Boise State (13-0, 8-0 WAC) Head Coach Chris Petersen sat down with the media today for a press conference as tomorrow's Fiesta Bowl matchup with TCU (12-0, 8-0 Mountain West) approaches. Here is the transcript of the press conference as recorded by ASAP Sports.
PAUL JENSEN: Boise State Head Coach Chris Petersen has joined us. A few opening comments before questions?
COACH PETERSEN: I would just like to thank John Junker and all the yellow coats on behalf of the Broncos. This has been a tremendous week. We have been treated, I think, even better than we were the first time we were here. We truly appreciate it and look forward to hoping to repay the favor here tomorrow with a great game.
Q. Number one, this is kind of where it all began for Boise State two years ago where you really took a big step on the national stage. What are the memories like, coming back here? And, two, a year ago you played Texas Christian University in a Bowl game, but a lot has changed for both teams for this rematch. Can you talk about how that landscape has shifted in the past 12 months?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah. Well, I would have to disagree with you a little bit. I don't think this is where it all started for Boise State. I mean, I really do, I think the interesting thing is -- and I always say this, it started long before I got there. I think if you do your history on Boise State, the thing that truly amazes me is how short of a time span we have been a Division I football program.
But if you trace it all the way back to junior college, Division II, 1AA, Boise State has always been really, really good in football for whatever reason, I mean, all those things where the stars line up and it's just always been a special football place.
I agree with you that we have never been on the stage like we were a few years ago and a few people started to pay attention to us. We certainly appreciate the opportunity we were given there.
You know, we're very fortunate to have played Oklahoma, that great football power, and for our guys to have played well.
I think in terms of our teams being a little bit different from last year, there is no doubt in my mind that Texas Christian University has taken the next step. Gary always does a tremendous job on defense and there is never going to be any issues there. But I think on offense is where they've taken the next step.
I think Dalton, their QB, is playing at a very, very high level. Scored 40 points a game and give up about 12, you know, that's -- those are good stats to have and that's why everybody thinks so highly of him.
Q. I asked Coach Patterson about how it feels to be compared, the two programs, the media, the fans, they basically lump the two of you together. How do you think about the comparison? Do you think it is fair, and are you comfortable with being compared?
COACH PETERSEN: We'll find out tomorrow if we should be compared to TCU. For me I like the comparison. Around the country there is a lot of people that think TCU should be playing in a National Championship game. They're that type of program.
So I think the respect that's out there for TCU is tremendous across the country. And so if we can play well and be on the same level as those guys, I think it's going to bode well for Boise State.
Q. Gary was asked about if you win this game in terms of your perception going into next year and will it elevate the winner of this game so that you're not starting so far back in the preseason polls. Given what you guys have coming back next year, it is a pretty legitimate question. What are your thoughts on that?
COACH PETERSEN: I don't have too many thoughts on that. I really don't. I just know so many things can change between now and next season and as the season starts.
I think rankings and stats and all those type of things are legitimate this time of the year. I think preseason rankings are just what they are: preseason rankings, and I feel like that even five games into the season. I think no matter how few guys you lose, you are never the same team. You are never the same program and you have to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, and make sure that you are all on the same page. That's easier said than done.
That's why I kind of say we'll worry about that down the road. It may help somebody preseason rankings, but I think the people around Boise know we don't put a whole lot of stock in preseason rankings.
Q. Coach, a lot of people refer to you as a finesse team and TCU as the power team. Are you more powerful than people think?
COACH PETERSEN: Well, like I said, I think we're going to find out a lot of these questions tomorrow. I know TCU is a power team. There is no question about it. I think every football coach in America would like to think of themselves as a power team, a physical football team and I think we are. We are going up against one of the more powerful and physical teams in the country, no doubt about it.
For us to be able to do what we want to do with these guys we will have to play physical football tomorrow, because if we don't, it won't be good for the Broncos.
Q. With it being your second trip here, you mentioned a little bit how it kind of has been the same. Has it been different at all, the experience? Even for yourself, anything been really different?
COACH PETERSEN: Like I said before, the whole -- the week, I think, maybe as coaches, certainly as myself, I appreciated the hospitality, the first-class environment and atmosphere probably more so than the first time because the first time, I said this earlier in the week, they could have put us in the field across the street and we would have been ecstatic.
