swoopes], who plays well at times.  It was just a consistency thing.  But you’re going to see that from him.

I would say this — and I know a lot of us think like this.  After the spring game, would you have ever thought he’d be your starting quarterback?


There, good.

On chances of redshirts for suspended players: We’re going to go through spring practice.  What we’re going to do, we have the guys on our team right now.  They’re going to go through like everyone else.  We’ll just see — it’s all about the whole team getting better.  It’s not just individual players.  We’ve got to develop this whole football team.

On freshman QB Jerrod Heard: When we get to spring ball, they’re all going to compete because now it’s spring practice and you have a chance towards a number of reps, and guys have an opportunity to go get better.  He will.  The thing about Jerrod is, when you come and you have to face it each and every day and it moves so fast for you sometimes, you’ve just got to slow him down, and it’s going to happen for him.  It’s a development stage, and he’s developed because [assistant head coach for offensive/quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson] has done a great job coaching quarterbacks.  We’ll just continue to coach him.

On Swoopes mental state after the TCU game: He’s had a lot of time now.  The thing about players, when you look at games, for them, it’s just that one day, and it’s over with for them.  You can walk in the meeting room the next day, and win or lose, sometimes you can’t really tell.  With them, it goes by them fast, but for us, it kind of lingers.

He’ll be fine.  The thing about it, he just needs to play well this next one.  You can’t let one beat you twice.  He’s just got to move on and just get better, and he’ll get better, and it will happen for him.

On what he regrets this season: Any regrets about the season and how we played?  The only thing I ever regret is I just think we could have played a lot better.  I would have loved to have seen us play a lot better.  Sometimes that just eats at you, and it should because I think we’re a better football team than a 6-6 team.  Just consistency, just finishing, just playing hard all the time.  Just a pride factor, and I just don’t think that sometimes we showed that.

On what he has told the players about the Texas-Arkansas rivalry: I think they’ve read enough about it, but we really haven’t got into it.  I’ll talk about it once I start in the preparation for Arkansas and take them back through history and how big this game has been and how important it is.  But I really haven’t said anything yet just because of finals.

I think they’ve heard enough about it and read enough because now I think that, once we get into it, then I’ll speak about it more.

On injury updates on WR Jaxon Shipley, DE Caleb Bluiett, and OG Darius James: Shipley was out running around.  I think we’ll let him run around today some more and see if he can get out there and catch some passes, do some individual things.

Bluiett, I think we’ll evaluate him.  Toward the end of this week, we’ll have an update on him.

Just thinking about anyone else, Darius James, he had surgery.  So Darius is out.  He had surgery last week.  So he’s out.

On how to balance recruiting an athlete and recruiting his parents:  Well, it is, and that’s a great question, Roger.  With the parents, they see ten years from now whereas with the young man he only sees tomorrow.  That’s what you’ve got to sell him on because a lot of them, what they — when you’re talking to the player, the individual player, the only thing he’s concerned about is what number do I get?  Can I go start?  How much playing time am I going to get?  Whereas a parent sees how important that degree is, and ten years from now, what’s his future going to be like?

When you’re selling him, it’s all about, when you sit down, you have to have that conversation, and you have to have it.  You’ve got to speak to the young man and speak to the parent, and they both have to understand just the direction of the program.  Plus coming into this program, how big it is and how a [junior college player] can be set for life if you go handling your business the right way.

Junior DT Malcom Brown

On the Nagurski Award ceremony that he attended: It was a great experience to just be around the guys and be honored as a national defensive player … Having my coaches there, my wife there and kids [meant a lot]. My daughter was upstairs, but she was there in the building. It was great just having them there to see me get awarded for everything I’ve done all season.

On being named to All-American teams: It’s a great honor. I always wanted to come in and leave my footprint somewhere, and now I’m one of the All-Americans. I’m still just trying to rise and keep on going.

On juggling being a father, a student and a football player: You have to have good time management. You do what you have to do up here at school, and once you get home you got homework and try to play with the kids. At certain times you say, “Ok I gotta do this, here Faith you play with them real quick while I do this.” Then right after you’re done with that, you pay attention to them so you start playing with them or watch a movie with them.

