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December 30, 2014

Tyler Hunter

Charles Kelly

Terrance Smith


THE MODERATOR:  We have members of the defense side of Florida State University here with us this morning.  Seated next to me, defensive coordinator Charles Kelly.  Next to Coach Kelly we have linebacker Terrance Smith.  Terrance is a junior from Decatur, Georgia, and is looking forward to returning to action after missing the ACC Championship game due to injury.  He earned the Bednarik Award, Defensive Player of the Week, and ACC Linebacker of the Week with a spectacular game against Notre Dame with 11 tackles, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and a sack.  He set a career high for tackles in the win against Clemson with 13.
Next to Terrance we have defensive back Tyler Hunter.  Tyler is a junior from Valdosta, Georgia, was the fifth leading tackler on the team with 60 after sitting out of the 2013 season with an injury.  He twice set a career best for tackles in a game in 2014 with ten, the last coming against North Carolina State.  Hunter also had a fumble recovery versus Miami.

Q.  Coach Kelly, whenever you look at Oregon's offense, do you think it's the most balanced offense you guys have seen?  Is it intimidating or scary for you guys at all?
COACH KELLY:  The one thing that they make you do, I think, out of all the teams that we've played, they probably make you defend more of the field.  That's the one thing they do.  So I say on that side of it, they are very balanced.
I think just watching their offense as the year has gone on, watching all the games, you can tell they have a very good plan of what they want to do.  They know where they want to attack.  And they'll take what you give them.  I think they've shown that they can be very patient too.
So we've got a big challenge in front of us, but I do think they're very balanced and they're very, very good at what they do.

Q.  Coach Kelly, the defense has done a great job in the second half of this year of shutting down teams.  What is it about this team's ability to make adjustments at halftime?
COACH KELLY:  Well, the first thing I've said about our players is one of the greatest traits that you can have as a person is to persevere.  It hasn't always been easy.  Over the last two years, we've preached to our guys we play no matter what the score is.
Last year Terrance and Tyler can both tell you it was a little bit different.  We were ahead of a lot of times.  Sometimes that's harder to do is to keep playing when you're ahead like that.
This year we've had some situations where we didn't play as good in the first half, but I think it all goes back to these guys.  They don't panic.  When you coach people like that, I think our team, I think Coach Fisher has developed and recruited guys of not only athletic ability but of character.
I think, when you combine both of those, these guys, they don't panic, and you can look at it‑‑ you can look in their eyes on the sideline, no matter what the situation is, Coach, let's go.  We'll get this thing done.
It's just been a pleasure to work with them.

Q.  Charles, what's been the biggest adjustment or challenge for you now in your first year as a defensive coordinator?
COACH KELLY:  I get asked that a lot.  I think the biggest thing is understanding we lost five, six guys last year that were great players, and we had some great players coming back.  But what you have to do is find what your niche is and what we do good, what we have to correct.
I think early in the year the biggest challenge for us, I think our guys will tell you, was giving up explosive plays.  We were playing consistent in spots, and then an explosive play would get us out of whack.
So I think, as the year has gone on, we've gotten better at that.  But that was one of the challenges early in the year.
I think Terrance will tell you, our linebacking corps developed.  I think he and Reggie and Matthew Thomas and all these guys, I think they've come along.  You've seen them get better and better each week in the secondary.
Tyler‑‑ we were still relatively young.  We've got some talent that I think those guys just‑‑ they got more comfortable playing with each other.  It's been fun to watch them develop.

Q.  Coach, can you talk about your willingness to go man‑to‑man coverage, and what is it about the athletes in the secondary that allows that to be successful?
COACH KELLY:  The one thing that, again, I go back to Coach Fisher, what he's done, the job he's done recruiting here, we believe that on defense your limitations are set based on what you can do in the secondary as far as being able to cover man to man.
So that's one of the things that has been done over the years since Coach Fisher has taken over is just an effort to be able to recruit the guys that can do that.
There's no doubt that it allows you to do more defensively when you can‑‑ when you feel comfortable locking those guys up.  I'm sure Terrance will tell you too, everybody assumes that it's always the secondary, but when you tie guys up man to man, you've got to have linebackers that can cover man to man also.
So we feel like it gives us a little bit more variations, gives us a little more things that we can go to when we can lock those guys up man to man.
The one thing I'll say too, when those guys are in man‑to‑man coverage, a lot of times they're not making the interceptions.  Sometimes you don't even hear their name called.  I'll tell them, when that's happening, you're playing good.
A lot of times you don't see in a play, if a guy's got a guy covered, quarterback doesn't go to him, then you never hear about that.

