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November 8, 2017

Drue Tranquill

South Bend, Indiana

Q. Talk a little bit about how you guys are coming back from last week's performance and things that you maybe have corrected or things that you're looking at, if you would.
DRUE TRANQUILL: I think just getting back to our process, getting back to our traits. And the way we prepared last week wasn't the best week of preparation. And we're kind of getting back to basics this week in terms of how we've gone about preparing the first eight weeks of the season and getting back to that.

Q. What do you know about this rivalry? What things have you learned about Miami and Notre Dame? And after the game last week, did you get a chance to watch some of the Miami/Virginia Tech game?
DRUE TRANQUILL: Yeah, I watched their game. I was eating at Buffalo Wild Wings, got to watch some of their game. That was good.

A competitive group. And obviously a lot of history behind the game. I think what I know most about it is Coach Eilers used to help us out here a little bit, Pat Eilers. And he kind of played in that historic game. And obviously was featured a little bit in the "30 for 30".

So just conversations with him and Coach Lyght and those guys. That's really the extent of what I know.

Q. When you talk about the process, what allowed the process to get a little sideways last week before the Wake game?
DRUE TRANQUILL: I think when you just talk about greatness in general, consistency is the hardest thing, week in, week out basis. That's what makes champions champions, though, and that's what we're striving to be.

So just getting back to what we've been doing and preaching a message of consistency, and week nine, week ten it gets difficult to do that especially when you've been going since January. Refocusing whether it's old guys new guys and refocusing on cohesiveness.

Q. How much you weren't able to do last week, how much does it drive you to say let's be better and get after it and be the defense we know we can be this week?
DRUE TRANQUILL: Yeah, I think we're just disappointed because we knew we didn't go out and execute to the best of our abilities. And I think we felt that we let one go defensively. And so whenever you have a bad performance, you always come back with a chip on your shoulder and I know a lot of guys after the game were ready to put the patch back on and go right back out there because we felt we let one go.

Q. When could you see last week that there was just something different about the defense, like it wasn't all together as it had been the last couple of weeks?
DRUE TRANQUILL: I mean, I don't know if I felt a lack of energy, but I definitely didn't feel kind of the spark, whether it was like we get in a third down situation and then we'd come so close but wouldn't make the pass breakup or wouldn't get to the quarterback or would let him escape and then scramble for five or six yards to keep the drive going.

It felt like those plays hadn't been occurring the first eight weeks of the season and they were occurring in that game. So I think it was just that passion and that energy and that fire to get off the field. I think they were able to convert in too many scenarios.

Q. What did you see from the guys at practice there yesterday that you'll be all right, everything is going to be okay defensively?
DRUE TRANQUILL: Those plays were getting made and guys were really flying around and swarming at the football. I thought our pursuit, our ability to finish plays to the point of contact, whether it was tackling the ball carrier, finishing at quarterback or finishing end of routes is a lot better.

Q. Been asked if you have seen Miami's turnover chain that they pass around on defense. Your thoughts when you saw it.
DRUE TRANQUILL: It's a cool idea. On defense you're trying to generate turnovers. I think that's a great idea for any team to do. We've even talked about doing that.

We have a hammer. And some guys on the defense side and we pass it around internally, but it's a cool idea, yeah.

Q. And kind of building off of that, when you have two teams like yourselves who love to force turnovers, what does that do for a defense when -- not saying that your guys' offense is going to turn it over a bunch of times, but when you head into a matchup where you know turnovers can really actually be another focal point of the game?
DRUE TRANQUILL: Listen, in big games like this defense wins the game. So whoever plays better defense on Saturday is going to win the game. And we're preparing with that mindset. We have to go in and we have to take the ball over on the road, put our offense in favorable situations to score the football. We've got one of the best offenses in the country and so they will be able to do that if we do turn the ball over I think you saw it against Michigan State when we gave them the ball back I think they had 100 percent touchdown conversion rate.

So the best defense is going to win on Saturday, and we've got to go in there with that mindset and our defense has to go in with a mindset to dominate.

Q. And going back to when you took on Michigan State, it was a big spotlight game on the road. They weren't ranked at the time. But obviously Miami coming in at 7, what does it do for you guys mental-wise to get ready for a game that is so focused on when you guys are playing on the road as compared to when you had these games but have been here at home?
DRUE TRANQUILL: Yeah, I mean, I think what our coaches try to preach to us is the idea of a faceless opponent. I think everyone is aware of the situation with them being ranked in the top 10 and us as well, game day, going down there and all that.

