Q. I'm curious going into the year obviously replacing Deshaun Watson was a big story line for people talking about you guys. One, what was the pressure like for you kind of ascending to that role? And as the year has gone on, have you become even more and more comfortable at your position?
KELLY: Just to answer your first question, there was a lot of questions for us as an offense, being that we lost a lot of guys going on to the NFL and graduating. You know, I don't feel like -- I mean, like I said, there was a lot of questions for me, but I don't feel like I tried to put any pressure on myself. I just tried to go out there and just tried to create my own game and just tried to be my own quarterback because I knew I couldn't -- I knew I wasn't going to be Deshaun. I knew I was a different player than Deshaun, and so I didn't want to try to play like him, as well.
Q. As the year went on, did you become more comfortable, and did you notice your coaches kind of as the year goes getting a better understanding of what you did well?
KELLY: Oh, yes, sir. Like I said, I feel like as the year has been going on. I feel like each week I've grown more confident in myself as a quarterback. A lot of people wanting to question whether I could throw the ball because not many people saw me win games where I had to throw the ball because when I was going into games were a little out of hand, so it was usually just handing the ball off to the running back or some designed quarterback runs. Like I said, as the season went on, I'm feeling a confidence there and I'm feeling confident on this team, and as the coaches believed in me as the season progressed to get the job done.
Q. Curious about how often do you and Deshaun stay in contact, and especially since he's not in action right now, if he's paying extra attention to you and Clemson? And along the same line, what was your reaction when he tweeted earlier this year this guy is going to be better than I was?
KELLY: We stay in contact a good bit. You know, if not every week, then every other week. We're just catching up, just small talk pretty much, not really anything about football. I mean, after games he'll just tell me congrats, some stuff like that. But right before the game Saturday, he just sent a good luck text to me. Again, after his surgery I was just sending some positive thoughts his way, just making sure that everything is well with him.
What was your last question?
Q. I guess he tweeted out earlier this year that, hey, this guy is going to be better than I was. What is that like when you hear that from a player like that?
KELLY: You know, it means a lot. Just goes to say what type of guy he is. Just to see that he says that, it meant a lot to me. That was big for him to say something like that. But I just took it full stride and just tried to be the best Kelly Bryant that I can be.
Q. Curious about your memories of the 2015 game in Miami. Obviously you had a pretty good day, especially on the ground there. What are your memories of that day?
KELLY: I remember it being like really, really hot. That's what I specifically remember going to the game. But yes, of course that was my first career touchdown against them. It's something I'll always remember whenever my time here is up. It was a really good day. Everything was clicking for us, offense, defense, special teams. But now two years later we're meeting up again in the ACC Championship game. Now it's a different scenario. It's two different teams in two different situations. So I'm looking forward to that.
Q. It got kind of chippy before the game there. When you guys kind of regrouped after that, what was kind of said between players about that incident and how it kind of would affect you guys going forward? Did you talk about that at all?
KELLY: Coach Swinney, he does a good job. He always says that talking isn't going to win a game, different out sources isn't going to win the game, whatever. Just players executing on the field, executing the game plan, making plays, that's what's going to win the game. So we try to do a good job making sure that we're not doing anything to jeopardize our opportunity during the game so we don't miss the next game or anything like that.
Q. I'm just curious from your vantage point how you've seen Travis Etienne come along this year. I know he kind of got some late action in games early in the year but has sort of developed into one of your key guys. What has allowed that to happen and how have you seen that evolution occur?
KELLY: It just goes back to when he first got here, at camp, the same thing that we saw that you all are seeing on Saturdays, that was the same thing he was doing in camp. You know, just to see his growth, from a guy coming in, didn't really know the offense as a whole, to now he's growing each week, he's getting more knowledgeable of the game, it's been really great to see his growth and his confidence go up, as well.
Q. Was there a moment during camp, as you said, where you kind of like looked over and saw him break off a long run or do something crazy where you were like, this kid could be special?
KELLY: Yeah, he was breaking like these long runs during times where we were scrimmaging, and it was evident to see this guy is going to be special, and now just to see it on Saturdays, him doing it in game-like situations, it's like, okay, this guy, he got some up under his belt.
