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December 29, 2017

Lorenzo Carter

Pasadena, California

Q. Orlando Brown mentioned you guys had some good vibes in high school. What do you remember about him?
LORENZO CARTER: Just his size, man. He's one of the biggest humans I've seen. He's just a big challenge. I loved it. He's competitive, I'm competitive. We got after it, I remember that. It was a good battle.

Q. He was a lot bigger in high school. He said he was like 390. Does it look like he's the same size?
LORENZO CARTER: You can definitely tell on film that he's slimmed up. He's got his body right. He's matured into his body. You knew that was going to happen, just seeing his size and then realizing that he was going to go to a good program that would get him right.

Q. What's it like to have the opportunity to see him again and play him on a stage like this?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, it's crazy. I mean, I always like saw him out there doing his thing, but I never really thought I'd have another chance to go against him. But to be able to go against him in the Rose Bowl is huge. I mean, it's great.

Q. (Indiscernible).
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, definitely. I don't know if you could even prepare to not play the Heisman. I mean, he's the Heisman winner. It's the Rose Bowl. This is the playoffs. I mean, you can't expect anything other than him going out there and playing at 110 percent. I mean, we don't really worry about none of that stuff.

Q. Going back to a couple years ago with Roquan, what did you first know, holy cow, this guy has got that extra something that's going to make him pretty special. Was there a moment?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, I mean, Roquan, he's just one of those players that you see out there on the field. Once he's on the field and making plays, running around, you can tell he's something special. He has the speed. He's a sure tackler. He's just an all-around great inside linebacker, and I'm honored to play with him in there.

Q. Talking about Jake as a freshman, too (indiscernible).
LORENZO CARTER: I mean, I think he was still one of the best linebackers, even backing up Jake. He's fast, he's so fast, and that's the thing that makes him so good to me.

Q. What's the best play you've seen him make this year?
LORENZO CARTER: Just running down Wimbush at Notre Dame. Wimbush broke containment, got out of the pocket. We were sure he was going to make some yards, but Roquan, just his speed got him to the sideline for a tackle with no gain.

Q. What have you seen from D'Andre this year?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, D'Andre, he's grown a lot as a player, just realizing what he does best and getting after it. His motor is crazy. He's always going full speed, and his full speed is sacking a lot of people. But he's just such a great pass rusher and he makes great plays in big-time games.

Q. Mayfield's season, he's been in the spotlight a lot. Did you pick up on that?
LORENZO CARTER: I mean, yeah, he's a big-time player, so big-time players are in the spotlight. But a Heisman contender, eventual Heisman winner, of course he's going to be in the spotlight for a lot of things he does. That's just the type of player he is. He likes to make big plays and let you know about it. He's an energetic guy, and you can't really determine anything about his character based off of that. That's just what he does.

Q. Guys in his corner said he made (indiscernible) did you see that at all?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, that's a lot of energy. That's just out there playing football. A lot of people read too much into it. We don't read too much into that stuff. That's just going out there and doing what he loves.

Q. Because of all the attention he gets, is it a big deal for you guys to go out and do your job against him Monday?
LORENZO CARTER: We don't even really worry about that much stuff. We're going out there to play our brand of football, and our brand of football is to stop the opposing players, so that's what we're trying to do.

Q. (Indiscernible) do you like to do that? Orlando said in high school you were. Are you that kind of guy?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, Coach Smart, we don't talk to the opponents, we don't talk to the opposite colored jerseys. It's just a waste of energy. We have a lot more stuff to focus on than talking to the other guys. We've got to communicate with each other, with my teammates. That's what we'll be doing, we'll be talking to each other out there on the field.

Q. Is it tough not to trash talk?
LORENZO CARTER: Not really. It's the culture Coach Smart built. He doesn't let us talk to each other in practice. It's just practice makes perfect, so we just try to make sure we don't slip up, we don't get into that type of stuff.

