Transcript: Auburn offensive players pre-Sugar Bowl - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Transcript: Auburn offensive players pre-Sugar Bowl

L-R: Tre Mason, Jay Prosch, C.J. Uzomah. Source: WBRC video L-R: Tre Mason, Jay Prosch, C.J. Uzomah. Source: WBRC video

During the Auburn Tiger's first full day in California, some of the offensive line sat down to talk with media. Below is the transcript of that press conference:

We just heard Reese Dismukes call you Hercules, the Hulk and a statue, all in one sentence. Just talk about where you fit in on this team. Are you an offensive lineman, a skill guy, or just kind of Hercules, hull being and a statue?

JAY PROSCH: I think I'm all three. No, I think mostly I'm an offensive lineman. I have a connection with those guys, and I do a lot of blocking as you all probably know.

And so I really do feel like I'm just a glorified offensive lineman. I love blocking. I love watching Tre run by with the ball after I knock somebody out. But also I feel like in a way I still do a few other things, but mostly just a glorified offensive lineman.

Jay, having covered you in high school, I know you were one of the strongest players back in high school, and then really couldn't find a program that needed a real strong blocker. Can you talk about the development of your strength and how strong you were, your leg strength in high school, and then how you have developed now five years later, how much stronger you are?

JAY PROSCH: Yeah, I think in high school I was so hungry to lift that I almost reached my max point. The weight I was lifting is close to the weight I'm still lifting. But I've developed more into not just a heavy lifter but an endurance lifter. My muscles have, I think, matured much more, and I'm able to do things that I wasn't able to do in high school like rep more weight for more reps and stuff like that, which in high school I could just do one rep a ton of weight and I was pretty much done.

I've matured a lot, and I think in a way that's better than just being able to get stronger and stronger and stronger because at some point if you're just strong then you're strong anyways. So strong is strong, no matter how strong it is if that makes sense.

Yeah, I just think I've matured over the years and now I'm able to do different things.

The comparison has been made between Nick and Cam. Do you guys see any of those comparisons or is there another player he sort of reminds you guys of?

TRE MASON: Nick is a very dynamic runner, and that's with both him and Cam. Both of those guys have strong arms and great on their feet. That just makes them dynamic players. I'm pretty sure – I don't know what these guys are going to say but I'm pretty sure they agree with me.

JAY PROSCH: Obviously I didn't play with Cam so it's hard for me to say, but just from watching seems like Cam was more of a run you over type guy, he was a powerful runner, and obviously Nick is a little bit smaller person than Cam is, but like Tre said, he's a very dynamic quarterback, and running wise I think guys have a hard time tackling him because he's kind of a slippery type guy.

But overall I think that he's an outstanding quarterback.

C.J. UZOMAH: Yeah, I probably shouldn't have gone last because they said everything, I guess. Like they said, he's a dynamic player. He works perfectly in this offense with his ability, with the read option. But like Jay said, in open space it's really hard to tackle him. He's not going to run you over like Cam did, but he'll definitely make you fall and just kind of whiff and hit air.

I think they're similar in their running abilities but a little bit different.

Tre, this question is for you: The last few weeks have to have been pretty special being a Heisman finalist. Talk about going to New York, some of the things that you saw in New York, the people that you met, and then coming here to California being at Disney and this experience and the things that you saw and the whole thing surrounding the game.

TRE MASON: Being in New York was a great experience. I feel like that's not an individual award. I wouldn't be able to be a Heisman finalist without the guys sitting beside me and the rest of the guys on the team. If I would have won that award that would be a team award. That wouldn't just be my award, that would be everyone's.

Just being from the East Coast to the West Coast, the weather change. It was snowing, it was real cold, but it was a great experience to be over there and also to be over here, just making childhood dreams come true, and I'm pretty sure a lot of those guys on the team, a lot of their childhood dreams are coming true. If we win this game, it would just be complete.

Tre and Jay, whether you reject it or you embrace it, what role has luck played in your season?

TRE MASON: We had some crazy wins that happened this season, starting from the Georgia game, the 'Bama game, and coming down to the very last seconds. Before luck, I would say it's a blessing, because without the man above, a lot of things wouldn't be possible. I call it more of a blessing than luck. But there's a little bit of luck still in there, though, because those were crazy wins.

