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December 30, 2000

Rocky Calmus

Ryan Fisher

Bob Stoops

J.T. Thatcher

Roy Williams


HERB VINCENT: Coach Stoops, let's start with an opening statement from you about preparations for this game so far.

COACH STOOPS: Well, first of all, we're very excited to be here. We've had -- the last couple days, we've had some great workouts. It has been a good preparation. We are healthy. Guys have done a very good job. It's going to be -- it's a tremendous challenge for us competing against a great Florida State team. But on the other hand, I think our team matches up well with them. You know, it is going to be -- it is going to be a tough game. The keys for us, obviously, in this game will be -- the way we're going to approach it is that we want to be able to control and limit the run game, try to be able to put pressure on Weinke and cover the receivers; and tackle, I think will be -- a key for us in this game defensively will be our tackling yards after catches. So those are a lot of the things that we have been preparing to do this past two, two and a half weeks. So, again, it is a tremendous challenge. They present a lot of speed on the field, and, you know, we're going to have to be on top of our game to control and try to limit some of their big plays.

HERB VINCENT: Rocky, a comment from you on the preparations for this game.

ROCKY CALMUS: Like Coach said, it has been pretty good the last few days. We've upped tempo, worked pretty hard, pretty live, trying to get back in the mode of tackling, full speed; get a little winded. And then as the game day approaches, overall, it has been good. Thoughts have been good.


ROY WILLIAMS: I think our preparation has been good. We have been going 100% every time. I also like our work ethic. We know what we have to do to win the game and we're going to go out there and do it.


J.T. THATCHER: Just looking forward to playing this game, because every -- we've always dreamed of playing in this game, and we're doing everything we can to win the football game.

RYAN FISHER: I think we are just excited, the tempo. We're all excited to be here.

Q. When you see in the film, you see these receivers, how do you think the loss of Minnis will there be any effect or do you see any deep core receivers?

J.T. THATCHER: I don't think there will be an effect, because they have other players, as well. So we can't just go in there saying, we have to play different, we're going to play the same way.

ROY WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's too bad that Minnis can't play, because I kind of wanted to see if I could tackle him in open field. But they do have other talented receivers, and we can't take them lightly because they are very athletic and have very good speed.

Q. Ryan Fisher, these guys, do they compare to anybody you've played offensively, and I'm talking about across the offensive front, are they -- we hear a lot about their skill people, but what about their offensive line?

RYAN FISHER: I think size-wise, they compare to Nebraska close enough, their center is about the same size, the way their tackles would be, physical. Just the quickness of the center, I'd say probably the most they compare to is Nebraska.

Q. Mike, obviously putting pressure on Florida State is going to be a key. You've done a pretty good job of putting pressure on teams all year. Do they present anything that's any more difficult or how just do you plan on getting pressure on Florida State in the game?

COACH STOOPS: Well, Florida State has done an excellent job all year protecting the passer. A lot of stuff out of their offense is built around, you know, a two-back passing game. So they are going to protect Weinke first and foremost. So they make it difficult for you to get to him because they are always protecting him with seven guys before they release their backs out. So they are always, you know, going to protect him first. They do a great job picking up blitzes, as well. So, you know we're going to stick with our -- you know, our package, and what has got us here, and, you know, try to keep off balance with different pressures and zone blitzes. That's a big part of our defense comes from different zone pressure. So, you know, like I say, he is difficult to get to, but hopefully, we can get to some pressure that will help us in getting some bad throws, some throws before he wants to throw things on time. So just be able to disrupt his timing will be, you know, serve its purpose as well.

Q. J.T., Florida State, this is their third straight National Title game; OU, their first time in several years. What effect will that have?

J.T. THATCHER: I don't think it will have any effect. OU, we've played a lot of big games over the season, and we have been in the Bowls a lot, so just because they have been here three years in a row, they are playing us now. They are not playing the same team.

Q. Rocky or Roy, after watching a lot of film now, what are your impressions of Weinke and the way he handles himself, the way he plays?

ROCKY CALMUS: He is a good-sized quarterback. Typical quarterback, has a strong arm, has good timing with his receivers. So, I mean, he can go deep. I think the only weakness that he has is his feet and not getting out of the pocket; that's one thing. We feel that we really don't have to worry about him getting outside. So we can concentrate on dropping in our zone. Don't have to worry about screening him.