Q. (Indiscernible) you were going to be departing anyway, but how happy are you for him?
LORENZO CARTER: I'm really happy for Coach Sherrer. Got a chance to go be a defensive coordinator, that's the stuff of his dreams. That's why he coaches. He doesn't just want to be an assistant coach forever, he wants to be a D coordinator. I'm proud of him, get a chance to go work with Coach Pruitt.

But I'm just honored that he came back and he wanted to finish the job. He wanted to make sure that he didn't leave us hanging and that we got a chance to play for a championship, and we had to do it with him.

Q. Are you kind of excited to see that coaching staff with, like you said, familiar faces?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, that's going to be fun. I can't wait to go back and go see them, Coach Sherrer, Coach Rock, Coach Pruitt, all them guys back up there.

Q. Lorenzo, what have you done besides practice while you've been here?
LORENZO CARTER: We went to Disneyland. We went to the pier last night, Santa Monica.

Q. As a team?
LORENZO CARTER: We had team shuttles, so a lot of guys went, got a chance to see that. But it really hasn't been too eventful. We've been around the hotel a lot just watching film, meetings, sleeping. Just trying to make sure we take care of our bodies and just realize we're here for a reason. We're here to play a game.

Q. (Indiscernible).
LORENZO CARTER: Really just walked around. I got some funnel cakes, got some (indiscernible) food and just played a game. Me, Dom, Terry and Mecole, we played a basketball game. I beat Mecole and Terry. They doubted my skills, but I came through at the end.

Q. (Indiscernible) nutritionist?
LORENZO CARTER: No, I can eat whatever. It's good.

Q. (Indiscernible).
LORENZO CARTER: It was -- everybody was just really excited, really just excited for where we were going. A lot of the guys knew Coach Smart. Me personally, he recruited me, so a lot of the guys knew him. We knew what he was about, and we were just excited to get on the road. He came in, he let us know that there was going to be a coaching change, we're going to do some things differently, but I think everybody just bought in, and we're excited for the way things could go.

Q. (Indiscernible) you guys have been on the doorstep, very close to being at a level like this and haven't quite been able to traverse that last inch. Now that you're here, how would you reflect on how he taught you guys how to do that?
LORENZO CARTER: He taught us it's a lot of stuff that goes into it that people don't see, a lot of things that you just have to -- you can't make a choice. There's one way to do it. If you want to be a champion, you've got to do things a certain way, and basically he just told us that we have to do it, we don't have a choice.

Q. You said the illusion of choice?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, there's an illusion of choice. All the greats, if you want to be great, you have to do certain things. You can say you have a choice to stay in bed or hit the snooze button, but if you're trying to be great, that's an illusion. You don't really have a choice, you've got to do it.

Q. You were a highly recruited guy. I'm curious how you've seen the recruiting operation. You're familiar with it now and you've seen the numbers and everything. How has that under Kirby grown and evolved?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, when Coach Smart got here, he made a point that recruiting was going to be big. He was going to be majorly involved in recruiting. I mean, just seeing what he's doing, just it's great. It's crazy, because it's like -- he said it, he's going to do it, and he's done it on the football field, he's done it in recruiting, and he's great.

Q. Are there a lot more people around?

Q. Other workers around the building, have you noticed that?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, there's more people around for recruiting, but I like it because they're not involved, they're not too much in the way. Still we have our privacy, but there's still more recruiting people out there.

Q. (Indiscernible).
LORENZO CARTER: I mean, some people said it's tough. Coach Smart makes sure that we know that we're here for a game. We're not here for just like a visit, just like a vacation or anything. We have a game to play. We have a semifinal to play. I mean, for me, it hasn't been that -- just I love the weather. We get our time to go experience LA or do something. We have a bowl event each night. But after that, I mean, it's pretty much back to business. We have our game. We've got a championship to win.

Q. How much are you building on the fact that he's been successful here before?
LORENZO CARTER: You have no choice but to trust him. Anything he has, you have to trust him, listen to him, because he's been here, he's done that. None of us have before. We're in uncharted territory, but he's been here before.

