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December 28, 2015

Randy Sanders

Roderick Johnson

Jesus Wilson

Roberto Aguayo

Dalvin Cook

Sean Maguire

Lawrence Dawsey

Atlanta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Florida State co-offensive coordinators Randy Sanders and Lawrence Dawsey. We've got tailback Dalvin Cook and quarterback Sean Maguire. Coaches, Randy, give us an opening statement.

COACH SANDERS: First of all, we're tremendously excited to be here, excited for the opportunity to get the invite to come to the Peach Bowl. We feel like we've had a really good year, very productive year at Florida State. We plan on winning them all.

We hope to be in the playoff and have a chance to win the national championship. It didn't happen this year. But from what this team is and what we have accomplished, we're very excited. Got a great opportunity to play a really good Houston football team.

Hopefully springboard into next year. We are young. We had one senior on offense and I think, what, 13, 14 seniors total on the whole team.

Gotta love these guys coming back. So hopefully we can take this opportunity, take advantage of our practices we've had here in December, which I think have been really good, build on that, go out and play well in the game, and use the experience to build for next year.

COACH DAWSEY: I don't want to repeat what Randy said, but it's definitely been a great week here being here in Atlanta. Got a great fan base, the Seminoles here in Atlanta. That helps a lot when you go around, see a lot of the Seminole fans here.

For us to be at this bowl, it's a great opportunity for us, and like Randy said, we've got a young team and every chance you get a chance to out there get extra practices in there we're looking forward to it. Like Randy also said, it's a great opportunity for us to play a great football team and for us to be up for next year.

THE MODERATOR: Sean, what's been your favorite bowl week event so far, sort of off the practice field, more of the fun stuff, what have you enjoyed the most so far?

SEAN MAGUIRE: I'd say last night was pretty fun, being around the team and seeing the guys play a different sport.

It was cool seeing Brock and Francois and Derwin play basketball as well this as they did. They made some big shots at the end and it was nice to see the team go crazy and bond that way. That was probably my favorite so far.

THE MODERATOR: Nobody rolled an ankle or anything did they.

SEAN MAGUIRE: No, that's what I was worried about too.

THE MODERATOR: Dalvin, what about you, what's been your highlight so far?

DALVIN COOK: I'd say the lip-syncing because you get to see everybody's character and see how funny they is. And the other team too, you see funny guys on their team. We've got funny guys on our team like Reggie and you seen Coach Vic's character as a sprint coach. Just seeing everybody's character and how funny they are.

Q. Coach Dawsey, with Kermit Whitfield, when did you really see him step it up and really develop? Was it an offseason thing with his route running, with understanding the offense more? When did it really start to click in for him?
COACH DAWSEY: During two-a-days training camp. He'd missed a lot of the spring with a hamstring, so we weren't really sure how he was going to come back and respond. But doing two-a-days he came in with a mindset of just working, competing and practicing hard every day and it paid off for him. Had a great year for us.

Q. Coach Dawsey, can you talk about what makes Houston's defense so effective, and do they have any similarities to any defenses you've already faced this season?
COACH DAWSEY: They do a great job with their blitzing. They've got the zone blitzes behind it and they create chaos for the line up front. And I think that's a big part of their success, that they send guys and they'll drop linemen, all going back and forth with the different linebackers, safeties. So you never know who are coming. They all stand up at the line of scrimmage and then some will come and some will drop back.

Their zone blitzes create a lot of problems. And I think that's why they had so much success, because they've got a lot of -- like 17 interceptions this year. So they definitely create chaos on the defensive side of the ball.

Q. Do they remind you of any other defense that you've faced?
COACH SANDERS: You know, through a course of 12 games you play a lot different schemes and we've seen certain elements of what they do probably from different teams. I don't know that we've seen any one team that does exactly what they do along. From a base standpoint, they're probably more like Oregon last year than anyone else we've played this year.

But they do a lot more blitzing, things like that, than what Oregon did.

Q. Coach Sanders, the guy to your left, since he's taken over as the starter, how has he progressed? Have you seen a change in him in terms of confidence and leadership?
COACH SANDERS: Sure. As you go out and you have success on the game field it gives you more confidence. And not only does it give -- not only do I think he has gotten more confidence, I think everyone around him has gotten more confidence in him.

I know -- I believe that he could do it, but once you see it it makes it much easier to know it. Probably the same thing with Coach Dawsey, same thing with Dalvin. I would think everyone would say that.

Sean handled the whole situation this year extremely well. When we made the decision at the beginning of the year to go with Everett, he didn't sit around and pout. He went out to practice and handled it in a very mature way and went out to practice to get better that day and to be the best player he could for our football team.

It wasn't necessarily the decision he wanted, but he tried to make it the best one. And he handled it the right way.

