Head Coach Gary Kubiak** G Brandon Brooks
QB Case Keenum
NT Earl Mitchell
S D.J. Swearinger
QB T.J. Yates
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on who missed practice) "Well, Cush (ILB Brian Cushing) is still sick. As y'all noticed, our quarterback is not here. (QB) Matt (Schaub) had a death in his family and will miss today and tomorrow morning. My thoughts are with him and his family, but it's good for us, try to create a little adversity out here today. Don't have our quarterback, got on the field and put some guys in tough situations coming off a few days off. So create some adversity and see how they react to it."
(on if NT Earl Mitchell looked as good on tape as he did in person) "Yeah, any time you're a nose guard and you play 12 plays in a game and you factor like he did, that's like a big bonus. No, Earl's come a long way and the great thing for a young player like that; he comes out with a ton of confidence. That's big for us and them behind him; we've got a really good battle going on for his backup position. (NT Terrell) McClain did some good stuff."
(on how RB Cierre Wood graded out as far as pass blocking) "He's got a ways to go. He did some good stuff obviously and I tried to put him in some tough situations that I didn't think he handled very good the other night, today. Trying to see if he can be the complete back, but there's some stuff to grow on. What his grade was? I don't know. It wasn't perfect, I can tell you that."
(on wanting to see improvement from RB Dennis Johnson) "DJ, we could have given him a little more space to do something, but the biggest thing in this league is never having negative plays. You're always coaching your backs to get the ball downhill. He had a couple of plays where he got a little negative and one return where, at the end of the game, he's messing around back there. We don't coach that. We want him to get downhill all the time, but he had a good outing. He did some good stuff picking up blitzes. He just didn't have the numbers that maybe the other kids had."
(on which offensive linemen stood out to him) "I would just say in general that I really liked the work of the second group. They went in, played pretty good, even our three's. We have a young player (G Alex) Kupper who has been an impressive guy for us. (G) Ben Jones to me is becoming a better player, (G) Cody White, (T Andrew) Gardner's a much improved player. So we've had some of these guys for a while and I think the key that some of our two and three-year guys are really becoming better players and it will help us in the long haul."
(on G Wade Smith's status) "We're re-evaluating his situation today, as a matter of fact. Obviously, he banged knees, had his knee swell up on him, had a big bone bruise. Hasn't responded the last few days the way we wanted it. We're re-evaluating him, having some other people look at it today. I'll have more for you probably this afternoon or tomorrow morning."
(on if there is more concern for G Wade Smith) "We were expecting him back in a few days, but it just didn't happen. I'm okay until I hear what's next, but obviously there's another step for us to take. Got to find out what's going on here."
(on the backup quarterback battle and how much QB T.J. Yates' experience gives him an edge) "Well, what is he, one year older than (QB) Case (Keenum)? The biggest thing is he's been on the field in big games. T.J.'s played a playoff game and those types of things. Really, it's a new team. It's time to start over. They all start from square one and T.J. understands that and so does Case. This is a really good deal for them today because they got put in a tough spot. Quarterback is not here, go lead the team. Everybody's looking at them. Some good reactions, some bad reactions. We'll go back and look at it today and they'll get another chance tomorrow."
(on if S D.J. Swearinger was a good tackler at South Carolina) "Yeah, as a matter of fact, that's a strength of his game. That's something you're always concerned about any time you play the first game when you don't take people to the ground. We can obviously tackle better and I know the DBs (defensive backs) had a bunch of drills today to work on that, but he has been a good tackler."
(on if live tackling is something he's ever had done in practice) "I've been on teams where it's been done, brief periods during training camp when the numbers were bigger. But no, I haven't seen it in a while."
(on if the cost-benefit is not worth live tackling in practice) "Yeah, I just don't want us to lose somebody in a pile. I think you lose players with guys going to the ground and rolling up on each other, so we're really coaching people to stay up, be athletic and protect their teammates. That's our belief. We want to work hard and we want to keep them all upright and keep going. I don't think there's an exact science to getting that done, but fortunately we've been okay this year."
(on the competition for the third running back spot) "Yeah, they've all got the ability. They're a little bit different players. I think I've mentioned to you all that (RB) Deji (Karim) is the special teams guy of the four. He's got more experience there. Can 41 (RB Cierre Wood) and 28 (RB Dennis Johnson) come along and battle him that way because that will be very important. (RB Ray) Graham probably had the least reps and he goes in there and plays really well the other night. You never know. It will sort itself out. One thing really neat, all four of those kids have not missed a practice or a snap. That's impressive. I think they've all got an excellent chance to play in this league. We'll see if they end up with us."
