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December 31, 2012

Sun Bowl notes & quotes

LANE KIFFIN-USC HEAD COACH

Opening statement

"Obviously very disappointing day, coming down to turning the ball over and third-down efficiency really nullifying anything on offense. I thought our defense did a good job today. I thought they played very hard, obviously wore down a bit there late, but that's to be expected when we turn the ball over that many times. One touchdown is basically on a punt return. Both teams were in the red zone three times, they score 21 points, we score seven. Very surprising game, I thought we would play much better on offense today. I thought we did two good weeks of practice, I thought guys were really into it, I thought our defense, for a cold windy day like that, really came out and played very physical on turf and the story line really came down to our inefficiency on offense and obviously that starts with the head coach."

(On how much responsibility for season falls on his shoulders)

"All of it, we can't be 7-6, not at SC and that's not our expectations and not why we came here and obviously we have some work to do to get that fixed. We are a young team, we started one senior on offense today, so we got to continue to recruit, continue to get better and obviously coach better. We just got to spend some time here and evaluate what we're doing. Obviously we have a big high on our defense coming up here, but it's your job as coach to look at every aspect of the program and make sure there isn't something we could be doing better."

(On disconnect between two good weeks of practice and poor game)

"I have no idea (about disconnect), even the walkthrough yesterday had great energy. It was windy and cold out here yesterday in the stadium. Before the game they had great energy, I was really surprised because obviously that was the big fear, after the season that we had and the way the wind was going to be today and the temperature, that we would come out flat. And I don't think we really did we just didn't play well on one aspect of the game, and that was on the offensive side of the ball. You turn the ball over three times and are 3-of-15 on third downs it's going to be tough and we put Max (starting qb) in a very tough position today by not being really efficient running the ball, number one, and then putting him in a lot of third-and-longs."

(On lack of energy late in the game)

"I thought our defense still hung in there for the most part. You start getting down when you see you have to go back out there on defense and our offense is doing nothing. Every time you fight there is a little bit of energy surge but we don't capitalize on offense. Especially in those temperatures and conditions it's hard to get that energy going when you keep putting the defense back out there."

(On deciding whether to put backup QB Cody Kessler in late in the game)

"I just didn't think that, the way the temperature was and the way the wind was going, the way we were running the ball, I don't think that was really the right move at the time."

(On how Georgia Tech took his big-play wide receivers out of the game)

"They played a lot of three-roll to Marqise and a lot of cover-two otherwise and they didn't blitz a lot. At the end of the day we weren't very efficient and didn't cause them many issues, but at the end of day they didn't miss many tackles, I thought they tackled really well. They played with a lot of two-high safeties and were winning the matchups up front. They usually have boxes that you can run into, but I thought their defensive lineman played well and their linebackers came off some blocks on our fullbacks really well."

(On whether WR Marquise Lee's leg injury have any bearing on gameplan)

"I don't think so, I think we went about it the way as if he would be there just calling the plays and obviously we weren't very efficient."

(On effect of punt return in game)

"It hurt, we were going with the wind that way, and just like they did you have to drive the ball low or its going to go nowhere. That wind down there was pretty vicious and unfortunately they caught the punt on the run and hit it."

(On possible changes during spring)

"Whether we win or lose this game we're going to evaluate everything and even if had won this game we would still be very disappointed in our season, it's well below our standards and we'll evaluate everything and this game won't mean more or less than that."

(On why last two seasons were so different)

"That's always a hard question. You have to look at yourself first and even though you feel like you were doing the same things you were doing the year before, you have to evaluate everything that you're doing and on the same level you can't overreact either because you are basically doing the same stuff, unfortunately the record wasn't the same that it was last year but we'll sit down and evaluate everything that we're doing and get back to work."

QB MAX WITTEK

(On difference today and first start against Notre Dame)

"They played a great game. Our defense got pressure when they needed to get pressure, they covered well, and I don't think there was anything particularly different from the Notre Dame game. I think they had a plan for us and they executed that plan well."

(On wind being a factor)

"It did carry a few balls but we knew that coming in. I knew that I needed to drive the ball a little bit more but the wind was there for both teams. Obviously they run the ball a little bit more than they throw, but we both had the wind factor."

(On if he ever lost confidence or got frustrated)

"No, I tried to stay positive throughout the entire game. Body language is very essential and if I start putting my head down what's my team going to think of me. I felt in rhythm a couple of times, we got a couple of drives moving, we were able to get some drag routes coming across the field to Marqise and were able to get a couple of quick-hitters."

(On if bowl game has greater pressure)

"For us, obviously it's a bowl game and winner gets the trophy, but for us we played this as just another game."

DE WES HORTON

(On how he feels about ending senior season in disappointment)

"It's definitely not how I imagined us finishing off the season. I honestly don't think there was a lot of differences between this year and last year. The bowl preparation, coach Kiffin got us jacked up and ready to practice every single practice. But like coach said we got to evaluate everything that happened. I think Coach Kiffin did a great job of getting us ready for this game and the entire season and throughout the practices. From the time that I got here I don't think there has been too much of a difference. Coach Kiffin did a great job and you just have to evaluate what happened on tape."



