Senior, Defensive End: BEN BANOGU
Q. Ben, I’m sure you got to see some film on Cal now. What do you think of their offense going into this matchup?
Well, you know, their offense, they’re efficient in what they do. They’re kind of like us, they’ve fought through a lot of mid-season adversity. So they have guys that can create plays. Their quarterback, he has his own special way of getting around the pocket. Their running back, he’s a pretty shifty guy. He has great vision. I don’t really think that they were able to turn the ball over that much. A lot of games that they’ve played, one, their defense has stepped up and played really well. So for us, our mindset is just be the best unit out on the field. We can only control what we can control. So our plan is to play hard and execute and try to do our 111 and the
rest will take care of itself.
Q. They’re Number 16 nationally in defense. You guys are 26. I mean, it’s probably going to come down to defense. Do you kind of embrace that defense battle?
Yeah, defensive battles are always more fun to play in, just for me. But it the end of the day, someone’s got to make a play. So however we win, if we can win 55-56 or 3-2, it doesn’t really matter to me.
Q. For you in general, has the season gone about how you expected? How would you kind of assess it?
In the beginning of the season, everyone has their thoughts and aspirations of what they want to have happen at the end of the year. And first off, you want to be that team at the end of the year that’s at the top, but sometimes it doesn’t go that way. Sometimes you fight through a lot of things throughout the season, and you can’t let that kind of bring you down or don’t let that help stall the season. I think we did a great job of fighting back and just showing what kind of men we are. I think a lot of times teams kind of just — if they’re not doing well, they kind of throw that season away. But for the seniors and for the young guys that haven’t gotten a chance play in a bowl game, we wanted this more than anything. So for us, being here is a great way to end the season. But the best way to end the season is to win!
Q. For you personally, did you feel like you accomplished everything you wanted coming back?
Me personally? No. I mean I felt like I accomplished a lot and everything. But on a personal level, I feel like there’s still some things that I kind of left out there. But that’s okay. It’s part of the game. There’s a lot of things out there that you
can’t control. So for me, it’s just to play my hardest and to do everything I can to help this team win.
Q. You and L.J. [Collier] had gone to the Senior Bowl, you guys were kind of the two staples with all of the injuries. Do you take pride in that, though, even though maybe you didn’t make as many plays as you guys might have liked to? But you guys still made quite a few.
Last year, Mat [Boesen] and I were kind of like the two ends that we were doing. And this year, it is me and L.J. So one thing I will tell you, it is nice to have some consistency. It’s great watching him fly around. He feeds off of me just like I feed off of him. To have a guy that can kind of disrupt everything and kind of feed the play to you and make you look good, it is always good.
Q. When you look at his story, obviously you played high school football in Texas. He was at IA, or IIA now, I think. Sometimes those guys get overlooked or don’t even get discovered but kind of his journey from small town to where he is now, likely NFL drafted.
For him, I was telling, it is an amazing accomplishment to come from where he came from and to be in the situation that he’s in right now. It’s great, and I’m really proud of him. Kind of similar to mine, although I didn’t get a scholarship coming right out of high school to TCU, but coming in as a transfer and kind of having to prove myself to my teammates and to my coaches and to myself, tell myself I actually could go out here and play with the level of competition that I wanted to be a part of. You know, I’m just proud of the type of player and person that he has became throughout this whole process and the short amount of time, the couple years I’ve been here. I’ve seen him grow and mature into a football player that a lot of people can be proud of.
Q. Can you talk about the scouting reports.
It doesn’t really change too much for me or L.J. [Collier]. We have to play our game, and we know to play to our best of our ability to help our team win. So if teams are gaining on us and they’re trying to take us away, kind of make us have less of an impact in the game, it is up to us to do our job and to trust in our teammates to go out there and make plays. That’s what our defense is made for. It is always good to see guys come up and just kind of be that guy each game. And it might be week 1 or it might be week 14. There were times where we had freshmen, true freshmen, coming in at linebacker and they were giving us checks. Coach P’s (Patterson) philosophy is next man up. We just lived by it.
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