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Dec. 30, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. - FOR Tom Bradley: When you look at LSU's offense and the different sets that they use, the different personnel, do they remind you of a team you've seen before? Do they seem to do a lot more different things then a lot of people in college football?
BRADLEY: They have such great athletes and they can move them around different places. They have great skill on the perimeter; they give us a lot of different looks from the same personnel groupings. More and more teams are going towards that now that we see on offense.
FOR Galen Hall: Talk about your offense. How would you describe your offense, what do you hope to accomplish?
HALL: We're a very diversified offense. A lot of different sets; we're two backs, single back, empty sets. We want to throw the football and also have a very sound running game to compliment it. We try to be very balanced between the run and pass. I think on early downs, we're 50/50. We have a balanced offense with a lot of different formations. We're trying to get some mismatches in the matchup between our personnel and their defense.
FOR ALL: If you saw the Champs Sports Bowl, do you have any concerns about the Field conditions and how they will affect the way you play on Friday?
BRADLEY: I didn't watch it, I'm sorry. I can't comment, I'm sorry.
Daryll Clark: I saw some of it, and I saw chunks and chunks of grass being popped up from play to play and the field conditions may be a bit of a problem with slipping and falling. Our equipment guys will make sure we have our screw-in cleats so that doesn't happen on Friday.
Sean Lee: We've played on fields like that before, that haven't been in great condition, especially as the season goes on. You deal with it; you change your spikes if you have to. They're playing on the same field; we're dealing with the same conditions. So I don't think it'll be too much of a problem.
BRADLEY: We're playing on the same field, doesn't make any difference at all. We deal with this all the time on our practice field up there, coaches always got them over there the next day after we practice, pounding it down and moving the turf. We're all playing at the same place.
HALL: We are really not looking toward next year, especially since we've been down here. Darryl gets the main brunt of it, Kevin gets almost half of the plays. Ever since we got Daytona, this is an LSU gameplan, and we haven't altered from that trying to get Kevin in. LSU is our priority right now.
FOR Tom Bradley: A quote in a Pennsylvania paper mentioned that you've noticed Jordan kind of holds on to the ball a little longer than he should sometimes. Is that something you guys are going to key in on? Does it give you an advantage as far as your defensive scheme?
BRADLEY: No, not at all. I think he's just hanging in there as long as possibly can. He's a big strong kid, he's very confident in his scrambling abilities, so he'll hang in that pocket absolutely as long as he can, until the last second to get rid of it, to make the proper read and the proper throw. I think it's more a credit to him that he does a lot of things that he does do because he has such great confidence in his athletic abilities.
FOR Sean Lee: Can you discuss LSU's running backs? They're on their fourth or fifth running back, what have you had a chance to look at? With Ridley (34)?
LEE: Obviously they're a little bit of a different team without Scott in there. He's the type of guy that turns a second-and-eight to a second-and-four because he's a big type of running back who's physical. I think Ridley has stepped up as the season has gone on because he's fulfilled that role as a physical running back.
They're bringing other guys in that do a great job. Whenever they have Holiday in at the running, it's usually more of a perimeter play, more of a sweep, trying to use his speed on the edge.
They do a good job of spreading out, bringing guys back in and screening at the same time. But I think Ridley has really stepped up in place of Scott as the year has gone on.
FOR Daryll Clark: Can you talk about the development of Derrick Moye this year, and how much he's improved since the beginning of the year?
CLARK: He's definitely improved since the beginning of the year. Obviously he's our split-end guy, he goes and gets the deep balls for us. He runs really good routes as well. The thing I like about him a lot, is he can definitely become a complete wideout with stop blocking and making yards after the catch. In tough situations when we need a guy to make a big play, sometimes he's covered. And you may be able to throw it up to him, and he's able to make the catch. He's there for us to make the drives going along. He's been practicing really well down here, and I expect a big game out of him on Friday.
FOR Tom Bradley: Can you talk about what it's like to have so much time to prepare for one team, and whether all that preparation time is helpful?
BRADLEY: That's a difficult thing to answer. I think bowl preparations are totally different than going week to week, obviously. They've had time to look at themselves, and a lot of time to prepare for us. You have to be ready for everything they might do. Obviously they're going to have a game plan. Any time you play in these bowl games, and we've been in a few of them, you have to survive the first quarter because you have to be caught up to game speed as fast as you can, and try to figure out how they're going to attack you. That's going to be the key part for us, is to figure out which way they're going to attack us. And like we said, they have so many different skill people that they can move them around different places, and that's going to be our challenge come Friday.
