Ahead of next week’s Hyundai Sun Bowl, both teams are making the rounds from the practice fields to local tourist spots around the Sun City.
On Thursday, Stanford players and staff made their way around El Paso. Our very own Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta has been following the fun, and we bring you his view of the festivities in this ‘Story in Many Pics.’
On Thursday, the offensive and defensive coordinators for both Stanford and Pittsburgh met with the press to talk about their approaches to the Hyundai Sun Bowl, as well as key information regarding players and the season.
Pitt Offensive Coordinator – Shawn Watson
“Appreciate the opportunity to be here. The hospitality has been unbelievable. We’ve been here a day, but you guys have been awesome to us. We’re excited about having the opportunity to play Stanford, a great opponent, a classy program, a well-coached football team.”
On strengths of the offense throughout the season.
“We’ve done a nice job of running the football. I think we’ve gotten a lot of guys included in that. Being able to present counters to our base run game. We’re continuing to grow in the area of passing the football. That’s some place that we’ve got to continue to grow at and that’s a process. Especially with young receivers, young quarterbacks and we’re making our way through that. We’re really excited about the effort the kids have given us. We came through our mid part of our season and did an excellent job.”
On getting over the ACC Championship loss.
“We did not play our best that day. The thing we’ve got to do… I’ve got a great group of guys, they are really prideful people and they want to get that taste out of their mouth and get back to business.”
On how teams they have already faced compare to Stanford.
“We’ve played teams that are similar in terms of how they structure themselves with their fronts. They do some things that are just different. We’ve seen the odd front. We’ve seen the even front. We’ve seen the four down front. What they do a nice job of, is they close the back end and they play a lot of single spoke back ends, cover 3 coverages which is different. In looking at that film you see why they do what they do because of the league they play in. That’s what’s so cool about these bowl games. The leagues are so different that you get into another aspect of football and you’ve got to be creative. Their league is a little bit different than ours with the offenses they see and how they structure themselves to beat those offenses so it’s always a nice challenge.”
On whether the offense feels pressure to get going during the last game of the season.
“For our guys, the coaches too, it’s a matter of pride. We were rolling and doing really well and we want to get back to being us. And that’s just us getting back to the fundamentals of the game and going back to work and we’ve been able to do that during our prep time. It’s been good to get that behind us and now we’ve got to go prove it.”
On whether they can put in any new wrinkles into the offense.
“You always can because you’ve got time so you’ve always got a chance to add to yourself or put new things in that come off of what you do. You try to scout yourself and do things that look similar, but they’re really not.”
On establishing a run game.
“In today’s game, you’ve got to really balance yourself. You’ve got to be able to throw the ball efficiently as well as run the football. To run the football, you’ve got to throw it is what I’m saying. Our plan, without giving away too much, we’ve got to take advantage of the pass game to open up the run game. We’ve got to help that run game out with the passing game.”
Pittsburgh Defensive Coordinator Randy Bates
“Before I get started I would like to say thank you to the bowl people. I have been to many bowls over my young career and this is the most welcoming I’ve ever been at, couldn’t be more excited.
On the importance of winning the eighth game…
“I don’t count. I just go one (game) at a time. I couldn’t even tell what number of game this is. I think this probably is the first time in my career we’ve played 14 games. We don’t count the number we’re playing one team, one week at a time. It’s always important to win a game doesn’t matter if it’s the first win, the fourth win, the 10th win or the 14th win. The important thing is that we’re here to win the game.”
On having enough time to recover from loss in ACC Championship game…
“We met today this morning for the first time with the kids since they had five or six days off. And they’re wide-eyed and ready to go. I’m excited with the attention tat we had and the excitement I felt a level of energy at our meetings. We’re headed to practice right now and I expect nothing else at practice.”
On what he’s learned as a long-time defensive coordinator…
“I think it’s been a learning experience not just for me but also for our players. It took a little while to used to each other and hopefully at this point we all feel like we’re really beginning year two. As a group, I think they know what the expect from me, I know what to expect from them and we can move forward.”
On how different Stanford is without running back Bryce Love…
“I don’t think they (change). If you look at the season, all of their running backs have played quite a bit so I don’t think they’ll change their offense. Coach (David) Shaw does what he does and does it very well. He’s one of the best offensive coordinators in the country. They do what they and I’m sure they’ll have some wrinkles but they do what they do very well and that’s why they’ve been success so I don’t expect a big change in their offense.
