BRANDON STREETER: Good morning. Just excited about being here at the Cheez-It Bowl. This is a great opportunity for our program, obviously, and as a coach, as an offensive coordinator, excited about getting underway with my new position here.
And just really can't thank Coach [Dabo] Swinney enough for this opportunity just to be a part of a program that represents a great culture and great character, and just excited about this opportunity and obviously excited about this game here in a couple days.
MIKE REED: Good morning. Mike Reed, special teams coordinator, cornerbacks coach. It's an honor. But for me, the standard is the same, different face, players are the same. We are going to go out, and we are going to do what we do.
It's a great honor to be in this position. Been here nine years now, and for Coach [Dabo] Swinney to elevate me to special teams coordinator shows that he has some faith in me as a coach, as a man, as a person, as a mentor to some of these young men. We are here this week and going to put on a good show.
Brandon, talk about the transition, you mentioned that in your opening comments about getting the elevation up to the position. What's this transition been like, and did you have to do anything different this week going into Bowl preparation?
BRANDON STREETER: First off, the transition has been really good. You have a staff of, first off, great people that know how to work and have been a part of this thing. Hiring from within and promoting from within allows to you keep the camaraderie as an offensive staff.
So as always, though, when you go into a Bowl game and Bowl preparation, the week sometimes is up and down as far as the schedule. You have to get schedules right and be able to be organized with that. We have done a great job of adjusting to those schedules. Got here a couple days ago and transitioned really well.
I'm proud of the staff, first off, and also the team and how they have approached this game and how they have put the work in. Just excited about working with these young men and excited about working with this staff.
When you look at Coach Jon Heacock's defense, that odd stack, what do you see on film, and do they remind you of anybody you have played the past couple years with that look?
BRANDON STREETER: Yeah, first off, it's a great defense. It's that three-safety defense that they do a lot of things. They do a lot of disguising, and they play very, very well together. They have got a veteran group of guys on the defensive side of the ball, and they obviously know what they are doing.
So, first and foremost, they are a really good defense, and they have got the veteran players that have the experience.
So, they compliment each other, and it's very obvious they play hard. They do a really good job at tackling and getting guys on the ground. So it's going to be a good challenge for our guys.
Now, this defense is somewhat of a newer defense. A couple years ago, maybe four or five years ago, is when I know our defensive staff actually clicked with them, and we put in some things that they taught us.
So, this defense has been around for a little bit, but it is on the newer side. So you've just got to game plan specific to what you said, that three-down, that stack look and that three-safety look and just be able to find ways and find holes because it looks like there's some holes pre-snap and then post-snap they are moving.
We just have to do a great job of our post-snap recognition, and our guys have done a great job this week of that preparation.
The new coordinators are going to be under a lot of scrutiny of course. How much pressure do you feel to show it was the right move right away?
BRANDON STREETER: First off, I've been in this position before. I've been a coordinator for six years and called plays and called plays last year in the Bowl game and been a part of this staff for – I just finished my seventh full year.
Having that comfort level of being around the people that I'm around, and then them having trust in me, you know, gives me a lot of confidence.
So, you know, I think I've just got to do the best I possibly can, and that's working alongside with this great staff that we have. And, man, I'm just excited about attacking the opportunity.
Dabo told us he doesn't think you'll be fully healthy until the end of the season, but where you are with the knee and finger?
DJ UIAGALELEI: I feel like right now I'm healthy. But, yeah, of course I won't be like completely healthy, but I'll be perfectly fine to go out and play a game to my full abilities.
Eventually in the off-season I'll get more healthier and get 100 percent, but right now I feel perfectly fine.
Coach Reed, did you have any opportunities to leave with some of the coaching turnover, and if so, what kept you at Clemson?
MIKE REED: Not really. You have opportunities every year. I have been in the game for a long time, and I have a lot of friends that are at a lot of places. When you are at a place like Clemson, it's hard to leave, okay. We do a lot of things different than a lot of people. A lot of people just base their program solely on winning and not developing. That's one good thing that I love about Clemson and the fact that it's a family atmosphere. My family feels appreciated and wanted and they are around the facility.
So for me, it was a no-brainer. Like I said, I love my kids. When I say "my kids," I mean my players. They are like family, so when those opportunities come, you have got to look at it as, hey, do you want to leave these kids? And, I'm not ready to leave my kids. Not ready to leave the staff. My kids have been here since three and five years old, and that's all they know is Clemson, so for me it was a no-brainer.
With Mario Goodrich and Andrew Mukuba, how has it been to see them flourish and develop into some of the best corners in the conference?
MIKE REED: I mean, as I said, it's a developmental program, and to see them grab ahold of a lot of things that we try to teach them, and for them to use them every day, it's great. It's like a newborn child. You see them crawl and see them walk and see them take their first steps and run, it's a great feeling.
