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December 29, 2017

Erick Wren

Pasadena, California

ERICK WREN: I don't know if it's more than average because I haven't been in other teams' offense, but, I mean, yeah. He does have a whole lot of responsibility, because he -- depending on the center's call, that sets up everybody else's call and pretty much tells everybody what to do. It all starts at the center, so --

Q. You have -- the quarterback gets the call, whatever, what did you do?
ERICK WREN: Well, I have to check -- sometimes check coverages and check defenses, you know, depending on which way I want to redirect stuff, you know stuff around there.

Q. Right. And -- were you able to (inaudible).
ERICK WREN: Oh, yeah. I studied a lot of film in the offseason. I really looking at a lot of NFL tape, going back and looking at a lot of college tape, just trying to get the basics of reading coverages and picking up different blitzes and stuff like that.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Particularly watch the Cowboys, the Cowboys offensive line; very, very good offensive line. Just watching everything from techniques to, you know, just how the guys play. To see the energy, and everything, you know, that's what I watch.

Q. Appreciate it. Going back to the hotel. Chicken soup. Vaporizer trying to get well. Is that accurate?
ERICK WREN: You'd have to talk to Coach Riley tomorrow about that. That's not something I want to hit on today.

Q. How has the trip been so far?
ERICK WREN: Trip has been great.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: No. They have their own unique way of doing things. They are very good up front. Very physical, very good. It's going to be a nice match-up.

Q. Is this fast start -- build your confidence, get your rhythm back offensively?
ERICK WREN: We generally play well when we have a fast start. I felt that way. And if we come out, we execute what we've been working on all week, I think we should be just fine.

Q. The past couple years been like -- now that you're here?
ERICK WREN: It's been great. I try not to look back on it because I want to keep focused on what we have coming up. But, you know, the experience has been great. It's been one in a lifetime. Most people don't get this opportunity. And for me -- for God to put me in this position, it's really a huge blessing.

Q. You're a guy that obviously -- there are a lot of guys like this. Almost seems odd you -- a lot of your starters, guys that are -- why do you think that is? Do you ever think about that?
ERICK WREN: I never really thought about it.

But if I can say anything, I would just say it's passion for the game. You find people that you -- that people have given up on. Guys like me, Baker, et cetera. We have other great walk-ons like Nick Basquine, Lee Morris. It's the passion for the game; it's the never quite attitude. It just drives us every day.

Q. How do you think that impacts --
ERICK WREN: I feel like it pushes everybody else, makes everybody else work a little bit harder, when they see how passionate we are about the game and where we come from in our scores.

Q. You mentioned people that maybe were given up, or whatever, was there a point --
ERICK WREN: Yes, I feel like -- that several times in my career, people have given up on me, doubted me. I had a coach that sat down and told me I was not a Division 1 player; start looking at Division 2 schools. The situation coming out of high school, it was a lot. So I faced a lot of adversity.

Q. Were you always the guy who knew you would end up somewhere like this --
ERICK WREN: It's good to have dreams. So, I mean, everybody growing up, you know, from playing Pee-Wee Football, to when you get go about middle school, you have a dream of playing at the Division 1 level. You get to high school and it starts to becomes a reality for some people. I've always kept that passion and never quit attitude.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: The biggest breakthrough, I'll have to sit down and think about it. Off the top of my head, I would say when I got the scholarship. It kind of solidified everything for me and kind of let me know that God has put me on this path and to take advantage of it as much as I can.

Q. What is your impression, what sticks out to you about Georgia's defense?
ERICK WREN: How physical they are; very, very physical team, and they can move. They've got some fast guys on that defense, especially the linebacker, number 3, he's a great player. Always finds a way to the ball and he's just really smart as well.

Q. Certainly, your offense is known for Baker Mayfield throwing around and Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon they can run the ball a little bit, too. What -- do you think that underestimated the run game of Oklahoma?
ERICK WREN: Yeah, because people who -- I mean, the media and other conferences don't really see the Big 12 as a running offense -- you know, running-style offense, so it's kind of overshadowed in my opinion, but, I mean, you got -- those guys, Trey, Rodney, even Abdul Adams and Marcelias, they can all come into the game. It's really unappreciated. Those are four very, very good backs that can play anywhere in the country.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Man, exactly what you see on film.

Q. You guys, just the personality like --
ERICK WREN: It's like a brotherhood. It feels like everybody is growing up in the same household their whole lives. It's just really comfortable to be around. The chemistry is there. You know, we all get a good vibe out of each other. You can't have a great offensive line without chemistry.

