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2014 VIZIO BCS Championship Game

PREGAME: DEC. 8 | DEC. 19 | DEC. 31 | JAN. 2 | JAN. 3 | JAN. 4 | JAN. 5POSTGAME: JAN. 6 | JAN. 7

Quoting Auburn ... VIZIO BCS National Championship Game (Opponent: Florida State)
Media Day: Head Coach Gus Malzahn (Sat., Jan. 4) | Printable version (.pdf)
GUS MALZAHN AUDIO

Talk about the preparations thus far. Well, first of all, our team has done a very good job this year of not getting distracted by anything. This week has been no different, even though the schedule has been a little bit chaotic at times. Once we got in our meetings, once we got to the practice field, the guys have been locked in, trying to get better and focus.

Have you had a chance to reflect on those two amazing wins that helped get you here? Yeah, you know, when that happens, that was really something. What we told our team after both those weeks that we had the big plays that won the games, the challenge for our team was to put that behind us, and we'll enjoy that after the season. We had to worry about the championship game, and then we've got to worry about this game, and our players have done a good job with that. Every time you walk by a TV you get a chance to see one of those plays. But our guys have done a very good job of putting that behind them. We've got our hands full with this one. It's a huge game, and we'll enjoy that after the season.

People say that youíre the team of destiny. Do you like having that extra added pressure? Well, I think the bottom line is our guys have found a way to win at the end of games when the pressure has been on. They've found a way to win in different ways, so I think that's been a big key to us getting here.

And the reaction you have seen online tons of people celebrating those big plays on YouTube. With t.eir reactions, tell us just how great the fans have been? Well, first of all, I feel like we've got the best fans in college football. We had 84,000 at our spring game coming off the season that we had last year, and I'm just real happy that our fans are enjoying some of this and having fun with it, and it's been fun to watch.

Auburn has had such a rollercoaster history. Itís been low and itís been high. Itís happened over the years, is there something about Auburn that allows for that? Well, Auburn, you can recruit well. Auburn expects to win championships. We've been here before. It's a great program, and this year is no different.

How fun has it been to coach this team this year? This has been just a true joy for me to watch the team grow. We had a lot of question marks coming into this season. Our coaches really weren't for sure what we had. And I think some of our players felt the same way with everything they went through last year, and to watch them grow and improve each game, and college football it's a huge challenge to improve each game, but our guys found a way to do it, and they've just been a blessing to coach. They've done everything our coaches have asked them to do with the right attitude, on the field, off the field. It's been a blessing for me to be coaching these guys.

Youíve only been a college head coach for a couple of years, you donít seem overwhelmed at all by any of this. Is that just who you are? You know, I think any time you're a high school head coach, there's a lot of similarities. Other than the media and the recruiting, there's a lot of similarities you're used to. And then I've been fortunate enough to be in some really good places as a coordinator, some big games, and I think all those experiences have really helped.

After the LSU game how did you think the rest of the season was going to play out? You know, the LSU game, we got off to a very tough start at halftime. We were being beat pretty good. I was curious to see how our team was going to respond. We had a lot of question marks still at that time about how we'd handle adversity, how we'd handle success, and at after time we had some leaders step up and say there's no way we're going to quit. We're going to keep coming out there fighting, and we came out in that second half and we fought our tail off, we got an onside kick that was really close that got overturned, and I'd have liked to have seen what would have happened if we would have got that onside kick.

What were your realistic expectations coming into this season? Well, you know, the first of the year people would say, hey, what's your expectations, what's your goals about going to a bowl? We never went there. We just said, our goal is to get better each practice and each game, and that sounded like coach speak, but that's exactly how we took it. We had so many question marks. We really didn't know about our team in a lot of areas from a coaching standpoint. We just tried to stay consistent. Our first game we played Washington State, didn't play great, but our guys found a way to win. And after the Mississippi State game we got a little momentum with the way we won at the end, and they continued to get better and they continued to work on the practice field.

How magical has this been for you? You know, when you're in the moment of a big game and something miraculous happens, that's a special feeling that you're on the field with your team, you're in the locker room with your team and you talk to media. But once you get done and you go back home, you put that behind you. You've got to worry about the next opponent because the games get nothing but bigger. I think that's been one of the keys to our success. Our coaches and players have been able to do that.

Coach youíve talked about all the questions marked youíve had this season. One question mark that didnít exist was Tre Mason. Talk about the strength of your run game that heís brought to the team. Well, we knew a lot about Tre. I actually recruited him. He was a very tough kid as a freshman. He was a little bit lighter and faster, but we knew we had a tough guy there. Our line started coming together midway through the year, and he started getting stronger, and we committed to getting him the ball. He's made the most of it.

Coach you took on a team who was 0-8 last year. How did you get these guys to believe that they could be SEC champs after going 0-8 last year? Well, when we first got there, we said we're not going to worry about anything that happened last year, who's fault. I told our coaches, don't even watch game film. We don't know what the situations were. Everybody has got a fresh start. I just said the bar is going to be high, and we're going to try to get our edge back. Auburn is know for that physical, hard nosed, blue collar mentality, and we had to get that back, and our guys have done that.

Have you ever aspired to one day be in the NFL? I don't go there. I'm tickled to death to be here at Auburn, and I've made that clear.

FSUís defense is so balanced at every level, what are the specific challenges that they present? Yeah, you know, they are very good at every level. I think it starts with the defensive front. They're very athletic, they're very big. Their linebackers are really fast. Some of the faster linebackers we've faced. Their DBs have better ball skills than some receivers so they're very good. At the same time they put people away so you don't have a whole lot of information. You see their twos more than you see their ones on film, but they're an excellent defense.

Do you ever sit back and look over the past season? You know, you've got to move on. You've got to move on. We'll think about that. We'll pat each other on the back afterwards and we'll think, wow, that was pretty neat. But we've got a job to do, and we're fortunate to be here. Our guys have found a way to win, but we've got a chance to win the National Championship, and that's the only thing on our mind. After this game we'll look back.

Coach, can you talk a bit about Dameyune Craig? Dameyune Craig is one of the better coaches in college football, in my opinion. I've said about Coach Lashlee, about having the 'it' factor, having everything it takes to be successful. Dameyune Craig is the same way, and Dameyune has done a great job with our receivers. They play very good without the ball. They're very tough. He's just got everything it takes to be a big time coach.

(Inaudible.) Well, I mean, any time you're with someone and you know the program and all that, you take everything you can.

What are your plans for the next 48 hours? Next 48 hours is going to be exactly like it has been the previous games we've had. We're starting to get in that mode. You can really sense that our players are starting to get a little bit more in tune to the finer details of everything. So really we're looking forward to the next 48 hours to be exactly like the ones have been up to this point.

Earlier Coach Pruitt reflected on his high school days, can you reflect on yours and some of the things that you remember? You know, some of the fun things about coaching high school is mowing grass and moving water pipes and cleaning out locker rooms and toilets. I think that's the grass roots. That's where you really learn your work ethic and really your appreciation. Now that I'm in college, I feel like being a former high school coach has given me a huge advantage with those areas, but then at the same time any time you're a head coach in high school, game management stuff is exactly like college, and so that background has really helped me in a lot of different ways.

Coach did you ever think that Rick Lashlee who once was your quarterback would become your offensive coordinator in a national championship game? No, but I knew that he was like a coach on the field. You know, he fought like a coach when he played, and the great quarterbacks usually do, and it was just a matter of I knew if he was going to go into the coaching profession he'd be successful. He's very good with players. He's very good under pressure. He's smart, and he's got it.

What do you think when you hear the Auburn is a team of destiny? Yeah, all I know is we're finding ways to win. We found ways to win in a lot of different, unique ways. Some people call it destiny, some people call it luck. But bottom line is we play in the SEC and we played some very good opponents, and our offense responded when they've had to, our defense responded when they had to, our special teams. So we've won a lot of different ways. That's hard to do in college football, and I'm real proud of our team getting us here.

This team struggled a year ago, but was the talent still there? Any time you go to the National Championship you're going to have some talent, and we've got some talent, and it just all kind of came together.

Rhett said you always get the best out of players out of high school. How do you maximize playersí potential? Well, I think the way you win is you try to execute and you try to do things perfect, and you have a high standard. If it's not what you expect, you run it again. So we just have that approach with our players, our standard is high. It's all about execution, and we're fortunate enough to have some guys that have done that well.

Coach you say that this team finds ways to win. How have you prepared for this matchup knowing your team is the underdog. What are you doing differently? Yeah, I think we've been the underdog a whole lot this year, so it's kind of one of those normal things. We've got to find a way to make this a close game, and so we've found ways to win when it's close.

How do you find ways to make the game a close one. Well, you've got to play well on offense and defense and special teams, and you've got to protect the football. You look at a lot of these bowl games, and the teams that protect the football and play good special teams are being successful.

Can you get the offense to come out and pick up the same momentum youíve had all year? Well, that's going to be a challenge. They've got a great defense, and that will be one of the big stories of the game, if we can move the ball on them.

How confident are you in this game? Well, you know, the team we feel like is very prepared. I think any time, both teams, when you get the championship, you're going to be confident because you've had success. Our guys are, I know their guys are. Itís just two really good teams playing each other.

You mentioned coach high school, there are a lot of great high school coaches out there that never get the opportunity you got. How rare is that that you made it here? You know, I just feel very blessed that I've gotten the opportunity to coach college. There's a lot of high school coaches that could be doing the exact same thing that I'm doing, and I just feel blessed that I've been given the opportunity. I've been in the right situation and the right time, time and time again. This is no different.

Coach, there has been so much time between games, has it changed the amount that you focus on what they do, versus what you do? Yeah, you know, the fact that we did this in 2010, it gave us a good idea of the time factor and everything that goes with it. But as a coach, you've got to predict what they're going to do to stop you or what they're going to do to attack you, and you've got to have answers. A long layoff, usually it's about adjustments on both sides, and I think that'll be a big key, especially early in the game.

What are some things that you carried over to this team in this season? Well, I think the schedule is the big thing. 30 days is a long time to play. It's like a spring practice. You've got to pick and choose your times to start focusing in. I think there's a balance of worrying about yourself and then start game planning against what you're going to get.

But at the end of the day, a long layoff, you've got to be ready for adjustments. They're going to adjust, we're going to adjust and then things will settle down, and then you can play football.

Did you pursue Auburn or did they pursue you? It was a combination of both.

(Inaudible.) Well, the SEC has great pride and they've been very successful and won a lot in a row, but to be honest with you, we're worried about the Auburn Tigers. But in the big picture, every team represents their conference in the bowls, and you understand that.

With everything thatís happened on campus with Toomerís corner. What would a win and a national championship mean for the university? Oh, it would be big. You can see every time we win a big game, it's a big deal. Like I said, we've got the best fans in college football. Any time you see them celebrating, that's a special thing.

Do you stay in contact with any of the Springdale guys? Who do you talk to most? Yeah, sure do. Damien Williams, Mitch, Webb, Ben Cleveland. Oh yeah, those are my guys.

So youíve maintained a good relationship with them? Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

(Inaudible.) You know, when we talk, we don't always just talk football. We talk life, and just happy for him.

(Inaudible.) It's possible.

Can you talk a bit about the teams preparation thus far being out in California? Yeah, our guys have been very focused. When we got on the plane, we talked about it being a business trip, and our guys have done that. That's been their approach the whole year, and that's been one of the big keys why we're here.

Did you change much in terms of your routines? You try your best to stay in a routine. The National Championship week is fairly unique, a little bit different, but the fact that we did it three years ago, it gave us a little background. But our guys have done a solid job.

Do you feel like the layoff will affect you at all? Well, I think any time you don't play in 30 days you're concerned. But I think the way you approach practice and try to stay sharp, I think that's very important.

How do you feel about Florida Stateís offense? Well, they've got the Heisman Trophy winner playing quarterback, which is always a concern. They've got NFL wide receivers. I think their offensive line is very athletic, and they've got a good running game. Our challenge is going to be keeping them off balance.

What does the Florida State team do so well? Well, they're good in all areas, first of all. That's what stands out. They've put people away. Really there isn't any close games and that's hard to do. So they've been dominant in all three phases. That's why they're here.

How do you game plan against such a great quarterback and athlete, Jameis Winston? Yeah, well, the good thing is we've faced some very good quarterbacks in our league this year. Obviously he's the Heisman Trophy winner, he can throw it, he can run it. But our big challenge is going to be keeping him off balance.

What do they do well defensively? Well, they're good up front. That's what stands out to me. Their linebackers can really run. Their secondary has got great ball skills. They've got more interceptions than anybody in college football with a lot of different guys. We're going to have to find ways to move the ball.

When they talk about your ball club, they talk about a team of destiny, do you buy into that? Well, we found ways to win. I mean, the Georgia win right there, the tip and all that, but the Alabama game, we won that game. Even if it would have gone overtime, we liked our chances. We had the momentum. Any time you play in the SEC and you win that league, you know, and find ways to win, that's a good thing.

Whatís the biggest thing that youíve learned from last year? Yeah, I think any time you come into something new, there's a learning curve. Being in charge of everything at the college level, the good thing for me is I was a high school head coach for 14 years. There's a lot of carryover as far as dealing with players, dealing with coaches, everything, game management. The difference in college is the recruiting and dealing with the media.

Have you gotten comfortable with the underdog role? We've been the underdog all year, so we're pretty comfortable with that. Our guys have responded well when we've been underdogs.

Do you guys feel like a team of destiny? Well, you know, we feel like we've earned the right to get here. There's no doubt, our guys have found different ways to win games against very good opponents, whether it's the offense one week, the defense one week or the special teams. It's been a lot of fun watching them.

Do you feel like you have an advantage seeing that youíve been battle tested? Well, I think being battle tested, if it's a close game will definitely help you. There's no doubt that I know how our guys are going to react. They're not going to panic. They're going to believe.

Being the underdog this entire season, how are you preparing to being the top dog this game? Yeah, we're approaching it the same way we have as any other game. We have been the underdog. Our guys are comfortable with that role. This situation is no different.

How much has your offense changed from when you were a high school coach? The same foundation, offense is exactly the same. We build the strengths around our quarterback and our personnel, and that's kind of the old high school way of doing things, so when you get in college you go in a new situation, that doesn't change. But each year we're a little bit different with the strengths of our quarterback.

Right when you were at TU you had one of the best passing games in the country. Yeah, Paul Smith and Dave Johnson were unbelievable at throwing it. We had great receivers, and they got it done.

Was that just saying we need to use our quarterbacks better? Well, we looked at what we had this year, and we evaluated our talent offensively and defensively, and we tried to build around our strengths.

What would you describe as the mood around Auburn when you came over? It was different. It was different than when I left. But we had 84,000 at our spring game. There was a lot of hope. There was a lot of hope, and we got great fans, and our fans have helped us get here, too. That was a great, encouraging thing for the spring game to have 84,000 people.

The players were almost beaten down when you came in. How did you fix that? When we first got there we were very honest with them. We said everybody's starting over, it's a new day, we're not going to worry about anything that happened last year, whose fault. I even told our coaches we're not going to watch any game film from last year. Everybody is going to get a fresh start and we're going to be very demanding. Auburn is known for that blue collar, hard nosed, hit you in the mouth mentality. We had to get that back, and our coaches worked extremely hard developing relationships with our players to develop that trust so we could strain them, and we strained them extremely hard. We were very physical in spring, very physical in fall camp. Our quarterbacks went live, and we got our edge back.

At the beginning of the season, where did you see this team going? You know, we didn't go any farther than one game at a time. We just tried to improve. We didn't know really what to expect. We just worried about ourselves, worried about getting our edge back.

What are the origins of your offense? Well, when I first started coaching, I was a Wing T background round, you still see a whole lot of Wing T, and then we've got the read zone to complement it with the different complements off each.

Prepping for this game is it more about doing what you guys do or prepping for Florida State? You know, I think there's a little bit of a balance, but any time you get to a championship game, you've got strengths. Both teams will play to their strengths, there's no doubt. But at the same time, 30 days off, we expect to have a few wrinkles, they expect to have a few wrinkles, and there's a little bit of feeling out time. But at the end of the day, both teams will do what they do strength wise.

How is Florida State different after watching their films? They're extremely fast. You know, their opponents, they put them away. They dominate games. That's what stands out to you. They dominate games. You watch cut ups and you're watching their backups as much as you are their starters because they've dominated people.

After watching the other Bowl games that seem to be an offensive shootout, are you trying to prepare your defense to not get frustrated and stay with it? Yeah, I think you just approach it like what you're going to do. You've got to be prepared for all the what ifs, the low scoring, high scoring. You really don't know there in your mind about what other teams have done. 2010 everybody was saying it was an offensive shootout and things like that, and it turned out to be a pretty low scoring game. As a coach you've got to be ready for all the what ifs and be able to adjust.

Florida State keeps talking about discipline, discipline, discipline. How do you break a team of that? Well, you try your best to keep them off balance because they're extremely talented. They're good at what they do, and you've got to keep them off balance.

Whatís the biggest key to stopping Winston? Keep them off balance.

How important is it to put pressure on him? Very, there's no doubt, making him uncomfortable, and doing your best to make him uncomfortable, because when he's comfortable, he is extremely tough to stop.

Does it bother you that the general public thinks that coaches like to jump from one opportunity to another? No, I'm a pretty one track mind. Coaches look at it completely different. I think the media brings up a lot of that, stirs a lot of that stuff up, but coaches look at it different.

How do coaches look at it? Well, it's your livelihood.

Your name has come up with a couple NFL teams, Cleveland specifically. I know youíre happy here but is that something you might consider? No, I've made it clear. I mean, I'm tickled to death to be here at Auburn, and I made that clear numerous times.

How specifically do you keep Florida State off balance? Well, you've got to mix things up. You've got to disguise some things. You've got to mix things up. That's the biggest challenge. And you've got to take away something, too. You've got to take away something and hope you keep them off balance enough to help.

Is there anything specific you guys try to prepare for? You know, as a coach you just try to throw out every imaginable situation you could come into and have your team prepared for each situation. It's just a matter if it comes up, your guys being prepared and ready to go.

You guys faced LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M, Alabama, how do you keep your guys focused on this as just another game. Well, that's been a key to our success. Our guys are just taking it one game at a time. We've played some excellent opponents this year and found ways to win in different ways, and we're playing another big time opponent. We've just been trying to keep it status quo and keep it as close to a normal week as possible.

When you look at this Florida State's team's speed, how do you guys match up? Well, one thing that stands out, they're faster than everybody they play by a long shot, so you can really see that they can run in all areas, and that's definitely concerning.

What's been the biggest thing so far in preparation for this anticipated big game on Monday? Yeah, just trying to stay in a routine as best you can and do exactly what has gotten you here.

In all of the bowl games so far, is there anything you've learned or picked up that you think maybe I'll implement it, or just stick to your same game plan? No, just to be honest with you I have not watched hardly any of the bowl games. You've got to worry about yourself. You've got to worry about preparing.

Many people have asked you about destiny, but it's certainly not a coincidence that you are where you are, and your team is blessed Ė talk about that as far as destiny and such? Well our team has found a way to win in some big games when the pressure has been the highest, whether it's the offense one week, the defense one week or special teams, and that's definitely helped us get here.

Talk about your philosophy. What do you instill in yourself and your players in order to achieve the greatness that you have? Well, you know, work ethic, character, discipline, all those things that teams that play in championship games have.

What's it going to take to become victorious on Monday? We're going to have to play a good game in all three areas.

You've talked earlier this week about the importance of Jay Prosh and how when you take him out it's very different, can you talk about that a bit? Yeah, Jay Prosch brings a huge, physical presence to our offense. He's a tough guy. He's a smart guy. He can adjust, and he's been one of our leaders.

He's a big guy too, that can plug the hole. He's a big guy that can run, and he loves contact.

What's it been like for you working with him this year? He's been a blessing. He's very unselfish. He doesn't complain about anything. He's one of the reasons we're here.

(Inaudible.) Yeah, our team has been a joy to coach. They don't get too high, they don't get too low. They've really taken a businesslike approach to this week, and they've found a way to prepare each week, whether we're playing Alabama or a 1-AA team. They've prepared the same way, they've had the same focus, and that's rare.

The team's out here in California Ė are they loose, are they feeling good? Yeah, it's just like a normal game the way they've approached it. We haven't had any issues off the field. They've really been focused in our meetings. Practice has been the same as it's been all year. That's been one of the keys to our success.

Talk a bit about your big win over Alabama, the difficult season last year, what has this comeback been like to find yourself here? Well, you've got to give credit to our players. They've bought into what our coaches have asked them to do. Our coaches, we've strained them, tried to get our edge back, that blue-collar, hard-nosed edge that Auburn is known for, and our players have responded.

(Inaudible.) It's been very unique to watch this group come together. They're an extremely close group. Our seniors deserve a lot of the credit for bringing this team together. With everything they went through last year, they had some battle scars, and they put that behind them, and they believed and they played together for each other, and they played their guts out for us.

How do you keep the team focused with all that's going on around this big game? This team has been focused every game, whether we're playing Alabama or whether we're playing a 1-AA team, they've found a way to get better and improve, and they've had a very good week of practice since we've been here, haven't been many distractions, and they've went about their business just like they have every other week.

Coach, for you personally, how does it feel to receive the Coach of the Year award? I'm one blessed guy. Any time you get Coach of the Year honors, it goes to your players, your assistant coaches and everything that goes together.

What did you guys as a team take away from that LSU game and rebound for a very tough SEC schedule? Yeah, first of all, I'm never into moral victories, but it was fairly unique that we were on the road, we played a terrible half of football, LSU had a lot to do with that, but it was one of those moments where we could either shut it down or we could man up, and our guys did that, and they fought hard, made it an interesting game. We had an onside kick that we thought we got that got reversed. I would have liked to have seen what would have happened. We had a lot of momentum. That was one of those things that as a head coach, I learned a lot about our team, that we're going to fight people, we ain't quitting, and we're not going to back down.

What did you learn about Nick once you got him at Auburn? Yeah, he's a tough guy. We knew he was very athletic. We didn't know exactly how tough of an inside runner that he was. Obviously the red zone, he's like a magician sometimes with that, but he has been a joy to coach, and I know Rhett has coached him extremely hard, been very demanding, and he's responded well every time.

How unusual is that for a guy that highly recruited? Yeah, it's very unusual. I mean, still, every other quarterback we've had went through a spring, had a good foundation of who we were. We had good information, you're talking about a guy that we learned about him playing games, probably the first four games, and he learned the offense the first four games. For him to lead us here is really something.

Can you talk about how Jonathan Wallace has accepted his role and how Jonathan's handled this season? Yeah, Jonathan Wallace is one of the biggest winners we have on our team. He has nothing but winner in him, his attitude, he's a competitor. Really doesn't get to play much. But you never see any frown, any negativity. He's always encouraging, and that's hard to do. Guys like him and specifically him is the reason that we're here.

What do you say to people who say this is a team of destiny? I just answer it that our team has found a way to win in some very tough games in some different ways. One time it's the offense, one time it's the defense, one time it's the special teams, and they've responded when the pressure has been on the highest.

The SEC has been dominant for several consecutive championships. What would it mean for Auburn to continue that streak and to extend that dominance? Yeah, and first of all, our league, we take great pride in that, and they've been very successful. Our league has been very successful in championship games, and we'd like to carry that on. But at the same time we're playing a very good team that's unique and very good in a lot of different areas.

What was your first impression of Florida State after you found out you'd be playing them? Yeah. They're good in all three phases, offense, defense, special teams. You look for weaknesses as a coach, and they have very few.

What has Tre Mason done that impresses you? Yeah, Tre, he is one of the tougher running backs in all of college football, if not the toughest. He brings a physical factor to our run game the way he finishes runs.

When you're prepping for this bowl preparation, there's obviously a lot more involved with knowing that they're going to have studied everything you guys have done, your tendencies, how do you get to a place where you make a call and you're not over-worried about the tendencies and things like that, so you're just doing what got you there? Right. I think there's a balance. They're very good coaches over there, and our tendencies, we know their tendencies, and there's always a feeling-out period about what their plan is, what our plan is, and things usually settle down after that.

The story has been told many times now about you gathering the team when you first got there and telling them they were gonna have the biggest turnaround in college football, but did you think it would be as big as this? You know, we didn't really think about the end result. We just took it one week at a time, and we knew that we had a chance if we got better each week. We knew we played some extremely tough opponents on our schedule, and we'd be able to compete with those guys. Our guys found a way to get better and win those games at the end, and here we are.

You knew the Auburn personnel very well, so did you feel like this team had the talent to play for a national championship and just needed (inaudible)? The fact that I was familiar with the program and a lot of the guys, it definitely helped, and I knew we had some talent in some areas, and I knew we had some deficiencies that we had to fill in different ways. The big thing was just the mindset of getting our mindset back to play together, to compete, play as a team, have that hard-nosed, physical, blue-collar mentality that Auburn is known for.

Do you think there was any true turning point for you this season? It was a work in progress, there's no doubt. Every game had its own story. Washington State, our defense made a big pick in the end zone; Mississippi State we drove it 91 yards with a minute left to score a touchdown to win that one. And then you go to LSU and our guys didn't quit. Probably Texas A&M is the game that – Texas A&M was playing very good at the time. We went to their place, at the time they had the best player in college football, and for us to win that game the way we did, that gave us confidence moving forward that we felt like we could play with anybody.

There's so much offense in college football these days, that seems to be where the story is Ė what do you attribute that to? You know, I think it starts with the quarterbacks, and I think you see more of these high school programs doing a lot more of the wide-open, spread it out, and I think the quarterbacks are more prepared than they used to be. I think that's where it really starts.

Do you think there a number of high school coaches out there who might follow in this path? There's no doubt. I'm just one of the few that's been blessed enough to be given the opportunity. There's some great high school coaches that could be doing exactly what I'm doing. They just need to be given the opportunities. I know the former high school coaches that are coaching college now, we've kind of got our own little group, and we're going to do everything in our power to give more opportunities to high school coaches.

Is it a hard jump? Sometimes with kind of bouncing around? You know, football is football. You play with 11 guys. There's only a few things they can do if they're sound. So the football part and dealing with players is no different at all than high school. The challenge is the recruiting part, the media, the boosters. That's really the only difference.

Who's in that group of former high school guys? Yeah, Todd Graham, Chad Morris, those are guys that – Mike Norvell.

Do you speak a language all yourselves in terms of how you got here, that college guys might not understand? Yeah, well, first of all, Houston Nutt gave me a great opportunity to get in college football from high school. I've been in the right situation at the right time. You've got to have players, and at Tulsa we had some outstanding skill guys. Then I come to Auburn, and it was a great situation. Then I went to Arkansas State and it was a great situation. Now we're back at Auburn and here we are. I've been very blessed to be in the right situation at the right time with the right coaches and the right administration.

In terms of scoring and offense, there are some people who feel the rules of the game are tipping too much towards the offense. Do you believe that? Yeah, I have no idea. They had the same rules pretty much for a long time, and I just think what you see is people adjusting to playing to their strengths. You look at football, and it usually evolves and goes back, and it's just challenging the defenses, and defenses are challenging a little bit more than they were in the past.

(Inaudible.) You know, I had a relationship with him. He was one of the better athletic directors anywhere.

How much did the loss at LSU change your approach? Yeah, we learned a lot about our team there. We had a chance to shut her down. Our guys didn't do it. They came out fighting against a very good opponent on the road, and we made it interesting, I think.

What about with Nick? I understand you guys kind of opened it up a bit then? Well, we learned a lot about him. He didn't go through spring, so the first half of the season we were learning about him. We had an off week after that LSU week and we kind of settled down into what his strengths are, and he's really taken it to another level.

When you came back to Auburn did you know this turnaround could happen? We knew we had a chance if we improved each game to be a good team at the end. You look at our schedule, some of the tougher opponents were towards the end, and our goal was to get better to be able to compete with those guys. We ended up winning those games. We got better each week, which is extremely tough to do, and here we are.

Was there a specific game this season where you felt like this was not the same team afterwards? You know, each game had its own story that we improved and found a way to win. But the Texas A&M game, at the time Texas A&M was a top 10 team, they were playing their best football, and at the time they had the best player in college football. The way we won that game, our offense drove the field, a minute left against Johnny Manziel, up to that point nobody had stopped them at their home field, and we sacked him at the end. We came off that field, and you could tell our team was different, and you could tell we had that feeling that we could play with anybody.

Jeremy comes from Alabama, obviously there are similarities between those two defenses. What differences do you see between Alabama and Florida State, as far as how they run things? Well, there is some similarities, but Jeremy does have his own wrinkle, but there are some similarities, and I'm sure he'll lean on that game we played against Alabama.

(Inaudible.) Yeah, it's very important. There are a lot of great players, but really the state of Alabama is very important to us, too. That's definitely a priority.

Talk about pregame rituals, how being out here has impacted your preparation? Yeah, we're just in the same routine, whether we're at home or whether we're here at the championship game. We'll do exactly what we've done before to prepare, same timetable, same meeting schedule. We're not going to change anything.

You guys have played some tight games, while Florida State hasn't. Is that an advantage in this type of situation? Well, I think if it's a close game, our guys have responded extremely well. They've been battle tested, and we've found ways to win in different ways. If it gets to that point, I know our guys will be calm and I know they'll be under control.

No matter what happens on Monday night, do you think this season and moving forward will still be significant for the program following the erosion that happened in 2010? Yeah, I just think you can tell our program is going the right direction. I feel very good. I think our best years are ahead. I know we've had a great year, and we've found ways to get here, but I think we've got a chance to sustain this thing. We have the right coaches, and our players – we're a young team. 2010 it was completely different, so we got – we're laying the groundwork. Early in the year I said we're a work in progress, and our guys found a way to get us here. But I think our best years are ahead.

Were you aware that you had such a talented team, (inaudible), demonstrating some skill sets that maybe you didn't know about? Yeah, they're multitalented. That's pretty impressive. I didn't know he could do that.

What's it say about what kind of season you're having that – those couple big plays you've had? They were really special plays when the moment was the biggest and the pressure was on at home, we found ways to win. But there were other moments that we found ways to win earlier in the year that don't get a lot of attention. But the bottom line is our guys, they're battle tested. They know how to respond in a tough spot. The pressure and the moment is not too big for them.

Now that the game is approaching, what do you tell your guys as they prepare to go out and play? Well, we're locking in, and we're getting in our routine like we have on our Thursday-type approach, and we'll treat it like any other game from this point forward.

You've said on many occasions before that Auburn is a great fit for you, you've made that clear Ė talk about what makes it such a great fit? Well, the fact that I was here before for three years and it was the best three years of my life, my family's life, you know, Auburn is – I'm an Auburn man. I love our fans. I love what Auburn is about.

Biggest concerns about Florida State, and maybe any weaknesses you could exploit? Yeah, I'd say talent, offensively, defensively and special teams, they don't have any weaknesses.

Your message to the Auburn people who have supported you all the way through this comeback? Yeah, we're doing this thing together. It all started in the spring game with 84,000 after everything they went through the year before. They gave our players a shot in the arm. We tried to give them hope, and we're doing this thing together.

How surprising was it to see (inaudible) out of state? Well, Dameyune is an outstanding recruiter. He's a great coach. You know, he's one of the best in the business.

How important is Ryan Russell? Yeah, Ryan Russell is a big reason we're here. He laid the groundwork right when we first got here, the expectations, the work ethic, the consistency. He's very demanding. There's no gray area at all. I think he laid the foundation before our coaches even got to work with our guys.

Talk about Rodney and what it means for him to come back to Auburn this year? Rodney is a big reason why we're here, too. He loves Auburn. He's a tough guy. He understands Auburn, and we had worked real hard to get that blue-collar, hard-nosed edge that makes Auburn special, and he's been a big part of bringing that back.

He said he wanted to give something back to Auburn because of what Auburn gave him. Have you seen him a little bit more amped up? No, he's consistent no matter who we're playing, but he loves Auburn and he understands Auburn. He's a big reason why we're here.

Have there been points in the year when having veterans like Rodney and Elli son the staff kind of helped put things together? Well, I think the big thing is this staff is a veteran staff. We've been together. There's no egos, there's no distractions within our staff. We are truly a staff that is together. Our players have seen that consistency, and I've got to believe that's helped.

(Inaudible.) No, I really don't. I think we've got a veteran staff. We've got guys that have won big games before and had really good seasons. But you know, the fact that we've went through what we went through in 2010, I think your guard is up a little bit more than it normally would be.

Will you be making any decisions after Monday night, or will you be back next year? No, I've made it clear, I love Auburn, and this is where I want to be.

So you'll be back next year? Yeah.

Are you surprised at all about how the up-tempo offense has become such a common part of college football, and what do you think is the future? Well, yeah. I think you see more and more teams doing up-tempo stuff. I think you see more and more high school teams developing quarterbacks for the up-tempo type offenses. That's just where the direction of college football is going.

Do you feel like you have to constantly adjust it or tweak it in order to stay ahead of defenses? Well, I mean, no matter what you're doing, you've got to figure out a way to try to stay ahead and wrinkles and everything like that.

For Robenson, how high is his ceiling? How great can he be? Physically he's probably as good as anybody that I've got a chance to coach. Coach Grimes has done a great job with him. He's come a long way in one year, and his ceiling is very high. He's capable of getting quite a bit better as far as technique and everything that goes with it.

When you looked at the team that beat Oregon for the national championship, Cam was kind of the one that led and brought the team together. Do you get the sense that Winston is sort of that same force for Florida State? Yeah, I really don't know much about that because I haven't been with him. But you look at him on film, and they beat people. They had zero close games, and they put people away.

What does it mean for a team to have such a dynamic leader like Cam was for you guys? Well, Cam really drove our team. He was a leader offensively and defensively, but at the same time we had a lot of seniors that year that were extremely talented that had been battle-tested, and I think that combination really helped.

What do you think it takes to be a winner? You know, a winner for me is not just on the field. I think being a winner is off the field, being disciplined, a hard worker, character, everything that it takes – when we talk about winners with our group, that's what we talk about.

Can you talk about Jay Prosch, not starting his career at Auburn, what does it mean to have him now? How much of an asset is he to this team? Yeah, Jay Prosch is a big reason we're here, where we're at. His physical presence, his physical toughness, you know, at the point of attack he's about as good as it gets in college football.

Was it a little bit daunting to have someone transfer to your team that was going through his struggles? How did you as a team support him so that he could play his best football and deal with those struggles? Well, our coaches have a great relationships with our players. Our players know that our coaches care about them more than what they can just do on the field. Our coaches have tried to reach out to him. But he's one of our leaders, and he's a joy to coach.

We've also had some of your players giving us impressions of you. Are they going to have to run extra laps for that? No, they're a good group. They're having fun. We'll laugh about it after the season.

Florida State this year has been kind of the team in the media really from the beginning of the season all the way up until now, and you guys kind of slid under the radar for most of the season until those two big wins. Florida State still has some shine on them. Does your team have any resentment towards that? Do they feel like they have something to prove against this glitzy team? No, nothing at all. They've earned that right. I mean, they've been consistent all year. They've blown people away. They had zero close games, and they've earned the right to get here. Our guys have respect for them. Our journey has been different. We tried to play to that.

Cam has had a pretty impressive NFL season. Do you keep in touch with him? Yeah, yeah, we do. Real proud of him. They made the playoffs, and he's capable of being one of the best to ever play.

It's pretty awesome right now with Auburn in the Championship and him making the playoffs. Yeah. He's a winner. He's got the unique ability to make his teammates better and believe.

You're up here alone – seems like everyone got what they needed from you and moved on to your players. Yeah, real happy for our players. They're enjoying the moment. They've earned the right to get here, and it's fun to watch these guys have some smiles on their faces and be able to relax a little bit.

You've been in this environment before of the National Championship, but you were sitting at a round table rather than the big table. How has it changed? You know, really there's not a whole lot of difference, other than the fact you're in charge of the whole program and the defense. But it feels very similar. The fact that I kind of knew what to expect and the routine has really helped.

When you take a look at this team, and I think it's unfair, my personal opinion, to say that this is a team of destiny. If you had to characterize this team and why they're playing in the National Championship Game, what would you say? Well, this is one of the few teams in college football that actually improved each week. Our guys have found a way to get up and have our "A" game, whether we're playing Alabama or a 1-AA team. That's rare in college football.

The unique thing is our guys have found ways to win in different ways, offense one week, defense one week, special teams one week, and they've done it when the pressure has been the highest. There's very few teams that can do that, and that's one of the reasons why we're here.

When you look at this team top to bottom, offense, defense, special teams, and you talk about the progress they've all made as a whole, what about the progress that they've made in terms of emotional maturity? You know, that's been a big key. Our seniors have really been the leaders of this group. They've kept everything together. Our coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for developing relationships with players and trust so they can train them and make them the best they can be.

I've been here since before the Rose Bowl, I've traveled up and down the Pacific Coast Highway with those views, I haven't been able to find a golf course yet. Yeah, we'll worry about that later. We're blessed to be here and can't wait.

I know it's a team game, but off the top of your head are there a couple of guys on this squad that you felt helped keep this team together, kept them going through the season? I think you've got to put our seniors in a group. We're a senior-led team. When we first got here we had a lot of meetings with just our seniors and wanted to make sure that we were all together. I just put those guys in a group, and they're a big reason why we're here.

We all know the offense has to put point on the board, but what's the biggest challenge for the defense in facing Florida State? Yeah, I think the biggest thing is to keep the guys off balance. They're very good at what they do, throwing and running, and we've got to keep them off balance.

How do you guys keep them off balance? You know, stopping the run, putting pressure on the quarterback, making him uncomfortable.

One of the things you've talked about this year is that you felt if your guys could get to the fourth quarter, they'd find a way to win. Does that play a role in this game? You know, I think so. The fact that we've been in some very pressured situations, our offense is one week, defense one week, special teams, I know our guys will be calm and I know they'll be expecting to win if we get to that point and it's a close game in the fourth quarter.

Talk about Nick Marshall's ability, in a relatively short amount of time, to pick up what you want him to do and to do it almost flawlessly? It's really amazing when you think about it, he didn't go through spring. We were still learning about him midway through the year, and we just hung our hat on what we felt like his strengths were. The sky's the limit. He's got unbelievable potential. This off period has really helped him, and we can't wait to get him in the spring.

Tre Mason was a thousand yard rusher, but why is he better today than he was a year ago when you got him? Well, I think it's a combination of a lot of things. He's very strong. He's as good an inside runner as there is in college football. He finishes runs. I think our offensive line has improved each week and is playing their best right now.

Media Day: Cornerback Chris Davis (Sat., Jan. 4) | Printable version (.pdf)
CHRIS DAVIS AUDIO

(No microphone.) Yes, sir.

How are you liking this and all the cameras in your face? I just tried to stay humble through the whole process.

Do you believe this is destiny or magical? We put in a lot of hard work coming in this season and I would just say that hard work pays off. Florida State has a pretty good offense and playing in the ACC, everybody has a pretty good offense.

(No microphone.) I can't really answer that question. Like I said, they have a great offense overall, they got good players, and so do we. So it will be a good game to watch Monday.

(No microphone.) That didn't ever cross my mind.

(No microphone.) I keep doing what we have been doing to get us there, preparation. We have been taking it one day at a time working up to the game. And I feel like we're ready to play the game on Monday.

Everybodyís calling you guys the team of destiny. Are you buying into that? No, I don't buy into that, because like I said, we worked all summer for this, and we're just thankful for the opportunity to play in this game.

How has your life changed? It changed a little. From signing more autographs, taking pictures and getting standing ovations in class.

You donít have to pay for your meals anymore? I can't answer that question.
(Laughter)

For you to beat Alabama, what does that mean for your season? The season has been fun. The return was a good return, but I had 10 other guys blocking for me. It was a great block all up and down the field. So I give them most of the credit.

What did you learn as a team to get you all to this point? We just stayed together. After that LSU loss, nobody blamed each other. We kept approaching practice the way we had been doing and that's what got us to this point we're at now. Coach Malzahn kept us focused on the process and that's why we are here, where we're at now.

Can you give us more details about the standing ovations? When I walk in class, the class just get up and clap for me.

One time or what? A couple times.

What class? Geology. My public finance class. It's just crazy. I'm a very humble person, so – but that's how I handled it, I guess. I just tried to stay level headed throughout the whole process.

How do you handle that? No, I just I stand up and wave at them. Iím a very humble person so I just stand there and wave.

What lessons have you learned from last season? When Coach Malzahn came in he told us, it's a new day. Put last year behind you. And that's what we did. And we went through the spring and summer, we worked really hard and that's what got us to the point where we're at today.

(No microphone.) In the SEC that's the best conference in college football. And I just got to say, we're going to be well prepared for Monday.

Is there added incentive being from the SEC to win a national championship? We're just ready to play our best and represent the great state of Alabama.

What are you going to do to minimize Jameisí success? Coach has a game plan. They put together a good game plan to go out there and execute. And that's what we're going to try and do.

(No microphone.) It took a minute. It took a minute from the team running and jumping on me, but that comes with the game. That comes from making a play like that.

You played in this game 3 years ago, what sticks in your mind from that? Playing in the game three years ago, it was a tough feeling. Not being able to contribute to the team to get the win. I just tried to overcome that with this opportunity that I got right now and make the best of it.

First play, what happned? I had a high ankle sprain. I was on crutches for the rest of the game.

(No microphone.) I never had a bigger play bigger than that moment.

Describe your thought process from the moment the ball was kicked to the time you crossed into the endzone. My thought process was just trying to make something happen. When I'm in – when I managed to stay in bounds I knew I had a chance to take it all the way, and that's what I did.

What's your life been like since then? I would say it's changed. It's changed. Signing more autographs, taking pictures, and like standing ovations in class.

(No microphone.) I guess you could say that.
(Laughter.)

Hows it going to be playing again at the Rose Bowl? We're just going to try to embrace the moment. We're glad to be in this position but obviously we come here to win the game and that's what we're going to do.

How did you feel listening to the radio about that pick six? It was crazy. Everybody still talks about the announcer when he was announcing the game, but it was crazy.

Was the National Championship always the goal? The goal was just to take it one day and one game at a time.

When did the National Championship start to become a reality? When we went on the road and beat Texas A and M, we knew we had a chance.

What was it about that game that made it a reality? It was a quality opponent, I think they were ranked in the Top 10, if I'm not mistaken. And to go on the road and beat a good team like Texas A and M, that was huge.

(No microphone.) I was running down the field on kick offs and I tried to stick my feet in the ground and my feet came from under me.

Is your mom out here? No, sir. No, she couldn't make it. She's going to watch it on TV.

I know you were young but what was like being raised without your father? Being raised by a single parent is always hard. But my mom made the best of it and I owe her a lot.

(No microphone.) As a competitor, yeah, you felt like you were a part of and – just as a team player that you have to play for the team. But I moved on from that and I got another opportunity to play in that type of game right now.

You got the rings, do you still wear them? I still got the rings.

Where are they? They're in my room.

What was your first reaction when you saw that play on TV on the replay? Like, wow, listening to the commentators as the play was going and it was a good feeling and I tried to embrace that moment.

Do you get chills from watching it? No, I don't get chills.

(No microphone.) I tried to put it behind me. We still got one game left and that one game is the biggest of them all. We're just trying to go out there and win the National Championship on Monday.