On playing a Cover 2-man defense against Stanford…
“I think we’re going to do a lot of different things coverage-wise and front-wise. The beautiful thing about having as many games as we have is we’ve done several things throughout the course of the year so we can go back and draw many of the things that we’ve done over the last 13 games. Yes, they’ll be some changes and exactly what they’ll be… tune-in and you’ll be able to see.”
Stanford Offensive Coordinator – Tavita Pritchard
“I’d like to just say it’s great to be back. I had the great fortune of being my third time here. Played in this game in 2009 and was back as a coach the first time and now. This third time is fun because I have a 20-month old but seeing it through his eyes now. We got of the plane and saw Amigo Man and dancing it was a lot of fun. It’s been just what I remember, the hospitality has been off the charts amazing and our guys are having a phenomenal time so far.”
On adjusting without Bryce Love…
“Bryce Love is we believe the best back in college football, unfortunate that he won’t be with us. You know it’s cliche, but football is a man up sport. We’ve felt that in a few different ways this year up front and at different positions and we’ll treat this no differently. We have to come out, we have to find guys that do what he gives us, or what he gave us. Kind of as a committee, but we have a couple of guys that we feel like will fill in.”
On Pitt against guys like JJ Arcega-Whiteside…
“When you compare to some other guys they’ve played, obviously Clemson has a very talented receiving core, we saw that it was their most recent game. The challenge to playing the Pitt defense obviously is that they have a system that they believe in, and they play it extremely well, they play it very hard. They know that system inside and out. I wouldn’t even say its what they’ve done against certain guys necessarily but just in how they play generally. The two corners outside are phenomenal players, they really do a good job of coming down and challenging you, mixing in their different techniques. The safeties, like I said they know that defense really well. You can tell by how they communicate, you can tell by how quickly they diagnose plays and they go fill their gaps or get into coverage. So i think the biggest challenge isn’t necessarily how they’ll play us specifically but just how they play.”
On their focus leading up to the Sun Bowl…
“ I would say we’ve had a wrinkle here and there, just because you have more time to prepare for the game. I think probably like maybe Pitt echoed and coach Lance will say, when you get to this point in the season you kind of are who you are and you stay in your lane. So, we’re gonna do what we feel we do best. So it’s a combination of those two things, we were perfecting some of the things that we’ve already had in but also adding a couple things we feel can attack Pitt’s defense. That’s a permissible challenge, so we feel like we do have to have some other things in there.”
On passing more than expected…
“Yeah I think so. We haven’t run the ball as well as we would like this year. I don’t think that’s any big mystery. We’ve talked about it at different times and points in the season. We want to be a team that can run or throw the football. By necessity we’ve had to throw it a little bit more this year, but in varying degrees we’ve had success doing that.”
Defensive Coordinator – Lance Anderson
Opening Statement – On the Hyundai Sun Bowl and El Paso…
“I’m excited to be here. This is my third Sun Bowl as well. We had 2009 against Oklahoma, 2016 against North Carolina and then looking forward to this year’s matchup against Pittsburgh. One of the things I like most about the Sun Bowl is, I’m a huge college football fan. I love a game of college football and this is the second oldest bowl game. So just the history, tradition – you look at some of the players that have played in this game, the teams that have been a part of this, it’s fun to be a part of this history and tradition. Also what I like about this is the whole community – this is the whole El Paso area is so invested and involved in this bowl game. You get here and you feel how important this bowl game is to the entire community and it’s fun to be a part of that as well. So, looking forward to being here, looking forward to all the activities and things going on throughout the week, but most importantly most excited about the matchup with Pittsburgh. They’re a good physical football team, they run the football well, so it’s going to be a good challenge for us. You know, defensively we’ve been a little bit up and down, a little bit inconsistent, we’ve had some really good games, others where we maybe didn’t play as well, so we’re looking for that one last opportunity where we can go out and play some good football and we know it’s going to be a tough physical matchup.”
On Pitt Establishing a Run Game…
“I think they’ve run the ball really well all year long – 2,000 yard rushers that are both big physical running backs, a couple tight ends that are almost like offensive linemen, so I would expect that they would come out and try to run the football.”
