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December 29, 2015
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Florida State defensive coordinator Charles Kelly, defensive back Jalen Ramsey and defensive end DeMarcus Walker. Coach, talk a little bit about this bowl experience you've had thus far, even though we're only a little halfway through, as compared to others you've had in the past.
COACH KELLY: Well, this is my second visit to the Peach Bowl, and I can tell you my first visit, the people were just so professional, incredibly -- to me what's so good about it is they do everything for the players. And it's a reward for both teams for long competitive season. The city of Atlanta is a great place to have a bowl game.
I mean, it's so tradition-rich. The visit to the College Football Hall of Fame I think was great for our players, for them to see some of the history that they might not have known.
And just being able to play a quality opponent like the University of Houston and the great season that they've had, I think our players are looking forward to that, and I just think this is as good a bowl experience as you could ever have.
THE MODERATOR: Jalen, just talk about what's been the highlight active bowl week for you so far.
JALEN RAMSEY: The highlight for me really is being able to hang out with my teammates, have fun with my teammates, see them have fun and the challenges in the lip-sync battle and milkshake challenges and basketball competitions -- just being in Atlanta, like Coach Kelly said, a great city to have a bowl game in.
I've enjoyed probably more than anything just being with them at practice, actually playing ball, doing what we love.
THE MODERATOR: DeMarcus, what about you, what's been your highlight so far.
DEMARCUS WALKER: The same what Jalen said, just being out there with my brothers, just competing, and like the basketball challenge and the milkshake challenge, it's just a blessing being out here and spending these last couple of days with my whole family.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Your thoughts about Greg Ward. You've watched him on tape. Studied his game. What do you guys think of him?
COACH KELLY: Well, I can tell you right now he's as dynamic a quarterback as we've seen. I mean, his numbers tell you everything. He does a good job of moving around in the pocket. He can see downfield. He makes all the throws.
We've got to do a good job of containing him. I mean, he makes their offense go. I've known Coach Herman for a long time. He's a great developer of quarterbacks. And he's done a fantastic job with him.
So he definitely deserves all the accolades that he's gotten.
JALEN RAMSEY: Coach just said it all basically. The dynamic of a player he is. We all know we didn't face anybody like him this year. It's definitely going to be a challenge. You can definitely tell he's a leader of his team. Guys really play for him out there. We can definitely tell that watching the film.
DEMARCUS WALKER: He's a great playmaker, great legs, great arm. Heck of an athlete.
As far as the "D" line we have to be smart, rushing, you know what I'm saying, don't want to have any big gaps, anything. We just got to stay disciplined with our rush and stay to our game plan.
Q. Coach Kelly, all year long this defense has done a great job against dual-threat quarterbacks. What does it say about how selfless this team is and willing to give up trying to make an individual play to help make a team play and shut down a quarterback of that caliber?
COACH KELLY: The one thing that I believe our players have done all year long is play together. I didn't even realize it until about the ninth game of the year, somebody brought up the stat that we had had, I think it was through nine games, we had had a different leading tackler in the game, nine different leading tacklers, so that tells you something. We feel like we have good players at every position, and we have a saying that the play doesn't care who makes it.
And I think all these guys that are here today and the rest of our defense, it's just one of the things where when you have an opportunity, you have to make a play.
And today's football, dual-threat quarterbacks are something that you have to deal with. It puts a lot of stress on the defense, especially when they're up-tempo, because they're playing more plays in the game.
But, again, I think it's just a focus of our guys and just unselfishness.
Q. Coach Kelly, really night and day between how you guys have been able to perform defensively last year to this year, what do you attribute that change to?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think one thing, I think we had -- I think we had a mature group coming back. Now, we were young in a lot of places. And we knew we were going to be young. But we've had -- these guys up here, we've been through a lot of wars together over the last three years.
So you've got DeMarcus, Jalen, Terrance and Reggie who played a lot of ball. You've got to go back and say two years ago we lost five guys on defense and all five of those guys started, not played in the NFL, they started in the NFL.
When you have a drop-off like that, sometimes it takes a while. I do think that we've done a better job of keeping the points down. We haven't gotten caught up on just individual statistics.
I mean, our guys -- you can ask them separately. We talk about breaking out of the stack, running to the football. You know, protecting the end zone. Not getting caught up on all the other little things, that's our job is to try to keep the points down. They've stayed focused on that. And I think that's helped us this year.
