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December 28, 2016

Keishawn Bierria

Psalm Wooching

Sidney Jones

Kevin King

Atlanta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Joining us now for the second session, we've linebacker Keishawn Bierria, cornerback Kevin King, cornerback Sidney Jones and linebacker Psalm Wooching.

Gentlemen, I guess just to get you warmed up in here, we'll just go down the line and give us your favorite experience from Bowl Week so far out of the activities that you've been able to participate in.

KEISHAWN BIERRIA: For me, it was probably being able to go to Martin Luther King's church and just hear the panel just speak to us about, like, what he went through in his life and what he achieved. And we see that on an everyday basis. But being able to see and hear words out of their mouth and their stories was a great experience for me.

KEVIN KING: I think that was probably the best experience for me as well. I'm an A.S. major, which is American Ethnic Studies, so I spent a lot of time in college, taking a lot of classes about the Civil Rights Movement and things that went on like that. So actually seeing the panel and seeing some of the people who I actually studied, you know, and people who I seen in different movies and documentaries when I was in class was actually pretty cool, being able to see that. So that was probably the best.

SIDNEY JONES: Same for me, these two guys. M.L.K. memorial, the church, that was a great experience for me as well. Just seeing, like, the history, learning about my culture, just everything about that.

PSALM WOOCHING: I think everything we did was a blessing this week. The M.L.K. thing was awesome. Go carting was fun. I think the hair cutting thing was a cool experience. You know, I didn't get cut, but pretty awesome. But yeah.

THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and open up for questions.

Q. The USC game was the only game you guys lost and Sam Darnold in that was kind of a mobile quarterback, gave your defense problems at times. What did you learn from that game, and how can you put it towards stopping another mobile guy who can run like Jalen Hurts?
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: We learned a lot from that game. They definitely game planned pretty well for us. They got the job done. And I feel like we just got to play better team defense, tackle better and just, you know, just make better plays. They made great plays on us.

When I went back and watched film, it's like, man, we could have did a lot more here, but they made their plays and we didn't make enough. And I feel like we just rely on each other more and make better plays, I feel like we can get the job done.

PSALM WOOCHING: I think also it showed that we couldn't rely on just ourselves as an individual to make plays. It taught us that a collaboration of all of us tackling at the same time, making plays, breaking on the ball is more better or helpful to our defense and our team than just trying to run out there as an individual and make tackles and make plays.

SIDNEY JONES: I thought we just had to get off on third downs that they converted too many of those. As Keishawn was saying, we just have to make more plays as a unit. That will put us in a better position to win.

Q. Keishawn, can you talk about the nickname for this defense, Death Row, what that nickname means to you and what it means to uphold a nickname like that?
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: So that nickname's been around for a while. We probably haven't put it on the, like, front row so much. But that's just the mindset we live by. We die by it too.

It's to play with our hearts on our sleeves and to play for each other. And willing to get beat down or get hurt for your teammates, you know. Because it's always the next man up. A lot of guys have lived and played by the mentality throughout the season. You know, we've got Ajamu going down. We got Joe going down. Regardless, you know, you look to your left and there's another dude that's ready. There's another dude that's going to hop up, it's my turn. What have I got to put on the line for my team. What do I got to invest in.

That's who we are as people, regardless if we're playing football or hanging out or going to class, we're always helping our teammates out and, you know, investing in each other.

Q. Kevin, I asked both Budda and Sidney about Taylor Rapp and what a good year he's had. I wonder, does it kind of like bother you guys that a freshman is leading you in picks? Your coach laughed and nodded when I asked Budda.
KEVIN KING: We're a competitive unit. I think each one of us want to be leading in picks. That's one thing. We have a pick board that we tally up and at the end of the year, we give out a little award for who got the most picks. But whoever can go out there and make plays.

We're happy for Taylor. It's not a surprise for me. It's not a surprise for anybody, seeing him have the type of game that he's had. And I've never had a multiple interception game, and he's had two this year. So being able to have a play maker like that, and he's only a true freshman, you know, the sky's the limit for somebody like that.

So I'm happy for him and I'm glad being able to play with him this year and I'm glad to watch him for years to come.