On his best asset as a football player: I don’t know if I do any one thing best. When I feel like I have something down at practice, I always focus on things I have trouble with, and even if I don’t have trouble with it I practice on it. That’s what we do in individual drills and stuff like that. I just really try to emphasize on my physicality and using my hands a lot to keep offensive linemen off of me.

On which NFL player he models his game after: I really don’t watch the NFL a lot; I don’t really watch any. When I get home that’s the day I really try to chill with the kids and do something with the family. We probably go out to eat or catch a movie or something … If there was a player, it would be Ndamukong Suh. The way he plays is just ferocious. I [modeled my game] after him because he is a relentless player. [I want to play like him] minus the penalties that he gets sometimes. He just plays like an animal out there on the field, and that’s just who I always wanted to be like growing up watching him.

On the challenge of playing Arkansas’ run heavy offense: It’s not a challenge. You kind of get [excited] about it because you’re a d{efensive] tackle and they’re running the ball, so that’s your chance to get tackles and stuff. It’s what we have been waiting on all year, a team to come downhill on us. Our defensive line is pretty good and they have a good offensive line, so we’ll just see who wins it in the end. 

Junior C Taylor Doyle

On developing chemistry on the offensive line: We’re still building that chemistry. You can never play enough with a group of guys. Everyone is continuing to develop, and that is very encouraging. We are excited about the direction that we’re heading.

On the offensive line being a tight-knit group because there are so few of them currently: Absolutely. It’s important when you are trying to develop an offensive line. We work hard and try to take care of everything on the practice field, but also bonding beyond that and spending time with each other off the field as well.

On if this season’s struggles will prepare them for next year: No one has the excuse of being inexperienced anymore. We haven’t had that excuse for the past few games, and it is encouraging to see guys develop, including myself. We’re really fortunate to have [offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe] Wickline leading us.

On coach Wickline’s coaching strategies: Coach Wickline is a big proponent of coaching us up. He tries to be very encouraging and always positive. So, that’s how I would describe him … He is a huge proponent of basic fundamentals and technique. [Those are] the main building blocks of offensive line play. So, he really harps on getting in a good stance, exploding out of the huddle and really [harps] on the things other teams may take for granted. You can never take a day off. You always have to focus on the small things so you can build.

On playing Arkansas’ defense: They’re a solid defense. You hear a lot about the SEC defenses, and they don’t disappoint. They’re strong up front and they’re fast, and we’re doing our best to prepare for them.

Junior OG Sedrick Flowers

On the attitude going into the bowl game: We’re always just ready to compete. Coming off the loss we had against TCU, we had a bitter taste in our mouth. We’re just ready to go out there and compete and show what we’ve got, show that our team isn’t weak or lower than any other team that’s going to go out there. We’ll compete and give it all we’ve got.

On TCU being a setback and getting over the loss: We have a 48 hour rule. You go through the game and after you see film, and then you just get over it. You can’t dwell on it forever. You won’t progress as a team. I wouldn’t say it was a setback, it was more like a learning experience. We just took the loss for what it was and learned from it.

On developing chemistry within the offensive line: As far as the offensive line, we have had our difficulties. Our players have been dismissed, some players were suspended and everything. The group of guys we have right now, that’s all we need, just the five. It’s taken time, but we’ve been able to mesh and come together and become one cohesive unit. We still have some holes here and there, but we all have a relationship with each other. We see each other as kind of like brothers, and we’re all just ready to fight for each other. As long as we have that, we’re good.

On difficulty coming together as an offensive line [regard to adversities]: It took some time. It took some hard work, but we got it done. As you can see, throughout the season there were times where we were high, times where we were low, times where there were hardships on the line. Throughout the whole season, though, we stayed together. We haven’t let each other get even one level down. Even if we have seen some bad comments made, we haven’t let it take us down at all.

On the Texas-Arkansas rivalry: I’m kind of young (laughs). All over our field house, you see pictures and stories from it, so I’m aware of it. Like I said, I’m kind of young to remember any of the games or anything like that, but I’m aware of it.