Q. Just talk about what you see of that Miami defense. I talked to Hunter a couple minutes ago. I know you guys are starting to look at film and get ready for Miami. Talk about that young defense they have, and what do you guys have to do to keep them from not picking off turnovers and bringing out that chain and all that stuff?
KELLY: You know, just each week, the coaches emphasize ball security for us. If we take care of the ball, we have a good chance to win at the end of the day. But just looking at the defense as a whole, they're a really talented bunch. Up front they've got quite a few guys that are physical. They do a great job pass rushing, getting to the quarterback, and also playing the run and stopping it, as well. Their backers, they run sideline to sideline. We're good, as well, and they really come downhill and make plays out in space. Same thing goes to the back end, a bunch of guys that cover, do a good job making plays on the ball when it's in the air and making plays out in space, making sure they tackle. It's going to be a challenge for us, so we're just going to have to get ready, prepare. We're not going to do anything that we haven't done or anything all year preparation-wise, we're just going to treat it like every game we've treated this season so far.
Q. I know you're a kid growing up in South Carolina; what's it going to be like playing in that stadium and playing on that field? You were probably a kid growing up watching the Panthers; what's the feeling like for you?
KELLY: It's going to be a special moment. It's the ACC Championship game. There's a trophy on the line. There's a lot on the line. But just being in the stadium with a bunch of great players that have played on that field, whether it's been in a championship game or the NFL, so it's going to be special.
Q. Basically what game do you feel was your defining moment? I'm not saying this out of any disrespect to Deshaun, but what I mean by defining moment, when you felt that, hey, I'm comfortable in this position now being the leader of this team, I don't have to be under his shadow? What game do you feel like was your defining moment, your breakout moment?
KELLY: I'd say for me, it had to be the Auburn game, just the second game of the year. You know, I think it was game day, everybody was looking at it, and the defense that they had is a really well-coached defense. They had a really great set of guys. We didn't score a lot of points, but we was moving the ball up and down the field, and I was making plays with my arm. The offensive line was blocking really well against a great front right there that we was playing against. Just looking back on it, I feel like that was where I began to get in my rhythm. My confidence began to grow from that weekend on into the season. For me it was really big. It was really big for me as a confidence booster, as well.
Q. Just wondering after you lost to Syracuse, what was the process of getting over that, because I know they had a losing record and Miami just lost to Pitt, which had a losing record. How did you guys overcome that, and how long did it take kind of to get over that nasty feeling?
KELLY: We didn't want to let a moment define us. We had to give credit to Syracuse that day because they was the better team. They won it; they outplayed us. We just came together as a team. We had a team meeting that was just players, and we were just talking about just getting some stuff on our chest, and we was like, okay, what do we got to do to move forward. Everybody responded the way that we knew how we was going to respond, and we came out against Georgia Tech, it was a great team win for us. We put it under our belt.
But now we was looking at, okay, so we know what it looks like when we don't bring it because we know we're going to get everybody's best going here on, so we've got to bring our best, as well, because like I said, everybody is going to be gunning for us and we're going to get everybody's best. If we want to get what we want to get, we're going to have to do it each and every week.
Q. Can actually a loss like that help you in a certain way?
KELLY: I felt like it helped us a lot. We have a really young team, so I guess it just helped us mature a little bit more from a team standpoint. But we knew what we had in that locker room, that we'd be just fine. So far we've responded in the right way, in the way that I knew we would respond.
Q. I'm curious, so much was made going into this year about having to replace Deshaun; what did you see in terms of how Kelly handled that early, and have you seen him become even more and more comfortable leading the offense as the year has gone on?
RENFROW: Yeah, for sure. I think Kelly is a guy that we really didn't know was going to be the guy early on, even going through spring, going through fall camp. He really took reins about halfway through fall camp, just the way he was progressing, and started to read the routes and make the throws. Just different than Deshaun, though. A little more vocal, a little more confident at times, but Deshaun was always reserved and poised, and Kelly is that way, too, but just that different way, and I think the difference, or something that Kelly has done really well is just his toughness, toughness all year, his leadership. Just the way, I think, Auburn he got knocked out and came back and led us to a victory, and just all year just his toughness, taking more hits than Deshaun last year.