(on the young running backs playing well and making it a harder decision for him as to who makes the roster) "When they're hard, that means you're getting better. That's okay. I tell these young guys all the time, they're trying to prove they can play in this league. They may not be able to play here. We may not have room for them, but prove you can play in the league."
(on if WR Alan Bonner is any closer to returning to practice) "No, we pushed him a little bit yesterday. Didn't like what we saw. So we may be another week away. I hope not, but it could be the case."
(on if DE Jared Crick is okay) "Yeah, he's fine as far as I know. I didn't see anything that happened. Yeah, he's okay."
G Brandon Brooks
(on the right side of the line gelling) "Yeah, you know, we're coming together, gelling, whether it's in a game or special teams practice. I think it's a tandem; we're coming along. "
(on the biggest thing he needs to work on) "Just to continue to be consistent, trying to take my game to that next level."
(on why he went off the field today and if it was just the elements getting to him) "No, we're both a little sick or whatever. Nothing major. Everything is good."
QB Case Keenum
(on his improvisation and looking like the player he was at the University of Houston) "Yeah, I mean that's part of the game. Being able to move around and make plays. Doing things off schedule I think is very important. It's a quarterback position so I got to keep working on that, being able to implement my reads within the movement of the offense."
(on how much more comfortable he is under center) "A lot more comfortable. Honestly, you can keep your eyes on the defense. There's a half second that the ball is in the air with shotgun that you have to look down to catch the ball that you take the eyes off the safety rotation or backers blitzing or something like that, so being able to keep my eyes up and see everything that's happening, getting the snap under center, I think I'm using that to my advantage."
(on the best piece of advice he received going into the game Friday) "I've gotten a lot of advice. I mean there's a lot of things you've got to use. You know, just focusing on the process, same thing I do every day. Getting ready to play every day and I think that's important."
(on what he would like to accomplish against the Miami Dolphins this Saturday)" There's a lot of things, just continuing to show that I'm improving, getting better each day, and handling the offense, the workload, the script, the amount of plays that we have in and just moving the offense, continuing to move the offense, continuing to minimize your mistakes. Make the lesser mistake, you know, don't make the worse mistake. There are a lot of things."
(on what it feels like to be back in Houston playing) "Yeah, it's great. It's always great to play in Houston. I've been wearing the city of Houston on the front of my jersey for seven or eight years now so anytime I get to play in Harris County it's definitely a lot of fun."
(on having all of the eyes on him and QB T.J. Yates because of QB Matt Schaub being gone today) "It was good; it was really good to get more reps. Obviously it's not a situation that you like to have with what's going on, but you got to take advantage of it and make the most of it and step in and try to make it like nobody knows that the offense continues to move and you know, smooth mechanics. I think that's part of being a backup quarterback."
(on having the same opportunities as QB T.J. Yates playing in the game against the Miami Dolphins) "You know, whenever it is, I know I've got to go in and operate. I know I'm going to get a chance. No matter what time of the game it is, it's still running the offense and going against Miami's defense. Whatever it is, whenever it is, I just need to be ready to go and do my job when my turn comes up."
(on the pressure building of the competition between him and QB T.J. Yates) "Yeah, I mean, that's part of the business. I think it makes each other better. That's part of this job and part of this business is that everybody's working for that next spot. I think neither one of us want to be a backup. I think we both want to play and I think that's how it should be. I think if you're content with where you're at, I think something's wrong. You should always be striving for more."
NT Earl Mitchell
(on the difference between his confidence last year to this year) "They are giving me more opportunities just to make plays and definitely playing with (DE) J.J. (Watt) and (DE) Antonio (Smith). Them giving me the opportunity to start makes me really want to just step-up for my team."
(on how excited he was to play last week) "Definitely, we were definitely excited just to get an opportunity to go somewhere else and hit somebody else besides ourselves. I was really hyped up to be out there and just really go out there and just play football again."
(on making multiple plays in a row) "They were actually giving me a lot of opportunities to make plays, so I would, looking back into last year, I noticed myself in a lot of positions to make plays. I missed a tackle here, missed a tackle there. I really wanted to just make it kind of hard on myself just by making plays. That's just something I just wanted to, you know, I'm big on now and I just really want to make sure I make those plays and take the pressure off of (DE) J.J. (Watt) and (DE) Antonio (Smith)."
