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December 31, 2006

Chris Petersen


THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions for Coach Petersen.
COACH PETERSEN: You guys are probably a lot like me: ready to play this game. I know when our coaches told me reporters are asking what animals they want to be, it's time to play (laughter).
We've had a great week. The hospitality here is phenomenal. But it's getting to be that time. I think as coaches you feel like you could practice another three weeks. Really wouldn't help. It's time to go play.

Q. As you evaluate this game, is there one key that you think we should be looking for?
COACH PETERSEN: No. I don't think there's going to be one key. There's always a couple keys. I think for us, you know, when you're playing a team like this, the turnover thing is going to be huge. I think any time you get into a game of this magnitude, you play a team like Oklahoma, you got to make sure you're not giving them extra possessions. That will be a big thing for us, I think.

Q. You talked about the turnovers there. When you played Georgia at Georgia, some people look at that as a reference point. How much has Jared Zabransky progressed from that game forward?
COACH PETERSEN: Tremendously I think and hope. Since that time, he's done a much better job. I think that's been a big key to our success this year. He's thrown less -- I don't know, I think he's thrown eight interceptions. I don't even know if he has a fumble this year. That's been big.
Yeah, I mean, you turn the ball over six times in a half, you got no chance (smiling).

Q. What is your reaction in the Idaho Statesman, a full-page ad taken a out by George Mason University supporting you guys?
COACH PETERSEN: Was there? I think that's awesome (smiling). Yeah, I appreciate that a ton. Come basketball season, the Broncos might have to be spending a little money on George Mason.

Q. How did practice go this week? How was the execution, energy out there?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, it was really good. You could feel it yesterday, the energy level is good. They're anxious to play. I think it was fun to go over to the stadium yesterday and let those guys visualize that.
It reminds me a little bit of the start of the season when you get ready to play your first game, as a coach you're kind of going, We could probably use a little bit more practice just to iron out a couple more things.
But really it's not going to help you 'cause you just need to go play. You can't get the game speed, the intensity. I think that's where we're at again.

Q. I know you're not as concerned with it, but are there future ramifications from this game BCS versus non-BCS when it comes to who gets in, where teams are voted?
COACH PETERSEN: I don't know that, I really don't. I'm not concerned with that. All I'm concerned with is us playing as hard and as good as we can possibly play. We'll let the chips fall. We can't worry about that. I don't know about that.
I guess all that will be decided after the game, depending on what happens.

Q. There's all kinds of intriguing matchups within the matchups in this game that are really curious, how they're going to pan out. Your passing game has been prolific with Zabransky being able to buy time, Oklahoma's secondary has been pretty good. Talk about the match-up, what you see in Oklahoma's pass coverage that has impressed you, their ability to stay with people?
COACH PETERSEN: I think the pass coverage always starts with the D line. You want to talk about the secondary and the skill guys covering 'em, which Oklahoma has excellent skilled guys. The things that keeps jumping out at me, they don't let you hold the ball. That's been a big concern of ours through this whole Bowl preparation, is that you're not going to be able to sit there and look at it very long. If you do, you're going to get sacked, two, if you do, they're going to close on you and pick it off.
Like I've been saying all along, the big difference is our margin for error is a lot different than it's been in the past.

Q. A lot of people around the country not too familiar with you guys haven't seen a bunch of Boise State games, especially the folks back in Oklahoma. If you had to describe your style of play, the attitude, mentality of this team, how would you describe that?
COACH PETERSEN: I think you'll see our guys play hard. I think they compete hard. I think they have fun out there. We kind of have a philosophy that if we're going to make a mistake, we're going to make it full speed, with a smile on our face, we'll come back the next play and regroup and go again. That's really the mentality that we need to have in this game. We really don't want those kids playing tight, which is easier said than done with all the cameras around here, the stage they're on. We know that.
I think once they get settled down, they'll get back to playing Bronco football and have a lot of fun doing it.

Q. Big difference from some of the other Bowl games you have been in. Are you surprised at the lack of interaction that the players and coaching staff has had with Oklahoma?
COACH PETERSEN: Not necessarily surprised. Each Bowl game is a little bit different. I've really enjoyed this one. There's no question this has been the best Bowl game that I've ever been to. There's usually a ton of things to do. Sometimes too much. You run from one thing to the next. I think the way this Bowl game has been planned out has been extremely well thought out. There's stuff to do, but there's time to catch your breath, there's time to focus on your team. There's time to go out to dinner with your family. I think everybody needs to pattern their Bowl game after this place.

