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December 28, 2014

Erick Dargan

Don Pellum

Tony Washington


THE MODERATOR:  I'm going to open up the floor with a quick question for Coach Pellum.  Coach, how has the trip been so far to Southern California, and how are things shaping up?
COACH PELLUM:  The trip has been fabulous.  All the way from the airplane ride down, it was smooth.
The transition from the airport to the hotels and the back and forth to practice, it's been wonderful.  Right now practices are moving at a good tempo.  Started to get the kinks out and get the rhythm going.
Right now everything is right on track where we need to be.
THE MODERATOR:  Erick, how about you?
ERICK DARGAN:  I think good.  Just getting back in the rhythm for practicing.  Enjoying the experience with my teammates, I think that's big for me and the rest of my teammates.  Having fun, taking it all in, and getting back to work.
TONY WASHINGTON:  It's been a great experience for me too.  I know a lot of guys haven't been to Southern California before.  So it's good to see their kind of reaction.  I think I love that the most about it, especially the young freshman kids from all over the country.  Just enjoying what we've earned thus far, but understanding it's a business trip and we've got a game to win.
I think overall the experience has been great.

Q.  Coach, when you watched the film of Florida State, every team does something that makes you say "Wow."  What was it with the Seminoles?
COACH PELLUM:  I think their overall team speed.  They're an extremely fast team.  I think they run wonderful offensive schemes that accent what they're really good in.  That's their speed.  That was the first thing.
We haven't played a lot of two‑back teams in our conference.¬† We don't see a lot of them.¬† So some of their styles of attack are different, and when you add that to the speed and just the athleticism, you go, you know what, this is different.¬† This is different.
So really excited about the opportunity and the challenge to face something different.  But that's what I see.

Q.  What are the biggest things you lose without having Ifo there, and what do you expect to see from your younger guys who are going to be pushed into that responsibility, especially playing against a team with a really established passer like that?
COACH PELLUM:  I think the first thing, not having Ifo, we lose a very talented player, but we lose kind of a spiritual leader there, a guy with a lot of experience, a guy that's been in the battle, in the heat of battle.  So we all have to pick up the slack.
What I expect to see is I expect to see the leaders, the Dargans, and the Troy Hills, the guys that have been out there doing a tremendous job of communicating, overcommunicating with the other guys who are rotating in so we don't miss a beat.
The biggest thing is going to be we're not changing the game plan.  You can't change it.  After 13, 14 games, you're not going to change the plan.  We have to do a better job of executing the plan.  We have to do a better job of guys picking up slack.
We have to do a tremendous job of communicating because that's what you lose when you lose a guy that starts for three, four years.  You lose a lot of communication, a lot of leadership.

Q.¬† Coach, what do you do in preparation‑‑ what's the difference in preparation for a game like this as opposed to a regular season game?
COACH PELLUM:  Our preparation is the same.  The way we're structured, the way Coach Helfrich has operations structured, our practice, just our routine is the same.  The difference is you plug in the different offenses.  For us, it's been plugging in the Florida State offense, but our preparation's been the same.
We've got a couple days we don't go real hard, and then we've got a couple days we go extremely hard.  It's just the actual substance is what changes.

Q.  Don, Jameis Winston threw 17 interceptions in the regular season.  What have teams done to force him to turn the ball over?
COACH PELLUM:  I have not compared him last year to this year.  I don't know the difference from last year to this year.  I've been told last year he didn't throw as many interceptions.
What I see is I see a very confident guy, and he'll make some throws.  He'll fit the ball into some tight windows.  The thing that he possesses is that, if he tries to fit in a window and it doesn't happen, if there's an interception, it doesn't faze him.  So he's coming right back out there, and the next series, he'll make that play.
The coverages, you see man, you see zone, you see a lot of different things.  I don't know if the coverages are causing that.  I'm not sure where they're coming from.  I just know that he's very confident and he can put the ball like right in there, and if he believes he can, he's going to put it there, and that team rallies around him.
The mistakes, if you notice, the mistakes haven't hurt the team.  The team continues to win in spite of whatever adversity they face.  That's what I see.  I see a very confident man who's going to put that ball where he believes it needs to go.

Q.  You talk about Jameis and the challenges he presents.  Have you seen any quarterbacks like that playing in your conference?
TONY WASHINGTON:  First off, he's a great player.  He can make plays all over the field.  You've got guys pressuring him, all in his face, but he still delivers the throw.
It just causes explosive plays.  That goes to what Coach was saying, that he can throw an interception, and it doesn't faze him.  He has the confidence to come out and keep making plays.
He's a great leader on the field.  He leads his guys in and out of battle.  They're very competitive.  They're undefeated.  They haven't lost a game in two years, and that's not for no reason.  This guy's really special.
ERICK DARGAN:  Going off what Tony said, he really can make a throw from anywhere on the field.  You have to respect that as a quarterback.  We play some pretty good quarterbacks in our conference, but a complete quarterback that can take off and run and take the hits and step into the throw, no, we haven't.  I don't think so.
We've just got to stay in coverage and make a play when the opportunity presents itself.

