ORLANDO, Fla. – The LSU football team spent the afternoon at Universal Studios Wednesday as the Tigers enjoyed one last theme park before they will strictly focus on the 2010 Capital One Bowl against Penn State.
After two days of visiting SeaWorld and Disney World, the Tigers were ready for more fun at Universal Studios where most of the team enjoyed the attractions at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Although many of the players walked the entire park, the most popular rides were The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Dueling Dragons roller coaster and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man 3-D experience.
“I had never been here before, but I had a blast,” senior linebacker Jacob Cutrera said. “It was fun. The Spider-Man 3-D ride was the coolest thing for me.”
The players not only took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy great roller coasters, but they also took the time to enjoy the finer cuisine that Universal had to offer.
LSU fullback Thomas Parsons and defensive lineman Drake Nevis were just two of the Tigers who were spotted walking around the park munching on a giant turkey leg, and other players bought churros and hot dogs.
With the theme park visits over for the week, the Tigers will now turn their full, undivided attention to the 11th-ranked Nittany Lions.
“It was a great experience as a whole to be with my teammates, get on the rides and see everybody smiling,” sophomore offensive lineman Josh Dworaczyk said. “It was a great experience, but now it is time to focus. We are getting to bed early tonight, and we are getting up tomorrow and it’s all business. The rides and attractions were great, but now it is time to play Penn State.”
No. 13 LSU and Penn State will square off at noon CT (1 p.m. ET) Friday in the Capital One Bowl inside Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.
Capital One Bowl Player/Coordinator Press Conference
Dec. 30, 2009
(On Joe Paterno's legacy)
I remember going against him in 1993. I was really happy that I got to go against him back then when I was at Boston College, thinking that I don't know how many more years he is going to coach. That was a long time ago. I think it’s great that he has done so well, and that he has been such a positive example and role model for college football and for players all over the country. One of my friends went to his camp when he was a youth, and because of Coach Paterno he has been a Penn State fan through the years, he is now with BYU. I feel honored to go against his team. They are an outstanding team.
There is not a lot you can add other than the fact that he has done it with class for a long time. He has done it the right way. Certainly when you look at college football he has been a tremendous part of bringing college football to where it is day. Those numbers I dare say will never be matched with what he has done at Penn State.
(On rumors about Georgia)
We are excited about what we are doing at LSU and my focus has been at LSU and will continue to be on LSU. We have an opportunity to win 10 ball games and that is what we want to do. We have an opportunity to be the third team in the SEC to win 100 ball games in a decade and certainly that is what we want to do. That is our focus is going to be and I will be happy to talk as long as you want about LSU and about our players.
(On running back injuries)
When we started out the season Stevan Ridley, our starting running back for this game, was hurt during spring practice. So, he was out during most of fall camp, and is just starting to come back from knee surgery. It hasn't even been a year since he was hurt. We went into the season with three running backs, Charles Scott, Keiland Williams, and Richard Murphy, and all three of those guys have been hurt throughout the year. So it has been an adjustment. You can't rep everyone early in fall camp, so right now Stevan Ridley is getting all of the reps along with Trendon Holliday and Russell Shepard. I can kind of hurt your rhythm and momentum a little bit, but it has been kind of nice with this bowl because we have had a lot of time to prepare and get these guys ready. I am excited to see how they do on the first.
(On the importance of this game for next year)
Well just like last year with the Chick-fil-A bowl, we didn't have the season that we wanted to have, but we played that game phenomenally we were prepared early and that spring loaded us for the following season, everyone was ready. So, this is a game that can boost you into the off season. It boosts morale and gets you ready to go for next season.
Just getting 10 wins. There are plenty of teams that would kill for 10 wins. It is something that we are striving for and working hard for everyday. To finish the season 10-3 and in the top 10 on the country, I think will help us from a recruiting standpoint.