Florida State hasnít really been involved in too many close games, do you feel like you guys have an advantage because of that? Coach Malzahn always says, if the game is close at the end, we're going to win. So that's how we approach every game. And we believe what he's telling us.

(No microphone.) This is a good feeling. Because if it wasn't for his play, we wouldn't be in the situation that we're in right now. And you could say the same about my play. But I always say that his play was better than mine because I actually got the opportunity to watch it. So I'm quite sure he will say the same thing.
But both the plays kind of changed college football, especially this season. So we did try to embrace that.

Has this team embraced making plans like that? In any time of the game, somebody has to step up and make a play. And the Georgia game it was Ricardo and for the Alabama game it was me.

How hard was it coming into this season after the season last year? Like I said, Coach Malzahn came in saying, it's a new day. So we put last season behind us. We came in to this season taking it one day and one game at a time. And that's why we're in this situation we're in right now.

You and Ricardo both made some amazing plays. Do you guys talk to each other about it? Have you bonded over the plays that you made? We just sit around and laugh about it. No one let us forget those plays. Like I just said, I say his play is better than mine because I actually got a chance to sit down and watch it. But if it wasn't for those two plays we wouldn't be in the situation we're in right now.

What do you mean that you had a chance to watch it? I was on the sideline. I actually got to see it unfold.

(No microphone.) I would say hard work pays off. We are put in this position for a reason. You look back in 2010 we won a lot of close games too. So I guess in football some luck has to be involved sometimes. But it is what it is.

DO you embrace the term of destiny thing? No, I just said – like I said, we worked to get where we're at right now. And through, from the spring and the summer, we put in hard work and the hard work is paying off.

What did they say before they sent you back there? We actually didn't know anybody was back there at first. Ryan Smith had just decided to move back there and Coach Malzahn called the timeout to ice the kicker and they decided to put me back there.

Were you asking him to get out there? No, sir. Because I didn't know anybody was back there at first. So I had no idea.

Did you feel there was an opportunity for a play there? I knew if the ball was kicked in bounds, I knew I had a chance to make a play. But I thought that the ball was going to get kicked out of the end zone. I knew he wasn't going to make the field goal, but I didn't think it was going to be kicked inbounds for me to have the opportunity to run with it.

How much did your blocking experience on that play help you? Like I said, I got to give the rest of the guys a lot of credit. They made good blocks up and down the field and I can't take all the credit for that play, I got to give it to my teammates.

Did you have any worries that you might have stepped out of bounds or just worried about getting to the endzone? No, I didn't have any worries that I stepped out of bounds. I kind of like tiptoed on the sidelines. I knew when once I stayed in bounds that I had a chance to run it all the way.

Do you guys practice staying inbound on returns. But me playing defensive back you don't get a chance to practice that, but.
(Laughter.)

(No microphone.) No, I really didn't. I was just running, trying to get as far as I can and when I managed to stay in bounds I knew then that the game was over.

What do you think about this being a senior? It's crazy. I think a lot of players are really enjoying it and this will change the way you embrace the moment. And that's what we're doing.

Talk about as far as getting ready for a big game on Monday. Talk about the emotions that you feel once you step out on the field. The emotions will be all over the place. The players are going to be very hyped up from both teams, but as we know, in the first quarter the emotions are going to be flying all over the place.
But we're going to have to settle down and play the game. So all players know that, we have been doing it all season, but this is just a bigger stage.

Talk about your defensive play. How important is that going to be to stop Jameis Winston? We'll see how that unfolds on Monday. But we're going to be playing hard.

What have you done preparation wise? Have you done anything different? Do you expect anything different or do you stick to the plan? We stick to the plan.

What's the best part of being in California? Just enjoying the experience. We all know this is a business trip, and we're trying to bring the National Championship to the state of Alabama.

What makes Chris Davis so successful? Chris Davis is just being Chris Davis.

What do you see in Jameis Winston in terms of reading defenses? Obviously he's a great player, he's the Heisman Trophy winner, and I think he got a good football IQ. And we just are ready for the game on Monday.

What do you guys have to do to get a ďWĒ? We know what we got to do and we're going to do it. That's all I can say about that.

You guys have had some shootouts this season, do you think itís going to turn into one of those super high scoring games? If it's a shoot out and it's a close game, like Coach Malzahn always says, if it's a close game at the end, we're going to win.

Is that just because youíve been in that kind of situation so many times? We have been in that situation before. And we trust everything that he says.

How does Winston compare to Johnny Manziel? How does he compare to Johnny Manziel? He don't. Johnny Manziel is a great player and Winston is too, but they bring different things to the game. And that's about all I can say.

How much response have you got from the ďGot-a-secondĒ moment in the Iron Bowl? That obviously brought attention to me. Signing autographs and taking more pictures and getting standing ovations in class.

Standing ovations in class? From classmates or teachers and professors? They just say, oh, what a play.

With all the different wide receivers, its going to be tricky? They have a lot of good receivers. So we're going to go out there and execute the game plan coach has for us.

When you look at what Coach Malzahn and what he was able to bring, what do you think? The way he approaches the game. The defense he brought in. He put it on us about giving up the big plays and we really respect him for that.

What about practice leading up to this game? He got on us real, real hard, but we know that that's what comes from trying to win a National Championship.

The fact that you guys came into this unexpected, did this all come together the way you thought? From the beginning of the season we just said we're going to take it one day and one game at a time. And that's what we did and that's what got us to the point we're at right now.

Talk about the miracles that happened to win some of those games. Is the whole team of destiny thing something you believe in? No, in football games can be won all kinds of ways. And we just are thankful to be in this position right now.

How have you been able to win some of these games? It's unbelievable. That's what I can say. We had two great finishes this season and two plays with me and Ricardo, and it has just been a fight.

Did you realize shortly after what those moments are going to mean in Auburn history? You get reminded of that all the time. So some people say that we're going to go down in Auburn history and that. That's a good accomplishment, but that's something that we worked for.

And how about the turnaround from last season to this season, how have you changed so quickly and dramatically? We got to give all credit to Coach Malzahn. He came in, he said it's a new day, and we bought into that. He said, don't pay no attention to what happened last year, because it's a new day. And we just took it one day at a time.

Do you like being the underdog? That doesn't matter. The game's still got to be played.

Your numbers and yards arenít as good as some other teams. Are they just numbers to you guys that donít affect your confidence? The numbers, it's a big part, that's what coach always remind us of, are the numbers that we're giving up a game. But, we made stops when we needed to make stops. And that's what's got us to the situation we're at right now.

When you were growing did you see that bizarre play by Stanford on ESPN with the kickoff when the bands on the field? I seen that play, yeah.

Your play is being talked about with that play. How do you look at that play? It's a good feeling to be a part of college football history. That's what a lot of people dream of. And that's why a lot of people play this game. So I just try to embrace the moment.

When we have moments like that which are so improbable, serendipity even. Seizing that moment of opportunity and you succeed, doesnít that make you believe in the term ďteam of destinyĒ and that you were meant to win? I can't say that. I just say all our hard work has paid off. And we're trying to finish this great season with another win, a National Championship. And we got a good chance of doing that on Monday.

How confident are you? We're very confident. We haven't done anything different. We have been doing what we have been doing to get us to this point and that's taking it one day at a time in preparation.

And what about Jameis? He's a great player. He didn't win the Heisman for nothing. So we respect him and we look forward to playing him on Monday.

What were your thoughts when you saw the ball coming towards you? When I saw the ball coming to me I knew I had an opportunity to probably take it all the way back. Knowing that they had bigger players on the field, offensive and defensive line men. And I knew they only had two guys that probably could really run with me. And that was their kicker and the holder. So I just tried to set it up and I had great blocking all over the field and once I managed to stay in bounds, I knew I had a chance to take it all the way.

How much has your life changed since that play? Like I keep saying, it changed a lot. From signing more autographs, taking pictures, and getting standing ovations in class.

Have you had a chance to watch it a million times? Oh, I watch it here and there. I always catch it on ESPN, but it's a great feeling.

Watching it, does it give you goose bumps to see the reactions of the fans and how monumental it was? No, it doesn't give me goose bumps, but the commentator might give me the goose bumps, but like it was a great play. It was a play that will be remembered for a long time and it will go down in Auburn history and college football history.

Have you seen the reactions of fans online, people falling over and hearing someoneís dad had a heart attack after the play? I seen some of the reactions, yeah. Yeah, it is.

Much of this season has extended far past that play. How have you embraced your leadership since then? I embraced it. Coach Malzahn, he believed in me this season. He told me I was one of the leaders and I took that and ran with it.
Now I got one more game to lead my team to victory and on the biggest stage of them all, to bring a National Championship back to Auburn.

What do you think when people say that Auburn is the team of destiny and that you are actually destined to win? No, I don't believe in that, I don't buy into all that. Like I been saying, we worked hard to get to this situation we're at right now and hopefully we can end it with a National Championship.

And on the other side it has been said the FSU is a team of dominance. What do you think about people calling them the most dominant team in college football? That's what they say.
(Laughter.)

(No microphone.) I guess definitely that's what he says. We're just going to go with our scheme and our game plan. And if we have to play man, we're going to play man. So I guess we'll see how that all unfolds on Monday.

In the secondary what do you guys have to do to defend three great wide receivers? We got plenty of good defensive backs too. And we have to have good communication. That's what we'll have to do to limit their chances of getting big plays.

What lessons can you learn from the 2011 National Champ game to coming into this one? I really don't know. I think in 2011 we were the underdogs coming into this game, but like I said, all that don't matter, the game still has to be played.

You got injured on the opening kickoff of that game. How much more does this game mean to you now? Like I said, hopefully I can make it through more than one play. But this is a special game anyways, based on the situation. We're playing for it all, you know, and like I keep saying, we're just trying to bring another National Championship to the state of Alabama and Auburn family.

How fun has this experienced been for you guys from last year to now? We just are embracing the moment. Coach Malzahn came in and said it's a new day. And we bought into what he brought to the table. He said we're going to take it one day and one game at a time this season. And that's what we did, we stayed together through it all.

Have you seen that instant replay? Are you getting tired of it all? Not really, I tried to put that game behind me. We still got one game left. We're going to do whatever we can to win this game.

How special is it that you and Ricardo have something that you can share for the rest of your lives until youíre 90years and you are on a rocking chair on the front porch. You can share that a lot. It means a lot. Especially for me, because I got a son. And to be remembered at Auburn history and not only Auburn history, college football history, that's an honor.

Plays like that donít happen back to back. It was phenomenal, without Ricardo's play, we wouldn't be here and without my play, we probably wouldn't be here. So we just embraced the moment.

How old is your son? Whatís his name Three years old. Chris

Will he be here? No, he won't be here.

Do you think there is more magic to come for this team? I wouldn't say magic. We're just trying to finish off the season. We're trying to finish off a great season with a National Championship win.

(No microphone.) He's a great quarterback. Obviously he's the Heisman Trophy winner, but we're just going to go through with our game plan. Coach has put a good game plan together for us, and we'll try to execute that game plan as well as we can.

How have you guys continued to stay game ready during all this downtime? Just practicing and preparation working up toward this game is how we stay game ready. We know it's been along layoff and that can be good and bad. But by our staying together and the team chemistry we got, we won't be missing a beat.

You finally excited to get back into the game? Finally. We can't wait.

When you were hurt during the opening kickoff, what was the injury? It was a high ankle sprain on kick off. Me running down the field and it was a double team and on a double team you're supposed to attack the outside guy. And I tried to stick my feet in the ground and that's how I got the high ankle sprain.

Which leg? The left one.

So how special is this game knowing that you have the opportunity to play it again? I'm going to approach it like I approach any other game. It's on the same stage as that one was in 2010, so I'm just going to approach it like I approach any other game.

Still have the same nerves and butterflies? No more. No more. You might be a little nervous when you get out there, but all that will go away. That's part of being a competitor and a college football player, all players will be nervous.

What about the receivers that you had to go up against, theyíre big guys? We have faced good receivers all year and we're just going to go about it how we have been going about it.

Is there one thing that you guys are going to have to do really well in order to beat this football team? Keep doing what we did to get us to this point. On defensive end we got to limit it to close plays. We're going to execute the game plan that the coaches have set up for us.

Talking about being the team of destiny and making a couple big plays throughout the season. What do you say to that? Our hard work paid off. We worked all spring and summer to get where we're at now. So we don't really buy into all this team of destiny stuff. It's been more like all the hard work has paid off.

This team has worked hard to get to the point where it is at now, but after the LSU game did you think that you would be here and heading to the National Championship? After the LSU game, obviously taking the only loss of the season, we stayed together. Everybody came that following Sunday with the right attitude. And we knew that we had a chance to win a lot more games and then the Texas A&M game, everybody felt like we had the hunger to play for national championship.

You guys are the underdogs Monday, how does that motivate you for this matchup? On this stage you got to be – if you ain't motivated, I don't know what to say, you're playing for the National Championship.
And like I keep saying, the game got to be played. So being the underdog, none of that matters, because we still got to play the game.

How does this feel being a senior? Oh, man, I came in on top and I'm trying to go out on top. We are trying to get this W and bring it back to the state of Alabama and to the Auburn family.

Did the field goal return surprise you and how did that impact your life? My life has changed a lot. I think you know that. Signing more autographs, taking more pictures and get getting standing ovations when I come to class.

You talked before about the national championship before and getting hurt on the first play. What were the next couple of years like? That's football. In football you're going to have injuries. I just thank God for the opportunity he has blessed me with to be able to play the game.

But did you ever get the feeling that it might not work out for you? I thought that a couple of times. But I also felt safe at the same time. And that's what got me through it all.

What were some of your injuries after? I had another ankle injury. A concussion.

Shoulder injury too right, but you still didnít give up? Yeah right. I never give up, I never quit on my team. I'm one of the leaders on this team and I'm looking forward to leading my team to a victory on Monday.

CHRIS DAVIS: A player is going to have his ups and downs and a program is going to have its up and downs and at the end of the day we know it's a business. So we are just embracing this moment, this opportunity to be here.

You said you got a standing ovation in class. What class was that? Geology. And public finance.

We met with FSU before this and Kelvin Benjamin said that they were the Floyd Mayweather of football. What do you think of that? We're going to let them do all the talking. Like I told you, game's still got to be played. So we'll see how that unfolds on Monday.

If you would describe the character of your team, who would you say that your team looks like? Auburn. We're just going to be ourselves. We're going to do what we have been doing that's got us this far.

(Talk to me about the challenges you see when you look at Florida States offence. Playing in the ACC, we have faced all kinds of things. The challenges, I don't know. We know that there's going to be some challenges, but we're going to execute the game plan on both ends as good as we can and to come out with a W.

20? (No mic) No. No.
(Laughter.)

(We are going to do video for the fans back at Auburn? Thanks Auburn fans and Auburn family, thanks for all your support this whole season. We'll see you all on Monday.

What was the lowest point between your last championship and this one? What was the point you thought you would never get back to a championship? We never thought of that. Playing here and playing in the SEC, this is what we come to Auburn for, to play a National Championship. And I've been thankful for the opportunity to play in two of those. I'm just embracing the moment, so is the team, and we're happy to be here.

(You guys who were on that last title team, lived through last season too. Are you guys like a band of brothers? We really put last season behind us. Because Coach Malzahn came in and made sure we did that. He came in and said, it's a new day. And we bought into that.

Obvisouly, you remember what happen though. Has that made you guys more humble, knowning what can happen? I think that brought us together more as a team. Coach Malzahn came in, he did a great job with the team. Everybody bought in to what he was bringing to the table. And that got us where we're at right now.

What was the hardest thing last year? The hardest thing?

Losing the coaching staff? The whole season was hard. Nobody likes losing. It's a new day. And we're just trying to put last season behind us and we're focused on winning the National Championship.

Be honest, at what point were you like, I have had enough of being up here? I ain't a big fan of interviews, but it's a part of the game.

I just wanted to ask you about your trust in Coach Malzahn? Like when did you develop that trust, was it hard? By me being here when Coach Malzahn was the offensive coordinator I knew was all about winning. And I'm sure that other guys that were here in the past knew the same thing.
And Coach Malzahn came in with a theme about staying together. And that's what we came in to the season with staying together. He also said it's a new day, and we put last season behind us and that's what got us to this point we're at right now.

(You put Jr. on your uniform for the first time this year? Why is that? When I came to college my mom told me that that's how I got my name. Because my old man is Christopher Davis, Jr. But my momma told me I forgot my name and I decided to wear junior in honor of my dad. By me never even getting the chance to know him and by this being my last time playing college football and it could have been my last game of football ever, so I just wanted to honor my pops.

Did your mom share with you what happened? She shared a little with me. She never got into any great details about it. But I used to hear some people telling me about my dad, and they told me he was a good football player and basketball player, but my momma, she never really got in details about it, but.

How old were you when you lost dad? I was two years old.

(Do you wish you could have shared these moments like that with your dad? I'm quite sure everybody wishes they had a father figure. And I never had that father figure. For me, it's like I was raised by three women, and I love them a lot and they taught me right from wrong. And they got me to this situation to the point where I'm at right now.

(Does that kind of help shape who you are, being raised by three women? Yeah, because family is everything to me. I think I owe them a lot. And they're part of the reason I do what I'm doing today.

Who are the three women? My mom, my grandma and my aunt.

Your mom and mom's sister and her mother? Um hum.

How tight a group are they? They're real close. They're real close. And every family, you're going to have your ups and downs, but ain't nobody going to love family like family.

Who is the best cook? I got to say my grandma.

What does she make? Macaroni, fried chicken, everything. My momma can't cook.
(Laughter. I always tell her that though.
(Laughter.)

What has your experience been like this season on and off the field? It's been a good experience on and off the field. We're just embracing every moment. We are happy to be in this position we're at right now playing for the National Championship game.

Is your grandma here? No, she's not here.

(Did they try? They're at home. They're going to watch it on TV.

(You said you were pretty surprised to see her on the field after the field goal run back? That was my grandma on my dad's side. Julia May.

Is she the one who showed up on the field? Yes, sir.

She pushed her way through? I don't know how she got through all that traffic, but she got there.

(What have you seen from Florida Stateís wide receivers on tape? They have pretty good receivers, but we have faced good receivers all year. We're just going to keep doing what got us to this point.

(When I was over talking to Ricardo, looking at your S.I cover, he said that his post was better. Ricardo got more out of it. He's an outgoing kid. And I'm sort of laid back. We both love being on the front of Sports Illustrated, and we are just embracing that moment.

(He said basically he should be allowed to stand next to Chris Davis so he can flex. He made one of the biggest plays that's going to go down in college football history, and I did too. So it's good to share that moment together on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Does the fact that they came within three weeks of each other. The timing of it, the two teammates can share something special like that. It couldn't have come at a more perfect time.

Is it odd? Two plays like that happening within three weeks? Anything can happen in a football game. And we're just glad those plays happened for us. Because those plays gave us the opportunity to be here and playing for the National Championship.

You said you were raised by three women? What do women teach that a man donít teach you? Women can teach you what a man is supposed to teach you, but they can't do it all. But I did have three women teach me on how to be respectful, how to carry myself, and in all types of environments. And I love those three women to death. And they're the reason why I'm doing what I'm doing now.

(I talked to some of your high school coaches they said you like washing dishes? I'm a clean person. I like to be neat and you can tell that's where I get it from, those three women.

(What does bay bay? That's a nickname my momma gave me growing up. That's from my mom.

(You were with them after the pick six? Did you home and watch the play Watch the plays.

Over and over? Over and over.

(Did you go out? No, we just stayed in the room. We went and got food and came back to the room.

What did you get? We got some wings. And we sat on the couch.

Your grandma is great. Is she coming out? No, it's too far.

(You were one of the players who played one game in that championship game? I watched the rest from the sidelines on crutches. It was tough to watch.

Your ankle? High ankle sprain.

(IT was weird turf that day Yeah, I tried to plant and planted the wrong way on my ankle.

You were on crutches? Um hum.

Were you able to celebrate? I tried to celebrate. Bo Jackson made me feel bad going into the locker room. He told me he got kicked in the leg by a horse and it didn't keep him out of the Iron Bowl, and I let a high ankle sprain keep me out of the National Championship game. So he kind of made me feel bad.

Did Bo tell you at that time or after words? When I went in the locker room.

(What pops out to you when you watch Jameis Winston? He's a great quarterback. I just believe he's the Heisman Trophy winner, so that tells you he's a great quarterback. He does all the little things right. And he's a leader for his team. We have seen a couple of videos on ESPN of him in the locker room being funny, so he's a good player.

(What are the biggest keys in slowing him down? Our coaching staff came up with a scheme and we're going to go out and try to execute that scheme as good as we can.

(How about is it to keep him off balance? I think it's very important to keep a quarterback off balance. By blitzing him and messing up things. But, whatever the scheme the coaches got for us, we're going to go out and execute it.

(What are his biggest tools that make him a dangers quarter back? He got good receivers. So, yeah, that's, like I say, he's got good receivers.

(What makes him so hard to bring down when teams blitz? ) I can't answer that question. We ain't never had a chance to – he hasn't got away from us yet. So I can't answer that question. We'll see that on Monday.

When you look at your play, you've had a lot of injuries, you overcame those injuries, here you are playing for a National Championship. You got hurt on the first play of the National Championship, what's that been like for you? Well, I'm just trying to embrace the moment. After being hurt back in 2010 on the first play, and having the opportunity to come back this year and hopefully make it through more than one play – like my career has been up and down, but I'm happy to go out on top. And that's the plan we're trying to bring, to bring the National Championship back to the state of Alabama and the Auburn family.

How much pride do you think you've been able to provide this team this year? I take a lot of pride in doing that. Coach Malzahn chose me to be one of the leaders for the team, and I'm just trying to lead my team into a victory. And me and some of the other guys, we joke about we're going to be the MVP of the game and we're just going to go out and play our butts off.

(Your pick six was one of the plays of the year. Ricardo Lewis said your play was bigger than his. What do you to that? And I said clearly him. Because I actually got a chance to see and watch his play unfold. And I still don't know how he even caught the ball. How he even saw the ball. And they were both two great plays and those plays put us in the situation we're in right now.

(What does it mean to the Auburn family to come back from last season disappoint? To live in that state where Alabama had won the last two national championships? It means a lot from them going through what they went through last season. But they stayed behind us, they believed in us, and we can tell that through every game we had.
And we have to give Coach Malzahn a lot of the credit. Because he came in and said it's a new day and we bought into that and we stayed together. We overcame adversity, we won a lot of close games and he always told us, if the game is close at the end, we will win.

Is any of your family coming? No, they're going to watch it on TV.

Your son coming? No. He's going to watch it on TV.

How old is he? He's three.

Media Day: Center Reese Dismukes (Sat., Jan. 4) | Printable version (.pdf)
REESE DISMUKES AUDIO

I apologize in advance if you already got this question. I know you were here before. I'm trying to do a very basic story on that zone eight play. I'm doing it from both perspectives, how Florida State may look at it right before the snap, what you were thinking about right before the snap on that kind of basic bread and butter play that you guys seem to use a lot. From your perspective as a leader up front, I don't know if you do make the calls up front. I imagine you do. Right before the snap I know y'all are looking back to the sideline to get your call. Is there something you're keen on looking at that front, looking back at linebackers that you might exploit or is there a certain trend that you're looking for? I mean all I look at is what front they're in, and it's pretty much the same inside zone for me. I mean that's pretty much.

Pretty multiple. Have you found that looking at it? Yeah. I mean they're a multiple front. They'll run it high. They'll run a three four, four three, four even front.

Are they any more multiple than what you've seen this year? Not really. They're a lot like Alabama and Georgia, all those defensive guys kind of come from the same background, all coming from Saban. So they're all the same.

For you and your four teammates up front, is it just a matter of trying your best to get everyone on the same page maybe even before you get to the line of scrimmage and then work from there? Yeah. I mean we're pretty prepared going into the game. But I mean you know, I get everybody on the same page every play, and that's, you know, just about it.

Florida State maybe it's about reaction. You guys maybe action? Is that a fairway to put it? Yeah. I mean we're going to try to take the fight to them every play.

When you look at that Florida State tape, what do you feel like the team's biggest concern is? Our team?

Yeah. I mean not really too sure we gotta be concerned about one thing. They're pretty good all around.

(No microphone) can you just talk about your winning spree right now? You know, just really trying to soak it all in. Really once in a lifetime thing, something you dream about, playing a National Championship. But at the same time it's a business trip and you just gotta treat it like any other game.

What's the atmosphere been like for you, being in California, things like that? I mean it's a good atmosphere, you know, kind of doing things here and there. But at the end of the day you gotta go out every day and work on your craft and getting better at what you do.

Is being here enough for you or do you want to walk away with a win? I mean obviously I want to win every game we play. I mean yeah, I want to win the game.

I mean the excitement of just being here, that's not enough is kind of the question. Yeah. I mean it's cool being here, but yeah, obviously I want to walk away with a win.

And could you ever imagine – you obviously have a state championship under your belt in high school. Now you're playing for a National Championship. How exciting is that in your entire football career? Pretty exciting. I mean that's what I came to Auburn to do. When I was getting recruited back in 2010, they won it, and obviously I came to Auburn to win a National Championship. And I got that opportunity now, so it's a dream come true.

At what point did you know you guys would be so good at running the football? I mean really, you know, the first couple of games we were kind of finding out who we were, and you know, really, we went down to LSU, and we were down 21 nothing and really we kind of took the fight to them there in the second half and really just started running the football at will. And you know, they were kind of the best front we'd seen at that time, and I think really after that game, you know, Coach Malzahn kind of put the game on our shoulders. And you know, like they say, ride our backs, and I mean we just did what we do from then on out.

Can you explain what makes you guys so dominant? Is there one aspect that makes you guys as good as you are? I mean you know, I think you gotta look at Coach Malzahn, he's an offensive genius, and he puts us in the best situations to succeed. I mean rarely are we – have a play called where it's not going to work. So I think when that situation happens, and you know, we run the ball the way we do. And you know, playing as well as we do up front, you know, it's hard to stop.

I want to ask you about Greg Robinson, your line mate. Can you describe him for us, just how good he is? I mean he's a big force for us up front. You know, he's really dominant, and just a great all around player.

Reese, as the offensive line – because obviously it starts in the front. I mean you know, obviously as an offensive lineman you'd like to run the ball, but I don't think we look at it like that. You know, we just go out there and do what we're told, really. We got a bunch of blue collar guys up front, and that's really how we look at it. Obviously we take pride in the fact that we go out there and run the ball like we do.

Is there any friendly competition between the line men Yeah, yeah. We have a knock down competition that's been going on all year. So you know, this will be the last game that we have that going on.

Can you tell us who's leading? I think Greg kind of pulled away the last two games, but I think I'm only like five back, so hopefully I'll be able to catch him.

(No microphone). I gotta ask you a question, Reese, why are the offensive line men I think it's really just kind of like that, you know, the dirty guy look that not really care about too much. But I mean I think it's really just what we do. I've been growing this out since LSU. You know, you're winning, so everybody's got a little superstition in them. So you don't want to change too much here in there.

Most offensive line men when they talk about superstitions and I was – so I can identify. We used to do stuff like not changing underwear. Now it's just facial hair? I mean you got things here and there. I always tape my left foot first and my left hand first as well. But I mean just things here and there. You know, I wear the same underwear sometimes, but I always wash my underwear. I mean you know. (Laughs). It's 2014, so I mean you got good washing machines.

I mean just little stuff here and there. I mean everybody's got their stuff they do.

I guess I was just properly chastised. When you take a look at the defense Florida State presents, what do you see from your position, because it's all going to fill in through you. I mean they're a good defensive front, really a good all around defense, and you know, we're going to have to play our best game to win the football game. And they don't present too many difficult fronts or looks or anything like that, so we'll be all on the same page as far as that's concerned.

When you take a look at the offense that coach has put together for you guys, as simplistic as it is, it has a layer of complexity to it. From your assignment side of things, is that complexity there too as well? Not really too much with us. We're, you know, pretty simple up front as far as the inside zone and the gap scheme, not really too difficult up front.

Now, you're sitting here on one of the podiums and getting to survey this entire situation. What's your first impression? I mean you know, just blessed to be in this situation, and really gotta thank my parents and everyone that's helped me to get to this situation in life. You know, just blessed to be here.

Can you talk to me for a second about Jay Prosch. He didn't start his first year here at Auburn. What does he bring to the team and how important is he to have around? He's like glue. You can't really say enough about the guy, with what he's been through in life and that kind of thing. You know, just a tough, all around guy. I mean you look at him and he's a piece of work, almost like a statue, as I said earlier this week, but I mean he – you know, he's a great guy and a great football player, but even a better person.

What would you say is your favorite thing about him as a teammate or just a friend? We're pretty good friends. Sometimes he messes with me that we're not friends, but we really are. I mean I don't know. He's just great all around. I don't think there's one side of him that's better than the other.

I know you guys are all focused on this game. Can you allow yourself to look back and think, wow, this has been a crazy ride? I mean you kind of look at it here and there, but I think Coach Malzahn has done a great job letting the team know that when this is all done and this game is over, we can look back and pat ourselves on the back after that and look at all we've done. But as far as right now, we gotta keep our minds focused and this is game week and you know, you gotta soak all this in, but you gotta get ready for a big game.

Is it tangible what happened last year or was it just a matter of it just snowballed, something happened and it get worse and worse? Yeah. Last year was like a domino effect. I don't think – you know, it was like one thing led to another, like one domino knocking down the other domino. I mean one thing bad would happen and the next thing bad would happen. And that's pretty much how it went, and once it got rolling, it was hard to stop them from falling.

It's almost like this year it's the completely opposite, one good thing happened, then another? Yeah. I mean exactly. I don't think you can put it any other way.

Reese, you guys ran the ball extremely well against Alabama. They're the No. 1 rush defense, and you did well against Missouri. What's the secret to your guys' success running the ball? I think so we just stick to it. Might not be working all the time, but as far as running the football, we're going to stick to it and that's our guns and we're gone stick to 'em.

Before the Alabama game, even before the Missouri game, seems like all these people were saying Auburn is going to have to stop running the football at some point. You guys kept on doing it. Missouri you were shattering records. Do you guys feed off of that? Yeah. Kind of like going to Alabama they said we were lucky and we rushed for like 300 something on Georgia, and then same with Alabama going into Missouri, they said we were lucky, and we rushed for 296 on them. So I mean people can say what they want to say, and we're gonna have to throw the ball at some point, but we're going to run the ball, too. So it's pretty much as simple as that. We're going to run the ball but we're going to have to throw it too at some time, and whenever that time comes we'll be ready to throw the ball.

How do you explain the – when you look back on the season, there's never been a season where a team won games the way you guys won games. One after the other. Is it a compliment to you or do you guys look at it when someone brings up miracles or they say you're lucky? I mean I don't really look at it as luck. You know, Georgia we rushed for, what, 300 plus and lost focus in the fourth quarter. The game should have never came down to that situation, but you know, it did and we won the game. Bottom line. And Alabama, you know, they couldn't stop us on offense. Rushed for 296 on them. So I don't really think they wanted to go to over time. But who knows.

I think it's kind of cool. Yeah, I mean exactly. You know, for them to happen the way they did, you know, that's just sugar on top of the cake. You know what I'm saying.

Well, no one will ever forget this team that returned the field goal against Alabama. What's wrong with a little magic? Yeah. Exactly. I mean people are going to say what they want to say and like when Coach Malzahn came in, it's a new day and we wanted to have the biggest turn around in college football, and I think we've done that this far.

So was the National Championship always the goal from the beginning of the season? I mean the goal from the beginning of the season was to have the biggest turn around in college football, and to go out and practice each and every day and get better one day at a time. That was the only goal that we had.

When did the National Championship start to Well, I don't think we really looked at it as a National Championship. You know, I think going into Georgia, you know, we had championship on our mind, but it was to get to the SEC championship. You know, to take it one game at a time and put ourselves in a situation to be in the running to get to a championship. And that was really, you know, I think when it kind of sank in.

Where do you feel the identity of this Auburn team is? I mean I think we're a physical team and we got fight and we got heart. And you know, we're going to play till the last second of the game, win or lose or draw.

Do you feel like your tough SEC regular season schedule has prepared you for an opponent like Florida State? Yeah. I mean we had as tough a schedule as anyone does in this league, and we've had some close battles and won games the way we've won them, been in a lot of situations, and I think that prepares you for anything.

I know you may be tired of hearing it. How do you feel that luck has played into your season? I mean people are going to say what they want to say, but at the end of the day we've worked our butts off as a team, and however you win games, all that matters is if you get a W.

What are the challenges of Florida State when they put pressure on you guys? They're a pretty versatile stuff. They do a lot of stuff and they'll present a lot of different looks at you, but we'll be prepared for that.

I mean they're a good defense all the way around, so we're going to have to play our best game to win the football game.

What was kind of the mood of the team and how was he embraced initially? Were you guys wary? When he came in, I think everybody was excited, you know, having a new face and that kind of thing, and we all kind of knew him, you know, because he was a coordinator back in the day, but we didn't really know how he was going to run things.

And he really came in and put his foot down, and there wasn't a lot of gray area, you know. We knew all what was going on and that kind of thing, and I think that was great. And I think everyone was just excited to get to work and just eager to start the new face of the program and get the Auburn edge back.

Different as a head coach than he was as a coordinator? Yeah, for sure.

How? How was he different? I mean as far as an offensive standpoint, I think we go a lot faster now. But I mean he's still the same offensive guy that he was back when he was a coordinator, but I mean we just didn't see his administrative side back when he was a coordinator as we see now, and that's really the only difference.

Did he surprise you? I mean you were accustomed I guess in meetings and stuff of him being one way as a coordinator? Is it completely different as a head coach? Not really. Still the same. You just see like the head coach side of him, but it wasn't really too different.

Kind of worked out pretty well? Yeah, yeah, it has. He's a great guy and a great head coach.

All the talk (no microphone)? Yeah. I mean they're a great defense, and they do a great job of what they do and the scheme they run, and we're going to have to play our best game to win, and I think they're a good all around football team.

As far as the team what concerns you guys the most? I mean I don't know that any of it like concerns us. I mean they're just a great all around front. They do a lot of different stuff that we've seen in the past, and as far as Alabama and Georgia go, they're about the same scheme as both those teams. So I mean nothing really concerns us much. You know, they're just a great all around team. We're going to have to play a good game to win.

You centers kind of seem like the coolest guys in the room. Do you feel like you're like the anchor in all this madness? I mean I kind of like to look at it that way. You know, you gotta be – you know, your calmness out there because you control everything, and you know, when things aren't going well or things are going great, people are going to be looking at you to see how you're reacting and that's kind of how I look at it.

(No microphone) and they think there's a tendency to think that it's a principal of deception and not maybe power. As an offensive lineman, how much of this offense is based on similar concepts? Obviously it's a very different offense, but it's still very much a power offense. Yeah. I mean I think if you turn on the film you'll see we're going to bring it right at you, and I mean we're running zone schemes and gap schemes. I mean and it's the same thing we ran in tight bunches last year. I mean we'll spread you out but we're going to run it right down your throat.

What do you think are the differences between running mostly zone one? Yeah. I mean we do both. I mean inside zone and gap scheme.

Give me a little example. What does the specific fact that maybe you're spread out wider, how does that change? I mean really doesn't change much for us. I mean just matters how many they put in the box. I mean are they going to spread out with you or are they going to load the box down, put seven or eight in the box. That's really the big thing with us.

So I mean it really doesn't change too much, just how many we gotta try to block that are in the box.

Do you feel like you need to be any more – maybe just tempo. Streamline? Yeah, I mean at the pace that we go, you gotta be in shape. The way Coach Malzahn likes to do things is fast, and he even talks fast, you know. I mean but we like to go fast, and that's what we're going to do. We're going to pace and try to wear you down as a defense, and that's just what we do.

And offensive line men when they switch over to an up tempo offense there's always stories about how yeah, I lost 15 pounds and stuff like that. Were those stories on your offensive line where, hey, because of the pace you guys were going you had to slim down a little? I don't think anyone really had to slim down. We had pretty lean guys. Maybe some of them got a little chubby there for a minute but I don't think anyone really had to slim down too much. I mean obviously with Coach Russell and our strengths staff, they did a great job of preparing us in the weight room. We never stopped moving in there. So it's kind of similar to that stand point. So we move fast in everything we do, whether we're weight training or anything like that. So that kind of helps you get prepared for on the field.

Can you talk about your preparation for out here in California? I mean you know, Coach Malzahn has done a great job of keeping it similar to a regular game week, and I mean with all this stuff you gotta do out here, I mean you know, you gotta go out to practice and focus and look at it as any other game, obviously a big game. But I mean we just kind of took it as a regular game. I mean obviously it's not a regular game. It's the National Championship. But you gotta prepare as you would whether you're playing Western Carolina or Alabama or any other team like that. It's just, you know, that's how you gotta prepare.

And have there been many distractions? I know you guys have had some team functions and all that. Not really. I mean as far as distractions, we come to events like this and Lowery's Beef Bowl and that kind of thing. But once we've gone out to practice, we've been focused and working on what we do.

How do you scout team the Florida State defense? How many I scouting them?

How do you scout team them? How do you prepare for them in practice? Just do what they do. We got good scout teams. They've done a great job for us all year. Huge part to our success is our scout teams, and you know, they go out there and give us the looks that Florida State gives us.

How excited are you to get back to game time after having a month off? Yeah. Coach Malzahn has done a great job of keeping us in shape and keeping it simple and keeping the regular routine. We haven't really broke off or done anything extraordinary or different. So you know, I think we'll be ready when Monday rolls around.

When you compare this season along with 2010 remembering how the Auburn nation is back and just everybody behind you, can you still make that comparison now you guys are at this point to the 2010 season and what are the similarities? I think you can make some comparisons here and there, but I think this team's a lot different than 2010, and I mean I think we're just all around a different team. But as far as the organization and the people surrounding, I'm sure they feel a lot of the same way, but I think it's a lot more special when you go from 3 and 9 to being in this situation right here.

And you guys got a win you were excited to call your brother and rub it in his face a little bit. Now you guys are here at a National Championship game. What is that like for you? Is there a little bit of tension with the family? No. Me and my brother, him and his family are flying out here today. I don't think he's ever been so excited to go to an Auburn game. He might actually wear orange and blue this time. But we'll see. But there's no tension there.

Are you guys concerned with the one month layoff. Obviously Florida State passing oriented offense. Are you guys the least bit concerned about the long layoff? Like I said, not really. Coach Malzahn has done a great job of keeping it basic and keep doing what we're doing. We haven't done anything different or added anything in or anything like that. We just kind of stuck to what we do.

More game simulations the last three weeks in practice or has it pretty much been the same routine? It's been the same routine that we've been doing since whenever we played our first game, August 31st. Same game routine.

How excited are you to see Tre Mason have the success that he's had? Pretty excited. I mean I like to think that we've helped him do that. So I mean I think it's exciting for, you know, me and the rest of the guys, and you know, even the wide receivers, they block a little bit, too.

And just talk about his character and his personality and what he's done for the team on and off the field. You know, he's a great guy and with all the accolades that have come his way, he's really stayed the same guy and been out there working with the rest of our guys to reach our ultimate goal, and that's to win this football game.

If you can pick (no microphone) just motivation. A speaker, video. Whatever it was that brought this team together. What would that be? Yeah. I mean I think Cam came and talked to us one time or something like that.

When was that? I think maybe back in the spring. I mean I think that's one thing you can look at, but I think really overall, with the whole team I think it was the fact that we need to get our edge back, and that was the big thing in the spring, the motto that we need our physical edge back and that we weren't playing Auburn football, and kind of letting the past down, what the program was built on. I think that kind of hit the team right there, and Coach Malzahn, that was his big thing. And we went out there in the spring and we got after it. And we banged each and every day. We really didn't take anything off of it, and really just kind of went out there and got after it every day and tried to get our edge back.

The first workout with the strength coach, how would you describe like the reaction afterwards? I mean you know, I'd describe it as exciting, you know. I think we went out there and he got after us pretty good, and we were hurting after, but I think, you know, it felt good, you know, that we did it. It was a little competition here and there. And we just – it was fun. It wasn't like the old days when we were in the weight room and it was like a struggle to get in there and, you know, it was a hassle like awe, we gotta go work out. You know, it's supposed to be fun going in there and getting better and working with your teammates. It's not supposed to be, awe, here we go again, that kind of thing. But you know, it's fun and exciting and I think that's a huge part of why we're successful.

What do you think of the bell? Yeah. I mean the bell is – that's kind of what this team is built on really.

Why do you say that? I mean when someone rings the bell, the way we look at it is that's our team getting better, and they're going to help – they're helping – they're going up on their numbers, so that's helping the whole team be stronger and more physical.

Coach brought that in. Yeah, yeah. Coach Russell, the strength coach brought that bell in. Yes, sir.

Reese, we're here in preparation for the big game. What are your thoughts and how are you feeling? Feel pretty good. You know, just soaking it all in and just getting prepared to go out there and play our best game.

Describe your emotions once you step out on the field and you're there in the moment. I mean, well, hopefully we'll get to go over to the field on Sunday, but I mean once we get on that field, it's who's the best team and it will be between the 100 by 53 and it's a regular football game.

Talk about what it's going to take for you guys to come out victorious and to fulfill your destiny. I mean we're going to have to play our best football. They're a really good football team and we're going to have to play our best to win.

Their run game has been crucial to this team's success this season. What's your focus going to be? Obviously we're going to stick to our guns. We've been running the football all year and we're going to keep doing what we do.

What's the value of someone like Tre Mason to really playoff. I mean he's a great back and Coach Malzahn putts him and the rest of our team in the right situations at the right time, and I think him and nick really feed off each other and do a great job of that.

He's close to breaking one of the school's records. When I asked him about it, he was almost raving about his line men. How do you guys playoff of each other? I mean I think, you know, really just this whole team, our motto has been together. And really, we've just done everything together, and we couldn't do it without him, and I feel like he couldn't do it without us. And the receivers as well, they do a great job blocking on the edge, and really this is a team effort.

This season half that LSU game did you ever think that you'd be in this position heading into the National Championship game? I really didn't try and think that far ahead. Obviously it would like, man, I want to be in Pasadena, but I mean really, we just took it one day at a time, one practice at a time, one game at a time, just tried to get better each and every day at everything we do.

Heading into this matchup, you're technically the underdog, so does that give you a little extra fire? How does that change your approach to the game? I mean we've been the underdog in almost every game we've played, I think, so that really doesn't change anything. So I mean we just look at it as any other game. Obviously it's the National Championship, and we're going to have to play our best football to win the game.

Reese, you've come from a high school program that's won three out of the last four or five. They tied for one of them. Just talk about what a championship experience at an early age can mean to a big stage like this. Yeah. I mean playing in the state championship back in 2010, I think my first game in high school – or last game in high school was in Jordan Hare. My first game in college was in Jordan Hare, so that was pretty cool. Really, I think my high school coach, Bryant Vincent, he's now at South. And he did a great job of just teaching us experience that we had to work really hard and kind of blue collar guys, go out there and work hard each and every day. And that's how you gotta be successful on the football field.

I would ask you what it's like to see Nick Marshall's wizardry in back field in action, but you don't see it because you're headed in the other direction. You see it on film, huh? Yeah. Those guys do a great job what Coach Malzahn asks them to do. I mean on film they look fast.