On Coach Strong’s first season: I think that we needed him honestly. He came in here, and he’s made us all humble ourselves. I know when I first got here, I wouldn’t say I was an arrogant person, but in the program there was some arrogance. There were some players that were entitled, and he came in here and just took that all away. Everybody is one the same level. We all just want to work and get a championship.

Senior WR John Harris

On his progression this season: It means a lot. I wish we had a better record. Of course we wish were in the four-game playoff, but it means a lot to me to come in and have the chance to do what I did. Become the sixth receiver, or one of the six all-time receivers to reach 1,000 yards. I think that’s pretty cool what I did. At the end of the day, I’m just glad to have the experience to play with these guys.

On returning next season: I probably will not be coming back next year. I think it’s time for me to move on and just let some of these younger guys go ahead and get their career started and follow-up on their dreams.

On conversations between the seniors [regard to finishing the season]: Nothing really big. We just want to go out and finish the right way with a “w”. That’s the goal and that’s the mindset. We didn’t get to finish our senior night the way we wanted to, so we want to leave out of here the right way and leave Coach Strong on a good note.

On Christmas Day with the team in Houston: I’ve had too many Christmases with my teammates by far since I’ve been here (laughs). It is what it is. I don’t mind being around them a little bit longer. We’ll have a good time, and we’ll make the most out of it. It would be fun to be at home on Christmas morning, but it’s the hand that we’ve been dealt. We’ve got to live with it.

On how bad this team wants to win the Texas Bowl: I think we want it bad enough. It’s early in the week. As we get closer to the game, I think we’ll be able to feel a little bit more. Right now we’re a little bit far out, so our minds are here and there. I think we’re going to want this game a lot, especially for us seniors. We know it can help us moving forward into our careers. It can help the younger guys move forward into next year. I think this will be a good game for us, and I think it’ll be a great test.

On not getting to play Texas A&M in the bowl: I always wanted to play A&M, but I didn’t get the chance when I got hurt. I’m not too bummed out. It’s just another big rivalry against Arkansas. I’ve always heard that was a big one, so it should be more fun to play against them because this one is supposed to be even bigger.

On the Arkansas rivalry: I didn’t know much about it back when the rivalry was really big. I know more about A&M than anything. From what I’ve heard, it’s a really, really big rivalry between the two. I know the fan bases really don’t like each other, so that’s about as much as I know.

Senior LB Jordan Hicks

On accepting the senior bowl invitation and deciding not to come back for a sixth year: Yeah it’s been an awesome ride. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve given my all to this university and the university has given its all to me. This year going the way it did and me playing the way I did and being healthy, I think it’s time for me to go and take the next step.

On how far the defense has come the last couple of years: We’ve come a long way. We’ve grown up everywhere. You can see it. All the young guys who were starting as sophomores and playing a lot of time as freshmen have really stepped up and made this defense who we are today. We’ve kind of set the standard this year and we only expect it to get better.

On how much of a bad taste has the TCU game left and if there’s desire to get back out there and erase that: Yeah it was definitely not good. It left a bad taste in our mouth, for sure, but for us, we understand what we have ahead and we’ve got one more game to prove ourselves versus a very, very, very good team, an SEC team, who’s very physical and who’s going to test us on both sides of the ball. We’ve got a lot of time to prepare and we’ve got to be focused on them, not TCU.

On what he wants fans to say about him in the future: Just that I never quit. Like I said, I gave everything I had to this university. I’ll forever be a Longhorn. I love this place and this place has done a lot for me. I’ve grown up so much in my five years here. I think my legacy comes in the fact that I continued, no matter what I faced or adversity that came my way, I never stopped. I continued to push and continued to work as hard as I could, day in and day out, basically for this year. It was really for this year. I think that’s it.

On what he knows about the Texas and Arkansas rivalry: I know it goes back a long time. Southwest Conference was dominant back in the day and both of these teams were, as well. I think being able to play this game will bring a lot of this history back and it will be good for both programs.

