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July 15, 2016

David Shaw

Burbank, California

COACH SHAW: In case you don't know, my name is David Shaw. I'm the head football coach here at Stanford. You never know if there's people here from out of town. With me I brought Christian McCaffrey and Solomon Thomas, two of the guys we believe are going to be two of the better guys in the nation at their positions. I'm very excited about them. Both of them are juniors, both of them coming off of very good years, and anticipating even more this next year.
As a team, I think we have a chance to be a good team, but we're a team in flux with a lot of guys who have graduated, a lot of different positions, starting offensively obviously, graduating the winningest quarterback in Stanford history in Kevin Hogan. We've talked throughout the spring about guys like Christian, guys like Bryce Love, guys like Michael Rector who came back for his fifth year, guys like Dalton Schultz, guys that have played a lot of football, and our guys on the offensive line. They're the guys that are going to help the quarterback get established. It's not just going to be on the quarterback, whoever the quarterback is, it's going to be on the rest of those guys to make that quarterback, help him be efficient.
Defensively, losing a leader like Blake Martinez, so I anticipate with Solomon Thomas coming in as a leader on the defense, and a bunch of guys that we believe very strongly and have some great abilities, but we're still going to see who comes in and establishes themselves in the secondary, in the linebacking corps, as well as the defensive line.
Special teams, we've got a couple of our guys back and feel good about that, but there's going to be a lot of young guys that find roles on this football team, and we don't use that as an excuse to try not to be good because we'll be young. Hey, we'll be young, we have a chance to be good. So how good, you never know, but we're looking forward to starting training camp.

Q. You guys finally get picked by us knuckle heads to win the conference. Is it gratifying?
COACH SHAW: It just truly shows that you guys have no idea what you're doing.

Q. Because we have never picked you before you mean?
COACH SHAW: Gosh, no. It's a crapshoot. You look at this conference, and we all understand it, and somebody of course has to be picked. But you look at Josh Rosen coming back is the best quarterback, one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, and the quarterback up at Washington, as well, being one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, and playing really well, both of those schools. What USC is bringing back, what Washington is bringing back, the way they played at the end of the year, what Oregon is bringing back. I mean, Oregon is just like us. There are a lot of questions at the quarterback position but really good players around the quarterback.
You know, you take it with a grain of salt. It's a sign of respect, and I think it has a lot to do with the guy that's in the back left corner of the building there in Christian McCaffrey. Once we start practicing, once we start playing games, all that stuff goes away.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SHAW: You know, there have been a couple of guys that have really, really kind of taken the mantle. Justin Reid as a safety, he finished the year very, very strong for us, had a great off‑season, and spring ball was outstanding as a safety and a special teams guy. Really excited to get Zach Hoffpauir back, getting back in football shape and the energy and passion that he brings back for us there. David Bright has been that Ogre guy for us, that seventh or sixth offensive lineman for the last couple years. He had a great spring and really could start at tackle or at guard. There's just so many guys that have come in and really taken up†‑‑ whether or not they're established starters yet, there's a lot of battles going on, but we feel really good about those battles.

Q. Where can Christian do better than last season?
COACH SHAW: I think the thing is to look at all the things he did last year and say he can do each one of them a little bit better, knowing that he's a little bit wiser, he's stronger, and he's faster, and it's not†‑‑ we have a great strength program. Shannon Turley I think is the best in the nation, but we're also talking about a kid that's a sophomore in college that's about to be a junior in college. His body is just maturing. He's still growing. We know he's going to, quote‑unquote, have a target on his back. But that's why you have teammates, and that's why you have a great team. Notre Dame did a phenomenal job trying to bottle up Christian last year and Kevin Hogan had a great game and Devin Cajuste made some game changing plays and we kicked a game winning field goal, so that's what it shows to be a good team with a bunch of different players that can make plays. Michael Rector coming back was as big of a thing for us as anything, being that veteran, deep threat, explosive receiver that if the box continues to get loaded and he's left on an island he's got a chance to have a heck of a year.
Francis Owusu has really taken the next step. Trent Irwin had a really good freshman year with us we believe is going to come back and be and even better player for us, Dalton Schultz is going to be one of the better tight ends this year in the nation. So now having all those guys around with experience, with playing ability, along with Bryce Love helps Christian be what Christian can be and maybe even make him more dangerous knows that he has more dangerous guys around him.