Q. We see teams that they have a great quarterback, they're great for a year or two and then maybe they fall off. What does it say about the program that Deshaun went off to the NFL doing his thing, and you guys are right back in the ACC title game?
RENFROW: Yeah, not just Deshaun, but we lost virtually everyone on offense it seemed like. We weren't going to be any good. I think it just goes to the type of people, but as well as the talent that the coaches recruit, and I think Coach Swinney has done a great job of just creating that next-up mentality and that culture that is sustained to last. I think that just starts and stops with Coach Swinney and the job he's done.
Q. Just talk about the Miami defense; I know you guys are getting prepared for that team. They're a very young defense. The cornerbacks are very good. They have that turnover chain. What do you have to do to take advantage of the young defense by Miami?
RENFROW: Yeah, for us we've just got to be ourselves. We haven't watched too much of them yet with it being Monday, just coming off a big win against South Carolina. Watched a little bit yesterday, and then watched them all season in big games. The biggest thing for us is really just taking care of the ball. I know they've got that chain, and they're looking for them. But really when we've gone on the road -- I know it's a neutral game, but when we have gone on the road and played well is when we don't turn the ball over, and I think that's something that we have to do. They're super talented, one of the best teams we've played all year for sure, and so we didn't give them and give their offense more chances to score than we need to. Just limiting turnovers, really.
Q. Did you play in the last game there at Charlotte before they moved it to Orlando last year?
Q. What was the experience like?
RENFROW: Yeah, I remember it being cold. I remember we played North Carolina, came down to the onside kick. I actually recovered that one. But I just remember it being a great experience. Orlando was great, too, last year, but it was special just growing up a Panthers fan, and they do -- ACC does a great job with it, so we're excited to go play in it.
Q. I'm curious, do you have any memories of that 2015 game? What do you remember from playing Miami in Hard Rock Stadium a couple years ago?
RENFROW: Yeah, I remember that was before they had the roof on Hard Rock Stadium two years ago. I remember -- I don't think I had a catch in that game, but I just remember we came out hot. I know it's a totally different team that we're going to play. I think Coach Richt has done a great job just growing up, being a fan of him. I think he's done a great job there, and I know that's not the version we're going to get. You can't relate too much stuff to that because that's two years ago. But I just remember just really going out there and playing well early. I remember them talking a bunch of smack before the game and we came out hot.
Q. Sports being what they are, obviously you find motivation wherever you see fit. If that were you, if you were a Miami player today, would you think back to that game do you think, if you put yourself in their shoes?
RENFROW: As far as do I put myself back in their shoes as far as motivation?
Q. Yeah, like let's say you played in that game on the Miami side and you were there, all of that. Would that be something that would drive you?
RENFROW: Yeah, of course. If I played on that team -- even if I didn't play on the team, if I was a recruit at the time and my team had just gotten beat the way they did and fired their coach the next day, that would definitely be a huge motivational factor for me, but at the end of the day, I mean, it's football. That team isn't anything like this team. We've got to go out and play, and we've got to do little things it takes to win. You can't take too much from that win two years ago I don't think.
Q. Given kind of some of the almost commonalities with your college career as Coach Swinney's, what's your relationship like with him? Do you think there's a special connection there, and do you see yourself in a few years trying to do what he's doing?
RENFROW: Yeah, that's something -- I'm an econ major so I don't know exactly what my future holds. I don't know if I want to pursue that or go and be a GA somewhere and coach. But my two years have been awesome here, really. I respect Coach Swinney more than a lot of people. If he wasn't a football coach, he would be great at whatever he does in life. I hope to be half the person that he is, not even a coach, just the type of person he is, and so maybe be a GA somewhere and follow in his footsteps.
Q. I'm just curious where you feel like the performance of the defensive line is at going into this game, given that some guys have been kind of in and out of the lineup and health has been an issue towards the latter part of the season. Do you kind of feel like the group is sort of clicking on all cylinders at the right time now?
WILKINS: Yeah, definitely. I feel like we're all pretty healthy relatively and everything. Not too many guys are beat up or bruised too bad or anything like that. I just feel like it's championship game, and a lot is at stake and a lot is on the line. Fortunately for us all the guys on the D-line have a lot of experience and know how to perform on the big stage and the bright lights and everything, too. I feel like going forward we could definitely be leading the team, leading the charge, and setting the tone.