JAY PROSCH: I'm going to agree with Tre. It's definitely a blessing, but I'm also going to add in I firmly believe that you get what you work for. I think that we've put in the work to win the games we've won. Coach Malzahn stresses to us every day that we're going to get better not only every game but every practice, and that's what we've tried to do this year. I really think the crazy wins we've had that people have said were luck, I feel like we deserved as wins and earned those wins, and that's part of like, you get what you work for no matter how it comes. That's all I have to say about it.

TRE MASON: Well, also Coach Malzahn being the coach he is, he puts us through situations that no one would ever imagine in practice. He makes us ...

Like what?

TRE MASON: A situation to be in 4th and 18 with no time left on the clock, I don't know who would think of that, but he would, and that's what makes him the Coach of the Year.

C.J. UZOMAH: I mean, like they said, it's a blessing. I don't think luck has anything to do with it. As Jay said, we believe that if you work for it, then you deserve it. Again, 4th and 18, one second left, no one in their right mind would ever think, like Tre said, that we'd practice something like that. But Coach Malzahn thinks of the craziest stuff. He puts stress on us, and I think that's what helps us in those situations.

We get as much pressure from him in the game. He looks at you and you know you have to perform no matter what. So I think it's a blessing, and also with his coaching.

Tre, Florida State has given up five rushing touchdowns all season, three around the end and two in between the tackles, and you've scored plenty both ways this season. Does the FSU defense remind you of any team in the SEC that you have played this season?

TRE MASON: They run a lot of schemes similar to Alabama scheme. That's a great defense. They have great talent on their plays. But I feel we're going to go into the game doing what we do and doing what got us here. We're not going to change much up because of who we're playing. We're going to continue to do what got us here.

I'm going to trust in these guys and to get me into the end zone as many times as possible. I'm sitting next to two bulldozers.

Last year wasn't a whole lot of fun. New guys come in and preach it's a new day. When did you know for sure in your heart, yes, it really is a new day?

TRE MASON: I felt as soon as Coach Malzahn came back -- he came in telling us that we're going to have the biggest turnaround in college football. That was his first sentence of coming back to Auburn.

JAY PROSCH: It was different for me because obviously I didn't know Coach Malzahn at all when he came in, so I was just kind of feeling my way out. But for me it happened whenever Coach Russell came in and we had that first workout because he wasn't taking anything from anybody, and he stressed us like we've never been stressed before, and he told us it was going to be an everyday grind.

I think a lot of guys didn't really believe him because that's kind of how all coaches are and that's what they say and things fade, but things never faded with Coach Russell. Throughout the whole spring he stressed us and got really started – I think guys fought it at first but then they started seeing the change in themselves and in the team, and that's when they were like, okay, this is a good thing, and they started taking pride in it, and we started to see ourselves change. That was kind of the process for me.

C.J. UZOMAH: Knowing Coach Malzahn, I guess, prior to his hiring as a head coach, I kind of knew right when he came in, and like Tre said, it was a new day, so we were going to have the biggest turnaround. I personally know how much of a perfectionist he is, and I knew he was going to hire a great staff. So that's when I knew we had something special, and it really was a new day.

Jay, FSU's defense seems to be so balanced, seems like there's not a weakness there. What are the challenges that presents when you're coming up with a plan for blocking schemes and trying to attack a defense like theirs?

JAY PROSCH: Well, I think it's safe to say that over our past two games that every defense that we've played hasn't had a weakness, but somehow we've found the weakness. Honestly I think that we'll be able to find the weakness in their defense, not saying that they're a week defense, I think they're a very good defense, but I think with our offense, we're just going to do what we've been doing, like Tre said, and we haven't been stopped yet. We're just going to go with that.

But Coach Malzahn, he's a great play caller. He is able to break down defenses like no other, and so honestly we just – I just listen to whatever he says, and I think that the whole team has confidence in his play calling. You know, we believe in whatever he calls. I don't think we're really going to have much of a problem.

This is for all three, C.J., Jay and Tre. The offensive line of this football team seems to be very close knit. Are they goofy, quirky? What are they like to play with?