(on watching film on himself last year) "Just overall, I would look at some games and then I would just notice I might have been like stuck on a block here or there. I might not have gotten as good penetration. I kind of just noticed my position on the field and just basically got an overall feel for just playing better and things I could do better, so that's just something I want to continue to do."
(on his different mindset coming in as a starter) "Yeah definitely, just being on the field and they are giving me the opportunity to start. I want to prove to myself and I want to prove to the coaches that they made the right decision. It's definitely a confidence booster just to know that I got people supporting me in this league and people upstairs that believe in me, so I just want to continue to prove them right."
(on defensive line coach Bill Kollar praising him more this year) "I just think it's really a part of his tactics. He's definitely kind of hard on you. If you do good, he's not going to pat you on the back for doing the things you're supposed to do, so when you make mistakes they are going to be really hard on you. That's something that I learned a lot from Bill and he's definitely being particular because he feels that I can make plays and I have been in position to make plays, so he's definitely been pretty tough on me."
(on if DE Antonio Smith and DE J.J. Watt said anything to him during the game) "They were excited for me. I guess you could say they were waiting for a sack celebration or some type of celebration, but that's just really not my style. I'm going to leave that up to them and just be the guy in middle, just be the hard-nosed guy."
(on being able to make plays when DE Antonio Smith and DE J.J. Watt were not playing) "It definitely made me want to step up for my team. I just really made notice that it was me, (ILB) Darryl (Sharpton), and D-Man (SS Daniel Manning) we were kind of like one of the few guys that been playing that was out there. I really just wanted to step up. You just kind of take a look around and just notice like who is out there and who has the opportunity to step up. That was just really how I felt and really what I wanted to do."
(on if cross-fit helped him) "It definitely helped me. That stuff takes heart to do and that was just something that I really enjoyed because you kind of find yourself in practice mode when you're like at the end of those workouts. Those workouts are really similar too, at the end of those workouts I felt how I feel now."
(on if cross-fit helps endurance) "It definitely helps endurance. That was really the main focus that I was focused on when I walked in there. I told them 'I lift weights here in the morning, I want to come here and work on my endurance.'"
(on why he does cross-fit) "I do research on a lot of different workouts. I have done boxing and I have done different types of things as far as endurance so far. I just looked up cross-fit and that something that I just looked at the people and how they were pushing themselves. I see people on the ground trying to push themselves up, but you got people there that are working and people that are in the class that are pushing each other. Those people that were in there were pushing me and it was just really fun to work out with some different people. "
(on working out twice a day) "Yeah I would work out here in the morning like around 8 to 10 and then I would go there around 6 p.m. and I would just work out there at night. I would work out there Tuesdays, Thursday, and Saturdays and I work out every day."
S D.J. Swearinger
(on the difference between college and the pros) "In college, you may get away in man-to-man looking at the quarterback, but on this level you cant. You got to keep your eyes on your man. You just got to have A-game technique every single play because you know the quarterback will pick you a part."
(on his game grade from the coaches) "I had a fairly good grade. I think it was a B , A- area. Only thing I messed up on was the missed tackle and I had an MA or two. Besides that I had a good game. I just got to clean up that missed tackle and the two MA's and I'll be good."
(on if the coaches graded him pretty hard) "Oh yeah, coach said he graded us very hard. I feel like my grade was good and I'm looking to improve on it this week."
(on his goals for the second preseason game) "Improve tremendously from my first game. One of my old coaches always said, 'Your biggest improvement is from the first to the second game.' I'm looking to not have any MA's or missed tackles and just go all 100 percent full speed."
(on learning about playing under control) "Most definitely, most definitely. I got to break down and make that tackle on any given day. Nine times out of 10 I got to make that tackle."
(on the speed difference from college to the pros) "I wouldn't say it's a speed difference at all, but only thing that's different is tackling. We don't do a lot of hitting all the way to the ground and that just sort of was different, but the speed. I actually slowed everything down better than I thought I would, so the speed of the game was good for me."
(on if he wants to tackle more during practice) "Yeah, yeah practice how you play. If we tackled, I think it would be nice but it's a game we got to keep our players healthy so we can't do that in practice."