Q.  Coach, I don't know how far back you go in film in a season, but what have you seen from Florida State's offensive line during the last month of the season when you go back and look at that tape?
COACH PELLUM:  From the beginning to the end, at some point during the season, they made some changes.  They shook up the offensive line.  The production has been better.
When you look at their offensive line, they're big, they're strong, they're fast, they're solid.  I don't know if there's a lot of weaknesses.
I think what they did is they improved themselves by making that switch, I believe, at center.
All their linemen are big and strong and fast and do a tremendous job in the zone scheme of locking onto people and moving people and creating space for their backs.  I think, statistically, the last part of the season, there was less sacks.
So I think they've done a better job of protecting him.  I'm not sure if it's 100 percent just the offensive line or things they're doing schematically to give Jameis more time.  I just think they have a very solid offensive line.
I think over the course of the season, like all of us coaches, we believe, if we progress from the beginning of the season, we're getting better.  I think those guys have done a lot of what we've done on our team, from the beginning through the season we've progressed.
I think that's just part of a progression of coaches doing a great job of continuing to coach those little things and getting the group overall better.

Q.  Tony and Erick, could you talk a little bit about the fact that Oregon has overcome injuries on both sides of the ball all season, how much that helps with the Ifo injury going into this game.  And also if you could talk a little bit about the people who will be replacing Ifo in the Rose Bowl.
ERICK DARGAN:  I think overcoming injuries just goes to show how our team comes together and support each other, whether you're starting or not starting.  We believe somebody goes out, it's the next man up, and we pride ourselves on helping each other understanding defense and be able to make plays when they present themselves.
Honestly, whoever's in the game, our defense has got complete confidence in.  They're going to make the play and communicate.  So whether it's Chris or Dior or Arrion, I believe they're going to make the play, and I've got confidence in them.  That's really all that matters.
For the other injuries, it's just about support, supporting each other, and just being there.
TONY WASHINGTON:  I think what's special about this Oregon team is that we rotate so many guys on defense that, if the No. 1 guy was to go down, the guy backing him up has experience, has been playing for the rest of the year.  It's not like it's new to them.  Maybe it's their first time starting, but it's definitely not their first time playing.
Everybody that's on the practice field, they work hard.  It doesn't matter if you're a one, two, or three, you're going to be in there, and we all expect everybody to work just as hard as the No.1 guy, our starter guy there, doesn't matter who it is.
I think, because they practice like that, everybody on the defense has confidence in them being able to step up.
It's unfortunate we lost Ifo.  Like Coach D.P. said, he's a great spiritual leader, great playmaker for us.  We're confident in the guys that are going to be in there just because of the way they practice and because of their mindset.
We're a confident defense.  We have great confidence in each other, and as long as we play together, we'll be okay.

Q.  How has Coach Helfrich made his specific mark on this program in the past two years?
COACH PELLUM:  I'm a little different than these guys.  I've been at Oregon for a long time, so I've been through a lot of wonderful head coaches.  I think what Coach Helfrich does, he really treats the guys like men.  We have unbelievable structure, just the way everything is structured is unbelievable.
And then he‑‑ in our meetings and when he deals with the players, he challenges these guys, and the challenge is really to be the best.¬† It's really neat the way he does it.
But the kids, these young men respond.  I think a big part of our success is due to the leadership of Coach Helfrich, and it's not just with the players, it's with the administrative staff.  It's with the coaches.  He empowers us to do our job and gives us the resources, and he says go.
That's the Mark Helfrich way.  That's how to characterize Coach Helfrich's leadership.
ERICK DARGAN:  For me, Coach Helfrich is unbelievable, on the field and off the field.  And I think that's big.  He's really pushing us towards greatness, and that's something we've been chasing for a long time.
Everybody's got their own swagger and own like how they do things.  What he does is special.  He really cares about our bodies and makes sure we're getting the right treatment and making the right steps.  He's always getting input from the players, how can we make it better?  And that's something we always approve because it's not just the coach's standpoint, he wants the players' standpoint, how can we improve?  And it helps.  It really does.
TONY WASHINGTON:¬† Just to take off what Erick was saying, I think Coach Helfrich really respects us and treats us like men.¬† He understands that we're in a position where we're on our own a lot and we can make a lot of decisions.¬† He believes we'll make the right decision.¬† He always looks out for us.¬† He always wants us to be the best we can be, and he can help us‑‑ and if he can help us in any way, he's definitely going to do that.
I think, because of that, a lot of guys respect Coach Helfrich.  They want to buy into his system.  It's worked out really well for us.  We've just got to keep pushing.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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