Q. Could you talk about the importance of what this means to the State of Idaho?
COACH PETERSEN: Well, I think it means a lot. When we got selected to come here, you could feel the intensity in the town pick up. We keep talking about Bronco Nation growing by leaps and bounds every week. I think it jumped two- or threefold once we got selected to this game. I think that's the exciting thing about being at a place like Boise State. I think the next five years, the growth there that's going to go on in our program will be tremendous. It's a good time to be part of this program.

Q. Is this the biggest team that you would have faced size-wise? How do you handle a mismatch?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, it probably is. You know, the thing that always concerns us more so, this is kind of how we base our team a little bit, as well, is not so much the size of guys, but it's more the speed of people. Now, when you're as big as Oklahoma and have the speed, that can be another little curve ball into the mix.
We're always concerned with the speed of things. Oklahoma's as fast a team as we've seen.

Q. When Coach Stoops was in before, he said their first BCS game he had to convince the players that they deserve to be there and belong there. Now it's kind of the opposite: he has to make sure they don't get a big head. Can you talk about where you're at with your team right now?
COACH PETERSEN: I think there's some similarities there. The one thing about Oklahoma and Coach Stoops, they've been there, done that. This is certainly our first crack at this.
But our guys have worked a long time in their minds for this opportunity. We have fifth-year seniors, 22 of them, I believe, that have played a lot of football, put a tremendous amount of hard work, have stayed as focused as any group that I've been around for five years. This is kind of their chance, this is their reward and chance to go out and shine.

Q. Back in Boise you talked about how important it was to keep this team from getting overanxious about the game. Have there been any particulars you've done to make sure that they're still business but keeping things lighthearted enough not to get locked up?
COACH PETERSEN: I haven't really felt like we've needed to do anything special. I haven't felt like they've been too amped up at practice at all. I didn't think they would. When you get this long to practice for a game, I think the main thing is kind of fighting a little bit of boredom. Usually when you're preparing for a game, you get three practice days really to go at it. We've doubled that and then some. These guys, we're still trying to, like I say, we're going fast, taking those mental reps. You get to the point where that only does you so much good; you've got to go play.

Q. I've seen some of the stuff that Dan Hawkins did from a motivational standpoint from games. Is your approach similar, different?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, it's very similar. We talk to the guys before the game. We'll talk to them tonight. Kind of have an agenda. It won't be any different than it's been all year.
Yeah, Hawk was awesome with the Friday night talks. A lot of it's patterned off of what we've done in the past, yeah.

Q. Yesterday you were talking about trying to keep your blue-collar edge.

Q. With all the distractions, cameras, BCS versus non-BCS. Do you find yourself playing the Gene Hackman role, take out the measuring tape? Do you have to go through those antics?
COACH PETERSEN: I don't think we're going to have to do that. I feel good about this team. I think they feel like they're a pretty good squad. You know, the thing that will be different is that, again, I kind of keep going back to the speed of the game, that they may -- one thing that's going to be different right away, we've laid off for so long. If you watch some of these other Bowl games, it seems like a lot has taken place in the second half, almost a reversal of fortunes in some ways, or one team really kind of starts to get in their groove.
That's the main thing I'm talking to them about. It's going to seem different when we start just because you've been off for a while. Just because Oklahoma is faster. But eventually we'll catch up and adjust to the speed of the game and you'll be okay.

Q. Some of your compliments are reminiscent of Pete Carroll two years ago. Everyone knows what happens in a championship game. You're not USC, but at the same time does it give you a lot of confidence realizing that Oklahoma is just another team when it gets right down to it?
COACH PETERSEN: Well, that's the one thing, I mean, when we talk to our guys, we're not going to go out and ask them to play different than they played all year. They played very well for us all year. We can't ask them to do things they're not capable of doing.
I think if they go out and play hard every play, stay focused when Oklahoma hits a play, we just keep banging one play at a time, that we'll be okay, that we'll hang in there and we can be okay.
There's always those big momentum swings in games. For our guys, just to keep competing. If they do that, that's all we can ask of 'em. But we're not going to ask 'em to go out and go out and do something all of a sudden that we haven't been doing all year. I think sometimes that's what players think when they get up against a team like Oklahoma, that I got to go play better than I've ever played. Well, that's not going to happen. You just got to do what you've been doing.