But now you kind of know what to expect. You know, I think expectations are things that can just ruin programs and Bowl games and all those type of things if you don't meet them. The thing that's so special about the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is the first-class treatment that everybody gets.
I just took a pass through your guys' hospitality room. I know you're not here for me. (Smiling).
Q. Along those same lines, this is your second experience in this game. TCU is making its first appearance in a BCS game. Would you expect maybe that that would have an impact early on in the game as they get acclimated to the bigger stage, something you have already done?
COACH PETERSEN: I don't think so. I mean, Oklahoma had been to how many tremendously huge Bowl games and we hadn't been to any big Bowl games.
You know, every team's different. It is a big game and they will be excited. There will be nothing like that first quarter with the energy and the electricity that will be in that stadium.
But more so than anything, we have kind of been off for a while, both sides. Sometimes there are kinks to work out, and hopefully our guys hit the ground running in a hurry.
But I don't think -- you know, it is a big game. It is another football game. But I know how Gary coaches his guys, they keep things in perspective. It is just time to go play.
Q. I know you have seen plenty of TCU film in the last month. I wanted to ask you about Tank Carder, their linebacker, what you have seen of him on film and what challenges he presents.
COACH PETERSEN: I think the thing that just jumps out to me about TCU's defense is, you know, they have a couple guys that a lot of people talk about, but there is not a lot of talk about Tank Carder. But I think he's every bit a part of what makes that defense be the No. 1-ranked defense in the country.
There is just no weak links out there, and I don't think you garner the stats that they do by having a couple weak links out there. I think when you put the tape on, that's what shows up.
You know, you are always as a coach kind of looking for this magic pill to have the answer. And I always, when I go back and watch TCU's defense -- and even their offense -- I kind of shake my head and smile. It always comes back to fundamental football and doing what you do really well.
You don't have to have all these smoke and mirrors. I shouldn't say that, because I guess that's what we're all about, but I guess you don't have to have it. That's what Gary does. He does what he does. He gets his guys to play hard. They are fundamentally sound, and he is not going to give you anything easy.
Q. Gary said earlier that he felt this game in many ways changes the landscape of college football in the BCS. Do you share that? If so, what do you hope that landscape begins to look like starting Tuesday?
COACH PETERSEN: Well, I do in some ways agree with that statement. I don't think there's always any one thing that changes your program. It is a process. Nothing happens overnight.
And I have been feeling like the whole BCS formula and process is getting better. It is working.
A few years ago, for Boise State to even be mentioned in it, you know, a lot of people wouldn't have thought that. Now to have two of us in a game like this, I mean, it's -- we're making progress. There's no question. Nobody has the perfect answer.
I know a lot of people think they have the perfect answer, but when you put it down on the paper and try to figure out how to get those things done, there's problems with it. But I do think that we're making progress. People want to do it right. They want to solve it on the field. And I think by having us and TCU in the game is a positive.
Q. There was a poll recently that the fans are obviously heavily in favor of the playoff. And I know you were just addressing that. Do you feel like the winner of this game should get a crack -- wouldn't you want to have a crack at the winner of the National Championship game? Don't you feel like there should be a playoff system?
COACH PETERSEN: Well, you know, I think every coach would like to say yes. You know, there is a couple other teams that have pretty good records and pretty good rankings right now that have played in a BCS-type game. How do you leave those guys out? You still got to figure out even if it is just an A1 game. Would we like it? Yeah, we would. Is it the fairest and best way? I don't know.
Q. You kind of joked about it, but has it become kind of an annoying thing, this finesse and smoke-and-mirrors label that you seem to carry, that you don't think you get judged fairly on the things you do?
COACH PETERSEN: I think the people that know football judge us fairly. That's why I don't take offense to it. I don't pay attention to it.
If you put our tape on, we have a reputation. And a lot of times, reputation isn't who you are. We have a tough -- you know, we have tough, hard-nosed kids that play fundamentally sound football. I think everybody who knows football, you don't win the games that we've won without playing like that.
But in some ways, we like the reputation. I think kids like to play in a wide-open style of football, and that's how we kind of think of it.
