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ROSE BOWL GAME: MICHIGAN STATE v STANFORD


December 29, 2013


Shayne Skov


PASADENA, CALIFORNIA

Q.テつ It's only fitting that we start with the defense of Stanford.テつ Shayne Skov, inside linebacker, over here, just a lot to get ready for.
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ Yeah, I think we look forward to the football aspect of things.テつ Obviously, do our part in terms of connecting with the media, but, yeah, we've been putting in some work.テつ So I'm a little bit tired this morning, but ready to go.

Q.テつ Shayne, let me ask you, when you take a look at the offense that Connor Cook and the Michigan State Spartans are going to present here in Pasadena, what jumps out in terms of how you defend them?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ They definitely define how they run the ball.テつ They've done a great job in limiting turnovers.テつ That puts the job on us to create and generate some turnovers.テつ At the same time, trying to disrupt their flow offensively.テつ So we'll be ready.

Q.テつ Is there a point in the game where you finally get a handle on, quote, unquote, what they're doing?テつ Not necessarily whether you prepared for or didn't prepare for, but you get a sense, all right, this is the way they're going to play this game, and then if that happens and it's not according to plan or what you had game planned, how comfortable is this defense in making adjustments?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think we've kind of faced that all year.テつ Teams tended to break away from their tendencies when they played us.テつ I think that's the style of football that we play.テつ So we've kind of gotten used to it.テつ It usually takes one or two drives to figure out what the game plan is for the opposition, and we adjust from there.
Going into this game, we've analyzed and broken down what they did throughout the season, and obviously, we're going to focus on the little things for us because we can't obviously predict what they're going to do with such a large timetable.

Q.テつ I need a little help.テつ See if you can explain to people who have not been inside the locker room of the Stanford Cardinal football program, define for me the personality of, A, the team, and then if it's a little bit different, B, defense.
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think it goes‑‑ our team is entirely the same.テつ I think it's high energy.テつ It's incredibly witty, but also very tough.テつ I think that makes for an interesting combination.
I think that we have a very unique locker room at Stanford.テつ We all love it.テつ That's the biggest reason a lot of us came here is the guys in that locker room.

Q.テつ Let me play Joe Pesci for a second.テつ Witty, how?テつ What do you mean funny, how?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ If you take 100 jocks but also take some of the smartest students in the country and you combine those together, you're going to get an interesting combination of individuals, different personalities.
There's tons of pranks going on, discussions on, I don't know, sometimes politics, maybe current events.テつ So you never‑‑ kind of a grab bag of what you're going to get in there.テつ We're always just having a good laugh.

Q.テつ What's the best prank that's been pulled all season?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ All season?テつ I'm trying to think.テつ You put me on the spot.テつ I can't think of any right now.

Q.テつ So much for being witty.
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ You caught me off guard.テつ Maybe come back before the interviews are done, and I'll have one for you.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think that, in order to win‑‑ I can't speak for our offense.テつ They're their own entity.テつ But defensively, we'll just stick to what we've done all year, that's attack and control the line of scrimmage at the point of attack and limit explosive plays.テつ That's been our mantra since day one.
We have to stick to that plan.テつ I think, when we do that, we're going to be successful.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think just playing hard.テつ I think we had our ups and downs, but we've got an incredibly tight knit and close team, and as a result, despite‑‑ I mean, the two losses we had, we stuck together, and we kept fighting, and we won the games we needed to.
Great offensive control running the ball, and then defensively bringing pressure and attacking opposing offenses.

Q.テつ What have you seen of the Michigan State offense?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ What have we seen?テつ I think that a team that likes to run the ball and knows how to control the ball and limiting turnovers.テつ I think Connor Cook has done a tremendous job in that regard.テつ And also creates explosive plays with gadgets and play action.
So I think that they're definitely a formidable opponent offensively.テつ I can't speak for the defense, but their offense certainly has done things to win games.

Q.テつ Their running back Jeremy Langford likes to be a closer.テつ What are some things you can do to slow him down so he doesn't come up big in the fourth?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think defensively we pride ourselves on playing four quarters of dominant defense.テつ So it's attacking the line of scrimmage, playing gaps down in the run game, and from there letting guys make plays.テつ I think it's more predicated on us trying to be aggressive and following through the four quarters.