Q. As a guy who appreciates some good on-field swag, what is your take on the turnover chain?
WILKINS: I think it's good for them. You know, that's good for Miami. It's incentive to get turnovers and things like that. It's pretty good for them and all that. But we hope they don't have many turnover chains this weekend going into the game. We want to make sure they keep those locked up somewhere. But they've done a good job for us in turnovers all year and everything like that, but hopefully we're the team that comes out with more forced turnovers by the end of the game.
Q. Curious of your memories of the game against Miami a couple years ago, 58-0 at their house, all that. What do you remember from that day?
WILKINS: I just remember even before the game it got a little chippy and everything like that. You know, there were some words said and things like that and tempers flaring a little bit before the game. I just remember we came out firing and just took it to them, and I'm sure there's still some guys on the team from then that might come into the game with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder because of what happened last time we played them at their place. But we're ready for it. We're ready for everything they're going to be coming at us with, obviously a high stakes game and a chance to win a championship this week, so we hope to go do that.
Q. Your programs were in such different places at that time. With the way you guys were rolling at the time, do you line up against a team that day and say we're probably if we do what we do, we're probably going to win this game?
WILKINS: Say it again? I'm sorry.
Q. With where the programs were at that time in 2015, do you line up for a game like that thinking if we do what we do we're probably going to win this game?
WILKINS: Yeah, that's just a mindset that we create. If we just be ourselves, if we do what we know how to do and just compete and live by the rest of our standards, we'll be fine. We'll win the game. But obviously they've made strides as a program since that game, and they look a lot better and everything, too. They're more than capable of beating us. But again, if we just worry about us, because it's not about them at all, it's all about us and how we prepare and how we practice and how we are going forward, then we'll hopefully get the result we want.
Q. I'm just wondering if you could make some comments about Malik Rosier, the young quarterback, and what kind of challenge, if any, he presents for you.
WILKINS: Oh, yeah, he's a good player. He's a good quarterback. He has some good weapons around him, a solid offensive line and good skill around him, as well. You know, he can definitely throw the ball. He's done a good job doing that. He has a pretty good arm, and his ability to run the football is better than I thought. After getting a chance to see him on tape and everything, you know he can help with his feet, everything like that, and he seems just like a pretty good leader the way he leads the charge, leads the team and everything like that, as well.
Q. He obviously had his worst game, had an off day this last game that they lost. How do you think that you being a player, how do you think that affects someone, especially a quarterback, know what I mean, coming into such a crucial game?
WILKINS: Well, definitely for me personally, I know like as a competitor, you always -- especially when you have a bad game, you're always hoping to bounce back, and you usually come out stronger the next game, and obviously it's a big game, so I'm sure he'll be ready to go against us, and he'll have the troops ready, as well. We've definitely got to be prepared for them and expect him and the rest of the team to give us all they've got.
But at the end of the day, it's still, like I said, it's all about us, no matter how ready they'll be, we've still got to prepare hard and be ready to go, so we'll be prepared for anything.
Q. You guys have lost a game, too, so you lost also a game against a team that had a losing record.
Q. In that circumstance -- I'm not talking about let's say individually having a bad day, but as far as the team losing against Syracuse, how do you come back and rebound? What's your thought process after that?
WILKINS: Really just get back to whatever it is you've done in the previous weeks and just over time to get wins. For us after our loss, we knew we didn't have to do anything miraculous and change our culture or our ways, it's just one loss. And I'm sure for them it's the same. They had one loss this year after having a really good season up until that point, so they've just got to get back into their ways and do what they do. I'm sure that's probably their mindset coming into it.
Miami QB Malik Rosier
Q. There is so much talk going into this season about making the change at quarterback. How much pressure did you feel and how much more comfortable are you in that spot now?
Rosier: I mean, starting off, there was a lot of pressure. The competition of quarterbacks behind me were really good. But the more I play, the more comfortable I'm getting in this offense, the more I'm starting to understand the calls that Coach Richt calls. I'm starting to really feel off this offense.