"No, based on the talent we had coming into this season, I didn't see it coming. With the talent mixed with the coaches that we have by position I thought we were going to have a much better run than we did this year, but situations come up and we just had too many close games where we didn't come through."

(On the defense being worn down)

"I don't we wore down, I think our position coaches did a good job of letting us know there was still plenty of time on the clock and we could still get a quick stop and give the ball back to the offense and potentially tie the game up."

Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson

Opening comment

"We thank the City of El Paso and the Sun Bowl committee for this fabulous week. The second time around was probably better than the first. The hospitality and everything shown to our team, coaching staff and extended family was great. I am really proud of our football team and the way they played today. They played with a lot of heart and I know Southern California has some really good football players. It was a hard fought football game and I am really proud of our team and I thought they played well."

On what the key was defensively

"Well I think we stayed away from giving up the big play and we did well on third down. We created some turnovers and it was just one of those things where we were able to make some big plays. We played pretty consistently. It became a field position game."

On the two quarterback situation

"I think both our guys did a good job. In the second half we got more geared into the running game and Tevin has great experience with that."

On the Georgia Tech defense

"I really think our guys played well the entire game. Other than the one drive we gave up, guys were playing fast and playing hard. They knew where to go and what to do; there wasn't a lot of thinking going on. There at the end of the game we were able to play prevent, three-deep defense with guys playing loose."

On the wind and if it affected play calling

"It [the wind] affected it totally. When you were going against the wind we weren't even going to try to throw the ball. And with the defense playing the way it was, it became a field position game. We had chances to put them in bad spots when we were punting as well. The defense did a good job stopping them."
Tevin Washington - Quarterback

On throwing in windy conditions

"We could have had some bigger plays but we handled it well today."

On the Georgia Tech defense

"The defense played very well. Coach Kelly has been doing a great job coaching the defense and being out there seeing them make plays was great. The defense has been carrying us on the back of the season, so it was a good feeling."

On the thoughts of the final interception of the game

"I was like 'It's game over'. I didn't want to celebrate until there were zeros on the clock but when Quayshawn made that interception I knew we just had to take a knee and end the game."

Rod Sweeting - Cornerback

On his play in today's game against USC

"This is really exciting. With one of our coordinators getting fired mid-season, coach Kelly did a good job for us. He kept preaching to just finish and the type of performance I had in this game, I am very excited."

On being the underdog in today's game

"All season, they never gave us a chance. Coach Kelly and the rest of the coaching staff really did a good job firing us up. The coaches brought a lot of energy to the team and it was great."

On the wind helping the defense

"If the wind wasn't blowing, I feel like the result would have been the same. We just went out there, lined up and did our assignments and got the W."

On covering the USC offense

"The quarterback was staring down a lot of his receivers and Coach Kelly always preached on how to look for that. I just sat down and jumped [the route].We saw on film that the zone caused them a lot of havoc. Jamaal and I were moving around disguising the coverage's. He was rattled the whole game and we knew we had him. It was a good job by the safeties on disguising the coverage's."

Orwin Smith - Kick Returner

On coming back into the game after getting hurt in the first half

"I just sat in the locker room the whole first half just wondering if this was supposed to happen because I had already missed two big games, and this one was even bigger. I just prayed on it and took the chance of going back out there."

On scoring a touchdown

"It was a great one-on-one opportunity and you can't ask for much more."

On playing in the Sun Bowl and in this environment

"It was great. The crowd was very excited. There weren't many Georgia Tech fans but we definatley appreciate El Paso and the fans coming out to support us."

2012 Sun Bowl - IN GAME NOTES

Georgia Tech vs. USC (Dec. 31, 2012)

* Georgia Tech comes into the game with the fourth-longest active bowl streak appearance with 16 straight. This is the second consecutive Sun Bowl appearance and third overall for the Hornets. They are 1-1 losing in overtime last year to the Utah Utes.

* This is USC's third Sun Bowl appearance while it is 0-2 in the game. The Trojans fell to TCU in 1998 and Michigan State in 1990.

* USC won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. Georgia Tech will receive and while USC will start the game defending the north goal.

FIRST QUARTER

* Georgia Tech gained just one yard on the opening drive of the game, while USC gained only two yards on its first drive.

* USC attempted a 38-yard field goal that went wide left. It was first called good but after a booth review, was determined no good.

* Back-up quarterback Vad Lee ran for 24 yards on his first play of the game.

* Georgia Tech crossed the 50 but was pushed back to their 46 with 5:11 left in the quarter and was forced to punt for the second time in the game. That punt was a 37-yard punt followed by a three-yard USC return.

* Georgia Tech finished the quarter with three first downs while USC had one. The Hornets posted 70 yards and USC had 34 in the first quarter. The Trojans had two "three-and-out" possessions and one missed field goal.

* The teams combined for only 16 passing yards in the first quarter. (9 yards for USC and 5 yards for GT)

SECOND QUARTER

* Chris Jackson caught a 27-yard pass for the Hornet's fifth first down of the game on the first play of the second quarter.

