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January 3, 2011

Jim Harbaugh

Andrew Luck


Stanford 40
Virginia Tech 12

JASON ALPERT: Coach Harbaugh, if you can speak on what this means to Stanford's football program as a whole to win the Discover Orange Bowl.
COACH JIM HARBAUGH: Well, it feels great. I was just coming in with Andrew and saying just how great it feels to be a champion. Very few times in life does anybody get a chance to be a champion at something and be an Orange Bowl champion. That's going to go down in the history of college football. We started the season wanting to be champions, and congratulations to Andrew being an MVP. Very few people get to be MVPs in anything.
To all of our players, I thought they played with great poise, especially in the second half they and fought the whole time. I love our guys. They respect the game, they respect the process of preparing and doing all the little things.
Other than that, I'll just turn it over to Andrew because it was an amazing performance, four touchdowns, played with a lot of courage out there, played with great poise and led us at all times. A heck of a performance by Andrew Luck and all the guys.
JASON ALPERT: Andrew, as good as your season was, what it does mean to you not only with the Discover Orange Bowl win but the MVP award?
ANDREW LUCK: It means everything, especially the Orange Bowl win. We had a goal this season, like Coach Harbaugh, said to be champions. We knew this trip would have been all for naught if we came home empty handed. So thankful to be a part of this team, part of Stanford University, and it means the world.

Q. Do you think this was the final game that you've coached at Stanford?
COACH JIM HARBAUGH: Oh, please, please, give me a break. You know, have some respect for the game. It's about the performance tonight of these players, and I love them. Let's talk about them.

Q. Andrew, what was it like for you when you were accepting the MVP award and the crowd is chanting "one more year"?
ANDREW LUCK: I did not know I was accepting the MVP award. I assumed since I was the quarterback, I was supposed to go on the front stage. It is a great honor. There's so many MVPs on the team tonight, you look at Kolby Fleener's performance, three touchdown catches by a tight end. That's impressive in its own right. Owen Marecic going both ways, Shayne Skov played his heart out. So many MVPs on this team, so it is very humbling as well to take that trophy.
I did not hear the crowd, but it was a surreal moment in itself.

Q. Jim, how were you able to get the offense rolling in the second half? You seemed to have a few problems early on. What adjustments did you make in the second half to get the offense rolling first of all?
COACH JIM HARBAUGH: Well, great effort by our coaches. I thought they made great adjustments at halftime, and our players just kept grinding away. We were -- we popped a big run with Jeremy Stewart in the first half and had another touchdown drive where Andrew made a great throw to Zach Ertz. Then second half had a point explosion. I thought our guys just really -- there was no mistakes from there on out, from halftime until the end of the game. Everybody was just on point and executed extremely well offensively and defensively and special teams, as well.
So like Andrew said, there was a lot of guys that really deserve a lot of recognition tonight - all the tight ends. People wonder why we have so many tight ends on this team. Well, that's why. That's why. The performance of Konrad Reuland and Ertz and Fleener, incredible contribution. The offensive line played with great poise and discipline. They were giving us quite a few real different blitz patterns than we had seen, and we made the adjustments and did a great job picking them up.
The running backs Jeremy Stewart, Stepfan Taylor, Gaffney was competing like heck, all the guys. Defensively Andrew pointed out Shayne Skov. Also Fua working extremely hard in the middle. Keiser and Chase Thomas. And then the secondary, Delano Howell with the big interception stopped a lot of momentum, and then we turned around and scored in two plays after that interception. I thought it was a big swing in the football game. Bademosi, Mike T., everyone played extremely well. A lot of MVPs as Andrew so humbly said. In the end, again, Andrew Luck, he's the straw that stirs the drink around here.

Q. Also, how were you able to contain Tyrod Taylor and what was the strategy in keeping him in check?
COACH JIM HARBAUGH: Well, we were trying to cage him in, we really were, and trying to rush the upfield shoulder on the edge and then plaster to the receivers downfield. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. He is such an elusive player. The impressive one on the sideline where Owen looked like he had him caged on the boundary and Tyrod Taylor jumped back, spun, put his back foot on the ground and threw the touchdown pass. He was very close to the sideline, and I was right on top of it. After he threw the pass Tyrod looked over at me and said, "Was I inbounds? Was I inbounds?" And I go, "Yes, you were inbounds. And that was one heck of a play, young man, that you just made." He's going to make plays because he is, he's a tremendous, elusive athlete.

Q. Could you talk about that three-play swing there after Tyrod's interception, it was a two-play 97-yard drive, how at that really completely just changed the game around.
COACH JIM HARBAUGH: I thought it did. What did you think, Andrew?
ANDREW LUCK: I thought it was huge. Any time backed up in your own end zone as an offense, you've got a little bit of the hairs on the back of your neck standing up because you know how precarious that position can be. And to go from one end zone to the other end zone in two plays, it's huge.

Q. How much did your defense stopping their running attack help bottle them up offensively and then lead to more opportunities on your defense? And was that as big of a point of emphasis as it became in the game when you were preparing?
COACH JIM HARBAUGH: Yeah, and that's a great observation. I think it's as big a point of emphasis of anything that was in the game, the way we were able to bottle up and shut down the run, made them throw the football. We got in a lot of 3rd-down situation and they made some plays, they picked some up. Tyrod Taylor had some huge runs and then throws. But it kind of limited them to just throwing the football because we took away the running game, and I thought that was as big as anything in the ballgame.

