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January 6, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with Coach Baldwin and the players. Coach, welcome. Give us an overview.
COACH BALDWIN: It's been outstanding from the time we landed. The welcome has been impressive, to say the least. Almost overwhelming, but in a good way.
They've treated us very well. The accommodations have been great. The functions, everything that we've done up until this point. And at the same time it's still a convenient situation to where you're still able to get your practices in, your meetings in, and stay on a nice schedule. So it's been a great mix. And it's been a great venue up to this point.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Coach, can you and J.C. as well, talk about being here, what does the exposure mean, not only to your program but also to the university?
COACH BALDWIN: Oh, more than anything, when I think about being here, when I think about being in this type of game, I think a lot further than just the football program. I think about what this is doing for Eastern Washington, the university, and what this is doing for the university as a whole and the community of Cheney and Spokane, and what it means.
It's a special time. It's something that you don't know when you're going to have this opportunity again, no matter how hard you work, no matter how prepared you think your team is going into a year, you still -- you can't just assume, oh, yeah, we'll be able to do this again here soon. It doesn't work that way.
So it's exciting. It's something that we're absolutely looking forward to. We're enjoying it up to this point but at the same time we're very excited to go out and try and win one more football game against a very good team.
But like I said, it goes well beyond what it means to the football program. It's huge, and it's special for the Eastern Washington and the university.
J.C. AGEN: Like Coach said, it's just great to get some exposure for our school and for our city and for our area. Obviously it's a huge stepping stone for our football program. But it's just great to get out here and get our name out here.
Q. Bo, what's it like being back in your old stomping grounds? I'm sure you have something to prove to some people out here. Can you talk about the emotions going through and being back home?
BO LEVI MITCHELL: It's a lot of fun. It's fun being able to come back and be able to play in front of friends and family and old teammates and whatnot. First and foremost, I'm here for business. I'm here for one game and one thing only really, and so once we get out there, put the jerseys on, I step on this field, there's one thing in mind.
Q. J.C., what are some of the challenges you guys face defensively, and how are you guys best cut out to handle some of the different things Delaware can do offensively, in particular the good balance that they have with the run game and the pass game?
J.C. AGEN: I think that's the number one asset as a team is how balanced they are offensively. You look at those all 11 spots, they don't have a weak link. And that's something that I think you gotta expect when you get to this game.
With Devlin, some of the best decision-making I've seen in my career by a quarterback. And to be successful at them, we're not going to be able to just sit there in the same defense and play them. Have to try to mix it up a little bit.
But hopefully our team's speed will help us out a lot with our reads and reaction to the football. But like I said, they're just a great overall balanced team.
Q. I heard a rumor you brought a piece of red carpet down here with you to make yourselves more comfortable. Is that true, and how are you adjusting to that weird green stuff on the field?
COACH BALDWIN: That's true. Coach Pulver was in charge of that and did a great job with that, a little piece of home with us. But we're adjusting just fine to the green. So it's not a big deal for us but it was fun. And it's fun to have that just in our locker room.
J.C. AGEN: Like Coach said, we still were brought up on a green field so I think we'll be okay when we step out there. But it's good to have a little piece of that with us.
BO LEVI MITCHELL: I think it's cool. He brought it, a little thing to look back on and remember what helped got us here, so I think it's pretty cool.
MATT JOHNSON: Yeah, exactly. Same thing, and the turf out there is pretty nice. It's pretty much field turf. So some of our practices were on grass, not on the field.
Q. Matt and J.C., could you talk about coming to Frisco and the experience you've had in her town?
MATT JOHNSON: It's a great experience. I've got to be fortunate enough to play in some playoff games, but obviously not a game of this magnitude, and to come down here a few days early, Coach Baldwin kind of touched on it. Just from getting off the plane, having that weather, how nice and the greetings we got, from the food all the way to the elementary kids that we got to go meet, it's been a wonderful experience.
J.C. AGEN: Yeah, it's been unexpected. I'm sure we expected like some exposure and stuff. But everything's been unexpected. It's been wonderful. Everybody at the hotel to the elementary school, it's been really professional and well done. We're down here to enjoy it but we're down here for one goal. We have that in mind but it's nice to take everything in and not guaranteed to come back here, so...
