COACH SHAW: Thank you. First of all, just very proud of our guys. Give a lot of credit to Wisconsin. Nobody gave them a chance coming into this game, but we watched the film, saw how physical they played, and saw how they lost so many close games to some really good football teams. We knew this was going to be a battle.
For us, we wouldn't expect it any other way. This is the way we've played all year. We know it's going to be tight, and we know it's going to be close. At the end of the game, we're going to find a way to win. That's what our guys did.
As I said, I'm so proud of them, the work that these guys have put in, the way they played together, and when somebody makes a mistake, our guys don't get on each other. They pick each other back up again, and that's been a running theme all year.
So we knew our unity, our togetherness, the way we played together was going to give us a chance to win the football game.
Q. Why do you think you won today?
COACH SHAW: Well, not to be sarcastic, but we scored the most points.
Surprised this isn't getting more run around here. Sounds like something our last coach would have said. Shaw's growing more comfortable in his own skin.
Q. Well, why do you think you scored the most points?
COACH SHAW: For us, it's not the why, it's the how. We played extremely hard. We didn't always play smart. We missed a couple of throws, and we had a couple of guys that missed a couple of blocks on offense. Defensively, we missed a couple of tackles.
But for us, it's not about playing perfect. It's about finishing strong, and that's what our guys did. So we knew in the fourth quarter, if it's a one-score game, and we're up or we're down, we know we're going to give ourselves a chance to win.
We'll have the exact Ben Gardner quote soon, but, much like Coach Shaw alluded to not playing smart, Gardner too said that Stanford left points on the table because of self-inflicted mistakes. Gardner, for one, thinks that the second half was far more reflective of the Stanford defense's talent level than the first 30 minutes.
Q. David, first of all, when I talked to Chase Thomas, he said that you guys kept going back to the same thing in the second half that you kept basically trying to do the same things constantly. What was that same thing?
COACH SHAW: It was about us being us. We say that a lot. It's about playing our scheme. We did some things early in the game to loosen them up a little bit, but we want to play our style of football. And we put the onus on the execution. Of the drives that stalled, we didn't execute great. Wisconsin played extremely well. The drives that Wisconsin had, they executed extremely well, but we missed some tackles. So for us it's always about getting back to basics. I tell these guys a lot about a conversation I had with Joe Montana and we talked about the Super Bowl wins and how Bill Walsh would go back to day one: installation. The game is on the line, and the plays that those guys know and rep. We say that all the time we're going to go back to what we do, because at the end of the game, it all comes down to execution.
Q. Coach, you've had two outstanding seasons in a row. How much pressure are you going to put on yourself and your staff for this year coming up?
COACH SHAW: It's not about pressure for us. It's about, once again, our work. I know first and foremost as a coach the thing you do is surround yourself with the right people. I love my staff. I love the way the guys work. We've recruited great kids, kids that are tough. They're smart, and they're great kids to be around. So the environment is one of competitiveness, that we push each other and we work together. So for us, it's about what's next. What's next for us is the winter conditioning. We'll enjoy this. We'll have a great time and we'll get back to winter conditioning. I've reminded the young guys that were in the locker room how hard it was to get to this point. It's not going to be any easier. Our conference, you see our conference, and our conference, we beat each other up throughout the year, so next year is not going to be easy. Every team's going to be back, bigger, and stronger, and it's our job to be the same way.
This would have been the logical point for Shaw, had he wanted to, to make headlines about next year's team being a top-five unit, or gunning for the national championship, or such. He demurred, ducking the question if anything.
COACH SHAW: It was understandable. We weren't upset about it at all. It was understandable. Andrew Luck deserved and deserves a lot of credit and a lot of attention for what he has done with us and what he's doing now in the NFL. But the thing that we knew is that we had a good team. The thing that Andrew knew was he had a good team around him. Andrew was as excited about this year coming up as anybody that we have. That is one thing we kept talking about. He was so excited because people gave him so much credit.
But nobody was talking about our running game. Nobody was talking about our offensive line. Nobody was talking about our front seven and how special those guys were, last year and this year. Our guys knew if we played smart and played together and played hard, we'd give ourselves a chance to be right here.
Q. Can you talk about the defensive performance in the second half holding Wisconsin scoreless? If somebody had told you that would happen, and then that play with the interception at the end, you would have said?
COACH SHAW: Sounds about right. Defensively, and that's the thing, we talked about it early on when we started winter conditioning. We were going to win games differently than the way we won the year before. We're not going to score 40 points a game. That's just not how we're built right now. Hopefully we'll be built that way again in the future.
But we're going to play great defense, run the ball, use our play action, use our tight ends; and thankfully our quarterback came on strong another the end of the year. We've got a mobile quarterback, that made some great plays. His stats weren't great, but he saved us with his athleticism. That's how we're going to play this year. We knew with a tight game, and as I said earlier, we got our hands on four or five balls defensively in the first half. And for us, those usually turn into interceptions, and we didn't get them in the first half.