Q. Guys, last year you were a team that always had a chip on your shoulder out to prove everybody wrong about your team, your defense. What's it like facing a team now knowing you were those shoes a year ago against a team that's coming in with a chip on their shoulder?
JALEN RAMSEY: We still have a chip on our shoulder. Nothing is given. We know we have to go out there and do. We're always going to play like that as a whole team -- defense, offense, special teams. We're always going to play with a chip on our shoulder. We've got something to prove still. We've trying to get these seniors their 50th win. Still a lot of people doubted us. A lot of people said we had a failure of a season because we're not the top four teams, but I look on it it's just as big a game. We got a lot to play for in this game, so we're playing with a chip on our shoulder as well. It's just going to be a fight out there.
DEMARCUS WALKER: Exactly. Our main goal is to have the senior class come out with their 50th win and that's our goal and everybody on the team -- the scout team, to the 2s to the 1s -- everybody is out there playing for one another. And we still -- we'll always have that chip on our shoulder. If we are the underdog or at the top we stay humble, we still play for the brothers right next to us.
Q. Coach Kelly, how critical is just stopping their rushing attack, whether it be quarterback Greg Ward or their running back in terms of slowing down their offense?
COACH KELLY: That's the thing about what Coach Herman has done such a good job for a lot of years is being able to have a mobile quarterback and with good running backs. And I mean, you're defending everybody on the field. So you've got to be very disciplined in what you're doing, starting up front, you have to be very sound in your gap control.
Linebackers have to fit properly. In the secondary, we have to play with great eye discipline. When you combine that with play-action passes -- because anytime you have a good running attack like they do, it creates opportunities in the passing game. And it goes back to being very disciplined at every position.
Q. Jalen and DeMarcus, I asked Coach Kelly about the defense from year one to year two. Have you noticed a difference in Coach Kelly in his second year how he's coached you guys maybe more relaxed, you've seen him a little bit more emotional on the sidelines? Have you noticed a difference?
JALEN RAMSEY: Coach Kelly has always been the same ever since I met him. Always been the same man, always been the same coach. Always coaches hard.
I guess it really took a year for us to really build that chemistry and really get it down the way that we really have wanted it to be.
I mean, it's just showing right now. And when we are out there making plays, when we're out there having excitement, it's good to have a coach go out there who is getting excited with you. You can go over to the sideline with high five, chest bump. We feed off all that energy. So that's all good. That's fine. And we definitely had that last year. I know we had that last year. I guess this year y'all are just seeing it a little bit more.
DEMARCUS WALKER: Team chemistry was one thing that built, and I just feel like just our attitude and energy is just way better. And just we still love each other we still play for each other, still fight for each other.
Q. Coach Kelly, is this offense one that you can compare to one of your regular season opponents and possibly one that your team feels really comfortable going into this game with?
COACH KELLY: You know, we looked at it, I go back to first day in fact both of these guys the first day we had a scouting report meeting both Jalen and DeMarcus had things to say about this offense. They had already watched them on video. And I think the thing that stood out to me what Jalen said is I'm telling you right now, this quarterback is as good as we've faced all year.
Told everybody in the room that. And DeMarcus just talked about up front, what you have to do up front to be able to create pressure on him. And I think it's a combination of a few teams that we've played. I go back to NC State, the way they spread the ball out and create different formations, tempo, up-tempo, making sure we're ready to play in a critical situation.
That's what they do is they'll get you in critical situations up-tempo, bam, it's a big play. I think Jalen had a good point early in the year. It's a different style offense, but the play, Greg's play running the ball is very similar to Justin Thomas at Georgia Tech. It's a different style offense but when you watch him as a runner, he's very similar to the way Justin ran the ball.
And then from a scheme standpoint, I think Tom's done a good job of taking everything good he can create problems for you by formations. He can create problems for you by personnel match-ups. So I think we have to do a good job of giving different looks, but again keeping it simple enough where our guys can play fast. The whole key to us, these guys will tell you, when we can play fast, we can be effective.
Q. What are you guys hoping to get out of this bowl game besides obviously winning?
DEMARCUS WALKER: I don't care about stats or anything. I just want a W. Play great Florida State football. Play great defense like we always do, tough, physical, smart, get a W. I don't care about sacks or anything. I don't really play for that. Just get better.