Q. Are you guys getting Zach Hoffpauir back this week?
COACH SHAW: Yes, Zach is back. He came back for the second half of spring last year. He's back in school. He's in summer school. Just so good to see him. Zach brings an energy and a passion that I won't say that we had a great year that we missed necessarily. It's what I missed. I missed seeing Zach out there. Zach is just one of our guys. Every single day of practice he's bouncing around, he's got a smile on his face, and with a lot of guys that leave a team and come back, you worry that the culture of the team has changed a little bit. You've got a young guy that's left, other guys that Zach used to hang out with aren't on the team anymore. But I didn't worry about that with Zach because Zach is that guy that walks in the room and says, hey, how is everybody doing, shakes everybody's hand, gives everybody a hug, and now he's back in the mix. He's just one of the guys. It's been great to have him back on the team.

Q. Your offensive line coming out of spring, there will be some new faces that will be in key roles. What have you sort of seen out of them so far and can they sustain this smashing style that you need?
COACH SHAW: Well, the second part of the question, they don't have a choice. Jesse Burkett in the spring really established himself as a heck of a center for us, and really most likely has solid that center, a new center problem. The other guy that gives me great comfort is David Bright. David has shown the ability to play tackle, either tackle position and either guard position. He's versatile and ready to be a starter, full‑time starter, we're just not sure where yet.
Casey Tucker showed his versatility this spring to us, played all year and played well as a true sophomore starting right tackle. He played all spring at left tackle. It shows he's got the ability to do that. So now I've got two guys that can play either tackle and I've got David Bright that can play either guard. So now whoever establishes himself as the fifth starter will help those guys get into position where it could be Bright at guard and Casey at either tackle or some other combination.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SHAW: You know, I take the approach that we try to do whatever we can to win the football game. We are a physical, up‑front running football team, and once again, Kevin did a great job managing the things that we managed. I don't want to go into this year saying that we're going to be ‑‑ all the pressure goes back onto Christian and we're just going to run the ball because we had a first‑time starter. We've got two guys competing to be a starter at the quarterback position. One is a junior, one is a senior. These guys aren't kids. These guys have been in our program for years now. They're going to come in and we're going to expect them to play at a high level. We've got Michael Rector back, and we're not going to have Michael Rector just standing out there by himself. He needs to be a threat. We need to give him opportunities to make plays and change football games because he's got the ability to do that. So for us, whoever establishes himself as a starter, even if it happens a couple games into the year, they're going to have the responsibility of being able to throw the ball when we want to throw the ball and handle the running game when we want to run it.

Q. Is it a little strange not hearing Randy Hart's voice in the office every day, and how do you replace a guy like that?
COACH SHAW: You know, Randy, I used to call him the youngest guy on the staff. He's coached since before I went to college, and what I remind people of is Randy is the only guy that I know as a coach that's been to 10 Rose Bowls. Can you imagine that? 10 Rose Bowls, between Washington and Stanford and Ohio State. 10 Rose Bowls. You can't replace that amount of experience, and all the guys that he's helped get to the NFL. He's still going to be around. We've had multiple conversations. He's going to come visit us periodically. He's earned the right to retire while he still has his health. While he's still vibrant. He and his wife are going to travel a do a bunch of different things. I'm so excited for them. There are going to be days where I miss him because I'm 45, I'm about to be 45, but there are still days where I'm like a little bit tired, and I would just see this guy just sprinting past me. I'm like, okay, I don't have time to be tired. The old guy is ready to go, I've got to be ready to go.

Q. Some programs have really thrived on being the underdog, Michigan State in particular has talked about how they are constantly disrespected and they use that as motivation. I feel like you guys have been†‑‑ this is the first year we've ever voted you to win the conference. Has that been a conversation in your locker room the last few years?
COACH SHAW: You know, I think regardless of what anybody ever says, we still take the underdog mentality. That's just†‑‑ because when†‑‑

Q. Do you do that now when you have the best player in college football on your team?
COACH SHAW: Still, absolutely. I still think he's the best player in the nation. He's still barely in the top three for the Heisman this year apparently from what people are saying, and that's great, and that's fine. I have no problem with that. When people mention football schools, our name doesn't come up. We've won as many games as anybody. I think we're in the top six in wins in the last five years, but when you say football schools, you still talk about all these other schools, so for us I think we're still establishing who we are. We haven't arrived yet. We're not there yet. We have to keep pushing, keep striving, keep trying to improve every single year.