Q. What did you see in terms of the coaches, every year you have new personnel, the change of offense, play to people's strengths? What do you think this coaching staff did to help you fit the offense and the offense fit you?
Rosier: I think the big thing they did was they realized that the best way to utilize me, especially in the run game, was not really to put me under center, but have me more in the gun, zone read type plays, stretch read type plays. So that has been the biggest key.
There's multiple plays where we key different defensive linemen and it's tough on them. Coach Searels has done a great job with the blocking scheme. Coach Richt and Coach Dugans have done a phenomenal job in the pass games to help guys get open and create easy completions for me.
Q. Malik, it seems like it's almost like a storybook, full circle from 58-0 against Clemson to two years later playing in a completely different kind of game against Clemson. Talk about what you remember about that day, though you probably don't want to remember it, and what happened after that game, especially in the days and weeks following. Do you think that was when the seed was planted to get to where you are today?
Rosier: To a certain extent, yeah, with that game happening, Coach Richt got hired. It's put us to where we are now.
The big thing I learned from that game is always be prepared. Brad, it was his second year starting. In those types of games, I'm not going to play being the backup. I think mid second quarter, Brad is down and I'm in. That was the biggest thing, to always be ready.
I learned that Clemson is a very fast and physical team that year, just like they are this year. So the big thing is, just taking what they give me and try to make the least amount of mistakes, because that's what they live on. They live on QBs making mistakes.
They have really good defensive backs, a great D-line. Coach had to put pressure on my face, make me throw hard. The big thing is just completing balls and methodically driving down the field.
Q. Explain your approach to this week and has that been the case after what happened last game?
Rosier: Like I said in the last game, the big thing was we started off slow. A lot of it had to do with me, my body language. Coach Brown has a big saying that the ship follows the leader, basically saying the ship only goes as far as I go, talking about our offense.
The big thing the coaches have been stressing to me is push the offense, push the tempo, get these guys going. We've worked on me putting balls in play.
Coach Richt said if a ball is not in play, the receivers can't make one. That's what we learned last week. I was overthrowing guys, missing balls I don't normally miss. We've dialed down on that.
There's certain words that we do certain plays on. I've been kind of lackadaisical and very out of the zone. This week I've been pushing these guys, pushing the tempo, demanding greatness out of our team.
Q. You had the shoulder thing earlier this year. You wear a knee brace. How are you physically?
Rosier: This week has probably been the most healthy I've been. Last couple weeks I've been banged up. There's some Sundays where I don't throw. This is one of the few Sundays that I actually threw, threw very well actually. My arm felt great. My arm still feels great.
That was the biggest thing. Coach Richt texted me, asked me how I felt. I said I felt fine. I should be well rested for the game on Saturday.
Q. How have you felt the mood around the team and around the players having to put a loss behind you for the first time this season?
Rosier: The big thing is just the moral support that everyone has given us. I've had multiple defensive guys come up to me and say, We're fine, we got your back, don't worry. Even the defensive coaches.
Coach Mark Richt texted me after the game, I'm pretty sure Saturday, said, Don't worry about the game, let it go. We'll put a great game plan together. Put it behind you.
That's the biggest thing. Some guys, when you lose, they're done for. They don't have I guess the maturity to put a loss past them and keep grinding. There's so maturity in the loss because it wasn't like the greatest performance we ever had. It's one thing mentally to lock back in and get ready for a great team we're going to play on Saturday.
Q. How is your personal confidence level? That was a rough outing the other night.
Rosier: Yeah, I mean, the big thing was just try to stay off social media. The fans have done a great job. My mom like screen shots stuff. She is like, I don't understand why we don't respond. There's a lot of fans that show me so much love. I thank those fans that are there for me and supporting me. At the same time, there are fans that bash.
The big thing is don't let other people affect you. All that matters is what's inside this building. That's what Coach Richt preaches. He is like, the only way a cancer really works is if it starts inside. You can fight off stuff from the outside, but when cancer starts on the inside of a team it kills everything. The guys have done a good job of just staying positive throughout this whole week.
Q. Could you elaborate on how far the program has come since that game a couple years ago against Clemson. Could you have imagined then you'd be where the program is now?