And it's amazing how when you handle things correctly and you have the right attitude, how good things happen to you in the end. And I think he's a great example of that.

Q. Sean, given so much talk is always about next year already, and we've got the bowl game this week, but for you how important is this bowl game for you knowing what's at stake for you in your position next year?
SEAN MAGUIRE: Yeah, it's big, but at the same time I'm looking at finishing this season out the right way especially for the senior class. A lot of the guys I came in with, even the guys that are a year older than me that took me under my wing right away. So to get to 50 wins for them is something that -- it's probably at the top of my list of how much I care about this game, and obviously going forward into next year with all the guys we have returning.

But I think sending the seniors out the right way is probably the best.

COACH SANDERS: Let me say this. I said what I said earlier about using this game to build for next year, that is part of it. But that is not the main reason we're here.

The main reason we're here is to try to get to 11 wins, you know, to get these seniors 50 wins over a four-year period which has never been done before. And to represent Florida State as it needs to be represented.

We've got tremendous tradition, and we want to win this game for this year. Building for next year is a nice byproduct of it, but that's not the main objective.

Q. Randy, when you talk about the way Sean handled that, what does that say to his teammates when now he is coming in, if he had not played and it would have been different, all of a sudden he's coming in as a starter after eight, nine games. So they've seen the professionalism. How do you think that's rubbed off and how much did that mean to the last three, four games to the entire team?
COACH SANDERS: Well, I think the way he handled it showed a lot of maturity. And I always try to tell quarterbacks, from the time they arrive on campus, everything you do is sending a message. It's not like other positions. As a quarterback, everything you do sends a message.

And it may not come up until the eighth game of the year in overtime, you know, that somebody remembers -- I remember back during training camp Sean was late for curfew one night, so I wonder how committed he really is. But if you've never missed curfew, then they know how committed you are.

And I think the way Sean handled it sent a tremendous message and gives the guys a lot of confidence, not only in him as a player but him as a person and what he was all about and how in for the team he was.

Q. Sean, what has been the biggest emphasis for you to work on since the Florida game and to this point during the month off?
SEAN MAGUIRE: I think like Coach Dawsey was talking about before with all the different looks that Houston gives us, we haven't really seen a lot of their third down blitzes we've seen. So I think just trying to really understand them as much as I possibly can.

I've seen all their games and just really studied up on the film as far as this game because that's really what I've definitely been focused on the most.

Q. Coach Sanders, Dalvin, correct me if I'm wrong, he was saying the other day that the Georgia Tech kind of turned the season around. He felt like practice picked up naturally. I'm curious if you saw a similar thing after that game that maybe things got kicked up a little bit?
COACH SANDERS: I think there was a sense of urgency that increased after that game. We went a long time without losing a regular season football game. We had a number of guys that had never lost a regular season game. Just the fact that it could happen, that it did happen, and it happened not because Georgia Tech didn't play well, but we didn't play our best.

And as coaches, we preach to them all the time, usually you go out and you play like you practiced. If you don't practice well on Monday, you don't practice well on Tuesday, you don't practice well on Wednesday, normally you don't play well on Saturday.

So I do think a little bit of that sense of urgency as far as preparing to play did increase.

I didn't know it, he ran for almost 1700 yards this year. I was looking at the stats coming over, I was like doggone, you ran for a lot of yards, we need to get you the ball.

Q. Dalvin, from a player's perspective, did it impress you to see how Sean handled things while he was the backup so when he did step in as a starter he had your guys' full respect and attention?
DALVIN COOK: Like coach said, Everett was named to start at the beginning. So Sean stepped in, played a major role, actually he came off the bench that game, came right in and was making plays. That's a guy you've got to respect. As a quarterback position, he's our leader on the team, he leads the offense. He's a guy you've got to respect.

And I respect him. He knows that. And the whole offense, you know, we follow him. He leads us the right way. So he came in making plays. And we love him for that and we respect him.

Q. Either coach, and Sean, with this offense being so young, how has this team really evolved and grown over this season?
COACH SANDERS: Well, I think when the season started, we knew as coaches that we would be a better team week six or seven than we were week one, and we expected to be a better team week 12 than we were week six.

And that's kind of the natural progression of the teams in general, but especially when you have young players. You know, it's been an unusual year a little bit in that we've had so many different guys have to step up.

I think we've played Dalvin's had his injuries. Jacques had to step in as tailback. We obviously played two quarterbacks. I think we've played three centers. We played three different right tackles. Different left guards. It's been a season where we've had to mix and match and play a lot of different people.

So to get to where we are at, as young as we are, with the injuries we've had, we're pleased. We're certainly not satisfied, but we're pleased. And obviously their defense has played very well. Coach Kelly and that group started a tremendous job. We do have a good kicker.