When this is all over, 10 or 20 years down the road like all the other former Auburn and Alabama players in the state you'll look back at it as something pretty special because of the turn around here, how frustrating it must have been to not win a conference game last year and maybe that was a driving force to what has happened this year. Yeah. I mean you know, I think they always say, you know, it's not how hard you fall. It's how hard you get up. And I mean that's really how we looked at it, just kind of took it one game at a time this year, and you know, that's not the way Auburn – that's not the way the program is is to not win any SEC games and be 3 and 9. That's a disgrace. And we wanted to get our edge back and back to playing Auburn football.

Your brother played at Alabama. Yes, sir.

You, of course, Auburn. State owns four crystal balls right now, wanting to get a fifth. It's pretty amazing what the A state has done. Yeah. I think that'll go down in history. I don't think that'll ever be done – maybe in Florida with all those teams they got. But I mean as far as, you know, to Top 10 programs like we got in our state, I think it's pretty special.

And your family and friends, what kind of contingency do you have coming out here, how many folks? I got a lot of people. My girlfriend is coming and my mom and dad, both my brothers or all three of my brothers, my sister. I got a lot of people coming out.

It will be special. Yeah. It will be. Yeah. Thanks. War Eagle.

(No microphone)? Not really too big for me. I played in it back in 2011, so really didn't take me long at all.

(No microphone). Yeah. I mean you know, the tempo can really take advantage of people. So I mean, you know, as far as I'm concerned, I mean it takes us a little while to get in shape for it. But you know, our strength staff does a great job getting us prepared for that.

Reese, can you talk about your matchup with No. 8, Timmy Jernigan? What do you see on tape with Timmy? He's a great player. Great all around player, great against the run, great against the pass. Not really any deficiencies in his game. He's really strong. I'm going to have to play my best game to win. Should be a pretty good matchup.

You talk about the circus atmosphere. As a lineman, I've heard a lot out there, the linemen are like, let's get this going. The skill players are like, oh, yeah. What's it like? I mean it's fun. You just gotta soak it all in. You might never get in this situation again, and you'll remember this the rest of your life. You just gotta enjoy it. This is all part of the game.

Take us through the end of the Georgia game, the end of the Alabama game when you're there. Watching it's amazing. What's it like being a part of that team? Georgia, fourth and 18, that's not a good situation to be in. I was just praying, please, God, let something good happen. And you know, it happened. Ricardo – they tipped the pass and Ricardo caught it and ran it in. It was like, oh, my God. That was nuts.

The Alabama game I was actually at the 50 yard line getting ready for the coin toss at overtime, and here comes Chris running by me. I looked and I'm like, that's not good. And I see him running by me and I was like, wow, I was trying to keep everyone back because I didn't want to get a flag or anything. And it was just history from there. The fans started rushing the field and everything like that.

That is great. Can you talk about how this team has grown together since Gus Malzahn has been head coach. Yeah. He came in and started off with, you know, it's a new day and really gave everyone a fresh start and a clean slate. And I mean we just got our physical edge back starting back in the spring and then going into fall camp and really just took it one game at a time and just tried to get better each and every week.

What were your first impressions of Malzahn? You know, no gray area. You kind of knew what was going to go on and what was going to happen.

What do you think makes him such a successful coach? I mean he really doesn't change. You know, he's kind of been the same guy since day one.

How is he different now than when he was coordinator? I mean he just is making all the calls. I really don't think he's too different as far as an offensive standpoint at all. Maybe we go a little faster, but he's just the one in the team meetings telling us what we're going to do and that kind of thing, and that's just all.

What makes your rushing offense so successful? I mean you know, I think you gotta look at the coaches. They do a great job of putting us in the right situation, and we got nick and Tre they combat each other pretty well and the receivers have done a great job blocking and us five up front have done a pretty good job this far.

When you've watched Florida State's rushing defense on film, what jumps out to you? Their starters haven't allowed a rushing touchdown all season. I didn't know that, but I mean they're a good defensive front, and I mean good defense all around. We're going to have to play good football to win and we're up for the challenge.

(No microphone). What's it like for you knowing this team has that kind of reputation? I mean I think you kind of gotta look at it that way when we run the ball the way we do or we have this far. So I mean you like that as an offensive line, that you know, you get some credit because a lot of times you don't get that credit.

A lot of this team seems like – basic plays I understand are really simple or maybe the genius in this offense is blocking schemes. How intricate and how special is it? The blocking schemes aren't too difficult at all. Inside zone, little gap scheme, power counter. That's just about it. It's not as complex as people try to make it out to be.

What's it been like for you (No microphone)? I mean I think coach Grimes has done a great job with not only me but the rest of the guys, and I think got a lot better technique this year.

But I mean I think it's not only me, but you can't play without your two guards next to you and they can't play without their two tackles next to them. So I don't look at it as far as myself, but they've helped me get to this situation.

Is there something you focused on in development though? I mean I just try to go out there every day and get better, and like my coach says, sharpen your knife. You know, you're either getting better or you're getting worse. You never stay the same, and I just try to go out there and do that.

It's been such a wild ride for you, you've been through such highs and lows, what's it been like being on this ride? I mean it's been fun. I think Coach has done a great job with us, and you know, from coming through Georgia and that happening to us and threaten kind of having a bye week to get over that and then going into Alabama, and you know, just getting through that. And for the team to be able to get over that crazy win and beat Missouri the way we did, you know, I think our team's grown a lot over that whole situation.

When you look at it as luck or destiny, how do you look at that? I mean can say what they want to say. We rushed for 296 on Alabama. I don't think anyone had ever done that before. And we rushed for I don't even know how many on Georgia. You know, we kind of lost focus as a team there in the fourth quarter. And you know, we were lucky the way we won the way we did, but if you look at how we ran the ball that game, it's not a fluke or luck or anything like that. All that matters is you get the W in the game.

If the blocking is not that complex and there's nothing too sophisticated with it, what makes this offense so successful where you look at what Malzahn has done when he was a high school coach and assistant here and assistant everywhere else? I mean he's a genius at what he does. He just puts us in the right play situation at the right time and that's pretty much it.

Was there a time when you first realized, all right, this guy is really, really sharp? I mean you just talk to him, you know that. I don't think there was any particular time that I just – it was like, oh, man, he's a really smart guy. I think from the first time I heard him talk, you kind of knew he was smart.

Did he recruit you? I can't remember. Yes. Yeah, he did.

What was your impression of him when you first met him during that process? I mean just he was a really smart guy and pretty good offensive coordinator there. Had a really good offense and his goal has always been be the No. 1 offense in the country.

Are you tired of answering questions yet? Not really. It's kind of all part of the job.

Part of the job. Can you talk to me about the dominance for the state of Alabama, possibly five national championships. Is it unheard of for a state to do something like that? Yeah. I think we'll go down in the history books. I mean I think it's just cool that, you know, we've done – I mean we'll be a part of something special like that say it does occur.

Also the domination of the SEC, possibly eight here, if you guys pull off a win. Talk about this conference and how unbelievable it is. Yeah. I mean eight in a row, I think it just goes out to, you know, the recruiting the conference has done and the players and the coaches and the hard work that everyone puts in, and I think it truly is the best conference in America, and I'd like for it to stay that way.

Can you talk a little bit about frame of mind, where you think the team is at at this point getting ready for the game? Yeah. I think Coach Malzahn has done a great job keeping it just as a regular game week. They haven't done anything out of ordinary or changed anything up. And I think that's how you gotta be. And I think we've done a great job as far as that's concerned, and I think the team is ready, and you know, obviously we got two more days, I think, to prepare. What's today? Saturday? Yeah. We got two more days to prepare and just get ready for the biggest games in our life.

You got your own pavilion and Nick Marshall just gets a little table. So I'm just wondering what do you think of your star treatment? I mean I don't know. I mean just happy to be in this situation and just Nick, you know, he's from a little country town, so I'm sure he'll be fine at the table.

On a different note, I'm doing sidelines for the game and so I'm wanting to find out how fast you and nick kind of got on the same page for a first year quarterback to go that fast. Yeah. I think I've kind of helped him a little bit having been in the system before, been playing in this league for three years. And I mean he's a ball player and you know, a lot of people don't know, he was only in this system for I think six weeks before only our first game. So you know, we didn't kind of know what he had, and he didn't know what we had. And I think we've just grown together over all that time, and just trying to get better each and every week kind of as our whole team has.

How will things be different. I don't know, noise and stuff like that. What have you guys been preparing for with communication? Yeah. We're just treating it as a road game as far as noise goes. So I mean we've been in this situation before, playing at Tennessee, playing at LSU. So it shouldn't be a problem as far as communication goes. We do a great job of working with noise at practice as far as back at Auburn, we'll be in the indoor and have the music on as loud as it can go and you can't hear anything there. So that helps us work on that situation.

What's this whole week experience been like so far? Anything surprised you about the whole process you gotta go through here? Not much. I kind of figured it would be like this. But it's just been exciting trying to soak it all in, but at the end of the day we're here to win a football game and that's kind of been in the back of my mind the whole time. Enjoy when you're not preparing for the game or not at practice, but you're at stuff like this, you just have a good time and soak it all in, and when it's time to go to work, you gotta go to work.

Seems like it is kind of tough to have a good time when you have something looming like that. They set all this stuff up, but then it's like, don't enjoy it too much. Yeah. They just tell us to come soak it all up and I mean most of the guys are really focused. So it's kind of mind boggling to go from all, you know, game, game and then kind of chill out. It's kind of hard, but I mean I think we've done a great job as a team this far in preparing and just getting ready for the game.

What has been your favorite thing away from practice that you've done this week so far? Let's see. I gotta think. I don't even remember what all I've done. Me and some of my line buddies ate at a really nice Mexican restaurant together. That was pretty fun. Just, you know, just hanging out with all the guys is good. There's a basketball game. I've been whipping people's butts in that. So that's about it.

Is the Mexican food better out here or is it different than Alabama? Yeah. It's actually way better than it is in Alabama.

People say, but you never know for sure. Yeah. I didn't get any cheese dip. I like that in Alabama. They didn't have cheese dip at the one I went at. Us fat guys like cheese dip.

Did they even know what you were talking about? Yeah. They knew what I was talking about, because I said queso. A little here and there.

How much did you guys put away? How much food?

Yeah. Not too much. We didn't get too fat. (Laughs).

Have you been to the Rose Bowl before? Never.

So this is going to be a new experience for you. Yeah. Hearing about all the history and all that kind of stuff and you know, the Rose Bowl is always something you hear about and that kind of thing. So it'll be exciting. You know, go check it out on Sunday, you know, kind of see how it looks and all that good stuff, and then be ready to go Monday morning.

Could you talk a little bit about Greg Robinson and how he's come along? He may have a shot at going to the NFL next year. Yeah. Greg Robinson is a dominant force and great football player, and I mean I don't think you can say as much as you want about him. I mean he's just a great all around player and brings a lot to this team and he's a pretty dominant force on the football field.

Has he progressed a lot, especially this year? I know he played a lot last year, but did he make a big jump this year? Yeah, yeah. I think, you know, really as a whole offensive line we've made a big jump and Coach J. B. Grimes has done a great job with us and has allowed us to work on our technique and he's brought new stuff to our game and really helped us out.

Can you think of a game where he like really dominated somebody where it stuck out in your mind where he really pancaked somebody? Greg.

Greg, yeah. Yeah. I mean I don't think you can really think of one game. I think he kind of dominated in just about every game.

But is there one that sticks out in your mind where you almost felt sorry for the guy he was blocking? Yeah. I think Tennessee, I think he was smashing folks up there. But I mean he smashed folks just about everywhere, I mean so, I don't think you can really pull one game out of it.

I'm just thinking like one time where you looked at it and you said, man, he really wiped that guy out. I mean I think he's just about had one every game, but I think Tennessee had a few good ones. I'm not really sure. I think maybe even Alabama. Yeah, actually.

Tell me about that. Alabama, the play I think it was -- it was either Alabama or Georgia, the play where nick took it deep or Tre had a long run. Yeah, yeah, it was against Alabama. It was the one nick pulled it and ran the long touchdown. I think it was the first touchdown of the game. He wore out their D tackle. He took him for about eight yards. I don't think he pancaked him, but he took him out.

Okay. Do you remember which defensive tackle it was? I think it was Pagan.

Just took him eight yards, just ran him backyards? Yeah. Smashed him and that's really why we were successful.

Y'all enjoyed watching that in the film room after the game? Yeah, we did. Coach Grimes is a good ol' guy. He's fun to watch film with.

Media Day: Defensive End Dee Ford (Sat., Jan. 4) | Printable version (.pdf)
DEE FORD AUDIO

Are you getting tired of us yet? No, man, not at all.

Is it a lot different than you remember the last time when you guys were in Arizona? Yeah, it's a lot different. Are you talking about as far as the scenery?

Yeah. Cali is a beautiful place, I want to live here one day.

Just what you remember the experience, the buildup to the game being the last time and this time. Yeah, it's kind of about the same as far as the events. But as far as the scenery, it's beautiful. Arizona is beautiful, too. I want to live here one day. Very exotic. A lot different from Auburn, anyway.

Were you a lot more wide eyed the last time though? I'm laid back. My personality is laid back. So I stay laid back, you know. I'm just enjoying everything. I was kind of wowed to see it, but I never get too excited.

Would you say you're the barometer this team runs on as far as staying laid back and staying even keeled? Do they draw off of you? You know, there's probably a few other guys like me, Nosa is the same way. I think Chris is the same way. I think we all once you hang around each other so long, you start to become like each other. I think we're all pretty much laid back, just enjoy the scenery.

Do you ever expect Cody to jump back into wide receiver (inaudible)? I asked him to, but I think he wishes he could. It would be great to have him.

He was the poster child, because he was on 'Sports Illustrated.' What kind of affect did that have? It's great to know a guy that we've been through been through this time of scenery with, and he knows the type of focus we need. He been through it. At the time I wasn't a starter, he was a starter at the time. So he was able to reiterate those times when he was here and kind of give us a little knowledge of things that he did to help him. And also just have a good time. It's a blessing to have him with us.

Did you keep mementos from the last time like the 'Sports Illustrated'? Did you go out and buy a bunch of copies or did he? No, I didn't do that.

Do you know if he went out and bought a bunch of 'Sports Illustrated'? I never asked him. I'm pretty sure he did.

The experience you had in 2010, does that help you guys in getting ready for this? Yeah, because the thing was is there was so much time before the game and it's so much hype, and people telling you how great you are. But you know in house the things you need to work on. And with all the fun going on right about now, it's very pivotal that you really focus on your game plan. And it's kind of hard, you know.

But being that I've been through it before, it is kind of easy for me to relay the message to the other guys.

Is this fun for you? Yeah, I love the talk. I love the interviews. I wouldn't say I love the cameras. But I love the talk. It's fun for me?

A future in TV maybe after your playing days? I would like to say that, you know.

There's a lot of cameras involved there too. Yeah, I know.

You better get used the camera. Yeah, I've got to get used to the cameras.

You said you were more into giving this Christmas. Davis's birthday is Monday. I know, I heard, you know. He said he was going to celebrate. So it should be fun.

I see that look on your face. No, I have a birthday wish for him. Great to be alive, you know.

Does a couple of sacks count as a birthday gift? Yeah, that's my two birthday gifts for him.

(Inaudible.) He's been like that all year. It's more of initiative to really stay on him. I think that's what they're doing right about now. So much is going on with the defense it's hard for me to really know what's going on. But I see it. But that's been going on all year.

We're not doing anything different right now, if anything, we're just working harder.

Any specific moment where in the season where you realized this was a different team than last year? I'm pretty sure you've heard before, we said LSU, that second half. We shot ourselves in the foot early in the first half. I think we gave him a 21 point edge. But we came into that locker room with a different vibe than I expected. And we said we were going to fight and we knew what we had done, and we knew we couldn't do that in that hostile environment.

And we playing with a lot of young guys, believe it or not. And we all said that we're going to go out and we're going to play a total different half. We're not going to look at the scoreboard. If you're looking at the scoreboard, you don't need to get back on the field, because it doesn't matter. We're trying to play the game that we know that we need to play, and then the score takes care of itself.

If a few things would have went our way in the second half, we would have been talking about a different ball game. I think that's when we made that turn and we knew that we had to play as a team and we knew what we could do. And I think we took that and ran with it.

What was the biggest change that Gus Malzahn brought? I wouldn't say any change. He brought back, you know, the edge. He came in and he said he wanted to get our edge back. I heard him say that the entire time when he came back. He said we've got to get our edge back. Nothing intricate that we have to do, we just have to get our edge back and get back to working.

And Coach Russell came in and he really got us going in those offseason workouts and we just took it from there.

How do you slow down the Florida State offense (inaudible)? Being fundamentally sound. I think if you're really displaced at times, I think teams hurt their selves as far as defense goes. And we really just have to play our game, not play conservative, not get displaced out of our gaps.

Because they're a great team east and west, they do a lot of outside zones, they have great fast running backs, they beat you on the edge, then on third down, Winston gets a lot of time in the pocket. You have to disrupt those times. You can't give him time, not a great quarterback like that.

(Inaudible.) I don't buy into that, they're a great team. They can't help who they play. I'm looking at their film. I'm not really looking at who they're playing, I'm looking at what they're doing. I still think they would have had success in any other conference. They're a good team. I don't look that at all.

(Inaudible.) It means a lot, especially for me, with the year we had last year, I was facing decisions that I wanted to make, whether I wanted to go to the NFL or not. My gut feeling was telling me to stay. And any time I can fight through a season like that, with guys who wouldn't quit on me, I don't mind coming back playing for these guys.

I wasn't saying we were going to end up in a National Championship or anything, but that's just what happened, when the team starts to bind and trust in each other.

Do you feel like the team of destiny (inaudible)? I don't really like to say a team of destiny. I just believe when we say in these player meetings, we have meetings with our players just talking amongst each other, we just say we're going to play every snap like it's our last, every play. And if there's an opportunity, we're going to take advantage of it, and I think that's what we did. And the way it unfolded, I think everyone would be lying if they said they wouldn't take it. I'll take it.

How would you describe your preparation out here in California? It hasn't changed. If anything, we're more focused. We're more focused because we know how hard it is to focus out here. We said we're going to keep doing the things that got us here. And that's been focusing, taking it one day at a time, one practice at a time. We've had about 15 practices and we just wanted to capitalize, we had a lot of things defensively that we needed to work on as far as X and Os go. We really wanted to work on those and lock in this game plan.

I feel very confident right now about our focus.

Jameis Winston (inaudible) get him, get him down and pressure him? We've got to pressure him. I think every defensive coordinator wants that. You never want a Jameis Winston to sit back and make decisions, you can't do that. You can't do that at all against him. He's a great quarterback. He can beat you with his feet, also. The last thing you want to do is let him get going.

(Inaudible.) Yeah, I feel like it is. It's a great opportunity right now. With the yardage that our defense has given up, I don't expect much talk. We've been able to play great at pivotal times like the end of the game. But we've been shooting ourselves in the foot. We know what we need to work on, and that gives us more confidence coming into this game. Not many people are talking about us, that's extra motivation or extra initiative for us to lock in this game plan, and really play as one.

We're still looking for that game where we don't make as many mistakes as we've been making this entire year.

Let me ask you a question about there's so much about taking on a game like this, with a smile on your face? I'm blessed to be here right now, with the influence that we have right now, it's an amazing thing that we can reach I was talking to a lot of younger guys yesterday on the Internet, and it's just an amazing feeling to really be here and I'm really just humbled right now.

You're going to be tested from your position. What does Florida State bring offensively? They're a great team schematically. They do a great job within their scheme. They have a great offensive line. They play with each other very well. And you have to be very fundamentally sound. Like I said, you can't get displaced out of your gaps. You really have to play as one if you want to win this game. You can't shoot ourselves in the foot.

Jameis Winston, wide receivers or the running backs, which one do you want to get after the most? I can't get after the receivers, you know. It's my job to get after the quarterback. I'm looking forward to that.

Have you thought about what you will need to do in terms of being disciplined? When you get a sack, have you thought about that, have you visualized if you can get a sack on Winston? Oh, definitely, definitely. All the work I put into it, I don't think that I can't get a sack. That's why I work, I work to get sacks. I definitely believe I'm going to get a few.

The whole D line, that's what we work to do, we work to get sacks.

It's been an incredible season, a great journey for you. If you had to describe to someone what it's been like from the first game, how would you describe it? It's definitely been an amazing journey, with all the work we put into it. To see these games unfold the way they unfold, you can't argue with the results. I wouldn't be surprised, you know, because we worked for this, we said we wanted it. And we played every snap with those opportunities. We took advantage of those opportunities.

So it's just been an amazing journey for me, especially for a guy like me, my last year. I'm just blessed right now. That's why I keep smiling.

Are you still keeping up with AJ Green much? Yeah, I talked to him last night. That's my brother, man. We connect on football and music. That will be my lifetime brother. I talk to him all the time.

You were composing a song. Are you still doing that? Yeah, I was actually playing last night. They asked me to learn Billy Joel 'Piano Man,' I learned it and played it for a few fans last night. It was pretty fun.

How did you pick that up? You didn't really learn by reading music; right? No, I'm very instinctive. I just really listen. I learned my keys to guide me through whatever I wanted to learn, and I just let it flow.

How blessed do you feel playing in another National Championship game? I'm so blessed, man. For one, you just never expect it coming off a season like that. All you can do at that point, after a year like we had, was work hard, and that's what we did. And we started to build this chemistry right now that can't be broken. And we just took it one game at a time, just like Coach asked us to do and now we're here.

It's definitely a great feeling. I'll be lying if I say I'm not surprised. I am. But at the same time I know we belong here and we will work hard to win this game.

How do you stay focused with this long layoff, 29 day layoff? Man, you have to, first of all, reiterate it every day and talk about it amongst your peers. It can't just be coaches. We haven't been coach driven all year this year. And right now it's the players who are leading these practices and keeping everyone focused. We're playing on the biggest stage. You can have fun after the game.

We're enjoying the events and all that, but we know that this is a business trip.

(Inaudible) Jameis Winston? You have to put pressure on him. I'm sure you have seen these other bowl games of how these quarterbacks play when they're under pressure. Turnovers are everything. We're looking for turnovers, pass breakups, anything. We're just trying to be disruptive to this game.

When you watch Jameis (inaudible)? I don't really feel no type of way about it. I just know that we can't be that defense giving them that much time or we won't win a game.

When you started the SEC Championship with that sack (inaudible)? Definitely. Definitely. That's what we want to do, man, we want to play every snap. Like I said, we've done this all year, we're going to play every snap and play every opportunity like it's our last. And we're not going to take any snap for granted.

We want to start early. That's one thing Florida State has done, and people cannot argue against that, they have started early and they didn't really have to do much the fourth quarter. We can't argue with that.

We know we're going to have to start off pretty hefty to win this game.

(Inaudible) testament to the resiliency, how do you explain it? It's a testament to our resiliency. I think this team, man, it leaves me speechless when I think about it. I sit in my room and think about the things we've been through. Every team has their story, and this not a sympathy deal. We've been through a lot and we use that as motivation, and we just keep going. We've been striving since springtime.

(Inaudible.) We believe, man. We believe. And we just knew it. When I was sitting there watching the offense, I know something is going to happen. I trust that much in my offense. And they trust in us, also. Any game where we needed to respond, whether it's defense or offensive or special teams, we have done that for each other, and it's just built a chemistry right now that we just know we're going to get it done.

What's wrong with a little magic? (Laughter.) There's nothing wrong with a little magic. I always say that.

So much opportunity, so many people are going to be watching this game. How do you balance that? Do you think about the next level? Yeah, you know, I'm not going to sit there and lie. As athletes, we think about things that motivate us, and knowing that we're on the national stage, we reiterate that all the time. We're on the national stage. Everyone is watching this game. And that's more initiative for us to work hard. Man, I put in a lot of work as far as preparing for this game. With the 30 days that we had, man, I put in a lot of work, because you have to stay in shape. I put in a lot of work. I was telling myself this is a big stage, a lot of people are watching, what are you going to do? That's motivation, it's natural.

With the way you won those games, do you feel like the team of destiny and has that grown as these things have kept happening with the way you guys have won? Like I said, I wouldn't say team of destiny. We're a team of opportunity. Preparation leads to opportunity, you know what I mean? And those type of things happen.

We just continue every week, we say we're going to find a way to win. Right before the game, every game, Coach Malzahn says we're going to find a way to win, this is how we're going to do it. It's not luck, nothing just falls in our lap, you know what I mean? We're going to take that into this game, also.

What is about the Coach Malzahn that has allowed this to happen? The attitude has changed. What is it about him? Just his personality, the way he is. He is such a winner at heart. He came in, telling the first thing I remember him telling us is we're going to get our edge back. He said we're going to be here. He told us that we're going to be having a lot of influence right about now, and we do. He said we're going to be on a big stage, and we are. And he said we're going to use that influence in a positive way.

He told us, I remember our spring workout, 6 a.m., he was telling us, he said, but it's not going to be easy, and it wasn't.

And you have to believe in a guy like that when he come in telling us these type of things. He strained us players and at times we get a little tired, but that's part of the process.

After the adversity this team faced last season and then the LSU game, did you ever think that you'd be in this position? I never really put that in my mind. You never really think ahead, think about the National Championship or any bowl game. We really took it one game at a time and one practice at a time.

How is that a testament to how far this team has come this season? It's a big testament. We just really you have to believe, you know. To come this far you really have to believe. You can't just say it, you have to believe and you have to work. That's been a testament to where we are. What people see on Saturdays is a testament to the work we've put in.

Headed into this game you guys are the underdogs, so how much is that going to take belief and working together to prove everyone wrong? Belief is second nature right now. We know we're going to win the game. We know we have to come in and execute.

In a game like this, it don't really matter about underdogs. It's all about execution. Because the team has had 30 days to prepare, and that's a lot of time for any team. You are playing off a team, every team has tendencies, so you just have to focus in on execution and just really that's what it's all going to boil down to.

Kelvin Benjamin said he thinks they're the Floyd Mayweather of football. What do you think about that? They can be the Floyd Mayweather of football.

We're coming in to play football, man. We just want to win the game and execute.

What do you think that you can identify your team with, if you're able to compare that? Muhammad Ali.

Why is that? I don't know, he's just a great fighter, and I think we're a great team.

And he shook up the world. And he shook up the world.

What does that say about the fight? What kind of fight do you see in your team? Ours is going to be a fight, it's going to be a dogfight. It's been like that all year for us. So we're used to it. We come into this game, we know what Florida State brings to the table, so we're going to be ready to make it a fight.

Jameis Winston mentioned you specifically as a guy who keeps popping up on film in his study. What do you see when you watch him? Whether you give him 3 seconds or 6 seconds, he's a great quarterback. He will make plays. We have to deal with that and execute our defense. We're going to have to put pressure on him.

Looking at film when he had a lot of time, he made some extremely big plays. That can't happen. That's the big thing that stands out to me. And of course, they have a great running game. W have to be fundamentally sound, especially on the front seven, fitting our gaps. That's what we've been working on these past 30 days. I know that's what we have to bring to this game.

They know you're going to bring pressure. Is it going to be a dogfight? It's going to be a dogfight. Like I said, at this point right now, there's nothing that they haven't thought, there's nothing we haven't thought. We've had 30 days. It's all about execution. Just bringing the heat.

What do you think about this media day scene here? I love it. Like I say, I love to talk.

It's a blessing to be here, to see all these cameras and all the lights. And I just know I have a stage of using my influence in a positive way, so it's a great opportunity for me to take advantage of that. Like I said, I have a lot of little kids watching me and I love that. I talk to them all the time. I was on Instagram talking to kids last night. This is a great thing for me.

(Inaudible.) You follow. Not to refute what you're saying, Cam really did that, but there was a lot of guys in that locker room. A lot of guys in that locker room. It was an uncommon will from everyone, you know what I mean?

And Cam just is the icing on the cake. Because he would go out there and make some amazing plays and really give the team momentum. And I just remember when he made a play or when Nick made a play or even I made a couple of plays at times, Nosa would make a play, we all fed off of each other. We were just one at that time.

When you're playing with an amazing athlete like Cam, an amazing quarterback like Cam, it's easier to follow, you know what I mean?

Winston seems to have that same sort of Yeah, he does. It's amazing to watch. I can give him his props right now. I'm not ashamed to give him his props. He's a great quarterback and great leader, he has great character. I really admire the way he carries himself. He is definitely that for his team.

How do you disrupt a guy like that? It's football, man. You still do it. You have to be fundamentally sound. I'm confident. Just like he's confident, I'm confident. I'm probably overconfident. I know I can do it. And that's what I've been doing all year. That's what the D line has done all year. That's what we've been working to do.

(Inaudible.) Definitely. In 2010 was kind of like this year. We probably didn't give up as many yards in 2010. But we were still a defense finding its identity a little bit. We didn't play great at times and we had to dig ourselves out of holes, just like we did this year. We've had to dig ourselves out of big holes.

And that's just from being displaced in the beginning of games. When it really comes down to it, man, we really buckled together and we make it happen.

(Inaudible.) No, you can't control the outcome. They can't control the outcome of their game. We can't control the outcome of our game. You just go in that game and you play it. And you focus in. Once the clock starts ticking, it's football. Whatever happens, you know, from that point, you really can't if it goes until the fourth quarter, it's goes into the fourth quarter. If it ends at halftime, then you know it's pretty much a done deal. That's just pretty much how it is. I don't think there's any control. You have to prepare and believe in what you've worked for and go out and play. I don't really think about that too much.

How does the guy you go up against at practice, Robinson, compare to (inaudible)? You said, Robinson, Greg, he's the best offensive tackle in the nation to me. I go against him every day. I know his talents and I know he's nowhere near where he's going to be in the years to come. He gets better every year. I think that's the best offensive tackle. I think we have the best offensive line in the nation.

Your teammates have said that you've got the most Hollywood in you. I've got the most Hollywood? You know, I just said I like the cameras and I like the lights, but I'm not Hollywood.

What kind of movie would you be in if you were? What kind of movie would I be in?

What kind of actor would you be? I would be a well balanced actor. I'd be emotional, I'd be funny, I'd be suave if you need me to be. I'll be a stunt man if you need be to be. I'd do it all.

(Inaudible.) I'll tell everyone out in Auburn Nation, looking forward to you all coming down and supporting us. It will be a great one.

How important is it to get to Jameis on Monday night? It's very important. Like I said, I don't mind reiterating this because it's going to be stuck in my mind: You can't give him time. You can't do it. You can't do it. We know we can't do it. And I think the whole defense knows you can't give him time. He's a great quarterback. You can't give any quarterback time, but a quarterback like that you can't give them time.

(Inaudible.) Man, probably in the middle of practice we go against our offense for about 20 minutes. And, man, we really get after it. We really make ourselves better. And he's one of the greatest coaches I've seen coach the offensive line. I really believed in and really saw our offensive line grow from day one.

Coach Grimes? Coach Grimes, man, I love it. And then we have Coach Garner, one of the greatest D line coaches in the nation.

How much has Coach Garner helped? Oh, man, he has been the catalyst of this defensive line, man. He came in and he strained us. He strained us. He changed us. It wasn't an easy process. It's not easy. It's still not easy to this day. But I will love this man forever. He's a great man, great father, has six girls. I love that man.

(Inaudible.) What is it that he has natural ability wise that makes him so special? Carl? First of all, Carl came in at 260, I came in at 215. He came in already ready to play. There was really not much you can tell him right now. He's just so he's so explosive. He's so talented, man. And I think once he gets the fundamental part down, and really, the game just started coming to him, he's going to be unstoppable.

(Inaudible.) How much does that help you prepared for a guy like Jameis? It will definitely prepare you. It will test you. We've been very reluctant to really go against that caliber of talent consecutively every week. And it's nothing different to right now. We know we're going against a dynamic quarterback. We know what we have to do.

You had a big sack against Johnny at the end of that game. How hard is it to bring Johnny Manziel down? It's extremely hard. You can't really overthink it. You have to attack it. You have to attack and slow him down, because he's so elusive.

What challenges does Jameis (inaudible)? Man, like I said, he can beat you with his arm, he can beat you with his legs. And amongst those great receivers and a great offensive line, they're definitely a big challenge for us. But I believe that we're probably going to be one of the most athletic defensive lines they have faced all year. We bring a lot to the table also. It will be a fun thing.

What is going to be critical for you and the team to keep him boxed in? Rush, you've got to rush the quarterback, man, that's what we do. You got to disrupt, you got to rush, and when he blitz, we've got to be violent when we blitz.

Alabama (inaudible), how did it feel? The magnitude of that game, what was at stake, I just remember, you know, that Thursday, I believe, before the game, Thanksgiving wasn't really Thanksgiving, because I was hearing about the game. The magnitude of that game, being able to play in one of the biggest Iron Bowls in the history of Iron Bowls, it was just a blessing to be a part of it.

That game went by so fast, because it was so exciting. And then the play that ended the game. That was remarkable. The whole process, man, was just unbelievable.

You have been able to get great pressure on quarterbacks all year with just your front four. Why is that? Because we work at practice, man, and we really focus on our pass rush and our fundamentals. We worked on that from spring up until now. Coach Garner is one of the best defensive line coaches in the nation. He really strained us.

How does their O line stack up against other lines you've seen this year? They're athletic. We faced athletic offensive lines this entire year. I wouldn't say they're the most physical, but they're definitely very in sync and they're very great together and they really play within the scheme very well. And on top of that they're very athletic. And they can get their hands on you. And we just have to be very fundamentally sound.

Who's the most physical line you faced all year? Arkansas.

Why do you think it will be important to have those four guys getting pressure? If you can rush four, you can drop more. And they have great receivers, so that will help us out in coverage. Even though I know our DBs will get the job done, even if we rush for eight. So it will just be interesting. It's a blessing to be able to rush four. And that's what every defense wants.

Talk about Coach G. He's very intense, man. He's very intense. He flips a switch. Off of the field he's one of the most nicest, mellow, funny, you know, great guys, you know, but he really flips the switch. And when it's business, it's business. And he's strained us. He's definitely been a great role model for me. And he's really challenged me.

I understand when I'm challenged, he takes me out of my comfort zone. And when I'm out of my comfort zone, it means I'm growing. To do that for a fifth year senior, that says a lot about you as a person and as a coach. And he's a great coach, man.

(Inaudible.) It's meant a lot. It's meant a lot. And he tells us all the time that we're brothers. I went here. And that just makes us able to relate to him more. And we just feel that much closer to him. And it means so much to him. We talk about it individually, how much it means to us.

And with that being said, we go out and practice hard. So it's a blessing.

I know how big the Georgia game was for him for obvious reasons, and also Alabama. What was he like after those two games? Of course he was happy. People don't understand, there was so much we needed to work on. And we were still winning these games. But we had a lot to work on.

We enjoyed the moment, but it's like let's get back to work. We have a lot to work on. We're doing this and we're not really playing at the best of our ability. Let's see what we can do when we play to the best of our ability.

How are your emotions? You know, I don't get too excited. Got to stay focused on the task at hand. It's definitely going to be a big stage. But I think if you get too caught up in the moment and everything that's going on, all the media, all the cameras, you start to forget things, and start to make little mistakes. And I don't want to do that. I don't want to be in a bad situation. I'm just chilling.

Describe the emotions once you step out on that field, you put it all behind you and say let's play football. Oh, man, it's adrenaline. You can't really explain it. You just know, you just think about all the work you've put in and the opportunity that you have and you just go from there, take off, and just let your game speak for itself.

And the excitement and anticipation, have you pinched yourself and said, wow, we've made it thus far, one more step? Yeah. Man, it's so hard. I think every team that comes to a National Championship pinches their self at one point.

Every team has a goal to get here, but when you really get here, it's so hard to get here, you have to step back and look like you really did it. And it's just hard to think about all the work you put in and the process.

I'm more excited about the journey, you know. I'm not really excited about, you know, where we are right now. I'm excited about the journey and the things we went through and the message behind, you know, what happened last year to this year and the things that we can pull out for our life. We have to move on when football is over. But now I have a story to tell. It's very interesting.

You're living the dream. Living the dream.

Now you have to make the dream become a reality come Monday, that day. How big would it be to fulfill that dream? It would be huge. I will pinch myself at that point.

Talk about as far as what is the key motivation that makes you great? What is your philosophy? What inspires you beyond football? The biggest thing, my family. When I go home and I see how much my family looks up to me and how proud they are of me. When I was younger I was such a knucklehead, but to really make that transition and really motivate other people, I'm changing other people's lives. That really

Role model? Yes. That really gets to me, it makes me feel good, and I really want to keep this going. I want to go to other levels. I want to elevate now. I want to have more influence, so I can change more people. That keeps me going.

(Inaudible.) I don't really say it, because when you say a team with destiny, you think about magic and luck and things like that. I don't think about that. We are a team of opportunity. We let preparation be opportunity. That is when the magic happens. This is nothing that we haven't planned. We speak about all of these things.

(Inaudible.) It sounds good.

(Inaudible.) Yeah, I wouldn't say disrespectful. But you have to think about, a lot of people don't understand what goes on behind the scenes and how much work you put into this.

I'm just there to really remind them, hey, we've worked for this, we said this was going to happen. The way it unfolded, you can't really help. But I think it's all good.

(Inaudible.) I saw it. I passed out for about 2 seconds, and then I realized I had to go back out and play. But it was amazing to watch, man, the way it unfolded. And I just we really have to look at that, Ricardo did not give up on that play. And think about the mindset he had on that play. I don't care what happens, I'm going to keep you know what I'm saying, you have to admire that about that play. If he would have gave up, they're going to bat the ball down, you don't have a prayer. But that's just been our team's identity this whole year.

(Inaudible.) I was standing beside I think I was standing beside our trainer, and I said something is going to happen. I really was saying that, something was going to happen. You look back at Mississippi State, we played just about every game down to the wire and we made something happen. So you have to just believe, you know. I was going to say that until the clock hit 0 0, something is going to happen.

Even watching the video later that night (inaudible)? Man, it was unbelievable, man. It was unbelievable.

He gave his glove to a kid in the stands. Yeah, man. It's all good, man.

(Inaudible.) That's the confidence that we have. You have to have that. And we've had that in just about every game. That's just what we do. And that's been built from is just our mentality. You just built that confidence.

When you look at the Florida State team and all that film, what is the biggest concern? The biggest concern? I wouldn't say we have any concerns. But I will commend them on how great they are. They are a great team. They're a great team. They play within their scheme offensively, but of course, we know the defense is great. But their offense is definitely dynamic. They have great receivers.

That's just more initiative for us. We played great teams all year. We just know what we have to bring to the table and we have to play together, just like we've done all year.

What's the funniest Gus Malzahn story you have? The funniest? It's weird, because I never see him not talking about football. I have had a conversation, I had a series conversation with him during camp.

He's interesting. You have to be around him to see. It's kind of unexplainable.

(Inaudible.) I don't know. You would probably hear that from an offensive guy. I don't really hear much talk from him unless he's talking in front of the team.

Everybody says you're the best singer on the team. Is there a couple bars or something you want to throw out here? I don't sing. Who told you I sing? Jeff Whitaker is the best singer on the team.

What does he sing, Barry White tunes? He looks like Barry White.

No, Whit sings everything. Yesterday he was singing Fred Hammond 'No Weapon.' That's a gospel song. Whit is a character. He'll sing for you, go find him.

You're saying you're not the best singer on the team? I'm not the best. I'm a musician. I just sing to get by.

This will be a video. Just take it over. Give a shout out to the Auburn fans.

All season their support. You can introduce yourself, however you want to do it. What's up, Auburn fam? It's Dee Ford. I just want to thank you all for the support all year. And looking forward to seeing you at the BSC National Championship.

Are you going to be on the left tackle or right tackle? I'm going to be on the right tackle.

So Bobby Hart? Yeah.

What do you see in his game? He's very athletic. He's strong. Any time you're going against an athletic offensive tackle, you just know what he brings to the table. He will be a future NFL player. That's what I see in him. I have to bring my A game, I'm not just going against any other tackle.

What stands out about them that makes them unique or different? What stands out? Not much really stands out, you know, they're just a great team. They play together. So nothing will stand out, because they play so in sync. It's almost kind of boring at times because they play so methodical and they just execute.

We just know we have to bring our A game. We have to play methodical, also, and execute. That's what this game is going to come down to, who's able to execute.

Are you having fun in California? My teammates just told me I was Hollywood. I'm enjoying myself. But it's like you fit. You belong here.

Where are you from originally? Birmingham, I'm a country boy.

A lot of attention on Jameis Winston. He's very good, but a lot of guys that are talented quarterbacks in the SEC are experienced, too, who you have had to face. Talk about being prepared for him by playing in the SEC. It's no different, ACC, SEC, it don't matter, he's a great quarterback. And we've been facing great quarterbacks. And that's more initiative for us to play together. We have to play together. We cannot give up the big plays. That's what we have to deal with defensively. We've played so good at times. We just know that we have to play together. We've played against great quarterbacks. Nothing we're worried about. We know how good the whole offense is. But we know what we need to work on. And we've worked on that. And we're just ready to take that into the game.

The defensive numbers are not the best for teams in this position, but you look at it and say it's just a number, the stops you make, the turnovers you create, that's the big thing? Yeah, man, it's a big thing, man. And that started with the first game of the year. We got a lot of turnovers. Last year in the first two games and this year. We've definitely improved. And we definitely have a confidence right now. The biggest thing, man, is how good we can play, and we have played. We play great defense at times, but we're looking at that.

I covered LSU, and it seems like great quarterbacks like Cam, it seems like the difference in the SEC is in the trenches. How important is it for the big guys to affect Jameis with your front four? Very up front, man. If you get to the quarterback, I think every quarterback knows that you're affecting their decisions. And not only just that, trying to be disruptive and affect his decisions little bit. He's going to make some great plays, but we have to make great plays, also.

Going back to the LSU game. You guys got way behind, you came back in the second half, didn't give up. A very positive attitude in your locker room after that game. It seemed like it was a launching point to the success you had the rest of the season. It was. We came in pretty fed up. We came in pretty fed up and we were like, hey, we're not going to go back. We put in too much work all season to go back. We know we shot ourselves in the foot. We know we were doing well, we've got to finish it. And that's what we did.

Seemed hard to find confidence when you came off the tough season last year, and then you lose to the best team you played to that point. You managed to find that confidence, how did you do that? You really have to take it one day at a time. With the schedule that we played, with the teams that will beat you. So we never had time to think that we can overlook these teams, because they can beat you.

(Inaudible.) He has so much knowledge of the game. He has so much knowledge of the game. He came in and gave us a lot of feedback, you know. And he really instilled a lot of confidence in us. We did good, but you can do a lot better.

Media Day: Running Back Tre Mason (Sat., Jan. 4) | Printable version (.pdf)
TRE MASON AUDIO

I'm ready. We can get it crackin'.

We were talking after the SEC championship game about how the rhythm was important and despite you carrying the rock so many times and not breaking out in a sweat, how many times do you want the rock Monday? As much as we need to do to get the win. 60 times if we need it; stamina isn't a problem for me.

Why is that? Is there something you do? Off season training with Coach Russell, he got us right. Got us in the best shape I've ever been in my life and it's a mind set. When I'm in the game, you know, I'm not going to let stamina stop me. I'm not going to let that be a factor and I'm not going to let stamina be a factor.

