CUTrevor 2020-01-11 08:23:26

I’ll have interviews with coaches and players in a bit! Stay tuned!

CUTrevor 2020-01-11 12:05:45

This CFP media wifi is terrible, guys. I'll have the interviews uploaded as soon as I can! I have good stuff from Dabo, Venables, Jeff Scott, Tony Elliott and Brandon Streeter. I also talked to Joe Burrow, Grant Delpit, Dave Aranda and Steve Ensminger from the LSU side. Stay tuned!

CUTrevor 2020-01-11 13:09:41


Is there something to (indiscernible) to make it a little bit more (indiscernible)?

I guess we think so. I think any time you have some experience doing something, you at least have a visual of it. My second year as a head coach was a lot easier for me than my first year as far as just processes and understanding things, and certainly just having a visual of what to expect, whether it be travel, hotel, logistics, responsibilities, whether for media, stuff like this. And then certainly the moment. It's a big moment. But at the end of the day, I don't play. The players play. But we've got good leadership on the team and a lot of young guys. This is a very young team. But our leaders have done a nice job of getting them to this point.

What kind of history did you have (indiscernible) winning streak?

Well, I mean, regardless of what happens Monday night, this has been historic. Our program and even this team is not going to be defined by a scoreboard Monday night. Yeah, we win and we've won 30 in a row, and these guys went 15-0 again back to back. But man, it's been special. We certainly believe and hope, and we're going to do everything we can to win on the scoreboard, too. We know that matters. But no matter what we're not defined by that. This has been unbelievable.

The good news is this is one of the youngest teams I've ever had. We've got 80 freshmen and sophomores out of our 120. I think we've got a chance to be a better team next year. I really do. Fifteen mid-years just got there, and we've got a lot of people back, and excited about what our future is, and this is kind of the end of a great decade, and we would certainly love to end it up as National Champs, but we're excited about the Roaring '20s, too. My grandmother told me about the Roaring '20s, so I'm getting to live them, and I can't wait. We're going to roar Monday night, both teams, because you've got Tigers bringing them in in style.

Does this feel like a road game?

Oh, no question. I think we're the only one that took a plane here. So yeah, this is definitely a road game. This is what – the last one was a road game. You know, you go out to – it's a long way out there to Arizona, and that was a great football team, and we might as well have played – we could have just played it in Columbus and it would have made it a lot easier on everybody because it was probably about 80-20 and our fans are amazing, but Ohio State, what do they got, about 60,000 students? Got a lot of graduates, a lot of alumni all over the place, and we do, too, but we're a smaller school.

So it's pretty cool. But yeah, this is – I mean, this is definitely a road game. It just worked out that way, and I mean, you don't know these things in advance, but I think it's really cool for LSU. How cool is that, for them to be able to just hop on a bus and ride up the road 40 minutes or so. It would be like us playing for the National Championship in Greenville, literally.

When you walk into the Superdome, do you have flashbacks of your National Championship team with Alabama?

Oh, definitely the National Championship win with Alabama. That's the last time I've been here. That was a playoff game. So 27 years ago. I'm in the same hotel. So be nice to get the same result, but this is just an awesome venue, really is. Really cool. I'm glad we're only here a couple days. It's kind of that championship mode. We've had the bowl experience. We had a great time-out in Arizona, and we're just kind of focused on getting ready for the game now.


Yeah, it's going to be wild. It's going to be like – we could have just played in Baton Rouge, but the weather might have been bad. It's going to be like a road game. I know our fans will show up and they'll be passionate just like they are everywhere we go on the road. But it'll be an awesome, awesome atmosphere. I mean, this is two great teams, two undefeated teams. Again, they're playing right here at home, and it's exciting. It's exciting to know you're at this point. It's coming to an end. It's been – I don't know about college football, but this has been the longest season in the history of Clemson football. We started July 31st, and we played August 29th, I think, something like that, and here we are finishing up January 13th. So we were kind of – Hunter Renfrow was speaking to our team at practice the other day. He was at practice right before we left, and he was just telling the guys, hey – he doesn't say a whole lot. I don't know what you got to say, I don't know, man, y'all just have fun. Just have fun. He goes, hey, look at it this way, you guys got mat drills in two weeks, because it's like literally our season has gone so long. We're like six weeks away from spring practice. So it's just crazy.

It's been fun. It's been a lot of fun. But it's been – it's nice to know that, hey, man, let's go let it all hang out and cut it loose. We've had a wonderful year. We've had an unbelievable decade, and I'm excited to finish strong Monday night and then set our eyes on what's next.


Well, first of all, belief. I think that's when it starts is getting people to believe in who we are, who I am, you know, building the culture of our program, consistency, and then people. You know, you win with people, getting the right people in place, and then players. Same thing, you win with people first, players second, and I think just development, evaluation. Certainly this is a game that's played by players, and we've been able to get great players, but we've also had lots of great – like a Hunter Renfrow, like a Grady Jarrett, like an Adam Humphries, like a Tig Willard. We've had a lot of players over the years that weren't necessarily highly recruited guys but we've developed. In 11 years we've had one No. 1 recruiting class, and we just had it.

We've, I think, been consistent with our philosophy and our approach, and then we've had continuity, and when we've had changes, been able to get the right people in the right place.

But if I had to say one thing, just belief, from where we started the decade, with a vision, and then just staying the course throughout the time.


Oh, yeah, no doubt. They're great up front, just like we are. Obviously got a great quarterback, just like we do. Got great skill receivers like we do and they got a great running back like we do, so it's kind of like what we just played. There's really no weaknesses. They're well coordinated, got a great scheme. They're five out most of the time, a lot of empty. They do a great job of creating match-ups, especially when they get in their bunch sets and create leverage and easy throws. I mean, the quarterback, I think he's 80 percent. I mean, are you kidding me? You know, their scheme helps, but he's very smart, and he's very accurate, and he has a great understanding, and he keeps them in the right play. They really empower him to run the offense, and he'll get them in and out of a bad play and into the best-case scenario a lot, and they've just got all the pieces.

To me, 1 and 2 and 6 are special, and 19, they've got a bunch of wideouts, but 22 and 81, their tight end, that's kind of his security blankets and those guys are problems. They're real matchup problems. 81 is a really good football player. He's physical. There's not a lot of max protection, but when they get in those bunch sets and things, it's almost like being in max protection because they chip – they slam their way out, so they get out, but they've created time, and they've shortened the edges.

You've got to be creative in how you get to him, and then when you do get to him, he creates, and he's just got a great knack for escaping and avoiding the rush, and then he makes huge plays on the move. I mean, some of their biggest plays come from him just scrambling, extending – kind of like us, kind of like our guy. They're really similar when it comes to all that stuff. This is – I mean, these are two elite quarterbacks getting ready to duel it out, and really all the same across the board. You just change jerseys and helmets and they'd kind of all look the same. Just really, really talented, beautiful football players that are getting ready to compete against each other with a really small margin of victory.

What will the difference be?

Well, we hope we can make them punt at least once. If we can make them punt once, it'll be a good night for us.

It is what it is. Both defenses have a challenge. Both defenses are really, really good. Very, very good. But both defenses got their hands full, and so I think the biggest thing is just – the quarterbacks are special. You've got to just try to not let everybody around him have a great night. I think that's the big thing. I think both – whichever quarterback just plays good, not great, then that defense is going to win.

It's going to be fun. It's a great match-up. Really, really awesome match-up, two teams that I think have a lot of respect for each other and are both passionate and passionate fan bases and want to win. It's going to be exciting.

Are (indiscernible) 100 percent?

Are they 100 percent? As far as I know. Let me see. Yeah, I mean, there's no practice problems or anything like that. Maybe their toe hurts or something. I don't know. I don't know if they woke up this morning with a bruise on their pinky –

They were the two guys that got banged up –

Oh, yeah, these guys heal up in two days nowadays. Yeah, they're fine. Higgins came back and played and Ross just landed on his shoulder, but they're good to go.

How do you think (inaudible) played?

He did good. It was good to see him play at game speed. I think it was really good for him. It's been a while, a long time since he had played, and now all of a sudden, boom, you're in a playoff game. So the intensity of it was a lot, but I thought he managed it well. I think technique-wise, some things we need to clean up, just little things, hat in the wrong place, some footwork stuff. But as far as just playing fast and trying to play physical, he did a nice job.


He's 6'4", he's probably close to 230-ish. He's going to run probably 4.4 or better. He's got a 41-inch vertical. He's an unbelievably special young person. Just great character. Awesome work ethic. I mean, just freaky measurables. But then you throw in the fact that he's a very humble young man. He's got great character. He's been – got an unbelievable family. He's a guy that came back for his fourth year. Could have come out last year, and just has a lot of self-awareness of what he needs to do as a football player. And now he's a complete player. He's become very detailed in his approach. His preparation, his understanding of our defense, and more importantly understanding of offenses.

So just the nuances of the game, and so you put all that knowledge with the work ethic and the talent, you get a great player.

How do you prepare for a guy that doesn't get rattled, rarely makes mistakes?

Yeah, you just do the best you can. I mean, that's just kind of – you get to this stage, that's what – last year we played Alabama, and I think Tua's completion percentage or his yards per completion was higher, his yards per attempt was higher. He was a freak. And Tua is one of the best players I've ever seen, and when you get to this stage, that's just what you're going to see. When you get to the Super Bowl, you're going to see two elite quarterbacks. It's hard. It's not easy. So you just – you've got to tighten up in everything that you do, and you have to understand that every play matters. You look at our game a couple weeks ago, there's just maybe three plays, maybe three that we made, maybe three that they didn't make, whatever. That's usually what these games come down to, especially when you've got two great competitors, two elite quarterbacks leading the show like we've got and what they've got in Joe Burrow.

(Indiscernible) what have you seen from those guys that just scares you on tape?

Well, they're special. They look like our guys. That's what I just said over here. You could put them in Clemson helmets and put our guys in LSU helmets and nobody would miss a beat. We might be a little taller, but just elite playmakers. And Joe would be the – Joe is incredible. But he's got greatness around him, too. Trevor Lawrence is incredible, but he's got greatness around him, built from the inside, great offensive lines, great skill, and so those guys make plays. He trusts them, a lot of back-shoulder throws, a lot of high-point balls. He's not afraid on scrambles to put it up.

But schematically they do a good job of creating mismatches, and then it's yards after the catch. These guys can run with it, they can break tackles, they can make people miss. But they're all on the same page. They just have a really good chemistry.

So it's a challenge.


Well, I think it would be special. I think it would be a list of one, back-to-back National Championships in the playoff era. I don't think anybody has done that. I know we haven't had the playoff era long, but it would be a list of one, so it would be pretty special.


Them big dudes up front that disrupted everything. Those guys did a great job, man. We're built a little differently right now than Auburn, but we're similar in some ways, too. And they did do a great job. But I think – what's his name, Brown, Derrick Brown? Those guys, they really were disruptive up front, did a great job. And then they picked their spots. You can't just sit there and play zone or just sit there and play man. I thought they were smart and creative and mixing things up. Just trying to throw them different pitches.

Listen, you're playing one of the – from a baseball analogy, you're playing one of the best hitters ever, and if you're just throwing a fast ball, I don't care if you're throwing it 110 or whatever, he's going to hit it, and he's going to hit it a long way. So you'd better be a little more Greg Maddux, work the plate a little bit. You'd better have some different pitches. Keep them off base just enough, probably still going to hit it, but maybe it's not a grand slam.

Does this feel like a road game?

Oh, yes, no question. It's definitely a road game.

(Question on Travis Etienne).

He's been amazing for our program. He's got about every record in the book, and those who follow Clemson know he's done it on very limited touches. I mean, there's been lots of games where he's had eight, nine, 10 touches because of the nature of the game and yet he's got 100-something yards. He's got all the records in the ACC, touchdowns and all that. So he's just a special young person, beautiful family, from right here in Jennings, and just a blue collar hard worker, humble superstar, and doesn't even know it. He just goes about his business. He loves to play. He loves to practice. He doesn't have smidge of prima donna in him. He's a grinder and he sets a great example and sets the tone for everybody else, because he doesn't carry himself as a superstar type guy. I mean, he just goes about his business and he's a great teammate, excellent student, and he's just been a joy to watch transform over the last three seasons.

(Indiscernible) redeem himself from his performance two years ago here. Do you have a sense from him that he's –

Yes, he's excited. He's definitely excited. This is really cool for him to have this opportunity to come back and play here. I mean, to play LSU for the National Championship, you can't even dream it up. For a guy like Travis, it's pretty cool.

You made a baseball reference. Who would you equate Trevor Lawrence to?

Who's that great pitcher with the long hair? One of them guys. One of them guys who's got a lot of pitches that can beat you a lot of ways.

Last year you blow out Alabama, a lot more extra attention on the program. What's allowed the guys to extend this run as more attention comes on the program each year?

Just staying true to our purpose and the culture of our program. We start over every year. We don't carry anything over. We go back to work and just have a daily focus. Really that's it.

Was there a time this year when you have noticed that?

Yeah, that's kind of, again, a daily thing. I think every single day you reset. Every single day you walk in and it's a windshield mentality. You learn from yesterday, you learn from the past, but it's about today, and just the daily focus on how we start stacking those todays up, then next thing you know you put some good weeks together and a couple good months, and next thing you know, you're like, hey, whoa, man, you're so busy trying to be great you don't get distracted by things that keep you from being great.

We have a lot of coaches on staff. You hired all of them. Out of all of those guys, who do you think was the ugliest growing up as a kid?

Hmm, let me see. Hmm. I think we're all made in God's image, so we're all beautiful inside and out.

So you don't got one in mind at all?

Not really. I mean, I'm thinking, but then I think they do have families and moms and dads and kids.

Who was the meanest coach on the staff right now?

It's got to be Pearman. Wouldn't it be Pearman?

I was thinking about Caldwell.

Robby Caldwell is a sweetheart. He's an ol' Teddy bear.

That was some high-quality interviewing right there.

Against Ohio State you guys were playing one of the best teams in the country. How much confidence do you think that will give you guys going into this game?

Well, I think it gives us a lot of confidence. We didn't go into the game spotting them 16. But to be able to go on a 29-7 run in the biggest of stages against an elite football team, that was a great team. I mean, really, really good, by far the best Ohio State team we've played. To get down 16-0 and to see a team that hasn't been down – we had a tight game in North Carolina where we had to make a play to go up in the fourth quarter, which was the first time I had seen Trevor Lawrence even have to play with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, and at the time, I said, man, it's kind of cool. It's kind of neat to see Trevor in that situation go make a play. We weren't playing great, and then our defense had to kind of win the game at the end.

So fast forward, you're in a playoff game and you're down 16-0, and the walls can cave in on you. And it's a road game, but to see the grit and the heart and the fight and the belief, the will to win, the no-quit attitude and spirit of our team it special, and I think certainly it gives them great confidence going into a game like this because in a game – in games like this, there's going to be adversity. There just is. And there's going to be some success, and I think you've got to be able to handle both of those because it's a four-quarter game. They don't call the game after the first quarter. You've got to play all the way through, and our guys have that mindset.


