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December 27, 2019

Kayvon Thibodeaux

Pasadena, California

Q. Walk me through what you guys have done. I know you had a little bit of a walk-through. What's it been like getting here and getting your bearings.
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Yesterday we had a practice, kind of like a fast Friday. We got moving. We went to Disneyland. That was pretty nice. Kind of have basically an introductory day, not too much, but we had enough to just get accommodated and comfortable.

Q. With preparing for Wisconsin in particular, obviously everything they want to do goes through Taylor. Have you guys started preparing specifically for him or are you just honing in on what you do best?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I mean, we focus on us, but our preparation has been in the run game, and we do focus -- I wouldn't say we focus the whole game, but we'll say that he has been important in our game plan.

Q. You were up front about your goals when you arrived in the spring. How would you describe your freshman year at Oregon at how has it gone for you?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I didn't do too bad. My goal was 10 sacks and I'm at nine now. But after playing the season, I realize I could have done a lot more. But I think for a freshman year, it's not as good as it could have been, but I think I've got a lot of work to do.

Q. Why? You were voted Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Because I feel like in the beginning of the season I didn't contribute enough. There was a lot more I could have done. But yeah, we've been winning, so I'm happy, and we're here, so...

Q. Second half of the year you seemed to really click. Your production for a numbers standpoint went way up. What happened in the middle of the year for the game to slow down?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: It's different for like as a player, it's different when you're coming off the bench and when you're actually starting and playing. You get more reps, you get more time to actually feel comfortable, and I think that's kind of what helped me make a lot more plays.

Q. For you, does it get you a little bit more hyped knowing the challenge that is in front of you? This is an offensive line and a running back that very few have been able to stop this year. Does it get you a little excited to rise to that challenge and say we're going to be the ones that stop them?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I mean, I feel like me personally, I try to stay level headed, don't get too high, don't get too low. As a team we're focused on a 1-0 goal, a 1-0 culture. So I think the main focus on us, as long as we play our game and do things how we normally do, we should be 1-0.

Q. Talk about what it's like. You've seen the Rose Bowl over and over and over, and now you're right in the middle of it. Talk about that.
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: It's actually amazing when you look at it. I can say I never realized I would be playing, going to Disneyland. I remember seeing the bus roll by and asking, what's the bus, and it would be a team going to the Rose Bowl or something going on. And to be here, it's a blessing. I'm very excited.

Q. So being back home, talk about all of the camaraderie, the friends, the fans, all the people that you know. How will that inspire you?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I mean, just to be home and knowing your family is watching, they'll be at the game, just all of the -- I don't know. I try to focus. It's a blessing, you know, and I'm happy to just show off for my family and represent. But I try not to focus on everything because everybody has something to say, everybody wants to talk to them. Hey, what's going on, and I try to just focus on the game.

Q. So describe your emotions once you step out into the Rose Bowl field. What do you think your adrenaline will be like?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I think I'll try to keep it just like a regular game. It's just another playing field with a bigger name and a bigger stage. But you don't really notice the big stage once you're on the field.

Q. You've kind of already been through this playing at the coliseum. What was that like?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: That was fun. I feel like that was more of like -- that had me more hyped than this probably will, and not because this is the Rose Bowl or whatever, but that was like SC, I grew up across the street. So I was really at home. I've never been to a Rose Bowl Game, so I don't really know what's about it. But I'm happy to be here.

Q. I guess the SC game was also easier to accommodate ticket requests for friends and family --
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Yeah, it was everything.

Q. Was SC a dream school for you?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I mean, for me, college wasn't even a dream. I guess for a lot of kids that come from where I come from, you don't even have the hopes of college. So once that became a reality, it was more like where do I see myself reaching my goals at.

Q. So the last time there was an Oregon-Wisconsin Rose Bowl, Oregon also had the No. 1 player from Southern California and that was De'Anthony and he had those two big touchdown runs. What was the defensive line equivalent to the 91-yard touchdown run?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I know Rose Bowl record is three sacks, so God willing, I'll try to break it.

Q. Who's your inspiration? Who inspires you the most?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: My family, my mom, my dad, and the struggle, just being from LA. Downtown is fun and it's beautiful, big buildings, but nobody is really from downtown. You go past the 110, you go past the 10 freeway, it's a different story, and I think that's probably the most inspiration.

Q. How has it changed since you were here last?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I mean, gentrification is real. When I see a lot of big buildings, there's a lot of stuff being built and a lot of construction going on, and there's a lot of money being moved into the city where it wasn't before, so it's a good thing and it's a bad thing.

Q. What are your thoughts on Jonathan Taylor and what you'll have to do to stop him?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I mean, he's a great running back. As long as we hold up the front, they try to get you by breaking down the front and big ol' linemen moving and chip blocking and common blocking and all that, but if you can hold down the front and maintain the gaps, we should be good.

Q. You're pleased with the performance this year; what do you think you can do to take that next step?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Training. You know, training. I had a great off-season, and this off-season is going to be even more important. I look to make a bigger leap in my weight, my technique, game recognition.

Q. How do you think playing against some of the other running backs, Zack Moss, in conference will help you with Taylor this week?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Taylor is a great back, but I feel like we've been facing great backs all season. I don't know if he has super powers or anything, but I know if he's just -- we've watched film, and we'll be ready for him.