Q. Christian is obviously so good at everything. Are you going to try to lighten the load for him at all?
COACH SHAW: Are you kidding me? I'm going to start giving him some of my responsibilities. (Laughter.) The guy has handled everything else.
Absolutely not. I think when you have a great player, the last thing you want to do is pump the brakes. You want to push the accelerator, and I said this in an earlier interview. When I was in Oakland we had Rich Gannon, and Rich at a later stage of his career had really hit his stride. He was one of the best players in the league. He was league MVP, all‑pro, Pro Bowl, led the team to the Super Bowl. One of the things Jon Gruden said about having Rich when Rich was really playing well, the natural tendency for a coach sometimes is to say, okay, he's okay, I've got to worry about everyone else, and Jon said it's the exact opposite. When you've got a great player, you have to challenge that great player, you have to push that great player, because he'll push the rest of the team, and that's what we did with Andrew, that's what we're doing with Christian. We're going to put more on his shoulders because he can handle it. We're going to push him harder, push him further, and see if there's more that he can do.

Q. You've got a player in Bryce Love that is obviously very capable in his own right. Is he going to get any more of the load, more carries this year?
COACH SHAW: Oh, absolutely. Bryce is going to go from a spot player to being a full‑time player for us. There were moments last year, I'm not giving away any trade secrets. I think it's obvious. There were moments last year where we had both of them in the backfield. You're going to see more of that. Bryce is going to play more. Both guys are versatile. Both guys can do different things. They can both be in the backfield together. One can be in the backfield, one can be split out. There are a bunch of things that we can do with both of those guys.

Q. You had some quotes about satellite camps and you got a lot of attention in other parts of the country. What are your thoughts on the satellite camps and why you feel they're not really of value?
COACH SHAW: Should we talk about what I actually said or what people took my quote and twisted it around and used it for their own purposes? I still believe what I said about†‑‑ and I'll speak very, very slowly and very specifically. For our pool of who we're recruiting, outside of the state of California and outside of Texas, it is very, very rare that we will ever recruit a football player that has the academic criteria and the academic criteria that†‑‑ athletic and academic criteria that we need for Stanford. So for us to go to any state, I'm not just talking about going down south, I'm not just talking about the northwest, I'm talking about any state, and take nine coaches and a bunch of assistants and a bunch of people to a camp with 2,000 guys or 500 guys or however many guys to recruit one player, that doesn't make economic sense. That's not wise for us to do a bunch of satellite camps to recruit maybe one, maybe none, because there are many years where we don't recruit a kid from a state for three years, and then the next year we recruit one, maybe even two. So for us, a satellite camp†‑‑ and it's great for a lot of places. For Washington State, I think they've done phenomenal with satellite camps. It's been great for them, and I applaud that. I think it's great.
For us it doesn't make sense because our pool is so small and so specific, I'd rather spend the time and effort and energy to get that one kid to find his way to campus at some point as opposed to having a satellite camp where we have to be there with 500 kids when we're really only there to see one. That doesn't make sense for me.

Q. In an average year how big is that pool in number for you?
COACH SHAW: It's different sizes in different years. I would say as you finish one class and you're at the end of February and March, that pool could be 100, 75. By the end of spring, after the SAT and ACT and grades come out, that can go down to 50. And as other guys commit other places, it might go down to 40 or 35. So like right now, we have a small number of scholarships for this year. Our pool right now for our small number, 20, maybe 22 guys on the entire board. That's it. We're not recruiting 30 and 40 guys.
So for us, some people say, man, that's too tight. But we're recruiting great students who are great guys that are interested in Stanford University. Some of them are working on applications, some of those guys are preparing their senior academic schedule to take the AP courses that we need them to take, to retake those test scores again. So it's a small pool, but it's a pool that also is actually recruiting us. They want to go to Stanford and they're willing to do the things that we need them to do.