(on WR DeAndre Hopkins) "He's a beast, man. He reminds me of (Bears WR) Alshon Jeffrey, a player I used to play with. He just goes up at the highest point and gets the ball from anybody regardless of if he is double covered, full covered, or hands all over his back or not. He's got great hands, strong hands and running some good routes. He's a good receiver for us."
(on if WR DeAndre Hopkins touchdown was a surprise) "Oh no, not at all. I have seen it. I played rivals against him. A lot of people don't know back in high school, he played safety and had 13 interceptions. I remember him having crazy ball skills from way back, so it don't surprise me at all."
(on which Texans quarterback throws the best deep ball) "Best deep ball? I don't really know. I couldn't even tell you. All of our quarterbacks throw it deep very well, so I wouldn't be able to pick. I know (QB) Case (Keenum) throws it pretty well, (QB) T.J. (Yates) too, and (QB Matt) Schaub. All of them throw a good ball, so I really couldn't pinpoint anybody."
(on his first home game) "I'm looking forward to having a big crowd and me just going out staying focused, relaxed, slowing everything down, and just playing the game that I know."
(on the fans hearing a lot about him) "Yeah, I'm ready to show the fans what I'm made of."
QB T.J. Yates
(on how practice went today) "It was a grinding day out there. (QB) Matt (Schaub) was missing. It's a hot, sweaty day. Nothing was scripted today, everybody was just going. Everybody was off the field just kind of calling plays. It was a good day though; we got a lot of work in, a lot of adversity. We didn't have our cleanest practice, but we've just got to get better."
(on the battle for the backup spot and if he could lose it) "Yeah, that's what everybody's saying. It's going good though, we're both playing some good football. Competing every single day and every single rep we have whether it's 11-on-11 or just doing drills out here. We're competing every single time we step out here on the field. That'll do nothing but help this team out and help each other out."
(on being bothered about the competition even though he has proven that he can have that role) "You know, not really. Its football, you got to compete for your spot every single year, every single time you step out on the field. Nothing is given to you from year to year so you got to go out there and earn it."
(on his experience helping) "It helps a lot, but you know, I haven't been out there in a while. I haven't played in over two years so other than preseason, I haven't gotten much time out there. I've just got to continue to keep getting better and whenever I do get out there on the field, use that time to gain some more experience."
(on how hard it was transitioning from college and becoming a backup) "Yeah, but you know, it's part of the process. You go through that when you get to college from high school and you know you got to do it here but that's the way it goes. Whether it be down, either way, you got to go out there and practice, do whatever you can to get better even if you're not getting the reps."
(on having a special mindset for being a backup quarterback) "Yeah, it's one of the toughest jobs out there, because you got to be ready and the drop of a hat without getting any reps in practice. And when you do get in there, people expect performance. It's a tough thing to do and you've got to work that much harder. You've got to get more film in. You've got to get more extra work in after practice because you're not getting the reps out there on the field."
(on if he's more prepared to step in as the starter now than when he came in as a rookie) "Absolutely. I was a rookie still trying to learn the offense back then. It would be a completely different situation now."
(on if he would feel a lot more confident stepping in as the starter now) "Absolutely."
(on looking back and if he's amazed that he was able to come in and win a playoff game) "Yeah. Part of the fact that I was learning so fast. Every single day, I was learning parts of our offense because we didn't have an offseason or anything like that. I look back on it and I think it was kind of surprising that I was able to have that much success in that quick of a time. Back then, I wasn't even thinking. I was just going a million-miles-an-hour just going from the next thing to the next. Football comes a little bit easier when you're not thinking as much."
(on if having someone pushing him makes him better) "Absolutely. You've got to go out there and perform every single snap because, if you're in a competition, you're evaluation process is everything. It's in workouts, it's in individual, seven-on-seven, team. Everything you do out here is being evaluated."
(on how much QB Case Keenum has improved) "A whole lot. Going from his offense to this offense, it's kind of polar opposites. It took him a year to kind of get comfortable and get used to what he's doing, but he's doing a great job."
(on DE J.J. Watt making one-handed catches on the Jugs machine and if people would notice him at wide out) "I don't know. He's kind of small, so he might sneak in there. Put a different jersey on him, he's not eligible right now. (joking)"
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
ILB Brian Cushing
ILB Elliot Coffey
S Danieal Manning
G Wade Smith
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the status of G Wade Smith) "I'll know more in the morning."