Q.  Coach Kelly, what are the biggest challenges of going up against an offense that are so up tempo, gets snaps off within 20 seconds in between plays?
COACH KELLY:  I think the number one challenge is it's hard to replicate that in practice.  The speed of it is something that, you know, we try, and our scout team has done an unbelievable job.
I think John Franklin has probably given us as good a picture as we could ask for, but I think the speed of it, the quickness in which it comes at you, being able to get lined up, being able to make the adjustments depending on what formation or maybe it's what defense we have called, the adjustments we have to do that.
Those two things present the biggest challenge.  And then you put the‑‑ I feel like they're probably as balanced in their 11 players on offense as anybody we play, with the quarterback that can do everything that you want a quarterback to do.
I think the next challenge for us, he does such a good job at everything, being able to run, but at the same time, buying time in the pocket, being able to see downfield, being able to find guys downfield.  I just think his development the last couple of years has just been incredible.
So there are many challenges, but I think the biggest challenge for the up tempo is just replicating it in practice.

Q.  Coach, your defense probably is as healthy as it's been all season, and you've got your senior leadership back in the D‑tackle position.  Can you talk about having Eddie and Nile Lawrence‑Stample back from the pec injury, how critical that's going to be against this type of offense.
COACH KELLY:  I definitely think‑‑ you know, we always talk about it.  When you build a defense, you build it from‑‑ you've got to be strong up the middle, and definitely having Eddie and Nile back, that's a big plus.  Any time you have to move people, that creates a challenge.  Not only just them as players, but I just think the confidence that it gives our other players on defense.
Again, leadership is such a big thing.  We talk about it all the time.  People do what you do.  They don't do what you say.  So when they see other guys playing and they're playing at a high level, guys tend to follow that.  So it is a big plus for us, and glad these guys are back healthy.

Q.  (Off microphone)?
COACH KELLY:  Any time you play an up‑tempo team‑‑ and in today's football anyway, the number of plays you play in a game is up compared to what it was a few years ago.  So any time you have guys that can play 20, 25 snaps in a game and give you productive snaps, that definitely helps with the number of plays.
You play a team like Oregon, they're going to create plays.  They're going to create more plays.  That's one of the things they try to do on offense.  When you hear them talk and you watch them play, they always talk about tempo, tempo, getting more plays.  So the more depth we have, definitely the better off we'll be.

Q.  Coach, there's been a lot of talk this week about people saying they think that Oregon is a finesse team or a, quote, soft team, but yesterday Coach Fisher said he doesn't see that as all.  He sees them as a physical team.  Can I just get your thoughts on that, Coach?
COACH KELLY:  People assume, because you spread the field out, that you're finesse.  That's not true.  They run the football as good as anybody.  You watch their scheme runs that they have, they move people.  To me, finesse is just throwing the ball on the perimeter all the time.  They're good at running the power.
When they run their zone read, they're moving people.  So that's not finesse.  You can't assume, just because people spread you out, that they're finesse.
I remember going into the National Championship Game last year, the same thing was said about Auburn; that they were finesse because they were fast or spread, fast up‑tempo, but they were as good at running the football in the A‑gaps or in between the tackles as anybody.
Oregon's the same way.  They can‑‑ I think the thing that has made them better, not over just this year but over the last couple of years, is that they've kind of created that culture and they are more physical.  It is more of a power game.
They can do both.  They can spread you out, again, throw the ball in the perimeter, get you on the edges, but at the same time, if you're playing that, they're physical enough, and they can knock you off the ball to create seams in between the tackles.

Q.  Coach, we'll start with you and love to get the players' thoughts on this.  What do you respect the most about Oregon, and what are you telling this team to prepare for?
COACH KELLY:  Definitely, like I said earlier, we've got to be ready for up tempo, the speed at which it's going to happen, and we've got to be ready for that.
Of course, they've had more time to prepare for this game, so I'm sure they've got some wrinkles that we haven't seen before.  That's, to me‑‑ and I think our guys will agree with this‑‑ when we concentrate on what we do and know what we do and play by the rules of what we have in, I think we can adjust to those things.
I think being able to adjust as the series is going on, that's when you know‑‑ and that's the thing that I feel comfortable with our players is I trust these guys.  Because the one thing between a coach and a player is having that trust.  When I ask them a question, I know I'm getting a truthful answer about what's going on.  How is this guy blocking you?  How is he running this route?
For them to be able to adjust to that and understand what we're trying to do, I think that's going to be huge in the game.

Q.  For Terrance and Tyler, Oregon is a team that's gone for it on fourth down 24 times this season.  What kind of pressure does that put on the defense having to defend that extra down sometimes on a consistent basis?
TERRANCE SMITH:  When you have to defend a four‑down team, it just means that you have to make plays.  You're not off the field in three and out, so you've got to make that extra play.  That's really all it adds to it.
TYLER HUNTER:  I believe the biggest challenge is winning first and second down and just getting them in third and long, and if they decide to go for it on fourth down, just having to win fourth down too.  I just take it as an opportunity.