On if this bowl is a pretty good outcome playing in Texas and against a SEC team: I think so. Obviously, like you said, we’d rather have been in a bigger bowl game, and we would have had more wins in our belt but being able to play a big time SEC school like this, who really finished out the year at a very high level is exactly what we want. That’s what bowl games are for, to go play the best in the country, outside of your conference, so we’re excited. I think we’re going to be ready to go and we’ll have to see what happens.

Junior OL Marcus Hutchins

On becoming the starting left tackle this season: It wasn’t expected, but coming from defense and going back to offense was something that wasn’t brand new to me since I started out on offense. So, when [the new coaching staff] asked me to come over and play offensive tackle I said, “Sure, anything for the team,” and I just worked my tail off and landed in a starting position. 

On the offensive line this season: We have had our times when we have been up, and we have had our times when we have been down. But, I wouldn’t trade these guys for anybody else in the world. We gel, we have fun together, we know what it takes to grind and we know what it takes to fight out a battle.

On if he felt like the new coaching staff gave him a second chance to earn playing time: Yes, I felt like I had a second chance. This staff here is a players’ staff. They’re all about the players. They want to see you succeed not only on the field, but off of the field. So, when this new staff came in I felt like it was a way for me to identify myself to show them what I real can do and show the reason I really was recruited here.

On if he was expecting to return to the offensive line from the defensive side of the ball: I was expecting it. With the new staff coming in I was thinking I might transfer back to the offensive line because I hadn’t been playing defense that much. I was kind of thinking they might put me back over there. It was something I was kind of expecting.

On the turning point of the season for the young offensive line: The turning point for us was when we saw [senior center] Dominic Espinosa go out. We knew that we had lost our leader, and we knew each one of us had to step up and pull our own weight. At that point, when we knew we lost Dom, we had to step up and help each other out. We had to pull our own weight and couldn’t rely on one another. This is what our assignment is, we have to talk up front and communicate to help one another and also so we can pull our own weight … that was our turning point, because that was our senior that was our leader. That is somebody that we looked up to.

Junior WR Marcus Johnson

On offensive development: We’ve shown glimpses of it with Iowa State and the winning streaks that we’ve had, but it’s going to be one of those things where another year with the system, understanding the scheme of things and just coming together all-around and becoming comfortable with each other will help.

On difficulty developing offensive chemistry: It’s a learning experience honestly. Sometimes you get dealt those situations, and you have to make the best of them – that’s what I feel like we’ve had to do and overcome. At the same time, it’s a learning experience, so if we’re ever put in that situation again then we know what we have to do and what’s expected.

On Jerrod Heard as a quarterback: Jerrod is a shifty guy in the back field. He makes things happen with his feet. At the same time, when we watch him in practice, he’ll make great passes. It’s one of those things where once he gets more comfortable with the offense, you’ll be able to see him more. He’ll be able to show you why he won two state championships and what he can do on the field.

On this team’s pitch to offensive recruits: Opportunity – coming in, making a difference and knowing that you can play early and impact the team from the time that you get on campus. It’s definitely one of those things where we have a new coach, a new system and everybody is getting looked at. Nothing is really set in stone. You have a chance to prove yourself, so there’s definitely opportunity immediately when you get here.

On what the bowl game means [losing John Harris and Jaxon Shipley]: It means a lot. I want to make sure that they end on the right note. They end on a good note winning against a SEC opponent. Those are guys that when I first got here pushed me, taught me the things that as a receiver you see, from my sophomore to now. I want to make sure that they go out the right way.

On confidence in the program: It’s just a family atmosphere. We’ve grown together so much, and knowing that, especially on offense, we have so many people coming back and there’s so much we can continue to build on. Learning the scheme of things with this offense and having another year to put it all together, we’re really confident in what we have, the players that we have and what we see in practice.

Senior TE Geoff Swaim

On how important this bowl game is to the team after the TCU loss: I think it’s important just like any other game is important. Obviously seeing as it’s the last game of the year, for the guys coming back next year it’s more important to go out on a good note. For me personally, I just want a win, no matter who we play or when we play. So this game’s important for everyone, coaches, players, seniors, doesn’t matter who you are, it’s important to win, but especially just to get some momentum going into next year.