Rosier: There's kind of two ways of looking at this. Talent-wise, yes. If you ask any ACC coach, they'll tell you the University of Miami has always been a very talented team. Guys from South Florida, very talented. The skill level here is ridiculous.
The difference the year we played Clemson two, three years ago and now is just a mindset. With this mindset, yeah, this team is ready to go. I mean, I felt like a couple years ago, more people were worried about going to the NFL, more worried about themselves, how they performed instead of the team.
This team has bought into the process. I think that's the biggest difference between back then and now. Yeah, people want to go into the league, but at the same time we're worried about getting a ring more than we are about our NFL Draft stock.
Q. What kind of fan group are you expecting up there? I hear a lot of people are traveling. They've sold the allotment of tickets and then some. What are you expecting in the audience on Saturday from Miami fans?
Rosier: I mean, I'm expecting a great crowd. I know our fans lately have been traveling very well. I mean, I just expect a great crowd. I know the flights from here in the South Florida area...
My dad lives in Tallahassee. Most of the flights to North Carolina are already sold out. I have family members that are trying to fly to North Carolina. They have to fly to Atlanta or somewhere closer to North Carolina and drive from that airport to North Carolina.
There are going to be a lot of family fans coming to this game. I expect them to have an impact for our defense on third down.
Q. You mentioned people coming up to you at meals. Talk about from two years ago to now just how much more prominent the program is, the flag they use, compared at the end of that season.
Rosier: The big thing, yeah, is you can just see the love. I feel like there was fans around, people were supporting us, but nothing like it is now. I mean, there was one guy that said, You're the heart and soul of Miami now. That just means everything, the fact that people are behind us and people are representing.
Miami LB Shaquille Quarterman
Q. I saw you back in July and talked to you about this season. What do you have to do to make things keep going against Clemson, with a very good offense?
Quarterman: You really just have to keep up to the standard that we've been working to, the standard that was set us before, all the alumni, tradition here. When we focus on keeping up to that standard, there's no way we can't prepare the way we should, not watch the film that we should. When you're trying to compete at that level, when you're trying to compete as those that competed before you, everything just falls into place.
Q. Talk about Kelly Bryant. Is he better on film than what you might see on Saturday?
Quarterman: He's the heart and soul of that offense. He really dictates what is going to go on for the offense. He does a great job throwing deep balls, deep fade balls, long throws to the outside of the field. He can run very well. So he's just a dual threat. He also makes the people around him better, so...
We saw all those things.
Q. I know the criticism that came about after the loss to Pitt. A lot of fans were bashing some of the players, just Miami in general, on social media. That's fans for you. In regards to that specifically, what do you do about social media? Do you pay attention to it, or cast it aside?
Quarterman: I mean, personally, social media can and usually is a distraction for a football team. Especially having the season that you're having, everybody wants you to keep winning. When you fall short a little bit, they will rag on you.
But you can't let that get you down. I mean, instead I use it as motivation. I'm not going to say I don't look at social media at all, because I like to see what people say. I like to see people maybe turn and say things, whatever they like to say.
As you said, fans will be fans, but I just use it as motivation. I don't take it too personal because they don't really know what's going on in these walls, how much time you put in, how it hurts us to fall short.
I just don't take it personally, and keep working.
Q. Last year wasn't bad at all. When you have time to look back at the season, what are your thoughts about it as far as the expectations being met this year?
Quarterman: I mean, from the outside looking in, I know a lot of fans have a lot of expectations for us. We had a 9-4 season last year, which was pretty good for Coach Brooks first time being here.
Going into this season, a lot of people didn't have us picked to win our conference, whatever. The expectations from myself is that we were going to win at all, we were going to win every game. That's what I always expect to do. I know how much our team loves to win, how much we love each other. I expect nothing less than for us to play for each other and to keep things going as far as the win/loss ratio.
Q. Kelly Bryant, when you look at film, what is it that really sticks out to you that is so tough to defend?
Quarterman: I feel as though the toughest thing to defend about them is just the way in which they run their plays. They're not really trying to hit the home run, deep ball all the time. They're very efficient in what they do.
They're a very patient offense. They will run the same plays that gets them four yards every time. They're okay with that. They're not going to take a shot on second down. They're very efficient. That's why they have the numbers they have. They work down the field quite well.