But if you get wrapped up in that, none of that is going to win you the game; what's going to win you is execution. And if you focus on too many external things you're not going to be able to execute. We have to focus on our game plan and focus on what's going to occur. They're a bunch of 18- to 22-year-old guys just like we are. We have to focus on execution of our game plan in order to win.

Q. With the human nature aspect, you mentioned 18 to 22 years old, it's hard to sort of not hear the hype of something like this, but has it helped you guys -- what makes it easier for you guys to sort of block out the noise? Is it having experience with things like this or does it just take a little bit for you guys to get used to it?
DRUE TRANQUILL: Absolutely, I think it has to go with experience, and we've played in a lot of big games already this year. The list goes on and on of games we've played in this year and been able to quiet the noise.

So I think it's just that constant message internally of reminding one another, if we want to be able to celebrate and see Coach Kelly dance in the locker room after games, we've got to focus for the time leading up to the game and through the game on what we have to do to execute.

After the game is when the fun occurs and you can enjoy the win. But in order to win on Saturday, we've got to focus on the game plan and keep our minds on that.

Q. I asked Greer about this in terms of just Miami's field and their stadium and they've been changing it out a lot this year. They've had some turf issues. Wondering if you knew anything about that. If you didn't, how do you sort of as a player prepare for maybe having a field condition to play with?
DRUE TRANQUILL: We've seen on film a lot of guys slipping. And I think that obviously goes to some of the weather they've been having on the coast this year.

And I think grass as well. So it will be different for us this week obviously with our home field being turf. But all 22 guys on the field are going to be playing on the same turf and so that really isn't an advantage either way; we've just got to prepare for it and be ready.

Q. The challenges that Miami will present to you.
DRUE TRANQUILL: Obviously their quarterback has the ability to just make plays and get the ball to playmakers, I think. You see that time and time again with guys making big plays, whether it's the catch in the fourth quarter against Georgia Tech, the extended drive on fourth and 10. Whether their veteran in the slot, Berrios, making plays downfield, making plays in the run game, their running backs are great, athletic tight ends.

So they present just a lot of different challenges, nuances that we'll have to be prepared for.

Q. You mentioned that you guys have a hammer that you give around to defensive players. I'm curious on what that stands for you guys, how important it is for you, if so how excited guys get. Is it for a big hit or something like that?
DRUE TRANQUILL: Originally it was for -- during the summer training we would give it out to beast of the week. It was from Coach Balis and his staff. And I think it ended in Nick Coleman's hands. So Nick Coleman had it. We've been kind of hanging around internally. Doesn't really symbolize anything we just think it's cool to have as a defense.

Q. May not be as flashy as a chain. Is it decorated at all or is it literally just a normal hammer?
DRUE TRANQUILL: Just a gold hammer.

Q. It's gold at least?

Q. Coach Kelly talked about sort of the grind that you were under last week academically and how that may have affected you on Saturday. Did you feel that?
DRUE TRANQUILL: I think looking back probably a lack of sleep was probably the biggest component, just having a ton of projects. I wasn't able to get as much sleep as I typically like to being nine to eight hours on a game week.

And so I definitely think that played a part into it. But at the end of the day we've got to go down and execute. I'm not up here to make an excuse for myself or the defense. We all play we're all student-athletes so we need to handle the nuances.

Q. What project did you have? Was it engineering type of stuff?
DRUE TRANQUILL: I'm in three basically -- I graduate from in December. I am in three capstone projects. They're all group projects. So obviously my group is counting on me to get my deliverables done. I had a lot of deliverables due last week.

One of them we're doing basically a thermal management system for 3-D printers. Another one we're acting as like a venture capitalist and designing something for people who travel. And another one is a research project I'm doing for kids in developing countries to help, basically a solar-powered system to help power computers and stuff in schools in developing countries. So a lot of different projects in there, all neat and interesting but took a lot of time.

Q. If you're graduating in December, do you plan on coming back for a fifth year or uncertain?
DRUE TRANQUILL: Yeah, I mean, those decisions will be made in December and January. I'm kind of just focusing on finishing up here and finishing this season. So those decisions will be made at a later date.


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