On how much it means to have this extra game: It’s huge. Anytime you get a chance to play one more game, it’s big. You always want to look back and everyone says, “I wish I had one more game, one more time.” You don’t want to go out knowing you’re going to play another game. So this game is just another opportunity to get better and have one more time because you never know what the future holds.

On the identity of the offense: Obviously physicality is what we pride ourselves on. Anytime you can impose your will on another team, it makes your job easier, makes the defense’s job easier. I don’t really get into the whole run/pass, all that kind of stuff. It’s more about who can be more physical, who can do their job the beset and which team ‘s tougher, really. That’s what we want to be and that’s who we strive to be. It’s a growing process. It’s never something you just say this is who you are and it just becomes that. That develops and that develops not thorough only this year but it’ll develop next year and it’ll just keep growing. 

On if there’s excitement from the old rivalry and playing a SEC team: Yeah I’m sure the people that have been around here a long time, it means a lot more to them. I don’t know a lot about the history, I’m not from here. I don’t know about a lot of the history and don’t care too much about the history; I just care about playing the game. It’s always a big-time game when you play a team from the SEC. A team from out of conference is a big deal. I think it was the same way when we played teams like UCLA and stuff. It’s a big deal. You’re playing a team out of conference and I understand there’s history and tradition, so that’s always going to add extra fuel to the fire.

On if it will be more exciting playing in Houston in front of a Texas crowd: It’s going to be a big game. I already heard the game has been sold out for a while. It’s cool to play in state and have somewhat of a hometown crowd. I’ve never been to Houston, I’ve only drove through it. So it’ll be cool for me just to see a different part of Texas and it’s always fun playing in Texas. We played in Dallas with the Cotton Bowl and Jerry World. It’s real cool. It’s a different environment but I think we’ll have a pretty good crowd and it’s going to be exciting for sure.

On if getting to a bowl game was a win for this team:  Well that’s kind of a tricky question. A win for any team is to play good every game, so that’s really the win and we didn’t do that a lot of times this year. A bowl game is always the team’s first goal, we want to win the bowl game, get to the bowl game and win that game. There’s a lot of goals that every team has and I can’t sit there and say this was our goal at the beginning of the year was just to get to a bowl game. But now that we’re here, this is where we’re at; this is what we’re focused on. I don’t look at it as wins and losses, you just look at it as this is an opportunity for us and we’re fortunate to have another game and that’s really what all it comes down to.


Sophomore QB Tyrone Swoopes

On how hard has it been to get over the TCU game:  Really, it hasn’t been that hard. We know we did wrong after we watched the film. It was kind of a learning experience, we learned from it and moved on.

On if he felt he was past having a game like he did against TCU: I don’t think anyone’s past having a bad game. It happens to everybody so I don’t think anybody is past having a game like that.

On how he looks back on his first season of getting to play a lot: It’s been a roller coaster, like I said before, with a lot of ups and downs. I think everybody has learned from it and ultimately be a better team in the bowl game and going into next year from it.

On his thoughts of the bowl game against Arkansas and a shot at redemption: Like you said, it’s another shot at redemption, another shot to get a win and we’re just going in there and preparing like we have been all year. 

On if it matters who they’re playing or if Arkansas is a team that puts pep in their step: I don’t think it really matters who we’re playing. At the end of the day, we get a chance to go out and compete against another team, so we’re going to go out and try to win.

On the excitement of playing a SEC team in Texas in a NFL stadium: I guess it is for everybody else, but it’s just another game for us. Like I said, we’re going to prepare just like we have been all year. 

On if he feels like he has to prove himself in this game going into the offseason: I just think it’ll be good for me to just bounce back from last game for myself, really. Just have confidence in myself going into the spring.


On how much he’s improved since the BYU game: I think I’ve improved a lot in confidence in myself and with the guys around me. Just being confident in our abilities to work as a team and as an offense to move the ball and get points on the board.

Tags: , ,