Q. How does Baker treat you?
ERICK WREN: Oh, man. What he did at the Heisman ceremony, we really appreciated. We didn't think he was going to do that. He takes care of me always. He just hangs out with us. I mean, it's just like a team.

Q. How you getting healthy?
ERICK WREN: That's something you got to talk to Coach Riley about tomorrow.

Q. What about the Rodney situation, how did you deal with that?
ERICK WREN: I mean, we have Rodney's back no matter what. He's a very, very good person, very good character. He's a very good stand-up guy. We're behind him 100 percent.

Q. How --
ERICK WREN: That's something I don't want to get into. That situation was already dealt with.

Q. Yeah. You got him back. What does it mean to have Rodney back?
ERICK WREN: Well, having him back from the injuries through the years -- he's always been a great talent. We've seen him work in two-a-days and the spring practices, and, gosh, he's a great running back. And we were just so ready to get him back on the field. Shout out to R.J. and Joe, those are two very good backs as well. Rodney's right there in the running with those guys.

Q. Ohio State --
ERICK WREN: Well, we have great chemistry up front. It's the passion we play with. I wouldn't say keep them in check. That's a very, very talented front; the best we've ever played against, I think. The chemistry, feeling comfortable with each other, the calls, and communication, that's the big key to all of that.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Very, very talented up front and very, very athletic. Probably the best -- probably the most athletic guys I ever played against in my life to be honest. Big guy, fast, strong, they really make you work.

Q. How does the defense compare in terms of athleticism you've seen to Ohio State?
ERICK WREN: I wouldn't know because we have never played Georgia. We have never played a team like this. They are very physical. You can see that on film. They are big guys, very fast.

Q. How do you look at the chances --
ERICK WREN: Repeat that, the first part again.

Q. How did you look at that as a chance to improve --
ERICK WREN: It was an opportunity for us. People counted us out and they had questions about us all season, even before the Sugar Bowl, at the end of the Sugar Bowl, how physical we were up front. And it was just another opportunity for us to kind of make a statement.

Q. -- he's a big guy --
ERICK WREN: God. Yeah. The man can dance. Very good footwork for his size. Really, really athletic. I mean, a lot of that is under-appreciated as well.

Q. You get a lot of passion --
ERICK WREN: He takes you in as his own, almost like his own kids. He's like a father to pretty much everybody on the team, I would say. And when he's talking, everybody's listening, and it's just -- it's a tough-love type deal. You can't take anything to heart. You have to know that he's here to help you. And once you get to that point, that's when you start becoming a better player.

Q. How did he build that relationship with you?
ERICK WREN: Oh, man, it was just talking to me every day, being hard on me. I grew up raised with tough love in my household, so, it was just kind of like having my father there almost, and he's really helped me out a lot in my career.

Q. I think he's one of those guys like an offensive line guru --
ERICK WREN: Oh, no. He's a football guru, he knows every position, everything about football.

Q. What are they doing to open up the offensive line --
ERICK WREN: Well, they are very physical, you know, as I've been saying. You know, they do a really good job of not letting the offensive linemen get to the next level, making the linebackers make plays. They're really good at that. Really good at penetration, knocking offensive linemen back. If we can hold our own in that department, we'll be fine.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Bobby was under-appreciated by some of the votes that came out. He's probably the best right tackle in football right now.

Q. Is overshadowed a little bit --
ERICK WREN: Yeah. I mean, he's overshadowed because he's young. He doesn't get the attention that he deserves. Bobby is very, very good. You tell him -- and you see Bobby and you say wow, who is this guy.

Q. What about Drew and Ben?
ERICK WREN: Drew and Ben have stepped up greatly this year. The chemistry is there. Having those two guys beside me is probably the best route.

Q. You're -- probably number one in the country, right?
ERICK WREN: That's the weird thing about it. Drew is from Cali; I think Ben is from Kansas. I'm from Texas, Orlando is from Georgia. Bobby's right down there in Texas with me. We came from all over the place, but that's a credit to Coach Bedenbaugh. He's a great recruiter and knows what he's doing. He knows how to get guys -- a good feel for guys that would click together.

Q. How does he --
ERICK WREN: Oh, man. He came in tough. He came in tough. And, you know, that really helped. He came in really assertive, and he put his foot down and we all got behind him.

