December 9, 2003
SENIOR OFFENSIVE TACKLE Jason Lenzmeier
Question: How do you play your best football when it will have been a month from your last game?
Jason Lenzmeier: "I don't know. I feel we have gotten better as the year's gone on so hopefully we can continue that trend. We have had a lot of practice time to get better and maintain."
Q: Does it help to have the time to heal up those injuries?
JL: We got to go home for Thanksgiving break and use the time to heal up. Now we're back at it and everyone is feeling good and ready to get back out there and play the game."
Q: What do you remember about last year that you don't want to repeat this year?
JL: "It was our first time to do it last year so of course we made mistakes. We had a bunch of guys who probably were not as focused as they should have been, but this year I think we are a much better team and hopefully we are more prepared."
Q: Does it mean anything to you guys to be a part of the first New Mexico team to make it to a back-to-back bowl games in over 60 years?
JL: "Oh yeah. It's huge to the senior class, including myself. We have worked really hard to try and bring this program to where it is now. I think we have done a pretty good job and the right way to finish it off is to win in Las Vegas and beat Oregon State."
Q: Is their defense as good as it sounds?
JL: "They have a really good defense. I watched them against USC and they did well. They are real athletic and it will be a challenge for us."
SENIOR DEFENSIVE END Zach Rupp
Question: Oregon State's offense, how good are they and what do you know about them?
Zach Rupp: "We have been watching film the past couple days and we watched them play USC. Their quarterback has taken some hits, so hopefully we can keep that up. They are a very good team though."
Q: Because you played a Pac 10 school last year, are you more focused to beat Oregon State this year?
ZR: "I think we're just focused more in general. I don't think it really matters who we're playing, we just want to go and win. The experience was great last year, but we're going there to win this year so we are preparing a lot harder."
Q: You guys were playing so well at the end of the year - does it help or hurt to have this long break in between games?
ZR: "I think it definitely helps because people can recuperate and get their injuries healed up. It also allows us to get in the weight room and get our strength back."
Q: What do you remember about last year that stands out as something you are never going to forget?
ZR: "Mainly it was the whole experience. The plane ride out there, going to the pie eating contest, it was just a great experience all the way around. The only negative thing was we lost."
Q: Are the OSU offensive linemen any bigger than what you have seen this year?
ZR: "I think that we have played the biggest offensive linemen you can in college football. We have faced guys 6-9, 310 pounds so I don't think you can get much bigger than that. Washington State was huge, they are probably the biggest we faced, but it does really affect us that much. We are just going to go out there and hit them harder."
SENIOR QUARTERBACK Casey Kelly
Question: How much different is it getting ready for this year's bowl game compared to last year's game?
Casey Kelly: "I don't think it's a whole lot different. Our practice schedule is just about the same and we are taking the same approach as last year. We are just trying to go out there and win the ball game, and have fun while we do it."
Q: From the stats, it looks like both you and Oregon State are similar teams. Do you think they look like you on paper?"
CK: "I think statistically they look like us, but watching them last weekend against USC, they throw a lot more than we do. I think that we run the ball, I don't know if they run it any better than we do. Other than that, we are similar. They like to play physical and we do too."
Q: Sounds like their secondary is really good. What are your concerns about them?
CK: "Their corners are physical. They like to come up and get in receivers' faces. Their safeties are disciplined and seem to be the big playmakers. It's going to be a challenge for our wide receivers, but I think we can match up well"
Q: Will it mean more to you to beat Oregon State since you are from Portland?
CK: "Oh yeah. It will be a big deal to me to go out there and play well. Everyone from my home state is going to be watching and OSU is a home-town team so it is important for me to play well."
Q: Do you think the Pac 10 is that much better than the Mountain West?
CK: "They have more depth. If there's any difference then that's it. They have more prestige so they can recruit more ahtletes, but when it comes to the breakdown of the actual teams, we have seen that the MWC can compete well with the Pac 10."
Q: Have you been able to think back on your career yet? You are now the all-time winningest quarterback at UNM.
CK: "I haven't really thought about that too much, especially since we're still playing. It's important for this program to go out and play well. All of us seniors want to leave on a good note and play well. I'll think about the record later and carry it with me until Kole McKamey gets to break it."