Q. So did you guys already give out your --
KEVIN KING: No, no, it's not over. It's the whole season.

Q. Do you know what the award is?
KEVIN KING: It's just like our best hands in the room.

Q. But do you get like a prize or something?
KEVIN KING: Yeah, you get a ball. You get a football. You get your name engraved on it. It's got the names from the prior years.

SIDNEY JONES: Tell them.

KEVIN KING: I'm about to tell them. It has Sidney's name on it, I think, twice. That just means he's targeted more.


Q. Budda Baker was in here earlier and described Alabama as a team with no weaknesses. What do you think about that claim and what he said there?
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: Yeah, I'd agree with him. They are a pretty sound team. A lot of teams, you look at them, go okay, where do we attack here? Where can we go here? Can we get them on special teams?

We call it a pigeon, you know, on special teams. We don't see that. And for a lot of teams, you really see, like, okay, they look like they don't have a lot of depth at this position. But for Alabama, they're pretty stow, as far as they have great players and you can pretty much cover positions if everybody's in on each other. I'll agree with him.

But, you know, this is football.

THE MODERATOR: Psalm, what do you think about his comment?

PSALM WOOCHING: I mean, no team is perfect. I mean, if they were perfect, they would score on every play. They'd pick the ball, get a sack on every play and that's not the case.

So I'll leave it at that. No team is perfect. Thank God.

Q. Any of you can answer this. A few weeks ago, John Ross told me that he spent basically all of fall camp worried that the offense sucked because they could never score on you guys. And then early, like at halftime of the Rutgers game, you went to Dante and said, Hey, good news, we're not bad. Our defense is awesome.
Did you guys feel that, that you were locking them down? I know you know everything they run, but did you feel early on that you guys were going to be really good?

KEISHAWN BIERRIA: Yeah, that's pretty much how it went. Yeah, we were kind of doing the same thing, but we just kind of looked at each other like, well, we've been together for a while and they're still building. They're bringing freshmen in. They're trying to get guys acclimated to the program that we're going to actually use. For some reason, we keep bringing in play maker after play maker, guys like Taylor Rapp. For offense, they need to truly find who they were as an identity.

We already had ours set because we spent like one or two years together and spent a lot of adversity together. They really didn't get that chance, you know. They were playing on a short year like to get guys together. I feel like they've been doing excellent so far. They've been leaning on each other and a lot of younger guys showed up this year.

KEVIN KING: I think it's kind of hard for both sides of the ball to have a great practice. Maybe when the offense is doing good, looks like the defense is not doing as well. And, you know, vice versa.

And so when we kind of went into fall camp, we kind of had our mojo going. We had a lot of the same guys coming back from last year. We had a pretty decent year.

And then, you know, kind of going forward, defense started off having a lot of really good practices. So I think maybe the offense kind of started getting a little discouraged a little bit. But we try to just tell them not to get discouraged because we've been playing for a while and we know the type of competition that we go against. And we tell them, like, you guys are better than anybody we play. And, you know, come game day, you guys are going to be something special.

So I think they listened to us and they kept going out there every day and then they get with their coaches and it will be one day they'll come out and do something different and they just beat us for like three or four touchdowns.

Then it's just like, all right, now we've got to go back to the drawing board, and kind of being that back and forth type of deal instead of being so one-sided. That's when I really started seeing the identity of our team and of our offense starting to click a little bit.

So, you know, being able to watch them is something special. And I think last year, we might make a turnover and then we'd be right back on the field. Make a turnover, then we'd be right back on the field.

Now we make a stop and it's touchdown. It turns into points. That's been something that's been huge in our success this year.

SIDNEY JONES: Just going off of what Kevin said, just, you know, being dominant in practice with them, I knew they were going to be good once they started, like, competing and making plays against us. That's the whole turning point of when I saw, okay, we're going to be pretty good this year. Just that whole sense, yeah.

PSALM WOOCHING: I'd say it's like that butterfly effect. So our team is so well structured, well put together that when someone sparks something, the whole team starts trending that thing. And for this was the competing.