FOR Daryll Clark: Yesterday LSU linebacker Harry Coleman referred to you as kind of a Donovan McNabb at the collegiate level. Is running the football something you come into the game with intent to do, or is it more just taking what a defense gives you?
CLARK: It's taking what a defense gives you. And I tell anybody every day that if they ask that kind of question, I'd rather throw it before running it. But I'm glad I have the ability to run it when I have to. This year, play calling is a bit different with quarterback runs, as opposed to last year when there were a lot of those. But if the coverage breaks down, protection breaks down, I'm glad I'm able to just run and try to keep the drives going.
FOR Tom Bradley AND Galen Hall: In relation to the Urban Meyer story and the high stress of college football, can you contrast that with the atmosphere of Penn State, particularly with [Head Coach] Joe [Paterno]?
BRADLEY: Coach doesn't have any stress, he just creates stress. [Laughter] So that's the biggest difference.
HALL: Joe puts enough pressure on the players and coaches during the week that come game day, it's fairly simple.
FOR Tom Bradley: The athletes that LSU has on offense, they're all four and five stark kind of guys coming out of high school. To what do you attribute that out of 120 FBS teams, that they're 108?
BRADLEY: I think a couple things have happened. They've run into some pretty good defensive teams in the SEC. If you watch them on tape they just one or two plays away from having a big game. They've had some bad luck at certain times during the season. We look at most of the games, not all of them. We try to find teams that are comparable to us. Just watching them, they've been banged up with their running back situation from week to week and that's had a lot to do with some of the things going on offense.
FOR Tom Bradley: Do you guys get annoyed at the stereotypes that a team from the Big 10 conference is a more plodding and methodical team, and a team from an SEC school is more speed? And how is this game different?
BRADLEY: Well you get tired of hearing it, but people have opinions. We can't do anything about it. The only thing we can do is go out and play our game. Hopefully after this game is over, they'll see that we're a pretty good football team. As far as bothering us, no, it's just people's opinion, and whether that's right or not, I don't know.
FOR DARRYL CLARK: You mentioned how Moye has improved since the beginning of the season; how do you feel you have improved?
CLARK: I feel like I have improved since the beginning of the season. At the beginning of the year I was doing a lot of forcing, forcing the issue and trying to gun the balls in to tight coverage instead of just taking what they give me. I started to see that in film early on, and I adjusted throughout the end of the season. Things definitely slowed down for me, things were a lot more clear. I was able to get my feet set and just step through the right throw each and every time. And just take what the defense is giving you.
The name of the game is just moving the chains, I can't stress that enough on how important that is. And in a situation where you have to make plays, it's imperative that you know what you're doing and where you're going with the football. And I feel like I've done that.
HALL: Chaz is back with us. He separated his shoulder against Indiana. He missed that game and our Michigan State game, but he's back full-go right now. Devon Smith is practicing with us. He is one of two or three players that will be a factor and be in this football game.
CLARK: It's tough. Before the game even starts, you hope everything goes well with the protection, because without it, you're going to have a pretty tough time completing the ball downfield. When that happens, you tend to get frustrated and whatnot, and you have to make some adjustments as the game goes along. But you have to realize, with an offensive line, it's not going to be perfect, and you have to be an athlete and make some other plays. You do what you can to get those guys encouraged, because they have to play well throughout the entire football game in order for you guys to win. And not just pass protection, but running the ball as well. If they're able to run block, pass game is open; play action and those kind of things.
I think Jefferson has done a good job with what's been given to him this year. Like you said, he's a young guy, and he's managed some really big time games. They've won some good games with his ability.
FOR Sean Lee AND DARRYL CLARK: Can you guys discuss what it's like to play for Joe Patterno and what he means to this program?
LEE: Joe means a lot to me, and obviously to the program. Coach Patterno's top concern is developing us as men. He wants us to win, but he wants to win with the right guys. And to have someone coach for that long, with that much integrity, it's been an inspiration to me. Also since I've been injured very much in the last two years, here's an 80-year-old guy who's had two injuries, a hip replacement and a total knee replacement, and yet coaches with the same passion and integrity. And that's been a huge inspiration for me, and our team.
CLARK: Joe has been such an asset to this program. I really feel, along with a lot of other guys, that JoePa is Penn State. He's done a lot for me this year, last year, and through my entire career when I wasn't even playing. I've developed a very strong rapport with him throughout the years. We're really good friends, and he's meant a lot to this entire program. He definitely works on developing his players into men. He wants us to be the best players as possible, and also succeed in life and the classroom as well. And that's what you need, a leader. And that's exactly what JoePa is.
