Countdown to Kickoff
Independence Bowl Media Day - December 15, 2006



Alabama Media Relations
December 15, 2006
Independence Bowl Press Conference Quotes

 Joe Kines, Interim Head Coach

Opening Statement

“I would like to say one more time how excited we are to be playing in the Independence Bowl. The players have really done a good job focusing on practice and this is giving them something to do when they are not focusing on exams, which will be over today and grades should be posted on Tuesday.”

Practice has gone well. We have really had to focus on fundamentals and are easing into the game plan. Oklahoma State is a really young and talented team. On the offensive side of the ball they start two seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and a freshman. They are a team with a lot of talent, two quarterbacks that play really well and a quality running back. They have two receivers that have caught a ton of balls. We have a day’s work in front of us but it’s something we are looking forward to and we are ready to go.

We have five guys who are going to graduate tomorrow and that’s pretty significant, when you graduate five at mid term. That’s what you come to school for is to get that degree. We are proud of those guys. We will practice after that tomorrow afternoon.

On the Oklahoma State offense

“Their offense is a multiple like most people are now a days. They usually have a tight end, three receivers and a running back. They run the option and spread the field out. They really do a nice job with the play action passes. Their quarterback is physical and throws the ball well. They have a two quarterback rotation system so you have to prepare for that and know who is in the game and what is happening there. In the last couple of games, they have shown an empty backfield, they are a multiple offense. We have seen everything they do at some time this year, but not all together.”

On players getting some rest since the end of the season

“I noticed yesterday that for the first time we really had some jump. It looked like we had fresh legs and were excited to be out there. The break has really helped everyone. It has given us some time to heal up a little bit. We have practiced twice in full pads but there has been enough time between them. We have caught our breath now. Injury-wise I think we are as good as we have been all year long. I think we have a couple of things that will be taken care of after the season. As of now no one will miss the game because of an injury.”

On playing 12 straight regular season games

“It really was a grind. In talking to other coaches that went thought the same thing, the ones who had an open date probably made it through a little better than the ones who did not have an open date. We will all take a different look at it next year. Probably modify things a little earlier in the season. Once you get to that point where you hit that wall it is hard to push on without a break, so I guess the trick is to push that point as far down the road as you can. It was a getting used to process for a lot of people, not only us, but everyone in the country.”

Dave Rader, Offensive Coordinator

On backup quarterback situation

“We are thin. We are thankful we have some extra practices to get some guys ready. We are going to try and alternate practice between our backups over the next few workouts.”

On offensive game plan for the Independence Bowl

“Our offensive plan is about 75-percent in for the bowl game right now. We have some work to do over the weekend.”

On play calling

“We are going to work on that as far as who is on the field and who is in the box and things like that. We have some plans and we are going to discuss it some more.”

On graduation

“There is enough distractions with finals, but we have five guys graduating tomorrow and that’s positive distraction. The young men at practice have been outstanding they are keeping their focus and working hard.”

Dave Ungerer, Special Teams Coordinator

On distractions

“You know, right now I’m just focused on the Bowl game and trying to have a good plan for Oklahoma State. They are really good in the kicking game and I also have some pretty important recruits I’m trying to hold on to. My effort, really, has been in those two areas and I haven’t done a lot to address those other situations yet. It would figure that in this game I would have to prepare for a great kickoff returner and a great punt returner. They have two really fine return guys who execute really, really well. One of my recruits is doing very, very well and getting a lot of notoriety. That part has been a full time job trying to keep that situation solid.”

More on distractions

“It is tough right now to balance all of that. I’ve had a lot of good people from all the places I’ve worked calling and giving their support, telling me they would be looking out for me. So I am kind of leaving it up to them to find something out there that fits. I really think, right now, that our staff, for the most part, is really focused on having good practices and giving the most to these kids. I told my guys I want them to have a good experience in this bowl game and try to go out on top, and have the seniors go out on top.  The players should take a situation that they didn’t want to have happen and make it as positive as possible...I’m proud of the guys for the way they are practicing and preparing right now. Hopefully all the other stuff will take care of itself.”

On the Independence Bowl game

“I think it’s big for everybody, the players, coaches, and we are trying to teach these guys that adversity comes in your life. It’s not anything anyone wanted, we didn’t expect it, but we have to respond to it. As their coaches, as their leaders, as the adults we are trying to set a good example for these kids by telling them they have to press on right now and show your best when people don’t expect that from you. Adversity is a great reason for us to come closer together right now and rally with each other.

Andre Smith

On playing in first bowl game

“I am looking forward to going out there and having some fun. This is a great experience and I am really looking forward to it.”