On This Past Season…
“I think one of the things we’ve done best throughout the year is our guys have played hard, they’ve really bought in mentally to what we’re doing, they understand the defense well, there are just times we need to execute better and make more plays, we need to play a little bit more physical, but I’ve really been pleased with the effort of our guys all season long.”
On The The Difference of Respective Conferences…
“Yes, it is different, there is no question about that but you go back to the beginning of the season and we opened the season with San Diego State. That was another very run oriented team, a lot of big personnel groups where they would put multiple tight ends and fullbacks on the field, very committed to running the football – play action, bootlegs were a big part of their game, so there are definitely some similarities between what San Diego State did and what you see from Pittsburgh.”
On Pitt’s Play Difference In Last Two Games After Losing Key Starters…
“You go back and you watch the offensive line in those games. I think the center was a good football player, so I think they definitely feel his loss, but as a unit that’s a very good group – a big physical group, we expect them to play well. I think having this month or so time of preparation will allow them more time to gel as a unit. I think that’s so important on the offensive line and they have a lot of talented big physical guys, so I expect they play well upfront.
On Sophomore Cornerback No. 11 Paulson Adebo…
“Paulson Adebo is a tremendous talent, he’s a guy that we recognize shortly after we got here that thought could be pretty special. Great length, runs really well, great ball skills, but until the guy gets on the field and performs then that is just potential. But he has maxed out potential this year and he’s played at a high level. You’ve seen everything that he does, you see his speed, you see his length, you see his ball skills. Another thing I’ve been impressed with is his willingness to tackle, he does not shy away from contact. We’ve had some games this year where he’s missed tackles and he understands that’s a place where he needs to get better. He never shies away from contact, always working to get better where I think he’s had a great season for us but he’s got a huge upside. He can be really special.”
Under a West Texas sky that seemingly displayed all the seasons under the sun in just a few minutes, Stanford and Pittsburgh winged their way to the Sun City ahead of next week’s annual Hyundai Sun Bowl.
Our very own Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta was there and we bring you his view of the arrivals in this ‘Story in Many Pics.’
It took almost every second of the 60 minutes played to determine the winner of the 83rd Hyundai Sun Bowl as two storied universities, Stanford and North Carolina, fought down to the wire before the 16th-ranked Cardinal eventually prevailed 25-23 over the Tar Heels in front of 42,166 fans.
UNC (8-5) trailed by eight with 1:34 left in the game and had to drive 97 yards to try and tie the game after a Stanford (10-3) punt pinned them at the 3-yard line.
Tar Heel quarterback Mitch Trubisky showed why he is considered one of the top quarterback prospects for the NFL, bouncing back from three previous turnovers to lead UNC down the field on that final drive.
Trubisky began the drive with a 13-yard completion to All-ACC first teamer Ryan Switzer. The big pass play came a few plays later after Trubisky hit his big 6-5 target Bug Howard down the sideline for a 44-yard completion that took the ball from the UNC 28-yard line to the Stanford 28-yard line.
Once again it was Switzer and Howard that would wrap up the drive as a 27-yard completion to Switzer placed the ball at the 1-yard line with just over 30 seconds remaining. After a run that lost a yard and an incomplete pass, Trubisky seemed to be in trouble on third down but somehow escaped, scrambled and eventually found Howard in the end zone with 25 seconds left to get within a two-point conversion of tying the game.
But the biggest name on the Cardinal defense came up big during the two-point conversion as defensive end and eventual C.M. Hendricks MVP award winner Solomon Thomas sliced through the Tar Heel offensive line and got to Trubisky before he had a chance to get a pass off. A failed onside kick would close UNC’s chances and give Stanford its third Sun Bowl victory and first in 20 years.
The future NFL prospect Thomas finished with seven tackles, two for losses, a sack and the biggest play of the game. He is the first defensive player to win the Sun Bowl MVP since UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt was named Co-MVP in 2013 and the first defensive lineman to win the award since Oregon State’s Victor Butler won the award in 2008.
Trubisky finished 23-of-39 for 280 yards but had three costly turnovers including two interceptions and a fumble. On the Stanford side, senior quarterback Ryan Burns relieved starter Keller Chryst after he got injured in the first quarter. Burns finished 6-of-12 for 86 yards. Leading the charge for the Cardinal was running back Bryce Love, who was playing in place of Stanford’s All-American Christian McCaffrey. Love finished with 119 yards on the ground on 21 carries including a career-high 59-yard romp. He also caught a 49-yard touchdown pass.
