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December 28, 2014

Evan Engram

Bo Wallace

Dan Werner


MODERATOR:  Welcome back.  We'll get started with the Ole Miss session.  Starting off in here, we've got offensive coordinator Dan Werner, quarterback Bo Wallace and tight end Evan Engram.
Coach, let's do opening statements.  Talk about how your Bowl Week experience has been so far and how preparation has been going.
COACH WERNER:  First of all, the bowl itself has been awesome.  We were excited to be here anyway, and I've had the good fortune of being here before.  What you guys have done to beef this thing up is just amazing how much it's changed in whatever it was, eight years ago, that I was here.
Our players have had a great time, the coaches have had a great time.  The city has been unbelievable to us.  We've just really enjoyed ourselves and can't wait for the next couple days.  We are ready to play a football game.
MODERATOR:  We'll have one of those at the end of the week, I can promise you.
Bo, talk about your experience and what's been your favorite event so far.
BO WALLACE:  It's been great.  I think the camaraderie that we've had as a team, being able to go out and do things together, Dave & Buster's last night, getting to watch Davonte play Madden on the big screen.  It's been awesome to cheer him on and have a good time together.
MODERATOR:  Evan, what about you?  What did you think of the welcome party at the Hall of Fame?  Did you enjoy that trip there?
EVAN ENGRAM:  It's been really fun.  The staff that you put together has been good to us.  We're having a great time.  It's been really fun.
MODERATOR:  What are you looking forward to the most this week?
EVAN ENGRAM:  Honestly, the Andretti tonight.  I've been there.  This is home for me so I've been there a few times.  So tonight, I think it's going to be pretty fun.
MODERATOR:  Try to keep it on the track for me, all right?  We'll start with questions.

Q.  Bo, can you talk about going into this game not having Laquon, not having Vince, just the guys you'll have to depend on?
BO WALLACE:  We're down a couple playmakers that we depended on this year, but we have guys like Cody Core and Markell Pack who is a young kid who has to step up.  Obviously, Evan.  Hopefully he will play the way he did against Mississippi State and we expect that, because he's so explosive and a guy that's a mismatch.  So we know we're down some guys, but we have guys that are going to step up and fill the void.

Q.  Coach, the TCU offense gets a lot of ink, but their defense is prolific too.  In the past, the hallmark of TCU has been their defense.
COACH WERNER:  No doubt about it.  Look at their stats.  They're in the top rankings in a lot of categories in the country, and that's being in a conference that throws the ball a lot.  Most of the teams are putting up a bunch of points.
To see where they are ranked is impressive.  You watch them on film, and they're an S.E.C.‑type defense.  That's saying something, because we're used to seeing great defenses every week and these guys are right there with them.

Q.  Coach, can you follow up on the S.E.C. defense comparison?  What makes them like an S.E.C. defense?
COACH WERNER:  Their athleticism.  Their defensive line runs around.  Some of the teams around the country don't have the athletic ability that most D‑lines do in our league.  These guys obviously do.  Their linebackers are physical but can also run, and they're good enough at corner to play man coverage, which allows them to do a lot of different things inside, and that's what we see basically every week.

Q.  Dan, I'm wondering if you watched film from the Baylor game and what Baylor did to score 61 on TCU.
COACH WERNER:  Baylor scores 61 on everybody, I think.  It's amazing.  They had them shut down in the fourth quarter.  I think they only had 28 points or something at the time, or maybe 35.   All of a sudden at the end, they hit them on big plays.  The way they made most of their yards and most of their points were big plays.

Q.  Bo, the TCU defense has a reputation for confusing quarterbacks, throwing them different looks.  What do you see when you see film?
BO WALLACE:  Obviously, up front, they're athletic.  Like Coach said, they're an S.E.C. caliber defense that we see every week.  So offensively, we have to play really good and have a good plan and guys play really well.

Q.  Coach, Aaron Morris is out.  Move Rod Taylor into starting.  Move Justin Bell over.  How does that affect you guys?  How does the combination look in practice?
COACH WERNER:  It's been good.  Rod's played a bunch this year.  Even though he's a true freshman, it's the 13th game so he's got a lot of reps in and he's ready to roll.  Like Bo was talking about, any time you lose a guy, you find somebody to step in.  We're lucky to have more depth than we had, say, three years ago.  Guys like that, they want to step up.  They've been waiting all year to get their reps and get a shot, and what better place than on a national stage to play a great ball game and get us a "W."
Q.Bo, what's the bowl experience been like knowing this is your last college game, last bowl trip.  How does it compare to the the first two you've been part of here?
BO WALLACE:  Just the stage we're on at this bowl makes it your preparation, your mind's on the game the whole time, and you want to play well on a stage like this.  I hadn't thought about this being my last game.  I've been trying to prepare and get a win for my teammates and the seniors.