On Oklahoma State

“They are big and athletic. They were ranked very high in the Big 12 in stats, but I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Bobby Greenwood

On Oklahoma State’s Offense

“They have a real good package with their two quarterbacks. We are going to watch more film on them this next week and break them down some more. We are just getting started right now. We are working on their schemes and watch out for everything they can throw at us.”

Jeffrey Dukes

On Oklahoma State

“They are a big option team with a lot of option pass and double moves. They like to run the trick plays. They have two good receivers that are fast so we have to try and lock them down.”

On the motivation for this game

“We are playing for the coaches right now and the underclassmen. We have to show these underclassmen what a bowl game is like so they can go out next year and go to another one.”

Kenneth Darby

On Coach Rader’s offense

 “We are going to run the ball a lot more. I think we are going to run the ball a lot more than we’ve been doing this season.”

On running the ball

“He hasn’t told me anything, but as far as I can see we have been running the ball a lot more. I think we’ve been running it a lot more in practice than in the past. We have added a little bit of running to our offensive scheme, but he could change his mind before the game.”

On offense

“As far as I can see, we are going to continue doing what we have been doing. I don’t think we are going to do anything too spectacular. We are going to come out and throw the ball and run the ball. I don’t think we are going to throw in anything different or too new. I think we are going to stay with our same game plan. I get the feeling we are going to run the ball a lot more during the bowl game.”

On Oklahoma State’s defense

“They look pretty good up front and they have a pretty good defense. We know we can move the ball around on them. All we have to do is come out and play. It will be a challenging day for us running backs and receivers, especially on blocking lines.”

Juwan Simpson

On Oklahoma State

“They have a very tough offense. They are a lot better than their record shows. They lost a couple of close games this year that could easily have gone the other way. Starting with the offensive line, they are very aggressive and very fast. They get on their blocks really well. Quarterback, he’s young, he’s going to be a great one. He’s playing great ball this year. The receivers are big playmakers, they make a lot of plays. They average a lot of points, they are very good. As far as defense, we have to go out and play sound football. We e need to do our job and not try to make anything special happen within your job and just go out there and play football. We need to make more big plays and I think that is the key to victory.”

On the mindset of both teams coming into the Bowl

“That’s what I tell people, that we are kind of identical. This would be like a BCS caliber game.  Both of us lost some close games and with it going the other way both of us could have been up there in the top-10. It’s going to be a great game and I feel like that’s their mindset too. I think they give us credit for going out and playing hard all year like we give them. It’s going to be a tough game and they are going to be ready for us like we are going to be ready for them.”

On Oklahoma State’s quarterback

“We haven’t really played anyone that versatile. The quarterback from Vanderbilt is versatile but the quarterback from Oklahoma State can throw the ball better than he can. We don’t play against the option and that’s one thing that Coach Kines is going to get a good game plan together and we will go out ready to play.”

Prince Hall

On getting freshman All-American

“They told me and I was very excited. I thought it was a big accomplishment, something I didn’t expect.”

On progress throughout the year

 “I think I’ve come a long way but I think, this year, I could have done better. I think I did pretty good and contributed, but also I made a lot of mistakes. For next year, I’m going to try and cut those down because I know Coach Kines will expect me to do a lot better than I did this year.”

On trying to loose weight before Bowl game

“I haven’t tried to loose weight but he (Coach Kines) told me I looked like I slimmed down.

I played at 255 and I felt alright but I felt, several times, changing directions that I wasn’t as fast as I used to be. I started to refocus and loose some weight just to make some movements faster.”

Wallace Gilberry

On being recruited to Alabama

“When I was in high school, I was getting prepared for the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star game. Coach Wyatt was walking around our practice field and I was a senior so he couldn’t speak to me. I asked him why they never recruited me, and he said it was because he had just gotten the job so he couldn’t answer the question. He blew me off and the last think I told him was that he would see me again. After the All-Star game he saw me again.”

On Oklahoma State’s offense

“It’s a definite challenge. The option is something we haven’t seen much this year. Florida gave us a little bit of it but they didn’t really carry it out throughout the whole game. These (Oklahoma State) guys are an option/zone team. It is going to be a challenge trying to pick up the option and the zone because they can do either. It’s definitely going to be a challenge but at the same time I believe Coach Kines will have us ready for whatever they may throw at us.”

On preparing for the Option

“It’s really not difficult. It will just take a lot of discipline. You get out there and you get caught up in the moment and try to make all the plays when really you only have one job. That’s really what makes it difficult, just being disciplined. That hasn’t really been a problem all season with us.  That’s what Coach Kines really harps on, being disciplined and playing team defense. If we all do our business and do our job 100 miles an hour I don’t really see it being a problem. But at the same time those guys have some terrific athletes. They have a running back that can get out of a tackle and make something happen and a quarterback that can do the same thing. It’s going to be a challenge but at the same time I believe we have guys that will sit there and take care of their responsibility and get the job done.”