The Tar Heels would take an early 7-0 lead, only to see the Cardinal mark 16-straight points, mainly off the leg of place kicker Conrad Ukropina who tied a Sun Bowl record with four field goals in the game en route to being named the John Folmer Most Valuable Special Teams Player.
The Tar Heels struck first to open the scoring. After holding the Cardinal to a three-and-out on their first possession, Trubisky led UNC on a 10-play, 71-yard drive that culminated with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Trubisky to Switzer. The touchdown connection was Trubisky’s 29th passing touchdown of the season, a new school record.
The rest of the first-half scoring, however, belonged to the team from the Pac-12 as Stanford would rally for the final 13 points of the first stanza. The Cardinal immediately evened the score following the Tar Heel touchdown drive with a quick touchdown drive of their own.
The drive, which only took six plays and less than three minutes, culminated with a 49-yard touchdown pass Chryst to Love. Love’s first touchdown reception of the season knotted the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
Stanford then had an eventful third possession that started around midfield after a UNC three-and-out. After an early personal foul flag for a late hit against the Tar Heels, the Cardinal seemed to have their second-straight touchdown after Chryst hit JJ Arcega-Whiteside in the corner of the end zone for an apparent 27-yard score. The called was looked at and after further review it was determined that the ball hit the ground before the catch, thus negating the score.
On the next play from scrimmage, Chryst ran down the field on a quarterback keeper, but did not get up after the tackle. He had to be helped off the field with an apparent knee injury and would not return to the game. Burns, who started the first seven games of the season for Stanford, would play the rest of the game.
Burns gained positive yardage on his first play from scrimmage, but a delay of game penalty and a sack would stall the drive. The Cardinal would have to settle for a Ukropina 44-yard field goal a few plays into the second quarter that would give them their first lead of the game.
On UNC’s following possession, Trubisky would have his first turnover as Stanford’s Dallas Lloyd intercepted a pass and returned it 45 yards to the Tar Heel 35-yard line. However, the Cardinal could not move the ball and came away empty after Ukropina missed on a 36-yard attempt that hit the left upright.
Ukropina would redeem himself, however, after Trubisky fumbled the ball after apparently running into an official with under two minutes left in the half. Ukropina nailed a 33-yarder, his school record 20th of the season, as Stanford led 13-7 at the half.
UNC kicker Nick Weiler tried to cut into the Cardinal lead during the first possession of the second half, but his 51-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left. The middle portion of the third quarter saw the teams add a field goal to their score as Ukropina hit a 43-yard field goal and Weiler redeemed himself with a 37-yarder.
Down six, the Tar Heels turned to senior running back T. J. Logan to help them regain the lead. Logan’s running led a 9-play, 68-yard drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown run by freshman Jordan Brown, his first career touchdown. UNC regained the lead 17-16 with just over two minutes left in the third.
Lloyd once again came up big for Stanford a couple of plays into the fourth quarter as the senior safety once again intercepted a Trubisky pass, this time running it back 19 yards for a pick-six that once again gave the Cardinal the lead, this time at 22-17 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Ukropina’s record-tying fourth field goal with 3:23 left gave Stanford a 25-17 lead that set up the game’s final dramatic moments.
Stanford has now won its last three bowl games and finishes the season on a six-game winning streak. The Tar Heels, on the other hand, finish the season losing two of three and have lost three-straight bowl games.
Gallery by Herald Post Chief Photographer Andres Acosta
Just 24 hours away from the 83rd Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl and both UNC and Stanford staff and team members attended the luncheon held at the convention center in downtown El Paso.
All involved then returned for the popular Fan Fiesta, as the bands played for the fans, while the fans got a taste of the hospitality here in the Sun City.
Check out all the action thanks to Andres Acosta.
The Hyundai Sun Bowl media relations staff held a press conference with North Carolina Head Coach Larry Fedora and Stanford Head Coach David Shaw on Thursday, Dec. 29 at the El Paso Convention Center. Below is a transcript of the question and answer session.
Stanford head coach David Shaw
Opening remarks: The week has been phenomenal. We tried to tell the guys before we got here – I was here with the team in 2009 – about the hospitality and you guys have not disappointed. Phenomenal people, phenomenal area. I loved spending time with the troops and seeing all the troops work in the community and on base. It’s been a great experience. Facilities have been great practice has gone really well just excited to be here really grateful for all the people who are associated with the bowl game.