C.J. UZOMAH: Yeah, they're extremely goofy. Obviously during the game, I've been saying I think they're one of the best O lines if not the best O line in the nation for a while now, but they're goofy guys, Greg especially. I think he might be the most athletic kid on our team, being his way and doing the things he does. But they are really close knit, they always mess around sometimes with us. I think Greg messes with Tre a lot, so you can ask Tre about that because we kind of pick on Tre because he's kind of a small fry.

We're close knit and they're close knit especially, and they're fun to play with.

JAY PROSCH: I would agree they're very close knit, but also it's funny to see how much their personalities are different. Like Reese, he's the kind of guy who he's the leader of the offensive line. He's extremely football smart, and everyone trusts him and listens to what he says before every play. So he's that kind of guy.

And then Greg is the kind of crazy, like wild guy that should be in like a mental institution or something because you never know what he's going to do, and it's always going to be dangerous because of his size.

And then you got guys like Kozan, he's really kind of quirky and smart, and I don't know, just funny. And then Avery and Chad kind of get together and have their own little thing.

But overall they work together great, they communicate great, and I think they really have a strong bond. It's a fun group of guys.

TRE MASON: Those guys are really close knit. They always make fun of me about being short, so I tell them anybody over 6'3" or 6'4" is goofy. It's true. All you guys are goofy. C.J. is along with them. But those guys, they get the job done. Whenever it's time to lock in and get the job done, they get it done.

Tre, how much pressure do you feel to perform at a high level in this game?

TRE MASON: I don't feel much pressure because I have a lot of trust in the guys that are in front of me. I have a lot of confidence in them getting their job done which allows me to get my job done. I don't feel too much pressure. Going into the game, feeling nervous or feeling under pressure, I feel like you won't be able to perform.

Tre, how is your body feeling now compared to the end of the season, and are you happy to play the game after so much time off or would you have rather played this game right after the season when the offense was in a groove?

TRE MASON: I needed a little bit of time off just to rest my body and get back – just restore my body because it was – I was in a lot of pain after that game. Just the adrenaline took me through that game, but it was a fun experience, but I feel like we needed a little time off to game plan and get everybody back healthy.

Jay, earlier you called yourself a super glorified offensive lineman, but of course everyone likes to score, and this year he had a receiving touchdown the first of your career. Just talk about what that feeling was like to catch a touchdown pass.

JAY PROSCH: Yeah, that was amazing. I love the catch the ball, and obviously I don't get much receptions. So it was just nice to be able to catch one for a touchdown and not to just get a touchdown for myself, but saying that, also it brings me more joy just to block and watch my teammates score because whenever I'm blocking somebody and Tre runs by me for a touchdown, it's just more of a team feeling. Just amazing to know that you're a part of something that allowed him to do that.

It was a great experience for me, and I'm really glad it happened, but on the other hand I still love what I do and the other way around of it, as well.

Can you describe in as much detail as you can the seminal moment where after what happened last year the cloud lifted in your head?

TRE MASON: I feel that what changed for us was just being 3 9, period, it motivated us as a team. Coming into this year we had a lot to prove. We still have something to prove. I'm going to let Jay finish this.

JAY PROSCH: I didn't really understand your question. You said when did the cloud lift from our head?

When did you finally say, all right, this year is not going to be anything like last year. What was that moment, whether in the spring or ...

JAY PROSCH: Okay, yeah, I think it was a process really. Like I said earlier about with Coach Russell and all that, I think that was kind of the beginning phases. But whenever we got to camp and things like that, it was just a completely different feeling, the accountability we had on our shoulders that our coaches put on us, and the way that players responded to adversity. It was completely different. You could tell that we had leaders step up, and then guys were going to be willing to fight, fight to win.

And then obviously once the season started, I really think a turning point for us was the Texas A & M game. At the LSU game, obviously because we lost that game, we had to really fight through that. But we knew that when we played Texas A & M if we could win this game that we had something special, a great opportunity in front of us.

For me it was a process.

C.J. UZOMAH: Yeah, same. When Coach Russell came in and we had our bubble workouts for the first time, I don't think anybody was standing after the first workout. We were dead tired, and we knew it was going to be different. We knew the entire structure of Auburn had changed and that we really had to buy in, and once practice started and we kind of saw how meticulous all the coaches were and how they wanted us to be perfect and how we kind of, I think, responded to the adversity that they put on us and the pressure they put on us, I knew we were on the verge of something special.