* Georgia Tech was the first to score. The Hornets scored on a pass from Vad Lee to David Sims on three-yard pass. Scoring drive was 14 plays, 74 yards, 6:53. It was Lee's fourth passing touchdown of the year and Sims' first receiving touchdown of the season. GT was the first to score in the 36th Sun Bowl (Dec. 19, 1970) against Texas Tech and won that game 17-9. The Hornets allowed Utah to score first in the 78th Sun Bowl (Dec. 31, 2011) and lost that game 30-27.

* USC linebacker Lamar Dawson picked off a Vad Lee pass giving USC the ball on the Hornet 33-yard line with 6:11 left in the second half. Dawson returned the interception 29 yards.

* Georgia Tech's Rod Sweeting intercepted a pass at the Hornet 25-yard line and returned the ball 21 yards to the USC 46 yard-line. It was Sweeting's first interception of the year and the fifth of his career.

* USC got the ball back with 3:24 left in the second quarter on a fumble recovery by defensive lineman Wes Horton. It was Horton's second fumble recovery of the year. It was the third consecutive turnover in as many drives. (Two turnovers by USC and one by Georgia Tech)

* USC doubled its number of first downs after a 20-yard rush by Silas Redd. The Trojans had four first downs with under two minutes in the first half.

* USC scored a touchdown on a nine-yard pass to Silas Redd with 49.1 seconds left in the first half. The scoring drive was eight plays, 59 yards in 2:34. It is Redd's first receiving touchdown of the year.

* Georgia Tech posted 133 yards in the second quarter compared to USC's 104 net yards. The Hornets out-rushed USC 71-33 in the second quarter and had more first downs (6-3). Both teams had one penalty for a loss of five yards each.

HALFTIME

* This is the 11th time the Sun Bowl has been tied at halftime and the fourth time it's been tied 7-7. The last time came in the 66th Sun Bowl (Dec. 31, 1999) with Minnesota and Oregon were tied 7-7 before Oregon won 24-20. The first halftime tie came in the Sixth Sun Bowl (Jan. 1, 1940) when it was 0-0 between Arizona State and Catholic. That game ended in a 0-0 tie. USC was tied 7-7 against Michigan State in the 57th Sun Bowl (Dec. 31, 1990), before losing 17-16.

* Georgia Tech finished the half with 10 first downs compared to USC's four. GT out-ran the Trojans 136-58 and had the ball for 17:49 compared to USC's time of possession of 12:11. Both teams had three-third down conversions.

THIRD QUARTER

* USC opened the second half with a 20-yard kickoff return starting the first drive of the half at the Trojan 20-yardline.

* Georgia Tech's Jamal Golden took back a 30-yard punt 57 yards to the one-yard line with 13:07 left in the third quarter. The Hornets scored two plays later on a one-yard run by quarterback Tevin Washington with 12:23 left in the third quarter. Scoring drive was two plays, one yard and 47 seconds. The 57-yard return is the longest non-scoring punt return in the Sun Bowl.

* The Georgia Tech defense opened the second half holding USC to back-to-back "three-and-out" possessions.

* With 8:50 left in the third quarter, USC posted only nine yards on nine plays. Georgia Tech tallied four yards on seven plays.

* Georgia Tech posted the first-first down of the second half on an 11-yard run by David Sims with about eight minutes left in the third quarter.

* USC recovered the ball after the ball touched a Georgia Tech player on a punt with 4:44 left in the third quarter. The ball was touched by Demond Smith and recovered by USC's Nelson Agholor.

* Georgia Tech got the ball back by on a turnover-on-downs with 2:42 left in the third quarter.

* USC had five possessions in the third quarter with four "three-and-out" possesions and one turnover-on-downs. The Trojans posted 17 total yards in the third quarter. Georgia Tech marked 78 total yards in the third quarter.

FOURTH QUARTER

* Georgia Tech's Orwin Smith caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Tevin Washington to make the score 21-7 with 13:11 left in the fourth quarter. It was Smith's first catch of the day. The scoring drive was nine plays in 4 minutes 31 seconds covering 62 yards. It was Smith's second career receiving touchdown.

* Georgia Tech gave the ball back to USC with 8:32 left in the fourth quarter on a turnover-on-downs.

* USC marked its first-first down of the second half with 8:16 left in the fourth quarter. The Trojans got their second first down of the half two plays later on a 25-yard run by Silas Redd.

* Georgia Tech's Quayshawn Nealy intercepted the ball with 6:22 left in the fourth quarter. The Trojans had the ball on the three yard line and but could not score. It was Nealy's fourth interception of his career and his second of the season.

POST GAME

* With 47,922 in attendance today, it marks the 16th consecutive Sun Bowl with more than 45,000 in attendance. The highest attended Sun Bowl was on Dec. 31, 2010 when Notre Dame defeated Miami 33-17.

* Georgia Tech finished the game with 369 net yards (294 rushing, 75 passing), while USC end the game with 205 net yards (98 rushing, 107 passing).

* USC had 10 first downs compared to 18 for the Hornets.


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