Q. Everybody's focusing for the most part on your offense against the TCU defense. But I'm sure you've taken a look at the other sides of the ball. What do you think of that matchup with Andy Dalton and the TCU offense against your defense? And what concerns do you have? And what do you like?
COACH PETERSEN: I think that's the key to the matchup right there, without question. Our defense is going to have to slow those guys down somewhat. I mean, if TCU scores 40 points, that's not going to be good. If they get their average, that's not going to be good for us.
Their defense just doesn't allow that many points. They just don't. And so for me, I think that's way more the focus than our offense against their defense. You know, we kind of saw what happened last year when those two sides matched up. Wasn't a whole lot of points.
So again, I think the key goes back to probably our defense against their offense.
Q. The conventional wisdom would suggest or hold that any coach who has accomplished what you have would be eagerly looking for something higher up, higher profile. Clearly you are not. Are you just wired differently? Does this say something about Boise State? How can you address that?
COACH PETERSEN: I would probably say a little bit of both. If you talk to probably our people around, they would say I'm definitely wired differently, not necessarily as a compliment.
But the other thing is that I -- you know, I see the term "midmajor" and I see the term "non-BCS," I don't think of us like that. We have been to the BCS twice now and what is "midmajor"? We can play football with the best of them. We think that.
And so I think like that, and I'm saying "Why is everybody so anxious for us to leave?" You know, I can get a burr under my saddle about those type of comments.
But I think when people take a look at what we got going on there and they see the whole puzzle put together, I think it is a pretty good place, and I think there's coaches out there that have been there in the past that would say that. I think there are coaches on the outside that know about what we have that say the same thing.
Q. Coach Patterson talked about the red zone being the difference in last year's game. You guys obviously had some struggles in the red zone earlier this year. Can you just point at that matchup and what's it going to take for you to get into the end zone as opposed to settling for those field goals?
COACH PETERSEN: I don't know. A lot of times it comes down to being able to run the ball better. You know, we couldn't run the ball at all last year against them in the red zone or out of the red zone. So you need your playmakers to step up and make some things happen there.
I think he's right. I listened to Gary last year. We are probably broken records. I listened to him last year talk to him about the keys to the play. I'm chuckling, saying, Yeah, it is red zone, it is turnovers, it is third downs, explosive plays. You just go to those type of things and figure it out from there.
And they beat us in a lot of those categories, and that's why we ended up losing the game. I think one thing that helped us staying in the game was special teams and all the hidden yardage that we may have done some things there to kind of keep it closer than it was.
That's right, we couldn't get it done in the red zone. I mean, we kicked a field goal, missed a field goal, had the ball down to the one and had a holding call, knocked us out of the red zone. We are in the red zone, we false start, knock us back out. The red zone was key and we knew it going in. It is always going to be those things when you are in hard, tight-fought games.
Q. A lot was made in the last couple of weeks and earlier today that you spent some time in the off-season with Gary and his staff in Fort Worth. Gary says he'll know if you learned some stuff on the field tomorrow night. What did you take away from those meetings? And were you scrambling to find your notes when the matchup was announced?
COACH PETERSEN: Well, I think this, I think if we knew we were going to play each other, we probably wouldn't have had that meeting.
I really believe this, it wasn't on how to attack each other or how to attack their defense. In fact, I think our defense looks a lot -- I think last year our defense looked structure-wise very, very similar. And I think we've deviated for a couple different reasons from that structure, that they line up in all the time.
It was more of a conversation between our defensive guys talking very specific technique, detail-type work that, you know, doesn't really have a whole lot to do with the influence of the outcome of this game.
I know Gary thinks I'm lying, but he lied to me last year when told me it was going to be three alligators. And I guarantee it was a lot quicker than that with that D line coming after Kellen. (Smiling).
Q. Gary did say he thinks you will bring Ian Johnson back for this game.
COACH PETERSEN: We try to bring anything we could bring back that would help us.
Q. On a serious note, when you are making up your trick plays and obviously that's become kind of an outsider's perception of one thing you guys do really well, how much of it is based on your personnel and how much of it is based on what you've seen the other team do? I mean, is there some nicks there?