(on if he's concerned that G Wade Smith may have to have a procedure) "It's not really a big concern right now. It's a matter of plan of action right now is what they're trying to figure out. I know he's meeting with (head team physician) Dr. (Walt) Lowe this afternoon and we'll see where we go."
(on the status of ILB Brian Cushing) "Cush actually came back. Yeah, he's back, so we're fine."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on if he will play against Miami this weekend) "Not my decision. We'll take it day-by-day. I'm practicing to play, so we'll see what happens and see how I feel by the end of the week, but I'd like to."
(on how important it would be to play against Miami) "Oh it's just back to playing ball. I think more mentally than anything. Just playing again and kind of get my feet wet in a game situation would be really nice. But like I said, we have a plan and we're taking it day-by-day and see how I feel when game time rolls around."
(on how much of him playing is his decision or the team) "It's the team's decision. It is, but obviously I have to give them my feedback and let them know how I'm feeling. It's a two-way street. It's a relationship that I have to tell them how I'm doing and they monitor everything. Obviously, they have final say, but I'm feeling good right now. I've been sick these past couple of days, trying to get through that, but I think I'll be feeling pretty good by the end of the week."
(on what his illness was) "Stomach virus. Worst part of it is behind me, so feeling better."
ILB Elliot Coffey
(on the call he received form the Texans) "I actually got a call from my agent. He said that, 'The Texans are interested. You've got a workout on Sunday.' This was last Tuesday and was like, 'Make sure you go out there and fly around.' I had been working for the past year, so I had to leave work. Started working out for the next five days as hard as I could. Here are my chances on Sunday and it worked out."
(on what it's like getting a shot to play at home in Houston) "It's incredible. Like I said earlier, it's the best place I could possibly be. Friends and family all around here. Grew up a Texans fan. It means the world for me to throw on this jersey and to say Bulls on Parade is my crew."
(on if he had been working) "I had been working, yeah. I was all over the place. I was at Enterprise Rental Car this time last week working, so it's just crazy. It's good to be back in the game. Like I said, definitely being in my hometown."
(on what he was doing when the Texans called) "I was working. I was in the back fixing up a car and getting ready for a customer. So crazy."
(on who he told at work when he received the call form the Texans) "I was like, 'Guys, thank you for this opportunity, but I've got to go workout.' So yeah, it was pretty quick."
(on how crazy it is that he was working at Enterprise last week and now is with the Texans) "Exactly. It's a total 180. I couldn't be happier. It's a blessing just to be out here and have a chance to play again."
(on what exactly he was doing on the car when he received the call form the Texans) "I was cleaning the car with a scrubber and a bucket of water and a hose. That's what I was doing when my pocket started vibrating."
SS Danieal Manning
(on the difference between former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) "I think there is not much similarity. I think they both think the same thing: run, hit, all that stuff. I think both of them put a premium on turnovers. We want to sack the quarterback and I think both coaches want to make you use your eyes. They love a player that can use their eyes and play with instinct. One coach is more laid back than the other. I think Wade is a lot more laid back; he's really funny and comical. Lovie is more stern and to the point. He treats everybody like men, not a second late, and he's just on point about that. Both those guys want you to pay attention to detail. They just have different characteristics, but they both believe in defense and a strong defense."
(on S D.J. Swearinger) "The thing that's impressive about young guys when they come in, you hear guys that have confidence and they plan on making plays. This guy has confidence and he makes plays. That's the good thing. We have to back him off some. I think the thing that he definitely can work on is just continuing to work because he plays two positions as well: dime and safety. He has to get them both and we do a lot with our dime packages. If he's going to take forefront of that, he's got to learn it so that's one thing I would say."
(on how the team looks) "It's early. I mean, I think conditioning is okay. The little things that coach wants to see, the run and tackle, that stuff they don't want to coach. I think we were okay with it. We have some guys and some players that didn't do too well, but that comes with the preseason. You've got to get that rust off. I think the second game guys are going to play more. You're going to see more, get into a gameplan type of style. You know how the format is. Week three in preseason is more emphasis on a game week, so I think just going through my progression."
(on biggest difference from last year) "I know we fight a lot around here right now. Last training camp we didn't fight as much. That's a good thing. I think guys are battling for position and that's the thing. But we have a lot of young guys that we didn't have last year and that are stepping up to make a push to make this team, be a role guy, or be a premier starter for this team. I think we have a lot of those guys in position and that's the difference from what we had last year."