I mean, I think we have a great program. Clemson is a wonderful place to live. You know, I hope I'm a decent guy to work for. It's a family atmosphere. It's a place where truly our families are a part of it and welcome, and kids around all the time, wives around all the time. It's a small town. I mean, everything is five minutes. I mean, everything. You can run home and work out at lunch if you want. It's just a great – when this is your profession, as a coach, especially coaches that have been other places, you understand how special it is to live there. Monday through Friday we kind of have a Clemson bubble, kind of our own little world, but yet we get to have this unbelievable stage to compete at the highest level and do something that we all love to do. Our fans are amazing. Every game is sold out and packed. It doesn't matter who we play. You'd never know. And that's not the norm across college football. I mean, it's just amazing to have that type of venue and environment, and so as we've built – it wasn't that way. When I was at Clemson, it was kind of a stepping-stone job when I came in as an assistant. Guys would be gone, and that was one of the things I wanted to change. I wanted to make it a destination job, and that's what it's become.

So we love each other. We have great relationships. This is very much a relationship-driven program. And then most everybody on our staff either played for me or I have some type of relationship with them. Brent was kind of the oddball of the group. He's the one that I really had no relationship with, and now he's been with me for eight years or something like that. But Mickey Conn was a teammate, Lemanski Hall was my teammate, Todd Bates was from Alabama and a guy that I recruited and a guy that had been and had worked in my camp for years, coaching at Jacksonville State, Brandon Streeter was a GA for me, played at Clemson. Jeff Scott, GA for me, played at Clemson. Tony Elliott was a captain for me, played receiver for me, and Robbie Caldwell I've known forever, all my years recruiting at Alabama, recruiting at Clemson, coming across him on the recruiting trail. I always respected Robbie Caldwell and had gotten to know him over the years. Woody McCorvey, he was my coach. Mike Reed, same thing, a guy when I was recruiting, we had the same area in Jacksonville, Florida. He was at NC State and I was at Clemson. He's one of those guys, if I ever get to be a head coach, I get a chance to hire that guy, I'm hiring that guy. And so – but I had a relationship in place with him already.

And so my staff is just – it's just built on that. Even our peripheral staff and our support staff. I think we've got 19 former players on our staff, whether it be – yeah. And so it's just a special place, and we're thankful for it.

Talk a little bit about (indiscernible).

Yeah, he was a freshman, and we didn't play very well as a team. Had a couple plays that really turned the game against us, two big picks by them and really just kind of over after that. It was a good experience for him as a freshman.

And then to come back last year, he had an amazing year. To lead us to – he was one of the key guys into a 15-0 run, beating an unbelievable Alabama – the same team, maybe a better team, probably a better team, a 14-0 Alabama team in the National Championship with an incredible offense and defense, and Travis was awesome. So I think he grew a lot last year, and then he's just taking it to another level this year, from really more anything just physically where he is from just a maturity with his body. He's just bigger, stronger. He's incredibly fast and explosive. But his understanding of the game, his knowledge of the game, his details, the game has really slowed down for him. Been really proud of him.


It's just really surreal. Sometimes at practice or whatever, I just – like that's my boys, and they've grown up literally their whole lives. We moved to Clemson, they were four and three, and then Clay was born here. So they've grown up part of it. It's an amazing experience as a father to be able to watch them. They're great teammates. They're grinders. They work their butts off in everything that they do, and they love their journey. I love watching them put the work in. I love watching them grind. I love their work ethic and commitment to excellence and everything that they do, and their leadership. They're both great leaders. Coach V has got two boys on the team now. Coach Batson has got a son on the team. Jeff Davis's twins just graduated. So we've got a lot of family part of our program.

The last five years the championship match-up has been two teams from the south. It's like seven of the last nine years, as well. Top recruiting rankings every year now are you guys and a bunch of SEC teams. Is it getting harder and harder for teams from outside this part of the country?

I don't think so. I think there's some great teams out on the West Coast. I thought Oregon was a great team this year. They're a play or two away. You've got to believe Southern Cal at some point is going to get back to being special again. Utah had a great year. So I think there's teams that definitely will eventually be here. Washington has already been in the playoff.

But certainly football is important in the South. There's no question about it. It's a very culture-driven sport, and it's very important in the southeast, not that it's not important – I mean, we just signed, we think, the best quarterback in the country out of California. So football is important all over, but there's certainly great recruiting areas in the southeast.

Is that part of it? You've always had the ability to get great players here, but the fact that you guys and Alabama go to any part of the country and recruit the best players, how much of an advantage is that for you guys?

Yeah, well, I think we've earned it. That didn't just happen. We didn't just show up and say, hey, we're Clemson, come to Clemson and kids want to come. That's been earned through years of consistency. Nine, 10-plus win seasons, National Championships, conference championships, those type of things, big, big wins, big, big moments over the last decade. When you think about it now, like DJ, for example, and we weren't even recruiting him, his coach reached out to us and said, hey, I've got a pretty good quarterback. It's not like we're just going to go out there and say we're Clemson. We usually have to have some type of interest reciprocated.

But I think when you think about it, here's a guy that since he was seven years old, he's been seeing this version of Clemson, whether it be through the media, TV, whatever, big games, and so I think that that resonates. And so what happens with that, as our brand has grown through our consistency, kids want to come see Clemson. It's become a place – and what I already knew, what I knew when I took the job was that if we could get guys on campus, people were going to see what a special place this is. And that's what's happened. That's how we started the program.

But now, 10 years, 11 years later, we signed kids from 14 states this year, and last year was like 14 or 15 or something. And when we've gotten one, we've signed back-to-back players out of California for the first time in the history of the school. We've signed – Travis was my first guy from Louisiana. Then we came back right here in Baton Rouge and got Bryton Constantin, linebacker.

But I just think the consistency, the culture of who we are and how transparent we are in the recruiting process of hey, this is what the expectations are, and you don't need to come here if you're not all in with that, all right, because we're going to go to class, we're going to be great citizens, we're going to hold you accountable, those type of things.

So it's pretty cool for me to see a bunch of really, really talented young people that really want that, and they're coming a long ways to come be a part of it. Isaiah Simmons came from Olathe, Kansas. He was my first guy out of Kansas. Christian Wilkins came from Connecticut.

So you know, we have to be smart. The thing for us is the right fit – not the so-called the highest-rated player but the best player in our eyes and the best fit for our program, and we always start inside out. We're always, South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Maryland, that's our base, and then we try to scout out the best guys that fit our program from all over the country.

When you look at the process the last four, five years, the scheduling and everything, is there one thing that you've learned in this whole process that maybe LSU isn't ready for, being on this stage?

I mean, I don't know, and if it was I wouldn't say it. I'm sure they've done a great job. Listen, Coach O has been around the block a lot. He's no rookie. So I'm sure that they'll be incredibly well prepared just like we will be.

You know Coach O's story, basically getting a second chance, and we know your story, as well, coming in as an assistant and eventually taking over. Do you admire his story, getting a second chance, being able to finally get that chance at proving what they're able to do in that situation?

Yeah, absolutely. No question. I admire any successful coach. I always – I like to study people who are successful, and he's been incredibly successful.

I've followed him and known him a long time, and I've always pulled for him. He's an easy guy to pull for because he's a wear-it-on-your-sleeve guy, he's passionate. It's easy to recognize passion and enthusiasm, and he's got that oozing out of his veins. And you just – I have great respect for that. I think that he truly loves the players. I think he loves what he does, and you know, that resonates, I think, with his team and with certainly his fan base and things like that.

But I think he's a great football coach. He's done a wonderful job, and it's cool to see because I know he's had a – I know it didn't go well at Ole Miss, but I think he's a good example to a lot of people because we all fail, we all fail, to the world's terms. But I think it's a choice on whether you fail forward, whether you're destroyed or defined by your failure or you're developed by it, and I think it's really cool to see somebody that people kind of label as can't do something or failed at something and yet he learned and grew and developed and stayed the course and got back up and went back to work, and now to see him at this point, I think that's just – what a great lesson. What a great living example for a lot of people, but certainly for his young players that he mentors every single day because he's a living, breathing example of hey, listen, it's not always perfect. It's not always going to be the way you planned it but how you're going to respond.

When you make mistakes, when you do stupid stuff, does it define you, does it destroy you, or does it develop you. And I think he's a great example of that. He did a wonderful job out there at Southern Cal and probably would still be there if they'd have kept him. But for whatever reason he went in a different direction, but you know, I just think God orders our steps and brought him to LSU. I don't think you could have a better fit for LSU than Coach O. I mean, he truly loves where he is, and he loves this program and he's passionate about it. He's put a good staff together, and you can just tell that he cares about LSU and the people of Louisiana. And I think that that's awesome. He's a great story to follow for sure.

(Question regarding Joe Burrow.)

To be honest with you, I did not see it, so I can't comment on it.

What can you say about him?

Joe Burrow? I don't think if there's anything I can say that hasn't already been said. He's special. He really is. It's just kind of – as I said, just as a coach, it makes you sick watching the tape because he just rarely ever makes a mistake. He's always a step ahead. He knows exactly where to go with the ball. You got him sacked and then you don't. He creates. He's just like this all the time. Even when you watch him – one of the things I watch is he makes a big play in a huge game in a critical moment, and he just jogs down the field.

He's pretty special. To me those are things that I look – if I was an NFL evaluator, I want to see this guy, who he is, he's just like this all the time, and at that position I think that's a special quality.

CUTrevor 2020-01-11 13:12:23

DABO (cont.)

How much does the situation with Nolan's dad – I know you love all your guys, but is there something a little different about him?

Yeah, he's like a son, but I do. I feel that same responsibility with all my guys for sure, to hold them accountable, to teach them, to give them the tools that they need to be successful in life. That's very important to me. To just grow them up as men that are ready to go be great citizens in this world. But certainly there's a special connection there with Nolan, obviously, and it was a great moment. It was a really cool moment.

The cool thing is I told him right before, hey, you're going to have the game-winning interception, get your dadgum head up. It was crazy how it all worked out. He didn't play very well, he had missed a couple plays, and so to see him come back and make that play at the end, really, literally his feet were in the exact same spot of his failure that we were just talking about on that touchdown on fourth-and-1. The interception was in the same end zone, same spot, his feet – same gut receiver, and literally his feet are right on the S in State. It's just amazing. Amazing how it worked out.

How much of your success is because you've had kind of the same staff?

People say that, but I've had a lot of turnover over the years. We've had a lot of peripheral staff turnover. I've had three different offensive coordinators in my 11 years. I've had just two different defensive coordinators. Brent has been with me eight years now, and it's been awesome. I've had – I've got – I think I'm on my fifth defensive line guy. I've had a couple different DB coaches. We've had some change.

I think the biggest thing is when we've had change, it's getting the right people in place, and more important than anything is just the culture, just sustaining the culture and starting over every year, holding everyone accountable, and that's probably the biggest thing, just again, recruiting.

Us coaches, we get way too much credit. You've got to have players. We've done – probably the other thing I would say is just the evaluation and the development of our players over the last decade, because we've had one No. 1 recruiting class in 11 years, and I think my highest might have been like seventh or something prior to that. So we pretty much have been in the top 15, but we've developed our guys, whether it be a Grady Jarrett who was a two-star recruit who's now one of the highest paid D-tackles in the league, Hunter Renfrow who was a walk on who had a pretty good year for the Raiders this year, Adam Humphries who had one scholarship offer who makes $9 million a year now, a Tyler Shatley who's been with the Jaguars for six years, offensive lineman, that was a linebacker/fullback in high school. I just think we've done a nice job, and then we've had guys like Sammy Watkins, Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence who were great players. Travis Etienne wasn't a really highly recruited guy, three-star guy. So we've evaluated, identified and developed a lot of good players, and we've done it our way.

We've done it simply through the draft, if you will, because we don't – I don't go out and sign grad transfers out of the portal. I don't sign junior college players. I've tried to bring freshmen in. That's how we try to do it so when team has something to prove your philosophy you've got to be right. So I think more than anything that's the consistency we've had in our development and getting the most out of our players that we have had over the years.

Not everybody has had an opportunity to coach against a Heisman winner.

Listen, I don't get into all them awards that get voted on. I really don't. It's special for me to coach this team. It's special for me to coach these guys. I love competing against great competitors, so I don't – it's not special because he's the Heisman. It's special because he's a great competitor, and he's on a great football team. That's special.

But yeah, I don't go, oh, my goodness, that guy is the Thorpe Award winner or whatever. I don't get into all that stuff.

What did you see in Nolan that nobody else did, and how do you think –

Yeah, same thing I saw in Adam Humphries. I don't know why nobody offered Adam Humphries a scholarship, and when I offered him a scholarship, the media and fan base, people beat me up, oh we're only offering him to get Charone Peake, because he was a great player, and I'm like, no, this guy can play and he ended up playing as a true freshman, and like I said, makes $9 million a year for the Titans now. So I don't know why other people don't see certain things. Why was Deshaun Watson the 12th pick in the draft? I don't know. I can't answer that. Why was Tom Brady a sixth-rounder? I don't know. Why was Grady Jarrett a fifth-rounder? I don't know. I can't speak to that.

You saw a player there, it wasn't a charity thing?

No, no, and to be quite honest with you, God worked that out, because we played in Arizona for the National Championship in '15, and after the game I had four guys come to me and tell me they were leaving early. I didn't know they were leaving early. I'm not one of these coaches that sits around and goes, okay, he's going to leave, he's going to leave, and goes and signs all these guys. What do you do if they stay? What do you do then? I'm going to tell you, you've got to run people off, and that's not how we operate. So I assume everybody is coming back until they tell me different. And literally right after the game, like the next day, T.J. Green, Travis Blanks, Jayron Kearse and Mackensie Alexander said, Coach, I'm going pro. I'm like, okay. So we huddle up as a staff like all right, we've got three weeks – two-and-a-half weeks. We'd better go find some DBs because we're now in the DB business because we weren't recruiting DBs. The one guy I knew – so we went and signed four guys, and the only guy I knew prior to that point, two-and-a-half weeks before signing day senior year, that's why all this early recruiting stuff is so overrated. I love it when everybody is committing them 10th graders. I'm going to get all them seniors that develop. So two-and-a-half weeks, I had never heard – I knew Trayvon Mullen. I had never met him, but I knew who he was. He had been a guy on our board. But I wasn't sure we were going to have a spot. So, man, all of a sudden we've got a spot for Trayvon Mullen. We get him. He plays for the Raiders now, started as a rookie this year, was a great player for us.

So Brent comes to me, he said, hey, I've got a kid, let's look at this guy. All right, well, there's a whole process we have to go through. Being a good player is like the smallest box to check for us, and we find this kid in Olathe, Kansas, kind of a gangly looking dude named Isaiah Simmons who played wideout and safety kind of just roamed around, three-deep, run around, and so Brent is like, I'm going to go check him out. He had one visit left, so we liked him. I went out and met with his family. He came in on his visit. He came to Clemson.

