FOOTBALL: Player Media Availability – 11/21/16


[MUSIC PLAYING] Thinking back to winter
workouts and all the snow and all the ice on the field
that we were working out on, and to be here at the last
game, it’s quite a just– it’s quite a difficult– season
went by pretty fast for us. And we’re just working
hard every day together. And like coach always says,
we do hard things together. And I feel like this
season flew by for us. Coach always talks about,
doesn’t matter about the points or wins the losses. It depends on how you play in
the game, and how you fight, and how you finish. And that’s the bottom line,
and that’s what he preaches. And I seen that from week
one all the way to week 11 now going into week 12. So I see a major
improvement in each area. We just got to keep going. No, we’re just focused on us. That’s the bottom line. We’re going to keep doing
what we do to prepare, and we’re just going
to focus on us. And we’re just going
to keep playing as hard as we can as a team and
just really rely on each other. They’re a good team over there. They have good players,
and we have good players over here too as well. So I don’t really look
towards the match up. I’m just going to focus
on us and our game plan, and we’re just going
to go from there. Now we got offense,
defense, special teams, and a fourth side. The fourth side’s our side
line, and that’s all we rely on, so the energy there is totally
different from week one to week 11 now. So it’s a big difference
in our side line is what gives us energy. We don’t look toward no
one else but our side line. And basically
that’s our brothers, so that’s who we
look forward to. Yes, sir, and I’ve seen a major
difference in– from last year and my first year to now. It’s a dramatic
change that I see. It’s only going to
get better from here, and it’s only going
to go up from here. We just got to work on it more. That’s the bottom line. We just got to be more
consistent in practice, more consistent in the game, more
consistent in going to the bus. It doesn’t matter. It just always has to be
consistent everywhere, and that’s how you win games. Whoever’s more consistent
and whoever– more execute, that’s how you win games. And that’s just why we’ve
got to tune up a little bit. And I see this program, and
I know we’re going to rise. And that’s whole
thing of who’s rising. It’s just good football,
just a passion for the game just really just comes out. So it’s just like every game, we
want to win just like they do. But it’s just a big passion. You could feel it
the night before. You could feel it on a game day. Both teams just want to go. I want to kick the ball off
just so I can play first. So I wish I was on
kick off or kick return or something like
that, but it’s just a big passion for the game. This game is like
every other game. We want to win, and it’s just–
it’s on us if we want to do it, if we can do it. Coach Mendenhall, like
I said, for the defense, gives us a great game plan
just like he did last week against Georgia Tech. We’ve just got to
execute better. So it’s just going to come down
to those routine plays Coach Ruff says that we have to make. And we just play our all. I’m going to play
my hardest, and I know Quin’s going
to play his hardest, Mike is going to do his,
and just down the line. Everybody just has to do
what they can to just execute to the best of their ability. And if we do that with Coach
Mendenhall’s game plan, then we should have a great
chance to win every week. Last time we went down there, I
started against Virginia Tech, so that was a great game. I think it was that night
game we played against them. It was a beautiful game. Like I said, just
so much passion. You could feel i
from the stands, from the stands
talking trash– I mean, from of fans
talking trash to you on the sidelines to being out
there in between the lines. It’s just– it’s a great game. Sideline or playing, it’s
a great energy-filled game all the way to the end. He tells us to focus on us. That’s how we win or lose games. It’s not because of
what anybody else does. It’s because what
we do or don’t do. It’s because of our execution. So that’s Coach Mendenhall’s
thing is focus on us, and we control
everything that we do. Everything is still
building right now. Everyone’s still bought in. Everyone still believes
because we can still win. We got one more game, and that’s
our chance to go out and win. It’s like I said last
week when I was here, we want to win every game. And Coach Mendenhall
wants to win, I think, more than anybody. And he puts together
a great game plan for us to go out
there and do that. So that’s just
our whole thing is to go out there
and just do our job and execute as well as we can. So that’s what we’re focused on. Just like last home game, it
wasn’t– I was pretty calm, just taking it all in. Just sitting in the locker room
before we go out for kick off, everybody’s putting
their stuff on, and just sitting there
and just looking at guys that I will never be
able to play with again. Just looking at guys put
their thigh pads and their’ knee pads and their
pants, just getting taped for the last time. So I was just taking that all
in and just enjoying it really. It’s been a blessing. And it’s been– for me to
even come to this university and play football
here, so I’m just thankful for the opportunity. It’s been good. Like I said, I’ve
been taking it all in, just enjoying it every snap. And just– and then
like I was telling guys, I love this team so much that
when I see guys like Trucilla make a tackle, like
I’m so happy for them. It feels like I made a tackle. Or Quin makes a tackle, Mike,
or Eli, or Andrew– him, TFL, or Zach or anything like that
is I’m so– we all worked hard together. We all did all those tempo
runs and all that together. So it’s amazing regardless
of who makes the play. I love these guys, and it’s
just been an amazing experience over the last four years and
over the last– since January with Coach Mendenhall to
put in work with these guys and see these guys make plays. So it’s an amazing feeling
regardless who makes the play. Coach Mendenhall
is a great leader. He’s somebody that I look up to. He doesn’t really do the whole
screaming and yelling or big speeches and stuff like that
because he’s a get-right-to-it guy. What you see is what you get. And he has the whole team bought
in regardless of our record or anything like that. This team– this
program was going to win because of him and
