Senior safety Tom Zbikowski talked about the added leadership skills shown by fellow defensive captain Maurice Crum Jr. during the 2007 season.

Maurice Crum Jr./Tom Zbikowski Press Conference Transcript (Oct. 11)

Oct. 11, 2007

Q. I’m just going to read this: two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one for a touchdown, two interceptions, seven tackles, one sack, one tackle for a loss and one pass breakup. Can you talk about — first, tell us what you had for breakfast last Saturday morning and then reflect on your performance.

Maurice Crum Jr.: I ate the same thing I ate since the first game. That’s part of my tradition, so that hasn’t changed. I was kind of feeding off the way the team was playing. We were playing great as a team, as a unit. So I think we kind of fed off each other. When you are feeding off each other like that, the plays are bound to happen. I just happen to be there.

Q. (Indiscernible) Anything that just makes you extra special?

Maurice Crum Jr.: I always played hard. It is just one of those days. I guess every dog has his day, and I guess it was my turn.

Q. You said you were going to call your dad no matter how late it was, and did he pick up the phone?

Maurice Crum Jr.: He said he wasn’t going to answer. He thought about it because he already knew what I was calling him about. He was real happy for me. He told me he was proud of me, and he was going to be wearing my jersey around. He said “That’s my boy.” He was very happy, so I was happy that he said it.

Q. Did he end up ordering the game on pay per view? I don’t think it was shown down…

Maurice Crum Jr.: I don’t know how he got it. I think my stepmom works for a cable company. I don’t know how that works. They pretty much watch, like, every football game.

Q. He is pretty critical of you even when you play well. What did he have to say about this one?

Maurice Crum Jr.: Nothing bad to say. That was definitely a positive and, again, he said he was very proud and happy.

Q. (Indiscernible) Do you ever think you take losses too hard?

Maurice Crum Jr.: No, I think it is what drives me every day, day in and day out, the ability or wanting just to get better, because I do the same thing if we won. It is just harder after a loss.

Q. (James) Aldridge said he is up 8-7 on you in Ws.

Maurice Crum Jr.: James is wrong. It is the other way around. The last one I won counts for, like, three.

Q. So what’s your unofficial tally then?

Maurice Crum Jr.: I’d say it is, like, more 12-7 me.

Q. Tommy, everybody is talking about the BC quarterback. He is not very good, huh?

Tom Zbikowski: He is not very good? Watching tape, he seems like he is always going to the right wide receiver. I think that’s the biggest attribute that he knows where to put the ball. Really, he is not really making bad decisions. He seems to put the ball in the receiver’s hands pretty much every time.

Q. Mo, facing a quarterback like that, what comes into play for you?

Maurice Crum Jr.: Definitely being where I am supposed to be and don’t get caught doing the wrong thing because he’ll exploit you if you’re wrong. You got to make sure that you’re always where you’re supposed to be.

Q. Does he remind you — either one of you guys — remind you of any quarterback you’ve played against or seen?

Tom Zbikowski: I think a little bit for me was my sophomore year playing when we played Kyle Orton at Purdue. At that time, he was probably number one for the Heisman. It just seemed if you ever lost your leverage on the receiver, it seemed like he put it on that other side, right on that person, on the opposite shoulder where he just seemed like he hit every single target. That day, I think he had four incomplete passes. He was hitting everything. You got to play your leverage and not lose and not really necessarily worry about the quarterback but make sure you’re covering your receivers.

Maurice Crum Jr.: He does a lot of similar things from what I’ve seen just like Brady (Quinn) did — just scanning the field and being able to hit different receivers or different targets or making the tough throws and making the easy throws.

Q. When a guy is the way he spreads the football around — his top three receivers are wide outs, then the tight end, then the running back and two more wide outs — that tells you that the guy is obviously reading things about as well as he can.

Maurice Crum Jr.: Yeah, that’s evidence right there. Again, that’s him seeing the whole field and seeing everybody and him knowing and being able to make the throws because sometimes quarterbacks can’t make those throws but this guy can.

Q. Can you talk about the confidence level, the mood of the team as a result of the win, especially maybe right following the win and what that was like on the field, finally getting that first win?

Tom Zbikowski: The last couple games made that win sweeter than other ones but once Tuesday comes around, it is like any other week. Same way it was after week one, week two. Getting back to work and making sure we are doing what we got to do to win the next game.