Literally I didn't know who he was two weeks before. Then mid-week visit, the week before signing day, mid-week visit, this guy Brent calls me, and he says, hey, there's this kid, I just found him. I want to bring him in this week. He's from Virginia. His name is K'Von Wallace. He's a late bloomer, but he can do a lot of things. I'm like, alright, so let's bring him in. So checked out all of his stuff, grades, you know, so K'Von Wallace comes in. We get K'Von Wallace. And then I'm looking for another guy, and I know – I had offered Nolan a walk-on spot the spring before but I had not watched one play of his senior year, not one play, and I was like, just something – God just put it on my spirit. I'm like, you know what, I'm going to pull up Nolan. So I pulled up his highlights, and I watched him, and I was like – I'm trying not to be biased, and I'm watching his tape, and he plays wide out – I just watched K'Von, I just watched Isaiah and I'm watching this kid and he's dominating at receiver and at DB and you've got to understand my connection because I grew up in Pelham, and Vestavia was one of our rivals and Buddy Anderson has been the head coach there for 50-something years. He was the head coach when I was playing. So I've known Buddy Anderson forever, and Vestavia High School has put out hundreds of Division I football players. I played with some of them at Alabama.

After I watched it, I called Buddy Anderson, and I said, Coach, I want to ask you something. He had no idea why I was calling. I said, why is nobody recruiting Nolan Turner? And he just kind of – it was like I went – and just burst the bubble, and he was frustrated about it, and he said, Coach, I can't understand it. He's as good a player as I've had in my 50 years here. He said, the kid can run, his best football is in front of him, he's a late bloomer just like his dad was. So I had all this working knowledge, and I played KT, and KT was a late bloomer.

So I took the tape down there, I pulled it up down there with Brent and I said, hey, tell me what you think about this kid. So Brent watched him, and he's like, I love this guy, where is he? I'm like, that's all I need to know. So then I made a call, and I said, hey, I'm coming to see Nolan tomorrow. So it was a pretty special moment.

So that's what I mean, when I say God worked it out, that just happened. It wasn't some charity thing. People – oh, some of these story lines that people put out there that Coach Swinney did that because of his buddy. That all sounds good, but that's not reality. If I didn't have a spot, he wouldn't have got a scholarship. We had four guys leave, and we were looking for people, and he earned it. And then he's coming here, and he's – and I told him early on, I said, man, let me tell you, here's the story, early on, you're not good enough, you shouldn't be here, we only signed you because coach is friends with your daddy, whatever. I was like man, you're going to have to have some thick skin and rise above that. I'm telling you, you can play. And you're going to be a great player, and I talked to him. I'm thankful that I have lots of examples like that, of guys that have come through our program, similar deals.

So he's just done an amazing job. He's a great leader. The cool thing for me is because of what he went through with his dad, he was kind of a very quiet, reserved kid, and his dad and I actually talked about that. That was something KT worried a little bit about. And KT was like that. KT was kind of quiet and reserved until you got to know him. And Nolan for most of his childhood, he just had a – it was a challenge seeing his dad the way he did.

So you know, I think just for me watching him develop as a man and seeing him, just the smile that he has, his confidence, because I think early on he felt like he had all this to prove, and it's hard, especially in today's world with message boards and social media and all these things, these external pressures that get put on these young men. So just watching him blossom and develop, smile, he's a great teammate, the players love him, and he's just an unbelievably hard worker, and he has bloomed and blossomed at Clemson and had a great career. He's had some big moments and going to be back next year. He's been an off-and-on starter for us this year. We kind of consider him a starter, but he's got a chance to really be one of the best leaders on our team this year.


Yeah, it's a road game. That's just how we look at it. It's a road game. There's no doubt. Might as well have just played in Baton Rouge. No different. But maybe have better weather here in the Dome, so it'll be good. But yeah, it's no different. As I said earlier, it would be like us playing the National Championship in Greenville, South Carolina, 40 minutes up the road.


Social media in the fall? Yeah, that came from the seniors. I want to say it was either 2012 or '13, they just came to me and said, hey, Coach, this is something we'd like to do, what do you think about it. I said, you're asking me what I think about it? Shoot, that's great with me. I said, y'all want to do it, then y'all do it, and so they did.

And now it's just become a part of our culture. Every year – I love it. Every August these people who do no homework, they just write these articles and they bash Coach Swinney, I'm taking everybody's First Amendment right, I'm just this and that, and it's just laughable every year. But I get beat up – every August it's like on a loop. Here it comes. When is the social media article? Oh, there it is. It's just crazy.

It was either '12 or '13. I want to say it was Grady Jarrett's group if I remember correctly. And so all I do every year is literally, report date, when I meet with my seniors, I'm like, all right, here's the policy, you guys want to keep it, what do you want to do? This year – they all look at me like I'm crazy, like what are you talking about. This is what we do. So I'm like, all right, here we go.


Oh, absolutely. I just think the biggest thing in this world, it just eliminates one thing they feel the need to have to do. It's not like they're not on it and keeping up with the world, but just young people today feel like they've got to respond to every nut job out there. I mean, that's just kind of the world. Somebody says something bad, you feel like you have to respond, and it's just the craziest thing. And so I just think it eliminates the emotion and just takes a little pressure off of them.

So I don't know, I mean, it's been working fine for us, but I don't really pay much attention to it, but I think that we probably do as good a job as anybody. We just had a lady come in and speak to our team last Saturday about social media. She spoke for an hour. She did an amazing job, and she was a person that was affected and lost her career.

I think it's important to educate – social media is great. There's lots of positives that come from it. But what you click and what you say and what you type, I mean, in the world now, you're going to be held accountable for that 20 years later. People change and people grow up and people mature, and good people do stupid things. And so I mean, there's a lot of us sitting here, I'm pretty sure y'all are happy you're not being held accountable for social media 20 years ago for something stupid that you did. I know I am.


You'd have to ask all them smart people. I don't know. It doesn't really ever seem to matter. We'll win 50 in a row, we'll still be the underdog.

The 2012 Peach Bowl, you beat LSU on the last play of the game. Where does that game fit into –

It was the next step. The first step was my first team in '09 winning the division. You can't win – I always tell guys, you can't win five until you win four. You can't win four until you win three. You've got to take the steps. And I think so many people, so many programs, they try to take a shortcut. There's no elevator. You've got to take the steps. And that's a grind.

But for me, '09 was the first step because we needed to win a division, and my first year we won a division. We played for the ACC Championship, got beat. But that was the first step.

The next step was learning how to handle adversity. 2010 we lost five games by six points or less, two of them in overtime, one of them to the National Champions at Auburn in overtime. We learned how to handle adversity. Our culture was taking root. 2011 was the next step because we needed to win an ACC Championship. We hadn't done it in 20 years. So we won 10 games for the first time in 20 years. We won the ACC Championship. And then we got our butts kicked in the Orange Bowl. So we come back in '12, and we win 11 games.

So now consistency, back-to-back 10-plus win seasons, and now we get back to a big bowl, and we beat LSU and a team that was way better than us. I mean, you can just – there ain't no doubt. That's probably the – that might be the best defense I've ever seen, that LSU defense of '12.

But taking the next step of winning a game like that on a national stage and the belief – so the belief that came from that and what we were doing and then you come back in '13, back to the Orange Bowl, beat Ohio State, you win your first BCS bowl, and then the next year, we win 10 again, we beat South Carolina, we'd had a losing streak to South Carolina, beat South Carolina, beat Oklahoma, and then in '15 we're in the National Championship, got beat, '16 we're back, we win it. '17 we're right here in New Orleans, kind of fat and happy as the champions and we played like crap, and they punched us in the mouth, all right. And they were a better team.

And then come back last year and win it again.

It's just been a step along the way for us.

Why have your walk-ons done so well for you?

Well, I think walk-ons are critical to the success of your program. We've done a great job of evaluating those guys and developing those guys, too, and you just mentioned a couple. Luke Price has been a heck of a player for us this year. Phillip Price, our left tackle, he was our starting left tackle in our first ACC Championship team, a walk-on. Hunter Renfrow, speaks for itself.

So I just think that those guys, they bring hunger, and certainly got to be good enough, but they bring hunger, they bring commitment, they bring work ethic, they bring great value to your team and I think great perspective to your team and a good balance. So I've just always believed that and have worked hard to develop them.


I mean, I don't know. I just try to be myself. I really just – that's one thing I learned early on is being me. Dabo got me here, and I just try to be me. If I try to do something somebody else's way, I'm probably not going to be very successful. So I just try to be who I am. I don't really do anything different than I did when I was coaching my group. I don't coach the team. I coach the team – you ask Tony Elliott, all right, who played for me, or any of these – he was a receiver for me. I coached the team exactly the way I coach my position group. I don't really do it any different. I just get to coach a bigger group, and I coach the coaches the same way. But as far as all that stuff, I just – I mean, I just try to – I answer questions. Sometimes people ask me questions, and I give them an answer, and then they beat me up for my answer. It's the darndest thing, as if it wasn't the answer they wanted or didn't fit the narrative or agenda. But I try to – I could just be the wrong LSU guy, but I try not to do that, I try to answer the questions the best I can.

How many yards (indiscernible)?

I don't know, but those guys are great to watch, man. They're really fun to watch. But yeah, he's got his hands full. We call him Vinny. He turns into Vinny on game day. Brent, really, if you're around him off the field, he is like one the sweetest people you'll ever meet. He just has this gentle spirit, got these two cute little daughters, and he's just so docile and kind and sweet, and then you walk on the practice field or a game field, and he turns into Vinny. It's fourth-and-1, every game everybody is out to get him. So that's just his mindset. He has done a good job of just keeping him corralled.


2 is special. He's one of the best quarterbacks we've seen come through the college ranks. Awesome person. I mean, just a phenomenal young man. I reached out to him when he got hurt and communicated with him a little bit. He's been so good for the game, just what he represents. Obviously didn't get to coach him, but I know full well what type of teammate he was and the type of leader, and Coach Saban has a great appreciation for that, as well, and the mark that he left on their program. But he impacted a lot of people through his platform at the University of Alabama playing quarterback. But from a talent standpoint, he's awesome. I mean, if I was in the NFL, I'd be taking Tua because he's a winner. He's a very savvy, smart, instinctive player. He's tough. He's got a great heart. He's going to make everybody else around him better. Those are qualities that you want to have in a quarterback. So he's got a great future, and he'll up, get well, and he'll make a great player for somebody.

CUTrevor 2020-01-11 13:15:21


Hey, Travis. How you doing, man?

I'm doing good. You?

Talk about playing for this game, the chance to play in a National Championship. What's that been like?

It is very exciting, just knowing the opportunity I have to come back to my home state and be able to possibly win a National Championship here, which is really great. It's something you couldn't think of, something you couldn't even script up in a movie. I can't thank nobody but God for the opportunity I have. Going out, executing, making the most out of my chances.


It is a very small town. It takes a village to raise a kid. I know everybody around there. Everybody was able to – back in the day, if I was doing something, my neighbors were able to spank me until my mom got there. It kept me humble, kept me – made me who I am today, made me appreciate things a little more, be thankful for the opportunities in life. Just being here, not many get the opportunity to have that in life. I'm thankful, grateful for that. It has just helped me with my outlook on life.


I mean, it's pronounced Etienne (pronouncing). That's the correct way. But most people at home, they say Travis Etienne (pronouncing) like A-c-h-a-n-e. It is really pronounced Etienne (pronouncing). Once I got the chance to give people the correct pronunciation, I just go with it.


I mean, it is just great. But I mean, it is in the past. Can't really dwell on it. You can't dwell on the what ifs, because not everything goes your way, things like that. You have to make the most out of your opportunities, and life is about how you respond to things, not – just worry about the things you can control. All that happened the way it happened. I mean, it worked out for both of us. We're both in the National Championship game. We're both better for it.


I just felt like it was a great place. Coach Elliot, he's a great coach. He has made me a great player and a better man. I wanted to grow as a great human. I wanted to grow just in all kinds of ways. Spiritually, Coach Elliot was a great person that coached me, it is important to you, spiritually, things like that. It is a great place for me.

Travis, you heard stuff that was said about you the other day. He was almost apologetic. Did you hear the stuff he said the other day about you?

Yes, sir. I kind of heard through the media. They told me in the last interview. I mean, it is what it is. I mean, can't go back, change the past. I mean, they're definitely tried to rectify that with my little brother. They offered my little brother a scholarship. Just want to do things differently. My situation already happened. Hopefully they learned and hopefully they just take care of my little brother.

Would you say there were bad feelings at that time? How long did it take you before you got past that?

There was no bad feelings at all. For me, there was no bad feelings at all. It is business. You just have to definitely know that in your mind. I had to make the best decision for me, not for anyone else because I'm the one that's on the field. Things like that. At the end of the day, there was no hard feelings.

You didn't get a chance to play in the Dome in high school, did you?

No. Not at all.

Your brother did, right?

Yeah. Yeah.

How excited are you to get that chance now? Obviously, you would have loved it then too, right?

I'm thankful for the opportunity. Can't wait to go out there and just play football, play free football, leaving it all on the field for my brothers. I just want to thank God for the opportunity. Without him, I wouldn't be in this position today.

Travis, did you grow up an LSU fan?

Honestly, I didn't. I grew up a Tennessee Volunteer fan.


I don't know how that came about. I just knew I liked the Volunteers, everything. I was really into them as a kid growing up. When I visited there, I really didn't like it as much. Things just kind of went elsewhere.


Their coach brought me there. They had great players, great teams. I mean, I don't know. I just always was attracted to the Volunteers.

Pat said you were good friends. Anything about that?

We were playing on the same 7-on-7 team back in high school. We stayed in contact through our college process and in high school. So we definitely talk a lot and we played the game together, things like that. We definitely have a great connection, and I can't wait to go out there and just battle against my friend.

Is your name Etienne now?

It's always been Etienne.


Yes, sir.

Your brother scored in the Superdome back in the title game. Have you talked about your experience and time a few years ago?

I mean, he tries. I kind of just downplay it. Now we try to – I don't get into that with him. He definitely goes on and on about it. He's – he likes to showboat in my face and brings up things. He does have the upper hand on me on that, in that. Shout-out to him. I can't really talk much smack back to him. I haven't done what he's done.

What makes a great running back?

I think a great running back is a running back who's a third down guy, every down guy. Being able to be on the field at all times, impacting the game with and without the ball. I feel that I – just being able to impact the game with or without the ball. I feel I'm transitioning to that role. Being able to help my team, wherever it is on the field.

What's the biggest thing about playing this year? You talk about some things that happened with your whole family being here and all the media.

I mean, it just has been – it's been like how it was all season. Just media is always here, always around. There is nothing really different. Can't add added pressure on yourself. That's what I think when you're not playing your best ball. You have to stay true to who you are and trust the process. Just be extra focused in on the game plan and things of that sort. You can't really let the media overwhelm you because it can.