These guys deserve it. They have put in the work, and now it's coming to fruition.
You've obviously worked with Brandon Streeter. He's the passing game coordinator, quarterbacks coach. What is it like now working with him as the offensive coordinator, and how has he changed over the past couple weeks taking over the role of being the boss of the offense?
DJ UIAGALELEI: First and foremost, I'm excited. Coach [Brandon] Streeter is my quarterback coach, so I'm real familiar. Have a great relationship with him already. So I'm really excited that Coach Streeter is the new offensive coordinator. Excited to get going with him in this game. I know Coach Streeter is going to do an amazing job.
For the most part, it's been exactly the same. Coach Streeter is the exact same person as he was when he recruited me and to when he was my quarterback coach, when he was the passing game coordinator, and now as offensive coordinator, he's the exact same person. Nothing has changed. I'm just excited for the new opportunity to work with Coach Streeter.
Wondered about your reaction to Taisun Phommachanh leaving, how did you process that in your mind and then confidence in the backups now?
BRANDON STREETER: Well, you know, this day and age, with that transfer portal, you know, it's not a surprise. First off., I'll say this about Taisun [Phommachanh], what an unbelievable young man he is. Comes from a great family, and he just felt like he needed another opportunity and another kind of re-start somewhere else.
So, I'm excited for him to have another opportunity; my full support. he did some good things, there's no doubt about it. He's got some talent.
But, man, I feel really, really good about our backups, I really do. You have a guy named Hunter Helms and you have a guy named Billy Wiles, who have put the work in, number one. They understand the offense. They understand the big picture. And, they continue to improve, and they are continuing to want to get better and better each and every day.
So, that's the biggest thing is knowing that you have guys behind DJ [Uiagalelei] that can manage it and understand the big picture, and that's what they have been able to do. Just really excited about those two young guys.
DJ, you talked a lot about how you had so much faith in Coach Tony Elliott as a play caller. What about Coach Brandon Streeter gives you faith in him as a play caller and a coach to lead the offense going forward?
DJ UIAGALELEI: I think the main thing is the comfortability level I have with Coach [Brandon] Streeter. Being my quarterback coach, I'm with him every day and I am in meetings with him every day and I know his thought process, and he knows my thought process of the different plays we want to call.
So I think from a comfortability level, that's the biggest thing with me, is I have a great relationship with him. And, so I think the comfortability level is right there. So I feel like that's the biggest thing that I feel like I'm more comfortable with.
WES GOODWIN: Hope you guys all had a Merry Christmas with your families. Excited to be here and thank you to the Cheez-It Bowl. What an amazing Bowl experience. Great weather here and a great city of Orlando, a lot going on and such a great experience for our coaches and our players and our families. We're fired up to be here.
MICKEY CONN: My name is Mickey Conn. Again, just to echo the same sentiment Wes had. We have had a great couple of days here, and excited about the Bowl coming up this weekend, so really excited. Thank you for having us.
Something slipped on the video about somebody named Johnny Carrots. We had Jimmy Green Beans. Who is Johnny Carrots?
JAMES SKALSKI: We don't know who it is exactly. I mean, it's obviously some Twitter account.
But no, they are doing a good job with the humor side of all the changes that's going on. So, we just think it's entertaining. But, yeah, so I don't know who you are, Johnny Carrots.
Do you have a nickname for Wes Goodwin or Mickey Conn yet?
JAMES SKALSKI: Nothing crazy. Just good 'ole Wes for right now.
I mean, he'll, you know, earn one, I guess as time goes by. But, there's definitely a lot of people with Johnny Carrots or all these other things, but it will come naturally.
Wes and Mickey, transition into the new roles, how has it gone for you guys and getting ready for the Bowl game, was there anything different you had to do to manage your time well?
WES GOODWIN: I'll start it. No, it's been a great transition. A lot of guys, a lot of continuity still. We only lost two guys so far, or three counting Ted, going. So a lot of continuity in our staff; know the process; know the roles, that sort of deal.
So, it's been a great opportunity for us to embrace the new roles and challenges and it's been great so far.
MICKEY CONN: We have been doing this together for a long time and when you look at our staff, we lost Coach V [Venables], that's a big piece to lose, but Wes [Goodwin] has been right there with him the whole time, his right-hand man. I mean, drawing up every play that we have ever put in and throwing ideas galore. I mean, this guy has got a million ideas, and then I continue to coach the safeties, Coach [Mike] Reed the corners, Coach [Todd] Bates the D-line, Coach 'Ski [Lemanski Hall] the D-ends. So our support staff is all there.
So. we work really, really well together and should be good.
In terms of the Bowl games you guys have played in over the years, being in CFP games, the Cheez-It Bowl, there's no opt-outs. Nobody's kind of decided not to play in this game. Why do you think there has been that level of dedication from this group going into the game, considering the other games you've played in through the years?
