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December 28, 2013

Usua Amanam

Derek Mason

Ed Reynolds


DEREK MASON:テつ I'd like to thank the committee and the Rose Bowl for having us back.テつ It's been a great journey, and this football team has worked extremely hard. テつWe feel like we're well prepared, and we're looking forward to playing a great game versus Michigan State.テつ With that being said, we'll open it up.

Q.テつ Coach Mason, you've had a couple newcomers this year like Josh Mauro and Wayne Lyons starting.テつ What have they done this year, and who's sort of stood out to you, a new starter?
DEREK MASON:テつ Well, I think as the season goes, you have ebb and flow.テつ The one thing about this football team, when you talk about a guy like Josh Mauro, Josh Mauro has been around a long time.テつ He's a fifth‑year senior.テつ He's played a lot of football.テつ I think sometimes with some of the big‑name guys on this defense, some guys are really unknown, but Josh has played great football in our run here over the last four years.
You look at Wayne Lyons, Wayne Lyons was a young man who actually played as a freshman and broke his foot second game into the season.テつ That was three years ago.テつ He missed that season, came back last year in a spot role and has played significantly this year just in terms of our run.テつ But I think the biggest part of what we do and what's happened is guys like Usua and Ed, these guys have played a lot of football, they've passed a lot of information down to our young guys, and they've had a lot of information passed on to them, the Richard Shermans, the Mike Thomases, the guys that came before them passed information on to them, and these guys are going to pay it forward, so it's been great.

Q.テつ Coach Mason, what's the biggest misconception about your defense so far?
DEREK MASON:テつ When you look at the numbers, and we talk about it all the time, numbers lie.テつ We're one of the best run‑stop defenses in the country.テつ We do a great job of trying to get off the field.テつ I think sometimes when you stop the run you're going to see more passes, and because we see more passes than most teams, the misconception is we don't play great pass defense.テつ This is what I'll say.テつ We'll look at our numbers and compare our numbers to anybody's, but what it comes down to is wins and losses.テつ We play the game to win.テつ We go out there to compete.テつ That's what we talk about.テつ That's the end goal.テつ Our guys have fun doing it.テつ Our practices are spirited.テつ It's very competitive.テつ For us we're an old‑school blue‑collar team.テつ That's it.テつ I know Nerd Nation represents us well.テつ That's who we are.テつ We own that.テつ That's part of the Stanford brand.テつ But by the same token, we're a tough, physical, tough‑minded football team that loves to play the game, 60 minutes, 65 minutes, whatever you give us, that's what we'll play.

Q.テつ Coach Mason, can you tell me your thoughts on this Michigan State offense, what you've seen on tape so far?
DEREK MASON:テつ You know what, I think I'll hand that over to Ed Reynolds and Usua because those guys, they've watched as much tape and film and spent as much time as anybody else.
USUA AMANAM:テつ You know, watching film these last couple weeks, I like to draw a lot of similarities between them and Oregon State.テつ They have the big‑play ability but they also have the great back.テつ They have a great quarterback back there manning what they do on the offensive side.テつ I think for us we just have to execute our game plan.テつ They've got a bevy of wide receivers and they have a big O‑line, and their running back Langford can make some plays.
But I think Coach Mason, Coach Lance Anderson, Randy Hart, they've really put together a great game plan for us, and if we go out and execute it, I think we'll be fine.テつ Ed?
ED REYNOLDS:テつ You handled it.テつ Usua has pretty much said it all.テつ They have a really good back, like you said.テつ He can make you miss.テつ He likes to run behind his pads, and they have tall wide outs who can go up and make plays and the quarterback has the faith in them.テつ They have a pretty athletic tight end, so just from watching film, Usua and I and the rest of the defense are just trying to pick up the tendencies so we can come out, and like you said, execute that game plan at a fast pace, just go out there and play hard.