At Clemson, we have great media throughout the whole season. It helps us for this point.

You talk so much about how it means to you to get back on this field. How do you keep your emotions in check?

I mean, that's just because of knowing that your emotions won't win you the game. You could play from your emotions, but that's not going to get it done. You have to play – you have to execute at the end of the day, and your emotions won't help you in those things. I mean, it definitely will have you fired up, ready to go. At the end of the day, you have to execute and play to the standard.

Do you know half of the LSU's team, at least 10 or 15 guys who played in high school and growing up here. Was there a bunch of guys on this team that you still run across, you know, from childhood to now?

Definitely. I feel like I have played 15, 20 guys that's in high school that's on the team now.

Who would you say that you're close to on the team that you may still talk to? Who do you remember from high school?

I mean, Pat is the only one that I kind of like keep in touch with. I remember in high school playing Tyler Shelvin. I remember playing him. A couple of the defensive guys, I played them, came across them in high school.

Is there a time in your college career that you know as many guys on the other team as you will in this one CH?

Alabama was close. Alabama team last year, it was kind of close. I think this surpassed them.

National Championship, doesn't get any more special than that. Does that make it different for you, being back home, against all of these guys that you sort of know? Does it make it a little different for you?

I mean, not really. I treat it like any other game at the end of the day. That won't win the game. The extra pressure, things, it won't help me at the end of the day play the best ball I can play. I try to simplify things as much as I can and just play. You can't be motivated by external factors. You have to be internally motivated. That's what keeps me going and playing the best four quarters of my life every week.


Me and Tyler Shelvin, I just remember him running around on the field smacking, me included, just a big guy. He was very fast back in high school. I mean, he's just explosive, wreaking havoc on every play. I mean, not much has changed either. You see him on the field now, just being that same dude, just being able to create plays, wreaking havoc on anyone who gets in front of him. So I mean, it's going to be a great match-up again.


It is going to be a great match-up. You wouldn't want it any other way in a National Championship game. They're the best team and we're the best team. We're both champions at the end of the day. It is going to be a great game. That's what you want in a National Championship.

Is this the best defense you have seen this year you think?

LSU is a defense of its own. They're a very unique defense. We don't really come out here comparing each defense, week in and week out. You can't get into that. LSU presents a lot of various looks and fronts, and so it's definitely will be a great challenge. You can look at their stats and everything and see they're a great defense. Just the players they have, just really crazy all of the NFL prospects they have on their defense. We're definitely going to go out and play to the best of our ability and execute. We can't beat ourselves because they're a tough defense. To just – once you get behind the chains, they're a really tough defense to come and fight back.

This year there has been a lot of hype surrounding LSU from fans and media alike, and Clemson has sort of has taken a backseat. Why do you think a lot of people are underrating you guys?

I mean, we don't really get into all that. We can't – we can't concern ourselves with other players. We just have to take that and just use it as fuel, added motivation. We can't pay heed to that and concern ourselves with how the outside world see us. We know we're a great team at the end of the day, and we know what we have in the locker room. We have to go out there and play to the best of our ability and play for one another, and hopefully the world will see what we're about on Monday.

How did Clemson get on your radar?

I mean, I had decommitted from A&M, and I had no idea where I was going to go, and Clemson just kind of came in and offered me. And my recruitment, it was wide open. I mean, any team could have came and offered me, and I would have been open to it.

And just taking a visit there, I found that I really loved it. It was a great place. It just left an impression on me and my family. I just knew I had to be there.


It has evolved in so many ways. Coach Swinney has been a great coach. He's going to challenge you to be a great player, holding you accountable for things that you do. But he also wants you to be a great man. He also encourages you to go to church every Sunday and be the best man. Just finding the Lord and believing, just challenging you to believe in what you believe in. Just don't take things for granted. He going to definitely make sure you recognize every opportunity and take the most out of it.

Talking about LSU, (indiscernible). Does that have any effect on you? Were you paying attention when Miles was fired?

No. It didn't have any effect on me. I was still open to them, open to the process. I was really open. At the end of the day, I just feel like Clemson was the best school for me, and it happened how it happened.


Honestly, I don't even know – probably it was their colors. I just remember watching them vividly. I also had a cousin who played for the Volunteers. Watching him, just became a fan of his. Janzen Jackson.

How much did you consider them in the process? (Indiscernible)

Honestly, no. I didn't think about that at all, no. I mean, Tennessee was like one of my top schools, I took a visit there and everything. Just didn't pan out the way I wanted it to.


It's very special for me. I'm just happy for the opportunity to get back here to play in front of the home state. I mean, just being able to have all my family here at the game and not having to take an 11-hour drive. It's more like two hours for them. I was really grateful to take that off my parents and them, just their travel, and they'll be able to come home and see me.


Yeah. We got here quite often.


I mean, just the people, the media, the hospitality, how everyone is so friendly around here, how everyone treats everyone.

Any thoughts about LSU playing so close to home, does that make any kind of difference?

I feel like at the end of the day it makes it more special. Makes it – that's what makes this game more special, coming into this place where there will be LSU fans everywhere. That's what you want from a competitive standpoint, just to go in somewhere at their home and just kind of try to take over it. That will make the opportunity for us just that more much special.

The last time you played in the Superdome, what do you remember from that particular game?

For me, from that game, I remember getting smacked by Ronnie Harrison. He was coming across the middle, me trying to hit him. I kind of led with my helmet, and I kind of hit my head with his head and kind of was like out the whole first half. And just getting back in the game, and just a game going with Alabama, everything going that way. We not really playing, not executing things that we can – just a game, just having that feeling of just not knowing that you gave it your all, and there were things that you couldn't control to have the game go differently. That's how I remember it when I think about it.

How much have you thought about it within the context of this particular game? How do you ensure that you have a better story this time around?

Just preparation. Just watching extra film. Just being – just watching extra film, just being aware of the situation that you have in hand, not taking it for granted. I definitely feel like my first year I wasn't as focused as I am. I was a totally different player than I was freshman year. Taking advantage of my opportunity and just preparation, watching more film and just not taking more for granted.


No. I think Amari had heard me say it in my interview, and he was like, really, really? So that's how it came up.


Just when I took my visit there, I just didn't really – I knew it wasn't the place for me. I didn't just vibe with it.

Who was the ugliest kid growing up?

Ugliest kid?


Probably Sylvester.

Their offense scores 49 a game, best in the nation. How do you put on an offense (indiscernible)?

I mean, for us? Not really. I mean, we're one of the great offenses in the country too. For another team, they'd probably put pressure on them. But we know who we are at the end of the day. We know we have a great offense.

We have to go out, execute, play to our ability, and things will take care of itself.

Talk about college football being (indiscernible) and yet Clemson seems to be in this position every year. Can you explain how year after year how Clemson is out there playing for the title?

Just the closeness that we have here. Everybody playing for something bigger than themselves. We understand who we are at the end of the day and what it takes to get here. I feel like that that helps us at the end of the day. We genuinely care for one another. So I hope we just take our play to the next level. I mean, we're just a – we have great recruits, a great team, great facilities. I feel the culture here, how Coach Swinney has built a team and put pieces around pieces as we have here. It really works together and helps us to be able to get here year in and year out.

29 consecutive wins is an awful lot. What's it like to be on a team like that? Not having the experience of losing all those years?

It is a great streak. But we look at it each and everybody week just getting 1-0. We don't see it as a streak, just a next game, new season mentality each and every week. We try to get a win every week. We think of every game as a season of its own. That helps us to live in the moment and not be overwhelmed by it but live in the moment and prosper in it.


I mean, most definitely. I feel if we reach that 30-0 mark, we'll be in a hemisphere of our own. That's just going off the stats alone. It is definitely going to be great. It is a great challenge. I mean, going out 30-0 against one of the best college football teams in history. I mean, who – none of us – if you asked us that three years ago, we wouldn't have known it was possible. Just having the opportunity ahead of us, it is just really great. We understand it is not going to be – we're not entitled to that, it is not going to be given to us. We have to go out there, fight our tails off, fight for 60 minutes, however long it takes to get there.


No. Not really, honestly.


I have always been fast. I mean, I just always knew I was fast. When I go to a camp and run the 40, people are just kind of like wow, who is this guy? Trying to get to know me after that. Things that I saw – actually I didn't get the first offer until I ran the 40 at the New Orleans combine. I ran that, and I swear I had four offers in that combine alone.

Do you remember the recruiting process, how it kind of blew up for you after that? What do you remember, what were the expectations?

For me, just growing up in Jennings and not really having top recruits, many people getting recruited from there. For me, I was just very blessed and humbled to get my first opportunity, first offer, which was really great for me. I mean, I had no idea I was going to end up with at least 40 or something offers. It just kind of happened the way it happened. I was very thankful for that. I think I just kind of opened it up for kids at Jennings and just kind of share – we have great talent there. We have players there who is able the best level and be able to dominate as well.

You're not the same player you were your freshman year. In what ways?

I feel my IQ has grown from a freshman year, I definitely know a lot more. My body has changed completely. Just looking back on my freshman year, I was like 180 soaking wet. Now I'm 210. I just have a different feel for the game. Everything has slowed down. I'm able to play and anticipate things and just a total football player, becoming a complete back.

I'm sure it is awesome for you to come home to your home state. What's the biggest challenge for you? Ticket requests? Trying to share time with everybody here? What's been the biggest hurdle for you to overcome to stay focused at this point?

I really haven't had to deal with that. I knew I was coming. I texted my parents, it is going to be a big game for me, I kind of wished – I tried to simplify things. I'm not going to be able to have tickets for everybody because everybody is trying to come to the game. I just simplified like that. Got off social media. I haven't really dealt with those outside added pressures, because I simplified that and got away from it. Just focused on the game.

You had a big impact in the game against Ohio State catching the football. What have you seen from the LSU defense leading you to believe that you can have an impact on the ground or camping the football?

I mean, at the end of the day, I can make plays. They're a great defense, the defense presents a great challenge, just the way that – the people they have out there, the athletes they have out there, linebackers, super fast, just the gap things, definitely is a challenge to run the ball, catch the ball, run in between the tackles. At the end of the day, it is going to be who wants it more. I mean, we'll go out there and fight fro 60 minutes.

Thank you. Good luck on Monday.

Thank you.


I mean, it is really a great opportunity for me to just have my family here. They come to every game. This is just a little different. They don't have to travel 11 hours to get here. This will be a great experience knowing they're here with me. Just looking up there, knowing what they have done for me throughout the last three years and the sacrifice since I have been in college. It will be great. I just want to play the best I can for my mom and dad. They have been so special in my life. Just really motivating me to the young man I am today. Just – I feel like the only way I could pay them back is to go out there and play free and play the best four quarters I can for them.


I mean, it kind of gets us fired up, him going out there, being able to take licks and just get up and be ready to go again. It is motivating when you have a quarterback ready to go out there and lay it on the line for you as you are for him. It is just really great.

Monday is exactly a month (indiscernible)?

That's going to be very awesome. Didn't even know that. It is going to be crazy. I just hope with the Dome experience, two totally different outcomes. He took the L. He had a great game. I just want to be able to go in the Dome and rectify his loss as well and come out with the victory. That would be great.

To see him really grow over the years into the player he is now, he's well on his way to having the same experience you had, how is that?

For me, it is just mind-blowing. Just being able to grow up with him, and now seeing him come into his own man, just him coming to his own self. I mean, he definitely had talent and ability to be a better back than I ever was. I mean, just getting into a game, seeing what he does, I mean, it was really crazy to think that he's so much more out there on varsity doing those things. I mean, it was really mind blowing to me. I'm just very humbled. I feel like we have a great – he's a great guy. He's deserving of that. Everybody tries to talk to him as my little brother. In reality, he's his own man, he's becoming his own self. He definitely will be better than I was.


No. This game is all about playing complementary football. I mean, if our defense gets stopped, we have to get points on the board. We have to put points on the board if our defense doesn't get stopped. So it is just complementary football, everybody playing and working in tandem with each other. Just a totally focused game from special teams, defense and offense, everybody doing their Ps and Qs, going out ready to play.

CUTrevor 2020-01-11 13:17:53



I mean, we're a tempo team. We do it all season. If it is not broke, don't fix it. We've been doing tempo all season, so don't change it.


I mean, pregame, I've got to put that YoungBoy on. Maybe some Gunner, Lil Baby in there and probably finish off with a couple (indiscernible). Before tip-off, I've got to settle in my boots. I've got to.


I have no idea. Honestly, I have no idea.


No. Not until we start rolling into our New Orleans camp. I think it was the opening, the New Orleans opening, I think it was.

How often do you go back to Jennings? What's it like to go there and recognizing what you have got and following with that?

I mean, with my college schedule, I don't get home often. When I do go home, I'm a homebody. I really don't go outside much. I might get a haircut, get my hair done. Other than that, I'm in the house playing a game with my little brother honestly.

Speaking of playing games, you are Tigers, LSU are Tigers, their mascot is Frosted Flakes. I'll give you facts, you tell me which Tiger it is. Isaiah had a difficult time, but I think you'll do better. This Tiger recently got a bowl game named after him?

The Frosted Flake Tiger.

They're great. The Frosted Flakes bowl. I think it was on ESPN. He graced the cover of GQ. You'll probably be in there one day?

LSU Tigers.

Tony the Tiger.


It was Italian GQ, but it still counts. This Tiger has a daughter named Antoniette?

Tony the Tiger.

Ding, ding, ding. This guy is smart. He knows his cereal. In 1974, this Tiger was named Tiger of the year.

Mike the Tiger, LSU Tiger? No?

Tony the Tiger.


This dude is a winner. Last one. Before being picked as the mascot, he was almost beat out by a kangaroo?

Tony the Tiger.

Do you eat Frosted Flakes?

I do. That's my go-to cereal honestly. Go-to cereal.

I'll get you Frosted Flakes right now.

I need them.

Is that okay if I put that there?

Yes, sir.

We the local guys from New Orleans. We have a sports team, they'll ask sport gameday questions, I want to ask you being from Jennings, what's it like to be here in your home state, actually kind of being almost – you're obviously with Clemson so far away, what's it like to be with your team and most of those guys from Louisiana, do you feel like you're –

My man! Right there from Baton Rouge!

How does it feel playing back in your home state?

I mean, it is a great opportunity. Man, we have just grinded all year for this. Let them know, you're from here too! Let them know.

No. No. No.

He's from Baton Rouge. He's right there.

I have to get in to.

Have you talked to those guys at all – you're obviously focusing on the game right now – but talking about the food they have to offer here, are you going to enjoy yourself at all? Get Louisiana cuisine, talk to them about what the state is it is known for at all?

A couple of guys asked me for a couple of spots to eat at. We understand like we had our bowl experience the first time we came here, and we had our bowl experience last game. For us, this is a championship experience. Definitely we'll go out, get some great food. I mean, I definitely have recommendations for them. But we know we're here for the game and we'll keep that in mind throughout the week.