Q. How has his experience been? Did you talk about it for a while?
ERICK WREN: It's always fun to play in your hometown, especially such a big game; you have so much family coming. He's excited about it. We're all excited for him. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Q. Drew and Bobby, offensive lineman, how --
ERICK WREN: Oh, man, he's my brother, treat him like a little brother. Try and protect him. He takes care of us, too. He always gives us the credit. He's a very humble guy.

Q. Does that happen with most running backs or --
ERICK WREN: I think our friendship goes a step beyond because it's not all about him, and he really takes that to the heart. He gives us a lot of credit, and I've never played with a running back that does that.

Q. Does he joke?
ERICK WREN: We all hang around each other. You hang around somebody every day, you tend to pick up on their habits and qualities and all that type of stuff. It's a great chemistry thing.

Q. Like watch at the end of the year or something like that?
ERICK WREN: Oh, no, they show us love. They take care of us. They really appreciate us.

Q. A walk-on --
ERICK WREN: To be honest, no. I never thought I would. But I kept working like I do.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: No. That is very weird. Very weird thing from Orlando. But, I mean, if the man can fish, the man can fish. So 6'8", 300-some pounds, he can do what he wants to do.

Q. Is that an offensive lineman thing or --
ERICK WREN: Yeah. I think all of us was pretty scared. I was scared myself and I'm the smallest one of the group.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Did a few things. I think the best experience was the "Star Wars" thing. That was very fun for me.

Q. Is there any reason you worry about Baker not here today?
ERICK WREN: You can talk to Coach Riley about that tomorrow.

Q. -- relationship between Baker. Seems like every player, it's special to be in that relationship and the way they get along?
ERICK WREN: Their relationship is very, very unique. Just watching those guys interact with each other in practice and even off the field, it's something that you -- it's hard to find between a head coach and a quarterback, and having that -- having that relationship between them has made this team so much better. It's something I've never seen before.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Yeah. It's the love. They care about each other. It's like -- I wouldn't say father-son. It's almost like brothers in a sense. You can tell how emotional Coach Riley got when he had to sit Baker out. That's the passion that they have.

Q. You guys are struggling for a little bit --
ERICK WREN: No. I mean. I'm pretty sure Smitty would have enjoyed that. No. Yeah, I'm glad he's not here today to see that.

Q. I want to talk about --
ERICK WREN: Oh, man. I didn't even know he was doing a halftime show. That's the first I heard of it.

Q. In the stadium, you've been like a normal -- like you're in Centennial Park in Atlanta.
ERICK WREN: Oh, okay.

Q. Yeah. This is the first time --
ERICK WREN: The music guys on my team, I think Rodney is a very big fan of Kendrick Lamar. He always talks about him in the locker room. I'm sort of a big fan of Kendrick Lamar and Orlando.

Q. Is he right up there on your top ten this year?
ERICK WREN: Oh, yeah, yeah. I love that album.

Q. Future of college football, championship game, halftime shows?
ERICK WREN: I'm a big fan of Migos, I'm a big fan of Migos. That's what I always listen to before every game.

Q. Perfect --
ERICK WREN: Oh, man. Perfect fit.

Q. What's the origin?
ERICK WREN: It speaks for itself. That's what everybody feels about Oklahoma. Everybody has always counted us out, and it just drives us every day and please keep counting us out. That's what we want. It drives the team.

Q. Have you practice -- when did -- the first day but, if you can remember?
ERICK WREN: Oh, I think one of the guys in the media said something about it, and ever since that day, it's like striking gold for us.

Q. During the season, preseason, do you remember the first time you saw it?
ERICK WREN: I think it was preseason. I think it's the first college game day when somebody had something to say. Ever since then, we looked at that and we heard it. It drove Baker and he come in with a big sign. He hung it above his locker. It's right in front of me. Every day we look at that, and it gives us motivation to work. So --

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Oh, man, you make me do some math right now. I have no idea. I'm 23 right now.

Q. When were you born?

Q. You were about 6 years old?
ERICK WREN: There we go. There we go.

Q. Talked about the position Oklahoma had, how is it important to continue that tradition?
ERICK WREN: It's been a while since a national title. This team and University has a great history of championships. For us to have an opportunity to continue that legacy, it's a blessing, and we want to continue to press forward and continue the tradition here.

Q. Like three -- how many national championships -- but couldn't get over the hump. What is it about this team that couldn't get over the hump. What do you have to do the next couple weeks?
ERICK WREN: I don't know about the past teams, because I wasn't on those teams. But we have to stay focused, stay disciplined and stick to what we know. It'll take care of itself.