Q.  Dan, piggybacking on that question, this being Bo's last game, you got a chance to see the two young quarterbacks a lot in practice.  What were your late season impressions of them?  What are your thoughts on them, looking ahead to spring?
COACH WERNER:  We're excited about it.  Those guys have gotten lot of reps in the last couple weeks and have shown a lot of things that they can do.  It's great for them, obviously, seeing fastball stuff in practice instead of going with the second team every time.  It's a good precursor to spring ball and let them see what it's all about and let us see how they handle it.
MODERATOR:  Evan, we just had TCU in here, their defense.  They talked about scheming you as though you're a receiver.  Do you see yourself in a receiver role or as a traditional tight end?
EVAN ENGRAM:  That's the thing with this offense.  It can be either one.  They can throw me in there to be physical at the line of scrimmage and throw up a block and try to open up a run and then split me out wide and run a post down the field.  This offense is very versatile.  There's a lot of positions a lot of people can play.  It's honestly the best of both worlds, being able to come in and help with the run game and being able to flourish in the passing game.
MODERATOR:  Compared with the receivers, how do you stack up speed‑wise against those guys?
EVAN ENGRAM:  Oh, I'm the fastest one.  Quincy probably has me by a little bit, but‑‑
MODERATOR:  You've got the rest of them?

Q.  Evan, how comfortable are you when you're called on to block?
EVAN ENGRAM:  This off‑season, our weight training staff did a good job getting us stronger, keeping us healthy.  Coming off last year's injury, rehabbing, getting back, being confident in blocking and dropping my feet.
One of the biggest things I learned from getting hurt last year was dropping my feet on blocking.  It makes a huge difference.  I feel a lot more confident in holding up D‑ends and climbing to the next level to linebackers.  Whenever I'm called to make a block, I feel a lot more confident and comfortable doing that.

Q.  Dan, even in the Big 12, Baylor's somewhat unconventional.  Is there anything that you guys can learn from what they did, or is it just so much of an aberration that it's hard to translate anything to your game plan against them?
COACH WERNER:  Learn from what other defenses did against them?

Q.  Yes.  To us, the Baylor game was an aberration in the season with the 61 points.  What I'm asking, I'm not so sure that many teams could do some of the things Baylor did and get away with it.
COACH WERNER:  There's no doubt.  It's not like we're going to change our scheme around just because Baylor did so well.  That's something they do every week, and they do a good job with it.  There are things they do that we do also.  So obviously, that's stuff we'd put in and maybe emphasize more than we usually do.  We're going to run our offense, do what we do best and go fast and let these guys play and make plays.

Q.  Bo, the beard's a new look.  Can you talk about the beard a little bit and why that was a good call for you?
BO WALLACE:  I mean, it was obviously, it was just something that, you know, I was home in Pulaski.  There's not many people that you see that you have to be clean shaven or anything.  I was going to shave it either when I got here or the next day.  Everybody on the team embraced it, told me not to.
COACH WERNER:  I haven't really embraced it.
BO WALLACE:  So they said keep it.  So I'm at least going to keep it up until game day.  We'll see if I get rid of it.
MODERATOR:  I think in my 15 years with the bowl, that's the first facial hair question we've had at a press conference.  We'll come up with some kind of prize for you on that.  Any other grooming areas we want to cover?
COACH WERNER:  Please don't ask me any.

Q.  You mentioned tempo.  Can tempo be a big part of this game, playing fast?
COACH WERNER:  It's always part of our scheme, depending on how the game goes, to be honest with you.  We have it in the plan every week and work it in practice every week.  We see how things are going.  If we start struggling a little bit, maybe we'll pick it up, or vice versa.

Q.  Evan, you mentioned being back home.  Starting the season here, ending here, what does it mean to play pretty much another game close to home?
EVAN ENGRAM:  It's fun.  It's a true blessing.  I get to have a lot of friends here.  A lot of my friends are back home from school.  My family is traveling from Florida and Ohio to come down and watch.  So it's a real blessing.  Being here with my teammates and having fun with the events we have and kind of being a tour guide type of guy on the team right now with all the places we've been, it's really fun, and I feel really comfortable here.
I never got to really play in the dome in high school.  We never made it to the state playoffs, state championship.  So being here on this stage and this caliber type of bowl is real fun.  It's a true blessing.
MODERATOR:  Thanks very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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