Q. Your particular program, Dirk Koetter had success, left; Dan Hawkins had success, left. Now you're the hot guy. People are trying to figure out your next move. Is Boise a better job now than it was for those two, so much so that you will stay?
COACH PETERSEN: Oh, yeah, there's no question that it's a better job now. The things that Dirk Koetter did, I was with him last night, he was talking about when they got there, where the meeting rooms were. They have two VCRs, two TVs. They were pushing one over out to another meeting room, the TV fell off the cart. They were trying to figure out how they were going to get more money to buy another TV.
There's no question that what those guys have done for this program has made it a better place than it was then. I think that's every coach's goal, is to keep pushing the envelope, make it a better place for somebody else when they decide to leave.
Dirk also told me when I first saw him when I got here, he said, If you ever think about leaving this place, you need to call me, and I'm flying out here and I won't let you (smiling).

Q. Can you talk about what you expect out of your guys emotionally in the hour or two before the game, maybe yourself? Is this a situation where you maybe have to calm people down a little bit more than try to get them fired up?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, I think so for sure. I mean, I've said this many times. I think most coaches feel like that, that the locker room talk is totally overrated. It lasts about three minutes. Our guys do a good job of talking themselves up in the locker room anyways.
I think you're right. I mean, I think we got to stay a little bit more under control here and be a little more calm than we've been in the past.
I've felt like that every game that we've had this year, certainly on a game that maybe our guys felt a little bit more was at stake. Yeah, they're riled up enough as it is, so...

Q. People like to knock your strength of schedule. Yet the teams that you've beaten that are in Bowl games are 4-0. Can you talk about that strength of schedule, maybe the misconceptions there.
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, uhm, I think when all the -- yeah, I think our schedule's better than most people thought it was. We thought it was pretty good going in.
You never know. I mean, that's the thing I think is always interesting about the season. Things happen early and people get all excited or they get down on a team. You just got to play the whole thing out.
We thought we played a good schedule. It's proven out to be that way. But, again, our whole focus is what we do against Oklahoma. Those teams could lose all their games. If we go out and do a good job against Oklahoma, that's going to speak a lot louder about our program than if we don't do a good job against Oklahoma and everybody else wins their games.
But, yeah, getting back to the strength of schedule. We felt it was a good schedule. It's proven out.

Q. You have been on top of the mid-major heap for a long time. If you were in a major conference hypothetically, how do you believe you would compete? Where do you think you'd rank in a PAC-10 or Big 12?
COACH PETERSEN: I just don't know. I think you guys have all had those debates. Week in and week out, injuries are such a huge factor in how you do as the season progresses. The big question with us would be depth. But I think it is anywhere you are. You always feel like if you lose this guy, you couldn't do anything, but then you seem to figure out a way.
I think you look at a team like Oklahoma, maybe that's the difference. They lose an Adrian Peterson for six games, new guy steps in, they don't miss a beat. I don't think we could do that.

Q. Can you talk about the progression of Zabransky, how he's able to handle on-the-field issues since visiting the sports psychologist?
COACH PETERSEN: I don't really know too much about the sports psychologist. I think sometimes that stuff gets overblown. I know he talked to somebody once or twice.
I really think what he has done is just a tremendous amount of hard work, a lot of film study. He practices very hard every day. I mean, that's the one thing that I like about this team, and probably he sets the example more than anybody. They really understand the importance of practice. I've never felt like he's ever came out there and went through the motions. We've come out and not practiced well, he's not practiced well, but it's not because he wasn't out there totally focused.
I think it's just hours and hours of hard work has been his biggest -- the biggest compliment I can give him to make his game better.

Q. Have you heard from any of the other coaches in the WAC or any other non-BCS conferences offering encouragement or insight or anything like that?
COACH PETERSEN: No, I haven't. I think if I was in their shoes, I wouldn't say anything either. You kind of know there's enough going on. The last thing you need is somebody else making another phone call to you, those type of things. I know there's some of the coaches the WAC going to be at the game. Appreciative of that.

Q. You've talked a lot about Peterson specifically. What do you think about Oklahoma's offense as a whole? They've been very complimentary about your defense, especially what you do on third downs to stuff teams. Your thoughts on Oklahoma's offense, how it's evolved this year?
COACH PETERSEN: Well, I think we have very similar philosophies, that when you can run the ball, a lot of things become easier. So you establish the run, then the pass game is a lot easier. You're trying to stay out of those third-and-longs. When you're giving it to your tailback, he's doing some things, can you pull it out, have a chance to throw it down filed a little bit. I think the philosophies are very, very similar.
You look at their numbers, everybody wants to talk about their run game, but their numbers are very balanced run and pass coming out of each game in terms of the yardage, which is similar to us as well.
I think they do an excellent job with their offense.

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