Last question, is it challenging for the family at all? Is your family, are they LSU fans, Clemson fans? Obviously they have to root for you. Is it challenging to the family at all?

No. I mean, for our family, it is not challenging tall. I mean, we're family. I mean, my mom, someone else in my family, they wouldn't root against me. That's mind-blowing that people even ask that question. It is my family with me until the day that I die. That's why they're family. Family over everything.

For me, it is going out there, playing for them, I mean, just giving my all for them. My family, my teammates.


All my friends are Clemson fans. All my friends are rolling with me. I mean, if they're rolling with LSU, they're not my friends. That's not real friendship. I feel like. I'm grateful for the people I have in my life. All these questions tell me things that they didn't roll with me.




No. I have had many offers. Alabama was the first offer, I think. Honestly, I mean, things kept rolling after that. I looked at them for a while. I had a visit there. After my first offer, they kept rolling in for me and I just kept getting offers and offers and offers. It was up to me to go through that and see who I really liked.

Travis, when you played Ohio State, that was a game where it turned out that you made some plays in the screen game and Trevor made some plays with his legs. What do you think that said about this team?

I think it's what makes champions. You definitely have to be able to win on any level, anyway. I mean, just having that will to fight and being able to overcome the situation we were in, being down 16-0, and being able to just find a way. That's what makes champions. At the end of the end, it's not always going to pretty, it's not always going to go the way you plan for it to go. Just being able to overcome things, come together as a team, and just find a way to win, I feel that's what the game will come down to on Monday.

A lot of big games, you have been there, are those games that prepare for you for what you'll see Monday night?

I feel like the coverage that we have, week in, week out, through practice, our coaches getting us ready, that prepares us for these moments. Having the great coaching staff, they get us fired up, replicating how the game will be throughout practices getting us ready, and preparing for these moments.

What's the structure of the program that keeps you –

Just the people we have. I mean, we don't really have any hot-headed superstars here. Everybody is for everyone. We understand we're a team. No one is better than anyone on the team. We understand that. And that keeps us and our egos in check and helps us to be as successful as we are.

What is something that maybe outsiders don't know about your program?

Just the culture that we have there, the people we have there. I mean, just everyone loves up on everyone. We actually care for each other at the end of the day. For us, it is kind of like a family, a family feel for it first, and that's what makes it special.

What's your impression of the LSU defense? What do you think of them?

I mean, what's not to think of them? They're a great defense. They present a challenge. I mean, you definitely have to stay above the chains. When they get in third down situations, they'll bring in that rabbit package. It's very difficult to stop. You've see defenses struggle with that all year. They have a great defense, great personality. They've got Patrick Queen. You've got Grant Delpit back there. You've got AT coming off the edge. Tyler Shelvin. You just have players all over the field making plays and ready to go. I mean, it is going to be a tough challenge for us Monday, but it is not a championship game without that respect.

The feeling is like both offenses will dominate, both offenses are so good. You see offenses running through them, it is like the defense is not prepared –

This is a championship game. I feel each team will come to play. The defense will come to play as well. They're not taking the day off, our defense or their defense. It is going to be a great challenge. I don't know what to expect on Monday, but I expect a hard-fought, four-quarter game.


Yeah. Yeah.

What's the go-to meal when you're back at home?

Definitely getting fried shrimp, fried catfish. I had a cup of gumbo last night. Like every time I come home, we stop at Lafayette and I get Hot Food Express. I get a pork chop sandwich with the fried rice. I definitely have to have etouffee, whether crawfish or shrimp, definitely have to have etouffee, and I'm a big red beans and rice guy. I'll have that right before I go.

Back to the game, potentially your last game, we don't know that yet, to be back here at home, man, playing in front of so many people that supported you, potentially your last game, how special is that to go out on top, 30 straight wins, two times back at home, how is that?

I mean, like you said, it is very special to have those things lined up with each other, coming to fruition. I mean, I can't thank no one else for the opportunity but God. This could be my last game. Its mind-blowing to go out the way that I can, and just being her back here in Louisiana in front of all my family, friends, it makes that – it puts the cherry on top, the cherry on top kind of feeling. I'm respectful of the opportunity, and I just want to go out there, make sure that I make the most out of my opportunity, not leaving anything for granted and just play free.

When this game is over, you announce your plans, have you got a plan set, days after Monday, are you thinking about after Monday?

I have no plans set. I'll take a couple of days and talk it over with family and talk to Coach Elliot and Coach Swinney and just – just get as much information as I can about my decision. At the end of the day, I have to live with the decision, no one else has, I have to make the decision for me and me and my family going forward. Definitely will sit down and talk about it and see what's best for me going forward.

No preliminary conversations with you and your family coming back together? Any chance to talk it over with them, just getting the conversation started?

We haven't talked much about it, just focused on the game. We don't want to talk about it right now. It's not going anywhere. I have the same chance to talk about it next week too. Just push it back to after the game. After the game, give it a couple of days, and we'll talk, comments with the family on that decision. I can't – I can't put pressure on my family to make my decision for me. I have to make the decision. At the end of the day, I have to live with it. This is all about just getting the information that I can about the decision.

Did you know each other at all in high school?

No. No. We really didn't.

Did you know of him?

No. When I was in high school, honestly, I really didn't look at football like that.

Honestly, I probably watched a couple of games on Saturday. Other than that, I was – in high school, I was just being a kid, dirt bites, stuff like that. We kept ourselves busy and didn't have much time for football but on Fridays.

This is one of the biggest games on the national stage. How do you feel about preparing for this moment? Are you preparing well for this moment?

Just being who I am. Getting back to the basics, just having confidence come through the preparation, in practice. Taking every rep as a game rep and that's going to allow me to be able to play free on Friday – I mean Monday. Just being in practice, out there, doing my game plan, rolling my game plan from here to the back. I feel that's really what will help me to play free on Monday.


I feel I should have won a lot of things. I can't get into all that.


So for me, it is just more of – I have to be better. That just kind of helps me motivate myself to be better in the future.

They can't deny me from – it is motivation adding fuel to the fire, helping me get better, going back to the drawing board, watching my film, seeing what I could have done better here and how to get better next week.


Yeah. Definitely. Every kids dreams of playing in the Superdome. Just to have that finally come true, it just really is special. I think every kid from Louisiana dreams of playing in the Superdome. For me to actually have that happen, it is really crazy. When you think about it, not every kid has it. Every kid may dream but not every kid gets the opportunity to. For me seeing that come to fruition, I just want to thank God.


I mean, no. Not at all. I mean, most people that grew up here, they didn't even know who I was when I made my decision. It doesn't surprise me at all.


I mean, it is crazy. It's crazy how it all sort of just happened. How it all kind of came together. It just is crazy.

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What stands out when you watch Joe Barrow in the pocket hit his receivers? What stands out to you when you watch him on tape?

He doesn't have very many flaws in his game. Everything he does he does it with precision. Very good with his legs. And obviously his arm, he's amazing as well. Just his ability to extend plays and also his poise in the pocket is really great.

You have one of the best quarterbacks in America going against him every day to prepare for a quarterback like Joe Barrow?

Yes, helps but at the same time two completely different quarterbacks. It's hard to prepare.

(Question off mic).

In football now I feel like that's the name of the game. If you look even in the NFL, all the quarterbacks that are able to extend plays are the ones that are the most successful, like the Deshauns and Mahomes and Jackson. So I feel like now being a quarterback (inaudible).

(Question off mic).

Yeah, it's a lot more harder now.


It was really hard. I always played a bunch of different positions, but it would be offense/defense-wise. But just being able to do it in college has been something(inaudible). I never really wanted to limit myself to one position if I could (inaudible). So it's a challenge for me each week having to learn everything. But it's something that I enjoy.

(Question off mic).

I believe we have more, like, eye to eye. I think I can do anything. I think he agrees with me as well. It's mostly him putting everything on my plate and seeing what I can do and maybe not the things that I'm not as good at, more than just us communicating on what I can do and can't do. Always test it out to, see how it goes.

(Question off mic).

I love rushing the quarterback, but I like coverage as well. I don't think I have a favorite.

Barrow – watching him, (inaudible) shredding the defense?

They're a really, really explosive offense that can beat you in any kind of way. The main thing I think about when I watched that game is just you have to play your A game when you play them. Just a little mistake, small mistake maybe wouldn't be a factor in a different game, like a regular season game, it can be the game winning play in this game. You never know.

That's probably the main thing is just like a little small mistake could be a touchdown.

(Question off mic).

Yeah, maybe it was against Auburn or Mississippi State. He stepped up in the pocket and made a jump like on the money. It was great though. (Inaudible).

(Question off mic).

The size, making sure Joe doesn't run and the receivers are covered up. You also have to account for the running backs. A lot of teams don't really feature the running backs in the pass game too much. So gotta make sure he's covered.

You're obviously one of the leading Tigers. You're playing the Tigers. Probably know a lot about Tigers. I want to ask you about specific Tigers. Ready for Tiger trivia?

Don't know much about them.

Which Tiger was recently given a bowl game named after him – Tony the Tiger, the Clemson Tigers or LSU Tigers?

Probably the bowl game, Tony and the frosted flakes. I'm going to go with Tony.

(Question off mic).

We're in enemy territory here. Everybody here is an LSU fan.

(Question off mic).

My last game was a road game. It was like, 70-30, Ohio State, Clemson. I'm sure this one will be worse, I would assume. We're in Louisiana.

So – this one is a little bit different, though, because it's like almost like we're in another country. Everyone here is LSU. There's not really many of us. But I would definitely say it's like a road game, most definitely.

(Question off mic).

Yeah. On defense we call it a road dog mentality. You've got to bring a completely different game to it – not anything special necessarily but just a different mindset. It's just like we always do like Rocky comparisons on our team. It's like when Rocky fought Drago. I guess we're in Russia.

(Question off mic).

He's a quarterback with very little flaws in his game. He's human, of course. He messes up at times. But he can beat you anyway you want it. You name it, he can probably do it.

His ability to extend plays with his legs and his accuracy on the run and his poise in the pocket and his decision-making. He's a really smart quarterback. Better bring your A game when you play him.

(Question off mic).

Definitely, you always want to affect the quarterback in any game you play, no matter who you're playing. I wouldn't say it starts there, but that's definitely the thing in every single game we play. (Indiscernible).

(Question off mic).

It's good for preparation but I'm so antsy to play. I hate just sitting around waiting to play. But time's here now. I wouldn't really say I like the extra time, honestly.

(Question off mic).

Yeah. I graduated. So I haven't really had nothing to do. I've been all good.

(Question off mic).

We know what we're here for. This is not a bowl game. We had our bowl experience in Arizona where you can go out, have fun, do fun things. We're here for business this time.

We've got an early curfew. Everybody is okay with it. We actually wanted the early curfew. There's not really much more that needs to be said, I don't think. This is just straight business. It's not a bowl experience. That's the best way I can put it.

(Question off mic).

I mean, Joe Burrow stands out a lot. Everybody knows how great of a quarterback he is. I don't think I need to say anything more. Great receivers, great running back. They can beat you in many ways. So really good offensive line, experienced guys. Big, strong guys. They won the award, huge trophy. They just have a great offense as a whole going down the list.

(Question off mic).

I wouldn't call it intimidated, but it's a challenge. I wouldn't say I'm scared. Don't ever want to play scared. But it's a challenge just being able to do, to stop the things that they do.

(Question off mic).

Different feelings, different like (inaudible) feelings at all. But previously in my career I don't really have any sacks. I really enjoy getting sacks. I feel like they're special. But interceptions, they're special, too, because they don't come along too much either. So I'll stay with interceptions.

(Question about LSU and the backfield)?

Got to fit your gaps. He can run a long ways. Or also just like his route running is great, his vision is great. Smart guy. He's like a receiver. He has a receiver's skill set, but running back (indiscernible). Pretty special.

Everybody talks about how accurate he is. What do you see from his ability to scramble (inaudible)?

Yeah, he extends a lot of plays with his legs which is great for any quarterback to be able to do. The way he does it is really special. His accuracy on the run is very good. That's the main thing because he's a guy who may not strike you as being fast but he's actually a really, really great runner.

(Question off mic).

Run our plays correctly.

(Question off mic).

I think my role is just as important as anybody else's. If our end doesn't do the right thing, if our plays don't go right, I think it goes for every position on defense. And I wouldn't say mine is more important than anybody's. It's all the same.

(Question off mic).

Yeah, absolutely. I love the challenge. Each and every week that team brings you a different challenge, and I just accept whatever it is and try to overcome it and conquer it. So I'm looking forward to being able to – I guess (inaudible) the air raid offense because we've always had a thing where our DBs were not very good, our weakness. So it's going to be good to see how we match up, just everybody across the board.

(Question off mic).

Ever since I've been at Clemson that's how it's been. We always get the, "We don't play anybody," this and that. But I feel like we do pretty good when we get these games where we (indiscernible) somebody and be able to say it.

And at the end of the day everybody puts on their cleats and jerseys and helmets the same as everybody else. So you can say we don't play anybody and make that a factor of what you said, but, I don't know, that doesn't really bother us; we're used to being that team.

It's funny because there's an article that was like how 13-0 Clemson team wouldn't make the playoffs. So people don't really want (indiscernible) anyways. So we get used to it. We're like the red-headed stepchild in other groups. There's nothing wrong with it with me.

(Question off mic).

Of course, it helps you prepare if you're going against great competition in practice, but I would say our main thing would be from just like being here before. We know what we have to do mentally, physically, with nutrition, just taking care of your body, rehab, rehab, things like that.

(Indiscernible) that's probably the biggest advantage, it's more than that. Because they have great players (indiscernible) as well. Those go hand in hand?

(Question off mic).

He actually said it before I could say it to him. So, it was great, me and him are on the same page. (Indiscernible).

I feel like it was the best thing for me and the team as a whole just because we're so deep at safety. We play four safeties a game now. And all those guys were still there when I made my switch. So, I feel like it was very beneficial and I don't regret it at all.

(Question off mic).

I wasn't really too knowledgeable on like the D line stunts and the things that they do. So now just knowing all that, how everybody fits in the run game, I think that really helped elevate my game because I know what everyone does.

(Question off mic).

I think the question is more like where do they not challenge you. They can run the ball. They can throw the ball anywhere to – from their tight end to all their receivers, their running back; Joe can run it. I think it's, like, where do they not challenge you versus where is the challenge.

(Question off mic).

It's funny because (indiscernible) came up to me and said, you've got the look on your face. And I was, like, I ain't making no plays, but I'm still doing my job.

So sometimes when you're a football player you've got to learn that you can be the guy making the play even if you're not physically making the play. And just keeping that mindset and seeing my teammates eat.

(Question off mic).

I was just like anxious to make a play. (Inaudible) not trying to do too much. If you try to do too much you gonna get beat.

(Question off mic).

He was just telling me to relax, it was going to come to me. Nothing I could do.

