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December 29, 2017

Kevin Steele

Tre' Williams

Atlanta, Georgia

Coach, we'll take your opening statement and tell us about how Bowl week is going so far and preparations for the game.

KEVIN STEELE: First, we'd like to say thanks to the Peach Bowl Committee and the City of Atlanta. This is obviously -- the history of this Bowl game and the folks that cover Auburn understand this, it's 38 years. I've been here before. I actually coached in this game when it was in the old Braves Fulton County Stadium. The history of this bowl is special. We're excited about being here, of course, with the opponent we have, undefeated Central Florida team that is a very, very good football team. We are excited about the opportunity to have -- to go and compete against a great football team.

THE MODERATOR: Tre', for your opening statement, I would love to get your thoughts on the MLK visit last night, what that experience was like for you.

TRE' WILLIAMS: It was very inspirational. You know, it was crazy, just learning from it, back in grade school, middle school, high school, things like that, and just reading from it, from a book and everything, having teachers teach about it.

But it's very different to actually hear the true experience of people who actually dealt with it and actually put up with it and actually made a change in the world. That admired a lot of us and it made us look into ourselves to see how can we make a difference in our community by playing football or even how we treat people on a daily basis.

THE MODERATOR: Well said. Thanks for that.

Q. Obviously you've coached in the State of Florida and you know the type of talent and speed that's in the State of Florida. Are you surprised that UCF has been able to rise like it has, being a non-Power Five team?
KEVIN STEELE: No, not at all. The high school talent in the State of Florida, the high school coaching availability to athletes in terms of -- particularly in the skilled area, the defensive backs, the wide receivers, running backs, a lot of speed in the state.

So not at all. And I mean, you know, Coach O'Leary did a great job, went to the Fiesta Bowl, so when Scott came in, you know, everybody knew there was talent at Central Florida. So he's put a good staff together and the product has come to fruition in a big way.

So no, not surprised at all.

Q. Coach Steele, what are your thoughts just on McKenzie Milton and when you watch the film, what is it that he does that has led to his success this season?
KEVIN STEELE: Well, obviously there's guys that play the game in terms of the system.

He's a guy that has the ability, because of his athleticism, and just the moxie that he has and the way he plays the game to keep and extend plays and kind of make the second half of a play. He can turn plays that you look like has stopped and into the second half of the play, kind of -- and I say this in a positive way, not a negative way -- almost like you used to play games in the backyard with kids and running around in a touch football game where you could just run around and make plays. He's one of those guys that if you play touch football in the backyard, which I don't know if kids do -- do y'all still do that?

TRE' WILLIAMS: We still do that.

KEVIN STEELE: We used to do that. At the end of the day, he's a guy that nobody could get on the ground and is always making plays.

THE MODERATOR: Tre', how are you at backyard touch football?

TRE' WILLIAMS: I ain't that fast. I just let everyone else run the ball. I just try to make a lot of tackles.

THE MODERATOR: Keep working hard, Buddy. We'll get you there.

Q. You mentioned the speed that Central Florida has. They have scored a ton of points. How do you go about neutralizing their speed?
KEVIN STEELE: Well, the game's about us. Obviously everybody we played had 11 guys on the field, and they lined up in a formations. We had motions and shifts. The field is the same width, same length every game. It's about our execution, our focus and doing the things that we're required to do. Be where you're supposed to be. We're not going to ask anybody -- there's no defense we have where we're going to ask guys to take two gaps. We're not going to ask guys to cover two men. We're not going to ask guys to be responsible for two zones. Just do your job and execute.

And so that's really what it boils down to. It's about us.

Q. Tre', the UCF team doesn't give up a lot of sacks and you guys are good at sacking the quarterback. What has shown up on film and how do you plan to attack their offensive line?
TRE' WILLIAMS: Like Coach just said, it's all about us and how we execute. Coach Steele is going to put us in the right position, and it's just our job to do our job. You know, we had a lot of success, like you said, with the D-Line. We have great defensive linemen and we depend on them every play, and they always do their job. We're just here to back them up.

Q. Obviously you guys have seen the comments made by Adrian Killins about the SEC has not seen the speed that UCF has. How taken aback were you with those comments and was that maybe something to wake you guys up after losing in the SEC Championship Game?
TRE' WILLIAMS: No, not really. We don't really pay attention to anything said in the media. We just focus on preparation, you know, doing our job. We know who we have and we know what we can do. We're just going to prepare for the game and during -- like I said, Coach Steele is going to put us in the right position and we're going to make a play.

Q. You coaches have a way of reminding players --
KEVIN STEELE: They are coachable. They are coachable.

Q. Is that something you would use in a bulletin-board type setting? Do you still have bulletin boards?
KEVIN STEELE: No, we don't. We text them (laughter).

I actually have somebody do it for me but that's another story.