Although I don't talk about kickers very often. And our punters played very well. And Coach Fisher does a tremendous job of putting the team together. It's not what the offense does, it's not what the defense does, it's what the whole team does together and how it all fits.

And I think this team has really jelled together well to get to where we are right now.

Q. Dalvin, before the season started, did you set personal goals for yourself on what you wanted to accomplish this year? I know you were disappointed with no Heisman, but you had a couple of 200-yard games. Is 2,000 yards something you thought about, and what were your initial thoughts entering this year for yourself?
DALVIN COOK: No personal goal. I wanted the national title and ACC championship. And we have a returning good group, confident group coming back next year. Like coach said, we'll finish this year off strong. That's our goal. We're trying to win a national title, ACC conference championship. That's my whole personal goal.

Q. Sean, Houston, this is a game that, kind of a defining game, a lot like Central Florida two years ago against Baylor. Does the fact that Florida State plays this kind of game on such a routine basis, will that help you not get caught up in all the hype and everything and will it help you not get caught flatfooted?
SEAN MAGUIRE: Yeah, I mean, I think that's a wrong mindset to go into a game. But I don't think our team has that at all.

I mean, Houston is 11-1 and they played a tremendous season and I think everybody on our team respects the heck out of them.

And I think that going forward our team has the right mindset because I don't think you can get caught up in that because that's the wrong way to look at a team.

Q. Coach Sanders, we talked to Coach Fisher a couple months ago. Coach Fisher told us earlier this season he delegated some of the play calling responsibility to you. I guess, first of all, how did that come about? Was that a preseason discussion that you guys figured out you would do that or how did that come about?
COACH SANDERS: Well, it's something that he had mentioned to me actually in the offseason two years ago. We discussed it again last year during the offseason. And as the season was beginning we discussed it.

And he would always say if I ask you to call it would you be comfortable? Yeah. Well, he would call it. And that's kind of the way it went. And then during the course of the season he called me into his office one day during the week and said hey would you be comfortable calling this game this week. I'm like coach I always try to get ready just in case.

He said I want you to take it and be ready to do it the rest of the year. And kind of the way we've done it is I'll call it for a while. He may see something. He'll call plays. He may be calling a series or two. I'll say coach how about such and such. And it's been kind of a cooperative effort along the way. And neither one of us have a big enough ego that we're worried about how it works out. We're just worried about winning and doing what's right.

And I think so far it's worked out really well.

Q. That's the other part, you mentioned the ego. I know Coach Fisher loves to call plays. What does it say that he put the confidence in you to be able to take over some of that responsibility?
COACH SANDERS: It's a tremendous compliment, no question, that he has the confidence, that he has the trust. It's something that I've done quite a bit.

So I'm very comfortable doing it. Obviously he's done it for a long time in the same offense. So as I've told him, coach, I can do it. I'm comfortable with it and everything else, I said, but there's no question sometimes you see the adjustments in this offense quicker than I do because you've been doing it for 27 years, where I've been doing it for three now in exactly this offense.

So I take it as a great compliment, but I also know that there's certain situations, he's going to handle it better than I do.

Q. Dalvin and Sean, is there something that you guys have noticed throughout the season that has shown you how the offensive line has grown and developed from start to finish?
DALVIN COOK: Like coach said, it was a bunch of guys playing this year. It was a lot of injuries and guys having to play different positions. So the success that they've been having this year, I just want to -- I give all the glory to them. And it's all for them and for them to grow as the season was going, they did that. And they took all the coaching from Coach Trickett, and everybody knows Coach Trickett is a hard coach. All the coaching they took in, they go to work every day and I commend them for what they was doing and they grow as the season was going.

Q. Dalvin, I saw last night at Ebenezer Baptist Church, you were wearing a pullover that had the college football playoff logo on it. How much this week are you using last year's loss as motivation, if any?
DALVIN COOK: Take every loss as a motivation. I just put last year in the past and just use this year as motivation. It's another game to play, another opportunity to go out and show what we can do. So that's my motivation, to go out there and just show what we can do, that's our motivation.

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by offensive tackle Roderick Johnson, wide receiver Jesus Wilson and kicker Roberto Aguayo. Jesus, talk about how it's been so far for you and what your favorite experience has been thus far.

JESUS WILSON: Bowl week has been really good and practice has been really good. That's our most important thing, and we're looking forward to playing this great bowl game against Houston.

ROBERTO AGUAYO: Highlight of the week, I think the basketball competition last night, I think that was pretty fun.

THE MODERATOR: Were you one of the shooters?

ROBERTO AGUAYO: No, we probably would have got like two or three points if I would have done that. But I think just being with the team and being here in Atlanta with you guys, with the Chick-fil-A bowl, I think it's been fun, I think it's been a great experience so far. I'm looking forward to the next couple of events and practices and leading into the game.