What do you see in Florida State and the challenges they will bring? They're a talented defense and they're very fast. They are fast and athletic and great on their feet so that's going to be a big difference than what we have played all year.

The nickname 'Tre Hun' are you going to use that or adopt another one? I like the Tre Hun!

When did you feel like you could really do something this year? I would say after the Texas A&M game. We learned from the LSU game, being able to play in bad weather, playin' from behind, you know, digging ours in a whole and making our way out. We learned a lot from that game.

(No microphone.) Uh huh, we gotta play our best football come the 6th. We gotta play our best football that we ever played in all aspects of the game, offense, defense, special teams gotta click.

Florida State has monsters up front. Remind you of anybody? They have a good 'D' line. They are who they are. You can't compare a championship team to anybody else. Whatever they did to get her had he did the right thing. If I did have to compare them it would be like Alabama's defense.

What makes you keep goin'? The will to win. If we were down and we had another four quarters, stamina is not going to be a part of stopin' me.

I think it's a mind set. The determination and how motivated I am to get a win.

What is your biggest concern with Florida State? That's a great question. They're very fast in their secondary and our receivers have to step up to the plate and make plays because their DBs are just as athletic as our receivers.

Do you believe in luck? I mean, we worked hard, worked very hard. I feel like we deserve some of the wins that we have, because we worked very hard. We go through all types of situations in practice that no one would ever think about. Coach Malzahn puts us through many situations, you know? I can't say that he put us through 4th and 18 versus Georgia, but he put us in tough situations and we found a way to score and win. So it's a blessing and he gave us a good opportunity to put ourselves in a great position to win.

(No microphone.) He's like an uncle to us. He's also like a player/coach, he's been there and done that too. He's easy to get along with, but he will stretch you when you're not doing the right thing or you have to pick your slack up. He's a great coach. He pays attention to the little things, details and making sure we all doin' the right thing at the same time.

(No microphone.) We see him every day. He has a strong arm still to this day. He helps Nick out on certain things with his throwing, the way he throws and makes sure Nick is accurate. If Coach Craig got behind the line, I think he could get the job done.

(No microphone.) Oh, yeah, I don't want to leave anything on the field. I don't want to have to leave the game saying I shoulda, coulda, woulda, and that's why I give it my all and I'm not a quitter, and I'm going to play till the clock says zero, and if they give me extra time I'm gonna keep on goin'.

Has the season been fun? It's been very fun. Accolades come with team success. Me being in New York, that was because of my team and I couldn't do it without them.

(No microphone.) Yeah, that's just a lot of the will and the 'want to' from last season. We knew what it was like to be 3 9, so, you know, every guy has given all they have.

Like I said, we don't want to say we woulda, shoulda, coulda on anything. So everybody is leaving it out on the field, all four quarters, giving everything they have.

When you went home how much time did you spend there? How much time did I spend?

At home. Were you there for a long while? Actually we left from Auburn to – we went to the College Football Awards and then we headed straight up to New York.

(No microphone.) I think we got a week home. I spent it with my family because I don't get to spend time with them much so I spent a lot of time with my family.

(No microphone.) Yeah, it was a little different. A lot of people, neighbors knocking on my door, unknown numbers calling my phone, so that's got to be fixed. My face getting noticed everywhere, just -- it was a fun experience, though, worked hard for it.

(No microphone.) Oh, yeah, I'm embracing it. I was kinda, you know, coached up upon success. My dad coached me how to handle things and just remain humble and stay hungry.

(No microphone.) The Hulk. Anything that gets in his way he's going to destroy. Don't want to make him mad. I'm happy though I get to run behind the Hulk.

(No microphone.) He's the key to the offense. He's going to be a major role. Next year those are going to be big shoes to fill.

(No microphone.) I would say our offensive line. Our offensive line makes us click. But also, you know, I would say everyone blocking, doing their job, just paying attention to just their job, do your job, that's it.

(No microphone.) I gave that a lot of thought, but I will make that decision right after the game.

(No microphone.) I'm on the fence with it. Of course I have dreams of playing in the NFL, it would be a good idea – I would say it would be smart for me to prepare for the draft but who knows? I still gotta talk with my mom and dad, make sure they're okay with things and who knows what the future holds.

(No microphone.) My brothers, my team. They're my brothers. I love the Auburn family. My coaches, Coach Malzahn coming back, I love playin' in his system. Those would be the deciding factors of stayin' and goin'.

(No microphone.) Of course the Georgia and the 'Bama game, those are the highlights of my life. I would say the every day grind that I go through with these guys, they put in a lot of work. Guys behind the scenes that no one gets to see.

Even our scout team, they give us the best looks possible and shout out to those guys because they don't get a lot of credit that they deserve, because they get us prepared to fight on these Saturdays. Or this coming Monday, now.

(No microphone.) I just had a strong feeling on the inside. How hard we worked in the off season. Being 3 9, I don't think anybody wanted to feel that again so we were fueled by doubt all season long. We took it one day at a time, one practice at a time, a day at a time. We fought together and being fueled by doubt is the big thing that got us to this point. We realized we had a chance.

(No microphone.) They fly around. They're very fast, they fly around to the ball. Not much room for error and also they capitalize on mistakes, off turnovers, fumbles, things like that.

(No microphone.) He's a great player. He's 'ShowTime' that's what I call myself, you know, 'ShowTime'! He's a great friend of mine and I be lookin' forward to playin' against him.

What's that going to be like? That's going to be fun, we share texts, to this day we joking with each other, cracking jokes. It's going to be fun playin' against one of my friends.

What do you text? Send funny lookin' old pictures to each other from high school and makin' fun of each other, but it's all good.

How confident is your team right now? We're very confident. You can't go into the game without being confident. We feel like we put the in a lot of work and we're ready to get the job done. Who knows what the end of the score will be but we gonna give it all we got and God willing we come out with the win.

(No microphone.) It's big not only for us but also for the Auburn family because of what we put them through last year. Being 3 9, none of the fans were proud to rep the 'AU' symbol but rockin' the 'AU' emblem is a hot thing. I feel like we owed them this trip and now we gotta capitalize.

After the LSU game did you ever think that you would be here? I kinda had a feeling in the beginning of the season because of the way we worked. I said in the beginning of the season we was going to have the biggest turn around in college football. Coach Malzahn told that to me and I believed, and the rest of the team bought into it. We have to buy into it; we have to be the best.

Are you ready to carry the load? I'm ready to work hard whenever they call my name.

How sore was your body after that game? It was pretty sore, but that comes with the game of college football. I love it.

(No microphone.) We feel that we need to execute our offense, no matter what defense – Coach Malzahn says no matter what they put in front of us, they can put 13 people on the field, we gotta find a way to execute our offense.

(No microphone.) It's an honor and a blessing. It's exciting, you know? If I bring it I know he's gonna come talk to me. It's just – it's a goal of mine to be one of the greatest backs to come through Auburn and to come through college football.

How have you been able to do that? My 'O' line, the rest of the team. They give me the confidence knowing I'm going to get the next level and get the job done. I feel like we've been fueled by doubt all year and we came into this season with a lot to prove. We like being the underdog.

(No microphone.) Coach always said it. We're going to find a way to win the game so him saying that, you gotta believe to achieve and we always find a crazy way to win.

(No microphone.) I do. We need to find a way to win.

(No microphone.) Being 3 9 can motivate you to find a way to win. When the game comes down to a close situation we know what it feels like to lose and a lot of people on this teammate that feeling. They find any way to win.

(No microphone.) I feel like we got a lot to prove. In my mind I've been dealing with that all my life. People saying I was too small so I got bigger and stronger and faster. People saying I was too small, this, that, so I got bigger, stronger, faster, these guys are my team that I fight with every day. They're fueled by doubt, people saying we are the worst team in college football, we never be back to a National Championship, we show y'all.

(No microphone.) Last year hurt, of course, at one point it felt like I don't want to say we were playin' for nothin' but it got to a point where, like, after the Texas A&M game last year it was kinda like, okay, now we have to play for ourselves. We have to play for something, you gotta find something to play for.

How about Coach Malzahn and his role in coming in and helping you guys? I knew what to expect as soon as he came in. I had him my freshman year I loved playin' for him. That's the reason I came to Auburn. He's a great coach, a master mind at what he does. He's a great person, a Christian man and somebody that you love to play for.

What does it say about the way this team has come back? It all starts from him. It all starts from Coach Malzahn and his winning attitude. That was the biggest change that when he first came in was the attitude that we have. You guys gotta believe and you gotta want to win.

(No microphone.) Describe the game in one sentence?

(No microphone.) A team that was doubted from the beginning. Trying to find a way to win a game. I don't know. We gonna find something.

(No microphone.) It was very special to be here. Coming from last year, like that 3 9 season to come around and comin' right back and headed to the National Championship, you know, this is a blessing.

(No microphone.) You know, there was a lot of fans behind us from day one, didn't care much, but, you know, we love our fans no matter what and we owe them this and also, you know, we owe them this game and that's why we worked so hard to get here because we put them through one of the worst times in college football history.

(No microphone.) Oh, yeah, we wanted this. We worked hard in the off season, through the season, and we are still workin' today.

(No microphone.) Play with as much heart as possible. Play all four quarters all the way out with a firey passion.

(No microphone.) This is a special team. We feel like we have what it takes everywhere and every position to get the job done.

(No microphone.) I love hearing a lot of doubt. That's what I'm fueled off of. I been fueled off that since high school, so I love that. I love to prove people wrong and this guy, he's not big enough, then I'm going to put on weight and the keep the same speed.

I feel like being doubted, this whole team we have been doubted all year and we found a way. We found a way to prove people wrong.

(No microphone.) Gotta do it.

(No microphone.) Yeah, it's a lot going on, I believe none of our guys are going to get ahead of ourselves. We have been 3 9, we know we still got a business trip, this team is very hungry. We gotta do this.

(No microphone.) That we have one of the best college coaches in football. And we responded from last year, he says that every day. We had a bad period in practice, we're going to find a good way to respond. A lot of success comes from Coach Malzahn and the rest of the staff here today because their attitude is a winning attitude.

(No microphone.) Makes me feel good. Of course I didn't win it but, you know, now I have to play with another chip on my shoulder. Make people believe that I should have received it. I feel like since I didn't get it, I just – who knows? I gotta play with a chip on my shoulder.

(No microphone.) Me and Jameis are friends; that's not going to change, no matter if we're playing each other or not we're going to continue to be friends on and off the field. It's going to be fun playin' him. I wish him the best of luck in the game also. I'm just lookin' forward to playin' it.

(No microphone.) That's going to be a great experience. It's just a blessing to be here and I'm looking to, you know, put on a show with my brothers.

(No microphone.) Jay is a big brother to me. He protects me, he's going to find a way for me to be successful and I'm going to find a way for him to be successful. We are going to fight with each other every day and he's a key role and it does change when he's not in there. Look at him! He looks like the Hulk. He moves everything in his way!

(No microphone.) Plenty, it's plenty. I mean, I can't really say. There is plenty of times he opened up wide holes.

(No microphone.) A lot of these guys are self motivated and we are focused, because we know we can't be not focused, because that would cause us to lose and we know what it feels like to be 3 9 and have a losing season. We learned a lot from last year.

(No microphone.) Oh, yeah, we feel like we done came too far. We're so hungry that we done made it this far, why not finish it off? We didn't come all this way to turn around and lose so we didn't come this far to lose.

What did you learn from your father? Stay humble and hungry and don't let anyone tell you you can't do anything. Playin' around -- he said he picked up a fair turntable that's six year old, people told him to cut it off and I picked up a football, he never stopped me. Dreams can take you a long way. Nothin' wrong with being a dreamer.

(No microphone.) Not even close to my Pops.

You were talking earlier about people doubting you. Talk about the running against teams people thought you couldn't do it against, you ran against Missouri and you ran against Alabama. Talk about that. You do what you doin'. People doubting us all year, said we couldn't do certain things and we ignore it. I have so much confidence in my 'O' line, Reese Dismukes, Greg Robinson, Avery Young, Alex Kozan, Jay Prosch, those guys are going to find a way to get the job done, and that's their mind set and that's my mind set. I don't care if you put 13 people on the field, we gonna find a way to get it done.

(No microphone.) It's a blessing to be a part of that group. I came in with the same mind set, saying that I wanted to be the best, you know, one of the best if not the best running back to come through Auburn or college football. It's just a blessing to be part of that group of people. What kind of legacy am I going to leave while I'm here?

(No microphone.) Bo's like my uncle. He gives me tips all throughout the game. He's there every step of the way.

Talk about the preparation that you had out here in California. We prepared like we are in Auburn. We are be the going to let things distract us and the rest of my team is still focused.

Is there concern with the layoff? The running game, blocking, how concerned are you guys with layoff? We are not concerned at all. We have been focused even with the time off. We have been conditioning and doing everything we need to do to stay mentally locked in and physically ready.

Practice as usual in the last few weeks? Just regular practice. We gonna continue doin' what got us here.

(No microphone.) Feels good to create a spotlight of my own. I didn't want to always live in my dad's shadow. I wanted to create a spotlight of my own and he's always pushed me to do that. He always said to become your own stuff. He told me it's okay to dream and once you dream and you got your eye on something, go get it.

(No microphone.) I guess the numbers are the place where I'm supposed to be. I'm not going to brag or boast, I will let the numbers speak and put me where I'm supposed to be.

Do you dream about holding that crystal trophy?

Oh, yeah, since day one. I've been dreamin' since before I came to college about holding that crystal ball up. I'm a dream catcher.

Did you think back in August that was a real possibility? Hey, I believed. It was just a matter of me being the leader and getting everybody else to believe with me. I believe those guys bought in, you know, with Coach Malzahn, what he instilled in me. You gotta believe.

People call you a 'team of destiny' do you like that term? Hey, I know we're a team of hard work, I know that. These guys put a lot of hard work in with me every day, blood, sweat and tears all year long.

(No microphone.) You know, yeah, I know they left three linemen in there but that was their plan and they stuck with their plan, and we stuck with ours and that's to continue to run the ball.

(No microphone.) Yeah, you know, it was a good day for me and also my 'O' line. Those guys, Jay Prosch, and my receivers on the edge, you know, they found a way. No what are the what tricks they put in front of them those guys found a way to identify who they had to blow.

(No microphone.) They're very fast. They're a physical defense and they're very smart. It's going to be a great game and a great challenge. We have been doubted all year, people saying we can't run the ball against teams like Georgia, Alabama, Missouri. Tennessee. A lot of people said we couldn't run the ball. So we just lookin' forward to doing what we need to do.

(No microphone.) We have a lot of formations but what makes it work is the mind set of our players. Our 'O' line moves people out of the way. We don't run too many tricks, misdirections and things like that. We just gonna run the ball right at you.

(No microphone.) He has to go through his reads and sometimes it's not even a read it's if he feels he can get around the end so he does his thing.

(No microphone.) Yeah, I expect that I'll get the ball every play.

(No microphone.) I feel like there is a chance for a shoot out. They have a high powered offense but so do we. We both have great defenses and that's what helped us get here today.

(No microphone.) That is shocking, but like I said, I worked very hard with these guys on my team, these brothers around me that – I worked very hard with them in the off season. We feel like we earned getting here. We earned it.

(No microphone.) Yeah, that gave us – made me feel that we have a shot at it all because that's a very good team, Texas A&M is a very good team. At that time they had the best player in college football. We found a way to stop him at the end of the game and we put up a lot of yards against them. I feel like that was the game where we felt like we had a chance to go pretty far.

(No microphone.) They get a lot of credit. I give them so much credit because I imagine if I didn't have those five guys in front of me, what would it be like, if I had the ball without those guys in front of me. Those boys get a lot of credit because they get the job done and then I have to do my job.

(No microphone.) You how fast they are, it's a physical defense. They've done something right to get them to this point, so that's going to be the biggest challenge of how fast they are.

Tell me your emotions once you step out on the field and your expectations? My expectations are always high. My expectation is for everyone to do their job, execute, do the things we have to do and have no turnovers. You have to expect and believe that you're going to be holding up that crystal ball at the end of the game for that to happen.

(No microphone.) Of course you have to get better every day and every practice. We have to play our best football that we have played all year for us to win. That's a very good football team and we have to execute the things they have been doing.

Talk about the confidence level. We're confident as a team. We don't doubt ourselves against anyone because you have to have confidence going into the game. If you have the game lost in your mind, it's going to be lost in real life.

Talk about what has been the most exciting part of being here in California. I love the weather here. I will have a real great time holding up the crystal ball.

What wanted you to be great? I wanted to be great, I came in as a freshman saying I wanted to be one of the best running backs to come through Auburn or through college football. I just wanted to be great.

(No microphone.) Oh, yeah.

(No microphone.) It started with Coach Malzahn coming back and changing the attitude around here. A lot of guys were motivated from being 0 8 in the SEC and 3 9. A lot of those guys were motivated so it started with Coach Malzahn coming back, changing everybody's mind set and believing. You gotta believe. We knew we were going to be good but we didn't know we were going to be in a National Championship, so we started to believe.

(No microphone.) It's fine but I feel like, you know, we work real hard to get to where we are at today. All my brothers around here, they fought with me, the blood, sweat and tiers through the off season, still going on through the season, fighting to get into the position we are in today. I know we are a team of hard work.

(No microphone.) I have. I still haven't gotten my evaluation -- well, I haven't checked. God willing it's something good.

(No microphone.) I'm not an expert. I let the numbers do the talking. I try to perform on game day.

(No microphone.) I know Coach has my back. He's a great running back coach, he's a great person, he's going to be honest with you, you know, and he's not going to hold you back. If it's best for me to leave this year, that's what he would have me do. I'm going to wait until after this game to make my decision.

(No microphone.) They are going to be a great running back core. If I had to say anything, me and Cam talk about it all the time. He's probably skillwise the best out of all of us.

Really? Yeah, that guy is good. He's consistent when we're scrimmaging and everything, he's very consistent.

(No microphone.) I know when we were back in Auburn we were still running. After practice we ran gases and sprints and things like that to stay in shape. We know how it was going to be. Our practice has always been very fast, very high tempo so that helps us keep in shape. We know how bad we want it. Our practices have always been high temp, so that helps us stay in shape.

(No microphone.) I don't like to trash talk. That's fine. A lot of things have been said all season. I'm not going to talk trash about anything, because whoever we play we respect our opponent. You know, we're confident, you have to be confident, you have to believe you're going to win to win.

If you think you're going to lose then you might as well not even go to the game.

Jameis Winston said he wanted to bring that 'swag' back, for Florida State. Did you do that for Auburn? Yeah, we got the 'swag' back, you step on the field with that 'swag' good things happen.

What are you most excited about? Playing against a lot of people from my hometown. I had made a lot of trips to Talle in the summer, 'cuz it's not too far down the road from Auburn, and a lot of my friends play at Florida State so it's going to be fun playin' against them, a lot of high school friends, so that's going to be fun.

Your girlfriend is from Tallahassee, isn't she? She is from Palm Beach, but she is living in Tallahassee right now.

Oh, who is she rooting for, you? Yeah. (Chuckles).

(No microphone.) Excuse me?

(No microphone.) That's a very explosive offense but we feel like we're the same, high powered. We feel like we can score when we touch the ball. That's a very good football team. I do have confidence in my defense. Not sayin' they're going to get scored on evey time, so who knows.

(No microphone.) I was in disbelieve. I was on the field with the Georgia catch, by Ricardo, and that was an incredible play. Without that catch, we probably wouldn't be here today. We were up by 20 at one point in the game, but we got complacent and let them back in the game and that's another thing we learned from, we can't do that, gotta play all four quarters.

(No microphone.) Two weeks later, another thing happens like that, Chris Davis takes that field goal and we knew it had a chance to miss but we didn't know it was going to stay inbounds, and God's blessing that the ball fell into the right man's hands.

(No microphone.) At that time I couldn't believe that happened. We never practiced that. Now, since that happened, we practice it now. Never know when it can happen again.

Does that mean God doesn't like Alabama and Georgia? That's not what it means. I just feel like we worked hard and we have players on this team that can make those plays.

Was there any question in your mind that Michigan State was going to beat Ohio State? When you were watching that game and knew you needed Michigan State to win to get to the National Championship? I knew God was on our side. I had a feeling. We worked hard. We put a lot into it and a lot came out, so I had some confidence in Michigan State.

(No microphone.) Anything. I don't care if I have to go outside or inside. I try to be dangerous. I don't want to leave myself as an inside runner or an outside runner. I try to do it all.

How does your body feel? It feels good. It's going to feel good until the game is over. I'm ready to go, time to play.

Will you carry the ball 40 times? I have no clue. Whatever happens, happens.

Are you doing anything to prepare specifically with regards to them or is it just about you getting sharper and better? We're not going to change much up. We are game planning for them, also, you have to game plan for a team.

We're going to do what got us here and that's continuing to practice the way we've been practicing, continuing to get better every day. We're not going to change much up because we're going to find a way. What we have been doing has got us to this point.

Was the Heisman experience a good one? It was a great experience, being looked at as one of the best players in the country.

(No microphone.) Oh, yeah. We don't care if you play 13 people, 14 people on the field, you know, those 'O' linemen, Jay, Brandon, they gonna find a way, they're going to find the blocks.

(No microphone.) At some point, but, you know, sometimes Reece just identifies certain things. They find a way to block 'em all up. It's not just about a scheme, playing together, Nick making a right read. If he feels he can get around an edge he pulls it. Maybe he's supposed to give it to me but he will pull it because he feels he can get around the edge.

I would say it's team work and chemistry.

(No microphone.) He's a great player. Reece makes all the right calls. I rarely see Reece make the wrong call and even if he does, they still find a way to get the job done. He finds somebody to block, we don't care if you're on the right person or the wrong person as long as you're blocking at 100%.

Team of destiny, how do you look at that? We feel like we have been called – we have been doubted, people say we're lucky, but we feel like we worked for it. These guys on my team, we fought since the off season, blood, sweat and tears, these guys putting a lot of work in. What you put into it is what you're going to get out of it.

Talk about Coach Malzahn. He has a winning attitude, a Christian guy and I love playing for Coach Malzahn. He has changed guys' attitudes and you have to believe it. You have to want to get better every day.

What was your first impression when he came in? I knew what to expect because I had him my freshman year and Coach Malzahn expects nothing but excellence. He expects the best out of you every day and, you know, to see if you're willing to get better every day.

Was there anything different about him from when he was coordinator to when he was head coach? I knew that things were going to work out. Since he's the head man he gets to call the shots and what plays he wants to call so now he gets to run the offense the way he wants to run it.

What makes the offense successful? Everywhere he's been he's put up ridiculous numbers, throwing, rushing, whatever. I feel he finds a way to break down the defense. He finds your tendency and your weak spots.

Was there a particular game that you realized you could do what you have done this year? At what point did you say, we're going to make a run at the National Championship with the numbers we have? There was a lot of belief. We were clicking as an offense and I know the month of November, that's a rough stretch for us. We got all pretty much SEC teams, ranked teams, top 5 teams so I had to turn it up a notch and be consistent. That's one of the main things, being consistent. If I put up 160 a game, I had to be consistent. I had to find a way to win. If my team is looking at me as a play maker, I have to be the one to make the plays. So I feel like consistency is key. And my 'O' line, they're consistent. Those guys are – they seem to be fearless.

(No microphone.) Oh, yeah, of course. A couple of us have to be the leaders of the offense like Nick, Reece, Greg, and me and Sammy. You have to be a leader of your position, first.

(No microphone.) I would say the Alabama game, because they were talked about it being the number one defense in the country at that time and my team found a way to get a win. We did it in a nice way. My 'O' line did their job and gave us confidence in our run game.

What impresses you most about Florida State's defense, particularly the rushing defense? that's a physical defense and they're very fast. They have a lot of speed in all their positions on defense so that's what impresses me the most.

(No microphone.) It's amazing how he's progressed since he got here because he got here pretty late. He didn't get the spring to get comfortable with things. He came right in and just played off of skill. He started to sharpen skills and get a lot better and now he's a key role in the offense. A lot of things wouldn't be possible without him. He has that big play, that threat he has about himself. He carries himself with a swagger.

Kind of a freak as an athlete? Yeah, he's a freak of an athlete. I seen him play on the basketball court, put the ball between his legs and dunk it, crazy things. Me and him had a dunk contest before, so he's a great basketball player and a great football player.

I knew he was going to expect excellence but now that he's the head coach, his attitude, right when he came in, he told us that we were going to have the biggest turn around in college football. We knew it was going to take hard work but we were willing to because we were 3-9. We were willing to do whatever it took. We all bought in and we were sold on want to go win.

(No microphone.) You know I say it starts from – I pick two because the LSU game we were down by a lot and we found a way, we kinda found a way to put ourselves back in the game.

We learned how to play – we learned how to play on the road, play in bad weather, you know, and just play from behind. Then the Texas A&M game made me start to believe that, you know, we have a real shot at this. We executed well on special teams, offense, and defense at the end of the game.

At that time we were playing the best football player in college football.

Tre, how important is it to keep their offense off the field? We just have to, you know, execute and do what we have to do. That's a very good offense. They're going to find a way to score. They're going to find a way to do the things they have to do. There is no 'doubt' in them.

When you go up against a great offense, do you have to emphasize staying on the field? We don't manage the crowd. We run a fast paced offense so the time of possession doesn't matter to us. We try to score fast. Our whole edge is being very fast paced.

(No microphone.) It would be good to get up early and keep the lead.

Do you think they're the best rushing defense? I can't say that. I don't know how they're going to be. I seen on film they're a very good defense but I can't tell them that's the best we have played because we haven't played them yet.

(No microphone.) I would say Alabama.

(No microphone.) Uh huh.

(No microphone.) Uh huh. They run close to the same scheme as Alabama on defense.

Is it an advantage for you if it's a tight game since you're used to those close fourth quarters? Coach doesn't always tell us – he says if we get down to the end we're going to win. We have been in close games down to the wire. And we found a way to pull out amazing wins. Who knows how the game unfolds.

What is it about this team other than the head coach that you guys don't panic in close situations? It starts from Nick, how poised of a player he is. He's poised, calm and so am I. I feel like our whole offense, we're calm. There is no reason to stress. Once you stress, you will start doin' things you don't want to do, freakin' out and panicking. So you stay calm, do what you supposed to do, execute the offense.

(No microphone.) I credit Coach Russell a lot for that. He's changed it up. Our workout and lifting schedule is just like our offense, very fast paced tempo, cardiovascular. If you had to run two feet to the next thing you have to run that, there is no walking in there! That pays off with us being in shape, cutting body fat and guys being in the best shape they have ever been.

(No microphone.) We're still lifting heavy. People breaking records in the weight room, personal records in the weight room during season. I've never seen that happen before and this is the first year it's ever happened. When someone breaks a record in our weight room we have this big bell in there and you gotta ring it. We have heard that numerous times throughout this season.

(No microphone.) Uh huh. Just, you know, who is coming out this year. I had a very good year this he year thanks to the rest of my team.

I had a very good year this year, and I have to do what's best for my future. I don't know what that decision is going to be yet. I've been thinking about it, talking to my family about it. I will make that decision after the game.

Last year we were 3 9, I had 1,000 yards last season but that didn't matter to me. At one point, you know, we were just playing for pride and you have to play for something being 3 9 and that was my mantra, you know, just do what I have to do. I wanted to play in the NFL so having a 1,000 yard season in that season, that was just a goal of mine. Then having a season like this, back to back 1,000 yard seasons, and it's like 1600 now. It's a goal of mine, to get better and better.

(No microphone.) I did.

(No microphone.) Probably. I haven't checked. I wasn't focused on that right now. I have, though.

(No microphone.) A whole lot. That guy, he's a heartbeat of the team. He makes a lot of great plays. He's very good on his feet. He has a strong arm but he's calm and poised.

That rubs off on everybody else. We have 30 seconds left in the game and he's still calm. That rubs off on a lot of people and that gave us confidence and knowing, yeah, he's good at what he does.

Having him run, do you feel like it's opened up your game? Yeah, of course, you have to respect his feet. You have to respect his feet and his arm. If you don't then good luck to ya.

When he first got there did you have any doubts about him? No, I feel like Coach Malzahn makes the right decisions, bringing Nick in. I knew that he had – there was something right that's going on and what Malzahn's thinking. I feel like it was a good decision.

Did you see Nick as a quarterback right away? Yes, I did. I knew he had a very strong arm.

TEAMMATE: How are you enjoying California? I love being with you boys.

TEAMMATE: Love being with you. Ready to get after it? I'm ready to play.

TEAMMATE: That's good. How does it feel hanging out with these guys for so long? Oh, it's real fun! I live with him for a very long time. It's rough living with him.

TEAMMATE: It's rough living with you, you don't do chores. Take out the trash every now and then, that's all I ask! He's 6 6, 260, there is no wrestling with him.

TEAMMATE: Take out the trash! I'm lazy!

(No microphone.)

TEAMMATE: See, there is a restaurant called In N Out. I think we could go there. You know what? I believe you should not ask for – I believe you're very new, you have all the nutrients you need, looking at your body I believe you have all the nutrients you need. I don't believe you need no burgers.

(No microphone.) He is like my brother. He does his job and he does it very well. He is the Hulk. That's what I call him.

(No microphone.) It's a reward to him. He lost his mom last season and he's been playing in honor of her since. I'm very proud of him and I'm happy to have him here, of course.

(No microphone.) We rallied around him, just being his brother. You have to lift up your brothers when they down and that's what we did as a team.

Quoting Florida State ... VIZIO BCS National Championship Game (Opponent: Auburn)
Media Day: Head Coach Jimbo Fisher (Sat., Jan. 4) | Printable version (.pdf)
JIMBO FISHER AUDIO

We're very excited to be here, very thankful to be here, and I can say this trip, I want to say to Vizio and the National Championship Game, it has been a tremendous, tremendous experience. It's been nothing but first class, everything has been done right, great facilities to practice at, everything. It's been a tremendous, tremendous atmosphere for us, environment. This has been a long process for us. This has been a four year process that we started building the program and bringing it back, and we were preparing for this opportunity and I'd like to thank Coach Bowden for all of his support and all the folks at Florida State for allowing us to have the resources as we continue to grow in those resources by allowing us and our program to continue to grow in what we're doing.

The thing I'd like to thank, though, too, is a lot of players to me in the past four years have been very influential in getting us here, also, not just this football team. We've had some great leaders from Christian Ponder to Nigel Bradham, Bjoern Werner, E.J. Manuel, Chris Thompson, Lonnie Pryor, Xavier Rhodes. This has been a tremendous amount of players here that, to me, have set the groundwork and the standard for our guys of how to work, how to develop, and I think a lot of the leadership of our football team right now comes from those guys. The examples they set, the precedents they set ahead of themselves for this team, and those guys to me are just as big a part of this as anybody else and all the guys that played for us in the last three, four years.

In our program everybody was saying to you everybody wants instant gratification. I was interested in building a program. You can have great teams and teams can come and go, but programs reload every year and can come back every year and that's what I was very interested in building, a team that was comprehensive, that can withstand different things that happen and be able to reload each year and set a standard for how we want to play as a program. We have expectations at Florida State. We embrace them. But to do that you have to build a foundation and a core that doesn't falter, just like building a house. You can have a pretty house but if it's on a bad foundation, it can come and go. We want to be very solid on how we did things. Sometimes that takes time, but very proud of where we're at and what we're doing.

We've changed our training methods and things we do are different. We do a lot of technological things, a lot of training things that are different, that are a little bit off the cuff, but I think it's very influential in our injury situation and our player development and our mental conditioning on how we've been able to develop our guys and I think that's what gets you ready for these moments. I think that's very critical because to me the thing you have to build, if you want to be a program, is consistency. Great programs have great consistency, and to me right now that's the hard thing to do in today's time, develop consistency over a long period of time. It's very hard, and you have to have patience, but you also have to be great selflessness where you are a team oriented guy. And I think that's what our players are now realizing, that they're not selfish players, and in the return, they're getting a lot of individual awards, they're getting drafted, they're going where they want to go and they're becoming great people, and I think that's been very critical in our development. Because I've said this all the time, we're a very talented football team, extremely talented, but in my opinion we have better kids on our team than we do players, and I think that's been the key to our success. Our guys really like each other, like being around each other and we try to always try to stay on the cutting edge of being able to develop things, like the old adage, you don't have to be sick to get better, and we try to do things that step out, or are a little bit different, and it has paid off for us in what we've done.

Like I say, we expect the expectations, we expect to be here are and I truly believe this, I don't believe we've played our best football game. I really don't. I think our best football game is still out there and hopefully it'll come on Monday night. I've liked the way we've practiced, I've liked the way we've prepared. I think we're in a great mental state of mind. I think we're very healthy physically and we're looking forward to Monday night.

Coach, can you talk a little bit about the focus? Extremely business like. That's the way we handle everything. This team, it can compartmentalize about as well as any team I've ever been around as far as when it's time to work, it's time to work, then when we're off, we're off. It focuses and understands the big picture of the organization and what we want and our kids have been very professional about how they went about it.

How much of a difference does it make when you go from playing in a Champ's Sport Bowl to a National Championship? Well, it does. It shows people that you're growing and that you're going to be on that big stage, and kids want to play in that atmosphere and environment, and then you also see the player development. We have great kids. Last year we had 11 players drafted, more than anybody. They all had degrees.

They're developing and getting opportunities in the NFL, they're graduating, so they're playing in big games. All that to me goes hand in hand for being able to recruit the right kind of guys in your organization.

Jimbo don't take this the wrong way but you look a little tired. Has it been a long thirty days? Has it been a long week? Hey, every football coach at the end of a season is extremely tired. Right now we're trying to do a bowl game and you're trying to recruit, but that's standard for the business. I frankly got more sleep out here than I have all year. The three hour time change, I'm ready to go to bed about 7:00 and been able to get some rest. That's part of this. To me this is an elimination process. The mental toughness, the grind that goes on in a season for coaches and players, that's why there's one champion at the end. If it was easy, everyone would do it. We're fortunate enough to be here.

You got to have tremendous respect for your opponent, Auburn? Oh, we do. Auburn is a great program. I've coached there, I know it. They're in a great league. They have great coaches. I know a lot of their coaches, I know a lot of their players because you're recruiting. They're a tremendous program, a great program, and it's going to be a great ballgame on Monday.

Can you talk about learning from past situations? Well, I think the more situations you're in, hopefully you learn from every situation you're in, everything that happens on the field, off the field, how you handle guys, how you handle players, how you handle administration, how you handle adversity as far as injuries, things like that, and coaches, what you're allowing each coach to do and as each coach on your staff grows, the growth you allow him to have and the independence you allow him to have in your organization. But that goes with trust, and I think that's where as coaches we all grow. I think I've learned to trust more because I've been around our guys more, our players and our coaches, and I think just in the delegation of things, I think because now I think everyone in the organization knows the standard and the way we want things done.

You said you do a lot of things outside the box, would you be doing these things if you hadn't seem them done successfully before? Yeah, I mean, some of these things I've even adjusted here, but a lot of the things that we did came from there, the mental conditioning issues. He and I, like I say, when it first came there and it was different and we grew from it, and it was tremendous, it opened my eyes to a lot of things. But we've even expanded from that on some times that I don't even think they're doing right now, it's a matter of training and different things that are going are. I think we always want to stay on that cutting edge, but I think it did open my eyes that it's more than what's on the field. It's more than Xs and Os if there is an off field thing. To me that's maybe more critical than what goes on on the field because if you can get them right off the field, the on the field things become much easier.

Can you give me an example of some of those things? Like how we train with our GPS system right now and our training and how we can actually judge player loads and the maximum speeds they run at so we can adjust and judge each player's practice. We have individual practice, how many reps a guy gets in a practice, how many reps our team gets. – How we adjust practice on Monday, on Friday, on Thursday, from the different – it's a component, I think we're one of the only teams in the country that do, that allow – and then you know why we're injury free the last two years? You have a knee injury or a shoulder that's one thing, but we have very few pulls, strains, those kind of things because we are able to monitor our players much better.

Obviously you guys want to win Monday night, what are you scoring goals? We just want to play well. I'm not concerning myself with the scoreboard. Our goal is to play better each game and grow as a team, and then grow as that game and play it one play at a time. We'll live with the results when they're over. We need to play well. If we want to win, we need to play well, need to keep preparing well right now and need to play well.

How ready is this team leading up to this game? I feel very confident we're ready. I think we've practiced extremely well and I like our mindset and our attitude right now. I think we're very confident in what we do but we're not arrogant. I think our kids believe in the system and the team we have, there's not a lot of arrogance where they're ignoring things and not preparing at the same time, and I think that's very critical.

How has Jameis handled himself in practice? Jameis looks like he did right back when we were getting ready to play Pitt. He's excited but you see a guy who grinds and works affecting his teammates extremely well.

Do you think ACC is right up there with the SEC? I think it definitely does, and I think you go look, we talk about the ACC, you look at first round draft picks, draft picks, the SEC and the ACC are the top two. There's five other conferences that don't have the quality of players that we have. We question the ACC, so I don't know where that comes from. You look at the draft boards over the last 10 years. Look at the first round picks, the players in the Pro Bowl, the whole thing. The ACC is putting out as many as anybody. I think what Duke and Clemson – we have a great conference, we have great coaches, and like I say, I think we're one of the best conferences in the country.

What did you see from Coach Damien? Yeah, I did, because I think he had passion for the game, and I think to be a coach you have to have passion for the game.

From what you see in Jeremy Pruitt? If he hadn't been a coordinator in college would you have put him in that spot? Well, I knew Jeremy from before. I knew his background. I've watched him coach in high school. I knew, I had talked to folks at Alabama, I knew what they thought of him, and then what I sat down and interviewed him, and then the answers – not only the answers he had for the questions, but how he went about it, his poise, his presence, how he presented himself, to me I thought it was a no brainer. Now, he has to go out and perform, but I knew the sky would be the limit, and he didn't do things quite as well this year as we want. I knew he would quickly, because I think he's a very smart guy, and the game means a lot to him and he's very natural coaching and he understands it.

What's impressed you the most about Jameis and how he has handled everything he's been through this year? The maturity and the consistency. It's hard for old guys to be consistent, let alone young guys, and he eliminated the clutter as far as controlling what he can control in the moment, and that's a very hard thing to do for a young guy.

You said there was a moment you told him he would be the starter. What did he show you up until then that showed you he could handle it? Well, the consistency. I look for consistency in players. You have flashes, you have talent, you have flashes of greatness or a day or so, but the thing he did over all things to me as a young player, every day he was the same guy and was very consistent on how he did things.

How do you think Auburn has succeeded? Be fundamentally sound and do things right. If you're fundamentally sound, get great angles, get your guys where they need to be, you handle those things.

Are people underselling these players by focusing on the miracles? They got them all predicting to beat us, so I don't think anybody is – they've got them as the team that's going to win the game, so I don't think people are underselling them at all.

What does it mean to Auburn? Nothing. James Coley had it, too.

You seem reserved to talk about Damien? No. I just answered the question. No. James is a great coach, a great guy, I coached him, was a great player, tremendous guy, was one of the best players I've ever coached, very good guy, very good player. I think he'll be a great coach for a long time, good recruiting, good coach, everything.

What about Rick Trickett? He's like the standard old school coach? He is. It's fundamentals. It's like let's go and win this game, fundamentals. Blocking, tackling. That's what you've got to remember. It's still a football game, and those old guys like that understand that, been in those wars, been in those trenches, those are the guys you want so your kids will be ready to play.

Talk about your evolution as a coach. No, I didn't, and it's amazing to me the things that affect kids, that affect the quality of how they play, how they think, and I think that today – the distractions and clutter for these kids today is ten fold to what it ever was when I played. It's different than it was 10 years ago. I think the more you can hone them in and understand what to do and show them that this is beneficial. And kids are no different than anything else, like y'all, if you think it's beneficial to you and your job, you do it. It's the same way with them. If you can prove that you're doing something that maybe somebody else isn't or doing something as good or better, and it makes their trust and belief in you go up, and to me that's the key. The trust between coach and player and player and coach.

Can you talk about your time at Auburn? That was a great time. I was 27 years old. I didn't know I didn't know. Just going to coach. Undefeated the first year, we recruited well, had great times there, great people, it was a great place to live. It was one of the funnest times of my career. It was a great place, and a lot of great friends that I still carry from there.

What kind of things did you learn that you've carried from there to here? I think understanding in recruiting and that SEC at that time, how I'd say dog eat dog it is and how when you're really out on the road, you have to work at it and it's a year round thing. You have to develop the relationships football wise and how close and how physical the game really is and how many good players are out there and that you don't know everything. What you have to do is that fundamentals are more critical now than schemes. Schemes. You have to have schemes, but everybody is good, everybody knows things, everybody had good coaches. You have to get the mental side of the game. There was a lot of things in that way that we just continued to groom.

How important is it to be confident with where you are right now? Oh, no doubt. I think we feel very confident where we're at like I say but not arrogant, and we'll continue to have another great preparation today, but I love where we're at right now.

Can you talk about when you first started at Florida State? You added a bunch of student coaches? Talk about that? I mean, the infrastructure of the program, to me there's three phases. There's recruiting, there's player development, and then there's coaching the games, and I think we all recruit and we all see the games, but to me the player development from January to August is the most critical thing, and then you've got to carry it through the season. But developing the identity – a team only has a one year life expectancy. That group of guys will never be together more than one year, so it has to develop its own identity, its own attitude, its own work ethic, and you have to do that within a culture that understands how they can be successful. I think the off the field issues from how they eat, how they sleep, how they train, how they go to school, how they have tutors, I mean every facet of their life, you have to have an organizational plan for, because it develops their attitude and their character, and to me when you can get that right, then the on the field things become much, much easier, and it also goes into recruiting, that if you can as much as you can make sure you're recruiting those guys that have those certain common beliefs and goals when you're recruiting, not only talent – now you can't always do it because the guys have choices and you're not going to get everybody you want – but you try to recruit guys, and I think that's one of the keys to our football team, our team actually likes each other because I think they're a similar group of guys.

Is there some pressure that just goes along with this matchup? You're in the National Championship Game. There's pressure, but there's pressure in anything you do. There's pressure in the ACC Championship Game. There's pressure on the road at Clemson. There's pressure playing in Miami. There's pressure playing every game. That's just part of our world that we have to deal with and we have to forget about that and focus on just playing the football game.

We're from Miami. I know you have 19 guys on your roster from South Florida. Talk about how important they are. South Florida football to me is, if not the best, one of the best areas in America that you recruit. Coaching players down there, great athletes, great guys that football means a lot to them, and that South Florida area has been very critical in our development at Florida State and hopefully always will be. I think it's one of the best areas in the country to recruit.

Talk about the bond they have. They do. There's a certain bond once you get below that West Palm Beach area that those guys – they kind of carry that bond and pride that we play a different brand of football, and whether they do or not, they believe it, and those guys are very tight knit.

Talk about the preparation since you've been here in California? Been great. We've got a great practice facility. The facilities have been great. Our guys have had three outstanding practices since we've been here. You almost have to say whoa a little bit but they're practicing at a high level. Execution is at a high level along with the effort, so I've been very pleased.

