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January 2, 2006

David Thomas


Q Does it seem like USC is almost like a mini-pro team with all the stars they have, and you all have a team reception-wise more like a college team. Have you been reading that in the papers?
DAVID THOMAS: They've got so many good players, and they're all so talented and they put out so many guys into the NFL that they kind of have that aura about them.
I think that as a team we really love each other and really bond with each other, and I think that's going to carry us the whole way.
Q. What role does Mack Brown play in that?
DAVID THOMAS: I think he fosters the whole family atmosphere really well. He really wants to see us succeed on the football field and he wants to see us succeed off the field in life, and I think for me that means a lot, knowing that he wants to see us succeed outside of football. I think that he does a real good job of getting guys to get their degree and stay in school.
Q. The five consecutive losses, and now he got over that hump and is in this game, can you tell what it was like for him going through that and what this was like? Do you see the sense of joy and relief with him?
DAVID THOMAS: The thing about Coach Brown is that he gives all the players all the credit for winning, and he takes all the heat whenever we lose. I think that when we lose, it really upsets him because he feels like he didn't get us ready, and it upsets us because we know he feels that way and we feel like we let him down. He just takes losses so hard because he wants us to have fun and enjoy ourselves while we're in college. That's one of the things that makes him such a great coach.
Q. You said he's changed. Have you seen the change in him in terms of the way he approaches the game and the way he deals with you guys on a personal level?
DAVID THOMAS: I think he's more relaxed. I think this year he's had more fun than he's had in the past. When you're winning every game and you're undefeated I think you have fun, and I think coming in you're more relaxed and have a lot more confidence.
Q. I asked him over there, and he said, "Well, my story is not necessarily a Cinderella story." He was saying that he had -- there's a reason he has some gray hair.
DAVID THOMAS: You know, he had his rough times when I first got to Texas.
Q. How rough was it?
DAVID THOMAS: He went through all those losses and that was really hard for us. They're our biggest rival and all that stuff, and then you hear every year, this is the year, it was really disappointing. But to finally get over that hump and to win the Big 12 and now be here, it's been a lot of fun, and we've really enjoyed the ride and hopefully we can hang on for the win.
Q. I find it mildly ironic to hear that at the National Championship game you're talking about Oklahoma. You can't escape them.
DAVID THOMAS: No, we can't get away from them.
Q. You look at your offense, everybody looks at Vince, Vince, Vince, but it's the tight ends, receivers which have improved so much. Can you talk about his supporting cast?
DAVID THOMAS: Vince is the catalyst that gets us all going, but the great thing about our offense is we have so many guys and there's so much depth in our receivers and tight ends that we're all capable of making plays, and that's what makes the offense so consistent and so good.
Q. What is this like being here the second time around?
DAVID THOMAS: Coming here last year really set us up this year because we know what's going on. We know where this facility is at, we know about our hotel and I think it's just helped everything run smoothly. We've had as few distractions as possible.
Q. So a day and a half out, how do you guys feel right now?
DAVID THOMAS: We're just excited to get the chance to play, and to play in the National Championship is a dream come true for us. But at the same time we came here to win, and that's the most important thing for us.
Q. What do you think you can exploit in their defense to give you success?
DAVID THOMAS: Their defense is really talented, and I think that they run the ball really well, so hopefully we can get them to run up some play action.
Q. Did you bring the weather with you?
DAVID THOMAS: Every year we've come to California it's been raining, but we get all our practices in and we've had fun.
Q. You had success when it rained last year.
DAVID THOMAS: It worked last year, hopefully it'll work this year.
Q. You take a look at a guy like Vince who is so complete in so many ways. As you've seen him develop, what makes him so good?
DAVID THOMAS: I think that the thing that makes him so good is he's just one of the guys. He's such a great player and a great athlete, but at the same time he wants to hang out and relax and have fun with us. He's such a good leader because a lot of quarterbacks are sitting in the back and not working that hard, but he's right in the middle of all of us, running with us and lifting weights, and that means a lot to us to know that he's working just as hard as we are and he wants it just as bad as we do.
Q. Would you say there was any one point in the season that was like a defining moment for him that would say this characterizes what Vince is about?
DAVID THOMAS: I think against Oklahoma State, that 80-yard run. We came out and I think -- no, I think that was our first possession in the second half, and it was 3rd and long and we were kind of struggling and we finally just took over, and that 80-yard run, we blew it wide open.

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