(Question off mic).

Yeah, more and more as the game went along I felt like I started getting more action, started to get some tackles and pressures. And then I got (inaudible).

(Question off mic).


(Question off mic).

I felt like we had a football team (indiscernible) in America, and now (indiscernible) in the country. No one here is on our side. I think that's very obvious. It's like we're in a different country because I mean we're in their home state. (Inaudible).

(Question off mic).

Yeah, I played it my whole life. Nothing's different now. So I'm just going to keep doing what I do.

(Question off mic).

Yeah, it's a challenge we're definitely going to accept. They're the most efficient offense but we're the most efficient defense. So it's going to be a challenge. Just like how they can beat you in any kind of ways is really what the main challenge is. It will be great to see how we match up against them.

(Question off mic).

Statistically, I'm really not sure. But I mean they're a completely different team. So I don't want to compare.

(Question about culture)?

Culture, best way to put it. We're not teammates. We're brothers. We have a great culture, a loving culture. Best is the standard. That's the standard we live by there. Trying to do everything the best way we can (inaudible).

So really big family atmosphere everywhere you go regardless of the people on the team, just staff members at the university, just regular students, everybody, just like a big family there.

(Question off mic).

(Indiscernible) year at Clemson. And I think this is my second Heisman winner that I'm playing. The other quarterback was Lamar Jackson. And it's crazy how different they are, but it's also how big of a challenge it is. So I'm excited.

(Question off mic).

How smart he is. His decision-making, his poise in the pocket. His ability to scramble, accuracy on the run. I could go on and on down the list, but he doesn't really have any flaws in his game. That's probably the biggest thing.

(Question about high school and dominating).

I feel like we do a lot of things. He's so smart at what he does that I feel like at times he thinks like an offensive coordinator more than the defensive coordinator, I feel that's the best way to describe it.

(Question off mic).

I feel like it shouldn't be any other way. I'm not a fan when I see a high scoring game. It's just a good challenge to both of us on both sides.

(Question off mic).

How much they feature him in the run game. I like to think of it as a running back on the (indiscernible), and also a running back's skill set. (Inaudible).

(Question off mic).

Trevor, he's a really mature guy. And I know he was going to do whatever was best for the team, best for him as well. And when that happened, I wasn't really worried. I had a lot of faith in Chase Brice as well. He came in and won the game for us before. So things like that happen in football. I just like to control what I can control.

(Question off mic).

I think this is almost like worse than an away game. It's like we're in another country. Everybody here is an LSU fan. We probably won't – we'll have some fans. Our fans travel. But I'm sure that LSU people bought up all the tickets. It's definitely like an away game in another country.

(Question off mic).

We just turn the music up extra loud just, like, so we can deal with the noise, honestly. But on defense I don't really have to worry about that because they're going to be quiet for their offense. But offensively, on their side of the field, they have the music up real loud to give them noise. (Inaudible).

(Question off mic).

Personally, I feel like I can play any position, even though I'm not built like a D tackle or anything. But in my mind I think I can play any position. It's really more just taking on the individual aspects of the game. I don't know if that answers your question.

(Question about keys to winning)?

I think about 15 (inaudible) whatever. They're probably happy to see a matchup on a linebacker.

(Question about describing LSU)?

They're all elite players. They make a lot of really big plays, every single one of them. And I would say a huge piece of the puzzle is their offense.

(Question off mic).

I feel they really use everybody a lot. I can't really differentiate or pick apart which ones are more –

(Question off mic).

We're in their home state. So, yeah.

(Question off mic).

I kind of like it. It's like us against the world. That's kind of how it's been all year. People didn't want us to make it, I think, from all the talk. But I personally enjoy it – just everybody against us.

(Question off mic).

I've always wanted to play LSU just being here throughout my years. But I think it's more, like, it's kind of funny, same mascots, everything.

(Question off mic).

I can rush the passer. I can play man coverage, zone coverage. I think that's really everything. But fit the run.

(Question off mic).

I've spotted him a couple games, yes.

(Question off mic).

If you ask me, I think I can do everything, but that might not be true. It might not be true. Mentally that's just how I think. So, yeah.

(Question off mic).

I get that question asked a lot. His ability to scramble especially on the run. His poise in the pocket and just his ability to extend plays. His decision-making, he's just a really, really smart guy with a great athletic ability. And when you get that, you get a great quarterback, or a great athlete, whatever.

(Question off mic).

You see a lot of people miss a lot of tackles on him. Instantly I was like – I saw how big he is because I met him in person and everything, but he's a strong guy. You can obviously see he's real strong, has a real strong base.

A lot of people just – from safeties to D linemen. So I think people really like sleep on that. He's a big, strong guy. To me he looks like he's hard to take down.

(Question off mic).

People running free. It's like he doesn't even see them and he still stays up, throws them off, whatever it is.

(Question off mic).

Real tough. He's a quarterback that protects himself. But he'll also get some dirty yards too. That's really good to see (indiscernible).


I have no idea.

(Question off mic).

They've both been talked up to be the best offenses ever. So however you want to compare them is how you can. I kind of just look at the little things that they do.

You guys fared pretty well last year.

I think we did all right. Not too bad.

(Question off mic).

I like that I get to do everything – blitz, play man, drop in the zone. I feel like it's like a dream position. They let me do everything. Yeah, there's always like the offensive lineman that gets to run the ball. I'm the guy on defense that gets to do everything, you know. It's really nice.

(Question off mic).

I think either Michigan or Nebraska.

(Question off mic).

Yeah. When I took my visit here, took my visit to Clemson, (indiscernible) this is where I want to be. It had everything I valued, education-wise. Our graduation rate is crazy. I think you can count on two hands the amount of people, the amount of four-year seniors that haven't graduated.

Obviously there's guys that go three and out. Coach Swinney is a man of faith. That was a really big for me.

And then the football there, that was the last thing to worry about. The football and the culture, everything was amazing. Everything I wanted in a program.

(Question off mic).

Yeah, I feel like the message in high school (inaudible) didn't matter at all. (Inaudible) on campus (inaudible) I didn't really go to (inaudible) the (inaudible) stars mean nothing to me. I mean, when you have guys like Hunter Renfrow – I don't think he had any stars and he starts for the Raiders.

(Inaudible) and I could keep going on down the list. Even Travis. Travis is a big, strong guy. Look at him now. Stars don't really mean anything, I don't think, because when you get there, like you're not going to get a starting job just because you're a 5-star. You've got to work at it. Stars don't mean anything.

(Question off mic).

It was actually really hard because I'm used to being like that guy. I'm used to always playing, being one of the best players on the field. And when I got there, it just wasn't right. It wasn't right for me to play here.

Coach Venables wanted me to – and Coach Swinney (indiscernible) redshirt. At first it was really hard for me, not being able to play games and everything. But I think it worked out for the best. I think I became a better student of the game and (indiscernible).

(Indiscernible) your defensive coordinator, is he the best guy out there?

I mean, I do think he's the best. But there's like – the way he thinks, it's like how do you even think of things like that? I don't know. He's so creative at what he does. I feel like he thinks more like a offensive coordinator more than the defense.

When you go up against an offense how much motivation – (indiscernible)?

It's just like a great challenge. They're the most efficient offense. And hopefully we can just, like, limit their scoring, slow down their scoring and give ourselves a shot in the fourth quarter.

(Question off mic).

(Indiscernible) don't talk to him.

(Question off mic).

Yeah, he's the second Heisman I've played before. Both of them have brought a great challenge to the game. I'm excited.

(Question about pass coverage)?

I don't know. I play a lot of man.

(Question off mic).

I have to be on my A game. He's a really good receiver. Probably make as little mistakes as I possibly can.

(Question off mic).

He's intense at all times. (Inaudible) everything. He's a perfectionist. He puts so much stress on that at game time. (Indiscernible) how it feels. Really, really intense at all times.

(Question off mic).

He was the first person I met, actually. He came to see me at my high school. I could tell he had a ton of energy and he hasn't lost a bit of it.

(Question off mic).

He's our scout team quarterback. So he does like a lot of (inaudible) things, sometimes he'll keep running, stiff arm us, do whatever.

(Question off mic).

So like a lot of times he'll scramble out. He's done this a couple times this year. He'll scramble out with the ball. And then he'll run, do some, like, crazy throw.

(Question off mic).

No one's ever tackled him to the ground. I think Tristan, Tristan tackled him to the ground.

(Question off mic).

We just go so fast. (Indiscernible) to tackle.

(Question off mic).

My theory, I don't know. I don't know. My role is no bigger than anybody else's. So, really, I just want to do my 1/11th in this game, just my (indiscernible).

I just want – my goal for this game, (indiscernible) the win, not to prove anybody wrong, but just to play my best that I've put together all season. And I feel with that, bring the energy to the team and defense to where we're all (indiscernible). I don't know. I guess nothing's really changed.

I believe that you guys have to play some man coverage (inaudible) third down to allow you to get to the quarterback. Which offensive player at LSU – (inaudible)?

Yeah, I don't know. I'm really looking forward to all of them because they all bring like a different challenge. They've got a big physical tight end, Ja'Marr, obviously everybody knows what he can do; Jefferson, they know what he can do. (Indiscernible), what he can do.

So I don't know. They've all got like a little different game to them. So I'm really excited to play each and every one of them honestly. I don't know anybody more than (inaudible).

(Question off mic).

I feel that's what gets them going, makes his blood flow. He's so passionate about this, just everything he does, he does it with a passion.

CUTrevor 2020-01-11 23:53:53


(Question off mic).

Very unique team.

(Question off mic).

Hopefully give ourselves a shot.

(Question off mic).

Just like the preparation and things, just like our experience throughout the years of us being here helps us with the little things, like the mental aspect. You don't want to overload yourself and mentally drain yourself physically – rehab, (indiscernible), things like that.

(Question off mic).

I don't think the attention is better. Nobody expected us to be here. We get that a little. We haven't played anyone kind of thing. I don't feel like we've had any pressure. Nobody expected us to come back here and go back to back. So I feel like we really just haven't had any pressure.

(Question off mic).

Nobody was really down or doubted each other, thinking that we wouldn't be able to come back. But we weren't expecting to win that game either, so just have to play smart.

You are the underdog?

Like I said, nobody expects us to win. It was something like 93 percent of the bets were LSU. So nobody expects us to win. So we don't have no pressure. So we're all pretty much excited about playing.

What about Dabo and his program cause you guys to be so much more successful?

I think it's the culture he's instilled with us. We're more about doing things the right way. Just about that mainly.

(Question off mic).

It was bad news. Barely say anything about it, I guess. That's what everybody says. Probably the biggest thing. But I guess since we beat everybody, they say we don't play anybody. But like LSU beat everybody, too. Ohio State beat everybody. So –

(Question off mic).

Them saying that, it means nothing at all. The people writing that or saying it on TV, like, they're not – they don't practice with us. They don't practice with LSU. They don't practice with Ohio State, Oklahoma. They don't – none of them – they don't practice or anything. The media, it doesn't mean much to us. Can't pay attention to that. You get caught up in that, then you worry about the wrong things.

You bring a skill set to – got to play your A game, that's probably the best I can put it, obviously.

(Question off mic).

If you don't come with it, then he's obviously going to beat you, you know what I mean?

(Question off mic).

It's a blessing that I got to play. But I'm really excited. I'm really excited for this challenge, with the receivers, quarterback, the running back, all season. So it's going to be a fun game.

(Question off mic).

This is my third National Championship Media Day. This one's different for me because now I'm on stage and I've got me a Dr Pepper. When I'm on the stage, I'm sitting around.

(Question off mic). The way you play and the different positions, the athleticism, how do you look at the two?

Obviously the challenge is crazy because nobody's been able to do it. So I would like to believe that I would be able to. I'm going to try to do what I do and shut it down. That's the biggest thing.

How do you describe them?

Being explosive. I think that's the only way to describe it. You see what they do to everybody each and every week. So just the challenge they bring from every single receiver to the tight end, running back, Joe, you might (inaudible) coverage down, 15, 20, just being able to really cover the whole field, including the running back, because a lot of teams don't feature their running backs.

From Joe's running ability, gotta cover the whole field. Yes, absolutely.

(Question off mic).

Never seen them like this, but when it comes this time of the year he's always really, really intense. So it's been a year since we've had him like this.

What does this moment mean to you?

This moment is really special, being a kid from Kansas, I'm kind of like the hometown there. We kind of get overlooked in football. But it's really, really special. My dad always gets real emotional at times like this. He always says how proud he is of me. But it's really, really special and I'm glad my family gets an opportunity to come here and see it. Essentially my last game.

What's your greatest college moment?

Man, I would probably say my first start. Either that or senior day. My first start, it was just crazy because growing up, playing a team like Clemson, this is like a dream come true playing for a time like this, and just senior day, coming so far and just moving – (inaudible) just rolling through and (inaudible) and how emotional that time was just like all the bonds that we had, just the friendships that I'll have forever.

(Question off mic). What are the typical questions that get Dabo fired up?

I think the main thing that fires him up is we don't know anything, I think that gets him really going, when people doubt us, kind of like the questions like that, that really gets him going. He comes into a team meeting, you can tell something –

He really likes to get out what he has to say, regardless if you're talking or not. So I think in this clip he's making his point right now. He likes to put exclamation on things, I think that's what he's doing right now, dropping a mic and walk off.


Tanner, when you look at this LSU offense, obviously Burrow stand out, but the weapons he has to throw to, can you compare them to anybody you've seen this year? And just in your career how does this offense rank?

I don't know if they rank against anybody. I think they're their own unique team, their own unique dynamics. You can't really place them into any kind of category. They're very special, obviously, with the stats they've put up this year, but we've been going against a lot of teams that have been great, played them well, so I'm just really looking forward to this challenge and hopefully we'll have our best game.

Facing a guy like Burrow, dual threat, challenges he presents to you as a guy who has to be so valuable tackling as well as in coverage?

Yeah. You know, whenever you get a running quarterback, that dynamic is tough for our defense, being able to stop that aspect, because you can try to stop one or the other, but at the end of the day doing both is very tough.

With this D line, the youth that they have, how important is it for you guys to express to them the spotlight that's going to be on them and the problems that other teams have faced dealing with this week and everything that surrounds the game?

You know, with young guys they don't really understand the magnitude of the moment sometimes, so you really gotta just let them understand that, I've been here, done that a few times now. I've been blessed enough to do that. But you just really gotta let them know the magnitude of this game, just relax. A lot of guys get uptight and think this is the end of the world. It's just another game and a part of your life.

Last year going into this game a lot of the rhetoric was around Alabama and Tua Tagovailoa and how they could be the best offense ever in college football. Do you see similarities going into this game that the majority of the nation is picking LSU to win this?

Yeah, from the media standpoint, you know, they're the best, very similar to last year, Tua and them put up a bunch of really good numbers. We did a really good job with them, so hopefully we just do our game and play our best.

How much confidence does it have with Brent Venables in your corner?