Q.テつ Shayne, how does two teams who are physical like this and both pride themselves on physicality, how important is it to set the tone?テつ And how does the Stanford defense feel about that?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ If we pride ourselves on being a physical front and being a physical unit, it means everything.テつ I think it's what both teams kind of hang their hat on.テつ And so we have to go out there ready to play and expect them to come out aggressively.テつ They're not going to pull any punches.
That means from the very first snap to the very last one, we have to bring it.テつ There's a mentality that none of us can back down.テつ We'll be ready to play.

Q.テつ Hasn't every team come in against Stanford saying they're going to be just as physical.テつ Has anybody managed to do that this year?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think some people have challenged us in terms of the run game.テつ I think Washington did a good job trying to run the ball.テつ Notre Dame tried.テつ I think certain teams tried because that's their mantra, but at the same time, we're going to make our best effort to stop the run because that what we do and that's what we take pride in.

Q.テつ Michigan State remind you of any pro style teams you played in USC and [ inaudible ]?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think they do things differently in terms of play action game.テつ So like maybe Oregon State of last year.テつ Oregon State kind of threw the ball more this year.テつ No, I don't think we faced an opponent that does the same kind of personnel groups and the way they utilize their players.

Q.テつ When did the face paint startfor you?テつ When you think of Stanford football, your face paint kind of seems to be there.テつ When did that start for you, and what does that do for you?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think it started my freshman year.テつ It's something I even did in high school, so it's nothing new.テつ I think it's just the mentality.テつ We all kind of do it differently.
Murph's got his own way of preparing.テつ Gaffe's got his own way of preparing.テつ Everybody on our defense is intense and plays a certain way.テつ That's just the way I take the field.

Q.テつ What have you seen in Connor Cook and the way he extends the play?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ He's definitely a better athlete than people give him credit for.テつ He's mobile and can throw on the run.テつ At the same time, he's incredibly accurate.テつ So it's a dangerous combination.
When you've proven that you can use your feet, and at the same time, after you've left the pocket you can still accurately deliver the ball, there's something to be said for that.

Q.テつ Does he remind you of any quarterback you've gone up against?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I don't want to make any analogies off the top of my head.

Q.テつ Michigan State has broken a lot of big plays, but most commonly, it's the offensive linemen because of their motion, because of their shift.テつ Do you think this is an advantage that you guys are a very veteran, and obviously intellectual unit, maybe they won't get through the defensive line like other teams?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think they're talented and they're smart about what they do offensively.テつ It's going to put pressure on us to come prepared.テつ I think we'll be ready to stand up to that challenge and be able to attack what they do.テつ But at the same time, they present their own challenges and difficulties.テつ So it's upon us to kind of prepare for that and communicate defensively.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I don't think so.テつ I think we were certainly hungry last year when we came here for the first time.テつ The beauty of this team is we're always hungry.テつ This is our fourth BCS game in four years.テつ This team is hungry as ever.
In order to be successful, we've kind of had to acknowledge that and push each other to strive for better and to move forward.テつ I think both teams will be incredibly hungry and highly anticipating this game.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I disagree with that, though, because I think that it takes‑‑ I mean, it's not‑‑ it's more than just a football game, but it's hard to measure‑‑ put a finger on how that impacts a team.テつ Some teams step up in the spotlight and relish and cherish that moment.テつ Other teams get overanxious and too jumpy.
It really depends on the teams, and I can't speculate as to what's going to happen to Michigan State, but I'm sure they'll be ready.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ The people.テつ I think that people have come and gone.テつ We've had a lot of turnovers over four years, but what remains the same here is the people.テつ We've got highly motivated and very passionate people about the sport and high character people.
I think that, if anybody has the opportunity to go to work with the caliber of people that I've had the opportunity to play with the past four years, it's something you cherish, and it's something that it motivates you to do better and to improve.
So I think that that's‑‑ this is the by‑product of the type of people our coaches recruit and our university hires.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ That's not for me to say.テつ I would return the question.テつ I don't know how many teams have gone to four straight BCS games.テつ So it's not for us to decide.テつ We're just going to keep winning games.
That kind of intrinsic motivation and internal perspective is what we want as players.テつ We just come into every season trying to prove ourselves, and it's about setting the standard for ourselves and kind of living to that standard.