Treating it like a business trip? Oh, without a doubt. This team knows how to eliminate clutter and turn it on and turn it off.

Is there a little bit of a sigh of relief knowing that you have Jameis out there on the field since he did win the Heisnman and all? Well, yeah. I mean, to say our guy is the Heisman Trophy winner as a freshman, there's only been two of them, I would say he definitely has as far as you know he's going to be good, but to do it at the consistent level he has has been tremendous.

He had his issues off the field, did that affect the mentality of the team at all? Well, unfortunately it is when there's allegations and not charges, and we blow them up into things that we assume, and I think the media needs to take a step back sometime when there's not charges and be very diligent about how you report and say things. I think there's a responsibility on y'all's behalf because you can taint someone without even charges being made that I think is very critical and wrong at times.

Are you concerned with the rush factor at all? I think the way we practice it's been very good. I feel very confident where we're at.

How much do you load the box when you play against Auburn? That's a great question. How much do you load the box when you're playing against Auburn who's a very run oriented team? But that's a thing you've got to be careful of – the thing you have got to do is set your edges and then be able to make them defeat blockers inside but stay gap controlled, but at the same time Nick Marshall does throw that deep ball in post and it's going to be a lot of pressure on our corners and safeties to be able to read run pass and there's going to have to be some one on one situations. We're going to have to do that at times, but we're going to have to give him different looks and mix things up. Very good question.

Are you going to do any straight up blitzes? There will be pressures. We'll have to bring pressures. You're going to have to create different looks. Pressures also don't always mean you're trying to sack the quarterback, but it also can be blitz pressures to stop the run. There's also blitzes that handle run, blitzes that handle pass, and we'll be able to mix those in.

Will keep a spot on Nick Marshall the whole game? Yeah, Nick is critical to them. He creates a lot of big plays for them, so we probably will at times have to spy him. There's no doubt.

How hard was it to get Jameis out of Alabama? Oh, extremely hard, it really was. It's hard because of the pressure, but as far as his – you can ask him this, if he was more of a tailback, maybe that does. Auburn, they both come at him. But I think two things: One, Jameis likes what we do on offense. We've had a great tradition of developing quarterbacks over the years, from all the way back to the Auburn, LSU days. Like I said, there's only one guy that we've coached that hasn't played in the NFL since 1993, whether it was at Auburn, at LSU or Florida State, we had a great run of first rounders.

I think Jameis is a big picture thinker, where he wants to go, what he wants to do, and I think it takes a very strong minded young man to walk out of the state of Alabama, and I don't think it was doing any disrespect for them, but I think for his personal development he made a decision what was best for him, but it was very critical, it was very tough.

Are you concerned about the passing game? How do you combat that? Well, you practice with great intensity, and we go good on good every day, so we go good on good. We don't just do scout team work. We're good on good, passing, running, team, so we get the fastball look in the way we practice. Our passing game is very crisp right now.

How does your personality work with Jameis? He's goofy at times? Extremely well. That's the way he lets pressure off, and he has fun and enjoys it, but he's a very focused guy. He's a very driven guy. He's an extremely competitive guy. He and I are probably much more similar than we are different, extremely more similar.

It's been suggested that you've softened a little bit with him? No, it's not a softening. It's been a confidence. I have tremendous confidence in him, and when a coach has confidence in his player, he doesn't have – you push the buttons when you have to push them, but you you let them go when they have to go, and he understands when to do the things and be who he is, and I have tremendous confidence in him because I know how he prepares and how he competes.

Were you surprised at what happened to Alabama? I got to watch a little bit of it, yeah, because no one ever does that. But that's the thing about bowl games, you don't ever know. Teams have time to prepare, but Oklahoma is a very well coached team and a good team. Again, I don't know the inner workings of Alabama to know the team itself, but yeah, that was surprising.

Do you think they'll be back next season? Oh, no, they're back. They lost two games. Daggone guys. They've won three out of five National Championships. If that's not back, they're, what, 12 2 or 11 2, that's still a pretty good year. That's the thing about our society we forget, a player can be 11 2, 12 2, 10 3. That don't mean you've lost anything. Hey, other guys on scholarship out there, too.

(Inaudible.) A lot of beliefs early in my career when I was with him, opened my eyes to some different things in very critical – he and I have similar philosophies on things.

After seven years at LSU working for two different coaches? Both my kids were born in Baton Rouge. Tremendous place. We hadn't had a lot of success when we got there, they'd been 3 8, 2 9, and it was fun because when the program came back, those fans are as passionate as any in the country, and they have great facilities, great everything, but I developed a lot of great friends there, a lot of great players were able to coach there. To me that was a special time in my life, being able to coach there for seven years and under two great guys, Nick was tremendous, Les, we had two great years with Les and had great success and were able to move on, and without those guys, you wouldn't be in the position you are, and LSU was very critical in my development as a coach and one of my favorite places I've ever been.

How are the players on your team right now? Players right now are very confident, loose but not arrogant, they're preparing well, practicing well. I've been extremely pleased with our practices since we've been here.

Does it bother you that coaches are always looking to move on? Yeah, I mean, but that's our society. Like you ask coaches, well, if we don't win as many games, you want us to move on, don't you? It's a give and take. It's funny how fans say you're being disloyal. Well, as soon as you win 10 games or 11 games and you're not winning 13, we don't want him anymore, we want somebody else. It's the nature of the business, it's what it is, and that's why I don't comment. I don't believe in commenting out there on other jobs and other people. It's disrespectful to the teams, and like I say, I'm happy in the job I have, I have a great job, I love being where I'm at, and we'll be here because no matter what I say or anybody says, your guys are going to write what you want and I don't mean that as disrespect to you, that's your job, that's your job to create news. I understand that.

How would you quantify the value of what you want out of your time as coach? Oh, it is. I mean, what you want out of it as a guy, as a coach. And also, it still is the administration and the school still willing to keep adding things so you can continue to grow. I think that's very critical. Once you get it set up, well, if you stop, somebody passes you up. You still have to have the forethought and you don't have to be sick to get better. You've got to continue to grow as an organization in things and have an administration and a school that understands that because as soon as you're either getting better or you're not. As soon as you quit getting better, people pass you by.

To me it's a whole organizational thing, not just a coaches' thing.

How do you get your team to react if you're behind during the game? I think it'll be great because we don't pay attention to the scoreboard. Scoreboard means nothing to us. When they start it's 0 0, so they're pretty close. I mean, it's been – we've just got to play each play. I'm not worried about the outcome of the game. What I'm worried about is the process of the game and how we play it and how well we play it, and we're just going to play one play at a time and ignore the scoreboard.

You quit football, can you talk about how your destiny might have changed had that not happened? Quit football, you mean what I went to college? I did. I loved all sports. I was on a baseball scholarship at Clemson. I was too young to be away from home, 17 years old, wanted to get homesick, wanted to get back, and the thing I did, it was funny but the thing I did, I had a plan when I did went back, that I did miss football. I went back to play it, Terry continued to recruit me. I don't think he ever stopped. It is funny how things go. But again, it was a choice I made, and it was a choice of leaving something but having a plan to go back to something. Sometimes when kids want to quit something, all right, where am I going? You know what I'm saying? I had I plan, I knew I wanted to go back, so it's funny but again, to me it was choices that I made and not your destiny.

I still believe this: If we're on the world, what do we work for every day? If God has already got your destiny laid out, just walk down the street and he'll direct you where to go. I think God puts you on the planet, on the world with an opportunity and you make decisions. Your destiny is truly determined by yourself. I truly believe that.

How did you feel when you went back ... You know, I was very happy and relieved, and when I went back and started playing, it fit. It was like a glove. I just was very content about what I was doing, very happy. I thought it was kind of a special time at Salem because we had a bunch of players transfer in and we got really good real quick. You ever just hit someone you feel very comfortable in what you're doing, what's happening, the people you're around, and I felt very comfortable about it.

(Inaudible.) He was the lead recruiter on Jameis.

How did you develop relationships with players as an assistant coach? Well, I mean, you develop – as assistant coaches you all develop relationships with the players you recruit because assistants get recruited more than the head coach because we're not allowed to come but one time, so every assistant on our team has special relationships with the guys they recruit because they spend large amounts of time with them. And then when he left, Jameis and – I called Jameis in because I let our quarterback coaches build that relationship and I have a very good relationship with them, but he and I for a long time we got back to like I was an assistant coach again. We hit it right off. I coached Damian, so it was a lot of things and beliefs he had came from where we came from. But they always had a bond. But that's life, you move on. And now he and Randy Sanders have tremendous bond along with myself.

Have you been getting closer with Jameis in the beginning of this journey? Well, we were very close anyway, but more on a day to day basis, on a daily basis day to day that sometimes you don't always get that opportunity to do as a coach. I took that role especially early until Randy got adapted and got around Jameis.

Jimbo, have you ever wondered how your career would have turned out differently if the Board of Trustees ... Again, somebody made a decision. You do, but it's funny, you look back, you could have went here, you could have went here. I try to make decisions based on where I want to be 10 years from now, and luckily I hate to say it, I'm glad they made that decision.

Coach, talk about the adversity your team has faced over the past month and how they have handled the press with Heisman week and afterwards. I think it brought them together. We have a team that really likes each other. I mean, I don't know if I've ever been on a team that likes each other as much as this team does. Whenever one of them has adversity, they rally to him, and I think it brought us – I think it even brought us tighter together because they rallied and supported, and then they saw how Jameis was very mature and didn't let his individual situation override all the team goals, that he still carried his responsibility to them, which I thought was very mature on both parts, and I think it made us grow as a team.

Talk about how your son's illness has affected you as a coach and how you have been able to get the word out about this disease Yeah, the situation and the Fanconi anemia, it hit me because we were coming off a great season, a 10 win season my first year, and everything was great and it's all about ball, it made me get back to reality and understand what's truly important, which this is very critical, and the player development and all the things you have as a responsibility, but as a father and as a husband, to me those are the most critical things, and I hope those are examples I can set as a coach that will show these guys life's not fair. Life doesn't care. I don't mean to be rude about that, but life has – throws those things at you control you or you control it.

I love my son more than anything in the world, but I'm not going to let that control me, and I'm going to do everything in my power and our power to save him and other children like him. I believe God gave us a platform, I really do, to speak not just for Ethan but the other kids who don't have this platform and be able to raise money and awareness for these kids. Hopefully being the head coach at Florida State can develop players but then save lives on top of that, I don't think there's a greater calling.

How has this senior class helped you get to this place? This senior class is very special to me. One of the first classes I ever recruited, like I say, the leadership of our team – everybody asks why our team has been so focused and we have a belief how to do reinforce what you believe as a coach it doesn't get anywhere LaMarcus and Telvin and Terrence Brooks and Christian Jones and Stork and Chad Abrams and Kenny Shaw. We have a tremendous group of seniors that every day they come to work and believe in everything we say, and they're fun to coach.

Have you felt that this was a team of destiny? Well, again, the destiny I don't believe it. I think you control your own destiny by what you do. I think this is a team that had a chance, was very focused. I felt after spring ball, I felt it in the camp by how they just came to practice every day.

Coach, offenses have limitations most of the time, can't throw it real well or run it in the opposite way. But, this offense doesn't seem to have limitations. What's it like as a coach to go to the bang whenever you want? Well, it's fun because I believe in balance. I don't believe in being totally spread out, and I don't believe in totally running the football, and I believe in diversity of – you can spread, but I think at times you've got to line up and bloody somebody's nose.

We have players that we recruited to that system, but our players have done a great job. Like you say, if you're a little bit off in the passing game, let's run it. If the running game is not going, you have to have two dimensions in my opinion to truly be a very good offense, and we're blessed. It's extremely blessed.

Brian Stork has said that Coach Trickett has mellowed recently, what do you think of that? I don't know if he's mellowed. I bet what's happened is he's got a lot of confidence in those guys and what they're doing. As coaches we mellow when guys do things right. We don't mellow when they do things wrong.

(Inaudible) That Coach Bowden did what Coach Bowden and he's who he is; one of the greatest guys who ever walked the sideline, one of my heroes, tremendous man, tremendous coach. But at the same time I'm not Coach Bowden. I didn't want to be Coach Bowden. I can't be Coach Bowden. The one thing I learned about the sensible coaches I've watched, they're who they are. They have their beliefs in how to do things. They're convicted to them. Whoever it is, even when there's doubters, I believe in things, smart enough to make changes, but they have to be themselves. That's the one thing I've always tried to do is I am going to be Jimbo. Whatever people think that is, I'm not going to try and imitate somebody else because I believe if you're a leader, people don't follow people who are fake, and I think people can realize and look into people's eyes, kids can, definitely, and see if you're not being genuine about how you do things, and I just want to be me.

I haven't thought about – I haven't worried about the results. I've worried about I believe this, this is what I'm going to do, and if we get the results, we get them. If not I'll make changes. I don't try to be Coach Bowden or Coach Saban or be anybody. I just try to be Jimbo.

Some say you and Coach Bowden are extremely different, how tough was that to be compared to Coach Bowden? It was tough in that you had to deal with it, but there's one thing my old man always told me: You be honest and you be genuine. They may disagree with you, but – and have a plan. This is the direction we're going, this is how we're going to do it, and by God that's what's going to happen. You go that way and you're honest and genuine, and then to me the consistency and people seeing – because I may say tomato, he may say tomato, I still believe our beliefs, Coach Bowden and I's, are more similar than they are different.

How confident does a guy have to be at 0-0? Hey, this world eats you up if you're not. The world eats people. You have to have confidence, you have to have belief, and that's where you've got to start, and if you're not, somebody else will have your job.

How are you different? I don't know. I guess that would be more of a question for y'all than it is for me. I think we believe the same things, but I don't know if our personalities – I don't know. I enjoy being around Nick. I like talking to him. I consider him a very good friend. But I think we believe the same, but I don't know – that's a good question. I'll tell you what, ask some of the people that worked with both of us. You'll get a better answer.

Can you talk about how coaches mellow when their players are going about the right thing? Did winning the championship last year give you that confidence? I think it gave our team and our organization confidence, I really do. I think that championship last year was very critical, and I think because until you win a championship, even if it's a Conference Championship, kids feel different, and they did afterwards. They told me, Coach, I understand now. There's a pride about them and a sense of I want more. They say, if I do this I can have these results.

And I think it was very critical in our development, and I just think I have confidence in our team and our staff. I'm very comfortable that things get done the right way, so it was a – as a boss less intense how I want things done, but the trust factors in players and coaches has grown in my opinion.

Why is that coach? Because of the consistency with which they're going about their business, and you see it day in and day out. If there's something wrong I'm going to correct it.

How do you try and keep the same message from that result? Well, I really believe this: This game is critical, but as our program grows, the result of that game is going to be more important how we play it than the result of it. If we play it right, the result will be good. I think it's critical how you handle these situations. This is another moment for us to step up, and I truly believe our program is on the rise. I think we're hitting things at full stride right now. I'm very comfortable where we're at. I'm not saying I don't want to win, but I don't know if the outcome of that game Monday is going to deter anything that's going on in our organization, I really don't. I don't say that because we definitely want to win, but I think we've hit things and we know how we want to do things, and I think the sky's the limit from here on out.

Auburn has had an amazing season. Does it add any pressure to your guys to say that you're playing a team that's destined to win? I don't believe in destiny. Destiny is by the decisions of the things you do on a day to day basis. You change your destiny by the decisions you make each day. We're going to play our game, Auburn will play their game. We'll see what happens.

Do you think that being a team of dominance, because you have beat teams by big margains, makes more pressure for you guys? No, it doesn't at all. We're going to play our game. The scoreboard doesn't matter to us. It's about playing well. We're not got to worry about the scoreboard. We're going to play each play and go about our business.

2 minutes left of the game and you guys are within a couple of pionts, 2 points 5 points. Is your team ready to be in a tight situation? No doubt we practice two minute against our defense every week. We practice those situations every week.

Jimbo, being as involved as you are in the offense, does that give you hold with the team because you have a direct line to the quarterback? Well, I think as a head coach you always need to have a direct line into your quarterback, and I think it does. And even if he wasn't directly involved with the offense, I'd still be very involved with the quarterback and the leaders of the defense. I think as a head coach you still have to be with the core leadership of your team, you have to be very tied into, and I am not just with him but other players on our football team.

Jimbo, can you talk about your relationship with Damian Craig ... Recruited him, coached him, gave him his first college job. He was a GA for us at LSU, hired him back at FSU, tremendous guy, tremendous coach, has a great future in the business. He was a tremendous player to coach, very competitive, excellent, big time player.

Recruiting wise, he got a lot of guys. How important was he in bringing key players to your program? He was critical. He did a great job recruiting as our whole staff did. We had a whole staff of good recruiters and do right now. But he is a very good recruiter.

What is it about his recruiting? I think he's just genuine and he works hard. He's a smart guy. He works very hard, and he's diligent and he's honest with what he does.

Has your relationship with him changed since he left? No, well, I haven't talked to him as much because he's working. We just don't get time to talk. But no, I still feel the same way about Damian.

It's your fourth year as a head coach and it seems that you have tweaked some things. How have you handled things? Hopefully we learn from our mistakes, things we do good and bad each year so we can repeat good things and correct bad things. Hopefully I have. Not just knowledge of the game but how you handle people, how you handle an organization, how you handle where you want your organization to go and be able to plan for the future better, all those things hopefully I've gotten better at.

Was there a turning point in your season that you realized that you felt good about this team? Well, that was a critical – I loved the way we handled – we were down 17 3, and our guys never blinked, came right back. But that was a critical point. But I've felt good about this team the whole year, I really have, even from camp. But I think being on the road there, I think that was a very critical time for us and how we handled that.

Auburn has put up a lot of points this season. How do you evaluate them as a team? Oh, I mean, they can still rush the passer, Ford and Gilbert up front, their linebackers can run, Chris Davis and those guys can run in the secondary, they can cover, Ellis Johnson is a heck of a coach. They're a very good football team, and they rotate a lot of guys up front. They only give up 24 points a game.

Jimbo, I didn't quite hear you when you talked about destiny. Well, I think you control your own destiny by the decisions you make each day. I didn't believe God put us on here and said this is your destiny. I think God gives you opportunities and by the decisions you make and how you go about your life, that is your destiny. I think you control your own destiny by the decisions you make daily.

Even on passes? Well, we had the bluegrass miracle when I was at LSU, and you know something, we practiced that every week. We practiced one from the 50, we practiced one from all the way back. We practiced for that moment, and two guys, which it happened in practice on that play, Michael Clayton wasn't supposed to be the tip guy. We got displaced, Michael took his place, Everett went behind, but that had happened in practice believe it or not. You have to have a little luck to go that way, but it's something we had practiced, and I believe you control that.

It's worked in practice, has it worked since? Yes, we did two or three times. We had a couple tips, the other guys.

is it possible for the number one team to play a no respect card ... No respect in what

Some coaches have something – Is respect something you shoot for? I think you always play for respect. I think any time you line up and lace your shoes up you always play for respect because the score is 0 0. Every day the score is 0 0. If you quit playing for respect, to me you quit playing. That's what you play for every day, and to me that's what I talk about by the intensity you play with, the execution, the preparation, the development, all those things to me are about playing for respect, and I think it's all about playing for respect.

You guys have respect but not the recognition. I mean, that's just the way it is. The media is going to turn things, and we can't worry about it. We've got to control what we can control, and that's how we play.

What does the Clemson game tell you about your team? When we played Clemson this year or you mean the game yesterday?

No this year. Oh, this year's game that we played? Well, we can handle – what I was proud of because it was game day, you had all the, I call, clutter. You had tons of media, everybody in the country was there, and they were able to handle the moment, and by doing it, they weren't worried about the moment, they were worried about the game, and I thought to me showed me the sign of guys that can handle clutter, and that's a very mature team. They were focused on one thing, playing the game. Not worrying about what people thought, what was written, what anything else was. And to me when you can do that that's when you can handle the moments like you're in right now.

Has it been part of your success seeing one game at a time? No doubt, no doubt, and handle each situation differently depending on what the circumstances are.

When's the last time you saw a team come out against a top ten team ... I mean, we had a couple of those at LSU at times. We played on the road pretty well at Alabama one time, we played well up there, had some games in the SEC Championship games and things, but I don't know if any of those teams took it like we did that night. That night from all three phases we were a totally dominant football team and were very physical at the same time. We were physical and skilled at the same time.

How critical was it for Lamarcus to come back? Oh, it was very critical for him to come back because he's such a leader and he's such a – he affects the guys every day by how he goes about how he practices, how he does things. It was tremendous getting him back.

And your new player Aguayo. He's been unstoppable as a kicker this year? How important has that been for you? I mean, that's why we signed him early. People ask me why you got two kickers on scholarship. I thought he was that good, and I wanted him to watch Dustin for a year of how to prepare mentally, and Roberto is – to say a guy goes out, you think he may have a few bumps along the road, but I don't say it didn't surprise me, but it didn't shock me, either.

What do you think of Gus Malzahn as a coach? I think he's very knowledgeable. Players like him. He's very organized, has a plan. And I don't know Gus – I've never been around him coaching but he's been successful in all the stages, and he has confidence in what he does.

Are you amazed looking at what they did? Oh, yeah. To me it's a tremendous coaching job. It's a great league, and they were able to get – what they did, they were able to win a couple key games early and be – we did that one time when we were at Auburn, my first year there, and Terry Bowden's year, we went undefeated in '93, went 11 0, and they were 5 6 the year before, and what was key that year I think for them, they won a couple games early in the year like the A & M game and some games that gave them some confidence, and once a team gets confidence, then it can take off.

What makes their rushing offense so successful? Well, they can get the ball to the edges. They can be physical inside, and then the quarterback can create plays with his legs. So you have three guys that can run the football.

Auburn has such a rollercoaster history. What is it about Auburn? I don't know. I mean, it shows that you can be great, but I don't know why those situations happen. I haven't been there since '98. But they obviously can get to the top, though.

Coach, it's been a while since you've been in this situation, think about the excitement down home and how it feels for them to be in this. The fans are very excited, very happy, which always goes with it. But I'm happy for the fans so they can be proud of what we're accomplishing and they can have a sense of pride and wear that Florida State jersey or hat and feel that we have one of the best programs in the country. I'm very happy for our fans and our players that they can walk around with a lot of pride.

Do you thin it's a historical season? No, I don't ever reflect on a season until it's over with, and I don't want to reflect on it because it creates clutter in your mind. I just want to focus on the game, and we'll reflect on that what we're done. But we've had a very good season, that's for sure.

How does your 2003 experience help you this year? Well, I think you've been here, you've been through it. You have no expectations how to deal with this kind of thing. I think every time you're in a situation you can grow from it, and experience is always good.

Did you envision this when you took over head coach? Is this the day you saw? Yes, I did. I thought we could be here, and I expected us to be here and be in this situation or be competing for this situation. Whether that happened, the ball has got to bounce right occasionally and things like that, but if you have a plan and you're organized and you believe in it, and I thought we had a great University to be able to do that.

What was the difference this year? I think the consistency of our leadership, about how we prepared and practiced, and our leadership really never faltered. If anything started to go, they would jump on it and address the problems quickly. It was a true genuineness about this team that it really loves each other and it plays for each other.

Jameis is going to be on every cover of every magazine come next week. Is he the best in terms of temperament to handle what is about to happen to him? I truly do. I mean, compared to what he's handled this year and all the adversity, he has an amazing ability to compartmentalize things and process things that I haven't been around for a guy that age for sure.

He seems to embrace the spotlight. He does. He expects to be here, and he's happy to be here, and he believes he should be here, but at the same time he's not arrogant about it.

You have to describe Bobby's influence on what's been going on. Well, I mean, Bobby built Florida State. Florida State had won no games. He came in, Bobby built the brand name of Florida State, and to me Florida State is one of the best brands there is in the country. To be an icon like he was, the class with which he did it with, that's why he's one of the all time – if he's not the all time greatest coach he's one of the few you can argue about, and he's had a tremendous impact on me, also.

Is it sometimes in a smaller town for the next coach still hanging around, I assume ... He hasn't come around for two or three years, and it's funny, he said that to me back when I was a young coach in the late '80s, early '90s, because it happened to him when he was a coach. He said, whoever my coach is, I was a GA so I wasn't planning on being the guy, that whoever the next guy when he retired, he was going to get away for a couple years because he never thought it was right because they always look over your shoulder and say this guy didn't do it this way, this guy didn't do it that way, and he saw with Terry at Auburn how that happened, and I think no matter who it was he always had a plan to do that a long time ago. To me it talks about his character and who he is.

Did you expect to be here? No, I expected our program in time to be here. I knew what we could build. I thought we had an opportunity to be here, and we truly, with our goals and where we wanted to go, we felt like we belonged here and we were going to eventually get here.

In the off-season and Spring, did you see the confidence in this team? I felt very comfortable right after spring ball. I felt this team had a chance to be a very good football team.

Now, how it took the summer and camp I was anxious to see, but this is a very unique group how it practiced and how it did things.

How has it been for your team to focus? You're in the LA area ... You know, you say that and I'll remind these guys, this group is unbelievable about how it comes for business for a situation. When it's time to work, it works. When it's time to relax, it relaxes, but it is unbelievable about the leadership of this team, and it really hasn't been hard at all. We've had tremendous practices, tremendous meetings.

Is it easier to coach these guys for how long you've been around college football? Yes, it is. It's very unique. Like I said, I don't know if I've ever been around a team that truly likes each other this much. It loves each other. It plays for – these guys really, really like each other. They hang out together. They're together all the time.

Are you ready to go Monday? No, I'm ready to go. I definitely don't want another week. I'm ready to go.

Would you have been happy to play right after the ACC Championship? Yeah, I mean, I would have been very happy to play right after the ACC Championship, I really would have. I thought we were playing very well.

With the College Football Playoff, it will be a longer time off in between ... Well, I don't know if it'll be longer because you play by Christmas. Don't you play the first week and then the second one would be two games?

I'll tell you what I hope, though. What scares me about everything that goes on is we don't de emphasize the bowl – when I was a kid, if you played in the Sugar Bowl or the Orange Bowl or the Rose Bowl or the Cotton Bowl, that was a big deal. I just hope we don't destroy our bowl system. By selling out crowds, I understand how hard it is just to get to an Orange Bowl or a Sugar Bowl even if you're not in this game here. Those are tremendous accomplishments, and I hope we don't taint that for college football because to me that takes the memories I have away. I think it's very critical for the bowls to stay. If we do, we're going to keep tearing the bowls down, and I think that's one of the unique things we have about college football.

For Jameis, is it possible to be too confident? The way he walks ... He walks well because he prepares. I think when you get too confident, what you start to see is your day to day habits change. We always tell our guys, your day to day is what you make decisions off of, and when they start to change how you prepare, how you work out, your mental preparation, I think when you see those change then you start to worry. Those haven't changed. I'm telling you, it's been amazing. It's actually made him more so.

He's working maybe harder? I don't say harder but he's trying to make an emphasis that this isn't going to change me. That's been the thing, so that's why I don't worry about it.

Do they remember or understand the importance of the Florida State? Oh, yeah, they do. Our old players come back and the history on the walls, they know why they walked in there. They remember that. They don't remember it to the extent because they were young, all of it, but they remember how good the times were and they embrace their history and the expectations that come with it.

(Inaudible.) No doubt, and we have to learn to handle these moments because we plan on being here a bunch, and we've got to learn to do that.

How big a deal would a win be for the ACC? Well, I think it would be great for our league, and I think showing people what I've been saying and what we've been saying the whole time, the ACC is a great conference, and to take nothing away from the SEC but there's other folks that are pretty good, too, like Oklahoma and other programs. I think it's good for college football. I think it would be very critical, and I was very happy for Clemson and Dabo and them last night to win that football game.

How is Jeff? Good. I text with Jeff, I sent him a text when it happened, and he sent me a long one back and he talked with Odell, and they seem to be doing well. It's unbelievable. I can't imagine. I remember when TJ was born and I was at Stanford, we were coaching together. Jeff coached me. He was my coach, and we coached together. Jeff is a great guy, and my heart goes out to him, and like I say, God bless him.

You guys are still friends? Yeah, we are, exactly right. I've always had a great relationship with them. I can't imagine.

Auburn's going to run the ball. Coach, how tough is it to stop them? Well, they're good at it. One, they can block, they're physical, they've got good backs, they've got good players. They get the ball to the edge, they run it inside, and then the quarterback can run it, so you have three guys. The term is like the old triple option, where you flanked it, pitched it, ran it. It's not that. It's in a form, but they create the big plays down the field with coaching those guys at times, too, so they get the ball to all – they spread the field. They make you cover the whole field, whether you throw it or run it. That's the key, that you make people defend the whole field.

How much has your brother been a factor in all of this as a former assistant coach? Oh, yeah, it is. As a matter of fact I just sent him to a bunch of our games and a bunch of Auburn's games so he stays involved in it all the time. We're constantly talking ball all the time about that. He'll call me and say, hey, you ain't doing this well, you ain't doing this well, send him films. He watches games, and I always like to get his perspective because he knows how I think after games and he watches them all from a perspective sometimes, even far from a TV or something.

How often do you talk football? A bunch, two or three times a week we'll talk. I'm very close with my brother.

What's been the biggest – for your defense? I think the diversity which we're able to create, being able to pressure the quarterback, being much more different in the secondary, be able to change looks, be able to change coverages, be able to change fronts, how to adjust personnel groups and be much more multiple which I think creates problems for offenses and I think that's one of the keys that they've been able to bring, which I wanted in our defense.

Did you get what you wanted? Yes, I did. We created a tremendous amount of turnovers, scored off of them, won the field position battles, and at the same time were still getting three and outs, weren't gambling, still creating three and outs and being sound as we did it.

Media Day: Wide Receiver Rashad Greene (Sat., Jan. 4) | Printable version (.pdf)
RASHAD GREENE AUDIO

When you take a look at what lies ahead for you offensively, will you expect more of what we have seen the first 13 games? You can always expect more. We have had a lot of time to prepare. We got a lot of stuff done. So we're going to have our execution down out there.

When I say Jameis Winston, what do you say? Funny guy. But a special player, I love him to death, he's a great person, a great quarterback, a great all around, just a great guy, all around.

You're basically one of three guys that are constantly calling for the ball. All three of you will demand to be fed. In the hunt, who has the best convincing argument why the rock should go to him? We don't have arguments in the huddle about who gets the ball. We're all – we all run our routes every play. We never know when the ball is coming. We just do our job getting open.

When you look at Jameis Winston as a coach, let me ask you this: Is there a particular kind of ball or particular style that you like? No, when I'm breaking out of my cut, the ball is already over the field. So, it gets there before the defender even gets a break on it. And that's what I really like about his ball. They're very precise.

If you had to go across the middle or down in the quarter of the end zone, which one would you be after? I'll take the six in the end zone.

What makes Jameis so different? I feel like what makes him different is that his personality is a lot different than the past quarterbacks. He's a funny guy, a fun person to be around, and he wants to be around everyone and interact with every teammate possible. He's just more of a likeable guy. He's more of a laid back person. Jameis, his personality is laid back. He brings that out on the field, his leadership and stuff like that.

How did you know that this was going to be a special season? I knew this was going to be a special season during camp. The way we were all hitting on all cylinders and playing together. I knew that it was something special.

What have you seen from the SEC defense? They have a great defense, a great secondary, they do what they do, what they're supposed to do. We expect them to come out and play hard and I know they expect us to come out and play hard.

How has your roll on offense changed this year? I feel like that the years before I'm a lot more vocal. I tell a lot of guys – I won't tell them what to do, but I kind of keep things in order. I even have to keep Jameis in order sometimes. But I feel like my role has grown, so, from year to year, so, but, the position coach has put me in, you know, that's what I wanted.

(No microphone.) I felt it in the first game. We were clicking in the first game. I don't think we dropped a pass that game. The running backs were doing well, the offensive line was blocking great, so I felt like we started out pretty good as far as that first game.

What would it mean to win the National Championship? It would mean a lot. It would mean all the hard work that we put in has paid off and that's what we set out to get was a national championship.

Are the three wide receivers nicknamed ďThe TrioĒ? Yes, we are the trio.

Do you guys have nicknames for each other within that trio? You got – we call him Can't Quit. You got myself, RG 80, so that's the nicknames.

What makes you guys so dynamic? He brings a lot to the table. You have different sizes, different speeds, quickness, so you got guys that can go up and get the ball, you got guys that can run past you, you got guys that can shake people and make them miss. You got everything you need from receivers. So whatever you need, you got here.

Do you guys compete a little bit? We compete. Let the game come to us. After the game we congratulate each other when we're done. So I don't think we compete against each other, we just go out there and have fun.

Can you talk about your South Florida connection? It's a great connection. A lot of us knew each other growing up in high school and some of us even played with each other, such as myself and Lamarcus. Those guys, they went to the same high school. And it's like a connection. I was so used to the trash talking and the type of football that's played in south Florida, we're all used to it. But in the heat of the games, the fast sequences, you know. To so it's great to be able to play with guys that you have known in high school and that you played with in high school.

What does it mean to the folks back home? It means a lot. I know a lot of the people back at home are proud of us and the things that we're accomplishing.

When you look at this Auburn team, theyíre a very good team, how do you counter this? We're more focused on ourselves, doing what we do best. And that's executing, moving the ball, making plays. So we only can control what we control. We're doing a great job of preparing for what they do. And what they do, they do a great job of it. So we want to go out there and just play our game.

Some say that you havenít been tested as much as Auburn. I don't think so. Boston College, early on, same with Florida, in the season, we struggled coming out, moving the ball, but we were able to stay focused and continue to trust in what we do, and believe in what we do and, actually ACC games, we didn't score before halftime. So we faced some adversity and we were able to overcome it and keep going.

What does it mean to be the number one team in the state of Florida? It means a lot. That's part of our goal is to win the state, win the conference, and win the national. So we have completed two, and we need to accomplish the third.

How exciting is it to be playing in the Rose Bowl? It's very exciting. It's actually my first time coming to California. So I'm definitely excited to play out here in this great weather and what better people to play with than my brothers?

(No microphone.) We didn't come out here to lose, so we definitely came out here prepared to win this game.

You are known as the best receiving team in the country. What do you say to that? I believe in that. I believe we are the best receivers in the country. Not saying that arrogantly, but we put a lot of hard work into it, and we just feel like we're getting what we deserve, what we put into it.

What doe these two other guys mean to you? What do they truly mean to you? It means a lot. I love those guys just like I love my own family. We have spent a lot of time together on and off the field. So those are just like brothers. So we are there for each other. They're definitely over to our house all the time, and I'm over to their house, so it's definitely a brother connection.

Does this trio have tradition? What do you three do before a game? We kind of do our own thing. They have Kenny, who listens to all his crazy music and myself, I like to be calm before the game and Kelvin gets ready in his own way. We don't really listen to a lot of music. But he definitely loves his music.

Before this season started, FSU had a reputation of coming up short, but it wasnít an issue this year. How did you change that? Just the way – just how everyone bought in early on in the summer. The work we put in, the goals we set, how everybody just wanted to become one and really wanted to be in this position. We all worked so hard to get here that it's definitely worth it. We don't plan on coming up short this time.

You guys had 11 guys go into the NFL draft last year, six new assistant coaches, how were you guys able to work your way through that? We welcome the coaches into our family. We were raised to adjust to whatever we needed to adjust to, and we bought into what the new coaches brought to the table, and they have bought into what we brought to the table as players.

We did a great job at making that connection early on, creating those relationships, on and off the field, with those new coaches. And it turned out great.

When you have this success, the rumors about Jimbo Fisher going other places comes up. How do you shut out those things? You definitely hear those things, but that's not what we're focused on. We're focused on our season, taking it game by game. We trust in Jimbo, that he'll make the right decision for us and his family. So it's all about trust and we felt that.

Do you guys joke with each other about how many yards you three have? We don't joke about the first one getting there. We all plan on getting there. Kelvin's always making jokes about three thousand. Kenny always thinking three hundred. So he says three thousand, so we plan on getting a thousand yards a piece.

Do some of the older guys put Jameis through, I donít want to say hazing ... We're going to do that with any of our young guys and any other players at all. We welcome them in, we make them feel comfortable with us. We bring them into our brotherhood and no one wants to get picked on, regardless of whether it's a joke or not, but we all welcome them in and we already know each other.

You donít even make them carry a pink bag? No. No. We don't do any of that stuff.

Have you talked to any of the í99, í93 players about the game? No, I havenít talked to any of the past players.

What have they said that their past has effected their past experiences? We know that some coaches have experiences in this game, but at the end of the day, no, all of us realize that it's still a football game. So, it's still a hundred yards, it's still a ball, get out there, go catch it. It's still football. We're not going to make it bigger than what it is. So we go out there and do what we always been doing all year and that's executing and playing Seminole football.

(No microphone.) So we control what we can control. It's just doing what we have been doing all year.

(No microphone.) I haven't even heard it. So, that's my way of blocking it out. I don't listen to stuff like that that people on the outside are saying, because it's about us. We have done a great job all year at making it about us and not letting anyone else into our circle and we're going to continue to do that, regardless of what people say.

Has Jameis ever hurt you on accident? Actually, he hurt me in camp. So I was out for like two days. But, I was able to make the first game. But, he definitely dislocated my finger on the ball, but that's all part of the game. Fingers get jammed, broken, dislocated, but I was able to bounce back.

(No microphone.) No, I just told him that, man, you tried to put me out for the season? You know and he said, no, but I know he didn't do it on purpose, so I was, I was fine.

Are you going to be satisfied if you blow these guys out on Monday? I'm going to be satisfied as long as we go out and play a hundred percent and play our football and get this done.

You want to get a big lead early in this game. Our motto is start fast. We do it in practice, we do it in games and that's what we want to do in this game. We want to start fast, we want to continue, and we want to finish strong.

Are you interested to see how this team reacts if itís a close game? We were down in some games, and we were able to keep our composure and trust in what we do best. And our defense played great and then we needed to score.

So, we kept our composure and we executed. So, I feel that we'll do a great job, and I have trust in the coaches and my teammates.

Do you guys think you get proper recognition for basically blowing people out with your schedule? Sometimes, but I'm not really worried about that. I feel like I know what this team is about, so I'm a part of this team, and we know what we're about. The coaches know as well.

So, just like I said, it doesn't matter what the outside people think. It's about us and our circle and how we do things. We have done a great job of doing what we do best and it's got us this far. So I don't really care what the outsiders say.

What game in your opinion were you guys were functioning as a unit, where you accomplished everything? I feel like we haven't played our best game yet, where we have been hitting on all cylinders. So I feel like it's yet to come. And there's only one more to go, so.

Is there something Kelvin is doing differently? Heís been getting found on the field consistently. I don't feel like it's something he's doing recently. I feel like he's been doing it all season. I feel like his time has come. His time has come, and he's got the opportunity that all of us have. The opportunity is there, and we need to do a great job at finishing it.

So, he's done a great job at preparing all year and working on little things and little techniques and it's just paying off and his time has come. And I'm so proud of that guy.

Is it about time to go and hit someone else? I'm proud of everyone else too, but we're definitely taking advantage of the time that we had off with preparing and getting our bodies right. And so we're definitely ready to go out there and play.

What do you guys think about Auburnís defense? This offense – I mean this defense does a great job at providing pressure, their DB's do a great job of getting their hands on you, and they play together, so they're a physical defense. They do everything together, they're well coached, so I feel like they do a great job at playing together.

Where do you see the tackles ... I feel like you'll see Monday.

What was the difference this year in being over the top? The more we do outside of football – the way that these seniors stepped up and got everyone to buy in, even the freshmen coming in, everyone's bought in and it's not about one person, it's about the team. And there's not one selfish person on this team. We all just want the same goals, and we have all been working hard for it.

Have you seen a change in Jimbo? He's been doing a great job ever since I've been here. He's been coaching the same. So, guys are just starting to buy in and understanding what he's trying to do and believing in him a lot more each and every year.

How has Isaiah been since coming in as a Freshman? Isaiah's a great receiver. He's learning. He's learning from some great guys in front of him, and he's focused and he wants to learn. So that's something that you rarely see sometimes.

People that want to learn, a lot of times these guys come in and five stars and stuff, and they think that they know a lot, but when you get guys like those young freshmen that we have that want to learn, it's great.

Auburnís given up a lot of yards. When you look at the film, what do you see? I see that they definitely have a great defense. Regardless of what the stats say. They create a lot of pressure. The guys are well coached, they're physical, they try to get their hands on you.

So we have to do a great job at not letting the DB's get both hands on us and just running through and controlling that line of scrimmage.

What do you think of this media? Yeah, it's crazy, but it's great.

(No microphone.) I felt like he figured it out himself. And that's a great way to do it. When you figure it out yourself without anyone telling you, that's the best lesson. That's the best way to learn. And he understood what he needed to do and he did a great job at it.

Iím sure heís watching over guys like you to see how thatís done. Yeah, I feel like he watches me and sees how I prepare and stuff like that. So, that's a great guy, and he's doing a hell of a job.

How confident is this team? We're very confident. Every game we feel like we have to come in with a chip on our shoulder. Regardless of who the opponent is, it's about us. It's about getting better, it's about competing, and it's about knowing how to have fun. And the only way we can do that is to have a chip on our shoulder and practice well and go out there every day.

What does it mean to be in this game? It means a lot. It's one of our goals that we set out. We accomplished two already, and we definitely want to accomplish the third.

Talk about Jameis. Has he surprised you even? He's definitely surprised me sometimes. But he's a great kid. A great football player. Great all around person, I love him to death. I wouldn't trade him for any one in the world.

What makes him so great? Just the way he prepares and the way he studies and how bad he wants to be good. How bad he wants to get better every day. You don't see that a lot. He's just a great all around guy.

What's the difference between Jameis and E.J.? The only difference is their personality. E.J. is a great quarterback, he did a great job at preparing, a great job at film studying, and I think that Jameis looked up to E.J. and took steps behind E.J. to see what he did to prepare. And I feel like they both did the same things on the field, and they just have different personalities.

No knock on E.J., but which would you pick to play with? Obviously, as far as we're playing with Jameis, being in the situation that we're in, headed to the National Championship.

Do you guys feel at all that the offensive side has been underappreciated in comparison to Auburnís defense? I don't think we have been overshadowed. We're not really worried about it. We're just going to focus on what we do and controlling what we can control.

Is there anything different in the preparations for Auburn? Their secondary hasn't been all that strong this year. Is there anything different now that you see? No, it hasn't been anything different. We didn't plan on changing anything. So why change the process?

Whatís it going to take for you to win Monday night? Start fast, execute, and playing hard and having fun. What we have been doing all year.

How do you feel thus far leading up to the game? Preparation has been great. So, I feel like it's been one of the best all year. So we're doing a great job at handling our business, handling the situation, and when it's time to prepare, we have done a great job and when it's time to have fun, we're doing a great job at having fun as well.

So we're definitely mature enough to handle our business and know there's a time and a place to do everything.

Thinking about stepping out on that field, what are you going to feel? What are your thoughts? Excitement, butterflies? Just imagining it now, seeing that crystal ball up there in the air, but we understand it. We're keeping our emotions in check, making sure that we don't come out too early. Just let it all come out on Monday.

