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December 29, 2017

Troy Walters

McKenzie Milton

Atlanta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Coach, start with an opening statement, maybe talk about arriving in Atlanta and bowl week preparations so far.

TROY WALTERS: Yeah, excited to be here, to be able to play in the 50th Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl is a tremendous honor. It rewards the young men for a fabulous season, and we're excited to be here, excited to play Auburn, a team that's beaten two number one teams in the country. We are excited about this challenge and excited to be here and can't wait for Monday for the game to come.

THE MODERATOR: McKenzie, for you, talk about the battle for bowl week, talk about challenges. Tied at 1-1, and it's pretty important because the winner of that usually goes on to win the game. Talk about that experience and what that's been like for you guys so far.

MCKENZIE MILTON: Yeah, it's been a lot of fun so far. The first night we went to Andretti Racing, and I don't mean to brag, but I had the fastest time out of anybody on our team, and then the next night we had a little basketball challenge in the hotel room and Auburn got the best of us on that one. So it's 1-1, but I think we'll probably win the next two.

Q. Have you talked with the guys or do you just realize that you guys know how close you are to perfection and what's it going to take to make it 13-0?
MCKENZIE MILTON: You know, I don't think we really even talked about it too much. I think we all kind of know what's at stake. We know we've had a special year so far, and we know we've got a tall task ahead of us.

But I think we're definitely up to it, and I think the guys are locked into our game plan on both sides of the ball. I'm just excited to get after it.

Q. With everything that's gone on with the coaching change and you guys going to Nebraska, how has that changed maybe -- I guess not changed, but do you realize that these guys still want to finish it off the right way?
TROY WALTERS: Yeah, this is all about the 2017 season and what these young men have accomplished, we want to finish. That's been the focus. As a staff we've been all in. We've been 100 percent committed to these guys, and we want to finish what we started.

So those guys know that this is all about the 2017 season, the 2017 team, and finishing what we started. You know, it's been a tremendous season, and, you know, the preparation, the focus, the process, what got us here was the process; was each day, studying our playbook, you know, going out, practicing, making sure that we studied our opponent and that's what we've done all these last two weeks.

So the process hasn't changed and that's what's gotten us to 12-0, and we are looking to go 13-0 on Monday.

Q. You haven't had a bye week since the very beginning of the season because of the hurricane issues. How did you utilize the time in between as far as changing the mind-set, because every game was every week, and now there's that gap in between.
TROY WALTERS: Yeah, after the Championship Game against Memphis, we basically gave the guys a week off. We wanted them to rest their bodies, rest their mind, really focus on finals, and then so I think they did that.

And then the following week, we got back together for three good days of practice, really focusing on good versus good, really not game planning. Just trying to kind of knock the rust from the previous week off. And then these final two weeks have been more game-plan mode, preparing for Auburn. Really, we've had two good weeks. You know, last week was a normal -- really a normal Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday practice, what we normally would have during the season.

And then this week, same thing. We definitely want to give them time off, because when you go 11 straight weeks, it's taxing, both physically and mentally, and we did that, and they were able to recover, refresh a little bit, and now, you know, we're healthy and ready to go.

Q. You talked about the process. What tweaks, if any, had to be made? I know that I've seen your title described as as-needed interim coach, and were there times when Coach Frost had to handle Nebraska duties that you had to step in?
TROY WALTERS: Really, no. First few days when he made -- when they made the announcement, he had to fly to Nebraska, so I was around for the first three or four days right after the announcement. But you know, once they hired Josh Heupel -- you know, really Coach Frost has been around as much as he can. You know, we really hadn't -- and you might ask McKenzie, but really had not skipped a beat. It's really been the same as the regular season.

That's what we wanted. As a staff, we wanted to coach these guys. We wanted to finish. Coach Frost wanted to finish, and we wanted to be as routine as it could be. We want familiarity. What we've done all year, that's what we're doing leading up to this game, and that gives us the best chance to win.