ROY WILLIAMS: Chris Weinke is a leader. Just like our quarterback commands, he is the leader of the team. He plays defense as well. Just a talented quarterback, you know, he reads -- he reads coverages, he calls all plays. He's an exciting player to watch on film, but we're going to have to go out there and go hard as him a little bit.

Q. Roy and J.T., can you guys talk about the job that the young cornerbacks have done this year and how you have seen them develop, the cornerbacks, Michael and Derrick?

J.T. THATCHER: Without those two, me and Roy, we would not be able to do our job up the middle. So you have to give credit to Michael on the outside, because corner is a real position that you have to be concentrated a lot. You have to know everything that you have to do and you have to go out there by yourself so they are out there doing a good job.

ROY WILLIAMS: Those two guys are very talented young players. I give them all the credit, their linebacker, the whole defense. Last year, we gave up like 500 yards almost every other game, and it shows that this year -- it shows our corners; that we take pride in our secondary. And we don't like that, to give up 500 yards a game. So I say those young -- them two corners, they are just -- they don't have a losing attitude in them.

Q. How much have they developed? Was there a turning point that you saw from either one of those guys?

ROY WILLIAMS: They had a turning point at the beginning of the year. Summertime.

Q. Ryan, coming back to you, but at the first of year, we were talking about Rocky and Torrance, and then we started talking about the secondary. Nobody has talked as much about defensively, as you guys on the defensive line. First of all, talk about that and just your defensive line play as a whole. And also, how you came to make All-Conference, your thoughts on that with really not the kind of statistics like some people had, like sacks and things like that?

RYAN FISHER: I think just the defensive line, the way we do our technique, we go out there and execute. Yeah, it makes it easier for us to play. It has instilled in us an attitude and we play with that all the time. It's easy to sit here in practice and games, but we go out there and just try to do that every play. To make All-Conference, naturally, it was easy with guys like Rocky and Torrance behind, you let guys focus on them more, and you get free every once in awhile, and I think that definitely helps us out.

Q. Ryan, could you assess how athletic Florida State's offensive line is, and is that very difficult to judge? You talked about the comparison size-wise to Nebraska; is that difficult to judge from looking at game film?

RYAN FISHER: No, I don't think so. You can see in the games that they are pretty athletic and they have pretty good feet. They don't really fall around, they get to their blocks. I think as far as like Nebraska was quick, I don't know if they are as quick as Nebraska is. Their center, he seems to be the quickest guy on the line, and he gets out from -- underneath-the-shoe technique to the nose pretty easy. But they are all fairly athletic and tackles are pretty quick.

Q. The Nebraska game, you guys all said you started off a little bit slow, there was a lot of build-up to it, a lot of anxiety, you guys had to kind of settle down a little bit. Can you talk a little bit about how that might help you for this game?


ROCKY CALMUS: Yeah, a few guys, the big games we had, we started off slow. That's the key; we started off slow but we picked it up. Just the hoopla and all of the media and all of the press and all of the -- you know, how great Nebraska is. Your emotions are riding high. Your adrenaline is pumping. You overrun stuff. You're not fitting in the right places because you've got so much energy. Then you get a feel of the game, calm down, and you get -- just the feel of the game; so you start to fit right and start doing your job. Hopefully, we won't start out slow this game. We'll calm down and we'll do all the right stuff. I fell that we will. I think we've learned from these big games that we played in earlier in the season.

Q. That's what I was kind of asking, will that experience from that game carryover to this game?

ROCKY CALMUS: I think so. We played two back-to-back, when we played in the Big 12 Championship; that was a big game. And then we played -- we started off pretty good and we were starting to get the feel of things. We just got better as each game rolled along during the season.

Q. Mike, you started out earlier by saying that you needed to stop the run game, control Weinke, cover the receivers. I mean, that's easier said than done. What is your -- how do you do that? How do you defense a team that can do all of those things so well?