What is the motivation, inspiration in your life? What is it that makes you successful? There's a lot of people in my life that sacrificed for me to be here, so – and it was out of love. Love is the reason for the fight. And I love my teammates, I love my coaches, and we all love each other. So that's an our team motto and a personal motto for myself is, love is the reason for the fight.

God is love. God is love.

Give yourself a shoutout. Shout out? Rashad Greene, the trio.

In the preseason, what was it like watching the competition with Jameis? Did you guys know when it was decided? It was decided, I think, a week before the Pittsburgh game. Coach announced the starters. But, it was a hell of a battle between him and his fellow quarterback. They did a great job all camp competing and learning and getting the job done.

Did you guys have a feeling which way it was going? Actually, I didn't have – I didn't know, because all the guys were doing so great. They all were doing wonderful things, so I didn't know.

Playing with EJ last year, and then having a redshirt freshman come in who's never taken a snap in a live game, what were your thoughts heading into that first game? In the first game I was thinking that this guy – this is his first time playing collegiate football and it's our job to step up and we need to help him and make him right.

If the ball is under thrown, make a way to go get it. If it's overthrown, make a way to go get it. So he can be right, to build his confidence.

And then basically every throw was right on target? Yeah.

How have you seen him change since that first game? He hasn't changed one bit. And that's something he always told me, ďRashad, I will never change, I will never change the person that I am – that you see today, in the future.Ē And he's kept to his word. He's never changed, he only got better.

He was the same kind of player he was the first game to the way he is now? He only got better.

Now you're playing Auburn, people like to call them the team of destiny. Can you respond to that? I don't believe that type of stuff. I feel like you control your own destiny. So, I feel like we have been controlling our destiny. And we have been preparing and working hard and going out there doing what we're supposed to do, which is start fast, executing, finishing strong. So, I don't feel like someone just has an automatic – you control your own destiny.

You haven't really had any close games. How do you think you'll respond if it comes to that? If it's a close game I feel like we will respond the right way. We'll continue believing in our coaches, believing in ourselves, believing in the process, and trusting in our ability and the coaches that it will all work. And we have been doing a great job at that all year, in trusting what we do and trusting what the coaches have coached us to do.

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? What did I want to be when I was a kid? I always wanted to be a football player. I always wanted to make it to the NFL as a kid.

What do you think it takes to be a winner? It takes hard work and dedication. It takes a lot to be a winner. You can't do what regular people do. You have to do something that not a lot of people do to do what it takes to win. So, you have to be willing to do a lot of things that normal people don't do to win.

(No microphone.) I'm the speed.

(No microphone.) I switch it up. I like this song called Boobie Miles, it's from this guy called Big K.R.I.T. It's a motivational song, talking about football and sports. It's definitely a nice song.

Do you have any pregame rituals or anything? No, I don't have any pregame traditions. I always just want to keep myself calm before the game.

What's it like having a guy Nick O'Leary that can help occupy DBs? It's a big help. He's definitely another guy that you have to worry about catching the ball and blocking as well. So he's another threat.

(Inaudible) said you are a fantastic chef? Yes, I am.

Tell me more about that. I always liked to cook. My dad taught me how to cook. So on Sundays we will be together, and I'll cook a meal for some of the guys that come over. We just chill and have fun.

Do you cook every Sunday? Mostly every Sunday.

What do you like to prepare? Something pretty simple for a lot of guys. So, I might cook like steak or something like that. Something not too hard, not too much pressure. I cook like pork chops or something like that.

He said you make some awesome cornbread. Yeah, he definitely likes my corn bread. I think he really likes it because it's kind of sweet.

What started that tradition? It was just one day, I was just like man you can come over and eat. I'm going to cook today and it just started there.

How many guys is it? Has it gotten bigger? There's definitely the trio there. And Jameis and our offensive lineman Bobby, so it's only like five or six guys at the most.

And it's always consistently the same guys? Yeah, it's always consistent.

How much does that help you build as a team, with the trio obviously and the offensive line? It's definitely helpful building a bond and that's just one of the ways that we get together and hang out with each other. But we're always around each other regardless of if it's just in the house or out in public, we're always together.

What other things you like to do? We just chill and watch TV and joke around, play cards or we might go to the mall. We don't do a lot of public stuff. But we're definitely always together.

Do you not do the public stuff because of the reaction of the public? Yeah, some of the reason. We can't take Jameis anywhere without getting all the attention.

What kinds of cards do you play? We play Trump, blackjack, whatever. Shoot dice sometimes too.

Are there bragging rights on this? It depends on the teams. It depends on whose on teams.

You also have to help Jameis with his wardrobe, he is not a good dresser? Yes, he definitely doesn't have any swag. We had to help him get a suit for the Heisman and all that stuff. So we helped him out with that too.

How did that go? We had to take him to a Men's Warehouse to show him how to color coordinate and the shoes and stuff like that.

So it wasn't hard, because he's not a picky person, so it was easy picking him out a nice suit. But he definitely liked it.

With so many talented receivers on this team, do you ever feel like you don't get the ball enough times with all the great receivers? No, I don't feel like I don't get it enough times. It's just our job to run every route hard, every play and you never know who is going to get the ball. That's something we realized early on, you never know who Jameis is throwing the ball to.

So just run your route, and when one of us catches the ball we're all so happy and thankful to be a part of such a good group.

Is there a friendly competition amongst yourselves as a receiving core? No, we haven't had any competition within ourselves. I think it's more in practice, the competition of who ran the fastest route, and who can go get the furthest ball and stuff like that.

Between Kelvin and Kenny who has the best hands? I think Kelvin has the best hands because they're so big. I told him, man your hands are like bigger than my whole head. So he definitely has the biggest hands. So I feel like – but all of us have legit hands, but he ...

Who is the fastest? I'm definitely the fastest. Kenny is the quickest, and Kelvin, he has the height, so he can jump.

Tell me a little bit about your recruitment, thinking about Georgia, Georgia Tech at all? Actually, I don't think I had Georgia Tech. I was thinking Georgia in the beginning, but I definitely – I wouldn't say I was scared away from it, but I wasn't looking for that.

What was it about Florida State? The opportunity. The coaches, Coach Dawson and Coach Fisher, I definitely bought into what they were trying to do. And here are the results today. And they asked me did I want to be a leader to building this? And I definitely wanted to be one of the leaders in building something like this and here we are today.

(No microphone.) Yeah, it's definitely – I definitely don't want to knock Georgia football. They have a lot of great athletes and great guys in college football today.

Did you ever think about going to Auburn? I don't think I had Auburn. No.

Tell me a little bit about this matchup, do you feel like you have to make huge plays to win? I definitely feel like the way they play, we're definitely going to have to make big plays to win this game. But I feel like it's more about controlling that line of scrimmage. If our line, they do a great job the way they have been all year in protecting Jameis, then we'll do a good job of making plays.

What makes Jameis so good? The way he prepares. He prepares greatly. Second to none. He definitely – one of our mottos is to win the game in practice. And that starts with preparing. We prepare the right way, like it's a game, and we do a great job of that and Jameis does a great job of that.

And watching film and all the mistakes, so he never makes the same mistake twice.

When you guys are watching film, what's the biggest concern in facing off against this Auburn team? Some of the blitzes and things like that, and just making sure the DBs don't stop us in our routes. They do a lot of sitting so we have to do a great job of ripping through so those are some of the things that stand out on the film. But we definitely worry more about ourselves, controlling what we can control.

What about Jameis's accuracy, his timing, putting the ball in the right spot? His accuracy is very good. Once I'm getting out of my cut the ball is already in the air. A young quarterback like that – it's hard for a DB to break for the ball once it's already in the air and once I break out of my cut. So he's breaking off of my cut and the ball's already thrown so it's there and there's no time for him to get to it.

What's the best thing you've done here in California? I would say me and Kelvin Benjamin, we went sightseeing. We went to Beverly Hills and Santa Monica and downtown L.A. and we have seen all the great sights and stuff. So that was fun. I liked going up to Beverly Hills and seeing all the dream houses that we want to have one day. (Laughter.)

Everyone likes to say that FSU hasn't played in a close game yet and what's going to happen if this is a close game Ė do you think that really matters? I definitely don't think that matters. I think people have overlooked the adversity that we have faced. Boston College we were down, with Florida we didn't score in the first quarter, we were getting stopped. And Duke, we didn't score in the first half.

You know, those are games that we faced adversity and we were able to overcome. But I guess the fact that they look at the scoreboard and just see how it was a blowout, that we didn't overcome adversity. But if you watch the whole game you knew there was a time when we wasn't strong, we wasn't executing, and we were getting stopped. But we were able to trust in the coaches, trust in ourselves and believe in the process and we were able to overcome.

So I feel like a lot of people overlook what we have been through and because of the scoreboard – and that's something that we don't even look at, is the scoreboard. We don't worry about the scoreboard, we just control what we can control and focus on executing one play at a time.

The way you guys have won Ė if you guys win this game Monday you might not just be one of the best teams in Florida State history, but maybe one of the best ever. How much do you think about that? We definitely are not really thinking about it now until after the game, after we win this game and show everybody that it's not our conference, it's not our schedule, that we are really a great team.

Did you watch the Clemson game last night and what did you think? I didn't catch some of it. I was hanging out with my teammates and stuff like that – but I actually heard about it and I heard it was a great game. There was a lot of scoring going on.

Does that validate you guys, Ohio State was unbeaten up until ...? Exactly. It shows that a lot of people – a lot of people say the ACC is not a strong conference, but we have been doing a great job like Clemson, and even Duke was able to jump out on Texas A&M. So, it's not about the conference, it's about the team.

Are you all the best receiving corps in the country? Yes, we are definitely the best receiving corps in the country.

Who's close? I definitely like LSU's receiving corps. I definitely like those two.

What makes you guys great Ė speed, size, experience? It's definitely the different combinations and the different match ups that we can create. And each one of us can play outside/inside, so we all have great speed, quickness. Kelvin has height, so we're able to go up and hop on the ball.

So we all bring so much to the table that it's hard to double coverage any one of us. And if you do, you have two others that are capable of doing the same things.

When you have three great ones, are there nights where maybe you're being double covered so it's just not your night? It's definitely nights like that where you have to be unselfish, where teams are climbing to one side and manning the other side. You just have to respect the game and fight through and stuff like that. But we have two other guys, so you're not really worried about it, we're just so focused on winning and not our individual statistics that it doesn't even matter.

(No microphone.) I don't know him at all. Actually, I met him. He actually came up, I think our freshman year, and visited with us. So, yeah, I met him.

What is your best memory when you and Coach Craig interacted? Coach Craig was funny. He's definitely a funny guy. But he's always measuring the receivers and telling us that we wasn't running or something like that. But he's a great guy, a great coach, so I know Jameis loves him to death. But that's about all the memories I have, because he wasn't my position coach.

What is this teamís weakness? I feel like we have no weaknesses. I think weakness is a state of mind and as long as we believe we don't have a weakness, we won't have a weakness. So I feel like we have everything that a team needs to have to win.

What challenges do you face against Auburnís defense? I think that they have a great defensive line that creates pressure. I feel like they have some good linebackers and DB's. They're big strong guys. So we respect them and that's why we're preparing the way we're preparing.

What did you have to do to get ... Just make sure that don't get stopped in between routes. Don't let the guys put too much of their hands on you. So we got to be able to be physical, get through those DB's.

What was the mindset going into this season? I feel like the first game that we said we're not losing this year. After that first game I heard a lot of players say we're not losing this year, we're going Pasadena. And I heard that early on and the fact that everyone was so willing to put in the work and fight so hard to be in this position it just shows you that we all bought into what Coach Fisher is trying to did and what we're trying to do as a team.

What does Jimbo or Coach Fisher like to be called? He doesn't have a preference of what he likes to be called. I think he likes Jimbo or Coach Fisher, but he sees us – he likes to have fun.

He doesnít seem to sweat for the small things, but he seems detail oriented. Everyone here is respectful and he knows that we respect him. So I feel like things like his name doesn't bother what we call him or not.

Does he keep things loose? He's definitely a guy that's big on preparing and big on getting things done the right way, so if you're slacking off he's definitely going to get on you and that's what you want as a coach. You want someone to get on you and tell you what you're doing right or wrong and not always be your friend, be someone that – he wants what's best for your future. So you need that tough love sometimes.

I donít sense tension on the team. Yeah. Yeah. There's not a lot of tension. We're grown men and that's the way we prepare.

How about your quarterback and how heís played this year. He's had an a great attitude all year, so he's been very consistent at preparing and we're very big on preparing, very big on getting things right and getting them done the right way. And he has a great attitude in meetings and our team has done a great job at rising to what Jimbo said and following behind the real leaders.

Describe what Jameis has done. Incredible.

What has the team done in practice to simulate games? The tempo. It's like a game. I think I spend more time in practice than I do in the game. The amount of pressure our defense creates and how fast we go and going against those guys, it's just like a game, so.

Is it more of a challenge going up against the defense in practice? I wouldn't say it's more of a challenge. We definitely do our job at picking our defense apart. So it's definitely competition every day going against those guys. All those guys.

What are some specific drills you do? We do the two minute drill, we do blitz drills.

What is that? It's like a blitz period that shows all type of blitz packages that we may need to make slight adjustments do, where they bring pressure, things like that. So we do, everything we do, we do it against our defense. It's all together, our defense.

How often do you do the two minute drill? We do that every Thursday.

For how long? It depends on the situation. One day you might have 1:40 on the clock and you're on the 20 yard line and you need to move the ball and get out of bounds and stuff like that. It's different situations.

So a different situation. Have you done it out here yet? We haven't done it out here yet. But I'm pretty sure we'll do it today.

How does it feel to finally be here after all the preparing on the practice field? It felt good. We have done a great job at preparing, the same way we have been doing all year. Even better now. So I feel like a lot of guys are there and when we're getting ready for this game, the time is coming up and we're preparing the right way and doing what we need to do.

The players have never been this far, but your coaches have. Do you have any of them setting the tone? It helps a lot. So knowing and trusting that they have been in this position, so we trust what they're saying and trusting the coaches and that's been carrying us all year, so just trusting in our coaches, trusting in ourselves and trusting in the process all year. And if we believe in that, that's got us through a lot of games, a lot of adversity, so we definitely are using that as an advantage that most of our coaches have used it as an advantage.

What kind of quarterback is Coker? He's definitely a big quarterback. He has a strong arm. He can run, he can use his legs and he's a smart guy. He has a pinpoint ball. He's a great quarterback.

Iíve heard that heís kind of like a coach out there, a student of the game. Yeah. He's definitely a student of the game.

Do you have any memories of any practice moment that is stand out? When he was in practice he was always doing good. In camp he was always doing good. He was always competing, always trying to get better. So that's what he's all about.

What do you guys have to do to be successful against their smaller DBís? Just continue doing what we have always been doing. Preparing well, first of all, preparing the right things, going out there, executing, understanding what we're going against. We have been doing a great job at film studying and understanding what they like to do best and working on our routes and staying fast.

What do they do well when you do watch them on tape? They do a great job at keeping people in front of them. So I feel like we're going to have to do a great job of breaking through the shoulder and getting through those arm bars and stuff like that.

Do you believe in destiny or dominance? Being in this situation doesn't mean that you're going to win. You control your own destiny of how you prepare and how you play and how you get things done. So I don't believe that anyone is destined to win, it's how you go about your business.

How effective will they be against the size of their guys? We're going to do it the way we have been doing it all year, playing fast, executing, just going out there and being physical and getting the job done.

Talk about the past month and what the team has done to prepare for this match up. We have been doing a great job at preparing. First of all we started back with the fundamentals on getting into releases and how to get by the DB's and we have been going against our defense. But we have been working on the fundamental things. We have a game plan and we have been doing film studying and we understand Auburn and what they do best and stuff like that. So we have been doing a great job at preparing.

What are some ways that Jameis Winston earned the teamís trust early on? Just the way he came out there and just let it loose. He wasn't up tight, he just played the game. And he had fun with it. He wants to win, but he also wants to have fun and enjoy it. And everyone wants to do that playing football. And even at a young age he's always done that.

Was it in the Spring that you realized your team was going to turn out the way it did or was it in camp? It was definitely during the spring. The way we went out there for practice, with everyone wanting to go out there and get better. It showed a lot. And it carried over into the summer into camp.

Looking at the past month off the practice field, what kind of adversity has this team faced? It didn't even bother us. We were still focused on what was at hand, which was taking every game one day at a time, practice one day at a time, and trying to reach our goals. We accomplished two goals, which is state champions and conference champions, but we have our last one that we need to accomplish. And everyone is focused on those goals and that was great. We stood together as a team.

How did you rally behind Jameis to show support during that time? We continue to do what we have always been doing. We were always behind him even before any off the field issues, we were always together, we were always building that bond. So nothing changed, we just got tighter.

When you take the field in this game who are the leaders that you're going to need to lead this team to a win? Our team is our leadership. So we are looking for everyone to play their part, to play their role, and do the best that they can do it.

This is a really tight knit group. How important is that and how important is your trust in a guy like Jameis in a game like this? Trust is everything. We definitely trust everyone whose in a position to make plays or do their job. And if we don't have trust, we don't have anything. So it's our job to trust everyone and believe in the process that we're going through and preparing and stuff like that. So we trust everyone on this team and on this staff.

Talking about the adversity that you guys have faced, some are calling you the Floyd Mayweather of football. What is the fight behind this team? Because of the way we prepare. We go out there and prepare like no one other, no one other. That's why Floyd can't be beat. We go out there and we're confident and we just let it all show. That's the way he prepares, that's the way we prepare.

Media Day: Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner (Sat., Jan. 4) | Printable version (.pdf)
LAMARCUS JOYNER AUDIO

So Lamarcus, put in words what kind of a thrill it is to be in this game? To be honest, it hasn't hit me yet. I'm expecting it to when game time kickoff, but it's just a great experience to be out here in California, preparing on a different turf and just knowing that you're one of those teams out of many to make it here.

We're from CBS in Miami, Dade, Broward, your home turf. That's 19 guys on this roster from South Florida. Can you talk about the special bond you guys have in South Florida? It just talks about the great talent that we have in the South. 19 guys on the roster. 45 on scholarship, maybe. Or maybe even 50. So just to be loaded with a lot of South Florida guys in this game, it says a lot about the talent down there.

And there's, I think, 17 Auburn guys from the state of Florida. So you probably know of those guys, too, don't you? I know a few of them just by name, just by the great things that they do on the football field, but it's going to be a great experience to play against these guys that you always hear about in high school.

What will it mean do you think to the folks back home to see you play in this game? It would mean a lot. I represent the State of Florida. I represent my hometown, Miami, Broward County. And just to be doing things like this, it makes them happy for you and that's all I can ask for is to make the people that support me and the people that sacrificed for me to be here, to be happy.

You know, Auburn likes to pound the ball. I don't know how busy you'll be as a cornerback, because they run the ball, run the ball. So how do you deal with that? We as secondary guys, we just can't be Superman. If you watch the film, a lot of guys do a lot of undisciplined things, and that's how they give up the touchdowns.

Auburn is a consistent team that pound the football and they do it well. So we just have to do what we do and keep that eye discipline and make the tackle or anything when technique meet opportunity.

Those wide receivers do have big playability. If you guys aren't discipline, talk about that aspect. That's the scary thing about this Auburn offense, that they have those big time wide receivers; and we even recruited Ricardo Lewis, great guy. We was on him hard. And they do what they do well. They run the football for 60 minutes, and the minute they see that you are being undisciplined they can humble you with a big throw and a big catch by those wide receivers, so as a secondary guy you have to continue to do injure your job for 60 minutes and understand that you have the front seven or whoever's job it is to make those tackles and stay on your mind.

This is a general comment, along those lines. Get physical with coverage not having to come up and make a stop. Is this the kind of game you're really excited to go out there and play or do you like the other do I understand of game? We're pretty excited because one thing about this team we're excited for everyone. We play a lot of different kind of teams, spread offense, traditional offense and each seg of the defense is tested, so we're happy to see that everyone do their job and it's pretty successful, and we're looking forward to being pretty physical on the back end because they have pretty big physical wide receivers. So we're looking forward to embrace that challenge and having fun with it.

(No microphone)? It's very important. We gotta continue to do the little things and let the chips fall where they may. We don't need a secondary guy going in there with the mentality of a linebacker because that's not your job. When technique meet opportunity, make the play. If a guy break to the second level then that's your job to get him on the ground but it's not your job to be looking in the back field and you see what happened to the Alabama and Missouri where the guys run up and the guys throwing the ball over your head. So you have though stay on your guy till the point of no return and trust in your guys on your team which we've been doing all year, trusting guys to do their jobs.

How hard is that to learn for a young guy? It's very hard. It's very hard. But it's very easy when you believe in the power of preparation and just trust the guy around you. If you trust people around you, then it'll be easy.

How satisfying is it now? It's very exciting. So come back and to do something that was the plan for me and Coach Fisher and the recruiting class of 2010 to do any ways. This was the main focus to set the bar, set a new standard, to be able to build this program back up to be playing in national championships. And like I said earlier this season, you know, it was a business decision. And this organization has been great to me. So I was not in a rush anyways, but growing up everyone wants to go to the NFL when you're playing this game of football, and to have the opportunity to may have been drafted that alone had my mind wandering to going to the next level. But as a person, as a player I was not yet ready, and I thank God I was able to come back this season and be doing the things that we're doing right now.

(No microphone)? Talent win you games but not championships. We had a lot of talent but there was no chemistry and continuity the way it is this year. A lot of brotherhood. We set a standard around here; one team, one heartbeat and love is the reason for the fight. You have a lot of guys go to the NFL great guys, but we just didn't have this bond that we have this year. And I'd say that's the difference that separates us.

How do you play against Georgia. Have you ever seen a catch like that before? I've never seen a catch like that. A miraculous catch. That was a great catch. It got those guys in this championship right now.

How do you avoid, as a defensive back, how do you avoid something like that? You know, you can play a great football game, but play situations horrible. The way Coach Fisher prepare us is great. He prepare us to be situational masters and as a secondary guy when a ball is thrown like that in a situation like that you have to bat it down and don't go for the interception. So those are the kind of things we practice throughout the week and hopefully we can transfer it over to the game.

Was that a good play on the receiver or was it just lucky that he was there? I mean to say he's a better player than those guys, you can't. I don't believe in luck, but he was in the right place at the right time. That's all I can say. Was he a better play on that play, I wouldn't say that. But he was in the right place at the right time.

(No microphone)? That's the reason this game going to be really tough for the secondary, because we know those guys are going to get some yardage on the ground. They do what they do well, and it'll be easy to be tempted to go up there and try to make those hard hitting tackles on those guys, but you gotta keep the eye discipline and stay on your guy.

Why do you see so many people tipping it up in the air? In order to master your craft, you have to practice it. I don't know how it goes at other universities, but under Coach Fisher's guidance, we practice situations. So we discipline ourselves to in those situations bat the ball down where a lot of programs they may don't practice those situations. So it just may be second nature, but for us we practice to be disciplined, and we're taught to be situational masters so we know what to do when situations like that happen.

Talk about Nick Marshall. Is he a guy that sneaks up on people focus on the running game? I think he's a great athlete. He don't lack arm talent. That's the thing, and then he can run with the football. And with these prototypical offenses that's the kind of guy you need in there. When you look at to what the NFL is converting to, guys that can run and make the big throws and just do a lot with their legs. So they force you to be disciplined. A guy like him, he's a defense nightmare because he can run. He can carry out his play actions, his play fakes. He can throw the ball if you're not disciplined. So he's just overall nightmare for defenses, and that's one of the big reasons why they're in this game.

Have you guys practiced the tip drill more after that Georgia game, after you know you're playing Auburn. Has that increased? We believe in the power preparation and we've been doing those kind of things since I've been under Coach Fisher. So those things have become second nature to us. It hasn't put us on the alert to practice more tip balls because we have a lot of other things to worry about that that team can do. So we just focus on the fundamentals and what they do. They're sound foundation. And come game time, if we're in a situation like that, it should be second nature to us because we practice it all the time.

So you're saying Marshall can throw? Yes. He don't lack arm talent. If you go back and watch the film, the guy make all the big throws.

Considering you guys have won by so much obviously all year long, you want to win Monday night. But you guys want to go out there and make a statement as well? You know, we had one tough game where we had to overcome adversity. That was the Boston College game. You hear a lot of people say Florida State been ahead of everyone by 40, 30 points. But we know how it feel to have adversity. And we also practice what put us in that situation. So we're looking forward to playing how we practice. We start fast and we're looking forward to starting fast on Monday night. But you know, we're playing a great football team. Those guys have heart too. They're just as good of a football team as we are. So we have to continue to do the little things we've been doing all season and play attention to details and let the chips fall where they may.

Do you guys want to win by like 20 or 30 or do you want to win by 3? We don't care if we win by one point, half, if we can tie it up and have to come back and play on next week, Monday. As long as we get the win.

With as much window dressing they use in the back field to get your eyes back there, how is it you guys have been working to make sure you're in the proper gaps and handling the responsibility of not looking at what's going on there? Have you guys been practicing without a ball or Coach Pruitt says it best. Master my position; do my job. And that's been the main theme all season. If they do a lot of window dressing, if a guy rocket motion, to take the linebacker's eyes from their gaps, they have no business doing that because we have a guy for that. So everyone's assigned a job and he's expected to master his position, and we've been trusting each other all season and we don't expect to change that.

(No microphone). You know what, if you go back and watch our games, a lot of second team guys get a lot of playing time. So you know, we look at the bigger picture, you know, once the first team guys has done their job, we let the young guys get in and get them prepared because we're trying to build a dynasty around here. We're trying to do a lot of special things for years to come. So before it get to that point, we're already out of the game, on the sideline, anxious to get back in.

(No microphone)? Yes. Coach those guys. Those guys root for us while we're on the field, and we're expected to do the same.

At the beginning of the season, before you even played a game, (no microphone). You should just go back earlier and look at the ACC kickoff. I have faith and belief the players and the coaches here. I expected things like this to happen for us. Now, could I have told the country that? No, I couldn't have. But I understood the direction we were heading in. And these are the things we expected, and now we're here is no surprise.

(No microphone)? I don't believe in that. I believe you control your own destiny. I mean that's what I believe. I don't believe in – we eliminate the clutter, so we understand that, you know, they're a good football team. They beat Alabama. They beat Missouri. They go only lose one game in SEC. You have to be a pretty good football team. So I wouldn't even say it's destiny. I'd just say they're a pretty good football team, and you know, the way things happened for them, it's amazing, but you know, they're here.

How you doing first of all? I'm doing well. Excited to be here.

Great. Good to see you today. Tell me how do you feel on the inside? How is the emotions, how is the energy? What's the anticipation of this up coming game? Right now I feel like I've been feeling all year. Throughout the week I'm just enjoying the time here in California. Never been here before, so I'm enjoying practicing on the turf, different field and getting a different feel, different climate out here. But as far as the game I can feel it building up inside me. It's coming time. Everyone's winding down, getting more mentally sharp and I'm just starting to get excited that we're here at the big dance. This is the last dance.

And as far as the atmosphere of California, you been to California before? This is my first time.

And what are your thoughts of California, especially Newport Beach? It's a great place. I've never seen it. I always wanted to. Just ride, seeing the mountains and different people and different faces, and culture. It's an amazing experience.

And how big of an experience is that for you in the sense of, wow, is it bigger than what you thought it would be? I'm a level headed guy, so I'm just going with the flow of the energy inside me. I'm just trying to stay calm for the game because at the end of the day it's a business trip. It's not sightseeing or we're not here for – I'm just thinking staying focused on the game.

Let's talk about the game. What is it going to take for you guys to come out victorious in this game on Monday? 60 minutes of consistency. Because the effort is going to be there. If you watch film, a lot of teams play with effort for 60 minutes. But we have to execute for 60 minutes, and we have to be disciplined for 60 minutes. And that's hard.

So what Coach Fisher said, you can either suffer the pain of discipline or the pain of disappointment. So for 60 minutes against a team that do what they do well, it ain't no secret what they're doing. You watch film, everyone watch film. You know what these people are doing, which says a lot about that football team. They're a great football team. So we just have to be disciplined for 60 minutes and consistent.

All right. Lamarcus, give yourself and the team a shout out, if you will? Florida State, 2014, looking forward for the BCS National Championship.

Thank you, Lamarcus. So Lamarcus, you've been doing all this media stuff, the fun stuff. How excited are you to finally get back out there and actually play? It's been a while since we played, since we stepped on the football field. And it's building up slowly and for sure inside me. Expect to go out here and have a great game in 2014 BCS Championship, and all the guys are getting excited. As the week wind down and the game is getting closer, I'm just really excited.

How do you manage your emotions and not come out that first play of the game and just basically run out there and not do what you're supposed to do? Believe in the power of preparation. Pay attention to details and continue to do the little things that we've been doing all season and understand that the chips going to fall where they may. So just continuing to do all the right things, being disciplined.

Like Coach Fisher said, you can either suffer the pain of discipline or the pain of disappointment. And I'd rather suffer the pain of discipline. So just keeping yourself under the radar and just understand that what you are really here for.

What's it like looking out in this room and seeing the walk ons, the freshmen, everybody getting the opportunity to talk to the media for the first time? It's great, because even the older guys like Deion Sanders, Derrick Brooks, Terrell Buckley. Those guys have opened up the path ways for us. People have sacrificed for people to be able to do the things that they are. And as a senior leader on this team, to be able to do the things that Telvin Smith or Christian Jones and guys like myself and Terrence Brooks have done, the sacrifices that we have done, it just – this is the reward for it. The young guys and the walk ons, and everyone get to come here and enjoy theirself. So everyone have to sacrifice for people to be in the situation that they are in. It's great to see everyone enjoying theirself.

Who should I go interview? There's a lot of great guys on this team to go interview. I don't know. A lot of great freshmen. But Ryan Green, great kid. Well spoken. He'll give you a lot of good answers, and personal person.

FSU made it to I believe the first three BCS Bowl games. What does it mean for you to finish it off with a Florida State win? It mean a lot, especially for me personally growing up, watching those National Championship teams on film because I was so young when they was playing the games to even understand. But just watching those guys and playing backyard football, and then when you get older and people tell you how good you are, you're expecting to come to a program like this and change the culture and be the reason that this team win the National Championship. And as a senior leader, being able to play in this game, that means a lot to me.

Obviously your guys' goal at the beginning of the season is probably to be here in this position, but what does it mean for you guys to win out the State of Florida as well? It's a big football state. You know, the South is a lot of pretty good football, and especially the State of Florida. You turn on the water faucet and talent fall out of there.

So to make it out of there undefeated, that says a lot about any team, you know, make it out of Florida, you have to be a pretty good football team.

And at the beginning of the year these are some of the things we expected. It's one of the main goals, and we're here and there's no better feeling. You have to just continue to do the little things and pay attention to details and continue to let the chips fall where they may, just do what you've been doing all year.

(No microphone). It's great talent and great football everywhere, on the West Coast, on the East Coast, in the North, in the South. But it does feel good for a Florida team to be back in this thing.

You know, I respect Alabama. I tip my hat's off, because those guys been pretty successful over the years. So to just have a Florida team in this National Championship, it feels great. It's not a pride thing. It just feel great to make your state happy.

(No microphone). Over and over. They're on ESPN every week, and guys just being in the right place at the right time, making things happen. And they're a pretty good football team, because the teams that they did it against was pretty good football teams. So it's not luck or it's not destiny, because if it was, the games wouldn't even have been as close. So those guys just were able to pull out the win, and I don't take nothing away from them.

(No microphone). You know, Coach Fisher prepare us to be situational masters. Those are some of the things we practice throughout the year, practice every week. So it's second nature for us to bat the ball down in a situation like that, not giving the offense an opportunity to get their hands on the ball and do what Auburn was able to do.

You've probably been asked this already, but the layoff, how does that help you as a defense prepare for Auburn? I don't think if you got a year, a month, a week, two days off, at the end of the day it's no secret of what Auburn is doing. They do what they do and they do it well. Teams know that. You just have to stop 'em. You just have to be disciplined. You gotta understand that as a secondary guy, or as a linebacker or D line, you have to trust the guys around you and be eye disciplined for 60 minutes. So I don't think nothing will help against that offense. You just have to be disciplined, you have to play some tough physical football.

What do not only their fullbacks but Jay Prosch, they sometimes get to second and third level. What do those guys do for that offense because they're some of the unsung heroes? If you watch film, those guys are animals. I mean, we watch film and we be like, God, we see why they get 300, 400 yards a game, because those guys block their tails off. They work hard for Nick Marshall and Tre Mason. Those guys are down the field making incredible blocks. So you have to just know how to get around those guys. We expect for the guys like the linebackers and the front seven to stop those guys before they make it to us because it can be trouble if those guys get to the second level.

Tillman is over there talking about watching Vince young in the Rose Bowl, watching USC teams in the Rose Bowl. What do you think of when you think of playing in the Rose Bowl? I just think it feel good for Florida State to be in the Rose Bowl. You know, those guys did what they did, and hopefully we do what we do and we get us a win in the Rose Bowl. It feel great to be here, though, to have a Florida team representing the State of Florida being here today.

When you see Nick Marshall, talk about what he does on the field and what you guys have to prepare for? I mean it's wholeheartedly, man. He's a nightmare for a defender. He's a prototypical quarterback, a guy that don't lack arm talent, if you go back and watch the film, he can make all the throws and then he can create big plays with his legs, and that's the way the game is converting to, guys that are dual threats at quarterback. So he's a nightmare. He force you to be disciplined, especially as a secondary guy, because you know they run the ball a lot. And you want to go in there and help guys. If the running is going well, and boom, he can run as you see in the Alabama game and get that thing over your head. So you have to be disciplined to no point of return.

Is that easier said than done? Everything in life is easier said than done. That's definitely easier said than done, but we're prepared, and we feel like we are prepared and we've been continuing. We haven't changed anything when we got over here. So we're pretty confident at what we do, too. We do what we do well, too. And they do what they do well, and that's why I know it's going to be a great football game.

What's going to be the toughest part about defending Auburn's offense? Can you be disciplined for 60 minutes. You can either suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of disappointment. We don't want to be disappointed. So we have to force ourselves to be disciplined on all three levels, you know, D line, linebackers and secondary against that offense.

What's this experience been like for you guys this whole entire ride and getting here to the National Championship? It's been great, but I still don't think anyone on our team knows how important it is until Monday night when it's almost game time. We've been preparing the right way, doing everything we've been doing all season, but I think it'll kick in, you know, come Monday night.

But you can feel the emotions and everything just building up as this week wind down.

Are you expecting any surprises from Auburn? I expect Auburn to do what they've been doing all season, steam rolling people off the ball, running the football. That's how they play. That's the thing about that team. Everyone in the country know what they're doing, but can you stop it, can you be disciplined and consistent for 60 minutes. They challenge you on that. They challenge your manhood. So we just have to get ready for a good tough football game.

Just talk about Nick Marshall, what he's been able to do this season as Auburn's quarterback? He's a tough guy to defend for defense. I understand why it's hard for guys to stop that offense because you have a quarterback that don't lack arm talent. But he can also run. And that's the prototypical aspect of football these days. You need a dual threat at quarterback, and a guy who forces you to be disciplined, he's a nightmare for a defender.

And Auburn's obviously been successful with the option all season long. How do you guys prepare for that this past month in practice? We've been doing the best we can do. We've been looking – see, it's good to learn from others' mistakes, so that's what we kind of basing our game scheme off of, just understanding what other people did and why they went wrong, and at the end of the day it's just overall tough team to prepare for because they do what they do well, and normally when guys run the ball is because their quarterback may lack arm strength or arm talent or intelligence. But that guy he can throw the ball. He can execute the option run. So it's a tough offense to get ready for.

Being a senior, what does it mean to be a Seminole? It means a lot. You know, Florida State has been a prestigious program for many years, but we went through that dark area where people forgot about what this program was capable of, and to be a senior and to be a part of what we're doing and rebuilding this dynasty and reestablishing the foundation around here, it's special to me.

Obviously there's a lot of talk of SEC dominance in the BCS. Does it do you good to see Clemson win a bowl game last night? It feels great to support your conference. You know, these are the guys that you play with throughout the year, and you want to get the win over them, but when you see them play teams from other conferences, it's good to root for them. It feels good to be on their side.

And what do you see on tape with Auburn? Obviously with the dual threat quarterback and the running game. What is the commitment to making sure nothing gets setup behind him? I see a team that do what it does well. I mean everything Auburn do, they execute it to the T. So you understand that throughout the week in practice that they're going to make sure they do whatever it takes to execute come game time.

And it forces defenders to be disciplined for 60 minutes. And that's hard to do. It's human nature to wander off or for a guy on secondary to want to be Superman or for a linebacker to want to be Superman. So you have to master your position and do your job against these guys.

And it's kind of crazy. It's one of those teams where some teams you may be able to do undisciplined things and get away with it. It's almost as every time you do something undisciplined against Auburn, they expose it. You're getting exploited. So they make you pay. So you have to be disciplined for 60 minutes.

You're cornerback. How much are you going to be doing run support on Monday? When technique meet opportunity, you make the play. If not, you run with that man if he run to the restroom as a secondary guy, because you see the Alabama games, you see the Georgia games where – if you see the Mississippi State game where defenders 15 yards back, you see the quarterback fixing to break pocket, you have no business going to make that tackle. Let the linebacker – trust in the guys around you, and that guy, he don't lack arm talent. So he get it over your head, now you suffer. Now you make the whole team suffer. So you have to be disciplined. You have to do your job.

Not have the safety mentality is what you're saying? You cannot. You read your keys, and that's your job. It's a National Championship. Love is the reason for the fight, and if you love this program, you will do your job, because if you don't, Auburn will expose you.

Assignment football? Assignment football. That's all it is. And it's tough to do that for 60 minutes. It's tough. Some weeks we may have got away with it. For some reason Auburn exposes that when you're undisciplined. So everyone have to stay disciplined.

What does it mean to you playing this game? It means a lot. And I still don't understand how important it is. I think come Monday, it'll hit me, but now it's a great experience right now and everyone is still in awe, like we can't believe we're here. We expected to be here, but when you get here, it's like, okay, what to do. Have to continue to do the things we've been doing all year.

This is a football crazy area. I mean you're talking southeast now. Football crazy area. But can you wrap your head around all this? It's amazing. It's a great experience. And we deserve this. You don't get what you want. You get what you earn. So I guess I can say that we have earned this as an organization to be here and to have a good time.

(No microphone)? Well, you ask Coach Fisher, he'd say the seniors, the 2010. The seniors. But we have a lot of great talent. Is that the best class talent wise? I can't answer that, because we have talent in every class, but as far as reestablishing a foundation and setting the tone as far as leadership, the 2010 class has played a big part in that.

What did you guys talk about as a unit as you were coming into the state? Did you talk about this day? The key theme was let's bring it back. We brought it back. We're here. National Championship. We didn't do it alone. We did it together. It went from the leaders, the coaches to the training room staff members to the culture change. We changed the way people thought around here. And that was our goal as players, to come in here, you know, we watched Deion Sanders, Terrell Buckley, Derrick Brooks, Peter Warrick. Those guys had a vision. Those guys had a belief. I mean those guys brung this program to what it was, you know, and why couldn't we do the same thing. And that's the way we felt, and that's the way we believed.

What's the friendly rivalry between the juniors? You know, we gotta put them in their place every once in a while, you know. Some days it's theirs, some days it's ours, but at the end of the day we have to reestablish that force, that dominance.

What's the biggest challenge Auburn presents for you? You have to be disciplined for 60 minutes, and that's tough to do. Like I said earlier, it's human nature to kind of wander off when you're doing things well. Those guys force you to be disciplined for 60 minutes, and the minute you are not, they expose that.

Do you guys feel like you're confident? You know, we can match up with any team in the country, but talent wins games. It doesn't win championships. It also requires intelligence. You know, it's not all talent. I believe that football is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physicality. So we can have all the speed, power and everything, but if we're not disciplined, those guys are going to run us out of the Rose Bowl.

What do you think about Nick Marshall? What's your challenge with him? I think he's a nightmare for the defense. He's part of the prototypical offense mindset where the quarterback is a dual threat, don't lack arm talent, can make all the big plays with his legs. He's a nightmare for us. He forces us to be disciplined for 60 minutes.

You know, when teams run the option read, it's because a quarterback may lack talent, arm talent or intelligence. He have all that.

What kind of look did you get from John Franklin on the scout team? See, we expect for him to be a little faster than Nick Marshall. So that's a great look. But just going through the week and practicing with John Franklin, the stress that he has put on us, it put us in the mindset of what kind of game it'll be. So we're prepared for this game.

How about the other freshmen and the secondary with you guys, guys like Jalen Ramsey and Nate Andrews, they talked about your teaching them, taking them under your wing from the very first day? What was your attitude toward these guys coming in this year? They wanted to learn. It wasn't that way when I first came in. Young guys came in, thought they knew everything. Older guys didn't want the young guys to take their jobs or have better things to worry about. If you want to build a program in an organization, it have to be positive teaching and positive learning from both ends.

Those young guys came in hungry, well respectable, great kids, great character, and you wanted to teach those guys everything you knew, and they wanted to learn everything you knew. So it was half and half. Those are some great kids, going to be some great players years to come and that's why it was so easy to coach those guys and to teach those guys.

Is it unfair trying to cover a big body like Telvin in practice? You better know where your help is. That guy, he's a one on one master. I don't care who you are. If you're one on one with Kevin Benjamin, the quarterback oughta throw the ball.

Do you remember the first time he came on the practice field and you got a look at him? I thought the guy was a tight end. I didn't know he was going to be able to move the way that he did, but he's opened a lot of eyes. He's a tremendous person. Love the way that guy go about his business.

How different is he now than when he first showed up? He's more mature mentally. Like you can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't have heart or intelligence, it doesn't mean anything. And I like the way that he has took a step down and understood that he had to learn the game of football and be coachable. And he's a tremendous person.

(No microphone). It's easier said than done, but you have to master your position, and when technique meet opportunity, then you can make the play. But you know, we go over all those things in practice and we expect for guys on the back half, safeties and cornerbacks to trust in the front seven, to play action, to still be on your guy, because that's what this game gonna be about, who can be disciplined for 60 minutes. And if you're not, Auburn will expose that.

(No microphone). We're ready to play football. We're ready to play some football, but we know that we need every single second to prepare against these guys. And the thing is we could have had a year off. Auburn still gonna run the football. The whole country know what they're going to do, but they do it well, and they force you to do what you do well.

Lamarcus, I understand you guys went to a comedy club last night. Did anybody try any jokes out? Well, I wasn't feeling well last night, so I wasn't able to go, but my teammates said that it was really funny, and they said that one of the comedian guys said it was the best experience of his life in the ten years that he been telling jokes because guys were into the show and guys was actually telling jokes on him. So I heard it was a good thing.

Kind of wondering, you look at your quarterback, Jameis Winston looks like he could be a stand up comic. He should have been up there. They should have invited him to do the show. Man, that guy is a tremendous guy, but he's very funny, man, very goofy guy.

Let's talk for a moment about the task at hand for the secondary for Florida State with the way that Auburn plays the game. Well, if you rewind the season, each week, each part of the defense has been tested, the D line, the linebackers, the secondary. Everyone has their game where they're going to be forced to make all the plays. This is not the secondary's game. What we must do is stay disciplined for 60 minutes. That's our assignment. If we're going to get the task at hand, if we're going to have success at it, we have to do our jobs, and that's the biggest challenge for the secondary because the quarterback can make plays with his legs and he don't lack arm talent. So he can suck you up and make all the throws.