Q. Could McKenzie comment on that?
MCKENZIE MILTON: Yeah, I give our coaching staff a lot of credit. They would be out till the wee hours of the night recruiting for Nebraska and then still coming to practice at 7:00, 8:00 AM, to help us game-plan and get ready for this Bowl game.

That's a lot of credit to them, and that just shows the dedication they have to this ballclub and that they are really bought in just as much as we are.

So I give them a lot of credit. I'm very grateful for the time we've had with them, and just the way they have bought into us. It's been a special ride with them and we want to finish it the right way.

Q. Your transformation has been one of the biggest storylines on this team. What has the coaching staff helped you with the most since you got on campus last year?
MCKENZIE MILTON: I think from Coach Frost to Coach Walters to Coach Mario and really the whole offensive staff, just having faith in me and just trusting the process. You know, I think it's like anything else, just with time, you're going to grow and you're going to progress and you're going to keep building that chemistry with your teammates. I think from year 1 to year 2, the game really slows down. You start recognizing coverages more. You start understanding what's going to be there and what's not going to be there.

Having said that, I still think there's a lot of room for growth. But I mean, the coaching staff, they have done a great job of just getting us in good situation, good play calls, getting the balls to the playmakers. Like just getting our guys the ball in space, really. Guys like Otis Anderson and Adrian Killins, you can just throw them a little check-down route and they are going to take it 60 yards for a touchdown.

Having guys like that and having coordinators like we have is a great combination. That's been the recipe for our success. I know they are going to do great things at Nebraska, too.

Q. Some of Auburn's players were saying that y'all run some unique concepts that they haven't seen this season. How hard were those concepts to learn, and what are the unique challenges that Auburn's defense presents that you haven't seen this season?
MCKENZIE MILTON: You know, I honestly don't think the concepts are hard to learn. I think it's -- like I say, I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff of kind of, like, dumbing down stuff so it's easy to recognize what's going to be there, what's not going to be there.

Sometimes we have man-beaters; sometimes we have zone-beaters. Sometimes we have run -- run-pass option and sometimes we just have run plays. They do a good job of mixing it up and keeping defenses on their heels.

Auburn's defense, they are probably the best defense we are going to face all year up front. They are physical, fast, pretty nasty, and the back end, the same. It's going to be a tough challenge for us, but I think we're up for it. I think our guys, they want to send a message to everybody that we can play and we can play with anybody.

Q. With having so many weeks beforehand this game, and for preparation, how much more prepared do you guys feel for Auburn compared to past opponents this season?
TROY WALTERS: Very prepared. We basically -- as a staff, we have gone through and watched every game that they have played this season. We've tried to figure out ways to attack their defense. Like McKenzie said, it's the best defense we're going to play this year. There are really no holes in this defense, from the front four to the back end, and so we wanted to make sure that we studied every game they played and just tried to find ways to attack them.

So we feel like we have a great game plan. Our players all year have really executed the game plans. Every game we come in -- we do what we do, but we always come in with a new wrinkle here and there. It's a credit to our players that they are able to understand what we're trying to do, process it, and then go execute.

So we feel prepared as ever. The extra couple weeks allowed us as a staff to really study Auburn even more and feel like we've got a great game plan. And our guys this whole week have -- they have done a great job of executing it out in practice, and I think that will show up Monday.

MCKENZIE MILTON: Yeah, like Coach said, any time you have a lot of time to game-plan, especially with the coaching staff we have, they are going to put together a great plan for us to execute.

Coach Walters, Coach Frost, and the rest of the offensive staff that have done that, I think our guys are dialed in. We know what we are possibly going to expect on Monday from Auburn, and I think we've got a great game plan going in. I don't think you really know you're ready until Monday comes and you execute. So until we do that, that's when we'll find out we're ready, but I'm pretty sure our guys are dialed in.

Q. We talked all season about Tre'Quan being one of those elite receivers, but maybe not a lot of people know about him. Can both of you talk about the importance not only of Tre'Quan to this team but also maybe the stage Monday for him to kind of show what kind of receiver he is?
TROY WALTERS: Yeah, Tre'Quan has been phenomenal. You know, you see what he can do on the field, but he's been phenomenal behind the scenes. You know, we are playing four true freshmen receivers, and so he's kind of been that role model. He's kind of been that big brother. He's been that example of showing them how to be great and those guys look up to him.