because of the players. And we love that man. You just have to
continue to be positive so the younger guys–
and just always drill it in their heads
throughout the season, throughout the week. I mean, at this point, it gets
hard for the younger guys. They’re kind of maybe tired of
everything and all that stuff. But just being positive
and being that guy, no matter what you’ll have
that positivity on the team. To me it’s just another game. I’m always saying it’s
another game for me. So just going out
there and doing my job and trying to get this win. I’m blessed to be in the
position I’m here being that I’ve been
through a lot here. But I’m not really
satisfied at all. Of course, I’ve done some
good things this year, but it could always be
a lot more I could do. I mean, of course
everybody would like to win the last game. But just being out there
one more game with all my teammates, guys I’ve been
through all kinds of stuff with year in and year out. So yeah, just really going out
there and just giving it my all with my teammates is pretty much
what I’m looking forward to. Just knowing that no matter
what the situation may be, just always come ready to work. Bring positivity because
in life it’ll be same way. Everything’s not going
to be perfect for you. So just having that–
having to go through that has prepared me for
life in the future. So I’m glad to be in the
position that I’m in, and I’m glad I went through
the stuff I’ve been through. Yeah, it’s really fun
to play, and especially playing there is really fun. Last time we were there, a
rocking crowd, really packed, really loud. It’s always a good game. Ever since I’ve been here, it’s
always been down to the end. So I’m expecting more
of that this week. Every year you always want to
be the team that ended the skid, I guess. 12 in a row, in my opinion,
it’s not really a rivalry if you’re not winning, if
it’s not a back and forth type thing. 12 years in a row,
that’s dominance. So we definitely want to
try to reverse that trend and get this program going
in the right direction. Just definitely need
little building blocks to the foundation. I think Coach
Mendenhall and staff are doing a great job of really
starting something new here, although not as much tangible
success as we would have liked. Just the overall morale of
the team and the direction this thing is going, I’m very
optimistic about the future. So getting a win on
Saturday would be definitely great for building upon that. We’re going to play–
we always play hard. We play tough. And they’ve just
found a way to win. That’s something that we’ve
really been working on, I think, and trying to develop
is just finding ways to win. And I’m optimistic that, if
it came down to it this time, I think we’ll get it done. Yeah, just like I
said, the difference between good programs– like
I mean, call a spade a spade. Virginia Tech, that’s
a good program. They’ve always been good. And then where we are right
now is they find a way to win. And that’s just like–
look at them last week. They’re down 17
nothing at Notre Dame, and they find a way to win. So that’s just a hat
off of their program. And we definitely–
I think we’re going in the right direction. I think we’re getting close,
but close doesn’t cut it. And I would like
to think that we would be able to come through
if it came down to it, and I hope that we can. Not really. Overall, they just wanted us
to play hard and stay at it. It’s a tough road that we’re on. Coach Mendenhall– Rome
wasn’t built in a day. So just keep playing hard,
keep staying focused, and keep trusting what the
coaches are telling us. And then, yeah,
winning Tech, that’s clearly icing on the cake too. Just that, and then just
give them a big, big win. Like I said, I think
we’ve been really close the last few years
of having just that big win that we thought would kind
of be a momentum switch for us, whether it’s Louisville
or Notre Dame. And just giving them that
one that one last big hurrah. Especially this is
basically my class too, guys like Zach and Dante. So just to send them
out the right way, that would be awesome. Playing the game, it’s
a very exciting game. And Virginia Tech’s very–
we respect them a lot, especially what they’ve done the
past– their program history, it’s a special program. And our focus this week
is definitely on us and getting to play with my
best friends one last time. And I’m really excited
to play at Virginia Tech. I think their stadium is
a very fun place to play. It’s a hostile
environment, but that’s why you play this game, to go
into environments like that. And we are excited. Like I said, I think the
biggest focus– obviously a win would be
very helpful going into next year’s team’s season. However, this team
will never be the same. Last year’s team was
nowhere near the same as it was this year. This team is nowhere
near the same it was when we were
five and seven. Every year is a brand new team. And so it’s really– my
focus is, like I said, on us and being able to play with
my best friends one last time. But I guess showing
the younger guys how to handle a rivalry week,
that’ll be what it’ll be about. And I would love
these guys to be able to have that success
going into their season. Obviously. I mean, that’s what
I think about– I daydream before every game. But this one will be a
little more special, being it the last one. And I’m excited to get to play
in the last game against a very respectable opponent
like Virginia Tech. Yeah, I mean, they
are everywhere. Their guys are all
over the place. And they play very good defense. Coach Foster has a
really good reputation and so does their defense. And they are year after year
no matter who’s back there. So I have a little
bit of an idea of what they’ve been doing
so far, but I definitely– and that’s what this
week will be about. It’ll be preparing to
the best of my ability. And yeah. For him, it’s another
game to prepare and for him to coach
the way he does. He’s not going to change. And the players who have the
experience know not to change. Mike had touched on it. In a game like
this, you can’t let your emotions get
the best of you because it is a rivalry game. However, you have to do your
job and treat it as another game because that’s what it is. Once you allow– once your
focus goes towards the opponent, then you’re taking
them away from what your preparation is for.

About the Author: Garret Beatty

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