No, in this day and age with social media, and we're so equipped, I mean, there's a lot of things out there about everything. Some of it, you don't even know if it's true or not.

So we're conditioned now; the whole process is built to focus on our job, our responsibility, what we control. And the external factors, the distractions, whatever they may be, we spend a lot of time on making sure that that does not get into the meeting room, the practice field, the locker room. And so it's not -- it's not really that hard any more in terms of trying to keep everybody focused that way. They -- they are pretty coachable that way.

Q. We hear all the time, Coach Steele talks all the time about focusing on yourself. How much has that helped the last couple of years, knowing that, hey, it's just about what you guys do and kind of handling what you can control?
TRE' WILLIAMS: When you try to put too much focus on the other team or any opponent you play, you know, you don't really get the opportunity to do your job the best way you can.

So as soon as Coach Steele got here, that's the first thing he put in. Like focus on yourselves. Like focus on your technique, your job, and just the defense in general, like everybody's execution and you'll be fine. If you start focusing on what your opponent is doing, you'll get out of your gap or your technique won't be right and things like that. He emphasizes that every day. Just do your job and focus on yourself and we'll be all right.

Q. Coach, you say you have someone text the players. Are you tech-savvy?
KEVIN STEELE: I am, but I wouldn't say -- compared to Tre', no, I'm not. I can get the message across if I need to.

But yes, I just normally hand it out. I've got a little guy that's been with me at a couple stops and I just hand it to him sitting beside me and say, hey text Tre' and tell him this.

I don't really want to talk about that because if my wife figures out that I'm tech-savvy then she'll start texting me and we don't want to go there.

THE MODERATOR: She's not going to hear it from us, I promise.

Q. Coach Frost talks about the size differential in running backs and you guys Kerryon Johnson in practice. What stands out other than, hey, these guys are a little smaller than what you guys see on a daily basis speed-wise and with the offense that UCF runs?
KEVIN STEELE: Well, obviously the spread offense is everywhere now. We see it on the practice field. There's little nuances. This is obviously more the Chip Kelly, Oregon style. But there's a lot of similarities in that.

In terms of the players, they come in all shapes and sizes. I mean, in the course of a year, you're going to see every kind of running back from small, quick, to big, powerful.

So it's built -- there are certain things that make it a little more difficult with different guys, and obviously we're well aware of that, the quickness and the ability to make people miss in a very close area. But it's not -- it still comes back to applying technique and being responsible and accountable to your job. You can't just get into defending one guy. There's a lot of space out there.

Q. You guys were one win away from playing in the College Football Playoff semifinal. Has there been any let-up at all in the team from being disappointed in not getting that opportunity, and how hard is it to make that transition when you have that right in your sights to getting transitioned to play in a big marquis game like the Peach Bowl?
KEVIN STEELE: I think externally -- and I don't want to get into a lecture about the philosophy on that -- but the playoffs has changed the external mentality. So the fans, maybe the media -- I don't know that; you'll have to speak for yourself. All the shift goes, if you don't make the Final four, then it's a bad year or you didn't accomplish what you -- and that's not -- that's not the way it's built internally. It's one game at a time, one play at a time. Play like a champion. Be the best you can be on the next play.

If the game doesn't work out, then you go the next week and do it again.

There's a lot of things this team can accomplish. I mean, all the way, I could give you a litany of them, a list of things.

For an example, we have the opportunity to win 11 games. That will be the seventh time in the history of the school. These guys have an opportunity to -- I think, in the history of college football, we have an opportunity to beat three 9-0 or better teams in the same year. I don't think that's ever been done.

And so there's a lot of positives. But what it really boils down to is when you're dealing with guys that are highly competitive and are committed to excellence, and committed to the process of being the best they can be, every play, the work ethic and the challenge of being the best you can be internally is controlled by that. Not what Bowl game you're in or you're in the playoffs or you didn't win the SEC Championship. That's not how it's built. And so it's a drastic difference from what is viewed externally and what happens internally.

Q. Did you know Scott Frost when you coached at Nebraska and what did you learn under Tom Osborne at Nebraska?
KEVIN STEELE: I did know Scott. We recruited Scott when I was there. We had, I think Tommie was the quarterback at that time, Frazier, and he was a young quarterback. Scott went to Stanford, was there I think one year and then came back home. Scott's dad, mom, both coaches in Nebraska. So yes, I did know him, and when he came back, I was still there. Yes, I did know him.

Coach Osborne, we don't have enough time. It's more of a book than a press conference on what you learn from Coach Osborne. There's not a day that went by that you didn't learn something from Coach. Unbelievable man, great teacher, but I think probably the biggest thing was he had an uncanny ability to make every person in the room every day, every time he saw you, feel like you were the most important person in the world, and that brings the best out of people. Very uplifting guy.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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