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January 1, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Coach, your thoughts about this afternoon's game, then we'll take questions from the floor.
COACH PINKEL: First of all, I'm just very proud of my team, my staff. The two players that were standing next to me after I got doused with Gatorade, which is a great feeling, it's always good when that happens, happened to be Rucker and Lorenzo Williams.
They just -- you know, I think Rucker, who's always said, Coach, five years ago, you know, here we are five years later, you know, with a Cotton Bowl victory. We'll be ranked somewhere in the top 10 in the nation. This just kind of overwhelmed me. At that time it was very difficult. I think I've expressed that this week a lot.
So I'm just so proud of all my seniors, what they've done. You know, we had to make some adjustments during the game. I thought defensively we played an exceptional game. Matt of the defensive staff came up with a great plan.
We had players that went out and executed. Did more in this game than we generally do. Did a few extra things. Dropped safeties down, moved our front around. I think it was a real plus for us.
On the offensive side, we made adjustments. I think what happens is when you look at our offense, you look at our numbers, you have a tendency to say, Okay, look at the quarterback. Look at the perimeter, receivers, and tight ends.
What happens is they had seven DBs at a time. They did make some adjustments. We tried to counteradjust. Certainly I thought the offensive staff, leaning on the run, doing some right things in the running game, obviously was a huge, huge advantage for us.
We stuck with it, with patience. The offensive line blocked exceptionally well. Tony ran just with a great, great effort that he's done all year, with great talent, too.
A lot of mistakes. We won the turnover battle, but it was sloppy in some respects. Penalties. Always some things I'm concerned about. I'm just real, real proud of my Missouri Tiger football team.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions.
Q. Tony, do you have any words to describe how big the holes were? The Arkansas coach said you were running on air.
TONY TEMPLE: Man, I can't give enough credit to my offensive line. First of all, I want to thank God. I want to thank God first of all before I get started. That offensive line did a great job. You saw it in their eyes all game.
I just continued looking at them, saying, "Let's go, let's go. You can't say enough about them.
Q. More of an in-game kind of reaction to what Arkansas was doing more than something you saw during the week that made you think you could run the ball that well?
COACH PINKEL: I think, first of all, Arkansas is a real good football team, okay? I'm going to say that, number one. I don't want to get into this where we outsmarted them type thing. I don't think it comes down to that. I think we out executed them. I think our players played well and made the plays necessary to win.
When people get in the 30 front with us, a three-man front, they put a lot of defensive action in, which I thought that was a great plan. They stifled our passing game. They were dropping everybody. Rushing one or two people at times. It caused some problems for us.
I think you give them credit and they sit there and say, Okay, they probably said -- and you have to ask them -- but, you know, let them beat us running the football, not throwing the football. Fortunately we got our running game going.
I think we had the patience to stick with it. Great thing about our receivers and tight ends, as you well know, a very talented group, quarterback, is that this is about winning the football game and doing what's right, okay? What was right this time was to lean on the running game, and we did that.
Q. Coach, you were snubbed from the BCS by two teams that you beat. Was there a collective chip on your shoulders to get you into this game emotionally today?
COACH PINKEL: Well, I'm not going to answer for the players. I think the Cotton Bowl, we're so excited about having the Cotton Bowl. I think anybody knows naturally if you end up sixth in the BCS and you're not invited to a BCS game, that affected all my players.
The great thing they did is they found out what great Bowl the Cotton Bowl was, and we embraced that. Also, they listed all the things why this Cotton Bowl was so important, to get a victory here. Our position groups did. We brought it together, got about the top nine reasons why this Cotton Bowl was so hugely important for us. By the way, we just had a phenomenal day, phenomenal week, and it's second to none.
But you guys can comment now, if you want.
MARTIN RUCKER: I mean, you know, initially we were upset for about a couple days after we heard. But we knew the Cotton Bowl was a great Bowl. You know, it was nothing against the Cotton Bowl. We just felt that we deserved, that we had earned to be in a BCS game. That's all that was. It's a great Bowl and we were honored to play in it.
Q. Tony, a year ago you came pretty close to getting MVP trophy after another great game. Compare and contrast how different this feeling is compared to a year ago.