Q. At the same time, was it a need in terms of mentally getting set to go for a week to finally get one under your belt?

Tom Zbikowski: Winning is always going to help. The hard work is paying off and, I think for a lot of younger guys for their first win, now they know kind of what it takes during practice and what it takes to get ready for a win and how to practice for it.

Q. A lot of questions to Mo about his game. What were your thoughts when you saw what he was able to do out there on Saturday?

Tom Zbikowski: That last interception, I was leading the way for a touchdown, but I don’t know what happened. I was looking the other way. Did you trip or something?

Maurice Crum Jr.: Yeah, I tripped.

Tom Zbikowski: No, I mean, he played unbelievable. That’s what we needed as a team, an individual effort like that, but also just the way the whole defense was playing and the offense and special teams; that’s why we won. When somebody has that type of effort, it helps the mentality of the entire team.

Q. Was that basically the only thing people have been able to say to you this week to try get at you is the trip? Is that the only thing they got at you?

Maurice Crum Jr.: I have been hearing that all week, the turf monster. I guess I got to work on my footwork.

Q. At what point in the game were you saying to yourself, “can they keep on happening? Can I keep on getting these plays?”

Maurice Crum Jr.: I hadn’t really thought about it until after the game and some of my teammates were just bringing up all this stuff. I am just playing and in tune to the game. I don’t worry about plays here or there. It wasn’t until after the game that I realized actually what had happened.

Q. Mo, have you ever had a game close to what you have had last week?

Maurice Crum Jr.: Never, never in my life and I will always remember that.

Q. What does it mean to you to be named the National Defensive Player of the Week?

Maurice Crum Jr.: That is very impressive, and I did not know that. I mean, I guess, that’s pretty big. For me, it is nothing I really did. I give all the credit to my teammates because those are the guys with me through thick and thin when I was down and up and Trevor (Laws) and Pat (Kuntz) up front, knocking balls down. It was a team effort, so it is a team thing.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the touchdown you scored — what happened on that play?

Maurice Crum Jr.: It was a slash. When I saw the ball on the ground, I thought the play was dead. It was like — it was one of those things, you just couldn’t believe it. I picked it up and I was running, just trying to get to the end zone and got there.

Q. It appeared that you guys were hitting as hard as you’ve hit all year. You’re the best judge of that. Would you agree with that?

Maurice Crum Jr.: I think so. I think we have a lot more intensity and more to show as a defense. And I think we have more opportunities, and I think it kind of shows what we’re capable of as a defense. And I think if we can kind of use that for a base or building stone and go after that, then the sky is the limit for us.

Q. How much of being able to be physical is based in fundamentals?

Tom Zbikowski: When you are working in practice with tackling like that and making sure you are bringing guys down, I think it just gives you confidence that you are making that play over and over. And you can give that little extra hit when you see a receiver, running back, whatever it is, that you know you will be wrapping them up and bringing them down.

Q. Is being more physical a byproduct of what you thought the 3-4 (defense) would bring you as the season went along?

Tom Zbikowski: I don’t think necessarily 3-4. I think Coach (Corwin) Brown has added to it in his style of coaching. I think that’s what we are expecting throughout the season.

Q. BC has always tried to be physical when they come out to play here. Is that something you anticipate and how do you answer that? Do you answer it with more physical play yourself?

Maurice Crum Jr.: Yeah, definitely. When anybody challenges you in any kind of way as a competitor, it is kind of like natural, just to match that or go above it.

Q. Maurice, Joe Brockington told us a good story about you last night. He said when you first got there, they went out to eat your first couple weeks there and they took you with him. And you didn’t say anything throughout the whole meal and at the end they told the waitress it was your birthday and they came over and sang happy birthday. Do you remember that?

Maurice Crum Jr.: Yeah, it was one of those memories that I won’t forget. I wasn’t too happy at the time. That’s why I won’t forget it. As a young guy not really knowing who’s who and what’s going on, it is kind of the older guys poking fun and having fun with me. Now I look at it and laugh at it. At the time, it wasn’t very funny.

Q. Can you just explain your transition to maybe more of a vocal guy? Can you explain that as you were just so quiet and now you are one of the more vocal guys on the team?

Maurice Crum Jr.: I think the biggest thing for that was me wanting to put the team in the best situation to win and if that involves me being the more vocal leader, a better leader or bettering myself in anything, then I will do it without question.

Q. Have you thought about the decision you might have to make at the end of the year yet?

Maurice Crum Jr.: No, not really. Because I am a right now kind of guy and I am really just focused on the group of guys that are here and giving them everything I have now and I will worry about everything else later.

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