JAMES SKALSKI: I think it's the culture of this team. You get a chance – we get a play football. Yeah we have been in the playoffs and bigger stages, but to us, I mean, we get to go play a game again. We get a chance to go represent Clemson, show what we can do ourselves. So, I think we all just love playing ball. We love being together, so it wasn't even opt-out, like, what? That's not a thing.
You've been doing this a long time but it's a new level of spotlight and scrutiny. Are you feeling that, to show something right away?
MICKEY CONN: I'm not trying to show anything different. My deal is I just want our defense to go out there and play the way they have been playing. That's my goal and that's what we've seen so far in practice, the level of intensity, the level of leadership from guys like [James] Skalski and Nolan Turner, I mean, those guys just bring it. They bring it every day, and I love it and I know we're going to do a good job of putting them in position to be successful. Really excited to watch them play.
I wanted to ask in particular James and Wes about Iowa State's quarterback, the challenges of what he brings to a game and how challenging is the preparation for somebody who has been in the game for four years and doing it at a pretty high level?
WES GOODWIN: Definitely, it's a great challenge. My time at Arizona, you always heard his name, being a Phoenix-area kid and just a great player, very accurate, does a lot of things well, plays well in the spotlight, gamer, savvy, he's accurate. Can't say enough great things about him. So, it's definitely a challenge for us and we've got our work cut out for us for sure.
JAMES SKALSKI: Yeah, I think gamer is a good word to describe it. He just makes things happen over and over again and creates something out of nothing. So like Wes said, it's going to be a challenge for us and we're excited.
James, we've heard a lot about Wes's role behind the scenes all these years but what can you tell us about his football mind and what it's been like working with him in the capacity that you have?
JAMES SKALSKI: Yeah, I think y'all just see the big picture, you know, Coach V [Venables] and then just everyone else, right, that's how it's painted.
But there's so many moving parts and Wes, how long has it been now, years since I've been here. He's just been right chopping wood, just getting better and better and being literally Coach V's right-hand man. I have the most confidence in the world that things are going to keep going the way they have been going and I'm really excited for someone like Wes to get this opportunity, and then kind of just show everyone the kind of coaches and the kind of, you know, game he's going to call and just play aggressive Clemson defense.
For 'Coach' Skalski, just to piggyback on that, what was the reaction within the team when Coach Venables left, was there uneasiness or did you know that there was security coming?
JAMES SKALSKI: Uneasy is not a word to describe it at all. Everybody understand what Coach V has brought to the program the last ten years and it's been great. But everyone is super excited for him and super happy for him and that is his next step. I mean, it was going to happen, and we are all very happy for him.
But uneasy? No. We are all excited for the new pieces that are coming in and now we get to build something a little different, a little new, and I think all the young guys that are coming back are super excited. I know I'm excited to play one last game led by these guys.
But no, not one ounce of uneasiness.
I know you talked about you were happy when there was the buy-in from the players and nobody was going out the door once Coach Venables left, how have you seen this team approach Bowl week ask do you feel like they have a chip on their shoulder to have one last great performance this season?
WES GOODWIN: Yeah, definitely. Obviously everyone's bought in, been a great week of preparation, week and a half. Great energy every day. Great focus. Everybody's came to work every day with the mindset, the right mindset, right focus and it's been real fun to see.
Give all three of you a chance to answer here but start with you, Wes. What were those first few days like for you at practice and how long do you feel it look to you settle in and get in the flow? And for Mickey and James what have you seen out of him in practice handling this job so far?
WES GOODWIN: Yeah, to get back out grass was special in itself. That's why we do this, to be on the field with our players. To have the opportunity to get back out there, my team at Clemson so far other than a couple opportunities here and there have been in a support role.
But I've been out on the field many a times, I have a lot of on-the-field experience, so it was like getting back in the saddle, per se. Just picked right up and starting rolling from there.
MICKEY CONN: As far as watching Wes coach, it was no different. Wes is very humble and he knows his lane, whatever lane that is he's supposed to be in and when he was given the reigns to take control, he's taken control and he's drawn up the plays. He's controlled and signaled those plays and been very aggressive and confident in coaching his players and getting them ready and has not backed down at all.
I saw a guy who is very confident and ready to go and he's definitely been prepared for this moment.
JAMES SKALSKI: Yeah, I agree. I think the structure, the method of how we get ready, that's not really changing. But how you're coached, of course that's changing because you have a new coach.
But it's been nothing – it's been great. It's been really cool to see him do it his own way and it's been even cooler to see the linebacker room with my guys, completely buy in and want to play well and want to play hard and want to get it right for him.
I can't wait to play and I can't wait for all of us to show up and put on a show.