(On the two new assistants)
I am going to miss the two coaches who have moved on, but I am very happy with the two new coaches. I have known Billy Gonzalez for a long time. He was someone that I recommended when I first came here, but we weren't able to get him away from Florida. We are on the same page on how we like to do things. We have a great working relationship and I think you will see an immediate impact with that. We both went to Colorado State so we have known each other for a long time, and I think it is going to be an excellent situation.
As far as Frank Wilson goes, he is from Louisiana and he knows the kids. From a recruiting standpoint he is outstanding and very knowledgeable.
I think I am going to be very comfortable with these new coaches. When they first came in, because of the bowl situation, I had a chance to prepare them by bringing them in and helping them learn our language and nomenclature. Since them it has gone very smoothly.
(On comparison between Jordan Jefferson and Darryl Clark)
I think with Jordan, for the most part of last year he red shirted. He wasn't with the first or second unit for most of the season until we had the injuries to Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee. Late in the year we had him playing in the last few games. This is really his first year and I feel like he has been thrown in the fire on some very tough situations and I think he has been growing from those situations. Having the chance to play Florida when they were ranked No.1 and Alabama when they were ranked right up there late in the year. Just playing in those big games and finishing big games, and finding a way to win the Arkansas game after a tough loss to Ole Miss. I just think that helps a young quarterback. I see that Penn State's quarterback is also growing and does some great things. I am very comfortable with where we are a right now.
Well they are both very talented, they both run well, they throw well. I would prefer to play against a quarterback that can't run or throw, but it doesn't look like we are going to have that chance. I can see why you would make that comparison because they are both really talented players. There is no question about that.
(On inconsistencies on defense and offense)
When you start to look at our play book I think our team has done a great job of digesting what we wanted them to do. We wanted them to be able to execute the things that we gave them. We are very multiple. We have built out philosophy around that and it gives us the chance to adjust on the move.
On the offensive side, when Jordan is healthy we are able to use his legs as well as his arm. He was kind of beat up late in the tear and we weren't able to use his legs as much from a running quarterback standpoint so we had to do some adjustments there. Also, with losing all of our backs last year, especially our full back Quinn Johnson who was an outstanding player, that caused us to change a few things. At this point we are pretty healthy, I think we have a good feel for our new back and where everyone is at. Hopefully we will have a positive and consistent game going into this one.
(On potential speed advantage of LSU)
We have to win the battle up front, sometimes that is the deciding factor of a game. But, we do have a lot of speed on our team, as well as they do. We have been having some great practices just hitting each other. We have had a lot of time to get in a lot of practice. We did a lot of mental stuff, but we did a lot of physical stuff too.
(On the significance of possibly winning 100 games in the decade)
Well, you look at the records and it’s only been done twice and certainly having that opportunity to do it at LSU is special. It truly is for the program. I think it speaks high for the program, for the athletes who have been a big part for the program and for the coaches that have been there in the past. Certainly, if we can get that accomplished it would be a big mark in history for LSU, just like it would for any other team in the SEC.
I think it’s just great that you can be a part of that program. I’m very fortunate to be here and be with that. It was nice to win that national championship while were here and here we’ll have another chance to win 10 games this year going into this game. It’s very exciting.
(On similarities they have seen between Penn State and SEC opponents this year)
If I had to compare them to anybody we played this year it would be Alabama. With the style of the offensive, with the play action game they do a good job. Darryl Clark does a tremendous job going out reading out his fakes and reading the defensive. At the same time he has the Tebow mentality, he’ll drop a shoulder on anybody. I commend him for that. They have a great scheme. Their offensive if compared to anybody would be Alabama.
Everybody always talks about the SEC speed, but I think they can match up with anybody in SEC to be honest with you. They have tons of speed. I watched the linebackers on film and they run sideline to sideline. The defensive line is just as dominant as anybody in the SEC. The whole thing about the SEC being more dominant...I just don’t see it. Those guys they play football. North, south, whatever, they know how to play football. I could match them up with anybody in the SEC.