Q. What's been the biggest adjustment or learning curve for you over the course of this freshman season?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: It's playing a game within a game, using your cheats, watching film, and being able to watch film and use what you see to your advantage.

Q. What words do you live by? What's your inspiration?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: There are no limits. Everybody wants to set a limit on what a guy can do. Everybody was amazed when I said 10 sacks. Everybody was like, whoa, 10 sacks, and then half the season came, they're like, well, you're at two and a half, so you're not -- you probably won't reach your goal, so then what.

Q. So you've got to just doubt the doubters?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Not even doubt them, just believe in yourself. As long as you put the work in, it's possible. You can't have a goal without putting in the work.

Q. Talk about your goals and aspirations beyond football. How is your education coming?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Yeah, well, I've been a 3.8 student, 4.0 high school, 3.8 so far in college. I'm working on being a journalist. When I say journalist, I want to be a Stephen A. Smith commentator once football is done. I hope to be a business owner. I'm very -- I have a lot of ideas that I feel like will not only be invented but will further a lot of things that we have already. I don't want to put them out there because a lot of people have stolen my ideas before, so I don't want my ideas stolen. But I have a lot. I hope to be like an entrepreneur. I want to work for myself. I don't plan to work for somebody. That's been one thing that I've had on my mind for a while, and I do hope to stay around the sport of football. A lot of people get away from it, but even when I'm done playing it, I want to at least talk about it, have something to do.

Q. You've become an expert at it, wouldn't you say?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I know I'd be an expert at coaching the D-line, that's for sure.

Q. Talk about the inspiration that you will transmit to maybe people coming from your neighborhood, how you're inspiring them, because you're a breakout performer.
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I feel like I inspire them by not being the biggest guy, the strongest guy, the most athletic guy. Like in high school with all the opening and different camps, they're looking for the most athletic, and with me, I'm skinny. There are a lot of adversities I have to face, and that itself just speaks for it. I know a lot of people face adversity, but I guess it's just about how you overcome it.

Q. If you were going to fast forward, what would you say (indiscernible)?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I don't know. I don't know. I'd have to ask God that one.

Q. So you're a man of faith?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Yeah, for sure.

Q. How does your faith inspire you?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I mean, I pray before I go on the field. I pray before I do everything. As long as you keep God first, everything is possible for me.

Q. Do you have a favorite scripture?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: No, I don't have a favorite because I'm not really -- I feel like they're equally -- they're all equal weight. A lot of people have different ones, though.

Q. What would you say to your friends and family in preparation?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: What do you mean?

Q. What words did you say? Anything you want to say to the fans?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Oh, okay. I'm excited. I'm excited, and I hope the game is exciting.

Q. How many family members are you going to have at the game?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Probably around 10. Not too many, yeah. Tickets went through the roof, so it's hard to get a lot of tickets.

Q. Did you watch this game a lot growing up?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: No, I didn't. I seen De'Anthony Thomas game, but other than that, I never really watched it.

Q. Did you know Justin Flowe very well?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Justin Flowe, yeah, we played in high school. We played against each other.

Q. Do you kind of look at yourselves as kind of helping set up like this Southern California pipeline to the school?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I mean, for me, it's never really been about setup because I feel like every guy is going to choose where they want to go based on their beliefs and whatever they feel is best for them, but it's happening. We've got a lot of guys coming in that are going to help us, and they're going to help us win, so I'm loving it.

Q. Guys like you and Justin probably would have been -- people would have expected you to maybe stay home like 10 years ago, five years ago.
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Yeah, there's a lot of speculation on where we should have went and why we chose here, but the proof is in the pudding. We're making great things happen.

Q. How do you evaluate your first year?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I think I did pretty well. Could have been a lot better. Could have done a lot more. But as an overall, I'm happy. We've been winning. Our goal is 1-0, so we're going to continue that.

Q. With this Wisconsin offensive line, what do you see from the size of those guys up front, going to be something for you guys to overcome at all?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Well, for me size has never been a thing. I think we're ready to battle anybody, any size, but we really like to focus on us. They do have a great squad and a great unit together, but I feel like as long as we hold up our front and have gap control...

Q. A lot of people historically have compared Wisconsin to Stanford. Do you see that in them at all? Is that the right comparison based on what you've seen?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I mean, I don't really compare teams, but -- I don't know.

Q. You may have been asked about Jonathan Taylor already. What's the biggest challenge from what you've seen, whether it's watching their games as a fan or on film?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Well, after watching film you see a lot of teams, they get up on different levels in the O-line, likes to combo block and basically create gaps for him to run through, so as long as we hold our gaps and maintain our front, we should be all right.

Q. Do you think he does some stuff that is different for a running back? You look at the numbers that he's amassed, he must be doing something well. I don't know if you look at it that way.
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I mean, he -- he's good. He's a great player. I don't see anything that we couldn't handle, that we couldn't work to maintain.

Q. How has the experience been for you so far?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Oh, it's been fun. I've been loving -- it's more than I assumed it would be. The Rose Bowl, I'm just happy to be here.

Q. What was it like going to Disneyland yesterday with the team?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Disneyland, it's too big. It's so tiring. Like after five rides, you're like, all right, my lower back hurts. But it was fun.

Q. How did practice go for you yesterday?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: It was good, just getting our bodies back, warming back up, getting accustomed to the air and the weather. It was good.

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