JALEN RAMSEY: Definitely what he said. Like I said earlier, definitely getting that 50th win for the seniors, letting them go out with a bang this year, just as a team going out with a bang, remain in the top 10 to end off this year, that's a big thing. We really are building a dynasty here at Florida State and we'd like to keep it that way.
Q. Coach, with Derwin James enrolling early, curious at what stage in his development did you see the progress and the learning of the defense where you thought he could make that jump and really contribute this season?
COACH KELLY: I think one thing is Derwin works extremely hard. He's an extremely talented young man. These guys will tell you: He came in with absolutely no expectations, did not want anything given to him. He worked and he earned everything he's gotten.
Now, he's a very intelligent player. And it's -- I think it's been very good to have players who have been in those situations to help him. DeMarcus and Jalen were in that situation our first year together at Florida State. Jalen came in, started as a true freshman. DeMarcus came in, played tremendously for us that first year.
And I think having guys on your team that have done that that can kind of show them the ropes and how to approach it, I think that's -- I think that's great. You learn by watching somebody else do things. He was very patient early in the year. And there were some things that he had to get better at.
I mentioned earlier things with eye discipline. Because things move faster at this level. That's the biggest thing I think both Jalen and DeMarcus will tell you, the difference from the levels of football that you play is the speed of the game. And having that eye discipline and being able to adjust to that speed, there's absolutely no doubt that he's tremendously talented and he is -- I think both of these guys will agree, he's a great teammate.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by linebacker Terrance Smith, safety Lamarcus Brutus and defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample.
Talk about your experience, the highlight of your trip so far.
TERRANCE SMITH: Probably be yesterday and Mario Andretti getting to race those go-karts. That's probably my highlight from this week.
THE MODERATOR: I heard you wrecked your car.
TERRANCE SMITH: No, I can drive. It's probably one of these two.
LAMARCUS BRUTUS: It wasn't me. I would probably say the same thing. We did the Andretti go-kart racing yesterday, but I played other games that were there. I didn't wreck my car. I actually had one of the fastest times out of the team. I think I might be the best driver on the team. But I think that's probably one of my highlights, just the time with the players on the team.
NILE LAWRENCE-STAMPLE: I have to agree with that. I think yesterday was probably the funnest time. I got first place in my group. So I don't want to brag too much. But I'm definitely competing for best driver on the team as well.
THE MODERATOR: Those cars aren't meant to carry those big guys around real fast.
NILE LAWRENCE-STAMPLE: I was turning the corners tight, you know what I mean, trying to get my fastest times.
THE MODERATOR: You guys tied it up now. It's 2 to 2. So it's getting serious now.
TERRANCE SMITH: They can make milkshakes and lip sync.
THE MODERATOR: When it comes down to the skills you guys got that covered.
TERRANCE SMITH: On the court and on the track, we got it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Terrance, what have you guys seen from Greg Ward, Jr. their quarterback and his ability to sometimes, when a play breaks down, maybe make something out of nothing and just his overall athletic ability to create?
TERRANCE SMITH: From what I've seen on film, he's probably their best athlete on offense. And anytime you have a dual-threat quarterback like that who can extend the play with his feet and even make the plays down field with his arm, you have to account for him all over the field.
We've been preparing for him with his scrambling ability and even with his arm. So just a guy like that you have to contain him and you have to keep him in the pocket. You can't let him get out of the pocket and extend the plays and make the big plays like that.
LAMARCUS BRUTUS: I would say the same thing. He's a great athlete, a great quarterback. I know the offense feeds off him. But we can't allow him to be the dual-threat quarterback that he is. We can't allow him to get a pass going and get the run going. We'll have to contain him on the runs and get a pass rush on him to affect his passes.
With that being done, I think we'll be able to contain him, have a good game and we just can't let him get his momentum going.
NILE LAWRENCE-STAMPLE: Like they said, I think we've been able to really have a good basis of being able to contain a quarterback like that. From the prior quarterbacks we've been able to face. So I think it will be a little easier, but just the fact that he's probably one of the fastest quarterbacks we've had to go against is going to be a challenge for us.