RODERICK JOHNSON: Of course, I was in the milkshake challenge when we first got here tonight. That was pretty cool, energizing being with my teammates and Houston. It was pretty good, have a lot of energy in the room, ice breaking and things like that.


Q. When you're facing a team like Houston with so many blitz packages, how do you prepare for this kind of a team, and how confident do you guys go into this game?
RODERICK JOHNSON: Preparing for this team, we had a lot of time off. We started game planning a couple of days right after we played Florida. We just been doing repetitions and repetition. We've just been doing it until we can't do it wrong anymore. They really don't have a lot of blitz packages. They have a few but they're all very complicated. We've just been doing those, reiterating those, where they come from, the inside or the outside.

Since we have so much time we think we got it picked up and got a pretty good hand on it.

Q. Football fans see you play on Saturdays, and I think they also lose track a lot of times that you guys are students in college. What has the experience the entire bowl week, the offseason, the winter break, what is it like as a student-athlete going into your final game of the regular season, what do you take away from this entire experience?
JESUS WILSON: I think we've got to finish off strong and lead the seniors out the right way. I think if we win this game the seniors will have the most wins, 50 wins, I think; is that correct? Yeah, so we're taking this game very seriously and we're looking forward to it.

ROBERTO AGUAYO: It's definitely different without being in school. You get more time to focus on football. I think it's better for us. And you just focus on football and focus on this bowl game. And obviously we have events and we have other things to do. So we don't sleep in until 12:00 or whatever and then just go to practice.

So we have events and obviously meetings and stuff. But definitely different than the regular season. But it's always exciting. It's always exciting to get to a bowl and be here for bowl week, for all the events and all the things we do during bowl week.

RODERICK JOHNSON: Yeah, like Roberto said, we're here, like Christmas break and everybody is at home, but we're not complaining because we're simply doing what we love and that's playing football, you know? Being here in Atlanta is a very good, humbling experience. Being in the Chick-fil-A Bowl you guys have a lot to offer us. We're just being very humble and taking it all in.

Q. Rod, you were part of a young offensive line this year, but this team overall is very young. How have you guys grown, especially with the line, but also as an offense in general?
RODERICK JOHNSON: I think from the first game to the game we're playing now, I think the whole offense has grown tremendously. The offensive line starting with communicating way better, picking up the blitzes. We are realizing that the little things are helping out to make big things possible.

The quarterbacks, they're making better reads than they were in the first plays. The running backs, they're running better than they was before. Wide receivers are getting reads from the quarterbacks. They're making better cuts than they have, making better catches than they have. Converting -- doing good jobs on converting on third down. I think this entire offense has grown tremendously.

Q. Roderick, big question entering this team this year was the offensive line, replacing four of the five starters. In your opinion, how do you think this team, with the offensive line, has handled the job? You helped lead Dalvin Cook to 1700 yards, Sean Maguire stepped in. How do you think you guys have handled the transition process to the new O line this year?
RODERICK JOHNSON: I think we handled it pretty good. I think there's always room for improvement. We could have done better things. But we're not complacent with the numbers or the stats we have. And we always strive for perfection and in the process we're just going to try to be great.

Q. Roberto, you've obviously had a terrific career. When you look back at what you've done, what are you most proud of or what are you really satisfied with?
ROBERTO AGUAYO: I think just speaking of my career, I think I'm just satisfied with the consistency I've had. When you have to make the kick, you make the kick. So I think I've done that pretty well. I missed a couple, but it's always a challenge. I'm looking forward to the next kick always and just trying to get better every step of the way.

I think from my freshman season to what I've done and the year before, I think there's -- personally for me I think there's still a lot of room for improvement.

Many people outside watching think that I have all the tangibles and I've missed very few, but I think still for me, personally, I think there's a lot of improvement that needs to be done and I'm working on it every single day and every time I'm out there at practice.

Q. Roberto, I don't know if you remember, or care to think about it, but the team's last trip here obviously didn't turn out the way you wanted. What do you remember about that last play and maybe how has that impacted you or helped you?
ROBERTO AGUAYO: It's definitely a play that you don't think it's going to happen, a freak play. And I went out there going with the mindset I was going to make it. If I missed, we were going into overtime. So with that happening, it's definitely crazy, it's definitely shocking, but we moved on from that.

I've moved on from that. So I don't really focus on that. We passed by the practice facility. We actually practiced at Georgia Tech. So I don't look at it. I have a short memory. I don't worry about that. If people bring it up, I'm going to just say, okay, it's happened in the past. I'm here focused on the Chick-fil-A Bowl and here to win this game with the team.

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