Q: Coach you’ve played for a number of Rose Bowls and College Football Playoff does it take any added incentives to get these guys going for this game?
A: No, we concentrate on us and on what’s in front of us. Appreciate our senior leadership, we don’t have a big senior class but that senior leadership has been outstanding the entire year. We focus on what we’re doing right now and what we have next and our practices have been that way. We had a really rough spot in the middle of the year and those seniors really helped us have the best practices of the year, when we weren’t playing well, we were unranked and people were jumping off the bandwagon, we were going back to work. That’s continued here we aren’t worried about anything except what’s in front of us so I appreciate our senior leadership.
Q: UNC can score a lot of points, what’s the plan to slow them down?
A: Well their head coach is in the back somewhere so I can’t tell you everything. The bottom the line for us is to play sound smart defense. You got a phenomenal quarterback that can make all the throws, an outstanding receiving corps that can move the ball quickly down the field and light up the score board. For us, we’ve had a good maturation process throughout the year on our defense. We had a lot of young guys that have played and have gotten a lot of experience playing a lot better towards the end of the year. Big thing they learned is, you can’t take a play off, we’re playing against a great offense in particular and a great football player playing quarterback, you can’t take a play-off we try to defend from the back forward, try not to give up big plays and play smart, sound football
Q: They have one of the best kick-off return teams in the country, the best punt cover team in the country. Can you talk about the special team match up and what you’re going to do?
A: I’m a coach’s kid, been around this game my entire life and so many people don’t talk about special teams and special teams helps you win football games. It’s a game of field position. It’s a game of acclimating yardage and special teams is the biggest way to do that on any given play, so we take it very seriously. I have a lot of appreciation for their returner, I think he’s phenomenal. I think with all great returners it first starts with instinct and then comes to ability and that ability, the instinct, of when to know when to hit it and when to let those blocks manifest themselves before you get to full speed is an impressive thing to watch. Ima a big punt return fan and a fan of how they do it at North Carolina. As for us, and the return game goes, we got a good plan, one thing is to be smart about what we do and how we do it. But we also hope to put a returner that will give us positive yardage.
Q: Considering the fact that you don’t have Christian McCafferey and UNC doesn’t have Elijah Hood and with 42 bowls, why should the general sports fan tune into this particular game?
A: you have two talented football teams, two well coached football teams, two teams who play the game the right way, physically and tough they play it aggressively. With out those two runners, you have a lot of exciting players to watch in the game. They have one of the better quarterbacks in the nation, one of the more citing returns and young exciting players for the future in Bryce Love. I think that’s an exciting thing to watch.
Q: What do you think of Nick Saban’s comments that the CFB Playoff has sort of diminished the importance of other bowl games?
A: I completely understand what he’s saying and in part I agree with the premise of what he’s saying. I think, the media starts talking about the playoff before training camp. It’s not even the bowl games necessarily about college football. I grew up with this but I love college football if I wasn’t coaching, I’d be watching all the bowl games like I have all my life because I love it. It’s exciting it’s fun. It’s a big part of this time of the year. So, that’s why I agree with the premise which is that they playoff has now focused on just the playoff as opposed to how great college football is. I think college football is in the best shape it’s ever been, that’s why it’s so exciting, that’s why the ratings are through the roof through the entire year. Once the novelty of the playoff wears off, we’ll get back to where we should be which is appreciating every single week of the college football season and every single bowl game. So I understand where we are right now but I don’t believe it will stay that way. Once we all get used to the way things go we’ll be back to people who just love college football.
Q: do you see any parallels between this game and the last Sun Bowl that you were here with Andrew Luck out?
A: not necessarily, particularly from the Stanford standpoint, we were still growing as a program, that was the first bowl game in eight or nine years, as opposed to the two programs coming now, with good recent history with both teams, relatively established and are good programs in their own right at the moment. So the bowl games then were a novelty and we were just getting there and that is what I think that is the difference for me.
Q: What allowed you to successfully recruit Bryce Love out of North Carolina when it came down to his decision?