COACH PETERSEN: I think the one thing about trick plays, special plays, deceptive plays, however you phrase them, usually -- I say this, I don't think we have had an original thought ever in our offense. We just steal it from everybody else.
And so if we see some sort of creative play, that always grabs our attention. We may tweak it a little bit or put our spin on it. But we just like those plays, our kids like them, they're fun to do. They usually work. If they do work, they will get you a lot of yards.
We've just had success with them for whatever reason; that's the reason we do it. We probably don't average more than one a game, I mean, if we do that.
When they work they are fun for everybody, and those are the type of plays that people remember. They don't remember a power play ten times in a row off tackle. I mean, nobody really wants to talk about that except for the O-line coach (smiling).
Q. There is going to be a theater full of people at the Princess Theatre in Prosser tomorrow night watching this game and giving their all for the two kids from our town. How much is Kirby going to be on the field when Kellen is out there?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, Kirby is going to be out there a lot, there's no question. We're a little bit beat up at receiver, and so Kirby has been factoring in more and more each game as the season has progressed.
You know, I'm really anxious for Kirby next year, not to wish our life away or look too far into the future. But it's hard playing as a freshman, as a true freshman. It is just -- I don't care how many balls you caught in high school. I don't care if your dad's one of the top high school coaches in America, if your brother is a quarterback. It is still tough and hard and a lot of adjustment. And he has done a tremendous job, he really has. We wouldn't be here without him.
But it will be interesting when we have a full year of Kirby, of teaching him kind of how we do things and developing him in the weight room and those type of things. There is no question his best years are in front of him.
Q. Coach Pete, so much talk about how good TCU is and you have been talking about it for a month. What do you tell your team about why you guys can beat this team or why you belong in this game?
COACH PETERSEN: I think we're -- I think we got a good team, too. There is no question about it.
But we will have to play our best. We will have to play as well as we have played all year. We will have to put -- it can't just be our offense or just our defense or special teams. It is going to be one of those games where you need it all, you need to be hitting on all cylinders and have your A game to beat the No. 3, No. 4 team in the country. There's no question about it.
I said this before. I mean, sometimes the rankings and you talk about those early on, and I'm not sure how much they mean. You are still trying to figure out how legitimate teams are. If early on, a really good game, running the ball or playing defense against maybe a team that you match up better than might not mean a whole lot, but after 13 games or after 12 games, I don't think the stats lie.
So I think our guys believe we got a good football team. They have tremendous respect for TCU. They've watched all their tapes so they know it's coming. And now it is just, I think, a good way, a good test for us to measure where we are.
Q. One of the things about your last appearance here that still kind of amazes me it is one of the lowest-rated television-wise BCS games of all times, maybe because you are up by so much at halftime. This isn't your focus. In the east quarter, New York, Boston and Philly, Boise and TCU are worlds away in pro markets. If you are going to pitch to a naive audience that isn't college football centered, doesn't know a lot about these two teams, how would you sort of pitch this game?
COACH PETERSEN: I think that this is two examples of how, you know, things change in the landscape of college football. It doesn't happen overnight, but it does change.
One of the things that's hard for people that are so far away, they haven't heard much of Boise State. Like I said, we played football for quite a long time but not necessarily on a stage like this. So it takes a while to get that name out there, and we made obviously tremendous strides the last time we were at this Bowl game. Hopefully we show well and can take the next step.
Q. What's the mind-set of your coaching staff and how do they keep the kids humble at this point of the road -- the fork in the road here?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, you know, it is one of the things we kind of talk about which I think is one of the tricks in life, so to speak, is to stay hungry and humble all at the same time.
What a difficult concept to get, and I think it's hard sometimes for anybody, let alone 18, 19-year-old kids who are having a lot of success and everybody's patting them on the back the whole time and telling them how great they are. One of the things we just always tell our guys is just, Hey, listen to your coaches. Love your mom, but don't listen to her when it comes to football.
If you listen to us, we'll keep it real. We'll keep you grounded. We'll be honest. We'll tell you how it is. And our kids have done a great job with that concept. I think it is really important for both of those things -- both those characteristics to show up.
PAUL JENSEN: Thank you and good luck.