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NIU defensive back Jimmie Ward
On how he feels about the negative pokes towards NIU:
“I laugh at it. Our motto is “the hard way” so every day we work, we work the hard way. We’re going to let people think what they want to think until January 1st. This is a great opportunity for us to show off what we can do. I’m proud to be a Husky. I think my team can play with anybody, we just have to prove it.”
On how it feels to be the first MAC team in a BCS bowl game:
“It feels good. I guess we have the bragging rights. We’ve just got to show up and make everybody believe that we belong in this bowl game.”
On whether or not they pay attention to the media:
“No we don’t pay attention, but basically it just gives us a lot of motivation. We don’t have any pressure on us, but the whole MAC is on our back. We represent not only our team and our school, but the whole MAC.”
On what the key to beating FSU is:
“Basically I feel like we just have to stop the run and force them to be one-dimensional, force them to pass. It doesn’t matter about size, but we’ll see on January the first. We’ve got good DB’s who can play man and we can cover; we can do it all.”
NIU linebacker Victor Jacques
How giddy were you when it was announced that you would be playing in the Orange Bowl?
“Oh man I was smiling from ear to ear. It was almost hard to control sometimes, you know almost emotional. Especially being from here it was quite an experience. The emotions are still going [and] coming here just brings them all back up.”
Overall there is a clear favorite and a clear underdog. How do you feel in that role?
“We expected it. We knew what we were getting ourselves into, but we’ve prepared well. This is a well solidified program coming up so this is not the first time we will be playing a good team. Over the years we’ve been preparing well [and] playing well so we’re ready, definitely ready.”
How important was it to have guys from South Florida with you at Northern Illinois?
“It was very comforting; it’s a different type of bond. You bond with your teammates of course, but being able to come back home and still interact with some of your teammates is quite special.”
NIU defensive end Sean Progar
There is an assumption that FSU is bigger, faster, stronger. How do you respond to that?
“You look on paper and they are bigger than us, faster I can’t say, but they are in the ACC [so] they got that reputation in the South for being bigger, stronger, faster. It’s not going to come down to that, we aren’t really worried about [that]. We are going to worry about what we can do. We’re going to execute our game plan and hopefully that gets us to where we need to be.”
What would it mean for you and this program to beat FSU?
“It’s huge to make it to a game like this first of all and then obviously our goal is to win the game. It would be huge for the university, it would be huge for this program, it would be huge for the seniors who put so much time to put the program on the map and to finally get a BCS bowl like this it would be huge to win.”
Is there a lot of pressure on you guys?
“We feel like we aren’t the team with the pressure. We made here and we are already doubted so when it comes down to it, we want to come out here. We are having fun out here, practicing hard. We are going to come into the game with our game plan and execute it to our best abilities. When it comes down to it we know that we put our best foot forward, we will be alright.”
Northern Illinois safety Demitrius Stone
What do you think is going to be the key to contain Florida State…
“We have to make sure we are physical. That is going to be the main thing, be physical. We know they are going to try and run the ball because that is one of their strengths, so we want to make sure we are physical swarming to the ball.”
How has it been like bouncing around from different positions…
“We actually were kind of prepared for it, so when the situation happened, I knew that I was going to have to move to safety. Once I stepped into the role it was a comfortable transition.”
What are your thoughts on quarterback Jordan Lynch…
“He’s a playmaker. Sometimes you don’t even expect some of the plays the he makes to happen. You don’t really get to see it in practice as much as you see it in the game because you can’t really tackle the quarterback in practice, but we know what he is capable of.”
What do you as a defense take pride in most…
“How we really prepare and focus when it comes to game time. It doesn’t matter which position. All around we are pretty excited to prepare for the game and being mentally prepared for the game.
Northern Illinois linebacker Tyrone Clark
How does Florida State compared to the opponents in the MAC…
“Florida State first and for most have good players. The difference between them and the MAC, they have talent at each skill position. I’m not saying the MAC does not, but they are very skilled in each area. So one team might have one running back you have to stop, or one wide receiver you have to stop, but with them as we continue to watch film, they are a complete team. We have our work cut out for us, but we’re built for it.”
Florida State averages 450 yards of offense per game, how do you stop them…
“Defense first, we believe we can stop them. We are going to do what we do. Believe in our plan and just the team to do everything that we have. We are not going to change anything. We are going to stick to our routine defensively, and we are just going to come out and execute.”
Are you visualizing after this game if you win what the nation is going to say…
“I’m not going to get into all of that. I’m just visualizing the first, the first snap of the game and taking it from there.”
What have the Miami kids on your team said leading up to coming here for the Orange Bowl…
“Those boys from Florida they understand this Orange Bowl more than anybody else on the team, the bigness of it. All the Florida boys just feel at home and are excited and ready to play.”
Chris Nee of 247Sports.com. You can follow me on twitter @CNee247.
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