A: For us it starts with the individual, it started with Bryce and what he was looking for. I’m not a recruiter I’m just a guy that finds young guys that are looking for what we have. Once we got to know Bryce and his family and what they wanted for him, we showed them what Stanford has to offer both on and off the field. It was appealing to him and that was how the process begins and continued. It was a long distance and we helped him feel like he was at home. That’s the great thing about Stanford, you just don’t have people from America, you have people from around the world, but they make you feel at home and help you be successful both academically and whatever you are pursuits are outside of academics.
Q: Will Christian be here and is there any sentiment if the locker room that he quit on them?
A: He will not be here. And absolutely not. First and foremost what gets undersold because Christian hasn’t spoken publicly. This was hard for Christian, this wasn’t a flip just off the cuff, it was really really difficult because he loves those guys in the locker room, doesn’t like them he loves them and would do anything in the world for them. This was really real really hard. Just a tough decision he had to make and we completely understand and we put our arms around him and said absolutely. We love you and we understand it. I had long conversation with Christian during this process to where the last thing Christian wants to be is a distraction and after a good conversation, we came to the conclusion that it was probably best not to come so that the focus of the game could be on the guys that were playing the game and not Christian. We love him he loves us and he didn’t abandon this football team and he made a difficult decision with the team’s best interest. And we support and respect that. We look forward to him playing on Sundays because I think he will be outstanding.
Q: Three weeks ago, he practiced on a Friday then that following Monday he said he wasn’t playing, what changed during the course of that weekend?
A: it was in process, there were multiple discussions this was not a wake up one morning and not going to play, this was a painstaking – and I don’t want to speak for Christian, he’ll speak at some point – but this was a pain staking process for him. Which I’m grateful for him and his family that we communicated and had great communication during the process so nothing changed in that span.
University of North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora
On experience during bowl week…
“We’ve had a wonderful experience here. For me, being a native Texan I was extremely excited about bringing our team to the state of Texas and letting them experience everything that El Paso has to offer. From all of the activities, the Sun Bowl has done a tremendous job. This is my second time at the bowl and the thing that I do remember is the hospitality. This is a unique bowl. The whole community embraces this bowl and does such a great job with the teams that are here. Our players have just enjoyed all of the experiences. It’s been phenomenal and we’re looking forward to playing the game now.”
On special teams providing an advantage for UNC…
“We pride ourselves on special teams. One of the biggest things we talk about when it comes to special teams is we need a game-changing play. In studying Stanford, you can tell they spend a lot of time with their return teams and their coverage teams. We hope that we can create a game-changing play and we do spend quite a bit of time on it. We feel like we’ve got good return teams and good coverage teams. We think that special teams will play a major factor in this game.
On trying to stop Stanford’s running attack…
“I don’t know how confident I am (about stopping Stanford’s rushing game). But I do know that’s going to be a major factor in this game. Stanford is a physical football team that runs the ball and bring it down hill at you. Our guys know that we’re going to have to limit the run. I don’t think we’re walking into this game and saying that we’re going to stop the run because I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think anyone can stop the run against Stanford but we’ve got to limit the run. We can’t let them stay on the field the entire game just running the ball for five yards a carry.”
On the impact of football culture in Texas…
“Unless you spend a lot of time in this state, it’s really hard to understand the magnitude of high school football in this state. Growing up here you didn’t think it was a big deal because that’s just the way it was. You didn’t know anything different. Until I got to college coaching, that’s when I realized that a lot emphasis is put on football in Texas. If you look at the stadiums and the money that’s poured into it, it’s what some of these communities are built around.”
On Elijah Hood’s injury status…
“I can tell you that Elijah (Hood) is not here. We decided it was going to be best for him to stay back to get healthy. As far as what those conditions are, I don’t really ever talk about those things.”
On team’s health…
“Everybody else is ready to go. We’ve got some bumps and bruises but we’ve got some guys that are going to play and that are ready to go.”
On previously recruiting Stanford running back Bryce Love…
“We recruited Bryce (Love) very hard. Bryce is a very bright young man and has a great family. We spent a lot of time recruiting him. It was one of those things where it came down to us and Stanford and he chose Stanford. I didn’t know I would ever play against him and unfortunately we do but we’re looking forward to it.”
The 2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl game will be played Friday, Dec. 30, at 12 p.m. MT (2 p.m. ET) at Sun Bowl Stadium with No. 16 Stanford taking on North Carolina.
The 2016 game will mark the 83rd anniversary of the Sun Bowl game and the 49th consecutive broadcast on CBS.