TONY TEMPLE: Well, definitely we got the W, and that's what matters the most. I mean, I can have all the records in the world, but if my team's not winning I don't care about the records. I'm just so happy that we can walk out of here. We leave a great legacy going on here. I'm just happy that we got the win.
Q. Coach, can you specifically comment on the play of your fine defensive lineman, Ziggy Hood.
COACH PINKEL: Ziggy, you know, is a great football player. The thing we've always talked to Ziggy about is trying to be more productive. Not only be a great guy in the gap because because he's big and strong and can run, but what Ziggy did today is he just took his game to another level. That's what he's capable of doing each and every game.
He's always played well. Today he was dominant. I'm very proud of how he played. I just think we've seen a glimpse of what he's capable of doing.
Q. Gary, if you had to fall out of the BCS, can you comment on coming to Texas and playing and showing off this team in fertile recruiting territory.
COACH PINKEL: It's great. I think Ruck made a very good point, as he always does. This has nothing to do, our comments -- and, again, I'm not going to comment after this about the BCS thing anymore -- the Cotton Bowl's a great Bowl. You talk about a traditional Bowl.
I think our players also knew about it. When they came down here and saw the video of the great players, the great MVPs, the great teams, the great tradition. I mean, I always knew it was one of the great Bowls in the country. It is second to none. I've been to many of them over the years.
Dallas is great. Recruiting area is phenomenal for us. We just had just a great, great time. It was great for our players also to take a step from a Bowl level standpoint and see what another level is. Every year we've done that. We've been to some great Bowls.
Hopefully this is a great motivating factor for our young players as we continue to build our program.
Q. Chase, you've talked about Tony Temple as being the catalyst for this offense. Can you talk about what you think he did for the offense today.
CHASE DANIEL: Well, he obviously did an outstanding job. I mean, everyone was talking about Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, Peyton Hillis. No disrespect to those guys, but I wouldn't trade my back for anything.
Tony's done an excellent job all year long. He hasn't got as many carries this year because we've been throwing the heck out of the football. We took what they gave us this game. I even said, Coach -- we were throwing a little bit there. I said, Coach, let's just keep feeding Tony the ball.
What a courageous effort by this guy coming into his last game, because it's been a hard year for him and it really paid off for him today.
Q. Chase, can you talk about the whole experience, coming back here, so much was made about you played at South Lincoln, to win this football game without a touchdown pass.
CHASE DANIEL: I didn't play as well as I wanted to, but it doesn't matter. You look at the score, it's 38-7 against a really good Arkansas team. They beat LSU and numerous others.
Coming back here in front of my fans, I would like to put on a better show for them, but all that matters for me, honestly, is the win and that we're going to set the tone for next year.
Q. Chase, obviously you made some pretty good reads. Once you handed off and could see how much green grass Tony had in front of him. What was that like? Can you describe some of the holes he was going through?
CHASE DANIEL: Yeah, I mean, our offensive line -- exactly. You hit the point. They played unbelievable. Tony would be the first person to tell you that.
You know, I didn't carry out a lot of my fakes this game. I'll probably get yelled at for that. But it was so fun to watch Tony. I was just sitting back there watching him. You know, that last touchdown run, he had tweaked his hamstring. The fans were chanting, "Tony, Tony." For him to come back in and the very next play, that was one of the best runs I've ever seen, and with the spin at the end. He pulled up at the 5 and made it in. We had to carry him off the field. It was just awesome.
Q. Tony, about being carried off the field, what happened? Did you tweak it even more going into the end zone? Can you describe the feeling of having those guys carry you off?
TONY TEMPLE: That's the definition of our family. Our team is a family atmosphere out there. They don't want our guys to go down. Like my offensive line, they've been supporting me and helping me this whole year.
I mean, yeah, I tweaked it a little bit going in (smiling).
Q. Can you talk about the defense. After a great player like Brown gets hurt, a lot of question marks come up. Talk about how you went from then till now, to a game where you were literally just minutes away from shutting down a team like Arkansas.