Q. Andrew, you've had a lot of experience the last couple of years seeing that moment in a game when the other team realizes that they're no longer in the game. Was it that two-play drive that did it? Did it happen later in the game? At what point did you see that look that you got to see --
ANDREW LUCK: I think, first of all, Virginia Tech is a great team and they're not quitters by any means. They're a scrappy team, they're tough, they're physical, and that's why they've been ACC champs or they've dominated the ACC the last couple years because they don't quit. I don't think there was a point where they quit. But I think the confidence, we got a lot of confidence after that two-play scoring drive. I think for us as an offense, at that point we knew that our stuff was working, that we could go out there and play, and it would be tough to stop us. I think right after the interception and the two-play drive.

Q. How difficult a decision do you have to make over the next few weeks about deciding whether or not you want to play on Sundays right now?
ANDREW LUCK: I think there are a lot of worse decisions you might have to make in life. I don't know, I don't mean to be rude but I'd rather not address that subject anymore. I'd like to enjoy the night.

Q. Can you talk about the running game and why it was so effective tonight.
ANDREW LUCK: Yeah, absolutely. I think the O-line plays with a lot of pride. James McGillicuddy coming in, there's probably nine or ten guys that go out there and line up in some capacity to block for the running game and they take a lot of pride in it, take a lot of pride in doing things the right way. They sort of kept at it, chipped away, kept grinding and holes really started opening up. Any time you got Owen Marecic coming out of the backfield and hitting an end or a linebacker or safety, I think you're in a good position. And the running backs did a heck of a job seeing the holes and bursting through them.

Q. With all due respect to the moment and to your players in this game, there are going to be a lot of people within the Stanford community who are going to be anxious about your future and your decision. What would you tell those folks?
COACH JIM HARBAUGH: I'd tell them exactly what Andrew just said. I don't want to be rude, but with all due respect, I'd just rather enjoy the moment, and these guys and this team and what we've accomplished because it's never been done this way exactly in the history of Stanford football. We're really excited about it.

Q. Did the safety make you mad because the next time you're backed up you go --
ANDREW LUCK: I thought it was somewhat of a comical situation. I don't think I've ever been in a game where a ball has been batted back to a lineman who caught it and fell on the ground. I thought it was good athletic instincts by Derrick but just at the wrong time.
I wasn't angered by it. Football can be a very funny game, the ball bounces in funny ways, you've just got to got to go with it, and no point in getting emotionally hijacked over it I don't think.

Q. Was the use of the tight ends part of the game plan ahead of time or was that all adjustments on the fly?
COACH JIM HARBAUGH: No, it was -- it's been a big part of our offense all year, what our tight ends can do and the mismatch that they create. Those are big guys, those are 6'5" at the shortest, 6'6", 250-pound guys and they're so versatile in the running game and in the passing game, and they're big targets. It's something that not a lot of other teams have, and we do a good job of exploiting that.

Q. What would you say to all the people who doubted that you could build a winning football program at a school like Stanford with the academic standards and the emphasis on academics?
COACH JIM HARBAUGH: Well, we kind of like being underdogs and underestimated maybe. That's okay with us. Just proud of our guys. We'll move forward with humble hearts, and it won't be too long before we're doing 6:00 a.m. workouts again. But we're going to enjoy tonight. We're going to enjoy this moment and these players that really have created a bond, a brotherhood, where they really love to play, they love to win, they love playing for each other. I think even more so than they love playing the game, they like playing for each other and winning for each other.

Q. Even though it was just a 13-12 game at the half, how important was it to sort of answer Tyrod's touchdown pass as quickly as you did in terms of momentum?
COACH JIM HARBAUGH: Well, it was great that we did it, but it was a hard-fought football fight, and like Andrew said, there was things that were happening in the first half that don't happen all year. We snapped the ball early on the fake punt, so we really didn't even block for the fake punt. That was one. And then we get an extra point blocked, we miss an extra point, and then toward the end of the half we're lining up for a point, they come way offsides and we react to it too late, otherwise they would have been offsides and we would have picked up that 1st down, and we would have kept that drive alive and they wouldn't have kicked a field goal before the half. These points are adding up in my mind, and the safety, and that's two extra points, that's four, and the field goal before the half is seven, and you can't keep doing that against a team as good as Virginia Tech.
But it was so quirky the way the things were happening that just -- they don't happen that often. So we just got into halftime and said, let's keep our poise, that's behind us, that stops now, just listen, communicate, keep your poise and see if we can't go out there and play the best 30 minutes of our lives, and we did that. They did that. The players did that.

Q. I assume that you would love the chance to play Oregon again if you could, but I'm wondering what makes you think that if you played them now it would be different? How is your team different from the day that you played them?
COACH JIM HARBAUGH: I think we're better. I think we're better. I think this team has gotten stronger as the season has gone on, and that's a character of a very good football team, and they've used those reps, they've used those practices and those games to get better, and that's part of what I meant when I said they really respect the game and respect the process. You are allowed to get better as the season goes along.
But you know, we'll wish Oregon best of luck in that football game, and we'll root for the team that's playing the hardest, and hopefully that will be Oregon. But until there's a playoff, I mean, it's kind of irrelevant to talk about it.

End of FastScripts

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