Q. You and Pat Devlin both being FBS school drop-downs, seems like both of you have just put yourselves in perfect situations, great teams here for the championship game. Could you just talk about maybe just going back to your decision and how it's turned out so well for you?
J.C. AGEN: It was a decision for me where I kind of talked to myself and said I can stay and get a good degree and make some money or I can go play football and do what I love. So here I am. So it was just a decision where, when I came out here out of high school, speaking with Coach Baldwin and all the coaches and everything, just how much I loved it here, how much I loved how the guys here had a brotherhood or unity. It's something I miss from high school. I didn't see much of that at FSU, but when I got here, again, I felt like I was at home.
Q. This is for Matt or J.C. Obviously you guys are very proud of your conference, the Big Sky. Delaware is very proud of its conference, the CLA. If you could just talk about if you think there are any differences between eastern football, western football. Most of you guys from out west, all of them are from the eastern part of the country, you often hear things like that. There's a different brand of ball on the two sides of the country. Do you guys feel there's anything like that?
J.C. AGEN: We catch word of some of the bickering among fans, but we stay away from that stuff. From the film I've seen, we're going to be facing a great football team, just like Villanova was. I don't know if there's a big difference. I know they're two great conferences. And I think that Delaware's been tested like we have every game. You can't take one for granted, no matter who you're playing, it's those kind of conferences.
MATT JOHNSON: Same thing, great conference. Everybody puts on the pads the same way. So when it comes down to it, it's 11 guys and 11 guys playing football. So obviously, like J.C. said, they're a great team on film and it's going to be a fun game.
Q. J.C., did you get to mingle much with the Delaware guys last night at the dinner? And was there a clear winner in the dance contest or not?
J.C. AGEN: Well, I'm not the tallest guy in the world so I couldn't really see over everyone to see who was winning the dance-off.
But you know, we had a good time at the barbecue. It was just fun to get out there. But, no, I didn't see a clear winner.
Q. Quick question maybe starting with Coach, how you guys think you'll sleep tonight. Are you like kids on Christmas Eve? How will you sleep tonight?
COACH BALDWIN: I think we'll be all right. I just think one of the best things about this ball club and just the guys and the feeling is that with each win they're excited, but they're excited then to then prepare for the next one. So I think just the whole magnitude of this game, I think, will have a bigger effect down the road in terms of looking back on it. More so than it does right now. And that's what I hope for the guys in the sense that I just want them to stay within their routine.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not downplaying it, but at the same time, you don't want to make it such a big thing that it gets you out of still your rhythm and just your thought process and your routine.
And tonight we talked about it, that we're getting down here plenty early on Tuesday. The game plan's in. Everything's going. So for the first -- from Tuesday night until Thursday afternoon, really, we're going to have a lot of other things that we're doing that aren't normal. But starting tonight, we'll be just like we normally would be on a Friday night if we were to play a Saturday game.
So we'll get into that normal routine. And I think the guys will fall into it. Yes, they'll be excited. I'll be excited. But I'll still -- I know I'll still get my sleep.
J.C. AGEN: Like Coach said, I think we're going to be fine. I personally was just more anxious to get down here, get settled, get in the great weather and get to see the field.
And now that we're down here, we've got to settle down and now we're into our practice routine, and I think that's only helped us to get down here a couple days. And now we're right on to our Thursday routine. I think it's going to be fine.
MATT JOHNSON: I guess I'll be like a kid on Christmas Eve in the sense I'll go to bed early to wake up to make sure the day starts right. And just make sure I'm in the right sense of mind, I guess. If you stay awake and let the butterflies go, you'll start to thinking about the game too much and start thinking about everything. Just be calm and go to sleep and have a good day, really.
BO LEVI MITCHELL I'm like J.C., just wanted to get down here. Now that we're down here, like Coach Baldwin said, the last couple of days have been something we're not totally used to, but after this, we have practice like we used to do. The routine is the same that we've been doing for every game. Should be nothing different. I'm sure some guys won't sleep great and will wake up early, stuff like that, but for the most part we should be okay.
Q. Coach and Bo Levi, this may be the best defense you played all season long. What are the keys you see as far as tackling tomorrow?
COACH BALDWIN: I think more than anything, and they are -- there's only a reason they're giving up 11 and a half points a game. There's an extremely -- they're extremely well-coached. They have great players at each level. I know their secondary probably garners -- gets the most attention, but I think because they get a lot of attention, they have a great linebacking corps and "D" line group that gets a little overshadowed maybe because they're a very complete -- J.C. talked about them being a complete offense. They're a complete defense in that sense.
