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December 29, 2010

Jay Valai


Q. Everyone talks about their defense. Their running game is a little bit under the radar a little bit. Just talk about what you see.
JAY VALAI: TCU has a strong running game, very physical runners, great offensive line. With Dalton back there you've got to expect the pass just as much as anything else. TCU has a great running game, nationally rushing yards per game and stuff like that, so you've got to give them a lot of respect.

Q. You're a veteran with this whole media thing. Have the younger guys been able to block out --
JAY VALAI: Yeah, I think we've done a pretty good job blocking it out. I think people realize we're here for a game first and foremost. You come out here to enjoy this weather and enjoy LA and go get killed, that's not going to be a pretty sight. I think guys are pretty much focusing in and we've got to go out there and perform on Saturday night.

Q. (Inaudible.) Who else has graced you with their presence?
JAY VALAI: Basically just Coach Lasorda. Coach Alvarez talked to us before, too. I'm trying to think who else. Nobody else, really. We don't really need too many other people. I think just being here in LA, Pasadena, speaks enough for itself. I don't think we'll need any outside motivation to be motivated for Saturday.

Q. Can you talk about what Devin Smith has brought to the last four weeks, spread defenses, and what he's done as the nickel?
JAY VALAI: Yeah, brings us more -- I guess more speed on the field, more athletic ability. Being in the pass coverage with Devin on the field or even if Shelton is out there as nickel, as well, too. I think having an extra DB out there helps us a lot and Devin has done a great job the last four weeks.

Q. What did Coach Alvarez tell you?
JAY VALAI: Basically you've got to win. Nobody remembers a loser at the Rose Bowl. The main thing we've got to do is focus, focus first and foremost. You can let everything else go around, you take everything else in, but we've got to focus first and foremost. That's one thing he really preached about.

Q. Talk about how tough TCU's receivers are. They've got several you've got to keep an eye on.
JAY VALAI: Yeah, they're from Texas so I give them a lot of respect. I'm a Texas boy myself. You've got Kerley but then you have a bunch of other receivers, a bunch of receivers who are ready to go out there and they'll attack you down the field. They keep you honest first and foremost, so you've got to respect them, and if you don't know where they're at, you can't just focus on the run game. If you focus on the run game, the pass game gets you, and that's why TCU has been so effective all year.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JAY VALAI: Well, he went to Katy, so he's been doing that for a while. Katy I call the south of the south, I guess. Andy Dalton was a great -- very accurate quarterback. He's athletic, too. You see him throwing the football around, but when he runs the ball, he runs the ball very effectively, as well. I think first and foremost great decision maker. He's been an effective quarterback to have a great college football career such as he's had.

Q. You've probably been asked this question but did you ever think about going to TCU?
JAY VALAI: Yeah. I mean, yeah, but it wasn't as strong as -- because I committed to Iowa and then decommitted and came to Wisconsin. TCU is a great program. As I've been saying all year, they're the best program right now in Texas to be honest with you, and I give them all the respect in the world.

Q. Can you describe what their program was like when you were in high school?
JAY VALAI: Yeah. I mean, there were the L.T. years before, which was more middle school for me, but L.T. was holding it down. It was up and down for a little bit, up and down for a little bit, but the last six, seven years it's been a great football program when you have a great head coach like that and also recruiting in a Texas-based area eventually it's going to come together. When everybody bought into the program and started working good, you see how great they've been playing.

Q. Do you cheer for Texas teams when you're not playing them?
JAY VALAI: Oh, man, I always cheer for Texas. TCU I cheer for, I'm not going to lie. Basically any Texas schools. Oklahoma or Texas school, hey, I'm cheering for them because Oklahoma is basically a Texas school, so is Oklahoma State. Except if we're playing against them, I cheer for them, so much respect.

Q. Why did you go north to college?
JAY VALAI: Why did I go north? Because I had never been north. It was the first time -- I had gone on an airplane once in my life before going to Wisconsin, so it was like, hey, got to see the world. Wisconsin was the No. 1 they said like sports college town or whatever, No. 1 party school, I'm not going to lie, and No. 9 education. I said, hey, let's make a change and see what happens.

Q. Did it live up to that?
JAY VALAI: Yeah, I mean, all of it lived up to it. And the cold really lived up to it, too. That was a wake-up call. But I think it makes me a diverse and a better character now after dealing with -35 degree weather. It's a little different, but it's all good.

Q. Did you play under Coach Cunningham?
JAY VALAI: Yes, Coach Cunningham, exactly. Me and old goofy boy Christian Ponder did. Yeah, "Goofy," that's what I call him. He's a goof.
But yeah, we played under Coach Cunningham, who was a great head coach and a great human being, a great man. Once again, it was -- even though we didn't make the playoffs when I was there, which is -- I think we underachieved. Right after we left they did it big, but it's all good though.