Q. The fan base, have they really craved this?
ERICK WREN: Yeah, yeah. They're craving for it. They want it just as bad as we do. We have to realize, we have to take this one game at a time. First we start with Georgia and winning the Rose Bowl is -- playing in this bowl game is an honor. I think it's kind of been overshadowed by the National Championship and the College Football Playoffs, but the Rose Bowl is something I dreamed of playing about my whole life. That's the first game I wanted to play in when I saw the bow selections for this year.

Q. Last question, in the preseason are they still out and how pathetic were those shirts when you guys put them on?
ERICK WREN: It's just like anything else. Winning the Big 12 championship, starting out fast in the Big 12.

You set that as a goal. That's the ultimate goal at the end. That's the one we want and we're fighting for.

Q. The defense is probably going to be locked in on baker.
ERICK WREN: It's very, very important, our run game wants to complement our passing game. If we get both of those down we'll be fine.

Q. Does the offense put that on their shoulders?
ERICK WREN: Oh, yeah. That's every offensive line in the nation. You take that attitude that you want to run the ball. You want to make your presence felt. As of that, we're ready to go.

Q. Do you take this as motivation?
ERICK WREN: Oh, yeah. It's a challenge. And we're accepting that challenge.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Having Coach Riley for these three years has been pretty special. Obviously, there's different players, but I guess probably team chemistry has been the biggest thing. This team is a very close team, a team that trusts each other. Obviously, going to try taking over the whole team. It's not just the offense and defense, it's more of a group. We all have the same mind set. I think that's probably been the biggest thing.

Q. What have you learned from just going to the --
ERICK WREN: There's a lot of things to juggle. It's a big stage. It's not much bigger that you can get in college football. There's a lot of distractions, just being able to help the young guys out and help them stay grounded at this time and focus and realize that this is a huge stage but not make it too big of a stage and then stay focused.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Nah. I haven't -- I've been washing my hands after that, but he's doing all right.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: That's going to be Coach Riley talking about that, not me. I always wear gloves so I'll be fine.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: It's one of those things, a little weird but it will be fun.

Q. What is the narrative --
ERICK WREN: I think the narrative, and I'm not going to say -- is teams that throw the heck out of the ball, fast offenses, score a lot of points and play no defense. And, to me, I don't -- I don't think there's no defenses. I think that it's Big 12, and it's offenses. There real fast tempo. There's so many different variables to stop. It's hard to stop, and there's not that many people that can.

I think there's very good defenses in the Big 12 and I don't think that, because of our offense, that they should be labeled as the Big 12 doesn't play defense.

Q. Why not?

Q. Why not?
ERICK WREN: Because the Big 12 offense, they runs this air raid and they have these read options. There's different variables. It is really tough. There's a lot of different things to game-plan for. We do one thing and you do the other and vice versa. There's so many big things.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Yeah. Personally for us, we've always been about us. We take it to -- every week and obviously this game's no different. The only thing that matters is how we play and how we execute. So that's just how it is. We're going to do our thing and stay true to ourselves and we'll be all right.

Q. Is it okay, if you win the championship to label this team one that outscores everybody, you know? Is there anything wrong with that?
ERICK WREN: No. No. That's definitely not the case. Our defense has really stepped up in big moments in this game. As of late, they've been playing real good ball. So, our defense scored, actually against TCU which kind of flipped the game. So they've done a lot of great things. We wouldn't be here without them. They stepped up the big moments. They've been playing good ball so I'm really proud of those guys.

Q. Did you notice after the OSU game that the narrative wasn't first -- look at this unbelievable shootout. Almost a mocking tone, the national narrative. I wondered in that registered with you?
ERICK WREN: I don't really listen to media all that much. I know the narrative behind the Big 12 and defense. Don't care about it much. I know how it is, year in, year out, Big 12 does well in bowls and proved themselves, so I'm not worried about it. Just because of the type of offenses we have and obviously, you look at our defense and what they've been able to do and how good they are playing right now, it's pretty special.

Q. If I told you on June 6th, that he retire and at age 33, Lincoln would take this team to the playoffs, what would be the bigger shock?
ERICK WREN: No. That wouldn't -- that wasn't a thought that had come across my head at all. When I got that news it was definitely a shock. You knew that Lincoln was going to be a head coach. I didn't know where. But I know the special coach that he is. You knew someday he would get that opportunity. Was kind of a shocker. For coach to leave at that point was a shocker. Obviously it worked out. They did an incredible job making that transition very smooth and credit to where we are right now for how easy it is yeah. Go ahead.

