• September 25, 2021
 Video+Gallery+Quotes: Hyundai Sun Bowl Coordinators Press Conference

The Stanford Cardinal will face off against the Pitt Panthers in the 85th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl on New Years Eve, El Paso Texas, Andres Acosta | El Paso Herald-Post

Video+Gallery+Quotes: Hyundai Sun Bowl Coordinators Press Conference

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
Opening Statement…
“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
Opening Statement…
“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

Opening Statement…
“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.”

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Andres Acosta


Photojournalist / Sports Photographer I am fueled by the challenge to capture that "Special Moment" Covering : Sporting events at all levels which include youth, Prep, College and Professional Special Events: Concerts Fashion Beauty Pageants Do you have an event that you want us to cover? Email me at- ace@epheraldpost.com Andres is available for freelance assignments and travel throughout Texas and New Mexico

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