Q. (Indiscernible).
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, we've had a curfew every night. The leadership guys got together and we set a curfew.

Q. What's the time?
LORENZO CARTER: 12:00. It's moved up each night, but yeah, 12:00, then 12:30. 12:30 was the latest. That's not too bad, especially coming in our eastern time zones. 12:30 here is 3:30 in the morning, so yeah.

Q. How was the Improv last night?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, that was great. That's not up my alley; I'm too chill for that. But we had some guys up there, we had some time for the team just to go up there and crack on each other, and then the real comedians came, and it was a great time.

Q. (Indiscernible).
LORENZO CARTER: Richard LeCounte. He's a toaster, hilarious. Who else was up there? Dom was up there. We had Trent up there. It was a fun night. Yeah, it was a fun night.

Q. Had you heard of any of the names?
LORENZO CARTER: Yes, don't ask me their names. I couldn't tell you, but I've heard of them.

Q. (Indiscernible).
LORENZO CARTER: Our scout team quarterback Stetson Bennett.

Q. What kind of unique challenge does Baker bring in terms of scrambling?
LORENZO CARTER: Baker? He just makes plays. He's a big-time playmaker. He keeps his eyes downfield when he's scrambling, so we just have to make sure he stays locked up in coverage and then just do our job, rush and contain and affect him with coverage.

Q. Have the coaches talked to you about the teams and (indiscernible)?
LORENZO CARTER: Oh, yeah, just our focus has been trying to make sure he doesn't break out of the pocket, make sure we rush levelly, don't give him time because he'll rush out of the pocket, and I think Stetson does a good job with that. He's a quick guy. He can outrun a lot of people. He's made Roquan look silly, he's made me look silly. He's made a lot of people look silly. You just have to practice like we're playing the game, and Stetson does a good job at that.

Q. Does Stetson imitate Baker's personality?
LORENZO CARTER: He doesn't talk trash because that wouldn't be too good with the one defense coming after him.

Q. Baker seems to get underneath a lot of people's skin, opponents, fans, everything. Have you thought about not getting caught up in that during the game?
LORENZO CARTER: It hasn't been a point of emphasis because it's just something that we do every week. Coach Smart lets us know in practice don't talk to the opponent. So it's just something we do. We don't really get caught up in that stuff too much. It takes too much energy.

Q. Have you faced someone like that who's kind of like that, whose personality kind of dominated the game on the field?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, we play in the SEC. There's a lot of guys. But especially with our rivalry, there's a lot of times where you just want to talk to the opponent, just get after it. But that's the thing, Coach Smart wants us to make sure we play disciplined at all times, and that's what we have to do.

Q. (Indiscernible).

Q. Tell me about that.
LORENZO CARTER: It was fun, just getting a chance -- they were our rival, so that was huge. My girlfriend went there, so that was a big game. And then we had big Orlando, just a huge guy. We saw film, and we thought he was big, but once you see him in person, you're like, wow, this guy is really huge. He's really big. But yeah, I just remember it was a battle, man.

Q. I think you won --
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, we did. We were undefeated one year. The other year we only lost two games, so yeah.

Q. Do you remember anything about that (indiscernible)? Do you remember the first time you saw him?
LORENZO CARTER: She said I was mean because there was a lot of trash talking. It was a battle, me and Orlando. Yeah, we got after it.

Q. Have you talked to him here?
LORENZO CARTER: I haven't. I haven't had a chance to. I haven't had a chance to see him.

Q. (Indiscernible).
LORENZO CARTER: Not really. I just knew him as Orlando, big guy, great football player. You've got to respect him.

Q. What makes Roquan so good? He might be the best defensive player in the country.
LORENZO CARTER: His speed, his leadership, just he can make a lot of plays all over the place. He makes plays all over the field, so you never know where he's going to be.

Q. Coach said his football IQ is kind of off the charts.
LORENZO CARTER: Oh, yeah, his football IQ is crazy. Roquan, he's just -- he makes all the calls out there. He makes the calls, so we have to listen to him, and mostly he's always right.