Q.テつ As you get closer to the game and the media grows, how does it change you and the team?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I don't think we change at all.テつ Since the season started, we've been really internally motivated, and I think that's what generates our success.テつ We're going to stick to that.テつ Obviously, we know the height and the importance of this game, and we're not going to turn a blind eye to that or try and ignore that, but at the same time, it's about the guys in our locker room.

Q.テつ In football, every game means so much.テつ How big is this one?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I mean, it's the end of our season, and this is the last game you remember for the next nine months.テつ So it's incredibly important.テつ And so we acknowledge that.テつ We've had now like moving on four weeks to prepare for the game.テつ So we want to put our best foot forward on the national stage.

Q.テつ All around you, you drive on the buses, go to different events, 100th anniversary, 100th anniversary.テつ There's only one of them.テつ You guys are in it.テつ Perspective?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think for us it's a little difficult to have full perspective on that because our focus is on the game.テつ It sounds cliche to say, but whether it's the 100th or the 99th for us as players, if we want to win, we have to have the entire focus and heart on the game itself.
We're aware it's a momentous occasion, but at the same time, we have to get ready to play because that's what really matters as part of the team.

Q.テつ There's so much media around you.テつ How strange are the questions?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ Nothing too strange.テつ Over five years, you get a feel for a little bit of it all.テつ We've become accustomed to it.

Q.テつ For you, you say five years.テつ How do you go to that game and say, Okay, last time I'm going to wear this jersey?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think we've got 13 fifth year seniors.テつ It's a really senior laden group.テつ We really take it upon ourselves to leave this place with the right legacy.テつ We want to make sure we leave the right message for guys that come after us.

Q.テつ Hey, you've come through a lot of tunnels in five years of playing football.テつ Have you thought about what it's like coming out through this tunnel New Year's Day?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think so.テつ It's a highly energetic atmosphere, and it's a rare and momentous occasion.テつ So there's some anticipation for that.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think that we start every single season with‑‑ we've got a list of things, objectives we want to achieve, and winning the Pac‑12 is the first one.テつ I mean, so getting here, having that opportunity is incredible.テつ I think that it's very rare.テつ We've been able to do it now for the second time in a row.テつ I think it's even more incredible.
So for us, it's a humbling experience, but at the same time, we want to put our best foot forward.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I don't think so.テつ I think that every year the game's different.テつ I said it earlier.テつ You can't really measure how being in your first time really impacts the team, whether it's a positive or negative impact.テつ I think for us, we've got a very responsible, mature group.テつ I think we're just as hungry as we were the year before.テつ We're going to come prepared.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ Oh, totally.テつ Nobody ever takes for granted these opportunities.テつ I think that especially ‑‑ we came here, when we got here, those guys were 1‑11.テつ We had some rough years, and then we won the Orange Bowl.
So we've always had that kind of perspective in mind.テつ We recognize and acknowledge this is not a normal occurrence for most teams.テつ To have the opportunity to do it twice is incredible.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think it will be interesting.テつ I think it gives an opportunity for teams to‑‑ there's something to be said for tournament style playoff play.
You can speculate with numbers, who's No.1, who's No.2, but actually lining up removes any excuses you can have over who's the champion.テつ So I'm anxious to see it when it happens.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I don't think there's much difference.テつ It was new to us last year, but I think our team's success is largely predicated on guys always being hungry.テつ So I think that obviously we've been here last year, so we kind of have an expectation for what goes on, but at the same time, we're really eager and really excited to play.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think any time there's something to be said for when somebody provides us a challenge to take ownership of a team.テつ So as he's kind of matured and progressed, the expectations for him have also risen.テつ So it's great seeing him kind of develop a command for that offense.
I mean, he was young.テつ He only had like eight or seven starts last year, and now he's here in his first full season.テつ It's been great seeing him blossom and kind of take control of everything.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ He wins games.テつ He does what we ask him to do.テつ When the game plan predicates we need him to air the ball out, he does.テつ Look what he did against Cal.テつ And when he needs to‑‑ like, make run plays, he does.テつ I think we do what is asked of him, and his record speaks to that.テつ To a degree, the greatest testament to a quarterback is the win‑loss record, and his is almost impeccable.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ He kills it.テつ I think that he's probably our most‑‑ our leading vocalist on this team.テつ We have some other guys that think they can sing, not too well.
It's fun.テつ Any time he takes the stage or grabs the mic, the whole team is into it.テつ So we were roaring for him.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think probably last year was the best because it was fully impromptu.テつ We didn't know what to expect.テつ He just hopped on stage, and we all went wild.テつ We were definitely having a blast.テつ This time, instead of playing one song, he did three.テつ So he upped the ante this time.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ Why I wear my eye black?テつ Not so many random questions so far this year.

