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December 2, 2017

Braxton Berrios

Mark Richt

Charlotte, North Carolina

Clemson - 38, Miami - 3

MARK RICHT: Well, congratulations to Clemson. They thoroughly whipped us. Their coaches did a great job. Players did a great job. Our guys fought, but, you know, obviously it didn't go well at all. Early in the game they scored every time they touched it. We couldn't get it going offensively really the entire game obviously.

But, you know, it just shows they're the class of our league. Right now they're the measuring stick. We're going to get there. We're just not there yet. We weren't there tonight, for sure.

But proud of our players. Proud of what they've accomplished. We've been through a lot together as a team. Early on in the season, going through the hurricane like we did, all the things we had to go through. Then 11 straight. Ending that 11 straight tonight.

It's been a little bit of a grind. But the guys have been battling every week. They've been doing everything we've asked them to do. I couldn't be more proud of a group of guys than our players.

So with that, I'll open it up and let you guys ask whatever you want to ask.

Q. Coach, obviously there weren't many scoring opportunities, but early on you had the play where Jeff Thomas got behind the defense. What did you see on that play?
MARK RICHT: Well, we had a little double move, similar to the one we scored a touchdown in the last game against Pitt. It's a different formation, but pretty much the same play. Different guy running it.

He broke free. We sprint out to the right, then we're going to hit the brakes. The quarterback is going to take about seven to nine steps, then hit the brakes of the, launch it. He felt like he was getting somebody in his face as he was trying to cut the ball loose and lay it out there. Just couldn't quite throw it as far as we would have liked him to.

But from what we heard upstairs, there was a little leakage in the protection. It wasn't as clean as it could have been or should have been. We weren't able to get connected.

Q. Mark, what do you have to do from this point forward to get better for the bowl game coming up?
MARK RICHT: Well, the biggest thing to start out with is to just get rested. The guys are going to get a chance to get a little bit of a break from football. We have to finish strong academically, obviously. Then we'll do some running and lifting and things like that, but not carrying the pads and pounding and things like that. Just going to give them a nice break a well-deserved break physically from the game itself.

That will be the big thing. That will help us get us healthy as we can. We know there's some guys we're just not going to get back, which is a shame. I don't even know if there's anybody out there right now that has been out that we might get back, but we'll get guys healthier and more rested, which will be helpful.

The other thing I just want to mention is, you know, this team did something that's never been done before here at the U. This whole rise is a learning process. Certainly tonight, we'll learn some things, we'll understand a little bit better what it might take to become a champion in this league.

Q. Mark, you've obviously coached pretty recently in another league. You described Clemson as a measuring stick. How would you compare that program and that team we saw tonight with some of the better teams you've seen in the past?
MARK RICHT: Yeah, I mean, Clemson obviously is as good as anybody in America. They've been proving it for the last three years really. Couple years ago played the national championship game, last year won the national championship game. Won three ACC championships in a row. What are they now, 43-46 games they played. They're a big, strong, physical, fast, well-coached. They're as good as anybody in America.

You know, I've been saying it from the very beginning. I don't think we're a team that could just line up and impose our will. I kept saying that we're not there yet. We got some more recruiting to do. We got some more developing to do. We have some guys that can play against anybody in America, but I don't know if we have enough of those guys yet.

We're going to keep working towards getting done. But, you know, in time we'll catch up to the measuring stick.

Q. Mark, injuries on offense tonight, Richards, Herndon. Malik was behind the eight ball a little bit. What did you think of his performance tonight?
MARK RICHT: For the most part, we thought he was making good decisions and trying to go to the right guy. I think, you know, a few balls got batted. Some protection broke down from time to time.

He missed a shot or two. I mean, I think it was a solid performance. We'll have to watch tape to really see exactly how it all went down. But, you know, we didn't think he was just playing poorly, just the entire offensive unit didn't get enough going on.

Q. Coach, what did you learn about your team? You started off 10-0, but what do you have to get better at?
MARK RICHT: I've pretty much been saying it. We have to continue to recruit, continue to get stronger in our off-season program. We've got great players, like I said. We need more great players. We need more guys that can line up. We got to be able to have enough depth to withstand attrition, whether it's guys getting hurt, whatever it may be, guys transferring, things like that that happen in college football.

We're just not to that point yet. We've got a lot of great players. We played well as a team. Obviously we won 10 in a row. We won 15, I guess, in a row, 16, whatever it was, had the longest winning streak there in America for a minute. It's not like we've been playing poorly. The Pitt game obviously we didn't do as good as we should. This one, we were beaten soundly.

Q. Coach, you had incredible performances from true freshmen all year long. Is that going to be your message as you hit the trail after this game? How important will that be in the role of what you tell guys?
MARK RICHT: I think recruits will see they're going to get an opportunity to play. There's still a lot of jobs to be won. There's a guy like Braxton Berrios leaving, a great player, who is going to be missed. Somebody is going to get those reps. We got some seniors leaving.

But, you know, we need more guys to come in and catch the vision of where we're going, be a part of it. I think there's a bunch of guys that want to be a part of it, can see that. I think they're going to be encouraged by how far we've come and know that we got a ways to go, we need their help to get there.

Q. Braxton, how surprised are you at what happened tonight? Why do you think it happened? And the future for this team?
BRAXTON BERRIOS: Well, very surprised. When you come out, you kind of get beat in all phases of the game. We came out with a good plan. We were confident in it. We were confident, we were ready, you know, to compete, really play for that championship.

They came out, and from the beginning they jumped us. Now, going forward, like coach said, we have to get healthy. That's one. More so than this season, you know, it still has to be building on the foundation. This was a first for Miami. It obviously won't be a last. This has to be something that continues to move forward, you know. The last two years, we've had a lot of firsts. I see, in the next two years, us doing the same thing.

Q. Braxton, at the beginning of the season, you told me you were tired of talking about having good seasons. You put a really good season together. Thinking back over all four years, what was the difference this year in allowing all the things you do in the classroom, practice, everything the coaches say about you, to actually having it translate?
BRAXTON BERRIOS: I don't think it was one thing.

MARK RICHT: I could tell you. We threw it to him more (laughter). That's what happened. He got more opportunities, and he took advantage of them.

I didn't mean to cut you off. But he's going to be polite. The reality is, he got more balls thrown at him. He was there to make the plays.

BRAXTON BERRIOS: That's actually exactly what I was going to say. It was. It was opportunities (smiling). That's what happens in football. A lot of times they're few and far between. Sometimes they're abundant. That's just how it goes. You got to be patient, you got to keep working.

At the end of the day, when you get those opportunities, you have to make them count like I did this year. That's really the difference.

Q. Braxton and Coach Richt, if you get into the Orange Bowl, how do you feel about that?
MARK RICHT: I'll be excited. I'll be excited. It's a wonderful opportunity. I mean, before the year started, you said we're going to play for the championship and get a chance to play in the Orange Bowl, I mean, we would not have been too happy about not winning the championship, but dang sure excited about the opportunity to play in the Orange Bowl, one of the classic bowl games in America. If that's where we land, we'll be excited about it.

BRAXTON BERRIOS: I completely agree. The Orange Bowl, at the time when there was a BCS, was one of the big BCS games. Still it's one of the premier games in the country. Obviously we got a shot to do something more, we came up short. But the Orange Bowl, it's a home game. I think that will be really exciting for the team.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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