Stanford coach David Shaw spoke about what it takes to get to four consecutive bowl games and Cardinal running back Tyler Gaffney talked about what it means to be at the Rose Bowl. Linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov and offensive lineman David Yankey also took part in Sunday's media session.
Here are some highlights:
Q: When you talk about Stanford being in four consecutive bowl games, what's been the key?
David Shaw: I think there are a lot of keys. For us this being our fourth BCS game in a row, it starts with people. I think we've got great coaches that understand Stanford and understand the game of football. You have to understand both. But I also think it comes down to the kids that we have.
Flying these young men from around the nation who were nationally recruited, kids that fit Stanford University on the football field and in the classroom, finding tough kids and smart kids. But I give a lot of credit to these seniors, the kids that came in four or five years ago wanting to establish something at Stanford. There have been peaks and valleys in Stanford football. The goal was to build something that could stay, and those guys are a big part of that.
Q: What do you think is going to happen next year with the playoffs?
David Shaw: You know, my philosophy, and I don't know if people like it or don't like it, but my philosophy is we're still going to concentrate on the Rose Bowl. We're still going to concentrate on our conference. If we can win our conference again, that would be great.
If we get invited to the playoffs, that would be great. But once again, that's another thing that's outside of our purview to a certain extent. There's going to be a committee and I'm looking forward to it. That's going to be great. But for us just to have that as a goal, I don't believe that helps us.
I think what helps us is still concentrating on our conference, trying to survive our conference again, which is the toughest conference to play in the nation, and once you get to the end of the season, if you get invited to a playoff, great. If you don't and you're just going to the old Rose Bowl, let's gear up, let's go do it. For us we just concentrate on us and concentrate on our conference.
Q: Did you tell Coach that you wanted the ball more in your hands?
Tyler Gaffney: You know, I never told him specifically that I want the ball more, but I let him know that I'm not tired. I haven't been tired.
Whenever he chose to take me out, it was his decision; it wasn't because I wasn't physically able to go back in. I think it was just one game it broke through that I wasn't going to be tired throughout the game, and we kind of went smooth sailing from there.
How great is your O line?
Tyler Gafney: The offensive line is unbelievable. Coach Bloomgren does a great job with them. They know they have to be the smartest offensive line in the country, knowing exactly how the scheme fits, knowing where the other four are going to be.
Once we all got on the same page, the same mesh, I think they know, they can feel myself running behind them and they can I feel exactly where the front five are going to be.
Q: Do you mentor any of the younger players? Give them advice?
Tyler Gaffney: Yeah, mentoring the young guys is something I've found out that I have really enjoyed doing. There's a lot of nicks and knacks about the game of football, about being a running back. I feel I've been here long enough to have picked up some of those and stuff that you don't really just learn by the coaches. You have to learn by playing. And I'm more than happy to help the young guys.
Q: As the week goes on, the media buildup, how has it changed your perspective?
Tyler Gaffney: It just makes the game a little bit more higher touted. You really realize what the Rose Bowl is. When you first got here you saw the festivities, but as the game gets closer, you can feel the energy of the Rose Bowl, of the tradition.
We went to the Beef Lawry's Bowl yesterday, and 50 plus years of great teams, great NFL Hall of Famers that have been through that, to be a part of that is something special.
Q: Being from the West Coast, how important is the Rose Bowl?
Tyler Gaffney:I think anybody who comes from the West Coast, goes to a West Coast school, especially in the Pac, has the Rose Bowl in mind. That's why you play football, just to be in the granddaddy Rose Bowl. It's something special. Probably the most special game I'll be a part of in my college career.
A: Can you talk about developing your strength and your moves?
Trent Murphy: Your moves are different on each side, mostly because it depends on whether you're on the quarterback's backside or not. If you are on his backside he can't see what you are doing. Some have a feeling for you, but if he can't see you and you cut inside you can lose contain easier. So sometimes you have to go right through them so you can play inside and outside depending on whether the quarterback wants to step up or get out of the pocket. You work that in practice.
Q: People don't realize you're a modern day cowboy. How do you play football and steer wrestle?
Trent Murphy: Playing football and steer wrestling, it's a hard nosed job there, you have to look the steer in the eye and wrestle a 600 pound animal to the ground. To get to the quarterback he's a few hundred pounds less but nonetheless.
Q: As you get closer to the game and the media grows, how does it change you and the team?
Shayne Skov: I don't think we change at all. Since the season started, we've been really internally motivated, and I think that's what generates our success. We're going to stick to that. Obviously, we know the height and the importance of this game, and we're not going to turn a blind eye to that or try and ignore that, but at the same time, it's about the guys in our locker room.
Q: In football, every game means so much. How big is this one?
Shayne Skov: I mean, it's the end of our season, and this is the last game you remember for the next nine months. So it's incredibly important. And so we acknowledge that. We've had now like moving on four weeks to prepare for the game. So we want to put our best foot forward on the national stage.
Q: 100th anniversary -- There's only one of them. You guys are in it. Perspective?
Shayne Skov: I think for us it's a little difficult to have full perspective on that because our focus is on the game. It sounds cliche to say, but whether it's the 100th or the 99th for us as players, if we want to win, we have to have the entire focus and heart on the game itself. We're aware it's a momentous occasion, but at the same time, we have to get ready to play because that's what really matters as part of the team.
Q: When you guys came in did you foresee the success of being in four straight success bowls?
David Yankey: No, I'm not going to lie, there aren't many teams in the country who have gone to four straight BCS bowls, so it's an honor and a testament to all the hard work we put in.
Q: Is that something you talked about as a group?
David Yankey: We talked about it and after making it to the Orange Bowl we were red shirt freshmen most of us and then going to the Fiesta Bowl it became an expectation where we were working toward that every year.
Q: How is it like to play with Kevin Hogan?
David Yankey: He's absolutely awesome. I've loved him since day one and last year he stepped in and was just kind of getting his feet wet, playing really well but he wasn't completely there as far as leadership and in the off season he took it upon his shoulders to be a leader of the offense and the team in general and he's done a great job of growing, and I love the way he plays and the way he commands the huddle.
Q: The fact that you guys are playing Michigan State, this is the 100th Rose Bowl. How cool is it just to think about that?
David Yankey: It's incredibly cool being here last year thinking, oh, this is the 99th Rose Bowl, wouldn't it be cool if it was the 100th? And low and behold we end up here again and it's the last of the BCS games, there is a special quality to it. Like you said, the Rose Bowl will still go on but it's kind of an end of an era, in some sense and we're excited to be part of that.