Q.  (Off microphone)?
COACH KELLY:  It's interesting because it seems like 2014 has been the year that we've had to make those adjustments.  It started back in the National Championship Game.
I think that's a good trait to be able to have guys to do that.  I don't know that‑‑ in the first half of the championship game last year, we didn't play very well, but we had some busted assignments also.  I think it had to do with Auburn making some plays, but at the same time, we made some mistakes early in the game that we typically did not make back earlier in the season.
I do think‑‑ you know, it's a different team this year.  It's different guys, but it's been fun to watch.  Eddie Goldman has played different than he did last year.

Q.  How so?
COACH KELLY:  I just think he's been more of a force like Timmy Jernigan was for us last year.

Q.  High praise.
COACH KELLY:  Very high praise.  He's had times, and he's been slowed by some injuries, and just the leadership that he's shown to our guys‑‑ not by what he says.  Eddie doesn't talk a whole lot.  He doesn't like to talk a whole lot.  But it goes back to he does the right things.  He practices hard.  He plays hard, and guys see that, and they follow it.  That's been fun to watch.
I've been very pleased with Jalen Ramsey's development because he's playing a position that Lamarcus Joyner played at last year and was so productive at.
It's not an easy position to play because you have to do so many different things.  But I think he's developed and he's start to go mature as a player, and he can definitely make plays, and that's been big for us.
I think Reggie Northrup has developed and become a very productive player.  I can go through guys, but those are some of the things that I've seen that I've been pleased with.

Q.  (Off microphone)?
COACH KELLY:  You've got to be able to do both.  I think that's one thing that the tempo does is they want to get‑‑ they want to get you into predictable situations, and to be able to adjust that, we have to be able to have a plan‑‑ again, whether we want to play coverage, whether we want to pressure, whether we want to create front movements, we've got to be able to do that, and we've got to be able to do it fast.

Q.  (Off microphone)?
COACH KELLY:  I think any time you stop the game, it definitely slows the tempo.  I haven't planned for that in practice.  We've been going as fast as we can go.

Q.  Coach, talking about starters, the experience that you guys have gained with all of the wins that you've accumulated and the pressure that you've been under.  Talk about how that translates to an advantage coming into this contest.
COACH KELLY:  I think the thing that I mentioned earlier about our players not panicking.  To me, whether you're a college football player or whether you're a person running a business, the one thing, the one trait that I want in people is that you're going to persevere because things aren't going to go your way all the time‑‑ I mean in life, in business, in football.
So when you have those guys‑‑ and any time you've been put in those situations, every time you take those situations and you're successful, it just gives you more and more confidence.
So I think that's the biggest thing is it gives our guys confidence, hey, we can adjust to this.  We're not going to panic.  We'll be okay.

Q.  (Off microphone)?
COACH KELLY:  I wouldn't say now who we'd put on him.  You definitely want to have somebody, and more than one preferably.  I definitely wouldn't say who he was going to start with.

Q.  (Off microphone)?
COACH KELLY:  I think so.  I think what Coach Fisher is‑‑ I think it all starts with recruiting and player development.  As the guys stay in the program longer and they're in the system, they learn the system.
I think the disadvantage for Jalen was he didn't get to play that position last year as a backup because he played corner a little and then he got moved to safety, but he never actually played that start position.  So he didn't have a lot of accumulated reps doing that.
But, yes, that's what our goal is to get the situation, when we lose a guy, the next guy stepping up has done that.
Now, the one that I'll point out that came in in the Georgia Tech game and did some good things was Trey Marshall because he's had some accumulated reps during the season.  He's had some injuries, which slowed him down, but I think you guys start developing like that‑‑

Q.  (Off microphone) you're going to lose about 15 this year.  What do you think the future is going to be?
COACH KELLY:  The players, and especially our assistant coaches will tell you, the one thing I'm focused on is the next game.  I'm so bad at that, I won't even take video.  If we‑‑ during the season, if I know we're playing an opponent two weeks from now, I'm not looking at any of it.
Honestly, we've tried to focus, put all of our focus on this game.  I know we'll have to deal with that at some point, but I think that's where your program takes over.
That's what Coach Fisher has built and what he's developed, and you just let the organization‑‑ that's what it was built for.  So you let that kind of take itself.

Q.  A major argument against you is how many comebacks you've experienced this year.  What would you say the benefits are of that?
COACH KELLY:  The benefits, definitely, like I said a minute ago, it gives you that confidence that, okay, we can play in any situation.  No matter what the situation is.  Like I said last year, sometimes the biggest challenges are when you're so far ahead.  But we always say you play no matter what the score is.  You've got to play the same.  You've got to be consistent.

Q.  What is it like going against Jameis Winston in practice?  He's so competitive.  Does that kind of raise the level of the defense?
COACH KELLY:  Oh, yes.  It gets spirited in practice.  That's the way Coach wants it.  But, yeah, Jameis is a great competitor.  It doesn't matter what he's doing.  He wants to win, and that's just‑‑ and I love him.  I do.
I think, like I said, leaders, people do what you do.  He influences people by what he does.  He creates a competitive environment.  It's fun to hear he and Jalen get after it in practice.
And it's all good.  It's definitely a competitive environment.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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