Q. How willing are you to let the quarterback competition go into the regular season?
COACH SHAW: I'm very willing. I'm very willing. I think one of the things that we've learned through our many trials, and we've had multiple quarterback competitions over the 10 years I've been at Stanford, you've got to let it play out. You can't make it go the way you want it to go, and until it plays out, you don't make a decision. Some people may have some anxiety in that, and I don't, because as I said at the outset, it's not just about the quarterback, it's about the other guys who help the quarterback be efficient. We need the ball in Christian McCaffrey's hands. Put it in his hands. We need a guy that can dictate the protections at the line of scrimmage and handle the running game at the line of scrimmage. Whoever does that better will have a chance, but if both guys right now, as we left spring, both guys were doing it at a high level. We'll let it play out as long as it needs to play out.

Q. What would it look like if you go into the regular season, would they each take a half, each take a game?
COACH SHAW: Those are the nuances that we have to play out, and I'll say this, there were different ways, like when Kevin Hogan became not a starter but when he started to play, he had a five‑play package. As he did that well, then he had a 10‑play package, then a 15‑play package, then we split time, then he won the job and took the team over.
When we had TC Ostrander and Tavita Pritchard, by the end of the year we played against Cal, both of those guys had about half the game plan. Some of the game plan was in one guy's name, the other part of the game was in the other guy's name. For the rest of the guys, it didn't matter. We're just calling plays. So when one quarterback is in, we call these group of plays, when the other quarterback is in, we call this group of plays, things that they're good at, things that they do well. They're not necessarily competing, they're actually complementing each other.

Q. How is Kevin doing?
COACH SHAW: Oh, I'm so excited for him, for many reasons. Number one, Andy Reid is one of the better quarterback guys in the league. They have a similar scheme. It's not exactly the same, but if you think about the branches of the West Coast offense where of course it starts with Bill Walsh and Sid Gillman and then goes from Bill now down to Mike Holmgren, and on Mike Holmgren's staff was Andy Reid and Jon Gruden. I worked for Jon Gruden. Most of our offense is directly down from the Jon Gruden line, whereas Andy Reid has got his own line, so it's really, really similar but just some different nuances, and a lot of it is familiar to Kevin. I mean, he's very excited. I think he's got an efficient, intelligent, athletic quarterback ahead of him, so a guy that he can watch every single day and try to emulate, and I know he's excited about being behind Alex and really watching Alex grow this year.

Q. Talking about coaching staffs, you've been on a lot of great coaching staffs. How does this year's staff rank against those?
COACH SHAW: We've been very, very fortunate to have really good continuity. I think Lance Anderson has been phenomenal as a defensive coordinator. Had some small chances possibly to be the head coach last year. I think those are going to continue because he's done a great job and has been able to tweak our defense every single year to find the best things that our guys do and give them those opportunities. Mike Bloomgren I think is nationally known now, our offensive coordinator, as the developer of offensive linemen. We've got a bunch of guys playing in the NFL right now. We've got some great players on our team. We've recruited great guys that are on the team right now and establishing how we play on the front, so for us, that continuity of us all being together for going on our sixth year is almost unheard of in college football, to have success, because usually guys are jumping off the ship. We've got guys that love being at Stanford and do a great job and help our players be successful on the field, in the classroom, and hopefully after Stanford.

Q. The more and more college teams have gone to the offenses that everybody goes to now, you guys kind of stay where you were. Now all of a sudden you hear people saying, Stanford is hard to prepare for, they're doing things that nobody else really does. Do you get a kick out of that?
COACH SHAW: I enjoy it. I enjoy being a little bit different than what other people do. I also enjoy it because it's the football that I grew up with, and it's what I know as football, which means you run the ball, you have play action pass, you have some drop‑back passes, you play a tough, physical style. I'm also the son of a defensive coordinator, so I believe in stopping the run, hitting the quarterback. And for me, football starts in those two places.

