Aliotti: They wanted to win this for me
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti often wears his emotions on his sleeves but following the Ducks' 30-7 win Monday over Texas in the Alamo Bowl the outgoing coach let his feelings spill out all over the Alomodome.
Minutes after his defense sent him out in style by stuffing the Longhorns and scoring two touchdowns on interception returns, Aliotti, soaked from being doused with water by his players, could be found telling media members to be sure to write about how his unit shut down Texas' running game as he stomped on some celebratory balloons that had descended from the dome's ceiling.
"That's what we did to Texas' running game," he said, pointing to the remains of popped balloon he had stomped. "That's what we did to Texas."
Yes, they certainly did.
Oregon's defense had come under heavy criticism as of late for surrendering mountains of rushing yards to Stanford, Arizona and Oregon State over the team's final four games of the regular season.
For Texas to have a chance to win Monday it had to run the ball extensively and effectively with sophomore running back Malcolm Brown, a former five-star recruit. In the first half Brown went for 113 yards on 18 carries. In the second half, however, Oregon held Brown to 17 yards on eight carries. He finished with 130 on 26.
All told Oregon allowed 201 rushing yards and 236 total yards of offense. That's because Texas' passing offense is brutal. Quarterback Case McCoy completed 8-of-17 passes for 48 yards with two interceptions. UO senior safety Avery Patterson took the first one back 37 yards for a touchdown that gave the Ducks a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, junior linebacker Derrick Malone returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown to set the final score.
Patterson, who hails from the same small town of Pittsburg, Calif., that produced Aliotti, fought back tears during his post-game press conference and afterward let a few get away from him as he left the podium and headed toward the locker room.
Prior to leaving, Patterson had plenty of heartfelt words to say about Aliotti.
"I'll remember this day for the rest of my life," he said. "I'm kind of trying to hold back my emotions right now because that man means so much to me. He's done so much for this team and this program. But I'm just happy we were able to send him out right and get a 'W' for him because he's done so much for us."
Patterson said Aliotti told the defense before the game that he wanted some touchdowns from the defense.
So when McCoy's pass went too high for a crossing Jaxon Shipley and hit Patterson in the hands at the Texas 37, he said all he could think of was fulfilling Aliotti's wishes.
"That's the first person I thought about when I caught the ball," Patterson said. "I just wanted to score for him. He's the most special person to me that's ever coached me. I just wanted to do it for him. Like I said, we both come from the same high school. It felt real good to do that for him."
Aliotti said he was whooping it up in the coaches' box during the play and when Malone took back his interception in the fourth quarter.
After the game Aliotti held court with the media and delivered his typical heart felt, real and emotional press conference.
“I think they really wanted to get this win for me,” he said. “There was a lot of love after the game. Like I said, this ended better than the dream I could have had…If you want a way to end a deal I guess if you a shutout it would be better but we scored two touchdowns on defense. We stopped the run for the most part and we played great pass defense.”
What else could an exiting-defensive coordinator ask for?