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ROSE BOWL GAME: IOWA VS STANFORD

December 28, 2015

Christian McCaffrey

Pasadena, California

An Interview With:

CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY

Q. What did they say to you when you came back from specifically the Heisman?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Oh, there's a lot of things people say. A lot of congratulations. It was just so good to see how much support I had, and it really meant the world to me to see everybody rooting for me.

Q. Did you grow up watching the Rose Bowl, and if so, can you remember a memory?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: I always grew up watching the Rose Bowl. There's games all over the place that I have memories from, but I wouldn't say one specifically. It's my first time being here, so I'm just excited to be here and try to make a memory myself.

Q. Is there one player for that Iowa defense that really stood out on tape so far?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Oh, there are so many. You look at Desmond King, and the stuff he's done this year, obviously. But once again, a lot of great individual players have great players surrounding them and you look at that whole defense, and they're fast, they're physical. They're great at the point of attack. They fill their gaps extremely well. They don't put themselves in a lot of difficult situations. There's players all over the field that you need to look out for.

Q. What challenges do they present for you guys going into the Rose Bowl?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: I think there's a lot. They're a great defense. At the end of the day, we can't focus on them as much as we can focus on us. It's up to us to listen to the play call, see their defense, and execute and do what we need to do to move the ball down the field.

Q. The fact that it's your first time here, you have a bunch of guys on your team that have been here three times now. What have you learned from them?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Just how to take everything in. And the biggest thing they've taught us is just to enjoy it, but also remember why you're here. We're here to try to win a football game. So that's basically the main thing that I've taken from them.

Q. What has this experience been like for you so far?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: It's been a lot of fun. Just getting out there and being able to put the pads on in practice yesterday after a little break. Felt really good. Felt good to be back with the team and just being able to spend time with them, going to Disneyland and going to the comedy show yesterday was really cool. A good bonding experience for us.

Q. Have you played UCLA at the Rose Bowl before since you've been at Stanford?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Yeah, my freshman year we played UCLA at the Rose Bowl. We won that game. That was my first time even being at the Rose Bowl, so for me that was a great experience.

Q. What's that stadium like and that whole atmosphere?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: It's awesome. It's got great grass. The locker rooms are really cool, I remember. The stadium's always loud, it's always filled. So it's great to be back.

Q. You guys dominate time of possession it seems like every week. What is the key to that?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: I actually have no idea. Once again, that's something that we don't really focus is on is statistics at all. We don't go into games saying we've got to win time of possession.

We just focus on trying to score every play. Sometimes we do. Sometimes it gets four or five yards, sometimes 20. We can't control that. So for us, it's listening to the play. Trusting in Kevin to get us to the right decisions like he always does, and trust in your teammates, trust in your blockers, and doing your job to the best of your ability.

Q. You guys have an explosive offense. Iowa has an explosive defense. What's that like going into "The Granddaddy of Them All" playing such a great defense?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: We know it's going to be a real physical game. There's going to be plays made all over the place. Iowa's a great football team, and they're here for a reason. So we know it's going to present a lot of challenges.

Q. Does any one thing stand out on their defense?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: They do so many things well, it's tough to name one thing. I think they're just extremely disciplined. You watch the tape and you can tell that they're very well-coached.

Q. How do you beat a discipline team? Is there anything extra you have to do?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: We focus on us. You match their intensity, match their physicality, and in the fourth quarter, it's stepping up. We know Iowa's a team that believes that too. So for us, it's just focusing on us, and not focusing on what they do or anything. But it's doing what we do, and doing it the very best we can.

Q. All these seniors are so well-versed in this game. I mean, very few players play here three times, but it's new for you. How do you sense -- do you sense that they know things that maybe Iowa wouldn't know just by the experience?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: I mean, they might know a little bit more about what goes on in the week, but at the end of the day it's a football game, and Iowa is very versed in winning football games, as are we. So we're going to enjoy the week and have fun with it. But at the end of the day it's really important that we realize why we're here, and that's to try to win a football game.