COACH STOOPS: Well, there's -- you know, it becomes a numbers game with them. You know, I mean they are counting the box; they want to know what's in there. They know that we want to attack, you know, people by numbers a lot of times, and you hear people talk about how many is in the box. You only put seven in there and try to double and double the receivers, then you're susceptible to the run game. You've got to play games. You've got to use educated guesses. You've got to try to disguise what you're doing. Try to put some confusion in his mind. And even if he -- you guess right, and you want to drop people out of there, think he's going to pass, you still have to stop him, like you said. You've got to cover him and you've got to give pressure, and you've got to be able to, you know, make the plays on the ball. So even when you guess right, or not guess right, or put a coverage or a front, you know, that you think you're going to get past and you get past, you still have to execute. It's not a done deal. They put a lot of pressure on your defense every play. They put pressure on you, you know, a lot like Nebraska does running the ball; they do it throwing the ball and they keep you honest with their run game. Travis Minor, you go to sleep on him or any of those backs, you're going to be in trouble. So you want to try to be able to make them one-dimensional, but this is a difficult team to make them very one-dimensional. They are one of the harder teams because of the way they attack. They are so athletic that it is very difficult.

Q. Coach, I think nationally, everyone talks about Josh and the offense and all of the numbers that he's put up, has the defense kind of gotten a little overshadowed, and just how far does has the defense come in the last year?

COACH STOOPS: Well, you know I was just -- you know, we were talking about that yesterday or the day before. I was -- I can't think of a game where we played horribly throughout the whole year. We played a terrible half against maybe KU. Against KU was really the only bad half of football we played this whole year. I think we've played sound. We have gotten better as the year has gone on. What I like about this defense is we have been consistent all year. We've had turnovers in every game. We've limited the big plays against us. You know, we gave up a few big plays early. But after that, our positioning on the football has been so much better throughout most of the year than it was a year ago, and that's a compliment to all of the guys in our whole defense. I just think our positioning on the ball and in our consistencies are the biggest things from a year ago to where we are right now. We cut our average down 60 yards. They were what -- sixth or seventh or eighth in the country in total defense. Last year we were, shoot, somewhere around 40th or there; so we have cut that down quite a bit. That is a big drop-off from a year ago. I think a lot of that is kids being in the system for a year longer, more confident in what they are doing. You know, obviously, Torrance, his play, has been a big difference from a year ago. He's a much better player than he was a year ago, just because, you know, that's such an important position for us. You know, you see how our linebackers and our safeties are involved in so much that we do. His play has really made a major contribution to our ability to limit people's yards.

Q. Mike, could you talk about Florida State, their experience having been here three years in a row against OU that is a very young team?

COACH STOOPS: Well, you know, and I was just listening to the questions earlier. I think, you know that Nebraska game helped us because our kids were too emotional. We were too overhyped to play. And that's what happens. If you get too overhyped, you can't react properly, and we didn't react very well to the first two series of the game. You know, I just go back, we're trying to correct things, but there was things we couldn't correct because guys were just over running. Our defense was set; we just couldn't make the plays because we were just overreacting. I think that game, what people want to say -- we were in a playoff the last time we played. It was win or we're out. Nothing can be bigger than that. So I think we feel the pressure is off us. Nobody thought we'd be here. So we're just going to go out there play. I think our kids are confident. They know what they have to do. So I feel good about our state of mind of this football team. Like I say, we're underdogs. We've been underdogs all year. I think we like that position. And, you know, we've just got to, you know, hopefully go out and react to things, you know, better. I don't think that we can afford to get down 14-0 against these guys, you know, because the style of offense they run, they can score on you in a hurry. So we need to get off to a good start and gain confidence early.

Q. Has the absence of Minnis caused you to make any major changes in the game plan or is it just that they have such a wealth of big receivers that you've been prepared for that all along?

COACH STOOPS: There's a reason he's out over 1,200 or 1m300 yards and leads the team in receptions. I think we are all smart enough to realize that. He is a tremendous, tremendous football player. Where they go from there, like I say, they have a bunch of depth. They lost, you know, Dubins (ph) and Peter Warrick a year ago and replaced those guys with -- you know, they got Bell and Boldin, and those guys are all great players. They have depth -- if there's one position that they probably feel that he can afford a loss, it would be at the wide receiver position. But watching Minnis for as long as I've had an opportunity, he's a great player. I just love the way he runs his routes. He is an exciting player to watch. You know, it will affect them, but like I say, somebody else will step up. They will challenge, his back-up, and his back-up will play the best game of his life. So we have to be prepared for that, and like I say, it won't change our preparation. It will not change, because they won't change. It is just a matter of, like I say, his big-play ability is pretty good. So like I say, we won't change and I don't think they will change, either.

