Ricky Jean Francois: “We play with an edge.”

I was flying back from Washington D.C. this morning so I was not in Santa Clara. However, the Associated Press’ Janie McCauley was and she generously passed along a few transcripts of group interviews to me, so I pass them along to you.

Here’s Ricky Jean Francois.

Q: What would it mean to secure a playoff spot in November?

JEAN FRANCOIS: That’d be a big thing. One goal, we’re trying not to let another team have to help us get to the playoffs – let us do that so we won’t have to sit down Thursday or Monday night and hope for a team to win so this team gotta lose and all that. We’re trying to secure a playoff spot now so we don’t have to worry about that later in the season.

Q: A good showing this weekend against the Giants and you could do a lot toward a first round bye?

JEAN FRANCOIS: Yeah, but we can’t think about that. We just gotta go out there and play ball and execute whatever our coaches give us.

Q: But do you sense this month is more big games for you guys that way?

JEAN FRANCOIS: It is, but we ain’t sitting there trying to strongly think about it. We’re just trying to go out there and just play ball, that’s all.

Q: Could you have imagined being 7-1 at the midway point, at the start of the season?

JEAN FRANCOIS: Yeah. A lot of people doubted us, a lot of people put us out because we didn’t have an offseason, we had a whole new staff, we’re going to be lost and running around with our heads cut off. But with the dedication and all the time everybody put aside to build it we weren’t going to have no lacking. We fell off one game with Dallas, but after that we just had to put everything together. We just feel like this is a team, it’s not individual play no more. It’s actually a team.

Q: What’s it like to see Bruce Miller contribute like this?

JEAN FRANCOIS: I was trying to run on the field and catch him. I was happy for him making the touchdown. For him to go out there to give us that big score and everything like that, it’s just good. It’s a rookie doing it. So if you get used to it now, in the following years, you’ll probably be the best at it.

Q: Defensive line was one of the few position groups to keep your position coach. How helpful has that been?

JEAN FRANCOIS: It’s been a lot. We didn’t have to adjust to nothing, all coach had to do was just get us used to the vocabulary that Vic brought in. Vic’s using our terms and what we think of things and just putting it in his words. But to keep our defensive line coach … that was a plus.

Q: Do you think you guys are playing with more of an edge this year? You seem to get into it more with the other team.

JEAN FRANCOIS: Yeah. We play with an edge. We’re trying to go out there and we’re trying to be ball hawking at ‘em, going after everything. You gotta make team tackles, we’re trying to make every play. Even though you might have little slip-ups here and there, as a defense we’re trying to come together.

Q: Is that more SEC ball?

JEAN FRANCOIS: Yeah you can say that, you know.

Q: Did that game go the way you expected it to go?

JEAN FRANCOIS: I knew it was going to be a tight game, but I didn’t know it was going to come down to field goals. I was just sitting on my edge every five seconds. It felt like I was a head coach for a minute. You shouldn’t be doing this, you shouldn’t be cutting. But to see it end like that, I almost jumped over my bed, I almost missed the bed. At one point I just jumped over, I was happy for them. The whole week, a lot of my teammates decided the building was going against me. I was like, I don’t know for what reason. For some reason this one week, when Alabama plays, everybody wanted to go against me. But I’m happy they won. They’re still the No. 1 team in the country. I just hope they stay focused and just win out.

Q: Would you like to see a rematch or see them play someone like Stanford, OK State?

JEAN FRANCOIS: I’d like to see Alabama again. I doubt Saban’s going to lose back-to-back games to the same team. But you already know how the argument’s going to go. You didn’t win your conference championship, stuff like that. So I’d like to see LSU against a different team, Oklahoma State, Stanford, it wouldn’t make no difference. It’d be something new.

Q: What has changed with the approach you take to going back East? It’s rare a team going east-to-west, west-to-east, wins one game. You’ve already won four such games.

JEAN FRANCOIS: That was one big thing I kept looking at. They said a lot of West Coast teams not good on the East Coast. But that’s just a mental thing. If you sitting there thinking about it like man it’s a long flight, we’re going to be drowsy, we’re going to be tired, but that was just mentally. You just have to let your mind take over. Once that happened it really didn’t matter where we played. We played on the East Coast, played on the West Coast, north, south, it doesn’t matter. Plus it was Daylight Saving time so that was one big help. That was another hour of rest.

Q: But as a whole has that come from Coach? Was it different the way you fly, do you leave earlier?

JEAN FRANCOIS: No. We kept the same regimen. It was just, like I said, it was mentally. Everybody on this team had to let that go somewhere else. If you’re sitting there thinking about how long the flight’s going to be or it’s a three-hour change, we gotta play early, your body’s going to feel different. You gotta let your mind come over it. It’s mind over matter.

Q: As a college football fan, were you shocked by the Penn State stuff?

JEAN FRANCOIS: I really didn’t … I was so stuck on the LSU-Alabama game, I really didn’t hear nothing about it. Just snips here and there but I didn’t hear the full story about what happened.

Q: Still have the No. 1 scoring defense. How much pride does the defensive unit take in the ranking?

JEAN FRANCOIS: Take great pride in it. It’s somewhere we really focus on – just go out and do our job Sunday in and Sunday out. It’s a blessing to be that high and have that type of prestige, but it’s something we don’t just sit and think about everyday.

Q: What do you attribute the stinginess to?

JEAN FRANCOIS: One big thing, not letting offenses get in their motion. Once you let an offense get in motion, they start swinging it everywhere, but we try to cut that off very early, quick.