(on S Eddie Pleasant and S Shiloh Keo both having interceptions) "Yeah, it was exciting to see Eddie P. I talk about him a lot. This is his second year. There's a big difference between your first year and second year. He's making that jump and that transition well. (S) Shiloh (Keo) has been consistent and that's one thing I like about him. I feel confident. Things are stirring around 'when is (S) Ed Reed back?' and all that. I think at this point it doesn't matter. Shiloh is going to definitely get the job done."
(on what he told S D.J. Swearinger after missing a tackle) "The way he approached it was just like a DB. You've got to have short term memory and that's what he did. He understood 'I should have made my tackle and should have my head across.' He knew all that which is a good thing, so he got on himself before we can get on him and then we talked to him. He understood and we moved on. After that, he was making tackles."
LG Wade Smith
(on his knee) "It's not great right now, but we're looking at it. We'll figure out what we're going to do soon, but there's not much I can really add to it."
(on if the injury is worrisome) "I wouldn't say it's worrisome. I would say it's more annoying than worrisome."
(on if another doctor looked at his knee) "I don't think that's really important."
(on if he is worried about needing surgery) "When we make a decision about anything, we'll do it and y'all will hear about it, but right now we're not at that moment."
(on if he expected to be back by now) "Not necessarily."
(on if his injury is coming along like he thought it would) "If it was coming along, I probably wouldn't be talking to you guys."
(on what the injury is) "I actually don't even actually know what happened. A lot of times you go through practice and you just go through practice and kind of notice it later, so it's one of those situations."
(on his timeline for making a decision) "I'll probably be hearing something pretty soon."
President Jamey Rootes
Texas Bowl Press Conference
(Opening Statement) "As was mentioned, my name is Jamey Rootes. I'm the president of the Houston Texans and I also serve as president for Lone Star Sports and Entertainment. We are so pleased to be the lead of the Texas Bowl and have been since 2006. We have a few of our board members here today and if you guys, when I call you, if you would stand just so you know the quality of folks who are behind this effort. Mr. Bob Smith and Denis Braham, Chris Hanslik, Bob Hungate thank you for all that you guys have done and I'll talk about you in a minute but sure appreciate you being here today. It really is an exciting day for us, exciting day for our organization, exciting day for the great football fans in the city of Houston, and a fantastic day for our community. Before I look forward, I want to step back and reflect upon the success we have seen with the bowl game since inception in 2006. We stepped in and it really was a classic turnaround to try and improve Houston's bowl prospects and carry it forward. It had been a losing proposition in the past, we were asked by the conference commissioners who participated in that first year to do it. This year will be our eighth edition of the Texas Bowl will be played again in December. We've had big crowds since inception over 61,000 on average, which places us as the sixth best attended bowl game over that period, really something special. The economic impact is projected at 30 million dollars per year and over that period we've raised nearly $600,000 dollars for the great work that DePelchin Children's Center's does in our community. Success like that is an absolutely community-wide team effort and so I want to say thanks to a couple of entities and individuals that have helped us to get here. First and foremost, I want to thank the Big Ten Conference. That was a huge step up for us several years ago when we, for the first time, had BCS conferences on both sides of this bowl game. The only issue is the geography. Not ideal for us and the geography was not ideal for them, so today we'll talk about the step that we've taken and certainly they've announced their future with their bowls back in July. Second, the folks at ESPN, they've been fantastic partners the last four or five years. Pete Derzis, who leads the charge for ESPN regional television, as our partner is clearly the MVP of this effort. They care deeply about the city of Houston; they care deeply about college football. Probably the most invested broadly in America in college football and have been a real champion for our community. Callye Dannheim and her team at Lone Star Sports and Entertainment. Let me tell you, those guys have worked their tails off for the last eight years to present this game in the highest quality fashion, regardless of who might be participating in any given year. They have done a great job creating raving fans in terms of football fans with a season ticket base of 15,000. Thirty-thousand seats being sold before teams are announced. The schools and the conferences really have consistently earned rave reviews because we knew up front the only way we could go forward is to do an exceptional job where we are today and they certainly have made that happen. I remember talking to Dennis Braham before we even did it on the back of a napkin putting together the game plan for the Texas Bowl and to see it where it is today you have to take your hat off to these gentlemen. Philamena Baird, who is our chair of the Texas Bowl for this year again, and really a great group of community leaders that care deeply about Houston and are committed to making progress and we absolutely have done it over