We talked about it at halftime, we're going to have to intercept those balls to win it in the end, and we did that thanks to Usua.
I really liked, "That's just not how we're built right now. Hopefully we'll be built that way again in the future." It suggests he has been and still is not satisfied (as some fans had feared as Shaw stuck with Nunes amidst his struggles) with the offense, and while a realist, will not be one to settle for "good enough" moving forward.
Q. How does the perfectionist within you feel about this? I know you guys have high ambitions and lofty standards that you set there. And you win a game on national TV that you really want to play well in, and you find a way to win, even though you don't play your best, how does the perfectionist within you handle that?
COACH SHAW: It never stops. I still have that in my gut. There are two of those third downs, I'm still upset at the calls that I made. Some execution things that I know we could have done so much better.
But right now, it's not the time for that. It's time for celebration. Really excited, really happy, and we'll go back and try to make sure that next year we play even better. And that is the thing. We have a lot of guys coming back on both sides of the ball, all three phases, and we'll hold ourselves to a higher standard. But our standard is not just talking about winning games. Our standard is how we work, and how we come together, and how we practice and the attitude that we build before we ever play a football game, And that starts in a few weeks.
Q. [Stepfan,] you didn't have a carry longer than ten yards, but you still averaged more than four yards a carry, which is kind of an unusual thing to do. Is this kind of the quintessential Stanford game to grind it out against a team?
STEPFAN TAYLOR: Yeah, we knew coming in it was going to be a physical game. We knew that they know how to stop power or knew how to play against power as well as us.
So coming in, we knew it was going to be just grinding it out, grinding it out, and hoping for the big one. They did a great job. We knew they were a great defense coming into this game. We had all the players making big plays as well early on, and as well as our defense keeping us in the game to be able to get the win.
Great stat on Taylor that speaks volumes about his consistency.
Q. If you could be honest about this, it might be difficult, but when you guys take over in the first quarter there and you take a 14-0 lead and you're dominating the game, what is going through your mind at that time?
STEPFAN TAYLOR: I mean, everybody's preaching on the sidelines, let's go, keep the pedal on the metal. And we prepared and Coach told us this game is going to go by quick. And that first half was over really quick. It seemed that we didn't have many possessions.
So coming out in the second half, we needed to capitalize. But we didn't do that. Luckily our defense played great in the second half and held them scoreless.
But like I said, we knew it was a quick game, so we were just trying to capitalize as much as possible. And we knew that at the end of the game, we needed to get that first down to win the game. So we got that and then won the championship.
Q. What would Kulabafi think about this game?
STEPFAN TAYLOR: Kulabafi, I think he's proud right now. He's a happy guy right now.
Q. The perception seemed to be, without Andrew Luck you guys wouldn't have the type of season that you did. Do you guys get tired of hearing that this season at all with the things you guys were able to do without Andrew Luck?
USUA AMANAM: I think it served as motivation for us throughout the year. A couple years ago we lost Toby Gerhart. Couple years ago we lost Coach Harbaugh. This year we lost Andrew Luck. I think it's a testament to our program and how we train and how we prepare each week and every season. I think hat's off to the guys upstairs.
Q. Can you go over the interception?
USUA AMANAM: It was a max drop, so basically just playing the quarterback. I happened to see him go to the middle of the field, and I just pedaled to the right, and I think a D lineman got his hand on the ball, and fortunately the ball just fell in my hands.
So I don't think one play wins any game. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time, and we were able to kind of seal the game with that one.
Josh Mauro was the DL who tipped the pass.
Wisconsin on Stanford's DL:
Q. What did they do to take the running game away?
COACH ALVAREZ: They were doing some different things on the perimeter. They were doing some line stunts that we were having some problems with; and, quite frankly, they're a very good defensive front. We knew that coming in. They're one of the Top 5, I think, in the country against the run.
They're very difficult to block. I thought we had some success. Melvin had a great day on the edge. We made some plays, but they were jamming the middle up pretty good. It seemed like when somebody was coming up free. We weren't picking up the back side linebacker or the lineman on the stunt was coming up free, and they clogged the holes up.
I thought, quite frankly, I thought our defense played very, very well in the second half. Give them a couple of field goals. Both defenses picked it up, made adjustments and picked it up.
Q. You guys had so much success in your last game running the football. Can you talk about what Stanford did that was different than what you've seen so far this year?
Montee Ball: Well, it was just challenging for us to scout them and watch film on them because we've really never faced a three-four defense with the standup D-ends that they do. But their interior group is very physical, and have shown that they do a great job of stopping the run; and they showed it today. But we still feel like we did a great job. Still I can see here 24 for 100, so we still did a good job of running the football. But we just didn't keep it going the whole entire game.
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