LORENZO WILLIAMS: I think if you really want that question answered you might have to ask Pig Brown. He was the driving force. He wouldn't let us stop. He wouldn't let us quit. He stepped in there, just refused to let us go down, even after he went down. That's a great credit to him.
Myself, you know, I was thinking after he got hurt, I'm going to have to go in there and lead by myself. He never missed a beat. He was right there with me the whole time. Our defense responded well to him when he went down. Will Moore definitely stepped up and did a great job the rest of the year.
I think we just came together as a team. Like I said, Pig wouldn't let us falter. I think all that credit goes to Pig Brown.
Q. I saw you whisper to your coach, who is Dicky Maegle. How does it feel to be in such legendary company?
TONY TEMPLE: Man, it's a great feeling. Just happy that our team won, we got the opportunity to do that. But, I mean, honestly, it really comes down to Chase and my wide receivers and my tight ends. They've been setting it up all year for this.
Like coach said, Arkansas, they came with a great plan to stop our passing game. I'm just doing my job, doing what I'm supposed to do. That's what it comes down to.
COACH PINKEL: He tweaked his hamstring. We were deciding whether we were going to put him back in our not. Our trainer Rex Sharp came up to me and said, I think he can go. I went up to Tony, Do you think you can go? He said, I'll let you know. He was trying to stretch it out a little bit. Then one of our coaches came and said he was like 36 or 37 yards from breaking the Cotton Bowl record.
What a prestigious record. Of all the great, great runningbacks that have played in this Bowl game. So then Tony came up to me a minute later and said, Coach, I think I can go. I said, You better hold onto that doggone ball. That's all I care about.
It was so awsome in the first play to get the great blocking, the great effort. That kind of a record is just so outstanding.
I'll say this one last thing, too. You know, our defense, and I thank you for bringing that up, our defense today, hopefully people understand how good Arkansas' offense is and what a great scheme they have, how difficult, the great plan they have. We do a lot of different types of things, unusual things on offense. They do the same thing. They have a great, great plan. Our defense, to hold those guys to seven points, was just a phenomenal effort and a great job by the coaching staff.
Q. Ziggy, can you speak to the domination along the front line that you all had. William, can you follow it up with how much easier did that make your job jumping passes.
ZIGGY HOOD: I mean, it just came down to a lot of, you know, film study and listening to Coach Kul saying, We got to do this, we got to do that. It really came down to who was going to be more physical on the line.
As far as domination, you know what I'm saying, we does our things. A couple of runs we let it get away. We won the game. That's all that matters.
WILLIAM MOORE: Actually, earlier in the game, I know Lorenzo came up to me. He was like, you know, I need a take-away. I need an interception from you. I told him, If y'all would let the quarterback throw the ball.
I mean, it was just one of them things where we was put to the challenge all week and coach asked us can we rise to the challenge. We went out and rose up. I'm very proud of my defense, our seniors who came out there and put their heart out there on the line for us today. It was real big.
Q. Before the game you told a reporter on the sideline that you expected McFadden to maybe break off a couple of long runs. That didn't happen. Talk about the scheme specifically, what you were doing to scheme to keep him corralled or the defensive guys.
COACH PINKEL: What I talked about, I said you better have great leverage and contain. Those are defensive principles, fundamental principles of not letting a great back like that break out in space. He got away a few times.
That's everybody doing their job. It's their responsibility to do. We did some different things. I'm not sure call-wise how many times Matt used this, but we really got our safeties involved in the running game. We also did some shifts, different things up front. Matt and I talked about it yesterday afternoon. My big thing was just making sure, I thought we were doing a good job in practice. When you do some new things, it wasn't entirely new, we won because our players played hard and we had great fundamentals. Some of the little things they did do I think was a real plus for us.
The big thing is, can you get them executed? In the heat of the battle can you execute them? Obviously I thought our defense did a phenomenal job.
Q. Chase, can you talk about the hit you got to deliver on the interception. Then from the defensive side, can you critique your teammate's form?
CHASE DANIEL: I was pretty upset that I had thrown the pick. They started spying both D ends. They were rushing one guy. He came out of nowhere, to tell you the truth. Threw the pick. Went over there to try to tackle him, to tell you the truth. I was lucky enough to get the ball out, I guess.
