JM: It was a good day. It was a good morning. I thought they came back on, really one day early in terms of their recovery, and had a good practice. Focused. They understand what's at stake, and they're excited about that. So it was good.
Q: No pads because they were coming back early?
JM: yeah, a day early. Want them to be sharp on Friday night. Want them to be healthy. Want them to be working at max efficiency so since we practice early, it was a late game Saturday, I felt like the best thing to do was get out here and get work in but, you know, be a little bit less physical in terms of the contact. We still work at a fast pace and did all things we did. We just eliminated the contact from it.
Q: so a change in the routine?
JM: not really. We've done it before.
Q: how difficult is it to cover the jumbo package since there's so much they can do out of it? They can roll out of it, they can run…
JM: it's hard. They put those big physical guys on the field so you gear up for the run and then all of a sudden, they pull the ball and they go to their play action game. And what's unique about their team is they've got these big tight ends that are physical at the line of scrimmage but also athletic down the field. And they pose tough matchup problems so, you know, we've got to just read our keys and execute our technique and try to get in position to make a play and then make it.
Q: how do you feel about Anthony Barr and how he did coverage on [audio difficulties]?
JM: I thought that Anthony and the other guys that had to cover those guys are linebackers. They did okay. It's a decent matchup.
Q: as a whole, what would you say about how Anthony Barr has kind of transitioned and really in one season become almost an All-American caliber player on a different side of the ball?
JM: I wouldn't say that he is almost an All-American caliber player. I would say that he is an All-American caliber player. I think he's the most impactful defensive player in the PAC- 12 and, you know, from the limited exposure I've had to the other players in the nation, he's as impactful as anybody I've seen.
Q: have you ever seen a player make a change…
JM: no. Like that? No. I haven't. And you think about it, he didn't even go through spring because he got hurt the first day or two. Remember he hurt his hamstring. And to be able to come out here and really go through the stuff he did at San Bernardino and then have the season he had just says a lot about a couple of things. #1, how intelligent he is because he had to pick up a lot of that stuff through film study and watching guys on the field so he really paid attention and concentrated. #2, about his motivation and his work ethic. Because you don't do the things that he did without being highly motivated and having tremendous work ethic and then, #3, I think you got give some credit to the guys that have helped them along the way. The other players, you know, that have played the position longer and given tips and then, you know, Coach [Jeff] Ulbrich [Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach] and Coach [Lou] Spanos [Defensive Coordinator] who worked so tirelessly with him.
Q: what's the general consensus like in the locker room getting up to play such an exciting game?
JM: I think that they are excited, you know. They understand what this one's all about and our goal all year has been to get to this game and win it and so they're very focused. They're not tight, they're loose. And they're like you'd expect kids their age to be when there's something exciting out in front of them. They're excited to go give it their best shot.
Q: looks like you got in a rowdy crowd… [audio difficulties]
JM: looks like you got into a rowdy crowd. What happened? Did you get beat up? Did you get into a fight honestly?
Q: [audio difficulties]
JM: you did get into a fight? I'm sorry. I don't know. I haven't play in Stanford since… what was John Elway's senior year? That was the last time I was at Stanford for a game. So that was a long time ago. What's that like 30 years? Gosh, I'm old. So I don't know what it's going to be like and really we don't care. It doesn't matter. I think one of the things that's given us the success we've had on the road is just focusing on what we can control: our routine. And that gets tiring to hear me say that. But the process we go through to get us to game time is what's most important. Not where we play, who we play, what surface we play on, what the weather conditions are, or what's the crowds are like. So that's what our focus will be again this week.
Q: [audio difficulties]
JM: spring. We use it today just to… it wasn't because necessarily we're anticipating what the crowd might be like. It was really just to pose some distractions for our players that they had to fight through.
Q: did you use it because you could finally hear the crowd noise over the Pauley [Pavilion] construction?
JM: haha, that's right. The Pauley construction has acted as crowd noise for us for a few months there.
Q: they [Stanford] have such a strong fast defensive front. You think the second time around, you're better to adapt to that?
JM: I hope so. And you're right. They're big, they're physical, and they're strong. They're not only fast but they play fast. There's a difference. You can have fast guys that don't play fast. But they've got fast guys that play fast. And so they pose a real challenge. I just think that any advantages you have playing a team the second time are kind of wiped out by the fact that they have the same advantage. So I think once again it comes back to executing. Trying to get out there and execute to the maximum of our abilities and make some plays.
Q: where do you think the defense has improved the most from the beginning of the season ‘til now?
JM: I think defending the run. You know, coming off a game where a team rushes for over 200 yards on you, it sounds a little strange, but on a consistent down to down basis our understanding of our gap control, our ability to shed, disengage blocks, stay on our feet, tackle… I think we've made some improvements there. We still got a long ways to go but we've made some improvements.
Q: [audio difficulties]
JM: oh, he's good.
Q: [audio difficulties] [Goines]???
JM: he'll be fine. What other answer did you expect? "He'll be fine." That's my stock answer. "Dalton? He'll be fine."