So with that being said, a couple things we talked about, you have to be able to, one, take care of the football and really execute at a very high level. In other words, there a might be some plays that we've hit or we've made throughout the season where maybe the ball was a little underthrown or maybe that block wasn't quite there but we were still able to spring it where we'll have to be a little finer, a little bit better in our execution.
We may not get away with something that wasn't quite to that level. And we know that. We expect that. And the great thing is our guys are excited about that challenge. That's not something where we're: Oh, no, this or that. We're excited. We like -- our team really enjoys looking at someone that garners and should garner a lot of respect and someone that's a good opponent, and in this case, talking about their defense, loves the challenge of then going after it.
BO LEVI: Yeah, I don't want to sugar coat it at all but they are a great defense. But in the same turn, we're a great offense. We're going to go out and play the game like we always have. We're not going to look at them like they're from the movie "300." We'll look at them like they're another opponent playing football like we are. We're going to go out and execute offense the way we're supposed to and play a football game.
Q. Coach, is there any chance Taiwan Jones will play tomorrow night?
COACH BALDWIN: I really doubt it. He's in our 70. But I would absolutely doubt it.
Q. Coach, ten years ago you were in Chattanooga with Craig Peach as he won the Buchanan and Coach Bobby Hauck asked you to come out and address his team after the walk-through. At that time did you think, man, if I ever get the chance to be here what I'll say to my team? And have you heard from guys like Coach Hauck this week at all?
COACH BALDWIN: Yeah, we've heard from a few different guys. And Coach Hauck has left voice messages, and that was a neat time. Obviously with Craig Peach being honored, it was my first year as the head coach here at Eastern in 2008. So it was a real -- it was a neat experience to come back there.
And, sure, just like anyone in that situation as a coach and any of these players, especially once you see it and you're around it, you want to be there. I mean, that's what I said. I want to be here some day. I didn't know when. But I wanted it. And I wanted to try and do things to try and get to that point.
At this point what I'll say to the team, you know sometimes at this point in the season there's only so much left that needs to be said. But I'll definitely -- we'll definitely talk some more as we hit some of these last meetings.
And it was really -- I have a lot of respect for Coach Hauck and what he did and even asking me to talk to the team I was shocked by that.
But I've gotten to know him especially more so since he's left Montana. I'll be the first one to tell you I didn't really get to know him that well when he was at Montana, we were trying to beat each other. But in the last year since he's been at UNLV, I've gotten to know him a little better and spent some time and have a lot of respect and definitely trade ideas back and forth.
So it's always good to hear from those guys when they're congratulating you and telling you they're watching and rooting for you.
Q. I want to ask about fan support. You've had a great following. 1,000 plus, I think 1300 so far. Seeing those people around town and showing support, what does that mean to you as you feel more and more at home now with those fans making the trip?
COACH BALDWIN: Oh, it's fantastic. When I heard the numbers and how many tickets were sold right away, it also makes you appreciate this three-week break. Because I think that's absolutely allowed for more fans, players' families, parents to come down. It's made the trip a possibility that had it been a week, I think it would have been less of a possibility for some of the people that are down here.
So it's been just great to see them. It was great to see the ticket sales numbers. And I'm going to see more of them probably later, a lot of them come in today and tonight, and we'll get to see them around.
And then hopefully, obviously, after the game we'll be able to see a lot of them down there, even if they can't make it quite onto the field like they did at our place, we can at least go up to that first round in the stands and see some of them.
They've been extremely supportive, and we're very appreciative of the fan support.
Q. I was wondering what your impression is of Pizza Hut Park and what you think of the facilities here.
COACH BALDWIN: I think it's a great venue. I think it's the perfect size, I think, for what we're going to have. Obviously the field is beautiful. We haven't been able to actually walk on it but we've gotten pretty close yesterday when we were taking our team picture. They won't let us walk on it yet, but when we were taking our team picture.
But the outside, just the look of it is awesome. I mean, it's a great park. And the surrounding area is great. Obviously the facilities to practice on. I mean, you can't get any better than that.
So I love it. And I mean we're just excited to finally get down there tomorrow night and be on the game field.
End of FastScripts