Q. He's with the right team at the right time?
ERICK WREN: You know, he's a very -- he's special. Describe him in one word or what not. He's a player's coach. But he's also a very smart guy. You know? He's able to incorporate what he's going to look as offense through the whole team. And spread his mentality and hard work which has been infectious for offense for the last two years and now three, may spread for the whole team these last couple years.

Q. Did he register with you? We all talked about being 33 when he got the job. Does it show itself? Does it matter, good, bad?
ERICK WREN: I don't think about how young he is just because of how he carries himself. He doesn't carry himself as a young coach that has something to prove. He's very mature obviously, taking his job and you don't know how well he's done.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: They are able to do a lot. A lot of different things, just because of how athletic and physical they are. You know, all across the board, they have guys that -- that can replace each other and run around so they are able to do a lot of different schemes and what not because of their ability to be physical but at the same time run down the ball and be fast.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: I said hi sometimes, didn't really talk too much. He seems like a nice kid and great ballplayer.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: He's relentless. Turn on the tape he sheds tackles really well. Sheds tacklers really well. Doesn't have anything stopping him. He'll get to the ball no matter what. He's a smart player. He's relentless.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Yeah. I think the last couple years, I've been, you know, kind of sharing some time with people and then growing up, as you said, has been something that I've been doing, and maturing, and just getting familiar with his offense, and obviously, this year, the time is right for me. I've got a lot of opportunities and taking advantage of them. So, you know, I haven't had that -- I had Sterling my first year, I spent some time with him and Gino last year obviously a great player and this year I kind of stepped up as a leader. In that room as one of the leaders on the team. It was time to step up and do my thing.

Q. We're talking a great offseason.
ERICK WREN: Yes, Smitty and that whole work staff did a great job. Obviously I'm in the right play. I think it showed to be able to be this size and to be able to catch the ball and move around, separate DBs and linebackers has been a huge help. I think it shows this year. Because I'm definitely bigger, stronger, and, so --

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: He's someone that we -- every practice we focus on his ability to work out and scramble, and knowing where to be, our offense is very in tune with that and his ability to scramble. He's someone that's not predictable, so you really have to be on the same page with him. That's just getting reps with him and getting reps with him has been a huge help and knows where he's thinking and where he wants you to be. Just knowing where he wants you to be is going to be --

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Yeah. He's been fun.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Um, every game's different. Every situation is different. I don't know if there's too many comparisons. I would say one thing right now. This team has a ton of chemistry, you know, all three sides of the ball and we feed off each other. I think that's something that's a big -- I don't know if it's a difference. Something that stands out for me in this team is the type of players and type of chemistry that we have is pretty special.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: I've learned a lot. There's always things I've been through with this team and in life that kind of shaped me to whom I am and player I am today. There's so many different things that have changed me since then, but that's just a part of playing the game and getting better and getting reps and progressing.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: He came in right away. His ability to come in, and kind of capture the players at the start of it, it was very evident from the start that he's a player's coach. His ability to win us over was very impressive and then his -- obviously his offensive schemes have been, you know, second to none. These last two years, his ability to call plays at the right times have been pretty impressive. So, I would say that is really the win players stressed over. And his offensive mind has been awesome.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Yeah. He did this with offense. He had a meeting last year taking over the team. And basically status down which I thought was pretty impressive. He doesn't want to give him trust. He wants to earn the trust. He has a head coach. I'm sure most coaches come in expecting to have that trust already, expecting to be all high on the horse but he didn't. He has earned it and he's done what he said. I think that's something that really stood out for me and this team.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Yeah. It wasn't surprising, just because I know the kind of person he is and know his work ethic and how he views things for being with him for the last two years. But I think for everybody else on the team, especially defensive guys and specialist, it was kind of a -- like this guy's for real. He is a real genuine person and a guy we can go to and trust.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: It depends. There's different things that we do. Different play calls. Obviously, we incorporate both hand signals and verbal signals, so it's a little bit of a mixture.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN : Yeah. The centers have an incredibly tough job to do. They have to know where the defense is at all times and make those calls to get the line situated. If the center's off, we're all going to be off. It's a tough job. There's a lot riding on that. But he obviously does a great job doing it. He does a lot of film work to get to the point he's at. Again, credit to him because that's a hard job to do.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
ERICK WREN: Yeah. Sometimes the "O" line doesn't get notice all of the time. It's very evident to see when we have an "O" line like this: There has to be people that do things right.

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