All the confidence in the world. Especially when you give him an extended period of time, I like my chances with him.

What's the biggest key for you guys in disrupting an offense where Joe Burrow is completing 78 percent of his presses? Talk about trying to get pressure on the guy, but he seems to elevate his play when teams are blitzing him. How do you try to create pressure without putting yourselves in vulnerable position?

I think it comes down to just your leverage. Whenever he does get to scrambling, he's got a scrambling drill where he has to snatch on the guys, a lot of people look in the back field or whatever else and they lose their man and it's free range for him. So you just gotta make it difficult, make him uncomfortable the best way you can and keep him in front of you.

LSU has one of the most talented wide receiver corps in the country. Is there anything that you look at this year that you guys have played that kind of create some similarities between?

No. You can't really do that in this game. I mean you can say this and say that, but at the end of the day you gotta go up against them in a lineup and get a real feel of how they play. You can never really prepare for something like that. You just gotta kind of experience it, get in the first quarter, get comfortable and go from there.

What stands out when you watch that offense on film?

Just their – I mean whatever you see in the media is what you get you see the top-powered offense, throwing the ball all over. The offensive line is great, tight ends, receiver corps. You can't go wrong with that personnel.

Does it remind you of any other offense you guys have played in your time?

No, sir.

Tanner, I was asking Isaiah about watching film of Joe Burrow. Is there something that stands out to you when you're watching his film that just makes him a little different than any other quarterback you've gone against?

I think just the poise of the game. He doesn't really show anything. You've seen him make great plays, you've seen him get hit or whatever it may be. He'll just get right back up, same face. You know, guys like that, you gotta try to make them uncomfortable. You don't really know if they are or they aren't getting uncomfortable. So you just gotta keep applying the pressure and just keep doing your thing, but at the end of the day he don't show how he's feeling. So that's probably one of the best things about him is his poise and everything he does. He gives you nothing.

He's very accurate, which is a trait that of the quarterbacks that you go against in practice every day. I know there are different quarterbacks, Trevor and Joe. But does it help have a quarterback that you go against every day that's that accurate in practice when you know Joe is not going to miss a lot of passes?

Yeah. It gives you kind of like just a feel. If you're not in your coverage, I mean he's going to expose you. But you just gotta do your best covering these guys up and hoping your D line and the pressure gets there. So you just gotta do a great job of covering.

Going against Jefferson and Ja'Mar Chase, they expose secondaries quickly, you saw it in the Oklahoma game. What stands out when you go against them and those weapons they have on the wideouts?

I think they're just very good at understanding coverage, man-to-man, zone schemes, just being able to manipulate their routes within those schemes. They do a great job of that, just being able to get open, and Burrow puts it where he needs to. So you get a one-two combo like that, it's very hard to stop.

What were you feeling when you finally got to New Orleans there? Were you on this team that came here two years ago?

Yes, sir.

Bad taste in your mouth obviously. What excitement do you have being here this week?

Just to be able to leave a better mark. You know, we didn't play our best football last time we were up here. So we really want to just be able to express this team at this location. We haven't really played well here. So being able to play well here and leaving with a good taste in my mouth that I left it all out there is really what it's all about.

How is the preparation this season been different, if at all, for you guys?

Yeah. It's definitely longer, definitely the body feels it. But, you know, at the end of the day, Coach Swinney does a great job of keeping us fresh and healthy. When we need breaks, we get breaks. He's done a great job just managing that schedule, but you definitely feel it. Starting like July 31st or August 1st, whatever it was, till now, it definitely catches up with you. But we've done a great job – our support staff in the training room have done a great job just freshening up our bodies. But mentally is where it wears on you. These long seasons each game, you prep, you prep, but we've done a great job just refreshing every week and just be the best version of us.

Tanner, obviously a lot made of all their depth at wide receiver. As you guys prepare for it and have been watching the film on it, what have you noticed when they lineup?

Yeah, it definitely makes it tough on a defense. You gotta have guys out there that can cover them. But I think we do a great job of recruiting, bringing guys that we need to for this moment. So I think we're going to do a great job. I just really look forward to the challenge. They're a great team, so we're very excited about it.

How about for you specifically getting in on one-on-one coverage a lot?

I'm excited for it. It's a chance for me just to be able to show my skills. A lot of people don't think I can cover and things like that. So I'm excited just to show them, hey, I'm here. I can do this and put my best game out here.

Tanner, Burrow seems to toss up what look like 50/50 balls, but he just has a lot of trust in his receivers and feels like maybe he feels like they're more like 70/30 balls. How much do you feel like you match up when you watch film of Burrow and his trust in his receivers?

Yeah. Why wouldn't he trust his receivers? They come down with those balls, so he's going to keep on throwing them. I think when you look at it, the receivers just do a great job of just winning their matchups. Whenever you get something like that and you have a quarterback that can put it where he wants to, it's going to be a good outcome. So we just gotta do a great job of being in the right place at the right time and just making some competitive plays.

Physicality and strength...

Yeah. And you can see like their bin and stuff like that, they'll run this way, catch the ball this way. It's a test for sure, but we're really looking forward to it and it'll be a good one.

There's been a lot of spotlight on your program each time you guys get here, especially this year. What do you think has allowed you guys to stay focused and continue?

I think just keep doing what got us here. Not changing what we do. A lot of teams aren't built with a structure like this team is. When you get a structure that is built to last, that's when you see the competitiveness. You get teams that kind of just do it for one season, you don't see them again. I think when you build from the ground up like we have here at Clemson and then I've been on the back end of it just being able to just bear the fruits of everybody's labor that came before me, just really see the consistency.

What part of the structure stands out being able to handle big games? Is it consistency? Is it Dabo?

I think it's an on combination of everything, bringing good staff, keeping the staff together and just recruiting, bringing in good guys, not just talented guys. When you bring in the right type of people, things work out for the better.

Dabo loves to use his little Clemson line with you guys. But what's allowed him to maintain that identity, the small-town program on a big stage?

Yeah. I mean that's what we are doing. I mean, when you look at Clemson and their alumni, it's not near as deep as these other teams, the state teams and things like that. We just gotta do what we do best, and everything else will fall into place. We don't have what everybody else has, but we're working towards that, you know.

Is Coach Swinney different in a certain way when he gets in front of the cameras?

What you see is what you get. He's goofy, corky, dances all the time. We try to keep him safe from the media with all these dances he does. They're not great. But, you know, just have fun with him. He's a good guy inside and out. He expresses his faith, which really harps for me. So just a great guy inside and out.

As far as the game is concerned, what are the challenges (inaudible)?

Yeah. It's very tough when he extends plays, little scramble drills, especially when you got super athletic guys to throw it to, you gotta cover them up. He extends the plays for a period of time. You can only cover guys for so long. So we gotta do a great job of hitting when we can, pressure when we can and just keep them in front of us.

(Inaudible). What's the receiver matchup like?

Yeah. I mean whenever you're able to do something like that on a big stage like that, it's very intimidating, you know. But we're here. We're excited about the game, and just going to put our best foot forward.

When you came out of South Point, was Clemson a clear No. 1 for you? Or just tell me a little bit about your recruiting process.

Yeah. So when I got recruited, I really liked, obviously, Clemson. North Carolina was another school I wanted to go to. And I always wanted to go down to Florida for some reason, Miami or University of Florida. Grew up watching them, loved them. But, yeah, Clemson was kind of a clearcut when I met Dan Brooks, the recruiter. He's gone now. But he's really what got my attention.

And did they recruit you in the tackle position?

Yeah. So safety was always for Clemson. A lot of teams wanted me to play linebacker. But safety was always here for Clemson.

What do you see (inaudible)?

What do I see?

Yeah. How do you think the next few months are going to go after this?

I think teams want to see me do both. So just being able to get somewhere where I can train, train both as I go into it. So whenever I get down to training, I know it's a little late now, but get down there, do the drills, be the best version of me and that's all I can be.

Have you met the Quarterback?

No, sir.

Can you compare him to anybody you've faced?

No, sir. Different breed, you know. Different breed.

As a senior on this team, as a leader on the defense, you've probably had to answer questions this whole season about how this defense is going to reload and make up for all the lost. Is there like an element whether it be in camp or spring practice?

I never had any doubt. You know, we've had defenses where a lot of people don't think we're very good or worth a dang. But when you hit – when you get out of the season, you see who's coming back, see who's going to stay and then you kind of like start looking at it and you're like, all right. This is what we gotta do. But there was never any doubt in my mind. I know what we gotta do. I know Coach V had some new schemes for us. And I knew our back seven was a lot of veterans, so I knew it was going to be easy to learn on the fly. We've done a lot of stuff this year, and I credit that to savviness and understanding plans. And it's really paid off for us. We've let our D line start to grow and grow and grow and get confidence and really start to flourish at the end of the year.

When you had your interview I guess this spring, what did they talk to you about in terms of like, all right, you're going to kind of be the face of the team now?

Yeah. I just gotta be more vocal. That's something that I never really have done. I've always been kind of in the shadows, just cheering people on, encouraging guys, kind of like the dad. Mom gets on you, dad's there just to keep you safe. That's what I always do, get on them boys. But just being the vocal guy, I gotta lead by example and lead with my voice. Something I haven't really done till this year, and I feel like I've done all right at it.

(Question on watching film.)

I mean, you come in, you watch and you watch, you watch the cutups and things like that. You just gotta prepare for it. They are who they are. You see it every day on ESPN or Fox Sports or whatever else of how great they are. So we know how great they are, everybody else knows how great they are, so we're going to see how great they are. I don't know how else to say it.


I mean, we're all built the same. They're a great offense, we're a great defense. Just going to go out there and do our best.


They're different. Different in their own way. Everybody is No. 1 when you get to this end of the road. So you just gotta beat the best to be the best.


Yeah, for me, I mean, you know, I've played the best, so-called best every year it seems like. So just going against the best, knowing what I'm capable of, knowing what this team is capable of, I have no doubts. The game's already played. We just gotta go out there and do it.

What do you know about the receiver crew that LSU has?

They're great. I mean everybody knows they're great, so we're just going to go out there and go against them, see how they are, and I'm really excited for it.


No. Everybody wants to talk about it, so I love to talk about it as well, you know, just go out there, do my best and see how great they are.


It is what it is. You know, people go out there with great plans, just gotta execute the plan at the end of the day. You gotta have great personnel. If you don't have great personnel, you can't win a lot of games. So we have great playing, great personnel, so we're going to see if we can execute it.

Auburn is the team that's had the most success against them defensively. When you watch that tape, what can you take from that?

One thing that always jumps out from the film when I look at that game is their D Line. No. 25, and he's probably one of the best players in the country. I will vouch for him, like he's a Top 10 pick. If you don't have a good front – reminds me a lot of Dexter; super physical, super strong. Man, to create that penetration is huge.

If you guys don't have that kind of talent in the front, how do you sort of make up for that on the back end?

You just gotta help them out the best you can. I mean I think now our D Line is really starting to flourish, really starting to be a more powerful defense. We've had to let them grow at the start of the season and now we're getting in that four-man front and really start to heat up.

Joe said after that game that part of the reason he was successful is that he couldn't – in the first half –

Talking about the Auburn game?

Yeah. That that was part of the reason why they had to adjust at halftime. What does that mean for you guys? How do you sort of approach that?

I feel like we do that stuff every week, week in, week out. We try to mix things up, show different stuff. So, you know, I think when you watch Auburn, you don't – and I'm the same way. I didn't know who was who anyway. So it's hard to take anything from them schematic wise. So you just gotta figure it out. Coach B does a great job of just making plans and you gotta do a great job of executing them.

Speaking of that, we know Burrow's kind of underrated ability to get out of the pocket and make plays. How important is it to start the game in a man match and scramble?

Yeah. Whenever he does extend these plays, you gotta cover him for ten seconds. It's hard to go out there and tell somebody cover this guy for ten seconds. So just being able to just understand where your help is when you have it, being able to just lock down whenever you can and just, you know, you just gotta hit these pressures. Whenever you see him do get out of these pockets, he has escape routes, so being able to just cover up those escape routes where he doesn't see them or just cover them up with man you gotta do your best.

We talked about Joe and the wide receivers, but Clyde, the running back, what have you seen of him? He catches the ball. He's a shifty dude. So for you what have you seen of him? Again, same approach, how do you work that?

Hard-nosed runner, catches the ball. Kind of like a total package for a running back. Not a lot of running backs in college football are able to get out and catch the ball. That's just another fat parcel on his toolbox. But you just gotta do your best to slow him down. I mean, they've got so many weapons, you just gotta go out there and match them up and cover them up and do your best.

Interesting to call him a monster because he isn't the player – the guy that's smaller, it must be difficult because can he get lost out there, too? When you were watching film, I know you haven't done it yet, but it must be a different kind of approach from your position when you're trying to track this guy who's kind of all over.

Yeah, you won't really know how – I mean you can watch as much film as you want, figure out how it's going to be, but at the end of the day you don't really know till you know, so get out there and get a good taste for it yourself, and within that first quarter you're kind of like, all right, here's how it's going to go. So we'll figure it out.


No. I think of it as this. I think of it as a defensive player. We just want to be our best week in, week out and I think we've done a great job of that just understanding the play and executing the plan and just being our best. That's how I feel week in, week out. It's no different than anybody else.

Tanner, playing this game in New Orleans, I know you've been asked about playing it here. Does it feel like an away game to you?

Yeah. I mean, we're in their heart. You walk around town and see all this LSU stuff. You don't see a lot of Tigers here yet. I know they're coming, but, yeah, there's a lot of LSU people here, obviously. We're in their home state. It's like us playing in Greenville, you know. We don't get that luxury. But we're excited to be here, love the city, excited just to play.

Is it weird Tigers versus Tigers and you guys have the same stadium name, Death Valley?

Yeah. One of the Tigers is going to win Monday night. That's my forecast.

So this year there's been a lot of hype and talk surrounding Clemson. They've almost been kind of overlooking Clemson and kind of talking more about LSU and LSU being the best team. Why do you think so many people are overlooking you guys, especially with all the success you've had in the last couple of years?

I think when you look at it, everybody likes the new face, you know. Alabama has been the SEC team for a long time. Now you got LSU beating them. Everybody wants to see a new face up on the pedestal. Not a lot of people like repetitiveness. They want something new, something fresh. So I understand it because we've been there when we were the underdog, everybody's like yeah, go Clemson, go Clemson. Now everybody's like, ah, we're kind of tired of Clemson. I understand it, but at the end of the day we gotta do what we do. I'm still here. I still want to win, so we're just going to do our best.

Is that something that maybe adds a chip to your guys' shoulder?

I wouldn't say so. I think if people behind us or not, we're going to keep doing what we do. They're going to have to deal with it either way. We're going to do our best and just continue to try to just be a great team and just do the fundamentals well.

What's it like playing with Isaiah?

Isaiah. He's a goon. Very goofy. I love him like a brother. He came in after me. So just being able to just power my heart into him and him pouring his heart into me. I think we'll be brothers for life.