(On Jordan holding the ball too long)
I’m not comfortable with it, I can tell you that. I think Jordan has done a great job of protecting the football, that’s what I’m excited about. Last year, we talked about not throwing many interceptions and I think he’s got six interceptions on the year and last year we had some interceptions ran back for touchdowns so it was a big emphasis. At the same time, he’s learning how to read coverage better and better. We’re working on getting his feet underneath him -when to run and when to pull it down. We’re spending a lot of time with that in the bowl practices. I think he’ll do a great job in this game and I feel like for the rest of his career as a quarterback that doesn’t get sacked very much. I think he’s got that capability. We just have to be in a good rhythm and get the ball out quick.
(On the bowl preparation after having numerous days off)
John Chavis: I think it balances out for everyone. It gives the athletes some time to do some things. Gives them the opportunity to focus on academics and recover a little bit. There’s no question after eight or ten days off the players look a little faster at practice. Gives everybody the opportunity to rest and as coaches gives us the opportunity to look at film. Sometimes that can be good and bad because you get so much information and you want to get it to the players. We want to focus on what our opponent does best and have some situations ready to take away what they can do best. You can start focusing on too much, we call it looking for ghosts and if you look long enough you’ll find some ghosts. In film there might be things you only see two or three times a year. With a team like Penn State they do some things really well. That’s what you’re going to expect from them.
(On expectations for the offensive line in August and how its change over the season as affected Jordan Jefferson)
Crowton: Going into the line we lost our center and backup center. Both of those guys have been around the program for a long time. They were the communicators. We were talking about finding a center that would play at the same capability as Brett Helms and Ryan Miller. When we lost those guys we felt that was a position we needed to push the most. Right next to that center is big Herm Johnson who we lost. We got Josh Dworaczyk in there. So in developing those two guys if the quarterback was a little more developed it helps those guys or vice versa. That center of the line, being right there for communication causes some issues resulting in sacks and what not. I feel like the experience of those guys is getting stronger and stronger in practice. The quarterback in his recognition of defensives. For blitz, that right there I’m happy how we’re ending up. There were times in the season we knew we had to get better at that. We’re happy with our two tackles, they’re coming back and right guard.
(On the condition of the turf at the stadium and LSU’s weapons on offense)
Bad turf always slows down fast players. If they have speed and we have speed then we’ll just be slower. Which is not a good thing for anybody, but it is what it is. As far as the kid in the kid in the candy store I always feel that way with offense. I’ve been disappointed in some of our yards per game. I feel like we haven’t had big yardage days against weaker opponents. In conference games we’ve done a decent job- I’m not sure about those stats, but when you have lots of weapons sometimes you don’t get anybody really going. In the latter half of the year, we’ve tried to establish certain players. Health has been an issue in that area. In this game we really want to get Stevan Ridley going in this game. We need to get our receivers going Brandon LaFell, Richard Dickson, and Terrence Toliver. Get the quarterback in a steady rhythm and then we have those two speed guys coming in and out. We know they’ll make plays. How much they play will depend on the other guy. We can’t grab bag, like at times we’ve done this year, because you won’t get into a rhythm with anybody. Those are things we’ve discussed and have a plan for going into this game.
(On having a young quarterback, what to expect from Penn defense)
We’re prepared for blitzes. We have experienced a lot of blitzes the latter half of the season with Jordan’s ankle injury. They’re not a big blitz team, but we felt we should prepare for that based on what some of the teams did at the end of the year. I feel like they’re going to be more on coverage because of how their defensive is. If they start coming after us we have some good checks and things we’ll do. We’ll just see how the game goes.
(On Penn State quarterback Darryl Clark)
You look at his numbers and they’re outstanding. I think he played well all season. He’s a tremendous player with a lot of talent and when he’s comfortable he can be good as any. Being a dual track guy, being able to move the ball running as well as he can throw it. I think he threw for 2,700 yards. Those are stats any quarterback would be excited about.
Everything I’ve seen on film shows he does a great job managing the game. Controlling everything that he can control, if you let him he can rip you apart. I take my hat off to him for what he’s done during his career at Penn State.