Q. Were you ever in a little retreat, though, when it started and thought it might be fun to coach that way?
COACH SHAW: You know, I think most coaches will say the best coaches on the planet are great thieves. We've stolen ideas from everybody. You know, I've stolen more from Chip Kelly than anybody else because I think Chip is brilliant. I think there's things he does in his offense that I think are phenomenal, so there are aspects of our game that when you watch our game, you might go, ooh, wow, that looks like something Oregon did, and it might be sprinkled in throughout the course of our game. But absolutely, we've looked†‑‑ we've watched Washington State over the years because I think they're phenomenal, what they do. Now, not everything fits in our world, but we're always looking for different things. We study a lot of NFL film. Looked at this past off‑season, Cincinnati, Washington, a bunch of different offenses, watching different things that they do to be successful. And I think every good coach needs to challenge themselves but then also challenge their team and give the guys as they walk in, they don't want to see the same exact playbook every single day, you've got to juice them up a little bit and give them some new things to think about and see if they can perfect.

Q. Do you think the rest of the quarterbacks took some reps with the virtual reality set after practice? Did that have any quantifiable effect?
COACH SHAW: If you ask Kevin Hogan, he will say, absolutely, 100 percent. The short of it, the way virtual reality works is it tricks your brain for something to be real. We all know about the 10,000 hours it takes to be good at something. Virtual reality actually counts in those 10,000 hours because since the day they were born, our eyes have been telling our brain what reality is, and as long as your eyes believe what you see, your brain is taking it as real. So now if we can video some of the toughest blitzes that a team has and a quarterback three times a week can go through that and watch those things over and over again. Kevin will tell you in the middle of the game, the play is about to start, and he's like, I've been here before, I know what's going to happen, I've seen this before, boom, change of protection, touchdown pass, and that's that virtual reality that gives him†‑‑ now, we can't stay on the football field for an extra hour. We have a limited time. But now if we can get the brain to still be able to do work that counts without the physical, but it still counts for his mental, those are valuable, invaluable reps, that there's a reason why VR is becoming more and more popular to NFL teams. STRIVR has been outstanding. College teams, NFL teams, quarterbacks have been 100 percent. There's a great Sports Illustrated article from Carson Palmer, and this is now part of his daily routine now. Here's a guy who is a veteran, one of the better players in the NFL, coming off his best season ever, and he's going to say, you know what, that was one of the things that helped me throughout the year. So as those stories continue to go, you're going to see this in high school, you're going to see this in almost every single college and almost every single NFL team.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SHAW: I can't say specifically. I don't monitor it. It's just available for them. But quite a bit, especially during the year where they're not going to get as many reps, and for me that's one of the biggest things for backup quarterbacks. If we have a 15‑play period, the starter is getting at least 10, if not 14 of those plays. He's going to get the majority. Those guys might get their three to five plays in a long period, but if they can go back now and put the headset on and say, okay, I would have thrown the ball there, oh, that's not where Kevin threw the ball, let me rewind it and see it again. Oh, okay, I see now why he was seeing it. Now they get that same learning experience between the ears as the starter got. So even though they don't get the physical rep†‑‑ being a quarterback, either you have the physical ability or you don't, but it's how fast you can recognize things and make decisions. So if we can speed up that recognition and decision making time, we can make every single player, not just the quarterback, because a lot of guys use this now at different positions, we can make everybody that much better every time they use it.

Q. You did a great job on the NFL Draft coverage. What did you take away from your experience in front of the camera at NFL Network that you'll use on the sidelines?
COACH SHAW: Well, first of all, for me, the NFL Network is very, very good to me. Charlie Yook, the producer, is phenomenal to me. He doesn't put me in a position where I'm uncomfortable. He keeps me comfortable. The bottom line for me is I love that process of studying guys and seeing where they go and being able to see, okay, I can see why Cincinnati chose this guy because of the offense or defense that they run. I love having that process of it. But for me, it's just fun. I enjoy it. It's one of my little guilty pleasures. I get to go be an NFL analyst for a little bit, and then I get to go back to my day job.

Q. With all the effort you guys have put into player safety and conditioning, how surprised are you to hear about the lawsuit that you guys got named in recently?
COACH SHAW: I'm not even going to comment about that. One thing I will say, there's nobody in college football that's done more for research, for†‑‑ in practice, evaluation of all injuries. There's been nobody that's done as much as we have. I mean, that's our primary goal. These are our kids. These are our guys. We want to take care of them. We do everything we can to make this game as safe as we can for them. It's not a necessarily†‑‑ I mean, it's a contact sport. It's a physical sport. It's a tough sport. It's a hard sport. But I also think it's as safe as it's ever been, and in particular at a place like ours.