And you talk about it. He can throw you a dummy, and you can take the bait and then the next thing you know, there's six on the board. And if you look, some teams allow you to make undisciplined mistakes or make errors. For some strange reason Auburn do what they do so well that the minute you make an undisciplined mistake, they expose you, you've been exploited. And that's been the biggest thing for that team this year. They don't allow you to make mistakes. It's almost like you have to get an A plus on a test because if you don't, it's six points, three points, 30 odd gain on the play. It's ridiculous.

Let me go back to the first game of the year. Pitt had you guys on the ropes early on. And then we go to the Boston College game in Massachusetts. Same scenario. But the bottom line was you guys prevailed and you played for 60 minutes. How much did you file that in your file and realize, hey, it doesn't matter how far down we are, we're gonna come back? And you hear a lot of people talk about Florida State been beating people by 40 points; they never faced adversity this year. We have faced adversity in those two games. And what Coach Fisher has installed in us, you can have a good football game but be horrible in situations. So we have learned to master situations. We have become situational masters. So whatever situation we are in, we have practiced that and we understand what's needed to be done to get out of that situation. So we're pretty confident in whatever situation we're in.

(No microphone)? I think that, like I said earlier, they force you to be disciplined for 60 minutes. It's human nature to be doing things and your mind wander. Like some games you may watch film and be like, okay, you made a mistake, but they didn't exploit that. Auburn for some reason they do what they do so well, when you make a mistake, they expose that. It can be six points, it can be three points, it can be a 30 yard game. And that's what they do. They do what they do well. It's no secret what they're doing, but what they do is so hard to defend that it forces you to be disciplined and execute for 60 minutes. And if you don't, then they'll expose you.

(No microphone)? Playing teams like that that's having so much success, it almost make you go into the basement and try to draw anything that's possible to stop them. So everyone has a plan against these guys, but those guys are going to continue to do what they do well.

So our whole thing is we have to do what we've been doing all year, pay attention to details, you know, believing in the power of preparation and letting the chips fall where they may, not over thinking, not over doing anything.

(No microphone)? If that wide receiver run to the mascot, you run with them, to the point of no return. You make that tackle when technique meet opportunity. So once that guy has broke to the second level, then that's your job. Until then, believe in the guys around you, because that's the reason we're here right now. We trust and believe in each other.

(No microphone). Could be a shootout. You guys never really happened this year. You know, I would understand that that's disrespectful, due to the fact that all the things that this defense has done this year. Our offense is a pretty good football team. So I can't look at it that way. It may be a shootout. Or who knows. It may be a three to zero win game. You never know. It's a National Championship game. Anything can happen.

Are you ready for the pace of that Auburn offense? It goes so fast. You know, that's the name of the game. That's a prototypical offense these days, going fast, going fast, but we have not faced a team that go fast running the ball. You know, most teams throw the ball. That's a little more easier than a team running the ball and as physical as they are and they do what they do well. So we're ready for the pace, but you know, it's a lot of other things that plays into it, you know, being disciplined, getting lined up, not panicking, just understanding the task at hand. So there's a lot of things that goes into that.

That pace forces defense into penalties, substitution penalties. You can't get off or on the field. You've seen it in the Iron Bowl. And they do a great job of that. They do what they do well. I said it earlier. They force you to execute and be disciplined for 60 minutes. But there's one thing Coach Fisher taught us and I hold on dear to is you can suffer the pain of discipline or you can suffer the pain of disappointment. We don't want to be disappointed. So we're going to trust what we were coached to do and if the game start to get hectic, we have to take a deep breath and keep chopping the wood.

How do you remain so disciplined when Marshall looks like he's gonna run it and then all of a sudden at the last minute, because he's wanting to suck you in. How do you do that? We love and trust in each other. That's why we're here today. What a lot of people have to understand is we do what we do well, too. That's why we're here. It's going to be a great football game, and as a secondary guy, when technique meet opportunity, then you make the play. Until then you trust in that front seven. You trust in the guy whose job it is to stop the run.

I was talking to Jalen. We have never talked to him before. I know you talked about him a little bit. But how remarkable is what he's been able to do this year, step in, start from day one, play just about anywhere and play at a high level? You know, Coach Fisher did a pretty good job of recruiting. That's the kind of guys we recruit and that's the kind of expectations they have. But what separate these younger guys from guys in the past is their heart to want to learn. When we came in, we didn't have a lot of guys that looked up to the older guys and we didn't have older guys that wanted to help the younger guys. These guys are great character kids, and that helps you a lot in football because it creates a platform for you to learn, to be able to be supported and do the things that you are doing; and Jalen is going to be a great football player.

What's it like as a senior, a guy who's been here for four years, to watch a guy who comes in basically in August and is like, all right, I'm going to do what he's done. Is that fun to see? It's fun to see because you wonder, was it this way for me when I came in. So it's very fun to see for a young guy to grasp your attention and to earn your respect immediately by the way he worked and the questions he asks and the understanding he already have for the game. I'm like I wonder if I was on that level when I came in. So it's fun to watch.

On a side note, and I'll probably ask you this again on Monday. I don't know if you remember, but back in August, I saw you outside, and you said you're going to see a National Championship this year. I know it's a silly question, but back then, I mean I know you envisioned it, but is it kind of crazy to think, hey, this is actually happening? If a man think it, it should come. If you believe with no doubt in your heart, you will be able to accomplish anything in life. And I wholeheartedly believed that we were going to be in a National Championship.

Is this experience everything you kind of dreamed it would be as far as all this? It's no different from the way I envisioned it. I actually expected a little more.

Well, there's still time, man. Yeah. But it's great, though. It's great being here.

Pretty cool to walk up here and see your name on the thing and all that? Yes, it is.

Are you having any family or anybody at the game? Yes, I have a lot of family.

Who all is coming? My mom, my God parents, my brother, a couple of their wives. Children. Everyone.

Are they coming from Miami? And Fort Lauderdale.

Okay. At some point do you think I could maybe try and talk to your mom? Yeah. That would be cool.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up in life? I wanted to be an NFL player, because I love watching football and I love playing it. And everyone told me I was good at it.

No matter the sport, what do you think it takes to be a winner? Hard work and dedication. You're going to fail sometimes, but you can't quit.

Lamarcus, can you tell me how it feels, what it means for you to be able to play in a BCS National Championship. It's your last go around, last college at game. Can you tell me some of the emotions you're feeling going into the game? I feel good. I get to be a good role model for guys like Marquez White, P.J. Williams, Ronald Darby, Jalen Ramsey. And I'm just paving the pavement for those guys to do the same thing when they get older. You know, they're going to be some great players.

That's big, man. Can you tell me how much the program has evolved since you first got here as a freshman to now as a senior. You've been here a while, you decided to stay. Can you tell me how the program has evolved? Florida State has alleges been a prestigious program. It kind of fell away from that. You know, everyone have those days where things are not going right for them and just being a young guy and watching a great program and understanding like the Terrell Buckley and the Deion Sanders and Derrick Brooks. In order for the program to be where it was at, those guys had to have a belief and a vision. When I got around guys like Jeff Luc, Telvin Smith, Terrence Brooks, we all had the same mindset and the same belief, and we just absolutely believe we can be the reason that that program – we can change the culture around there. So we understood that we could do that, and the program has come pretty far since we came in.

And you've accomplished a lot; All American, ACC All American, Future NFL pick. Can you tell me what this last game would mean to you to be able to get this game? I know how hard you play, see how hard you work in practice. I know you prepare mentally and physically for the game. Man, that's a big time question. This guy's a great reporter. But it means so much, man, because a lot of people don't get this chance. It's almost a thousand universities in the United States of America, and this is the one game that everyone want to play at. And it couldn't come at a better time, being a senior on my way to bigger and better things in my life, and growing up and watching those national championships and saying to yourself playing backyard football I'm going to be the reason why Florida State be in a National Championship. And to be living that dream, a lot of dreams don't come true, so it's very special to me.

Can you tell me about Marquez's haircut? This is a National Championship but that guy have a Super Bowl haircut.

My name is Jermaine Watson. I'm from the Florida State football team. I have a quick question for you. Who prepares you so well for those big games? You know, just throughout the week, I just want to slap that bald head right now, man. (Laughs). But you know, just preparing throughout the week, man, you guys getting us ready, you and Gumby, y'all guys are important to us, man. Y'all get us ready for the big time games, man. And I wholeheartedly believe we'll have a harder struggle going against you guys, man, the way you guys prepare.

Okay. I think we kind of take it easy on you, so I hope you have a good game. Hey, man, this guy know about me, man. He know already. I done rooted. You remember two days ago in practice, man.

We've seen a couple times now you go in and blitz and hit a quarterback and it looks like he sees you and it looks awful quick and when he turns around, you're on him. Do you think you're faster in person than you are on tape? Why do they not realize how fast you are? I think people still don't give me credit for the God given ability God gave me on that speed tip. My teammates say I'm fast. Sometimes I don't think I'm as fast as people say I am, but film don't lie, and I just seem to always get the job done. I think it's all about heart, man. I do the things that I want to do, the things that I believe I can do. So I don't really even know how fast I am.

Jalen Ramsey said you were faster than Darby. And we asked, is that a Darby with the injury or a full stream Darby? Do you think you're faster than Darby at 100 percent? I think it'll be a pretty tough thing if I was able to get the same kind of quality training that Ronald Darby was. We both was blessed with speed, and his was a little more polished than mine was. So I won't be able to answer that question, but it's good to say that I am as long as we don't ever race. So it's just good to just be even compared to a guy with speed like that.

Obviously you guys are one of the best defenses in the country, but when guys like Jameis are getting all the headlines, is it possible somehow this defense might be a little underrated? I think that's just the way the game is. It's a prototypical kind of football game these days. Everyone love the offense. That's the way it is. That's the way our culture is. But we've been overshadowed for the last past years because we understand that offense sell tickets. And that's what everybody want to see. But we're one team, one heartbeat, so we don't let it get to us. We do the dirty work. We're like parents. You know, parents, they do a lot, they sacrifice for you, they do the things they do for you to be successful in life, and they don't get as much credit. It always goes to the person that's in the light.

So we sacrifice a lot for the offense to have success, and we understand that, so we appreciate that.

Don't sell yourself short, too. You guys can put up some points of your own as a defense. Hey, playing against our offense, we may put up more points than them. (Laughs).

People are always saying, hey, this team haven't played a close game yet. It could affect them on Monday because they haven't played a close game. Do you think that really matters? I know you guys talked about Boston College as a close game. But it wasn't a close game until the fourth quarter? I think Coach Fisher has done an absolutely tremendous job because you can play a good football game but play situations horrible. Coach Fisher the way we train we train to be situational masters, so when adversity hits us like the Pittsburgh game, they marsh down the field on us, punching first, the Boston College game, it's a tight game. We pull away at the end. We're trained to be situational masters, so I think we're pretty much prepared for anything to come.

Does it start to get bored standing on the sidelines there for fourth quarters? It's not, due to the fact that you love football; and the guys that are in the game, they're on the sidelines supporting you, so when they're in the game and they're the younger guys, you're on the sidelines supporting them, and you love doing what you're doing. So it's no way at all that it gets boring. You just love being in that environment.

When you guys are watching that Auburn film, what's the biggest concern with the team do you think? Everybody do the things we've been doing all year, paying attention to details and no one being Superman; trusting in each other, trusting the D line to take care of their assignments and the linebackers and the secondary to stay disciplined, because that team forces you to stay disciplined for 60 minutes.

Last year Coach Saban of Alabama stressed the importance of weight training in the last 30 days and making sure you don't slack off. How much of a focus has been on weight training in this 30 days? Now, last year we played in the Orange Bowl, and you know, leading up to the week I go in the weight room, you may see three or four guys. Guys may not even be the super stars of the team. You go in the weight room before we come out to California, you see almost the whole defense and half of the offense in there. And you're like, wow, this is a culture change. People are changing the way they think and people are doing all the right things. So those are things that just going through over the years seeing improvement in that makes you happy and make you want to do the job.

Is that the leadership of the seniors like y'all or is that just the circumstance of playing in the top game? I think it's the standard that we have set around here overall starting from Coach Fisher to the coaches we have to the leaders we have to young guys wanting to follow, and young guys wanting to have success and continue to do things like this for things to come.

(No microphone). You went to a comedy show last night. You're in the LA area. Making sure to focus on the game. You know, you don't get what you want. You get what you earn. We earned to do those things, go to a comedian show throughout the week or go go cart racing or go have fun, but when it's time to do our job, we do it. We practice before we do any of that. So we understand the importance of everything, and those are just a little hour you get to have fun with your team and enjoy the success that you are having. But we understand the task at hand and we're going to continue to do the little things we've been doing.

(No microphone). I look at it as though the Tim Tebow and the Cam Newton situation. You have two NFL guys sitting on one roster. Everyone know about Jameis Winston. He's the Tim Tebow right now. He's in that light. But no one know about Jacob Coker. Great kid. Physical. I'll never forget one day he threw an interception to me, and that kid came and hit me harder than I ever been hit in my life. Yes, it felt like a linebacker; big kid, can make all the throws, very intelligent, and he's going to have a future himself, just as Jameis Winston.

(No microphone)? Well, the way he hit me, I expected it to be something like Telvin Smith. Just a missile. I mean that guy came full speed, and he was determined, and he smacked me.

(No microphone)? It was his first – it was my junior year. It was his first year.

(No microphone)? When you think about the game, if you have two good quarterbacks, you know, especially at the college level, because in the NFL, it's different; you may want to have a franchise quarterback, but in college level, you have a good quarterback, he may be done in two years, it takes a couple of times to polish that guy behind him, and at the quarterback spot they understand it's a different kind of patience from being a secondary guy. It's a different kind of patience level you're supposed to have.

So he's a great player. He knows the things he can do, and Jameis may not be going anywhere, but when it's Jacob's time, he's going to be a tremendous football player and he's going to get what he deserves.

(No microphone). Any one. I never forget on my recruiting trip a guy told me about Cam Newton, and he said that guy can start at any other program if he wanted to. I'm a young kid, I didn't know understand that. Now I understand what that guy was saying. Jacob Coker can start at any Division I level college that he wanted to.

(No microphone)? I haven't seen him at game time light, but I think he have all the intangibles.

Media Day: Linebacker Telvin Smith (Sat., Jan. 4) | Printable version (.pdf)
TELVIN SMITH AUDIO

How ready are you guys for the game? It's been a long layoff.We definitely are. I feel like this long break – I don't think we lost a step or anything. I think the closer it gets to game time the more we get ready.

Talk about Nick Marshall, much has been made about their run game. What about the passing game?Well, much hasn't been said because they don't pass the ball much. They are going to run the ball, they're a run the football team. I think when they try to throw the ball, it's more when there's more of a trick play or something like that. So he's a great quarterback, but we're going to have to go out there and play 60 minutes and play hard.

How do you think the young guys have done?They've given us a great look, if not even a better look than what we're going to get on the field, not taking anything away from Nick Marshall. Just because John Franklin, he's quick, but he might be faster than Nick Marshall. He's been hitting those holes, getting outside, having us run it. That's the look that we're going to need to win this ball game.

Auburn put up almost 300 yards against Alabama, over 500 against Missouri. What is it about you guys that you're going to be the team that can stop them? You just said it. That's Alabama, that's Missouri; we're Florida State.

What do you guys do defensively that they haven't seen?We're just going to go out here and play technique sound football. We're going to play for each other. We're going to make sure when the coach sends in the play, we do the right play and we're not going to try to be heroes out on the field.

What made you think you could get to this level (inaudible)?Coach Jimbo Fisher, he came in and he laid down what he wanted to do. He said this is a process. We're going to go hard and we're going to get the place back where we wanted to be. And that's what I wanted to be at Florida.

When I got out of high school we were a pretty good high school team. We were back on the rise again, and that's what I wanted to come to college and do. I didn't want to come somewhere where they didn't have a name for themselves, not that Florida State didn't.

(Inaudible.)Just maturity wise. When I got everything off the field, everything on the field started to develop more for me. So I was just maturity wise, and all my teammates around me, they definitely say I've matured a lot.

Let me ask you about the matchup you're looking forward to the most. When I say Jay Prosch what comes to mind?It's going to be a great matchup. It's going to be great. We're going to go out and play hard, just play our system.

What has been the message that Coach Fisher and the rest of the coaches have given you guys that you've hit the boots on the ground here?We're going to go out and play for 60 minutes. We're not going to go out and look at the score board. We're going to play hard and continue to do what we've done all season.

When you look at the Auburn offensive, where do you think you've got to shut them down?Everybody knows you've got to stop them running up the middle and the quarterback from the outside. You've got to beat them back to the ball and line up and execute. So if we do that we've got a great chance of winning this ball game.

You go into this game the only undefeated team in college football. When the coaches are away do you (inaudible) – now be honest?I mean, it's great to be undefeated, but if we go out here and get our mind on that, then all of that was for nothing. We've got to stay focused, and I think this team has done a great job of staying focused and in the minute right now. We won some great ball games. But if we don't win this one, that was for nothing.

(Inaudible.)Oh, man, soon as I got here. It was already a family atmosphere. But my freshman year when I lost my father, that was the most, you know, turmoil time I had been through. That was the craziest time I had been through. And Coach Fisher, my coach at the time, and all of my teammates, they rallied around me. And I think he knew he had to step his role up, because he wanted to as a coach. I gained so much respect for him.

Since my freshman year since I got here, they told my mom there's nothing to worry about. So through the whole process I think our relationship has grown. And everything I've been through off the field, Coach Fisher has been by my side. And I feel as a coach I can't do nothing but respect and love the man.

Talk about the preparation you guys have had out here in California.You know, we haven't changed anything up. This has just been like a normal week of practice for us. We've just been going out there hard. We can't look at everything around us, we can't look at all the clutter around us. We've just got to go out and play our game.

At the same time, are you enjoying the experience of being out here?I definitely am. It's a little different. I think I even got a little sick from this weather out here, but I'm still loving it though. I love being out in California.

How prepared would you say you guys are for Monday night?We still got another day of preparation, but I'd say we're a good 92 percent.

How are you guys preparing the speed of Nick Marshall?Like I said, we've got great guys like John Franklin, like Mario on the scout team and they've given us great looks. We continue to go out there and make sure we get back to the ball, beat them back to the ball, execute.

And it's not only about going fast, but it's making sure you're doing your assignment, because that's how they beat most teams. That's what we try to focus on.

It's safe to say you focused on stopping run.Exactly. Stopping the run is the No. 1 thing, but that's the No. 1 thing in every game we go through. We know that's what we must do in any football game, stop the run to win the game.

Coach Fisher said one thing that separates you as a player is passion for the game. Everybody out there loves football. Why do you think he would say that's one thing you were particularly (inaudible)?I love the game, but more so I have a respect for this game. When I step on the field I don't just say, Oh, this is another practice, because that's where it starts. Anybody can get in the football game to get happy and go crazy because there's people watching. You've got a reason to do that. When you can go to practice and have that same love and passion and energy that you can take out on Saturdays to play, then you know you've got something special. Every day I step on the field for practice that's what I make sure I do, I have that same passion here that I have on a Saturday.

You've been doing all these media opportunities. How excited are you guys to finally get out on the field and play?It's going to be big. We've been waiting for a long time, a month or so. All the practicing and everything like that is getting a little old, but we're ready to get out there and knock some heads. It feels like camp a little bit.

What has the experience been like trying to keep that focus?It hasn't been hard at all trying to keep the focus. Because all season we've stuck to the process. Coach Jimbo says, eliminate the clutter, that's the first and foremost thing. Don't worry about what we've done all season, focus on right now. Again, if we go out and we play hard and we do everything we've got to do, we're going to get the results we want. We can't look in the past or ahead, we've got to stay focused on right now.

Offense rushing attack, what impresses you the most?Just how they're able to execute so fast. A lot of teams they try to hurry up and then mess themselves up in the process. But Auburn, they stick with it and they rarely make a mistake on the offensive line or at quarterback.

So, yeah, it's going to be tough just trying to make sure we execute as much as they do.

Have you been enjoying this whole experience with the weather and all?I definitely have in the journey. I didn't think it would be this cold when I got out here. But it definitely has been nice. I love the California life. I like being over here on the West Coast.

You've seen all the East Coast weather; right?I can't say that. I love the state of Georgia, so I can't turn on them like that.

What has impressed you the most when you look at a kid like Jameis Winston? Just his maturity in the whole situation, not only on the field, but off the field. Not only off the field, but with his family and peers and everything like that.

Just for a guy so young to come in and take on a role so big and so major, and then not only take on the role on the team but in the nation as a Heisman Trophy winner, to have all that spotlight on him and still be able to stand tall when people criticized or people said you're this and that, you shouldn't have this, he persevered through everything, and when you have a strong minded guy like that with a heart to match it, that's an incredible young man.

One of the big concerns is you haven't played a close, tight ball game.That's just because that's the kind of football we like to play. We're going to start early. I can't help that another team can't keep up with us.

In the ACC Championship game where you went down early with a safety, what do you tell the team?We just don't look at the scoreboard. We've got four quarters to play, 60 minutes. We can't look at the scoreboard because 2 points go up on it. We've just got to continue to play hard and persevere through anything. As long as we do that, I know we'll come out on top.

Did Jameis say anything to you guys after that play?I mean, you know, he always stops on the sideline and say we're going to keep going, and the defense know that we've got to hold out. If they don't score, we win.

(Inaudible.)I mean, our motto on the defense is, it's on us. In order to be a great team you have to have a great defense, no matter if the offensive is okay, mediocre or whatever, you've got to have a great and solid defense. That's what we said on the defense, myself, Lamarcus Joyner, Christian Jones, Timmy Jernigan, we put that on us to say we're going to go out here and win this game for the team.

Yeah, we might not put up as many points, but when we get our chance to score, we try to put our points on the board. We always say it's on us, and that's what we're going to stick with.

(Inaudible.)Obviously we know we've got to get down there and stop the run. And we feel like we relied on our coaches this far, so there's no reason to change. We're going to rely on them, the called plays, we've got to go out and execute.

The biggest thing for us as players is to make sure we get back to the line, when we run the play, we're not trying to hurry up. Most teams they bust big runs on, they try and hurry up themselves, then they get out of line and try to make a play some kind of way, and then Auburn bursts for a touchdown, 60 yards down the field, or 30 yards, or even on the goal line, when you've got a quarterback and you're trying the stop, Tre Mason.

So it's a lot of little details that we must adjust to and make sure we have in order to stop the full run.

(Inaudible.)This is big. Personally, watching Vince Young and Reggie Bush and all those guys when out at USC, I said I've got to play in the Rose Bowl. I don't know how, I don't know when. It was just a blessing from God that everything worked out my senior year, my last year of college I straightened up everything and got my slate right, he blessed me to play in this game.

So we're going to go out and give it all we've got. Personally, I'm going to give it all I've got, just because this is the one shot at it, you'll never get this opportunity again.

For the team, this is a long time coming. As Florida State we've been working, this senior class we've been working hard four long years. We had ups and downs, we had upsets. We've been down that road. We had our learning curves and everything like that, we've grown with our coach. This is the only way – I would say this

(Inaudible) this is the year, this is the team.I mean, every year in college football a team comes in and they just dominate. It seems like nobody can touch them. They're on top of the world. And I just feel like this year the football god put that destiny on us.

Jameis as the Heisman (inaudible)?Right. Well, everybody knows your offensive is going to bring in the crowd and sell tickets; but defense wins championships. That's the respect that I have for him because he knows without a solid defense you can never have a great offense because it will be overshadowed by the points. I'm not going to bring up any teams, it's shows attitude and way he is, and things like that. He can pass the baton and say I know my defense is doing great and going to hold it down for me.

(Inaudible.)A dream come true. Again, the Rose Bowl, the biggest stage you can be on in college football, just to end it like this with a championship and say you're the best, that's what we've been working for the whole season, my whole four years in college, it will be a dream come true.

What do you have to do to be successful to beat this Auburn team?Obviously we've got to stop the run. That's the biggest thing. They come out and put up 3 to 400 yards a game. And one single player might have that. We've got to go out and stop the run and execute, execute, execute.

What does Jimbo Fisher tell you guys leading up to this National Championship game, a lot of anxiety?It's the same thing since we've been playing all season. He's given us the same message he's given us all season: Stay focused, eliminate the clutter, one game at a time. That's what we feel like we're going to do.

Jimbo says he thinks you've not played your best football yet. You say why? I say I agree with him. That's my head coach, if he says he thinks we can go higher, that's what we're going to do. That's one thing we say, go higher. We can never be average or settle for average or even settle for great; go higher.

When you watch Auburn on tape and see their running game, how good is it?It's phenomenal. Just the fact that they can go at such a fast pace and execute every single time, that shows you've got to be on your toes every time they snap the ball. So every time they snap the ball, we have to make sure we're lined up, know our assignment, and we go out there and do the job.

What is your first read when you see the offense, for your specific assignment, is it finding Marshall first, is it read and react, is it more attack? What is your specific assignment?It really depends on what play comes in the game. Coach Pruitt, he's done a great job, a phenomenal job all season calling plays. Just because I know they have dynamic players, if he calls in the play, I'm not going to try to get my eyes on the quarterback to make a play, I'm just going to cut to that receiver.

To answer your question, any time my eyes could be on the quarterback or the fullback or the running back or I could be going out to go at a receiver, it depends on how we run that play.

Discipline, discipline, discipline.That's all it is.

You can say it and try to practice, but how hard is it going to be when you see that you're supposed to instinctively almost run and read and react and chase a ball carrier down, sometimes you've just got to stay at home. Is that possible?That's what separates an average team from a great team. That's what I feel like has got us here all season. We've gone out on the field and executed. I feel like we haven't had any heroes that try to get on our defense. Everybody is playing assignment football. And that's what we're going to do Monday night.

When you see this running game on film, how is this different than like a Georgia Tech, for your reads what do you have to do differently?Just more so because they try to give you more smoke and mirrors. They try to send the receivers across your face, send the fullback across the face, and sometimes he's not going to even fake the play, he's just there to get your eyes going.

Just discipline, just making sure you're doing your job. And if that is making the play, blowing it up, that's what I am going to do. But if that is just taking on the offensive lineman, I'm going to do that too.

Are you guys going to win Monday night?Come on now. Come on now.

What did you see in the Missouri film? Were you shocked they tried to play them with three and four defensive lineman?I'm not going to say I was shocked. A defensive coordinator got his own mindset. He's going to try to do what he thinks is best for his team and go out and lead them to a win. Maybe the coordinator thought he saw something that the other teams didn't. I really can't answer that question for them. But in my eyes, maybe he saw something we didn't.

What was their mistake they you're going to do differently?Just got to be technique sound, disciplined with the run. You can't be a hero, like we've been saying. A lot of times you're in that ball game guys tried to get out their gaps, guys didn't have their eyes on the quarterback, guys tried to overrun plays, miss tackles. That's the biggest thing we saw and the biggest thing we've been working on.

Can you blitz to disrupt the run game?I definitely think the blitz could be effective in the pass or the run or even on the special teams. The blitz is a very effective play if you use it right.

How valuable is it having a month to prepare for this kind of offense?It's very valuable, because you're getting that work every day. It becomes muscle memory, you have to do it 365 times. But we haven't done it 365 times, but we rep'ed it a lot. But I feel everybody is comfortable with what we're doing.

How critical is Nick Marshall triggering the action in the option offense? He's big. Just because he's a running quarterback. He can keep the ball and run and when he run, he can break out for a long one and burst it on you.

We've just got to go out and make sure when you have the quarterback, you have him, when you have the running back, you have them. And if we do that we'll be great.

Lamarcus Joyner joked by calling Tre Mason a freak of nature in early December. Have you talked to Tre Mason, any smack talk?Come on now, you know, we never do that. And that's one thing I love about this team. We don't have to go out and say we're going to do this or do that, we're going to go out and play hard nosed football. We're going to speak when we get between the lines, between the whistle.

Nobody has really pressured you this season. Does Auburn have the best chance, do they look like the most difficult offense to stop?You say that now that Auburn has that – I mean, that we haven't been pressured. But at the beginning of the season Maryland came in. Everybody said Maryland is going to do it to you. When we were going to Clemson, everybody said Clemson is going to do it to you. When we were going into Florida, they're the worst team – my bad. We were going into Florida, Florida is going to upset you. We're going into the ACC Championship, we've been playing great ball all season, Duke is going to upset you.

All season we've been saying these teams are going to upset us, we've eliminated that. All we've done is went out and played hard nosed football, and that's what we're going to do this game right here.

You guys have been speaking about winning by 30 and 40. What kind of noise will that make if you guys do that Monday night?It will make the same noise we've been making all season. After that, if we put up those numbers, if we do that, then people are still going to say, well, there was this, so we can't look at all of that, we're going to go out and play hard and just see what happens.

Are you going to be satisfied if you win by like 2 or 1?I'm going to be satisfied if we win the game. Because we've put in all this work, I don't care if we win by a point, I don't care if the score is 2 0, I'm going to be happy with a W.

You haven't been in a real close game. If you are in one, how do you think you respond?We haven't been in a close game?

Not a real close one.Not a real close one. This team right here, one thing that we do respond to is adversity. Maybe we haven't faced it on the field, but off the field with all the clutter and everything going around. I feel like as a team we know how to adjust, and that's what we do, we adjust to any situation.

(Inaudible.)Whenever I speak, whenever I talk to my teammates, I let it come from the heart. If you try to write something or script something, then it's not real. I try to make sure I'm real when I talk to my teammates, and that's why they respond to it.

We persevered through a lot. So it's a lot of stuff that's on my chest, on my heart, but I don't know what's going to come out.

(Inaudible.)We've got to go out and execute, play assignment football, technique football. And if we do that, we'll have a great game.

(Inaudible.)It definitely is, when they're in a hurry up play, they rushed 12 yards on you, and in one play you're going to be like I know they're going to do it again, then you try to do something extra, and that's called being a hero. And that's what I feel like we don't have, we don't have heroes; we have football players.

(Inaudible.)If any difference, I've seen Coach Jimbo cry when Jameis got the Heisman Trophy. I've seen Jimbo go off and practice when we didn't execute right. I wouldn't say a different Jimbo, I would just say a more confident Jimbo in his team that he's got it right for this process.

(Inaudible.)I would definitely say so, that he's more confident. Not in any other team or anything like that that he's had, but he's more confident in us because of the players that he has, he knows the kind of job we're going to go out and do and how we're going to perform.

The way you were talking about looking at film, it seems you think a lot of these other teams were trying to be a hero, were trying to make stops. You just have to take your medicine with Auburn?Exactly. That's what you said. You can't go out and try to do too much. You can't go out and say because they've got 20 yards on this run, I'm going to make sure I get a tackle for a loss, because I know what it's going to do. Because at times they could switch up the whole play on you and run something else and then you really messed up because you didn't do your assignment. As long as we go out and execute and do your job, what we've been doing all season, we'll play a great ball game.

How confident is this team right now? You're No. 1, you're a favorite. You really haven't had a threat where you had to come back at the end.I mean, we're very confident, you know, that's just because we believe in each other. We know what we're capable of. We know if we play hard and play hard nosed football for 60 minutes, no team can play with us in the country.

Is there pressure on you being at the top?I don't feel like it's any pressure. We feel like we've been at the top since day one. Only thing around us that's changed is people want a number by a name.

What does mean to you?I mean, it means a lot just because you know you've worked hard and you put in a lot of time to this ball game. And to see it pay off like this, with a room full of people asking you questions about the game you love, I mean, it's incredible.

Talk about Auburn and the respect you have for them.We have much respect. This is going to be the second one in four years, if I'm correct. They're a great program. They have a lot of history. I even watched – I always watch the video on Netflix. I always watch that documentary. I just love the history of the game. Even though we're playing them, I still am going to watch it tonight.

Really?Maybe.

How do you feel about the 2010 class and where they started? How do you feel about the match up of FSU's defense against Auburn's offense?This class has come a long way. When we came here we said we come to win championships and bring Florida State back. As a freshman, people thought we were just talking, even the upperclassmen, they didn't believe in what we were doing and the process that Jimbo had. And I feel like every year we grind at it, we ate at it. Even though we got upset a few times, we pushed and we persevered. And it only goes to show that when you put your mind to something and a group of guys come together and love each other, the way I love you, man, I'm telling you, it's amazing what can happen out there on that field.

How do you feel about our speed against (inaudible)?You know, that's one thing that we've had above a lot of teams this season. We've had a lot of speed, beat teams to the ball. When they try to outrun us to the sideline, we try to beat them. I don't think this team is going to try to outrun us to the sideline. I think they're going to be try to come at us with a tough, physical game, so that's what we've been preparing for.

What are you going to the tell the leaders of this FSU defense to take care of business in this game?It's just like you said, we know we've got to do what we've done all season, we've just got to go out and take care of business.

You're able to watch Jameis. What goes through your mind when you see what he's done as a freshman?A lot of times on the field we're actually making adjustments and stuff like that. So we don't really get to look up at the player until we hit a guy, and then we try to catch a glimpse of something. So, you know.

But to go back and I do rewatch the games every time we play, so just to go back and see from day one how he stepped on the field, each game he's risen, overcome everything, you know, that just shows attitude again, how far he can go. And he's just a redshirt freshman. So the sky's the limit.

Talk about your defense defending that run game they have. That's something you guys have been looking at over and over.That's definitely what we've been looking at. Because that's how they've beaten multiple teams in the running game. Yeah, they got the kick 6 in the game against Alabama, yeah, they got the Hail May pass against Georgia, but at the end of the day, if those teams had stopped the run, it wouldn't have been a ball game.

That's what we're going to make sure we do, stop the run.

Talk about your confidence, defense confidence, team confidence.We play with a little swagger about ourselves. We know what you're capable of doing, we know we can go higher, and we know each guy trusts and loves each other. And when you say that, it only grows and grows. When you get out on the field and play for each other, you can see what happens.

Can you describe what it's going to mean when you step out on the field Monday?I've never stepped on the Rose Bowl field, never been in California, never been in a National Championship. When all of that come out on that field, it will be a great feeling, it's a blessing.

Jimbo said (inaudible)?I had – actually, it was between Georgia and Florida State at the end of the day. And I really, really, really felt great about Georgia, just because I love Coach Mark Richt, I'm a Georgia boy, I felt like having that G on my helmet, my favorite colors are red and black, it felt like everything was right to go there. But at the same time when I said I'm want to change the game. When I said I want to bring a program back, I saw all of that in Coach Fisher.

At the end of the day when I had to sit and think about it, it was more praying and saying, Lord, please let me make the right decision than thinking about it, and I know I did.

What did Jimbo say to you in the Burger King parking lot?Actually, he didn't nothing. I called him and said, Coach, I don't know what I want to do. I said I don't know what I want to do. I have to call you back. And I hung up the phone. So I know he went crazy when I hung up the phone. Just because I really didn't give him much. I just said I don't know, I'm going to call you back and let you know.

But I told him at the beginning, when he came and sat in my coach's office, I said I'm a Seminole, and when I said it I knew I meant it.

The nucleus of your defense are the four senior. Talk about your development and the special bond you have and now to look at Monday.Myself and Christian Jones, we met up, we went to camps together, we went to combines together, so we kind of got an early bond. And it was just crazy how everything worked out. At the time, I was yelling LSU and he was yelling Florida State. It just all played out.

When I heard Joyner committed, I never even heard of him, being from Georgia. But when I got here and I met him and saw his love and passion for the game, I said I love this man. And then he drove me, I drove him. Christian pushed me, I pushed him. And then Terrence came and put icing on the cake. We're going to have everything over the top.

And, man, it's been an incredible journey growing with these guys, seeing these guys grow and become the men that we have and lead this team the way we have.

People refer to Auburn as a team of destiny because of the finishes they've had. For you guys to be in the position you're at, injuries have been limited, you've dealt with off field stuff and come through it, they could say the same thing about you to a certain extent, no?A team of destiny? I just feel like – like I said earlier, every year a team comes into college football and they just eliminate everybody. They seem like they can't be touched. They seem like they're at the top of their game. Everything works out for them. The football gods put that on us this year. We've worked for it, don't get me wrong. But a lot of times stuff could have gone terribly to the left with the whole Jameis situation, with the whole injury situation, we could have lost many people. But again, we persevered and pushed and continued to believe in each other and now we're here.

Does Auburn's offense remind you of anybody you've played this year?The tempo would take me back to Nevada. The hard nosed running would take me back to Miami, to the Floridas. So I feel like all year we've prepared to be in this situation, game in and game out.

And then people say we haven't been in a close game, I feel like the Boston College game taught us, you don't take anything for granted when you step out on this field.

You say we won by 30, we won by 40, that's because we've learned, you don't leave it up to the refs. You don't leave it up to the other team. We have our destiny in our hands and that's what Coach Fisher has been telling us all season; we control our destiny and that's what we're going to play with.

Right after the BC game you had Clemson (inaudible)?Right. Like I said, we woke up after that Boston College game because we could have lost that game real easily. The running back, he was up for the Heisman. So that tells you the aptitude, the capability of what that team could have did to us.

With all the headlines with Jameis and the offense, even though you statistically you are one of the best defenses in the country, if not the bests, do you still feel like you get overlooked and underrated a little bit?Look where we're at. We can't get overlooked. Everybody knows who got us to this Championship, and that's defense. The offense sells tickets. They make highlights. But when it comes to that nitty gritty, grinding dirt, they know the defense is going to put that work in.

(Inaudible.)We pushed. We knew where we wanted to go in my first year when we got to the ACC Championship and Virginia Tech put that whooping on us, we learned then that you can't take anything for granted and the power of preparation is real. And that's when we started really believing in Coach Fisher.

The next year we didn't make it, but now since we've won two back to back, I think this Florida State team has really taken grasp of what we're capable of and how far we need to go to get it.

(Inaudible.)Be assignment perfect and it will take care of itself. If everybody does their job and everybody push each other to be great and go higher, I think we'll have no problem.

(Inaudible.)There you got me with that one. Let me see. Let me think. Before the Clemson game, what did Jameis say, We going to get a victory. That's what I've got for you.

What's the friendly rivalry between senior and junior class?Listen, the junior class want to say what they did – don't get me wrong, they brought a lot to this program, you know. But everybody know with 2010, the class of 2010 stepped on campus, Florida State was changed forever.

They came in – look at them. I'm telling you, they came in, they have some big shoes to fill. They pushed us, made our program grow a little bit. They pushed us and they let us know what we had to run.

There's no rivalry.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?When I was a kid I actually wanted to be a firefighter. And then I thought being a firefighter was something great just because they got to ride in the big trucks. When people called it seemed like they were there. At the same time, it didn't seem like they did too much. So a firefighter was my dream job as a child.

(Inaudible.)No matter the sport, what it takes to be the winner, you've got to have heart, you've got to have a strong mind and you've got to have leadership. If you don't have those three things, I don't care how hard you practice and everything, if you don't have leadership, I don't think you have it.

(Inaudible.)It's the power of execution. They go out there and they run fast. They snap the ball every 12 seconds, I think. And every 12 seconds all 11 guys do their job. And that's just big. And that speaks volumes to their team that they continue to play that fast and run it. And that's how they beat most teams. They get out and start running.

(Inaudible.)If you practice, practice makes perfect. We may not be perfect, but we're going to practice to get as close to it as we can. If we go out and whatever Coach Pruitt says, that's what we're going to do. If he feels like we can stay in one scheme and do it, that's what we're going to do. So it's on the coach, what he want to do.

(Inaudible.)It's time to tighten up my chinstrap and get ready to make some contact.

What has been the key to creating so many takeaways this season?Just Coach Pruitt, that's the one thing I can say about this defense. He's put us in the right spot. It's up to us to get there and make sure we make the play and get our hands on the ball, but Coach Pruitt has definitely brought this scheme here and transformed this defense into a takeaway machine.

How would you describe your strength of schedule?Our strength of schedule? I would say, you know, we've had our test. A lot of times people say our season – like I said earlier, we came in, people came in and said, oh, this team is going to do this, Monday night, they never perform great on Monday night, when we went to Pittsburgh, we went up there and won the game. We started off slow, but we won the game.

Maryland came in, they're ranked 25, Florida State better watch out, upset alert. We knocked them off. Next thing you know, we go up to Boston College, where nobody really talked about that game, but after that game, everybody said well, they're going to Clemson next. You see what they did to Boston College. We literally destroyed Clemson in their house.

Next thing they say, we've got an old time rivalry, the Florida Gators. They're going to get upset. This is a team – we went out there and played our hardest, because we knew what we had on the line and we won. Got to the ACC Championship and they said, Duke is a new team, a new coach, they're a team of this, they're a team of that. We went out there and we beat those guys.

All season I feel like we've been tested by others, and we've been put some place – our schedule, I feel like it's been just right for us, it's been a great schedule for us.

In the game film of Auburn, what's the biggest concern?Our biggest concern is to make sure we're lined up. It has nothing to do with them. If we line up and execute, there's no way we're going to lose the ball game.

Jameis is at his best against five rushers or more this season. Why is he good in that spot?Look at what you just said. We go against him everyday. We put that pressure on him. It's that defense, we get it right. When you get in that situation, he knows what to look for. He knows he don't have to start scrambling. He knows to look right there and get the ball off or he knows to look for K.B. down the field and throw it deep.

If you practice that way every day, then the power of preparation is amazing. We go out and practice against those guys every day, and we get better, and you see the results.

You've heard for a month about their rush game. What about your running game? I feel like we have three of the most dynamic backs in college football. James Wilder, he's a tough, hard nosed runner. He's not going to go down with one person. In practice he lets us know he's not going to go down with one person. But he just gets us right.

And then they put Levonte in the box. He's a shifty one. He's got power, too, don't get me wrong. He will lower that shoulder and drop it on you. And then you have Karlos Williams, I feel like Karlos is a combination of both of those guys.

When we go against those running backs every day, they prepare for the worst situation to come at us. Whatever a team throw at us, I feel like we'll be ready for them.

(Inaudible.)That is the thing that helped the most, that we had experience, and that we were able to teach the younger guys how to run the defense. A lot of people said this will be complicated, I don't know if they'll pick it up so fast. But when you have older guys that know how to learn, and have been through the process, it's easy to teach them. We have great leadership on this team.

(Inaudible.)It puts us in so many positions to make plays, it's ridiculous. In the Wake Forest game, we had like six interceptions or seven, whatever it was, that just shows the volumes of what the Coach Pruitt has done for us, and what we go out on the field and execute. I just feel like it just shows the versatility of each player on the field.

(Inaudible.)The biggest issue about stopping him is stopping the Auburn offense. He runs through those guys. At any time he can keep the ball or not keep the ball. It's just doing your assignment on the play. And if every guy does the assignment, it won't be an effect.

Tell me about your recruitment. Did you ever think of Georgia or Georgia Tech?I definitely did think of Georgia. Actually, on signing day I had a little epiphany and went through a little crazy situation with Coach Fisher and I called him right before I was about to sign and said I don't know, I have to think about it. I prayed about it and everything, and then I decided Florida State was the best team for me.