Q. Do you realize he's also the head of the offense --
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, he's quick. He reaches for it so fast, it doesn't give us a chance to do anything else.

Q. Playing against a defense like this, how (indiscernible)?
LORENZO CARTER: It's fun. It creates more of a challenge. It creates an atmosphere where everybody knows what's on the table, even especially in this playoff atmosphere. I mean, it's just everybody knows what's at stake, and we know our defense has to step up, so we're just out there having fun, playing our brand of football.

Q. (Indiscernible). Do you think that way or do you not?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, we're prepared for a grind, a bloodbath, man. You have to. You know they're going to make plays. Everybody makes plays. They have a lot of good players, but we have a lot of good players, too. At the end of the day, it's all about just making more plays than them, so that's what we're preparing for. We can go four quarters.

Q. (Indiscernible). That's not how they play in the Big 12.
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, I mean, that's our mentality. They play some good teams out there, but we just grind each week, every week, week in and week out. You're going to come out of the game with some bruises and banged up. But that's why we take care of our bodies, that's why Ron does a good job, our trainer does a good job just making sure we take care of our bodies, get treatment, and just keep our bodies fresh, stay ready for it.

Q. Did you grow up a Georgia fan?
LORENZO CARTER: I didn't, actually.

Q. What was your first game?
LORENZO CARTER: My first game was my visit, actually, so yeah. Once I started taking visits that was my first game.

Q. What did you think about the atmosphere?
LORENZO CARTER: Oh, man, it was just special, all the red and black, just a Saturday between the hinges. It's just a crazy atmosphere in there. You just feel historic. You just feel like should I really walk on this grass.

Q. (Indiscernible) curious from your perspective how much of this game and its tradition do you know about, and did you watch it growing up?
LORENZO CARTER: It's surreal because when you sign at the University of Georgia, you never really think about going to a Rose Bowl. You think more about Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, that type of stuff. But I mean, it's a pleasure. It's an honor to come out here and just be able to play in the Rose Bowl, the granddaddy of them all. Growing up, I didn't watch too much Rose Bowl stuff, but I mean, you still have to respect it and respect the tradition.

Q. Are there any games that stand out in your mind?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, that Texas-USC game was probably the most memorable one, Reggie Bush, just seeing him do what he did. That's pretty much it.

Q. Talk about Mel Tucker. He's probably an underestimated and underappreciated member of this defense. What's it like to play for him, and can you speak to his ability to run this defense?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, Coach Tucker, he's a great teacher. He's a great guy, great coach. We love him. Defensively he's the energy. He's the thing keeping us going. He's out there with us, when he jokes on us -- he's really just the leader of the defense. He's so smart, he does what he does, but at the end of the day, we look to Coach Tucker.

Q. Kirby knows he's a micromanager when it comes to what you're going to do, but how do you see their dynamic?
LORENZO CARTER: Yeah, Coach Tucker is the guy, but at the same time, you can't really not listen to something that Coach Smart says because Coach Smart, he knows what he's doing. He knows the defenses. He knows -- he has a lot of experience. But Coach Tucker, they work together. They go back and forth. I mean, at the end of the day, I'm cool with both of them. I love getting calls from both of them.

Q. When did you know that (indiscernible) what was the earliest you knew that Georgia could be playing for a National Championship?
LORENZO CARTER: It's crazy because it's like, coming into the year, a lot of the guys, we're just talking to each other, seeing how we worked during the off-season, and after those first couple games where we just rolled off the first couple wins, we were like, okay, we knew we had something special, and now it's finally starting to show. I mean, people still doubted us. A lot of people did just because they felt like we couldn't win big games. But I mean, we just did it for each other. We just have to make sure we stay focused and took it one game at a time. We knew we were special but trying not to look too far ahead those first couple games.

It's crazy because even though we lost Jacob Eason, we were still comfortable to have Jake back there running things, and we never missed a step.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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