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JF: Well, first of all, just want to take a moment and thank the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl for this opportunity. I know our coaches and I know our fans and our players and lettermen couldn't be more excited about this opportunity.
Obviously Penn State's got a tremendous history with this bowl game, and we're looking forward to playing an exciting game come Saturday. Got a lot of respect for the University of Washington. Got a lot of respect for Coach (Chris) Petersen, what he's been able to do over his career.
So I think it has a chance to be a fantastic bowl game. And once again, we just couldn't be more appreciative or thankful for the opportunity to play in this game.
JJ: I'd also like to thank the Fiesta Bowl for having us here. We're very appreciative and grateful for you having us here. It was a great honor for you guys to come out and see us and greet us. It was awesome for all of us, and I thank you for having us here. Thank you.
CC: I'm also thankful for the opportunity, blessed to be here and can't wait for the game on Saturday. Thank you for the opportunity. I thank everybody cheering us when we got off the plane and just thank you.
Q. This season turned with two losses in late October, early November, when you went from 7-0, No. 2 in the country. How did you keep the team focused going forward from there to get to where you are right now?
JF: I guess for us, we try not to really think about it that way. Obviously there's a lot of outside noise with fans and media about those types of things. We didn't really spend a whole lot of time talking about when we were ranked No. 2 in the country. Preseason rankings, midseason rankings don't really matter; it's where you end up at the end of the season. I knew we had a bunch of really good teams that we still needed to play. We tried to stay focused as much as we possibly can.
But we've lost two games this year by a total of four points. And we've lost, I think, three games, if you go all the way back to after the Michigan game of last year, we've lost three games in the last year and a half basically by a total of seven points.
So this team knows how to prepare. They have the right mindset. They have the right approach. We try not to ever get too high and try not to ever get too low and just focus on our preparation and our attitude and that's served us well. It really has.
I think we did a good job at home preparing for this game from a practice perspective, finishing up final exams strong, getting a head start on our opponent, and then coming out here a few days early so we could get a full week and go back to our normal process of how we prepare week in and week out for games. So excited about that opportunity.
JJ: For myself, I feel if you dwell on something long enough it's just going to be contagious, going to go around the room. Therefore for us, just having a positive attitude, simply just as a position group, having the wide receivers up, keeping them up knowing that the two games lost, it could be a lot more.
Just focusing on the next game and just having a one-game-at-a-time mindset is going to carry on game after game. And I feel like it's going to go around not only the position group, but the squad room and potentially to the team. So, just going on with that with the words that Coach Franklin said, just keep your head on straight, just going with the punches.
CC: I feel like preparation is the key. Like they said, we just gotta keep playing tough. I feel like consistency is a key, too. Like they said, just keep our head up and focus on the present and not the past.
JF: Christian, this is kind of like a home game for you, because you're from Phoenix, right?
CC: Phenix City, Alabama, not Phoenix. (Laughter).
JF: Excuse me. (Laughter)
Q. Coach mentioned you already had some preparation for Washington already. Could you guys talk a little bit about the challenge facing the Huskies?
CC: They have a pretty good offense, especially their quarterback. Something we prepared on and I watched film on.
The quarterback extends plays a lot, so that's something we have to work on. They have a great offense, great running back and we gotta prepare for the offense and that's about it.
JJ: As far as their defense, they're pretty athletic defensively. Their corners, their safeties are really athletic; they're really smart. They're guys that can make plays whenever the ball is up in the air. So just trying to exploit those kind of tendencies that they have whether they're just playing off or playing close up. We just have to make our plays and make our 50/50 balls.
And as far as the defensive line, the defensive line is pretty much the top in the country. They have a guy who is pretty much going first or second round. So just trying to do what we can to win our one-on-one battles is going to be the biggest key.