Q. What are two or three things you need to do as a secondary to be successful on Saturday?
JAY VALAI: Read your keys, No. 1. Like I said, with a team as effective as they are in the play action game, if you don't read your keys correctly it's going to be a field day. I mean, you gotta trigger on the run and be responsible on the pass because that's how a lot of the guys get wide open because people are either really trying to stop the run or really trying to stop the pass. You've got to play them straight up and honest. Another thing we've got to do, we've go to tackle. These are great shake and bake players, and the running backs, they will truck you. I seen that on film, and they run aggressively, so I think that's what you really want and it's going to be a fun game.

Q. Since you are from the Dallas Fort Worth area, what does it mean to you personally (Inaudible.)
JAY VALAI: It means a lot. It means a lot of kids from my high school will be talking noise to me. It means it's just going to be exciting. Have a middle school football coach that's coming down here that went to TCU. He's been talking noise to me. Appreciate it, Coach Turner. It's exciting, man, playing against another Texas school.
I met Dalton earlier in the week. We played him at Seven on Seven State my senior year. We beat them. I forgot and didn't realize that he was the quarterback down there. I mean, it was just good reminiscing and seeing boys from Texas because it's a little different than Wisconsin. But it was good meeting those kids. It means a lot to play a team from Texas, especially a great team like TCU.

Q. Have you gotten a lot of ticket requests from family members and friends?
JAY VALAI: Over-the-top ticket requests, but once they saw the ticket price to fly over here, the ticket requests kind of dropped a little bit more. It was all good, though. But what more can you expect?

Q. (Inaudible.)
JAY VALAI: Yeah, I remember TCU was recruiting me but I already committed to Iowa first and then I decommitted and became a Badger. I mean, I'm happy where I'm at right now.

Q. What made you decommit to Iowa and what led you to commit to Wisconsin?
JAY VALAI: That trickster Coach Cooks got me, and then it was just Wisconsin was the No. 1 -- like I told them before, No. 1 party school, No. 1 college sports town and No. 9 education. I said, hey, you live once, why not Wisconsin. It's been a great move, and except dealing with that cold, cold weather, not good for my African blood. Besides that it's all good, though, man.

Q. What do you like most about going to Wisconsin?
JAY VALAI: Just, I mean, the fan support is outrageous. I think one thing being at a school at Wisconsin and being in Madison, there's not a professional sports team, so we're basically a professional sports team. Even the whole entire state to be real with you has our back, even though we have the Packers first and foremost, but Wisconsin is right there with them. You've got to respect that so much, especially coming from where I'm from. That's why TCU doesn't get as much respect, because they're in Cowboy city and the Mavericks are around the corner for basketball and stuff like that. That's one thing we've been blessed with being a college sports town.

Q. When you were growing up did you have a favorite college team?
JAY VALAI: Yeah, I had a couple, big time Texas fan, Vince Young, big time Georgia fan. They had Greene at quarterback or even Quincy Carter. But yeah, I was a big time Texas and big time Georgia fan.

Q. When TCU was recruiting you, how serious were you about (inaudible)?
JAY VALAI: I know I was getting letters and you get stuff in the mail and stuff like that. But for me I told my mom, I've got to get out of the state of Texas because I've never flown -- like I said, I flew once in my life before getting on the flight to Wisconsin. I said, I've got to be cultured, let me get out of here for a little bit. I regretted it after my first year when it was cold as you-know-what up there, but you get adjusted. It's been a blessing ever since, so you take it all in.

Q. Is there a difference between the people in Wisconsin and the people in Texas?
JAY VALAI: A little bit. I mean, fans -- not hating on Texas or anything like that, but I think Wisconsin people, they're pretty strong no matter what's going on. They have your back and stuff like that. Being a Cowboy fan myself, I've done this up and down, I get upset real quick. We're used to winning so much, we get angry very quick after one game, one loss they'll be all over you. But Badger fans, they're Packer fans, they're not going to kill you, they'll still support you. But Texas people, we're a little more hot blooded, I think, and a little more angry, quick to get angry.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JAY VALAI: Hey, lights are bright, man. You've got to be the best when the lights are the brightest, right?

Q. What do you remember about that Seven on Seven?
JAY VALAI: Yeah, I remember that because like I say, we have this big 64-team tournament in Texas they play every year in the summer. It's giant. But Katy for some reason they brought about 400 fans with them to a Seven on Seven game, so we're looking around like where are we at, because Katy, like I said, is probably -- back then was one of the two biggest programs, you've got Katy, you've got Southlake Carroll, those are the biggest two programs in Texas probably, so when we were playing against them and we beat them and we were shocked, but it was a great feeling. Dalton was a great quarterback then, too.

Q. What round was that?
JAY VALAI: That was the quarterfinals, I believe, because then we went on and we -- yeah, we won the championship game, Division 5A. But Seven on Seven they just did it all, best 64 teams in the state all played each other, so it was all good.