Q. Hogan having started in three of these now, I mean, that's got to be a plus?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Oh, definitely. Any time you have a guy like Kevin Hogan taking snaps, it brings a lot of confidence to your offense. So him being here and him having that experience is good for us. But, still, we're preparing like it's another game.

Q. People in Iowa, I think -- I wouldn't say mystified, but they're curious what happened in your game at Northwestern. What did happen?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Oh, we just had a tough time executing. We couldn't get in any rhythm offensively. It's just one of those days as a football team where we were playing real tight.

So I think after that game we had two options. We could have sat there and moped about it and started being "me" guys, but instead I think we came together as a team and played with a chip on our shoulder the rest of the season.

Q. I heard that "chip on a shoulder" from a couple other players now. Is that just a phrase that gets passed around, or did it feel like a real thing?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: No, that was definitely a real thing. Still to this day, we have a chip from that game. It's a blessing in disguise, I think, that that game happened, because it really brought our team together and helped us play with that chip.

Q. A lot was made of the early time for your body clocks. Is that something that was a legitimate factor when you played Northwestern? Was it so early for your Pacific Coast guys?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: It was early, but we go through 7 a.m. workouts all the time over the summer, and we do 6 a.m. workouts in the spring. So that's not an excuse for us at all.

Q. When you were growing up in Denver, who are some of the guys you looked up to in football?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Oh, there were so many. Just being able to watch Terrell Davis and see the kind of stuff that he does. I used to go on YouTube and look at guys like Barry Sanders and Walter Payton, basically all the greats, just to see how they played the game. For all running backs, for all young players, it's such an inspiration to see how the best guys to ever do it...

Q. What was the Heisman experience like for you?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: It was a lot of fun. It was a great honor for me to be there, for my family. Really great meeting two other great players. So it was a great experience for me.

Q. Do you think there are still some things in your game you need to work on?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Always. You ask any player in the world, and none of them will say that they're done working. I can get better at everything. I can always get better at something.

Coach Shaw harps on that all the time. Just being the most complete back you can be. So for me, pass protection, speed, quickness, physicality, everything, vision, it can all increase. There's never a point where you stop working.

Q. What do you see in the Iowa defense?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Oh, you see a great Iowa defense. Lot of physical players. They're fast, too, and they do their job well. They're well coached and they're extremely disciplined. You watch the tape, and that's evident. For us, we know the challenge that we need to face, and we're trying to match that.

Q. A lot of running backs want to give credit to their offensive line. I'm guessing you're no different?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Yeah, without them, none of us do what we do. It all starts up front. We have some of the best guys in the world. For me to be able to play with these guys for one more game is truly a blessing. They're so good at what they do. They make my job pretty easy.

Q. Coach Bloomgren was talking about how few negative plays you take. How did you develop that sort of mindset? A lot of backs, I watched Reggie a ton and his desire to rip off the 50-yard play, he would sometimes take the minus 5 yard.
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Yeah, it's something I'm coached on is to always fall forward, always keep your knee drive high and keep your feet going. So when you do look at that and you take hits minus two, minus one behind the ball, it's extremely important for an offense that you don't put yourself in 2nd and 13, 2nd and 14, and try to get to 2nd and 10 back to the line of scrimmage if something isn't going well. So just really focusing on falling forward and keeping your leverage low.

Q. Christian, it's easy for people to talk about Desmond King (indiscernible). Your teammates have been mentioning middle linebacker Josey Jewell, No. 43. What's he kind of do for Iowa?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Definitely. He's one of those guys that you watch the tape and he does everything for them. He can hit, and he's great at the point of attack. He fills his gaps extremely well. He's a great middle linebacker, and he's someone that for us that you need to know where he is at all times. He brings so many challenges to the field. We're just going to have to do our job with him.

Q. Can you describe what is on your mind when you're making big plays like running into the end zone?
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: Oh, yeah. There's not a whole lot. Football is so instinctive. A lot of times you get that question like: What were you thinking on this play? I don't even remember, really, just because it is so instinctive. I just know after there's a lot of joy whenever you make a big play.

But the game's not over till the clock hits zero. So when you do make a big play, I'm just kind of trying to focus on the next play so we can either get the ball in the end zone or the next drive do the same thing.

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