So I just think making sure that we are disciplined in our rush lanes and the DBs are coming up to really fill in and contain and stuff like that. That's going to be key for this game.
Q. What does it mean for you guys to be a source of inspiration this afternoon to the kids at the children's hospital?
TERRANCE SMITH: I mean, anytime you're able to give back to the community and the less fortunate and people going through hard times, you want to do it. With our roles as athletes and football players, that's one of the things that we're able to do. We're able to make people's days with the littlest things from a smile to a hug, just spending time with them.
So to be able to give back is a part of what we do.
LAMARCUS BRUTUS: I think it's very important for us to give back, take some time away from football to kind of show people that there's more to life than just football and we're more than just athletes who only care about being in the spotlight and playing the game of football.
I mean, just that little motivation to a kid can just give them that little push to keep going, keep fighting. And they look up to us as being athletes and as role models and it's important for us to go show them that we care and that it's not just about all us, it's all about them also.
NILE LAWRENCE-STAMPLE: Yeah, I think it's a really amazing feeling just to be able to help somebody just by what we do on the football field. So if that goes with just going to the hospital and spending some time with them, I think that's an amazing accomplishment just for us to really just play a game that we love and be able to share happiness and help someone feel a little bit better or just make somebody's day is a huge, huge accomplishment for me. So I'm really happy about that. I can't wait for that to happen.
Q. Terrance, last year you guys were a team that every week had a chip on your shoulder defending your ranking. This is a team now that for a few days we've heard how upset they are about their ranking entering this bowl game. Can you talk about what it's like playing throughout a season or entering a game with that chip knowing that Houston is coming after you guys with that big chip on their shoulder?
TERRANCE SMITH: Anytime you're playing with a chip on your shoulder you have extra motivation. This game here would be huge for Houston. Coming from the conference they're coming from, they've had a really good year.
I mean, to be able to come in say they beat Florida State in a Power 5 conference that would say something about their program. But I mean we've been preparing for them and we haven't taken them lightly at all. They are a really good team no matter what conference they're coming from. Like I said we have a bowl streak we're trying to defend and we're not going to let them come in here and take it.
Q. For any of you guys, can you talk about who this offense looks the most common to you as far as a regular season opponent? Is there something that stuck out when you guys watched the film -- they looked like whether it's NC State or Texas State or anything like that?
LAMARCUS BRUTUS: I would say their offense reminds me of Louisville, especially having the dual-threat quarterback and being their quarterback being one of their best athletes, someone they feed off. It just reminds me of them, Lamar Jackson from Louisville, that's who Greg Ward reminds me of.
NILE LAWRENCE-STAMPLE: I would agree. I think they kind of look like Louisville a lot. And just being able to kind of make sure we take the mistakes that we made from Louisville and capitalize on the things we did well from Louisville will definitely help in this game.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about what it would mean, Terrance, to be able to get the 50th win as seniors and for the seniors, what that would mean for the program?
TERRANCE SMITH: I don't think anybody understands the magnitude of that yet, but if we were able -- if we are able to win this game, you know, we would be the winningest senior class in college football history. To be able to come in and accomplish all the things we've been able to accomplish here at Florida State, it would be great to get that 50th win and leave out of here on top.
LAMARCUS BRUTUS: I would say the same thing. You always hear about the great teams at Florida State, when they won the national championships and the Charlie Wards and the Deions and all of them. And now you have a chance to be a part of that. You can't talk about a great team at Florida State and not talk about the senior class with 50 wins, more wins than any other class at Florida State. To be a part of history like that, it's a great accomplishment. You really don't understand it until it's over and done with. You kind of just look back and reflect on it, you see how important it was and how great of a season, a team that you did have. And it just shows the importance of this program and how great it is to have guys come in and be a winning program like this. And it just shows the reflection of Coach Fisher, how he can bring guys in, keep it going and keep the program going.
NILE LAWRENCE-STAMPLE: Talking after two people is kind of hard to answer a question like that. So I guess just being here for five years, like all of us have, I just think it's like icing on the cake, being able to come in and go to a Champs Bowl, go to an Orange Bowl, go to a national championship and then competing in a playoff game, I just think it's really just icing on the cake. It's a really good way to leave. We've been able to really help this organization get back to the dominant culture that it's always been a part of. So I just think it's going to be just a really good way to finish.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports