POSTED: Friday, January 6, 2012 - 1:14am
UPDATED: Monday, February 13, 2012 - 10:35pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — THE MODERATOR: We've been joined by Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid, and Brandon Taylor. Questions?
Q. Tyrann, these guys sitting on either side of you, you're a pretty emotional, flamboyant?type guy out there on the field. These guys are very calm and kind of big brotherly type. Why does that help you? Why is it important for you to have guys like that to balance you out?
TYRANN MATHIEU: You know, I think it's the best of both worlds. And I just try to go out there, play my game fast, hoping that those guys have my back.
And I think for the most part, pretty much every game, those guys do a good job of coaching us and putting us in the right position in the heat of the fire.
Q. Tyrann, two things. First off, what was the deal with you and Tharold (Simon) swapping jersey numbers at practice this morning? And also talk about what Michael Brockers does to help guys like you and the guys next to you be able to make the big plays and get the headlines.
TYRANN MATHIEU: Well, Tharold Simon, he wore No. 7 in high school. So I always joke around at practice and say I'm Darrelle Revis. That's kind of why I want the 24.
And Mike does a great job of just plugging his gap, stopping the run, just getting his hand in the quarterback's face, and I think that goes a long way with us, because we don't want to be covering guys with five seconds back there.
So they do a good job pressuring the quarterback for us.
Q. Tyrann, talk about Coach (Ron) Cooper and what he brings to you guys in the secondary as far as his style, what you like about his style.
TYRANN MATHIEU: Well, you know, he gives us a chance to go out there and definitely show off our skill, our play?making ability. So we run a lot of man?to?man coverage, gives us a chance to get the best out of the guy that we're covering.
So Coach Cooper has definitely done a lot for us this year, preparing us for on and off the field, film work, practice habits.
So Coach Cooper did a great job this year.
Q. Brandon, you've been with Coach Chavis for three years, for three years now, I guess, and give me ?? tell me a little bit about how you interact with him and give me your best story about him and the way he coaches.
BRANDON TAYLOR: Actually, the best story would be him actually converting me from corner to safety the spring of going into my sophomore year. He's actually the reason I got to start and actually start playing for LSU, because I was actually a backup cornerback. And he put me in the starting role at strong safety. And I've been doing a great job, and he actually ?? he's like a father to me because he talks to me every day.
I sometimes go to his office and talk to him. And he's just a great coach. He's going to put us in the position to make big plays. It's just up to us to make those plays, because the style of defense that he runs, everybody has a chance to be successful.
Q. Eric, obviously you've all watched a lot of film on the last three games that Alabama played since they played you the first time. What have you seen from A.J. McCarron? How is he better than you saw him last time?
ERIC REID: I think he's making better reads in his passing game. He knows how to read the corners. He knows how to read the safeties to know what coverage is there and whether it's man or zone. We've got to do a good job of disguising what covers we're doing, and that way we have a better chance.
Q. Eric and Tyrann, if the rules allowed you to come out for the NFL Draft after this season instead of waiting another year, what do you think your mindset would be right now?
ERIC REID: I haven't thought about the Draft because the rules being the way they are. But I think I'd stay anyway, just to make sure I continue to develop, and that way give me a better chance to be successful at the next level.
Q. Tyrann, in a game where two teams are so evenly matched, offensively and defensively, how important is it going to be for the defense or special teams to make a play in this game? And do you think maybe defense and special teams can actually outscore the offenses in this game?
TYRANN MATHIEU: Well, I think we definitely are facing a great team in all three phases of the game. So we look at it from this standpoint: Our playmakers, the guys who lead this team, you know, definitely are going to have to step up and play their best football and put our team in position to win this game.
Q. For you guys on the end, reverse the question I asked Tyrann, how has it helped you guys who are very steady and kind of lower key to have a guy like Tyrann emerge and be that personable guy? The same thing with Mo with his dynamic plays. How does that balance things out in the secondary?
BRANDON TAYLOR: It helps us make big plays. When you see them making big plays and getting to the ball and getting the ball out, making interceptions, you tend to feed off of that as a player playing this style of defense. It just makes you step your game up and it's been helping us out these years, so we're just going to continue to do that.
ERIC REID: Like Brandon was saying, I think we feed off of Ty's emotions. So when Ty's having a good game, we're all having a good game. If he gets the ball on the ground, you'll see 11 of us swarming to it trying to get it, and then blocking for him if he gets an interception.
So he makes big plays, and we feed off of that.
Q. Brandon, what do you think you'll miss mostly about being a part of this team?
BRANDON TAYLOR: Just the family atmosphere around here. It's a fun place to be. Actually got a lot of clowns on this team. They like to joke around and stuff. But we actually know when it's time to do business. And just being successful around here and the fan base and just being a part of this family.
I know I will always be a part of this family. It's just being at this place and enjoying the time with these players.
Q. Tyrann, I interviewed you last year. I don't know if you remember, but you've come so far for such a young player so fast. What do you attribute that to, being able to have such success early on?
TYRANN MATHIEU: Well, hard work definitely pays off. Me being at LSU, surrounded by guys like Patrick and Brandon, Morris and Eric, they tend to bring out the best in you.
So you go to work with those guys every day and you see those guys working hard and you want to work harder. You want to make plays and you want to be that guy that the team looks to to be such a special player.
So I just take that with me every time I walk on the field. So we've got a great coaching staff, great support system at LSU, academic?wise and even athletically.
So it's just something to be proud of.
Q. Tyrann, it seems like you've embraced your celebrity status. Who has given you some advice about how to handle that? And you realize if you win this game it's going to increase even more going into next season. How do you look at that?
TYRANN MATHIEU: Well, I think Michael Bonnette does a good job of definitely keeping me humble. And just keeping me motivated and doing the things I gotta do for my team. And that's go out there, get wins, play my best football. And hopefully win a national championship.
So these guys sitting next to me always bring me back down to Earth. So I never get too ahead of myself anymore.
Q. Tyrann, where did the Honey Badger nickname come from and how does that persona reflect on your game?
TYRANN MATHIEU: I think the Honey Badger nickname came from the fans back in Tiger Nation. And honey badger is such a relentless animal. He's fierce. And he definitely doesn't fear anything.
So I just try to take that same approach to the field and just try to play smart and violent football for my team.
Q. Tyrann, how often do you think of your dad, and do you ever have communication with him when he's obviously behind bars?
TYRANN MATHIEU: I don't talk to him much.
Q. Any communication at all, letters?
TYRANN MATHIEU: No. I just try to focus on the present, and that's being a student at LSU, and just try to be a great football player for my team.
Q. Brandon, Tyrann was saying that you guys kind of keep him in check. What are some of the things you guys do? Do you give him a hard time? Do you lecture him? Do you joke with him? How do you keep him in check to keep his I guess celebrity status from getting out of hand with him?
BRANDON TAYLOR: We joke with him all the time that everybody is still human around here; that we need to be humble to be where we want to be in life. And it's got us this far, so we just have to stay focused and stay humbled as players and people and be good people and just be good role models to the kids and for the fans, stuff like that, because you don't want to do anything to jeopardize your family or your reputation as a player here at LSU.
And we do a good job of that here and we've been doing a good job of it, and it's got us where we are now. And now we're playing for the national championship. And we just gotta keep rolling.
Q. Eric, could you run through the Marquis Maze wildcat pass that you intercepted, what you saw? Did you anticipate it? Just go through that because it was such a big play.
ERIC REID: We knew he played quarterback in high school. We knew he had the ability to throw the ball. We lined up in zero coverage man to man. They were in attack eligible formation. So it's not something that you see every day.
So we lined up. The play ran. I had my receiver. I saw the tight end run free, and as a safety you're taught not to get beat deep, so naturally I tried to get behind him when the ball's in the air. It's just like those ball drills we do every day in practice. I just went up and get it.
Q. Describe how you got that. Did you wrestle the ball away from him in mid?air, or how did that happen?
ERIC REID: I believe he got his hands on it first, and then I just tried to get mine on it too and wrestled it away and was able to get it away before he hit the ground.
Q. Do you make a case that that's the biggest play in college football this year, considering where we're all at here today?
ERIC REID: I don't know if it's the biggest play in college football, but it definitely kept our campaign going to get here to New Orleans.