So, you know, we came into fall camp really hyped, really amped up for this year. I can't speak for offense. I don't know what they were doing. But we were ready. We came into fall camp, I think, the first half we were just straight up dominating.

And that caught flame, that caught fire with the offense, and they're like, you know, we're not going to back down and just take it in the teeth, take it in the mouth. That's the good thing about our team is that competitive nature.

So that offense, you know, started gaining. They're like okay, these guys want to play like that, we're going to play like this. So, you know, after the halfway mark, you know, they started gaining, they started making plays, they started rising to the top.

And at the end of fall camp, and all these guys can confirm that, it was a one-on-one battle. It was up at the top, offense, defense, every day. It was like Kevin said, they win, we win, they win, we win.

When it got to that game, that Rutgers game, that's when we really seen these guys are legit and they're looking back at us probably saying these guys are legit, too.

Q. Could you guys explain what it means to have a S.W.A.T. team mentality that you talk about, where that mentality began and give an example of a time this season when you've used it and it's worked?
PSALM WOOCHING: So S.W.A.T. team mentality, it's like everywhere we go, everywhere we go, we're ready for something to go wrong. And the S.W.A.T. team mentality is like, you know, those S.W.A.T. guys out there, those Marines, all those, you know, military folks out there, nothing goes perfect for them. They get put in a situation where -- a life or death situation, they have to fight their way through and make it to whatever they have to do. And we've kind of put it toward a football standpoint, where our bus might break down, for instance, or a hotel room might not be ready. Something not life or death, but something like, you know, we have to put our mind to this and say, hey, you know, we will compromise, improvise, and still go on with our game plan.

Q. This is for all you guys, if you want to comment on this. What would it mean to this program, to this league to knock off number one Alabama Saturday? How big of a boost would that be?
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: That was a good question. It would probably just be -- it would be a great feeling across the board. But for this program and for us up here, just show how hard we worked.

Because throughout like our school and everything, we've been going through a lot of adversity, from losing our AD, losing our coach, like pretty much the whole class, like the class I came in when I was recruited like just going to different schools, breaking up.

And it would just show that regardless, we were destined for this. We worked hard enough for this. We put in an effort for this and this really is a great team. I tell my guys every day, you guys are great. From what we've done like to get here and all the stuff we've been through, I don't think I could have did it with anybody else.

THE MODERATOR: Kevin, thoughts on possibly beating number one Alabama?

KEVIN KING: I think for Husky Nation and for people who have been fans for a while now, I think it would be great. I think everybody's behind us. Everybody's had a great year watching us and seeing what we've been capable of.

But like Keishawn said, for us up here and for us that have been in the team, in our little circle in the team, we're not coming to possibly knock off number one Alabama. That's not what we -- that's not our mindset. That's not what we've come to do.

We've come to win. We've come to compete and we're not thinking oh, like we might be able to do this. We come with the mindset of, okay, let's go in there. Let's get it done.

Because from the top to bottom, we're ready to play, and, you know, we're going to go out there, we're going to play like we know we can and how we're capable of. So I think definitely getting to this point and being able to beat anybody at this point in time is going to take your A-game. It's going to take precise execution and we're ready to get it done.


SIDNEY JONES: Just going off what Kevin said, you know, it would be awesome to knock off Alabama. But we still have another game after that. So we've got to complete the task and that's what we came here to do. That's our whole mentality. We have to win a national championship. We made it this far. We're not going to stop.

THE MODERATOR: Psalm, bring us home.

PSALM WOOCHING: Kind of like Sidney said. It would be great, a great feeling to knock off number one, Alabama. But I think it would be a greater feeling to know that we'd be going to the national championship.

I think that knocking off the number one, it would be great for, for sure, us. But our past brothers that have been in our shoes -- or that haven't been in our shoes and wanted to get here, that wanted to play Alabama, wanted to be on those stages of right now.

And I think it would be really for them, before them, preaching hey, we're going to make it to this top spot. We're going to play Alabama teams like that. For us to actually be here on this stage and representing our past brothers behind us, our family, our university, I think that means a lot for them.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, gentlemen. We'll end it there.

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