Q. Getting back to the quarterback situation for a second, what are the key criteria that you're going to be looking for?
COACH SHAW: Driving the car. They've got to drive the car. They have to run the offense. Both guys are tall. Both guys are athletic. Both guys have strong arms. Both guys have great releases. It's about who can make the right audible on 3rd down to get us to the right play, who can get us from one running play to the next running play, who can see that blitz coming and say, hey, you know what, let's change the play, and now I might just throw the ball five yards, which is a throw that I can make, but it's the decision that gets me there. Who can be the most efficient guy and make it about the other players and not about himself. That's the guy that's going to play the most. That's the guy that's going to eventually win the job. It's going to be more than just completion percentage. It's going to be all the decisions that a quarterback has to make, sometimes even before the ball is snapped.

Q. How much do you leverage your great minds at Stanford analytics‑wise? I would think you have a lot to tap into there as far as newest and greatest analytics or just great minds.
COACH SHAW: We've been fortunate, I've met with a lot of people on campus about a lot of different things. Some things they pitch to us which we like and some things that we don't like. I'm open to it just partially because of where we are and the people that we have around us, and it's a phenomenal place where people are always trying to find the next thing and the next best thing to help us out. But I'm also†‑‑ I still have a foot in the practical world, which is play calling to me, as learned from Jon Gruden once again, it's about your preparation and your gut. We still can't take the human aspects out of it. The analytics are great, but there's also a rhythm to being a coach. There's a rhythm to playing in the game that sometimes the statistics are going to say, do this, and I'm going to say, oh, no, we're not doing this, it's the time for this. And that's the part that the coach with experience has to be able to balance with the analytics say and also what he feels in his gut.

Q. You guys have that sign on your practice field about always getting better. How do you as a coach plan to get better this year? Is there an area of improvement that you or the staff are focused on? Do you do that with yourself?
COACH SHAW: Absolutely. I'm a very self‑critical person, so I'm always looking at my role, not just everybody else's role. I'm always looking at what I did and how I did it. Schematically I'm always studying other people and saying, okay, this is what we do, what do other people do. It either strengthens our belief in what we do, or it says, you know what, we can do what they're doing and it'll be better than what we're doing, and being strong enough to say, you know what, we've had success, but there's something better than this, let's try something else. I think you have to be pretty strong‑willed and I've got a great staff that we do that. I look at our training camp schedule every year. I look at our off‑season schedule every year and say, okay, what's better, what can we do better.
This past year I had long conversations with Chip Kelly. We changed our entire practice schedule for the week last year and went to more of a†‑‑

Q. In season?
COACH SHAW: In season, absolutely, to more of what Chip did, which was players' day off on Sunday, light practice on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, just like we always do, tough and physical, but then off the field on Thursday, and then fast practice on Friday. Outside of the football world, we're just fascinated by it, and Shannon Turley did a lot of studies, and I talked to Chip, and I'm like, you know what, we're just going to do it, we're going to change it. This is a better way of doing it. It was great for us.
So I think being willing to change, being willing to grow and being willing to ask questions of other people, and that's one of the things about†‑‑ I don't think everybody understands about the football fraternity because all you think about is rivalries and I've got to beat those guys. There's a lot of great conversations that happen among coaches about how do you guys practice, what do you guys do, how long do you practice, how much 9 on 7 do you do, how much team do you do, how long are your periods. All those conversations go on throughout college football because we're all probing other people. We're also probing ourselves to see, how can we be better to help our guys show up on game day and perform.

Q. Can you talk a little bit more about Trent Irwin, how you've seen him advance, and are you part of the Andrew Luck Book Club?
COACH SHAW: Second question first. I'm not part of the Andrew Luck Book Club. I don't think I'm on his level yet, and I still aspire to be like Andrew, like most of us do.
Trent Irwin came in as a freshman last year and had a lot to learn, but he's got a unique still set. I mean, this is the best route running receiver I've seen come out of high school in a long time. He was able to come in and find a niche for us with two veteran receivers, a fourth‑year and a fifth‑year senior. He was able to craft out a role for himself and did a really good job, caught a lot of 1st down balls on 3rd down, some critical situations. We anticipate more from him this year. He's got a little more confident. He had a great spring, and I anticipate him having a big impact on our season this year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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