the last eight years. Most importantly, in church yesterday, I was struck by the notion of faith. It was all a discussion about faith. Faith is 'believing before you see' and that's what all these board members did. Before they had any tangible evidence of the greatness of this bowl and of what it could be, they believed and they persevered through some very dark days. Today, we can all see it with this announcement which is really great. I'm pleased to announce that in 2014 we will continue our great partnership with the Big 12 and welcome for the first time the SEC as their opponent. This will be a six year relationship, 2014 through 2019. The selection at the Big 12 side, we had been at the sixth selection after BCS and now we'll be at the fourth selection after the playoff bowls make their selections. On the SEC side, we will be in a pool with a number of other bowls after the playoff selections and the Capital One Bowl. That pool is a pretty impressive group for us to be a part of: the Outback Bowl, the Gator Bowl, the Music City Bowl, the Liberty Bowl, and the Belk Bowl. We are the western most of those bowls which I think provides us a great advantage. The significance of this announcement is it brings together the two most geographically relevant conferences in this bowl game. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to identify that, but to make it happen is incredibly difficult and has taken that team effort that I talked about and it's going to be great for the fans. The SEC has a great football heritage, in fact the past seven football champions have come from the SEC. The year before it was Texas, so I think we're in pretty good company. On the Big 12 side, last year they placed 90 percent of their teams into bowl games, which is historic. That percentage has never been achieved in the past. Importantly which was our mission from the beginning, this replaces the Cotton Bowl as the number one Big 12 vs. SEC bowl game in the state of Texas. The Cotton Bowl now becomes an access bowl without that direct affiliation; we're number one in the state of Texas which is where we wanted to be when we got after this in 2006. The good news is the partners. The better news is you don't have to wait until 2014 to see Big 12 vs. SEC. August 31st is Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State is being projected to be the champion of the Big 12 this year; great matchup and a good opportunity to be part of it. Then we have our 2013 Texas Bowl, the final year of Big 12 vs. Big Ten. It's on Friday, December 27th at 5:00 P.M. Importantly, what we call our season ticket holders for the Texas Bowl in 2013 will have the first opportunity to secure seats in 2014 when we begin our Big 12-SEC relationship. So come on August 31st and you can be a part of it or come December 27th and you can stake your claim for the future. I'm so excited for the city of Houston, for our organization, for our board, and the entire community particular the football fans. It's a great result and with that I would be happy to entertain a couple questions from you."
(on the possibilities of another sponsorship for the Texas Bowl) "Right now, we're the Texas Bowl and we're in that process of securing the title partner we hope here in the not too distant future to be able to talk about it, certainly a very powerful entity now with the Big 12 and the SEC and our friends at ESPN. We feel very comfortable about where we are and that we'll be able to secure that title partner for the future."
(on what feedback he has received form the Houston business community about the change in the conferences playing in the game) "The feedback that we have gotten has been in advance. Over the last seven years, consistently I've heard, 'Why can't you get the Big 12 and SEC?' Out first step was to get them in the opening game, so the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff, which has been very exciting and very well received. But we knew that the business community would really be excited about this and the business community is excited about what the fans are excited about. We know for sure our fans will dig this game."
(on how the new partnership will help the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff down the line) "Well, out primary relationships going forward are going to be Big 12-SEC. Not to say that those will be the conferences that are represented in the Kickoff game every year, but they're the ones we're working with most closely and it would be, from a geographically perspective, the most attractive participants in the game. I would envision that they would be both, conferences, would be regular participants in that game."
(on the dates and times of the games in the future will change with the new partnership) "Not really. We look to be in that Christmas, New Year's window and then have to navigate the scheduling challenges at Reliant Stadium first and foremost with the Houston Texans and the needs of our broadcast partner, ESPN. I would anticipate that it would be in that Christmas-New Year's window each year."
(on DE J.J. Watt's skillset as a wide receiver) "He's one heck of an athlete. He can pretty much do anything. He's been begging to get into the goal line package for three years now."
(on if DE J.J. Watt will get to be in the goal line package) "That's not up to me. That's up to the big guy."
(on if the coaches told him how they're going to split up reps this week) "Not yet. We haven't talked about it."
(on if the coaches have discussed splitting up reps during practices) "We're doing what we always do. Whatever reps we have, we're splitting them right down the middle."