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December 30, 2006

Chris Petersen


THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome everyone to Tostitos Fiesta Bowl media day.
COACH PETERSEN: It's our pleasure to be here. The words that come to my mind and our players' minds and staff's mind is, "Wow!" We've been treated like royalty. We've had a fabulous week. We can't say enough about hospitality.
We've had a good week of practice. We're getting very anxious to play. I'd just like to from the bottom of my heart thank the City of Glendale, the state of Arizona, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl for inviting us here. We're excited to be out here in a couple days.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. Seems like you have lived like rock stars ever since the BCS was announced. How have you guarded against the guys having it go to their head or losing focus?
COACH PETERSEN: Well, you're right. We have been treated like royalty and rock stars. And they deserve it. How these guys have worked the last five years, it's kind of coming to a head this next couple days.
But we talk a lot about that. It's really different than how we kind of pride ourselves. We pride ourselves on being a blue-collar outfit. It doesn't matter where we play, how we're treated, we're always going to show up ready to go.
This has been kind of the far extreme. I think this in a way will test our blue-collar mentality, to see if we stay focused.

Q. Is the billing that this is the biggest sporting event in the history of the State of Idaho, do you think that's accurate?
COACH PETERSEN: It probably is. I've been in Idaho six years. Certainly in that short time, nothing's compared to this in my experience there.
I think it's an awesome situation for not only our team and the City of Boise, but the whole State of Idaho. We just really feel all the love. Everybody's enjoying this. It's our job in a couple days to come out here and represent everybody in the appropriate manner.

Q. When you look at Oklahoma, are they indeed the best team you will have played this year or do they compare with anybody?
COACH PETERSEN: Oh, yeah, no question, this is the best team we've seen. We've been saying it all along, I think you guys know as well as anybody, a play here and a play there, these guys are playing eight days from now. When you put a tape on, study them, you can see there's a reason they're Oklahoma.

Q. What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word Oklahoma?
COACH PETERSEN: Great tradition. I said it the other day, I grew up watching Oklahoma football myself when I was a little kid. It's a tremendous honor for us to be competing on a stage like this, against a program like Oklahoma. We appreciate the opportunity. We're going to enjoy it. We're going to give everything we got to make this thing an interesting contest.

Q. What advantages do you see or what matchups do you think will be critical in this game with them?
COACH PETERSEN: Well, I think the one thing is, our margin for error is just so much different than it's been in the past. When you're that big, that fast, like they are, we got to make sure we're good tacklers, because you miss a tackle, it could be over right then and there.
We can't throw the ball late. We got to be accurate throwing it. Those type of things. When you play a team that's this caliber of athlete, I think the margin for error across the board just changes.

Q. Some of the OU DBs have talked about how good Jared is, getting outside the pocket, making things happen when the play breaks down. How much is that stuff y'all practice? How good do you think you are at that?
COACH PETERSEN: We'll find out here shortly how good we are (smiling).
Yeah, he can run. That's one of his strengths. I think he's a very fast player when he gets outside of the pocket. He can make some things with his feet. We've kind of coached him that way.
I think last year we might have gotten away from that a little bit, hanging in the pocket too much for the kind of player he is. We've emphasized that, he's taken advantage of that.

Q. What has been your strategy in the past four or five weeks? I'm sure your guys could be almost overprepared, but how have you handled that?
COACH PETERSEN: We're at the point right now where it's time to play. We could practice another three weeks and it wouldn't do us a bit of good. You get to that point where you get this close, and you just need to go play. As coaches, you'd love another three weeks, but I know it wouldn't help us. We need another good day of practice today, and then some good mental time the next two days, then it's time to cut it loose.

Q. When you try to figure out games like this, you use opponents as barometers, does it help when you win a game like Oregon State? A lot of people are focusing on that. Is that a fair barometer?
COACH PETERSEN: I don't know if it is. It was so long ago. Oregon State is a good squad. They proved that in their Bowl game.
The situations and circumstances are much different. That was a home game for us. It was early. You never can tell what their mindset was.
I know this: our guys, the bigger the challenge, the better they have played. They'll come out and play as hard as they possibly can. They'll give great effort. That's the thing that I always feel good about this crew.

Q. Is there any pressure in terms of finishing and having an undefeated season?
COACH PETERSEN: Not necessarily. We try not to focus too much on that record. We really haven't. As weird as that sounds, because I know we wouldn't be standing here unless our record was perfect. That isn't our mission. Our mission is to play at the best level we're capable of playing, to try to keep all this hype in check so our kids -- that their energy level isn't way out there, they're making mistakes we wouldn't normally make.
We want to make sure we play at the best level we're capable of playing. If we can do that, we'll be happy.

Q. What do you think of this facility, walking into this stadium, playing in this venue?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, it's impressive. I've certainly never been in a stadium like this. Boy, the builders and architects, I'm sure they won many awards getting this thing done. It's awesome.
Our kids will enjoy this, appreciate it. I think that's the winning thing you can really get from this group, so much of this stuff is new to us that we just truly appreciate and marvel at all the surroundings that this can be done for a football game.

Q. Besides a typical coach speech about Adrian Peterson, what do you think makes him special? Also your thoughts about the timing of you playing him?
COACH PETERSEN: What makes him special is he's the size and the speed, a guy that big doesn't usually run that fast. Plus he's got the instincts to go with it. You combine those three elements in any back, you got a special player that comes along once every many years.
He's one of the guys that I really think about when you talk about that margin for error. I mean, we watched the tape. Many times the guys were there hitting him at the line of scrimmage, one or two yard gain, he bounces out of it, he can go.
That's why he's going to be playing in a stadium like this permanently here shortly. He's special.
I think the thing that's interesting about Oklahoma, the other backs and the other players they got to go with him. They didn't miss much when he was out for the last six weeks. It just speaks a lot about those guys' program.

Q. The Big 12, it's not maybe the power run conference it used to be with the Texas Techs and the Baylors. People say the same thing with the WAC. Is it unique in that your strengths are both things that you haven't really faced a lot during the season, the power running games?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, it could be. I think if you look at the schedule from top to bottom, there's been a few teams that have been in there that have tried to really run the ball on us. I think there's probably a few teams that have tried to run the ball on Oklahoma.
The stats don't lie. You look at their stats in terms of stopping the run, that's what they're geared to do, they're very good at it. I think a lot of times teams have tried to attack them a little differently by throwing it, thinking that was the best chance for success.
When you play 12 games, I think you see the full gamut of how teams have tried to attack different teams. When you're playing a team like that, there's not a lot of weaknesses on the other side of the ball or they wouldn't be here.

Q. Do you think your team was overlooked throughout the season?
COACH PETERSEN: No, I don't think so. I think people were paying attention to us, waiting to see how we did each week. I think you got to wait till the season's over, see what the records are. I think that's one of the things about every week, the coaches voting in their poll. We do it from the very start. I'm thinking, Why are we doing this so soon? We hardly know our team, let alone everybody else's team. I think it's appropriate to wait till it's all said and done. If it turns out as it should, you get to come to a place like this.

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