How have you seen his versatility kind of grow since he's been here?

He used to play free safety, what I play. And then he moved over to Sam, and it's the best decision of his life. When you see him last year, he didn't get all ACC credentials, none of that stuff, and now he's the Defensive Player of the Year for the ACC and going to be like a Top 15 pick. It's just his knowledge. He's always been super fast, lengthy. He can jump out the gym. But mentally, his knowledge of the game is really just above and beyond now.

CUTrevor 2020-01-12 00:31:56

TANNER MUSE (cont.):

Kind of a left-field question for you. I'm asking you to reflect back to Wake Forest. I know that was a while ago for you. Jamie Newman is a guy who's on the move and a guy you prepared for as quarterback. What do you recall from your scout on him and what did he bring? I know you guys played well that day, but what did you see on tape?

You want me to give away a secret? Is that what you're asking?

Just profile the guy.

I think he's great. He's hard-nosed, physical runner and then he can pass the ball. So when you get a dual-threat guy like that, it's very tough. You see it all around college football now. Just a guy that can be able to throw and run is very difficult. I think Georgia got a good pickup. I like his game. He didn't play the year before for Wake Forest. And then this year he just burst onto the scene and picked up all these stats. I think they should be really excited about him. He's a really good player.

How has this playoff experience been different and similar to some of the other ones you've had so far?

So we've only been here for a day, so I haven't really been able to dab into it. I think it's a lot noisier. I mean we're in the lion's den. So it's a lot noisier. We just gotta do our best, just kind of silencing the noise and being our best version. All the other years we were kind of out in the outskirts, kind of to ourselves and now we're in it now.

When you were younger, were there older players that would offer you advice on how to be on this type of stage?

I ain't listening to nobody then. I was a young hothead back in the day. I can pass it on as much as I want to, but there are still guys out there on this team that are like me back in the day. But I do my best just to tell them, help them understand how it works. This is a business trip. This ain't a bowl experience anymore. We're not here to have fun during the week. We're here to prepare and plan and get ready for this game.

When you're look at Burrow, what is it about him that makes him so good?

Just everything. I mean, you know, competitiveness, how great he is. Everybody knows how great he is. His poise is probably the best thing about him. You don't really know if you're getting to him or not. Same face; steel face through in through out.

When you look at your all's performance against Ohio State, obviously that's not what you guys are accustomed to doing. You're not accustomed to playing like that. Now, granted, Ohio State is a good team. When you went back and watched the film, what was it that stood out to you and said, all right, we can't do that against LSU, if anything?

I think we just had to figure it out, figure out their plan. I mean they did a lot of new things, a lot of new wrinkles, and we can't plan for what they're going to do new. We were fine with the game. I mean, you gotta tighten up little things. It comes down to the little things, tighten up those third-and-longs that we gave up, myself included, but you gotta figure it out on the fly when you get into this type game. You have an extended amount of time to prepare.

How special is it for you to play against a Heisman winner? Not everybody gets the opportunity to go against somebody like that.

Yeah. Been there, done that. Excited about the challenge. So looking forward to it.

What's the Clemson culture like in your eyes?

You know, you hear about this family thing a lot. You hear about family this, family that, family – everybody is sick of it, you know. (Laughs). But it really is. It's hard to explain, how to put into words of how tight knit this group is. You get recruited very early on. They don't take very much late guys. So you come in knowing who you're getting recruited with. So you already know your roommate by the time it's your junior year of high school. So you're talking all the time, just trying to figure things out. So it's just family oriented at the end of the day.

(Indiscernible) to get that interception?

How does it feel for me or how does it feel for him? I don't know how he feels, you know. No. I take great pride in his performance, because I feel like I've just been – I've been a part of it for so long. I've been here four years with him, just being able to see him grow. Not a lot of people wanted him to be here at first. There was a lot of heads turned when he came in. So I was, you know, I was in the same boat. And just a kid, a small-town kid. Not really built for this position, but being able to just continue the grind, continue to just be your best and really starting to flourish. And he really is. He's one of the best players and people.

The streak in the competitive world of college football to win that many in a row. Not to experience losing in a couple of years. What's that like and how impressive is that what you've been able to do?

Yeah. I mean being able to win this many games, especially at the highest levels has been special. I think when you look back at it a lot of people are going to be like, wow, they were really great. And not a lot of people appreciate that now. But they'll look back on this two years and yeah, we really missed something great. I get to live it. So I don't miss any of it. So I feel sorry for other people that don't get a chance to really enjoy it.

It all means nothing if you don't win –

Yeah. It don't mean nothing. You can look back at years that we have won a National Championship. That would have been great. But the 30 and 0, if we don't get there, but this season, you know, I'll remember the wins and losses here and there, but what will really stick with me is the relationships and bonds I've built with these – my teammates and my coaches. That's what really counts.

How would you describe the upcoming atmosphere? Xavier Thomas said you guys were like walking into Russia on Monday night.

Yeah. Coach Swinney has been saying that. You can't trust nobody around here. This is LSU territory. So we're just excited – we're excited about it, really looking forward to it. I mean this week alone is going to be a journey. So just get through this week and prepare the best we can and just be the best version of us Monday night.

What was your take-away when you watched them in their last game, eight touchdowns or whatever they had?

They're great. I mean they're great.

You knew that already.

Yeah. We already knew that. We already knew what they're capable of and they just showed you. They showed everybody how great they are, and they really just made a statement that game. So we're here, we're ready. That's all we can be.

Tanner, what is Brent Venables like?

Crazy. No, he's super intense, super – super invested in his work. He says if he didn't do this, he'd be a lawyer. He feels like he would be a great lawyer, trying to figure out, manipulate things in his own way. But all in all, just a great guy. I mean off the field he's a totally different guy. You see him around his family and how much love he gives everybody, it's special.

What's your favorite story, like Brent Venables story?

Story. I don't know if I can tell it. You got hot mics over here, you know. No, no. There's a lot. He just gets up with Chad all the time. Chad's so funny. He's kind of like slow motion sometimes when he gets tired and he kind of falls. So we come in and watch the tape, and Coach V will just – he won't say anything, and you look over and he's over there dying laughing at Chad. Those are probably my favorite moments.

How has he done as Joe Burrow?

Jimmy green beans? Yeah. He's slicing and dicing, as always. He knows where the holes are, and we're still learning what he wants us to do. He'll be like, yeah, I really carved you all up yesterday, didn't I? I'll be like, yeah. You did. But he's great. He gets us ready week in, week out, preparing us, putting the stress on us in practice so we're stress free in the games. He does a great job of that.

He did it this week for this game; right?

Every week.

Did he have to do something different every week?

No. He's the best player in college football. You know. Usually we'll have Patrick McClure in there, and he'll do a great job for us. But whenever it's not going the right way, maybe it's not fast enough, maybe it's not slow enough, maybe not having the read, Coach V will step in and he'll give the perfect read. He studies so much he knows all of Burrow's mannerisms. He has everything but the athletic ability.

I was going for say, does he look like a Heisman Trophy quarterback out there?

No. You know, he'll do some throws where he'll kind of like jump and throw it, trying to get more air under it. He does his best, though. We can't do nothing but love him.

So you feel like you guys got a good look from him the last couple of weeks?

Yeah. He's been his best version this week. So we really look forward to how it plays out.


Yeah. You gotta kind of just hone in. This moment is very big, obviously. It's the biggest game of the year. But that's always our mindset. When you get the biggest game of the year week in, week out, things become simple. I think when you get these young guys together, you just gotta calm them down, understand that this moment is huge, but at the same time it's just another game.


I think when you look at the whole season, you gotta just understand it's one-game mentality. You don't win, you don't get to these spots. So the magnitude of the moment is very big, but at the same time we just gotta be our best version week in, week out.

For Norman, what was that moment for him to see him get that interception?

It was awesome. He's like a brother to me. Really love the guy. I was super excited for him. I had to tell him – he wanted to bring it out of the end zone. I'm all for it, now. But in these games, you know, you just gotta get down and give the offense the ball back, take a knee. But looking back, I probably should have let him run a little bit.

For that ball being in the air so long and for him to be as wide open as he was, is it almost harder to catch the ball in that moment when like there's no one around you?

No. I don't think so. I think the competitive plays are always the hard plays. You look at it, why there's been a ball like that, you just gotta catch it. It's just a ball, just another day like off the JUG machine. Just go ahead and catch the ball.

What was he like after that?

He was excited, man. He got beat on that play before. So being able to have redemption and make the play is powerful just in the sense of him learning from his own mistakes in such a short period of time. So him being able to do that and just kind of redeeming himself was really big for him.

What was that moment like on the sideline?

We were cool. I mean, you know, everybody gets beat. I get beat, Isaiah gets beat. Corners get beat. It is what it is. There's never been like a pointing fingers situation or anything like that. We're like, look, brother, we got your back, just continue to battle, and we'll be right there for you.

You guys have played Alabama every year. Is it weird?

Yeah, you know, it's kind of like a stepbrother where he's always there. But, no, I mean they've had a great season this year, but everybody wants a new face, so we're excited for the challenge.

Do you see anything else, any parallel to the SEC style?

No. Everybody wants to talk about the SEC, how powerful it is and things like that, but it's just another team at the end of the day. It's just another team. So we're excited for the challenge. They're a great team, and really looking forward to it.

What did that win last year in California over Alabama, what does that mean for this program?

Just what it's capable of, I mean being able to go out there and win 44-16. Not a lot of people can do that to a team like Alabama, in any year. So being able to do that, just being able to play our best and just know that we gave it all out there that night is what it's all about.

Tanner, your defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, a lot of people consider him to be one of the best, if not the best, in the country. What makes him so great as a coach?

He's been the best. Ever since I've been here, the best. Everybody wants to always talk about this guy, this guy, this guy. Nobody does it consistently year in, year out like he does. So that's not even up for debate. But when you get a coach that's so invested, puts so much time into this, it really makes you appreciate it, and you really don't want to let him down. So we've gone out there week in, week out just playing to the best of our ability and hopefully it's good enough.

Talked to a few of your teammates and they say, man, how did he think of that or how did his brain go in that direction to think of that angle? Does that happen with you when you hear him coach?

Yeah, he's always got a few little wrinkles week in, week out, and he lets us do new things, which is always spicing it up. We're super excited always coming in there Sunday and Monday getting the plan and understanding the plan. So we're always looking forward to what he has up his sleeve.

It's a National Championship game. You don't need any motivation but where is the motivation when you go up against an offense that hasn't been shut down and say we're going to be the guys that do it?

They're the best, you know, so we always want to go against the best to be the best. So we're really looking forward to just going against the best and see how we stack up.

And Heisman Trophy winner on top of that, too; right?

Maybe get the best offense with the Heisman winner, you know, just a cherry on top. They're the best, you know, so...

It's the best against the best according to what you've told us, huh?

Yeah. If that's how you want to put it, yeah. At the end of the day, these are just hearsay, the best players, the best people or whatever. At the end of the day it comes down to numbers. So at the end of the game we'll see how those numbers stack up.

Deer Park. Best logo in the game.

So I heard Jordan Williams is pretty fast.

Jordan Williams is pretty fat. He's not fast.

Oh, wow.

(Laughs). Jordan is fat. On the record.

In a race, who do you think will win, you or Travis?

Me or Travis? Wow.

Because we've seen you make some pretty speedy plays.

I think my numbers say I'm faster. Those are catapult numbers, not my numbers. You'll have to ask Beano on that.

Who's Beano?

Alex Beano, the king of the castle.

I bet J.K. Diamond knows that you're fast. Running against Georgia Tech. His eyes are up looking at the screen. Looking for – I guess.

Yeah. You don't want to get tripped up. I mean that's how a lot of guys get hurt like that. Being tripped up or grabbed, pulling, you know. Always looking to cut this way or this way.

He was peaking, though. (Inaudible).

I feel like I know everything as a player. I think a lot of people didn't realize how tough he was and how strong he was. But he's, what, 6-6, 270? So you know he's strong and fast. He doesn't look fast. He's got this long stride.

So it looked like it took him a long time. He kind of like had a drink and (inaudible)?

Yeah. He's just a long-strided guy. A lot of people get fooled by that.

(Inaudible). How did you know?

Just the way he goes about practice. We compete every day. So we have a great back seven. So we've been given a lot of trouble, but he'll come in week in, week out and shred us up sometimes. So we go back and forth. That's the only way teams get better and get beat week in, week out with what you have. We've always known better and better.


It's been a good ride.

Say your name, position and how it feels to be here. Say something good. Give the people what they want?

Tanner Muse, free safety, Clemson University, checking in. Super excited to be here in New Orleans. Town to party, so just getting started. See you Monday night. How's that?

Thank you.

Thank you.

Where are you from?

I'm from Belmont, North Carolina.

Have you had some of the food down here a lot?


You know, that's our secret weapon. Exotic spices.

Yeah. They had some salsa in there for us yesterday. And it was like salsa, God, it was hot. It's so hot. I was like, my roommate was sweating and he was like, bro, you gotta try this. Just dipped it a little bit and kept going and kept going.


I've heard of she crab stew.

You're from South Carolina?

No, I'm from North Carolina. Liver mush. That's my claim to fame. Liver mush. Have you ever had liver mush?

Where is that in North Carolina?

Outside of Charlotte.

Do you know where Shelby is?

Yeah. Right down the road.

My friends have a paper up there.

Okay. Is it Shelby Star?

What happened with North Carolina? That was close.

Yeah, it was a good, fun game. I think they did a lot of good things schematically. Definitely defensively we didn't really execute the way we know now. I think we all made mistakes. Made a lot of little mistakes that really paid off for them. At the end of the day they were a good team. They executed, and we didn't do as well.


We'll see. I'm doing a lot of different things. Excited just to show my versatility. We'll see. Whoever lines up out there.

Well, you get to practice with some of the best in the country. You got a couple of new guys.

Yeah. They definitely help, but you can't really simulate these guys. They're really good.

The only guy in the country you can't say that you want from Alabama. (Inaudible)?

That's what you like to see. You like to see new faces, new guys get in and play at the highest level, so it's exciting.

(Inaudible). What have you seen from that LSU offense that's made it so potent this year?

They're just great, through in, through out. All the way up their lineup, they're just great.

And Joe Burrow in particular, what have you seen from him that kind of helped him in the Heisman campaign?

I think we all see it. Play every day. What you see is what you get. Just a great dynamic player through in, through out.

How good are you at picking baby pictures?

I'm okay.

Let's see what you got. We've been doing it with your teammates. Hold on just a second. Somebody got ten out of ten. So what is your greatest accomplishment and why?

My first interception for a touchdown. Seriously. 1996.

Where do your celebration come from?

Some of them came from NFL street football.

Who is the dirtiest person on the team?

Oh, Denzel Johnson. Denzel.

Why did you say Denzel?

Dirty Denzel.

What does he do in the locker room?

I have seen that man put on blue Jean joggers, no drawers. That's all I'm going to say.