LORENZO WILLIAMS: I think Will Mo might be in danger next year of losing his job as safety, man (smiling). We was kind of on the sideline defense. We seen the pick. We was kind of running. I think I just turned around, I seen Chase go out there, got his head across the bow, hands on the hamstring, put his hand right on the ball, came right out. I think that's excellent form by the quarterback.
Q. Gary, can you clarify, are all appeals exhausted on Tony? Where does any of that stand at this point?
COACH PINKEL: There will be an appeal process now that will take place. He had to finish his eligibility on paper. He did that. So we'll see what happens. That would be a nice phone call (smiling).
Q. Chase, I know you didn't have as good a game as you wanted. Do you have any idea why exactly? How big of a deal was it that you had all your family? Did that make you a little nervous?
CHASE DANIEL: It wasn't the family. I wasn't nervous at all. I've been playing in enough games where you don't get nervous any more when you play.
I think it was just a standpoint of, you know, we just didn't have it today. There's going to be some days like that. You know, it was Tony's day today. I'm so glad he had a great game. That's what they were giving us. They were dropping 9, 10 guys into coverage. It's hard to throw the football through that. I had a lot of throw-aways today, but also didn't hit the guys that I wanted. We had some big third-down conversions with Will Franklin at the end. Just didn't have a good day today.
Q. William, could you talk about the pick and the forced fumble. For the defensive guys, there was a lot of talk about both offenses. You seemed overlooked. Talk about how well y'all played today.
WILLIAM MOORE: Like I said earlier, Coach Eberflus gave us a challenge. Like Coach Pinkel said, hands down to those runningbacks, better yet the whole Arkansas team. They came out and played physical today.
It's all about take-away. Take-aways equal victories. We preach that every week. We came out and executed our plays, and played physical against Arkansas. That's all it was.
Q. The pick, what did you see?
WILLIAM MOORE: It was actually a tap by Sean Weatherspoon. It was just film study. I knew, 22 line out there, it was an out route. It was just a great play to jump. It was just vision and break.
LORENZO WILLIAMS: I think when you got two great offenses on the field, obviously somebody is going to get overlooked. We never really look at that really. I'd rather be overlooked by our offense. Great offense we got. Their offense without question is one of the best ones we played against this year, just with the fact with the runningbacks and everything.
Like Will said, Coach E put it in front of us, said, This is going to be a challenge, do you accept? All of us shook our head. He said it again. We had to scream out loud that we did. We practiced hard. That's one thing we probably did better for this game. The preparation was amazing. We had great practices. Film study was top-notch. Guys made sure they got in there and watched the film, know what they were going to do before they did it.
With all that being said, you go out there, all that's left to do is to play football. I think we did a great job of that today.
Q. The senior class this year was one of the closest senior classes between you, and for coach as well. Talk about how that helped you in this game.
WILLIAM MOORE: I don't think the seniors can answer that. As an underclassman, I seen a lot of guys come in and out of Missouri. I got to say, this had to be one of the best groups to be around. When they said something, you know they meaned it. These guys, on and off the field, man, they were supportive, like Zo, Pig, our captains. You got to look further than guys like Tony. You knew he was going to give his all every time he step on the field. That plays a big part in our success. When you know everybody around you giving they all, you going to give your all, too. It was big.
CHASE DANIEL: Like, it's unbelievable what this senior class has done. The captains shouldn't get overlooked. They obviously don't. But also every senior. The scout team guys. The guys that worked their tails off to make this a better team. And also, you know, this is going to go down -- Missouri has never won 12 games in a football season. You're going to see that and you're going to see 2007/2008 Missouri Tigers, you'll see that senior class, look back and that's something that Missouri has never done in the history of football. There's been some pretty good teams in the '60s. You can look back and say, hey, the Martin Ruckers, Zos, Will Franklins, those guys, they helped do it. They helped set the foundation, like Coach Pinkel was saying to us. Five years ago when no one wanted to come here, when they had to beg them to come here, and they did, you know, they were unbelievable players at the time and they're even better now.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much.
End of FastScripts