Q.テつ You said your practices were very spirited.テつ This is kind of for all you guys.テつ What makes a Stanford practice different than another practice, Michigan State's or whoever's?
ED REYNOLDS:テつ I think it's just the competitive spirit between guys.テつ We're family when it comes to off the field and when it comes to playing against someone else.テつ But when we step between the white lines of practice, I wouldn't say it's purely offense versus defense, but we definitely kind of have this competitive spirit where, OK, who's going to win this practice, especially when it comes to fall camp or during spring ball when the defense comes together and is trying to build its identity because it's a totally new defense when we move from one season to the next.テつ Same thing with the offense.
From one‑on‑ones to the seven‑on‑sevens to the team periods, everyone is out there trying to hone their craft.テつ And for us, having such great athletes on both sides of the ball, you really get a great look.テつ I think it's just guys going out there trying to be better and make their teammates better.テつ It's been great for us this season.
USUA AMANAM:テつ I think just to piggy back off what Ed said.テつ To compete at this high of a level, you really have to love the game.テつ The one thing I've noticed in our locker room, even more so than other years, is how many guys really enjoy just going out and playing football.テつ The coaches have made it a great environment for us to go out there and learn and play fast, like Ed said.テつ In terms of spirited practices, I think that's really what it boils down to.
DEREK MASON:テつ For us when we take a look at what practice looks like, there's certain elements of a practice that I like to see.テつ The elder Coach Shaw talked to me a couple years ago about what your practices should look like.テつ To me he said you have to liken it to being a movie director.テつ What do you want to see from your actors?テつ Well, for me when I look at a spirited practice, I want to see communication, okay, all the time, back end, front end.テつ I want to make sure that those guys are communicating exactly what they see.テつ I want to make sure we move fast, play fast.テつ We want to make sure the execution is what we need it to be.テつ Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't.テつ But I'll tell you what, this season it's been really incredible to see this group of guys with limited expectations, and I'll be the first to say it, sometimes people don't get "it", that "it" about what happens here at Stanford.テつ These guys don't come to Stanford to be good, they come here to be great.テつ They want to play great football, not good football, so with that being said, those practices and what we do within those practices are held to a certain standard.テつ If they don't meet it, they hear about it.テつ If they meet it, we move on.テつ That part of it has been fun.
We like it that way.テつ These guys like it that way.テつ So with that being said, that's what spirited means for us.

Q.テつ Usua, being the MVP of the game last year and a California kid, what does the Rose Bowl mean to you?
USUA AMANAM:テつ You know, it's just a pleasure to be involved with the Rose Bowl Game once again.テつ I think I always tell all my friends and family, the MVP award is a bit misleading because it takes an entire team to win a game and do what you're supposed to do.テつ I think last year we played very well, but I don't even think about last year anymore.テつ Our minds are set on this game on January 1, 2014, and I feel like we've prepared very well and we're excited to go out there and show everyone what we can do.

Q.テつ Coach Mason, halfway through the year you kind of had to move some guys over to defensive line with some injuries and some adversity there.テつ How did that transition go, and it seemed like it was pretty seamless.
DEREK MASON:テつ We talk about playing and having an opportunity to step up. テつWe had to take a guy in Blake Lueders who was an outside backer and move him down.テつ We had to make several changes up front.テつ But the one thing about these guys, they're selfless.テつ They don't care who, they don't care when.テつ They just want the opportunity.
I think for those guys, again, a guy like Josh Mauro moves from his natural position outside and then has to jump inside and play nose.テつ We've had to make several changes, and you know what, the one thing we talk about is no excuses, no explanations.テつ We're not going to excuse bad play.テつ These guys want the opportunity to step on the field and play, and that means doing your job.テつ If you're undersized, that's okay.テつ You need to fight, make sure you keep your hat in the crack and let's play.
Up front it's been pleasing and really rewarding for those guys because to start the season with a dominant front seven and then midway through lose guys like Ben Gardner along the way, we had a young guy by the name of Ikenna Nwafor who actually we lost early in the season, and you had Henry Anderson who was injured early and missed six games.テつ For those guys to keep moving forward and to finish at the top of the Pac‑12 in terms of rush defense and one of the tops in the country nationally in rush defense, it was phenomenal.テつ But it's a testament to those guys and the work that was put in, because coaches coach and players play.テつ Everything that happens, it happens between the white lines.テつ I tell these guys all the time, when that happens, I'm about‑‑ I'm almost a quarter of a mile upstairs calling plays.テつ When these guys make it happen, it's a great thing, and I appreciate these guys.テつ I love them all.テつ I love every one of these guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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