Q. Have you faced a passing attack that has helped prepare your team for this game, and if so, who would it be?

COACH STOOPS: No. Not really. There's nobody we faced in this league. You know, Florida State, they are in a league of their own when it comes to what they want to do, their play-action passes, their drop-back game, the problems they present is totally different than what we've seen all year. We have not seen the big, you know, two-back passing team, play-action team like these guys. So they are much different than anybody we faced. But on the other hand, we've had, oh, I don't know. What, over three weeks of preparation to see all of their routes. So that part of it has helped. And how we set up over defense, you know, our guys' reaction to things have gotten better. It presents a lot of problems, but I think the time of preparation we've had is definitely going to help us.

Q. What are your impressions of Weinke, looking at him on film and the fact that he is big and strong?

COACH STOOPS: A big strong guy, what I've been able to see. I love the way -- his timing of everything. You know. You can see his time -- I would imagine this year has really helped his timing with his receivers, throwing things before they come out of their breaks, the ball is right there. Makes it tremendously difficult for you to close on his ball. You're not going to make up ground if you're not in great position, because he can -- he gets the ball there on time, and he gets it there quick. So he likes to keep everything, and when he's in rhythm, he's very, very difficult to stop.

Q. Can you talk about what you've done to prepare your players in terms of this, for all purposes, as a home game for the Seminoles; it's in the backyard, a lot of people will be here, they light it up early. Can you talk about how you prepare them mentally to not get rattled in that situation?

COACH STOOPS: We played in Kansas City; it was the same way, the Big 12 Championship Game. We were probably outnumbered 20 to 40 or 45 there. Florida State has been here and done that. We feel like we've been there and done that, as well. Like I said earlier, I think we're going to play it all-out on the line. We have nothing to lose. Our kids are going to play that way. We'll play loose. I look for our team, for things to be wide open in this game. I think our kids will -- right now, I feel like our kids are going to -- we will play -- that won't bother us. That won't affect us early. I hope I'm right.

Q. Can you talk about your brother and what makes him the success that he's been?

COACH STOOPS: I think there's a lot of things. Bob, it has been a great pleasure being able to work with him the last two years. He has been a mentor of mine for many years. He's very positive. He's very upbeat. Sees the good in everything. Doesn't see the bad in anything. Doesn't dwell on negative things. Stays in the positive in every sense. You know, he's entrusted his coaches and surrounded himself with people he trusts with his life; and that's a big deal, to get people around you that are important to you. I think he's done a good job of getting people in position that he can have that type of trust in. He's good with the players. You know, we have a -- think we let our players express themselves in ways, but we still have tremendous discipline on this time team. A lot of players have changed in this day and age, and I think Bob has changed in the right ways with the times, with young kids and that's very, very important. So I think our kids respect him and play hard for all of our coaches.

Q. Is Rocky, in fact, the heart of your defense, and can you talk a little bit -- I understand that he will play through about anything; that he's a pretty tough guy?

COACH STOOPS: It's hard to single out, because we've been such a solid group all year. But Rocky has always been, you know, the anchor of this team. Like I say, Torrance, you look at Torrance, you look at Roy, those three guys through the middle kind of anchor everything that we do, and we're blessed to have three tremendous players through the middle of our defense that kind of make us go. But Rocky's toughness, a lot like Josh's leadership on offense, Rocky is our, you know, leader by example in his toughness and his competitiveness. That has rubbed off. I think it has been a great influence on Torrance, his play, as well.

Q. Weinke said yesterday that if there was anything positive about losing Minnis that it would create some doubt in your mind, that it would change much. And earlier today you said it wouldn't change. Is that a mind game that he's playing with you now?

COACH STOOPS: They have a lot of great players. They have played without Minnis in the first half of every single game they played in. I see the next guy come in and they don't change at all there. I don't think anybody is going to play mind games with anybody at this late stage of the game. Yeah, you could tell them we're going to blitz every snap now and play straight man, or they are going to feel like we're going to run Nebraska's offense. I don't think that's going to happen. They ain't going to run it 60 times.

HERB VINCENT: Coach, thanks a lot. Good luck. Appreciate it.

End of FastScripts....

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