FOR Tom Bradley: LSU has a couple of unique players in Trindon Holiday and Russell Sheppard. What do you see in those two that might keep you up at night?
BRADLEY: All of these are hard to duplicate, we don't have anyone with a jetpack on their back to get going as fast as [Holiday] goes. We're well aware of what he can do and how fast he is. I guess he is the fastest guy to ever play college football, and he sure looks it on tape. You have to slow it down to catch him. But he's a phenomenal talent.
And [Sheppard] does so many different things for them. And you have to be aware, because he plays wideout, he plays tailback, quarterback, he can do a lot of different things. He can get into the wildcat if they want to. He's a guy you just aren't sure what he's going to do and it's very difficult, because we just have to guess how they might utilize him against us.
You can't waste your whole practice time on those type of things, but you at least expose your guys to what they may be able to do with them.
FOR DARRYL CLARK: Given the quarterbacks that play in the SEC, how much is it meaningful to prove what you can do against an SEC defense and show them why you're the Big 10 two-time player of the year?
CLARK: It would definitely mean a lot, but it's not the main reason we're down here. I get a lot of questions about my legacy at Penn State and how well I play in big games. And I think it's unfair to the rest of the team, because it begins to be some type of thing like it's the only reason we're down here playing. And it's not. We're not playing for me, we're playing for a big win for the Penn State program. And that's what it is, and how I want to leave it. It's not about individual stats. It's never been about that, it's always been about the W.
If you're able to move the ball well and put up points, and our defense is going to make plays for us as well, then you're going to win the football games and let the opinions fall where they may.
FOR Sean Lee: In regards to the draft, people are wondering what's going to happen with linebacker Navorro Bowman and running back Evan Royster. We saw what happened with Sam Bradford, and with you. Do you have any regrets about coming back, since it may have cost you money to do so?
LEE: I absolutely have no regrets at all. I've always said that I wanted a senior year that I could cherish here at school, similar to the one in high school that I had as a senior. And I've gotten that, I've been truly blessed to be here at Penn State, play with the guys I have, play with the coaches and Coach Patterno. Having the year we've had this year, being able to have a senior day at home, is not worth any amount of money.
For those guys, they're going to have to make the right decision, and include their family in the decision. And whenever they do, it'll be right. They have to go with their heart. Those guys have given a ton to the program, they're really good guys, great football players, and whatever decision they make will be a good one.
FOR Tom Bradley: What teams have you seen LSU play that are similar to Penn State?
BRADLEY: One of the good things is we do have a guy like Darryl on their team. Because the guy they have, they're similar big strong guys who can run it, throw it, if no one's open can scramble. And obviously he has great scrambling ability. That's the first problem they have. There's a lot of similarities in our offense because our guys have a lot of three and four wide out sets, much like LSU does. We flex the tight end out, they do too. So there's a little bit of similarities. We do get to go against each other. We get a pretty good look at what we're trying to get done.
FOR Sean Lee: What similarities have you seen between teams you've played this year and LSU?
LEE: I think we've seen in all Big 10 teams similar looks, similar formations. We play against a lot of spread teams. They like to come out and use their athletic wide receivers. We've played against teams that like to pound the ball like Wisconsin; they have big running backs that like to pound the ball. We haven't necessarily played against as quick a guy as Holiday, but I think in some form being that we have a lot of experienced guys on defense, we've seen these looks over the few years we've been here. It's just a matter of adjusting as the game goes on. That puts a big precedent on adjusting, because they might come out with different things being that they've had a lot of time to prepare.
FOR Sean Lee AND DARRYL CLARK: The senior class was recruited after some bad years for Penn State, and you've posted 50 wins and are on the verge of your third 11-win season. What is your reflection about that?
CLARK: I definitely want to say that, when we first started to be recruited to go to Penn State, and we knew about the record and knew about how they were struggling, we just wanted to be a class that was able to make a difference. I felt like we've done that. We put that all aside, it didn't sway us either way to the point that we didn't want to go here because of how they were playing those two years. Once we came through, we bonded together and made sure we worked hard, and stayed focused on the task. And when we got our chance, we did what we could to make a difference. I feel like we've done a good job with that along with everybody that's been a part of this class.
LEE: Really that started back in '04. I really give credit to those guys, like Michael Robinson and Paul Posluszny, back when they won two big games at the end of the year and kind of took that momentum. You could sense in the summer of '05 when we got there that they were going to refuse to lose, and would do whatever it takes to win these games and bring Penn State back on the map. And I think they kind of passed that leadership on to us, and we continue to pass that down, and that's why we're so successful.