You know, the recognition -- we have so many guys that have made plays this year. We spread the ball around where sometimes his stats may not be the same as some other players, but you know, if you look at how he has played, his unselfish nature, if you put on any tape, he's getting after it in the run game in terms of blocking downfield which shows his unselfishness. He's looking forward to this game. Their secondary is the best we've played. They've got an All-American corner. They're going to get up in our face and try to press and disrupt our timing.

So he understands at this stage, big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. He's looking forward to it and he's been nothing but phenomenal, nothing but great this season; not only on the field, but even off the field in the role he's played in being a leader in everything he's done.

He's excited. I'm excited for him so that the nation and the world can see the type of player that he is.

MCKENZIE MILTON: Yeah, Tre'Quan has been unreal, from the time I got here, really, and prior to that, as well. I mean, the guy will be in the weight room at 9:00 at night one night, and he'll be there the next night. He just shows the young guys the way to do it, and he showed me the way to do it.

He's definitely going to leave a legacy for his time at UCF. I think he's very excited to get after it on Monday. Like you said, I feel like he has flown under the radar. I think -- he's Second Team All Conference. In. My opinion, probably should have been first. I think -- between him and Anthony Miller, I think they're the two best receivers in the American.

But he's been a special player all year, and wherever he goes in his career, he's going to keep making plays like he does, because when him and Mike Hughes go after it in practice, it's something special to watch. Definitely grateful for Tre'Quan and I think he's ready to get after it on Monday.

Q. There's always a debate this time of year when coaches take other jobs, that the players sign with the coaches more than they sign with the school. Do you believe that, and do you think players should be able to up and leave without having to sit out a year?
MCKENZIE MILTON: You know, that's a tough one. I think it depends on certain situations. I would say if a player hasn't played in that particular year, I feel like they should be able to go and play right away. I feel like if their coaching staff that they were recruited by left, I feel like they should probably be able to go and explore their other options. Like the situation at Ole Miss, I feel like they should be able to leave and go play right away if they can find a new home.

But for a player that has played and they just don't like the situation with the coaching staff they are in, I feel like they should probably sit out a year, and if they have a red-shirt year, it doesn't really matter. I feel like there's some situations you can't really, like, put a certain rule on it. I mean, I don't even really know all the rules, to be honest (laughing). That's just the way it works. NCAA has a lot of rules that I don't really know, but I just do my best to follow them.

And before anything, I want to say thanks for the Heisman votes. Appreciate it.

Q. We saw the video of the first practice, and seemed like all the players were in awe of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. What are your thoughts and how excited are you to play on that stage, and Coach Walters, if you could talk about how to keep the guys from letting the moment overwhelm them.
MCKENZIE MILTON: Yeah, it's definitely an honor to play in that stadium and this Bowl game. The stadium is unbelievable with that 360 JumboTron at the roof. The stands, the stands are unreal. They have got like restaurants on the sidelines. It's just a pretty surreal scene. But I think the guys have soaked that all in with practice, and I think we have got one more today. I think all the hype of that, hopefully it's all out by the time Monday rolls around, and we are just ready to rock and just ready to play another football game.

TROY WALTERS: Yeah, it's a first-class stadium. We wanted to make sure that we practice in there as much as we could to get used to the surroundings. Like you said, the JumboTron, the 360, if it's your first time in there, it's pretty amazing.

So I think by Monday, our guys will be used to everything that's going on. You know, we're playing music in the stadium because we know it's going to be loud, so we've got to get used to the crowd noise. We know it's going to be a great atmosphere.

So I think these three days of practicing there are really going to help our guys be comfortable in that stadium, get used to the field turf. It's a new field. It's a different type of surface than we are used to playing on. So it's good that we are able to get some of those reps in there before the game.

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