Players from the Tar Heels and the Cardinal left their respective practice fields Wednesday to make a special stop at El Paso’s Children’s Hospital.
Patients and their parents interacted with the Sun Bowl participants and the entire visit was captured by our very own Andres Acosta. Check out the photos via today’s Story in Many Pics.
It was team day with the troops at Fort Bliss. The Tar Heel and Cardinal football teams made a trip to Fort Bliss Tuesday afternoon to tour the base and interact with the troops.
Andres Acosta was at the post as well, and brings you his view of the visit via this gallery.
Stanford, no strangers to the Sun City, arrived Monday ahead of Friday’s match up with UNC in the 83rd Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl. Surrounded by dancers and mariachis, the players donned hats and danced as teammates encouraged it all.
Our very own Andres Acosta was there, and while its unknown if he danced, he did take a bunch of pictures that we share with you now via today’s ‘Story in Many Pics’
With the 83rd Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl set for this Friday, the University of North Carolina arrived Sunday. Our very own Andres Acosta was there and brings your all the fun via this Story in Many Pics.
There were 53,713 fans inside Sun Bowl Stadium in 2009 when Stanford’s Toby Gerhart, a Heisman Trophy finalist, played his final game with the Cardinal. Fans in El Paso will have the same opportunity to watch another Heisman runner-up on Dec. 30, 2016 at noon.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford’s star running back that finished second in the Heisman voting in 2015, announced that he will enter the 2017 NFL Draft, making the 83rd Hyundai Sun Bowl between No. 16 Stanford and North Carolina his final collegiate game.
The Hyundai Sun Bowl, the nation’s second oldest bowl game, is scheduled for a noon (MST) kickoff on Dec. 30 at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to go down to El Paso and play against a great opponent,” said Cardinal head coach David Shaw, who’s 3-2 in bowl games. “I’m excited for our guys to experience the great hospitality of the Sun Bowl.”
Stanford comes into the Hyundai Sun Bowl with a 9-3 overall record and 6-3 in the Pac-12. After starting the season 3-0, the Cardinal ran into a tough stretch where they faced three eventual top-25 opponents in a span of four weeks.
Stanford’s losses included current No. 4 and College Football Playoff team Washington, week 12’s No. 22 Washington State and a Colorado team that was ranked as high as No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
After that challenging stretch, Stanford won its next five games.
“We’re excited for our seniors to get a chance to play in this bowl game,” Shaw said. “To put ourselves in position to get to a bowl game from where we were at the midway point of the season, we’re very excited for the opportunity.”
McCaffrey leads a pro-style offense that scored 26.4 points per game this season. Going into bowl season, McCaffrey is seventh in the nation in rushing with 1,603 total yards. The Cardinal finished the regular season third in the Pac-12 in rushing with 215.6 rushing yards per game, which is also good for 34th in the country.
“I want to focus, and I want my team to focus on beating North Carolina,” McCaffrey said in a letter addressing his declaration for the NFL Draft. “I’m thankful for the chance to get to play another game with my teammates and to work as hard as I can to make that victory possible.”
Ryan Burns began the season under center for Stanford until Shaw decided to start Keller Chryst in week 8 against Arizona. Chryst has started at quarterback in every game of the Cardinal five-game win streak, and has thrown for 837 yards and nine touchdowns.
Defensively, Stanford’s secondary leads a unit that is ranked fifth in the Pac-12 in pass defense. The Cardinal allowed only 218.9 yards per game through the air and tallied 12 interceptions. Strong safety Dallas Lloyd leads the team with three interceptions, while junior defensive end Solomon Thomas has garnered a team-high nine sacks and 15 tackles for loss.
This will be Stanford’s fourth appearance in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Cardinal are 2-1 all-time in the Hyundai Sun Bowl and their latest appearance was on New Year’s Eve in 2009, when the Cardinal fell 31-27 against star-studded Oklahoma. In that 2009 appearance, Shaw was Stanford’s offensive coordinator.
“The hospitality of the Sun Bowl is off the charts and the people who run the Sun Bowl are genuine,” Shaw said.
Tickets for the game can be purchased online. Customers can call the Sun Bowl Association office (915-533-4416) and are also invited to stop by the Sun Bowl Association office that is located at 4150 Pinnacle Street (Suite 100) in El Paso to purchase tickets.