BOULDER University of Colorado head coach Gary Barnett held his weekly media luncheon Tuesday at the Dal Ward Athletic Center, as Barnett addressed the media during an afternoon press conference. The following are excerpts pertaining to the EV1.net Houston Bowl on Dec. 29 versus the University of Texas-El Paso (2:30 p.m. MST, ESPN) and notes from CU’s evening practice session.
On the Houston Bowl: “I think this bowl game, for us, is a really good match from a standpoint that we get to go to Houston. For a lot of our players being from the Houston-Dallas area it will be great that their families will get to be at that game. Those guys will get to spend some time at home and then time around the bowl right after. I think it’s a great opportunity. We get to play a very good football team. We get ourselves about seven more days of practice this way, which if anybody watched the (Big 12 Championship) game last Saturday you could tell we need a little practice. We need to take advantage of that as much as we can. We’ll spend a lot of the time working with a big emphasis on our young guys, and that won’t be hard since we are a young football team. But, we are going to put some more emphasis into our freshmen and sophomores to get them ready even prior to spring ball.
“The game is played in a great venue (Reliant Stadium); we played there in the Big 12 Championship two years ago. It’s a great place to play, and we know the locker room.
“I think the good thing about this bowl game is that we don’t have to live with our (previous) game being our finale. That’s what I see about this bowl game. I think our players won enough games to earn a bowl spot, and now we have to go play and earn a win. Everything has got to be earned during this time. I’m just thankful for our players that we don’t have to end the year with the performance that we had last Saturday.”
On the Big 12 Championship Loss: “The question that has to be answered now is how we are going to respond from Saturday night. We were disappointed, obviously, in the way we played. We were disgusted is more like it, but it was what it was. We just have to get over it. I know a year ago Oklahoma suffered a similar defeat almost identically, so now we just have to get beyond it. That’s not going to be easy; there will be a hangover from it, but we’ll get beyond it as coaches and players. We didn’t play very competitively, and that’s very disappointing.”
On UTEP: “I don’t know if I can tell you much about them yet because I haven’t been able to watch much film. They are a lot like Washington State scheme wise. If there is anybody I’d compare them to it’d be Washington State, athletically and scheme wise. They’ll do the exact same things on offense. Their defense is a little bit different, but they’re pretty close to Washington State.”
On How to Motivate His Players for the Bowl After a Tough Loss: “It just becomes your total focus. You don’t talk about anything else. They don’t want to hang on that stuff either. They want to get it off their minds, they want to get rid of it, get the taste out of their mouths and get going. They want you to push them forward. So, that’s what we’re doing pushing them forward.”
On Advice for USC Against Oklahoma: “It’s their problem now. It was mine last week, but it’s theirs now. That (Oklahoma) is a good football team, and they were on a mission. That running back (Adrian Peterson) is really impressive. He’s Downhill Bill. There isn’t any dancing with him. We’re going to find out (who’s the best). Oklahoma has to play the best (to win). Being ranked 1 or 2 doesn’t make any difference. It’s how you play, so we’ll find out in that game.”
Injury Updates: Barnett said redshirt freshman Chris Russell, who tore a quad muscle on special teams against OU, may be ready for the bowl game. Originally, Barnett noted that Russell would need more time to recuperate, but now “he may not be as bad as we thought.”
Senior defensive tackle Matt McChesney (elbow/arm) will most likely miss practice this week, while sophomore linebacker Thaddaeus Washington (concussion) will be sidelined a couple days, as well. Freshman linebacker Jordon Dizon (shoulder/neck stinger) “will mss most of the week and start back up next week,” according to Barnett.
CU practiced for about 1½ hours Tuesday, and will resume work again on Wednesday and Thursday before taking a week off to prepare for the university’s final exam period.