That's one thing that really sticks out to me, is their poise, their patience, as far as their playing calling is concerned.
Q. What kind of strain does a patient offense put on the defense?
Quarterman: It really puts the strain on us to execute. Patience is a virtue as long as the defense doesn't shut it down. If we execute, then the patience wouldn't matter ultimately. We'll be off the field.
Q. Manny Diaz, what does he bring to practice and all that stuff, during the game?
Quarterman: He brings a fire out of all of us. He knows what to say to get everybody going. It's not always a speech. Sometimes it takes him really challenging you to better yourself as a player, look within yourself, deny your bad habits, really fight to be a better player overall. He does a great job at it.
As far as putting us in the right position to make plays, he does that to a T. Whenever we execute, they don't really understand that he really does a great job, him and the defensive staff, of crafting these schemes together for us to go out and really execute and do our jobs.
He does it all. I mean, the X's and O's to digging into a player when he has to, but also loving the player up, pushing them, to encourage them to go farther, he does it all.
Q. I know nobody wants to lose, but is it good to lose last week to get you more hungry for this week?
Quarterman: I wouldn't have liked the loss. I think it has put the chip back on our shoulders that we really needed for this week, I really do.
Safety Jaquan Johnson:
Q. You were just a freshman the last time you played Clemson. What do you remember about that game? I think that was actually your first forced fumble. Talk about the transformation of this program from that day to the stage you're at right now.
Johnson: I just remember that we lost that game. I got to play a little bit. I was able to force a fumble. But for the most part that was just a blowout basically. Clemson defeated us that day.
The transformation is quite simple. It's night and day. You could tell by the coaching staff that we have. I had a different coaching staff my freshman year to now my junior year. I believe our standard, we holding ourselves to a higher standard. We're playing the Miami way, so...
That's the biggest transformation I see.
Q. Talk about the mood of the team after that game and in the couple of weeks after that. How was the team able to rebuild from that moment?
Johnson: Rebuild from my freshman year?
Q. The coaching change started, the whole progression to where you are now. What was the mood in the first few days after that game?
Johnson: Well, you know, the biggest thing was us just sticking together, not letting anyone separate us, have us talking bad about the program or anything. It was just us sticking together, staying unified in moments like that.
Q. I heard you mention the Miami way. Have you personally or as a team have you been getting any motivational speeches this past week with some of the former players?
Johnson: No, I haven't heard any speeches from those guys.
Q. When you speak of the Miami way, in particular this year, did you use the loss a couple years back, for your career, as any type of motivation? What did you do to put that game behind you, move the team forward?
Johnson: Well, for me it was just playing my role. I didn't have many snaps at that time in my freshman year. I was a key special team guy. All I did was really I just went hard on special teams. I did my job the best way I could do it to help the team as much as I can.
I didn't have much of a voice. I was just doing my job.
Q. When Coach Richt came, talk about the change in the attitude of the team, what he brought with him from Georgia.
Johnson: Coach Richt brought a winning attitude to Miami. I believe that he truly brought the swagger back, which was showing us that if you work hard and you're consistent and you execute, that you're going to win games. That's going to be what people call a swagger.
I believe Coach Richt brought that from Georgia. He truly loves the program.
Q. Do you have your chain ready?
Johnson: Yeah. Looking forward to playing those guys.
Q. Talk about being a kid growing up in Miami, now playing at the University of Miami. You as a kid growing up in Miami, what does this mean for you?
Johnson: You know, for me, it's just an experience. You have to be willing to work for this, for what we're about to play for on Saturday. I believe we put in the work.
Me being from Miami, it just makes it even that much more better to know I'm right around the corner. It's for the city that I was born and raised in. It's a good feeling in my heart.
Q. Clemson's offense, what do you have to do to keep Hunter Renfrow from having a big game on Saturday?
Johnson: Those guys do a great job of executing their offense. The receivers are very well-coached. They know how to get off jams. They run precise routes.
We're going to just have to compete. We're going to have to go out there and counter those guys. If they beat us, they beat us. But we're going to compete and we're going to be in their faces. We're ready for the challenge, I believe.