After that LSU loss, the adversity we overcome to beat Texas A & M and turn our season around, that's when I knew something special was around, I guess.

When things are tough, you guys, it's like you guys never panic, you have it under control. You seem to know you're going to win. When you watch Nick Marshall, Nick is very matter of fact all the time. How much does his demeanor play into that?

TRE MASON: I feel like we learned from losing the LSU game, how to play in bad weather, how to play from behind, and you know, learning from that game, we learned to be very poised, to keep your mind right and just accomplish certain things that we had to accomplish to get a win.

JAY PROSCH: I think a lot of it comes from Coach Malzahn. In the very beginning Coach Malzahn told us, he said, we're going to do whatever we have to do to win the game, and we are going to win the game, and guys bought into that, and there were several times like the Mississippi State game when C.J. came through for us, we won that game, and a lot of us probably had doubts in their mind that it was going to take something crazy for us to win that game, and that really allowed our players to buy into that, that we can win the game no matter what, we just have to fight and believe.

So I think that that's where we got a lot of that from, but as far as Nick being poised and stuff like that, Nick is really like – I've never been a part of a team with a quarterback like him. He's not like the kind of guy who thinks that he runs the show really. He doesn't act like that around the teammates. He doesn't act like when he walks into a room that we've arrived. He's just another player on the team. And on the field he's extremely calm. Like you said, he doesn't panic at all. He's calm, and that gives the rest of our offense kind of, all right, like okay, everything is fine. He's just an extremely well – how do you say? I don't know, his character is perfect for this offense, I guess. That really helps keep the team together.

C.J. UZOMAH: Yeah, I think a prime example of that, I think that we can all kind of agree with his – like Jay said, the Mississippi State game, we needed a two minute drive and he drove us down the field with his arm. He hit Marcus Davis a few times and then hit Jaylon Denson on a corner route to the field, and that's a really hard throw to make. He led us down the field. He made a perfect pass to the end zone, and I think that's kind of when we knew that we could put our full faith in him, and when push came to shove we could rely on him.

Like Jay said, he's not like a rah rah kind of guy, he kind of says what's on his mind when it needs to be said. We know that we can trust him as a quarterback, as a leader.

This is for all of you guys, but Tre, talk about your high tempo offense and how it might be able to neutralize or even benefit you guys against the speed of Florida State.

TRE MASON: Like I said, I feel like we're pretty good at what we do, and that's what got us here. That's our edge, running our plays at a fast pace and a very high tempo. We feel like that's our edge, getting the ball snapped before they're even ready or realize.

When we play that fast, I feel like it's hard for them to determine where the ball is at, so I feel like that's our edge.

JAY PROSCH: I feel we're the best conditioned team in the country. Our guys don't get tired, including Tre. Honestly, I feel like I'm in good shape, but I don't see how he runs the ball back to back to back as hard as he does consistently and still he just keeps going. The thing is sometimes I look back and he looks like he's dying, but when we snap the ball you would think that he's fresh. Honestly I don't understand that.

But I think that we are in very good shape, we're in good shape as a team, better than anyone else, and we're going to run the ball down your throat, no matter if we're pacing or not, I don't think that makes a difference, but it definitely comes in handy whenever we can wear down a team and we're still fresh and they're down on the other side.

C.J. UZOMAH: And I think that's a testament to Coach Russell coming in, the conditioning that he put us in from the very beginning. It was a gradual process, kind of like what Jay was saying a little bit earlier, the process and grind of being with coach Russell and having our camp and two a days and things like that. I don't think that you can say that it'll wear out a defense in the first quarter or the first time we end up pacing, but I think it definitely takes a toll. Fourth quarter when we're pacing and prime example would be Alabama. We were running a two minute offense, we were running the ball, and some people might be like, well, that's kind of crazy, but at the same time, Tre was fresh, Jay was fresh and the entire offensive line and the team was fresh. We weren't tired at all, and we were able to run the ball and obviously make a big play with the pass.

But I think that's something that definitely takes a toll on a defense.

Source: Vizio BCS National Championship/

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