SENIOR LINEBACKER Billy Strother
Question: Any difference in the feeling as you get ready for the bowl game this year compared to last year?
Billy Strother: "It's about the same with me. Last year and this year I want to play and win. The only difference this year is that I want to have fun. This will probably be my last time in Las Vegas and playing in a bowl game, so I just want to enjoy myself."
Q: If you had to compare Oregon State to another team you have played this year, who would it be?
BS: "I would say Colorado State because they can run the ball real well, they have a lot of power, they have good receivers. They have a great defense and have had some tough breaks this season."
Q: They supposedly have one of the best running backs in the nation. What do you think of him?
BS: "He is a good, tough running back. One time you see him running high and not so hard, and then the next time he's just running over everybody. He's very tough to bring down and we just have to be ready to come up and hit him."
Q: Is it a distraction having the bowl game on Christmas Eve?
BS: "It's a little distracting but it's good compared to last year because I get to go home on Christmas day and be with my family. This way, I can take presents from Las Vegas for my family and they will all be together so they can watch me on national TV."
Q: You are the only game on that day so how important is it that anyone who is a college football fan will be watching you that day?
BS: "It's real exciting because it will show recruits what they can do here as well as show others how we play here. This is our second time playing in the Las Vegas Bowl and it will show everyone a lot if we get a good win."
SENIOR DEFENSIVE LINEMAN D.J. Renteria
Question: Have you guys expected this all season where as last year you were just kind of hoping to get there?
D.J. Renteria: "After last year's postseason play, we came into this season with a lot more confidence in ourselves. Once you've been around for a year or so, you know what you have to do to get back there, and I think we have put ourselves in that same position."
Q: Is it tough to keep your head in the game after having almost a month off?
DR: "It's a little different. Right now the team is doing a good job of going out there every day and getting after each other to stay focused. We've gone hard every day since toward the end of the season we started to get out swagger back. Everyone came out after the week off from Wyoming and was hitting on all-cylinders."
Q: With their great running back, do you expect to be able to stop him like you did other teams this year?
DR: "I have great confidence that our coaching staff will put us in position to do that. This defense has overcome challenges all season and even though he is a great running back, our defense is full of great athletes. We're going to come out and face this as another challenge, and we want to go out knowing that we are one of the best defenses in the country."
Q: Do you think you will be the underdogs in this game?
DR: "I don't know. If it was up to me it would be pretty much even. Both teams have two great running backs, good defensive units, offensive units starting to hit their strides at the end of the year. If it was up to me it would be a pretty even game."
SOPHOMORE RUNNING BACK DonTrell Moore
Question: Are you ready to go to Las Vegas or is it still to far away to get excited for?
DonTrell Moore: "It isn't really far away, it's more lingering than anything. Practice is getting more intense, as it should be. I think that overall we are excited and we expected it this year. We just need to go up there with the mentality that we are going to win the game."
Q: You had kind of a disappointing showing in the game last year with your injury. How excited are you to get back there and show what you can do?
DM: "I'm really excited from a standpoint of having had the injury last year. It's another chance to prove myself to the nation, not just for me though. It's a chance to show that the Lobos are good. We didn't show up well on national TV (last year) and that's one thing that we want to pride ourselves on. It's our focal point to go down there and win the game."
Q: How important is it to show the nation what New Mexico football is all about?
DM: "That is the most important thing. When I came here, it was a program on the rise and that is always what you want to do, get it going in the right direction. Now it is and we want to do everything to maintain that, all the little things that are necessary to get the program on its way. By no means have we arrived at what we can get be. Any opportunity that we have to show the nation that we do play football and that we are more than a formidable program, we have to do that. Our practice atmosphere and enthusiasm are going to show in the game, and it's already showing. We are focused and ready to play and get the win."
Q: With all that you have accomplished this year, are you staring to think about the NFL and are you going to be a Lobo for two more years?
DM: "Yeah, I'm not thinking about the NFL by any means. That is so far from now and I hope to be blessed with the opportunity since so few get it, but it's not a focal point at all right now. I have two more years of eligibility and the Lobos are the most important thing to me. I have been to a bowl game, am going to one this year, but I still have two years and I want to win a conference title and go to Memphis. That is the most important thing to me. People talk about the NFL to me and if that opportunity comes I will deal with it then, but right now this program is the most important thing."