You're feeling pretty good about that decision right now?You see it, I'm smiling. I've been smiling ever since. It's great and I couldn't ask for a better coach or better teammates.

Have you ever thought about Auburn?No. I wasn't looking at Auburn. The furthest I was looking was LSU when they came through. But that's just because I love Coach Les Miles. I haven't talked to him since then, but I would love to tell him thanks for the opportunity, even though I didn't. I just love him and his program. And those colors, purple and gold, that did something to me, and the 'Eye of the Tiger' on the field, I loved it. But that Seminole 'Renegade,' it did something a little bit more for me.

Why Florida State over Georgia specifically?I just believed in what Coach Fisher said. Coach Martin was a great guy, he sold his program. I just believed in Coach Fisher. And he told me, I looked at the history of Florida State, in the '90s Florida State was the most dominant team in college football, and he said that's what we're going to be. All you have to do is trust me. When he said that and he looked me in my face, and when a man look you in the face and man to man say that to you, then I understood what he wanted and what he expected, that's when I said okay, I'm down.

Stopping Nick Marshall, he's a heck of an athlete.He's a heck of a player, heck of a quarterback. He brings the versatility to the position that a lot of guys don't have. So we're going to have to go out and execute and play hard.

What about for you as a linebacker, what makes it so difficult to stop what they do?When Coach says in the play I just have to do my job, each player, 11 guys have to do their job. If 11 guys do their job, we'll be fine.

How did you try to simulate Auburn's offense in practice?We have a great guy by the name of John Franklin, Mario Pender, those running backs and quarterbacks, when they run, and when they get you right, man, they push you. And I get mad at them sometimes, because I think they do too much, but they don't. They're get us right and they're getting us ready for the National Championship.

How confident are you that you can win this game?I'm very confident. Not only – not because what we've done all season, but because of the practice and how I've seen us prepare this week and this whole month since we've been preparing. Each week we've gotten better, each week we've gotten a little bit closer to what we want out of practice.

I feel like now that it's winding down, these guys are getting ready, and they're starting to foam at the mouth a little bit.

What's the plan for Coach Sunseri?Man, you're the first person that's ever asked me that. I'm happy you asked me. I never get to talk about Coach. I love Coach Sal. He's a straightforward guy. He's been in the football world a long time. He's been in Super Bowls, he's been in National Championships, ACC Championships, SEC Championships. He just has a long line of football history behind him.

You can't help but respect him on the field. But off the field he's like a father that you always wanted, because he brings his kids a lot. When you see how they love him, I love him just as much. I hug that big teddy bear like he's my own father.

He's a funny guy, isn't he?Man, he's funny. That Italian come out of him a little bit.

Talk about Auburn's run game and what makes them so effective and how you hope to stop that.What makes them so effective is the power of execution. They come out and they hurry up and they run, they run and run and run. And each time it seems like somebody messes up around them and they're able to make a big play. But that's what we're going to try to do, beat them back to the ball and execute the play.

How have you been preparing for that over the past month?Just going hard at temp at practice. But not only getting out of our schemes and just getting away from what we do, because we want to make sure we know what we're doing and what we're going to go into doing when we get out on the field. As long as we get out there and make sure that each guy knows what they're going to do, we'll be fine, I don't care how fast they go.

Talk about the past month and the adversity this team has faced.It's been crazy, all the ups and downs, not only this month but the whole season. If anything, I think it's brought us closer together. It's pushed us further, and let us know if we're not together and for each other, nobody will be for us. And that speaks volumes of how we came together, when everybody tried to tear us apart and tried to take our quarterback from us and things like that. If anything, it just brought us together and said we're one team, one heartbeat. We just stuck by it and that's what we live on.

How did this team rally around Jameis during that touch time?Man, we knew it was tough on him. But he's such a respectable young man that he just kept pushing through it. He needed what he needed, but he didn't need us there too much because he knew he was innocent in the first place, and then he knew he had a team that didn't have no worries about him. He knew we loved him and he loved us, and we just kept pushing through.

You guys have bonded together. When you take that field, who's going to be the leader that you look to?The leader that we look to? There's not one particular guy we look to. People look at me and say I'm the vocal leader, but we have a few. James Wilder is a big, vocal leader. Obviously Jameis is a big, vocal leader. Timmy Jernigan is a big, vocal leader. Lamarcus never says anything, but when he gets on the field he speaks volumes in the way he plays.

So it's not one guy we're going to look to, it's this whole team we're going to look to, and say we've done this all season, let's continue to do this by how we play.

Kelvin Benjamin said you're the Floyd Mayweather of football. Can you comment on that.I mean, I'm not going to talk too much about it, but we like to have our confidence and we like to play hard. So, yeah, when we take care of business in one aspect that's what you can say, when we take care of business, we take care of business. But off the field, we're a bunch of clowns and we love each other and just like to joke around.

Looking at how you guys have banded together, what does that say about the fight behind this team?That says in itself. We've got a dog in us that can't be tamed. Obviously Coach Fisher did a little bit of taming to get us on the right line. But it just shows we'll go the distance for one another. When any adversity comes on the field or off the field, this Florida State team is going to stick together.

On the upset alert every week, did you have to get over that yourselves mentally? Was there a game or two that helped you get over that?Other than the Boston College game, I think that woke us up, if anything. It didn't put anything us. But it put us in the position to say we know what we've got to continue to do and continue to get better. We can never be satisfied with where we're at. And that's how I feel like we went about our business.

So, yeah, that pushed us and brought us together.

You feel the BC game (inaudible)?Exactly, it definitely did. Because after that we played Clemson and you saw what happened after that game.

Does it help you have so many coaches on the staff who have been to a National Championship game?It definitely does help, because they get us ready for it. A lot of teams might not have that experience in the game and the coaches might get rattled. These coaches have been calm all weekend. They told us, act how we act, do what we do, follow us, and we're going to lead you. And they haven't led us wrong all season, so they're not going to do that this game.

(Inaudible.)I definitely see him as a threat on this team – on that team. He can bust a run at any time. He find holes. He's a very dynamic player and a patient running back. That's rare in what you'll find in a running back because they're so used to getting all these yards, head for these yards, but he's patient. He let his O line do their job, and that's why he's been so successful.

(Inaudible.)Do our assignment. Do our job. If we go out and do that, it will be a great game.

Do you laugh when you see Benjamin running through the secondary?I mean, I don't laugh, I say, wow. Just to see where this guy came from and to see where he started and to see where he's at now, that's just tremendous that he's able to push through that and keeps going higher. And he's just now starting, so if he keep going, there's no telling where he could up end at.

What changed?Just the team. I feel like he saw the duty or responsibility he had to this team. Everybody knows the responsibility that they got. We say be accountable, and a lot of times in the game he wasn't accountable, and he'll even tell you that. But now he said I'm going to fight for this team. When we say fight for each other, I really mean – I really think every player really means that, fight for each other.

What's it like trying to cover him coming across the middle?You know, it's tough, because he's a big guy. He likes to throw his body around and get to the ball. But he's a great guy to get us prepared for the game.

As a senior, how rewarding is it to be here? Has it sunk in? You're about to play in the National Championship.You know, if anything – I saw this with my picture on it and stuff like that. But all season we've just eliminated the clutter. All season we've stayed focused. So if we got to this point and we started to do the opposite of what we've done all season, then we're not who they think we are, or we're not who we think we were.

As a team that's all we're going to do, continue to push, persevere and stay focused, eliminate the clutter and play a hard nosed football team.

You haven't allowed yourself to enjoy the moment?We've definitely enjoyed it. We talk about it all the time. But when it's time to take care of business, all that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. If you don't go out and execute and play hard, 13 wins won't mean a thing, you'll be just the second team in college football or a team in college football that got upset.

Media Day: Quarterback Jameis Winston (Sat., Jan. 4) | Printable version (.pdf)
JAMEIS WINSTON AUDIO

How excited are you about all this? Very excited. Very excited to be a Seminole, very exited to be in the National Championship.

You talked about this being a rival game for you, being from Alabama. When the iron bowl game up, who where you rooting for?) Nobody. I wasn't a fan of either. If you are not an Alabama, Auburn fan your best option is not to root for anybody.

What does all this mean to you? You're in your freshman year, you have done well this year. What does all this mean to you? It means a lot to me, just because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Not many times you get to play with the team you are playing with and obviously being in a National Championship in beautiful California. It's an amazing experience.

What do you think of Nick Marshall? Great guy. Great athlete, great quarterback, he does some great things. When you see why the Auburn offense works, it's because he's a great quarterback.

Jameis you talked in the past about your relationship with Coach Craig. Can you expand more about that? And what he meant to you getting to Florida State. – (Away from mic.) Coach Craig is like an uncle to me, especially coming to Florida State. He's a great guy. I love him and his family. It's a genuine love, it's not the type of saying 'I love you' but I can look that man in the eyes and say 'I love you.

Have you talked to him? Yeah, I talk to him just not this week.

What was it about coach Ė (away from the mike) Because we were similar in everything, he probably been through everything that I been through. He knew about the whole college experience and at one point in time he was on top.

He helped me handle everything and prepared me for the situations that I am in now.

If you get tested how do you think you guys will react? We are going to play better! We lookin' for a football game, we not lookin' for a game that we go out there and blow everybody out. Ain't nothing wrong with blowing everybody out but we looking for a football game and we expect Auburn to give us one.

What do you think about Auburn? The intensity they play with, they think they can do anything. And that's one thing that our team believes we can do anything. When you beat Alabama it give you a whole different mentality and they playing with a championship on their shoulder and they got a lot to prove and we know we have to prove something, everybody saying we have to face an SEC team but Auburn plays with a chip on their shoulder and they play good.

How ready are you to get back out on the field? I'm more than ready because the football field is where I do my thing. I'm not the best talker, not the best commentator or anything like that but the football field is where I do all my work.

Being an Alabama guy, would it mean a lot to end the SEC streak of national titles? Well, yeah, it would mean a lot to me just to win anyway. Doesn't matter about being from Alabama or doing anything like that. It matters that my team goes out there and plays our best and wins. Of course it would mean a lot to me to beat a home state team.

What do you think of their front four? They do a lot of rotating. That's one of the key assets to Auburn's defense. They're amazing when it comes to that part. They play physical. I know, LaDarius Owen, that's one of my good friends, is on the front four and I played against him in high school in D 4, he's a fourth man, they have three – guys, No. 1, No. 90, No. 98. Just watching them guys gets me excited, it's going to be exciting because it's going to be a great game and challenge my offensive line.

(No microphone.) Of course this they tell me do what you do and let your team do your work. I got a lot of play makers around me and they have been playing great this year and there is no reason to change anything, it's a football game, yes, it's the National Championship game but it's a football game and we still have to do it big.

The off the field issues that have gotten complicated with your story this year, is that just what goes along with a college program with athletes sometimes? Of course you know adversity might come but adversity brought our team closer together and helped us get back on the train tracks and start chugging some more and keep going through that situation, to me, helped bring us closer together and get where we are now.

Do you think you have been unfairly portrayed? No, I can't control other peoples moves.

Countdown to kick off, are you ready to play this game? More than ready.

You were out here for the elite 11. Are you having as much fun this time? Everywhere I go I have fun.

You carry yourself that way and you exude confidence, does the team feed off the confidence that you have? Of course. We got a lot of other guys on that bring a lot of energy to the team. But its always good to see the quarterback bring a lot of energy and always having a smile on their, it gives other guys the confidence to move forward.

It's not inconceivable that you would have three, 1,000 yard receivers. Do you have a favorite? Actually my favorite is Nick O'Leary. The tight end. He does a lot of behind the closet things. Having the trio is just a blessing in my life, having the receivers is a blessing in my life. Kelvin Benjamin is gonna catch anything, Kenny Shaw is gonna catch anything, and Rashad Greene's gonna catch anything. Just having those four guys is a blessing.

How has coach Fisher done is terms of providing a chance for you to have fun, while also getting down to the brass tax of playin' your best football game? The thing about Coach Fisher is all of us know how he rolls, and he's a complicated guy, so looking in his eye, we feed off him. I feed off Coach Fisher.

How about Auburn, when you look at Auburn defensively what strikes you as the most important thing that you have to do when you look at the Auburn Tiger defense? Just have to go out there and get it. They have a great team and great performers, have to go out there and get it.

You have a special handshake before the game with coach Fisher's son, are we going to see something different? Going to be the same thing.

What's the coolest present you've ever gotten? I know the coolest Christmas present I had was a Rhino bike, because my birthday is around Christmas so birthday presents are usually just a lot of money.

(No microphone.) It would be the best birthday present I have had in my life.

What would it mean in your heart to win a championship like this? It would mean a lot to this program and just for us being – Florida State being known as the team that always ends up dropin' one, like to a smaller team or something like that.

It would mean a lot to our program not only to us but to the seniors because they worked hard over the past four years and it would mean a lot to coach Fisher 'cause this is Coach Fisher's first recruiting class and it shows just what a great coach us.

How great is your team? Our team is amazing and I know our team is the best team in the country and we go out there and do what we do, we gonna be hard to beat.

What has been the most part about this season? Just the way we play. We are not one of the teams that gotta sit in the locker room and be all uptight and serious, we have a type of 'swag' to our team. When you go out there and play football, the game that you love and have fun doin' it, that is what makes the game important. The football Gods are looking at it and saying, they're playing this game but having fun with it.

And how much pressure is there on you? How much pressure do you put on yourself? Do you have to have a great game to win? No, I don't have to have a great game, I have to do my job. That's what people talk about quarterbacks, all I have to do is manage the game because I got so many great people around me, so many great leaders on that defensive side of the ball and our defense has done an amazing job this year. Sometimes I haven't played my best games but we ended up with a victory.

And the pressure? Do you feel pressure? No, not at all. It's just another football game and the thing that I love to do. I love to go out there and play football.

Jameis are you surprised at your sudden rise, it hasn't taken you long in college to start making some waves. No, I'm not surprised. I got a great team around me and I don't believe in, like, a sudden rise. I was awaitin' to come and show everybody what we can do at Florida State and show everybody that Florida State is one of the top programs in the country.

What kind of advice did Ben Scott give you ? He told me always be Jameis Winston and that's what I do. He prepared me for all the interviews and stuff like that.

Now if you had to pick a sport, I don't want to fast forward your career, but what is your true love? Football or baseball? Both, both are my Truelove, I don't see myself playing one without the other. It may come to that day that I have to make a decision but right now I'm definitely not making a decision.

Do you think you can play both at the same time? I know I can play both.

Major league? Yeah.

People are calling Auburn the team of destiny. Does that it any pressure filled to win? Well, I'm glad they call Auburn the team of destiny, because at Florida State we control our own destiny. It's nothing what they are thinking or anything like that that can affect us.

I mean, that's great. They had some great games, beating people in the last 5 minutes, mentally more than physically they stayed in the game. That's one thing they talk about staying to the fourth quarter. But at Florida State we controlling our destiny and we tryin' to do it big. We not looking for miracles to happen. We lookin' to play football and do what we do.

People call you the team of dominance? Do you like that label? That's what we do. That's what we do, we dominate our opponent physical and mentally. That's what we want to do. Obviously with Auburn it's going to be a harder task because they're a great team but we enjoy dominating our opponent, that's Florida State football.

You haven't been in a close game all season. Are you prepared for a close game against Auburn in the final few minutes? Yes. Because like I said, adversity that we went through last month, that has been our close game because we had to get over that, I had to get over that and when we playing against Auburn we look for a football game and not to blow 'em out. Nothing wrong with blowin' 'em out, at the same time.

Talk about Coach Craig. I love that guy, he's helped me get to where I am now and he's like an uncle to me. He's a figure I can talk to anytime something is going wrong or anytime that I feel down I can call him and talk to him.

When he took the job at Auburn did you just say good luck? I was depressed, but at the end of the day I knew he had to do what was good, good for his family and himself, so I had to suck my tongue in and say congratulations, go do what you do. I know he played at Auburn, that's his dream job.

Wining the Heisman Trophy, what kind of confidence did that give you? The trophy doesn't give me confidence at all. My teammates give me confidence. The way we carry ourselves on the field, that's confidence. When I go out there and see how we work at practice, that's giving me confidence. A trophy will never give a football player confidence in anything they do.

Where does your confidence come from? For me. I'm always going to be myself. I'm not going to carry my way in a bad manner, I will always be high energy, have a smile on my face, you will never know what's wrong with me.

What's your motivation? My motivation?

Core motivation? I got so many things motivating me. All this anger built inside me that people don't even know. I'm going out there to play football and when I step on the football field that's what I do, my love and my passion.

Where is the Heisman Trophy? I don't know, it's at home somewhere in Alabama.

What is perception of you when you go back home? I been to the mall a couple times, I was probably in disguise, but it's always fun to win the Heisman because that's one of the prestigious awards, but I'm more focused on this game and winning a National Championship. That's what defines a quarterback, not the awards but when they win the National Championship.

How has your life changed in the last 6-8 weeks? My life hasn't changed. The award is a privilege and it makes me feel good but my life hasn't changed because I still have that goal to get that National Championship. I'm not looking for my life to change I'm looking to change other people's lives, looking to make my teammates happy and bringing home the National Championship is more important than anything else.

What quarterbacks do you emulate your game after? Recently Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton, I enjoyed Michael Vic, I love the way Tom Brady and Peyton Manning think.

(No microphone.) I can't hear you.

Was there a turning point for you and your team this year? We knew in the spring that we had a chance. But when we played that first Pitt game and saw how we came together and putting a good game together and when we went to Clemson and saying that we wouldn't be able to stop their offense. That gave us that service. When we went to Clemson and blue them out of the water that give us confidence that, hey, we good! Our offense good, our defense good because after the Boston college game people were saying Florida State's defense is suspect and all this stuff and we went to Clemson and played that game and that's the game that put us over the hump.

Does Auburn remind you of a team you have already played? Auburn reminds me of Clemson, guaranteed because before that game everyone was saying, hey, Clemson has the best defensive linemen you will play and that's what everybody is saying, they're saying that this game. Obviously we can't listen to what everybody else is sayin', we gotta go out there and play football and dominate.

You said you didn't want to be known as a running type quarterback, can you expand on that? Because when you prepare yourself mentally before a game, letting your God given abilities sit in your box and use your arm and your brain to execute plays, that's good because no one has to know that you can run. The quarterback position you can hand the ball off to your running back and let him get all the carries but you have to produce in the passing game, you gotta be able to think mental and when you are the quarterback all the pressure is on you so I love the thinking part of the game instead of the athletic part.

Who instilled that in you? Well, all through my life I was in the wing T offense and coming up through high school people used to say Jameis is just a running quarterback, he can't throw so initially I wanted to show people I could throw so I got better and better at throwing.

What have you enjoyed most about playing for Florida State? Just the way we play.

What challenges do you see on film about Auburn's defense? At the end of the day they're going to have to get in their defense and play us. So all the disguising, I can look at the defense and say, hey, they're going to be in this so all the disguising, that's not hurtin' us.

We saw the video of you rapping with (away from the mic), who was worse? Probably me. That was tough out there, in front of all of our players because of course some of the guys were going to 'hate' on our lyrics, but it was fun, real fun last night.

Who is the best rapper? The best rapper? That's hard we got a lot of good free stylers on the team.

Is there a particular challenge you will have to face? A challenge? To play a great football team. We going to be playing an amazing football team, we lookin' for them to battle us and come out there and play the game that they have been playing all year. We not lookin' for them to play down or nothing like that so all the viewers at home can say this is one of the best games in college football history.

How has your preparation been? Great. I watch film every single night and that's what you gotta do.

You talked about your baseball career earlier, How difficult was it for you in high school make a decision to pick a college? That's why I have a good relationship with Coach Craig because he made it easy on me and Coach Fisher and Coach Mike Martin Jr made it easier, because at Florida State they helped me be a Seminole because I saw how Coach Mike was going to help me prepare for the MLB and playing Florida State baseball and I knew Coach Fisher would prepare me to be a great quarterback in the NFL one day.

Do think if you had not chosen college football, you would (away from mic) ... I would hope to think that, but obviously I can't control none of that. I gotta get better at baseball just like I gotta get better at football.

With all these distractions, how do you manage to stay focused? I haven't reached my max goal. That's easy because at the end of the day I want to be the last person on that field and I want to be holding up that crystal ball and all the awards that an individual can receive, nothing is more important than hoisting that crystal ball up there with your team singing 'We Are The Champions!'

As a man, how did you grow up on facing the situation of dodging the criminal charges? I know I did nothing wrong so I had to look at the adversity as something to grow from. You can grow from everything so I got closer with God spiritually and I got closer to my team and saw how they supported me and how Coach Fisher supported me.

Talk about baseball, how strong is your love for baseball? I would like to say I'm pretty good because I got that confidence and I know I can pitch with anybody but I got to get better in the field and at hitin'.

Obviously you will probably have a chance to be in the NFL and maybe MLB. What are you going to play? I'm going to play both. It aggravates me when people ask me, are you going to be able to play both, obviously you can play both.

Bo Jackson your inspiration for that? He is, he's from Alabama.

What has he been able to tell about you that. I haven't talked to Bo that much but watching him and watching the things he do gives me inspiration to see I can do anything I want to do and watching other players go out there and play gives me the inspiration that I can do anything I want to do.

What about spring baseball? I'm not worried about spring baseball practice and Coach Marlin is down here and he knows not to even come my way talking about baseball right now.

What's the biggest concern about the Auburn defense? I'm not concerned about anything, I'm concerned about our team's performance and how we are going to play. We play Florida State football we goin' to be hard to beat.

Would it be a good birthday present? It would be the best birthday present in the world.

What do you attribute to the high scoring offenses in college football? Defenses don't know how to stop certain offense. I talk about it in the SEC a lot. Like with Johnny Manziel, people saying Missouri will never be able to adjust to the SEC but it's hard to stop a dynamic offense when they have so many assets to it. That's what I like about watching teams like Missouri and when Boise State used to be so good I used to watch teams like that.

Do you like high-scoring games? Honestly I just like playing football. I don't care about the score. I just like going out there and playin'. A tighter, high scoring game would be fun, obviously.

Do you feel like emotionally you're prepared for this game? I feel like I'm prepared because at the end of the day I'm not going to be playing against the environment, a lot of people say that about Clemson, Jameis is not going to be able to handle that environment, I'm going to play football. I'm going to do what I do because I have a great football team around me. We can do anything on that football field. We can't control the atmosphere or if it rains or if the sun is shining but we can control what happens football field.

Where did you learn to kind of put it aside like that and just focus? That's just me. I don't worry about anything like that.

What do you worry about? What am I going to do every single day to help my team out and get better.

Do you foresee a time in the future when you have to choose between baseball and football? I mean, obviously that might happen, but I don't expect that to happen. I want to keep playin' both as long as I can.

What would it mean for you guys to win this for the state of Florida? It would mean a lot and the whole program. Even when we see our track team they are like, hey, you are the Florida State champions and I wish we could play UCF, because now we going to have a lot of stuff saying I want to beat UCF and obviously we want to go on for a greater accomplishment, but we ain't had that at Florida State for a long time.

Is Florida a big enough state to have another big program like UCF? I would guess so. If you playin' football and you goin' to be on your 'A' game like UCF, they can play with anybody and I respect UCF.

Have the upsets in the other BCS bowl games the last two days been a reminder to you guys? No, we just playin' football. We not worried about an upset alert. We was playing Maryland and we was on upset alert and we was up 21 0 so we don't worry about anything, we just going to play football and we play our best game we going to be hard to beat.

Have you watched Blake Bortles of UCF much and do you think there are any similarities? No, I haven't watched 'em much but I know he does a great job of managing the team and obviously he's a winner. He just won the Fiesta Bowl and I respect him for that.

What's your biggest concern about the Auburn defense? I don't have any concerns because I know that the offense that we have is going to be prepared and I know we play like we need to play, we're going to be hard to beat.

Obviously, Auburn has a great team and I'm pretty sure they don't have any concerns either. Obviously it's going to be a great football game and it's going to be, hey, who is the biggest and the baddest?

How does Auburn's defensive line compare to the teams you've faced this season? They remind me of Clemson's defense with a front four, they have a great team and they are fast all-around. So that's who they are most similar too, they have a great front four like Clemson.

How do you prepare to face a front four like that? Obviously I'm going to have to get the ball out of my hands fast but I trust my offensive line they have done a tremendous job this year and I trust everyone around me.

After losing a lot of players to the NFL and with coaches leaving and a lot of things being new this year, how has this team been able to be so successful? We didn't look at that stuff as something to dwell on, we just looking at, hey, we want to be national champions, so we don't care if we get you new coaches in or I'm going to be the quarterback, we just want to win and from the spring we decided we gonna dominate everybody we play. We had a unity council meeting with 20 of us players meeting Coach Fisher and the first day he was like, 'I just want to dominate everybody' and that's been a goal all year. Me being new and the coaches being new that's something we can't control but one thing we can control is how we play on the football field.

Did the upperclassmen make you carry the bags and gear because you were an underclassmen? Oh, yeah, my true freshman year I had to carry the footballs on and off the field especially during the summers with Seminole 7 and I sometimes I was tieing people's shoes and I still tie people's shoes, especially my linemen but there was no hazing or anything like that.

How often do you talk to Coach Craig? Well, usually when I have problems on my mind, he knows. He will call me at 5:00 in the morning and say 'Jameis, is something on your mind' and I talked to him a couple of times and I actually got closer with Coach Fisher than anything because that man stood beside me and trusted the process.

That's how he became my father figure because I gained a lot of respect for him through that whole thing.

What are some of the most funny things Coach Craig has shared with you? Oh, man, I can't share those with you because Coach Craig is a funny guy.

Do you think it's been hard for Jacob to come here and have to be the backup? To Jacob, to other people it would be something they would be like, hating, at some point but he has no hatred at all, he is one of the most genuine people, he is from Alabama, what do you expect? Me and Jacob knew whoever got this position we trusted each other. Like the Pitt game when I threw my first touchdown, Jacob was the first guy to dap me up and I would have done the same for him. Me and him just great friends and he's a really good person.

People often question Jacob's physical strength, what do you think about that? Jacob is the only person I know that can throw off one leg better than anyone else. When you see him at practice, he loves to throw and he just had surgery on his knee, Jacob is a great athlete, 6'4", 6'5" and 230, me personally I think Jacob can go anywhere and start in any program.

Who throws it farther? I know I can throw it farther, Jacob and Sean got a lot of zip but I know I can throw it farther than all of 'em.

Does everything you've been doing the last few weeks ever seem surreal to you? It prepares me for everything and going to the high school I went to, at that school I wasn't a super star, but people didn't realize that I was the number one quarterback in the country or anything like that but it helped me for the situation I went through this past month it humbled me. Being here now I'm not noticing that, hey, I just won the Heisman Trophy because I want to get the National Championship. I probably breakdown and cry in tears if we win that thing because so much happened this year and so much has happened to my whole life that moments like this you want to cherish and you don't get these moments any other time. So I want to make the most of it.

How much more unique is it that you are playing Auburn? When you look at people like Teddy Bridgewater, he played two home state teams in his past two bowl games, I mean that's something that inspired me and Teddy did it, Teddy went out there and showed out against his two home town teams, Miami being one. He beat 'em bad. I know what he's feeling right now because I feel the same way because I know people in Auburn so this is my rival game like the Florida game I didn't know many people on the other team so it was a team rivalry game but this is my rivalry game playing against Auburn.

Do you see lots of opportunity against Auburn's defense? I see a lot of opportunity against any defense that we play against.

Some people say this might be the first real pressure game you've played in. Do you feel like that? I trust my team. I can't control what people say about pressuring and stuff because they said that against Florida and against Clemson so it's going to keep goin' on and on every single time.

Auburn has a great team. People say they're a team of destiny but the thing about Auburn is the 'will' they play with. They play with such passion and they love the game and that's why we playin' against them right now.

Was the Clemson game a turning point in terms of the confidence with you guys and how far you could go? Definitely. When we saw how we beat Clemson and our defense stepped up and basically controlled that game. We knew that was the game that got us over the hump.

Jameis do you follow Alabama? Not as much. Most of the time – only reason I know about them playing is one of the players will say, 'check it out' or something like that. So I don't keep up with it but obviously me being from the state I have people at home saying 'hey, boy, y'all still can't beat Alabama' so I pay attention to that.

Did you get to the watch that game? I watched the end of it.

Tell me what that was like, the ending? That was the craziest ending I've seen in my life, there was some crazy stuff that happened in that game.

At that point in the season, you were really close to being in this game. How did you feel when you found out it was going to be Auburn? Well at the end of the season I was telling myself, we gonna play Alabama or Auburn and obviously the team we wanted to play was Alabama because Alabama is on top but what's wrong with playing Auburn? Auburn won the last championship out of this state so we looking forward to playing anybody but I wanted to play a team from Alabama.

You seem to feel really comfortable in this setting. How do you feel about your development process as a quarterback and just understanding that this is a part of the job? Well, this is another thing that my team feeds off of. When they see me, no pressure, not a word on my mind. Some people watch our interviews because most of the time we talk about people during the interviews. But when we see confidence it's good to have a smile. Even when things are going bad, so you can never let someone see you sweat.

How did you prepare for that sort of media training? I got a lot of people that help me out with everything, especially with Kerwyn even my high school coach, he prepared me and tell me the good things to say, always be positive because you can never be positive too much.

Jameis before the Clemson game your teammates said you had a sayin'. It caught on. Talk about how that caught on. Can you talk about how that caught on with the team. That's just a sayin', like, 'If you gonna do it, might as well do it big.' No reason to go out there and do and I actually got that from Webbie and he probably looking at me right now and telling me I'm stealing his words but it's a real statement and most people don't recognize what that mean. But if you're goin' to do something you might as well do it your best and do it big.

How do you explain your poise under pressure? I trust my team. When you have a great team around you like that, it's easy to be comfortable with every situation. Obviously I'm going to lose those guys one day to the NFL and I'm going to have to be the head man and I know I will be ready for that situation because handling the adversity last month and handling everything my whole life I know I will be prepared for that.

A lot of the receivers was talking about how you're throwing guys all over the field. Where did you gain that ability? One thing that Coach Fisher said to me, throw it to the open guy because the play don't care what makes it. That's what he harps on so whatever needs to get the ball, whoever is open give 'em the ball because at the end of the day the play don't care.

Could you talk about was it a shock to you when Coach left for Auburn? It was a shock to me at first because we were close, but I was happy for him at the end of the day, even though I was sad that he left. I was happy for him because that was his dream job. Obviously he got paid a lot and he played for Auburn and that's something he wanted to do. I know his family and I know it was big for them, too.

Are you making any contact with him this week? Not at all.

Could you talk about being developed as a young quarterback and the best advice early on to become championship material? Coach Freeman got me started on the baseball/football thing. I used to wake up at 7:00 in the morning and go to the Academy and practice with him. I would throw the football in the morning, pitch in the afternoon, and hit after I pitched. I started at a young age and that's why I think that I really just got focused on this, being with Coach Freeman and saying, 'Hey, this is not just a fun thing, it's something I want to do the rest of my life.'

You guys set the touchdown record in all of college football. The idea is to score a touchdown every time you get the ball, right? Well, we not worrying about no records. We want our name to be in the history books for winning the National Championship in 2014.

Talk about the preparation you've had out here. I believe we have had some great practices and the way we have been carrying ourselves out here not doing anything outside of football, just locked in and getting ready to play a great Auburn team.

Enjoying the experience? Yeah, we enjoying the experience because Cali has beautiful weather and it's good to lay in the comfortable bed and watch some football after a great practice.

You talk about doing it big. How much do you guys want to go out there and win by another 30, 40 points? That's always our goal, there is nothing wrong with that being our goal, but obviously we lookin' for a good football game. This game, playin' Auburn they're not gonna allow that to happen and if they do allow it to happen, we might as well do it big.

You guys have put together a record season. Do you think about your legacy if you win this game? We don't think about no legacy stuff; we think about winning a National Championship. All the other stuff will come, all the stats and the records and stuff I did, that's going to come after but right now I know all the other Seminoles are thinking about winning this game.

How hard was it to not go to the state of Alabama for playing college football? I mean, it was hard but when you got people like Coach Fisher and people like Coach Craig and genuine people, like Coach Mike Martin, it's all good. You just want to come and play for those guys.

How much has it helped having KB, Rashad, all of them come back? Well, Trey, let me tell you what, when you have a great team like we do at Florida State University, you can do anything that you want to do, Trey. Having those guys, having Nick O'Leary, Kelvin Benjamin, Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw, James Wilder, Carlos Williams, and you have a great offensive line, Trey, hey, you made to go to the National Championship game, Trey.

Coach Fisher said he doesn't believe you guys have played your best game yet. Do you believe that? Because Coach Fisher is a perfectionist, and we like to view ourselves in his eyes and if he says we haven't played our best football game, we haven't. And our best games, we have a turnover or something. We have a board on our wall and we want there to be all 'yeses' and we haven't had a game where we have had all 'yeses' on that board.

Have you ever had any anxiety or anything like this building up to a game? I'm more anxious for it to be my birthday than the game because I know we going to go out there and play good on Monday. That's a football game, that's something I love to do, but I'm ready to be 20, man!

When you see Tre Mason play, what do you see in him? I see a beast. Every time I look at Auburn's offense, I see physical specimens running all over the field. I really admire those guys, because they run that offense to a tee. Same thing with their defense, you see the their defensive line, D 4, LaDarius Owens, Cassanova McKinzy in the middle, I mean, you just see beasts running around on that field.

How big of an advantage is it for you as a quarterback when you see the matchups on film? Are you licking your chops? At the end of the day it's whoever got the most heart and the will is going to do it. I'm blessed with the offensive line that I have with Kelvin Benjamin at 6 6, Rashad Greene, our speedster, and Kenny Shaw, our position guy, and even Nick O'Leary, our tight end, so we got a lot of match ups, and we are looking forward to playing against them, but their DBs got a lot of heart and they been playing real hard this season.

Do you believe in the destiny of Auburn, or your dominance more? I believe in controlling your own destiny.

Can you talk about your relationship with the trio off the field? Oh, man, the trio has brought my swag up, not alone just the trio, but Bobby Hart, the right tackle, he's really bumped my flag up. Being around those guys, I'm havin' fun. It's always good for a quarterback to have a great relationship with his teammates but for us to hangout and for us to get mad at each other and come back the next day and be like, 'Man, I love you, man' that's good to have that relationship.

Away from the public and hanging out what's it like? I'm happy when Rashad Greene cooks. He's an amazing cook, and I look forward to going to his house on Sunday and eating.

They said they can't go out anywhere with you, because you get swarmed by people. I enjoy staying in. I'll be one to go out and people always hit me up in Tallahassee, but it's not that bad, they just always be complaining and stuff.

Is this an important day to you? Don't play with me y'all, you know it's my birthday, man.

It's your birthday, Jameis. I know, I said don't play with me like that. I know it's my birthday.

What's it going to be like for you and the rest of the team? I'm just going to enjoy the atmosphere and my team, we're going to win a National Championship.

Happy birthday! I'm going to enjoy playing in the National Championship because it's a once in a lifetime opportunity. Thank y'all.

Happy birthday. It ain't my birthday. Tell me happy birthday when it's the day!

How much would it mean to send the seniors off with a national championship? That's the best part, having an opportunity to send those guys off with a National Championship. Being able to come back the next year as a National Champion, that's the best part of the whole season.

What will it feel like for you? I'm going to be dreaming, that was my main goal winning a National Championship. I couldn't have dreamed of winning the Heisman or any awards but definitely the National Championship was in my dreams.

What does it mean for you to be playing at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena? It means a lot because things I heard about the Rose Bowl and how good the grass is, when you see the practice field, we can't wait to get on that turf – not the turf but we can't wait to get on that grass out there at the Rose Bowl.

What are your impressions of Auburn's team? They just a bunch of beasts, specimens running around on that field and they're a great team. They have a lot of heart.

Can you talk about your relationship with Tre Mason that you spent time together with the Heisman Trophy? Me and Tre Mason real cool but I have a better relationship with the defensive players because I played with LaDarius Owen, Cassanova McKinzy, and Chris Davis, and Jake Holland. That's going to be fun playing against those guys again.

(No microphone.) Y'all ain't gonna sing happy birthday to me? Thank you.

When did you realize you were going to be playing in the national championship? In the spring I knew we had the team to do it, we just had to go out there and preform.

Why did you realize it so early? You don't see those guys I got around me? They'll make you realize you could go out there and play quarterback, I mean those guys are amazing. Having a great coach, great scheme, having great players, Kelvin Benjamin, Kenny Shaw, Kenny Shaw, Nick O'Leary. I can name my whole offensive line, great running backs. It's a great team that has great offensive weapons.

Do you kind of want the ball in your hands and just go down the field in the final drive? Well, I always want to blow people out but if the ball – if the game is going to come down to the final drive that is going to be one of the most memorable moments of my life, especially in the National Championship and those are the moments you want.

You haven't had that feeling yet so far in college. Do you want that at some point in your college career? It's gonna come when it's needed and I'm gonna be ready.

Have you thought about the pregame? What are you listen to in pregame? What are you going to do pregame? Probably Webbie or Lil' Boosie.

What? They from Baton Rouge, you don't know nothing about that, but when I prepare for a game, music doesn't really – isn't something that gets me pumped up, just actually thinking about the game, envisioning the game and what's going to happen, it's something that gets me pumped up.

What about the night before? What's your routine? My routine, night before the game I'm laid back and from today to Monday night I'm going to be just envisioning everything that's happening. That's how I prepare. Music or all the other stuff like that, that doesn't really prepare me but I get prepared by just seein' things coming, imagining stuff happening, situations.

What would you imagine? Us winning. That's going to be the main thing and I'm going to imagine a lot of pressure, getting the ball out, imagine when they play man to man a lot of match ups that I have to go through and I have to be situational ready.

The guy, Trevor, the sports mindset expert, has he helped you? What has he done to help you? Oh, Trev? Motivational videos, Trevor is an amazing guy, to hear his story and what he's been through, seeing that smile on his face, he's always pumped up and I love that about him.

How many from Alabama Ė friends, family Ė do you have here? I don't even know, are they here yet. I don't know if they here yet but I know my family coming, couple friends coming and Coach [Matt] Scott will be here, yeah.

Will you have a chance to see them at all? After the game I get a chance but I saw Coach Scott last week. It was good to see him again.

Did Gus Malzahn recruit you? What were your impressions of him during that process? That's why I know Auburn is a real good team because Coach Malzahn is one of the greatest people I've ever meant and when Coach Craig said he was going there I said Coach Malzahn is a great guy. I really love and respect Coach Malzahn.

What exactly is it? Is it his personality or what? Just the type of person he is, a God loving person, spiritual and he's a great person, a person that you want to be around and that's why his players play for him.

Can you tell me what it means to be able to play in the National Championship game? It means a lot and playing in this game it's amazing and when you have a great team like yourself is on that team and you have a great rivalry and offensive linemen, we're hard to beat, okay, and it's fun being out here in California.

Can you tell me what are some of the things you're enjoying doing while you're here? I'm enjoying sight seeing and shopping and a lot of great things out here to see in California.

One last question, can you tell me as a freshman what it means to play in the National Championship? You just asked me that question. Later.

Jameis, you mentioned earlier that you always carry yourself with a smile on your face so people don't see when something is wrong. How have you been able to do that? When you were going through your experience, how were you able to carry yourself in a positive way? It's easy because I got closer to God during that time. I knew that no weapon formed against me shall prosper. And my favorite verse is Philippians 4:13, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.' It's easy to have a smile on your face when you got the 'main man' behind you.

Is there any extra excitement playing in the National Championship compared to any other game? I don't think anything can beat the excitement of being in this game. It's obviously going to be a rivalry game to me playing against people I haven't played against before, but if you don't think it's exciting, you don't need to be playing.

A lot of guys you grew up with, probably Auburn fans. Have you seen any of them? My friend Blake Amoson and a friend Lindsey Reagan, and Blake was like, 'Jameis I'm comin' to the game, but I can't pull for you, man'.

What did you say? I said 'Blake, I don't care, man.'

There have been times you enter with a feeling that you will do well. Do you have that feeling this week? Yes, because Coach Fisher instills in us that you going to practice how you play. I believe that we have been having a great week of practice and when we go out there and prepare ourselves and practice, if we do good in practice we're going to do well in the game.

Do you think there is going to be a game plan to blow out the game? That's what I'm hoping for but Auburn is not going to allow it to happen, they're not going to want that to happen. And the team that they have and the people that they have on their team they going to be like, we not going to let Florida State come out here and blow us up. We the Auburn Tigers we are probably like 'We are the Auburn Tigers' and we looking forward to that, because we're going to come out there and let them know, hey, we a great football team, too.

The last starting black quarterback was many years ago. How does that make you feel? That's ten years – 20 years, yeah, 20 years anniversary, so that's good. Obviously it's good to be playing against another black quarterback but at the end of the day it's going to be who has the best football team, just like with Mr. Frazier. Whoever has the best football team at the end of the day won that game.

Do you think at the end of this game they could have another strange play like in the Alabama game? I think that they going to do some amazing things in this game but I really don't focus on them having a miracle happen or anything like that, because that's a once in a lifetime thing and they had a couple of those things happen and that's good. At the end of the day it's going to be a great football game and we got to go out there and do what we do and they gotta do what they do.

It's been a while since FSU's been in this situation. What's it like to get the team back to this? It's great, we tryin' to bring the 'swag' back and dominating teams; they did it by just having fun doing it, they have the 'swag' and having fun playing the sport that you love, you can't beat that.

How much do you know about the history of that for Florida State? Do you look to it for inspiration? I don't know much about their history, because I'm not from Florida State. I'm not from Florida. That's amazing that you just said that. Obviously we look at the match up of Florida State and Auburn and we playin' Auburn today so I guess that's a big thing, but we just focused on playing the National Championship game and living in the moment today.

Looking at their defense, what are you seeing on film? Doesn't matter what they give up in the pass because they gonna come ready and prepared to stop us. What they done in the past doesn't matter. What matters is what happens on Monday.

What's it like to have your 20th birthday on the day you play for a National Championship? It's fun, go out there and celebrate your birthday on a National Championship day.

Do you get a great feeling that it's falling on that day? It gives me a great feeling and for it to be on my birthday, it can be a sign or a sign of a bad thing and I guarantee you if we lose I'm not going to want to play no more games on my birthday.

Was it tough to say goodbye to Coach Craig? It was tough. He was like a mentor, so it was tough but Coach Sanders is an amazing Coach and he's a fun guy to be around.

Is it weird having to go against Coach Craig in this game? That's not weird, we playin' a football game, me and Coach Craig just want to win.

Do you ever get tired of answering the same questions? Naw, I like you guys. It's fun to answer questions on my team's behave for the most part because when you answering questions you can always put your team in it and that's the most important thing and when the team says that guy has all those individual awards and when he says I'm the reason for it, hey. You got to because without them I wouldn't be up here talking to you guys right now. Without Coach Fisher trusting me with this offense I wouldn't be up here. It would be Jacob up here.

Is it your dream to be a Bo Jackson and play both sports? That's my dream.

Do you think it's possible? Is it anything hard about it? Anything is possible.

You seem to be at your best in the bright lights. How did your personality develop that way? I'm always going to be myself so it's easy to be yourself when you up on the pressure or anything.

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