Q. What summer was it?
JAY VALAI: Summer going into my senior year, so 2006.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JAY VALAI: I mean, it is what it is. When you come up from Wisconsin, you see these J.J. Watt giants and Gabe Carimis, that's all they think about is power so I don't blame them. You see 6'9" guys going around like that. We're confident in ourselves. We heard the speed thing last year versus Miami. Not too many teams faster than Miami across this country, either. I mean, TCU has great athletes, as well, but once again, you've got to be confident in yourself. If you're not confident in yourself, what have you got?

Q. Do you think Wisconsin will ever coach a spread?
JAY VALAI: Not if we're playing like this. I don't think there's no need to change. Don't mess with -- whatever they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and it ain't been broke for a while now, going on 13, 14 years, so may as well just keep going with it.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JAY VALAI: Guys know TCU is going to be athletic, fast, and like I said, one thing about Texas kids, I keep telling everybody, they've got a lot of pride. I know they're coming here, we're not going to lie, the BCS school versus a non-BCS school and all that nonsense. But TCU is coming here to prove themselves and so are we. I think we have the same mentality. When our backs are against the wall I think we're at our best.
TCU is one of the three undefeated teams in the country, and you've got to give them all the respect in the world, and we're ready to go out there and prove ourselves, as well.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JAY VALAI: I don't know, man. They've got some good recruiters, I know that much. Cooks tricked me, Coach Cooks did, who's at Notre Dame now, but he was a good recruiter, and Coach Doeren, they're all good recruiters, and they do a good job of recruiting you, and you come up here, and the summertime is great up here. You're not at home in Texas when it's 109 degrees. Up here in Wisconsin it's nice; 70, 80 degrees is a hot day for them. You get used to it. Once football starts and you feel the atmosphere I think the first time around Camp Randall and you see how crazy it is, it's an electric moment. I think that's what really brought me in.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JAY VALAI: Oh, yeah, they say we practiced -- I remember this, they said we'll never go outside and practice if it's below 40 -- no -- 40 degrees and lower we'll never be outside. Yeah, about 17 degrees we were outside. I felt like a bunch of knives were being stabbed in my hands. It is what it is, and I'm just happy to be where I'm at right now.

Q. Are you shocked at all that TCU is the top team in Texas this year?
JAY VALAI: To be real with you, no. Last year they played in a BCS game last year. TCU has great athletes, and I know how good Texas is going to be coming back or anything like that, and Texas Tech new coach and all that stuff, so A & M stepped up their game. But TCU, like I said, come the season, they're the highest ranked Texas team in general, so why be surprised?

Q. Is it common knowledge in Texas that Coach Brown is (Inaudible)?
JAY VALAI: Yeah, very common knowledge, yeah.

Q. If he had come to you would you have been --
JAY VALAI: Yeah, probably so, I'm not going to lie to you, either. Texas, that's the only thing we joked around, Texas is done recruiting their junior year and then everybody else is left for the pickings and Texas and Oklahoma come in there. But it is what it is. Coach Brown picks his, and the rest of us mortals got to go to other schools, simple as that.

Q. What has J.J. Watt meant to your team?
JAY VALAI: A giant defensive end, that's what he's meant. He's a playmaker. He's a clown, too. But J.J., I've played with -- J.J. is the best defensive player I've ever played with, and he just works, works, works, a high motor guy. I know you're tired of hearing that, but he's a 6'6" giant and he's aggressive and plays with a lot of heart and you've got to give a lot of respect to that kid. He's been through a lot in his life, and you see what he's doing now. He's a jokester, too. He's funny all the time, always throwing that W up. But J.J. is a good football player, and he's meant the most of probably any player on our defense this year obviously. I think J.J. is a great football player, he's going to have a great future, and once again, we're going to go out there and have a ball on Saturday.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JAY VALAI: It's a little taboo, I guess. I don't want to get kicked out of my position for joking around about something like that. But Coach B, he's the man. He's the man around Madison. You see him out, he's all dressed up. He's a good dude, man. Sometimes it's better to be a bachelor in your life. You give him his respect, and he's done a good job of coaching this team this year. It'll be Scott, not me. Coach B is a good dude, young coach, he'll joke around with us a bunch. He'll reminisce on some old stories and joke around. Coach B is a good dude in general. It's good being around Coach B, and it's been a good couple years being here with him.
Only reason he gave me a scholarship is because I had long arms after he saw how tall I was, stuff like that, or the Lance Smith chronicles we went through. Our old teammate, Lance Smith, who was a funny dude, a little different, but we always joke around about stuff like that, shout-out to Lance Smith, but it's all been good, though.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JAY VALAI: Don't be fooled. More so than what you think. Aaron will put up a front in front of y'all, but Aaron is probably one of the biggest clowns I've met in my life. He's a jokester and he's a good dude, man. He's a positive attitude guy, too, a good role model and stuff like that. But don't be fooled, Aaron chills with the brothers, too. Aaron is a clown and he's funny. It's been great working with Hank back there, great playmaker, great dude to have on the field next to me, always makes you realize what kind of situation you're really in to calm me down and just go out there and have some fun.

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