Dec. 1, 2009
“This is really what its all about. This is a great opportunity for us. This was the whole objective from the start. That is what all the teams across the country are trying to do. It is all about winning championships. It doesn’t matter what league or level you are in, it is all about being the champion when it is all said and done.
“I am proud of our team for earning the right to play for the ACC Championship. This hasn’t been done in quite a long time, 18 years is a long time. If you can consistently compete in this conference and win this conference then you have a chance to go to BCS bowls and every now and then have that special year where you have the opportunity to play for the National Championship.
“It comes down to four quarters of football in this game and the team that takes care of the ball. It starts with great preparation this week and doing the things that have allowed us the get here. We need to have great attention to detail and we have to win the physical matchups. If you do that then you will have a chance to be successful. That is what we have to do to get it done.
“I want to congratulate Georgia Tech. They have done a great job. We have gotten better as a football team and they have also gotten better so this should be a classic matchup. We played all the way to the last play last time and expect the same thing this time. I have a lot of respect for what they do.
“Offensively they have had an excellent year. The biggest thing is that they don’t throw the ball very much. They are averaging about five completions a game but they are averaging 24 yards a catch. We have to do our job on the defensive side of the ball. They do what they do and they do an excellent job of throwing curve balls throughout the game.
” It is critical we play physical and everybody does their job. We have to tackle and everybody has to rally to the ball. We have to do a tremendous job with our eyes. We have to trust, trust what you have been coached to do. The biggest thing is to try not to give up the chunk plays. In the first game we gave up several chunk plays so we will have to do a better job of that this time.”
“On defense, they have been very consistent. Again, they do what they do. They try to mix it up to keep you guessing. Obviously Morgan is outstanding, he is the best player we have played all year. I voted him All-American and I think he is the most complete guy. He is the real deal.
” They are very active at linebacker and secondary is extremely solid. They lost a defensive lineman, but they have played several guys inside so they should be fine.
On Scout Team Work
“It is a critical part of preparation. It works both ways. They have a hard time duplicating us because it is not what they do. Mike Wade has been working at quarterback and has done a great job. He will work at quarterback all week and then we have Bryce McNeal as number 8. We are going to do the best we can to simulate those guys. It is a difficult thing to do. For us it is more of a normal preparation for offense because they are a traditional defense.”
On Georgia Tech still doing the same things as earlier in the season
“They do what they do. They don’t change a lot. He will mix up some things, but it is all the same thing. They concentrate on great execution. Same thing goes on the defensive side. They have done the same things all year. That is why they have won and work hard to try to do it very well.”
On playing a team twice
“There are advantages because you can turn on the film and the guys that you are coaching can see themselves on film rather than someone else. It is the exact personnel that you played against. It is also a disadvantage because they are studying you and learning how you play them. They will throw a few curve balls at us because now they have had a chance to see us. He is too good of a coach to not make adjustments. We have to be able to have a few wrinkles to keep them off base.”
On Coach Johnson
“I respect him because he does what he believes in. If you are going to be successful you have to do that. You have to do what you are committed to and believe in. If you don’t, you won’t last very long so I give him a lot of credit. He has been successful and in his mind there is no reason for it not be successful.”
Do you think the team has rebounded from the loss to South Carolina?
“Oh yes. It was a very tough loss, but you have to move on. This is what you play for. When they play the Super Bowl they don’t say they won the Super Bowl but lost to the Packers. It is all about winning and being the Champion. This is what you play for. Just like if you went undefeated and lose it, nobody cares that you went undefeated. These guys never want to lose.
“When nobody is looking these guys work their tail off all year long to play on a stage like this and compete for a championship. It is hard to win right now in college football. It is a very difficult thing to do and to win a championship is even harder. When you have the opportunity to be a part of it that is pretty special. Only 33 schools, I believe, have won a national championship in the history of college football so it is a special thing when you get to do that. You have to move on, you can’t live in the past.”
On response to people saying this game has been diminished because both teams are coming off of losses
“I just laugh at that. This is the championship game of our conference and one of the best in the nation. When you play a team from this conference or the SEC you have to be ready to play. It is good football. Teams from our conference have had a lot of good wins this year. We didn’t play very well and I am sure Georgia Tech feels the same way, but we have to move on. It is all about this championship game. We are going to find out who the champion is and that is all that matters.”
On being prophetic about saying that this team could see Georgia Tech again
“If I was prophetic we would be undefeated. We would be in the Rose Bowl. I am just proud of our guys. I am very proud of our team. I can easily take myself back to that game, night, and that moment.
” It was a disappointing and painful night. What I saw during the game and in the locker room and then the practice field, I was convinced that this could be a special group. We had all the questions at the time but I just knew that we were doing the right things and going to try to get better.
“I saw great ingredients for a special group. We are disappointed that we are not undefeated but we don’t apologize for winning this division outright on the field. We had to play some pretty good football to get here and now we have the chance to hopefully be ACC Champions in a twelve-team league. It is hard to do.”
On Bobby Bowden situation
“If he decides to retire then we should celebrate him and honor him for what he has done. He is a great football coach, but he is so much more than a football coach. There are so many people whose lives he has probably impacted. This guy has been around a long time and has won. It is hard to win and he has done it at a high level. I have a lot of respect for him and I know it is probably difficult thing for him. I can’t imagine being with something for so long and having to step away.
On Michael Palmer
“He has just been tremendous. I am very happy he made first-team all-conference. He only needs three more catches to set the single season record here for catches as a tight end. That is a great accomplishment. I couldn’t think of a more fitting guy to get that than Michael Palmer. He wasn’t a highly recruited guy.
“He is a lot like Tyler Grisham when he was here. They are very similar guys. They both developed into players. He just gets it. He has just really developed into an outstanding player. He is just good at everything. He is great at catching the football, but is just good at everything. I think he can go play in the NFL. When it is all said and done I would be shocked if he is not on a roster somewhere. He is also an excellent snapper. He is our second-team long snapper.”
On Spurrier’s comments after the game
“He was great. He told me ‘I lost to FSU many times, but I would turn around and go win the conference the next week. That is what is important and you guys can do it. Good luck to you and go get it done.’ I thought that was very nice and encouraging of him. He has been around a long time and he didn’t have to say that to me, but I appreciated that encouragement.”
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