Q.テつ Why do you wear the eye black?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ It's just something I've always done.テつ Nothing really special to that one.テつ I've done it since high school, and that's kind of the way I prepare for games.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think that being back for a second year, there's nothing really we changed in terms of preparation.テつ Maybe the team is a little bit calmer in a sense, like not relaxed at all by any means, but maybe a little bit sense of calm.
We just know which events are fun and which ones to enjoy, and when we need to relax, it's just a little bit more maturity and understanding as to what goes on during Bowl week here.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think that their offensive line play has been very good throughout the season.テつ At the same time, I think their team‑‑ throughout the season, you kind of see them establishing an identity as a unit.テつ And finally, it kind of hit full stride about the last five games or so, running the ball and then obviously play action passing game down the field.
So I think you can now tell that they're comfortable with who they are and what they do.テつ They've done a great job, and they've won football games by a large margin.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think you can tell their growth as an offense is largely dependent on him and the confidence he gained as a player.テつ I think that every single week he's improved.テつ He's shown amazing accuracy on the run throwing the ball.テつ So he's definitely running that offense, and between the offensive line and Langford, they have some weapons.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think that it presents a challenge.テつ We take pride in what we do and the way we play football.テつ So whenever we face an opponent that kind of matches those ideals and that mentality, we acknowledge that it's going to push us and kind of test your character and who we are as a team.テつ So I think we'll be ready to go, and it should be exciting.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think that, despite all the success, it's always kind of been our goal.テつ We still kind of acknowledge and recognize it as a rarity, that this is not the norm.テつ So because of that, we don't take any opportunity for granted.テつ I think that we cherish every time we're here or every time we have the opportunity to play in the postseason, so to speak.
So obviously, afterward, we'll look back on it all, but in the present, in the immediate, we want to leave this season with the right mark.テつ So all we can do is prepare for this game, and afterwards become nostalgic to think of it all.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ Oh, certainly.テつ I think that our senior group kind of takes pride in the fact that we want to make sure we teach the guys behind us what it takes.テつ We don't want to leave this place kind of empty or unaware of the effort and the intensity that it takes to get to where we are.
It's been difficult.テつ It certainly hasn't been easy and takes a lot of hard work.テつ I don't want‑‑ maybe the guys that didn't play or weren't actively involved this year to lose on that kind of message and that learning experience.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I think just being pushed to new lengths, new depths.テつ I think that, as a student, kind of making that next jump to the university level and being surrounded by people that are really brilliant in certain ways kind of leaves you in awe.
That's what I'll never forget, just kind of that challenge and having to rise to that challenge and being surrounded with people that made me better and pushed me to new lengths in terms of my intelligence and my academic ability.

Q.テつ [ No microphone ].
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I was introduced, I think at the age of 12, I actually learned to play Pop Warner football in Mexico.テつ That's where I started playing.テつ I was really a basketball player before that leading up to it, and I just kind of fell into the game.

Q.テつ Do you have any crazy superstitions?
SHAYNE SKOV:テつ I don't have any superstitions.テつ I usually give a speech to the team before the game.テつ I have a little routine I do, but I get breaks on it.テつ It's nothing special.テつ If I get thrown off that rhythm, it doesn't really matter.
I listen to some music, go catch a ball outside before, and that's about it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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