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December 30, 2017

Ryan Davis

Braden Smith

Kerryon Johnson

Austin Golson

Atlanta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: We have the illustrious Battle For Bowl Week Championship Belt on display. We'll do a quick opening statement.

Ryan, talk about the event last night and winning the belt and how much fun that was.

RYAN DAVIS: It was definitely fun out there competing. Obviously, winning the Belt, it was great. It was a great thing for us. We was just having fun out there and being with the team and being with UCF, and it was a great event. I'm just glad we got the Belt.

THE MODERATOR: Austin, was the competition ever in doubt or do you think you guys had it the whole way?

AUSTIN GOLSON: I knew we were going to win, but it did come down to the last game. We actually had to do a playoff kind of thing, overtime. It was really fun. Both teams really competed hard and we had a lot of juice so, that made it even better.

THE MODERATOR: Kerryon, what was your favorite event during the week?

KERRYON JOHNSON: I'd probably say the same thing. Last night was really fun. That's one of the best Bowl site things I've done since I've been here at Auburn. I think it was a very good idea and it was executed very well, and we won so, that made it a little better.

THE MODERATOR: Braden, I'm sure you guys have been taking turns wearing the Belt around. Who has been dominating that thing since last night?

BRADEN SMITH: That's been hard to tell. I've seen Jeff with it quite a bit. Really I haven't seen it too much. It's been floating around so much, so it's hard to tell just one single person.

THE MODERATOR: How did you do in face-off? Were you in towards the end or did you go out early?

BRADEN SMITH: I was midway. I lost on the -- what's on top of a Christmas tree? More a star than an angel. I thought it was an angel, but someone convinced me it was a star, so I got out real quick.

THE MODERATOR: I know what you mean, man. I went out on the same one. That was a tough one.

Q. Coach Lindsey was up here, and they said that you looked like the old Kerryon Johnson. How have you felt through practices and do you feel 100% for Monday?
KERRYON JOHNSON: Yeah, I feel 100%, finally, or as close to 100% as you can get at this point. I felt really good. I've been running like my old self and making moves like my old self. It's giving me confidence and making me happy, and I'm ready to see what I can do in the real game now.

Q. Could you talk about your visit to the hospital yesterday and what that meant to you and to the people you visited?
KERRYON JOHNSON: Well, to me personally, it meant a lot because, you know, if you've ever seen a post I've made, I have a friend, Austin, who is in that same exact hospital. So it was kind of like a surreal moment to go back again and just bond with more kids in similar situations.

You know, some kids didn't get to go home for Christmas. I think about how much I complain about just getting five days off to go home for Christmas. Some of those kids are still in the hospital and still will be in the hospital for a long time. So for me, personally, that's kind of what I thought of. I thought about going back to visit him and I'm happy that he's not there anymore and I'm happy that he's doing fine. That's what went through my mind. As a team, that's something -- for the 20 guys that went, that's something that can't be replaced.

We're on such a high pedestal; we've got so many opportunities that those kids may never have, and just to share that with some fans and some not, and play games with them and to see them smile, when maybe they haven't in a while, that's a tremendous life achievement.

Q. Ryan, this has been a breakout season for you. What's been working for you on the field here in 2017?
RYAN DAVIS: Really just me just getting different opportunities and me just getting a space. Coach Lindsey does a good job of using me and using me to my strengths, which he kind of gave me my space and let me do my thing with the ball, with my hands and stuff like that.

He's done a great job of just putting me in a position to excel with my strengths, and I just feel like I've been able to showcase that this year.

Q. For both of the linemen, it's obvious when you look at Kerryon's production what he means to the offense, but can you guys just talk about what you guys have seen from him in practice and you know, again, how important he is to the offense?
AUSTIN GOLSON: Well, obviously, whenever he's on the field 100%, it's a totally different feeling out there. You know you've got him back there; I mean, there's no question in my mind he's the best back in the country.

KERRYON JOHNSON: Appreciate that.

AUSTIN GOLSON: I was kidding. (Laughter).

He does a great job. He's been running around really good. He looks like he did when we were playing Georgia the first time, and can't wait to see him play on Monday.

BRADEN SMITH: Obviously, you see him on film and you give him a little bit of a crease and he's gone. He's a big playmaker. He's explosive. Every time he's out there, you know you've got a good shot to do great things. Of course, he's done great all year. I mean, First-Team, All-everything. He's a great back. There's a bunch more things I can say about him but I'll leave it at that.

Q. How much pride do you guys take in playing in the SEC? A lot of people consider it the best conference in college football. And were you guys taken aback when you heard Adrian Killins say that the SEC has not seen speed like UCF has?
KERRYON JOHNSON: You know, that just is what it is. You know, obviously, we're not really the trash-talking type. You know, if that's what he thinks, that's what he thinks. The bottom line is once Monday comes, we've got to go out there and show what's different. If we don't, what he says is correct; and if we do, what he says is wrong, and that's just how life goes.

I know I watch football a lot, and I play in this league, and it's without a doubt the best league there is. When you look week-in and week-out, brutality, and if some of these teams were in the SEC, they wouldn't lose nearly as many. If you take Mississippi State with its quarterback out of the SEC, they are a Top-10 team. It's just simple as that.

You know, it is what it is. We knock each other around all year, and then get to the Bowl game and we'll drop one to someone else, and you know, it just is what it is.

AUSTIN GOLSON: I agree, 100%, the SEC is the best conference in the country for the most part, year-in and year-out. For me, I'm definitely not into the trash-talking or anything. I'm not really even a guy that puts much on social media. So you know that really means something to me. And like Kerryon said, we'll find out Monday who the better team is.

Q. What does UCF's defense do well that will challenge y'all, maybe differently than any other team this season?
RYAN DAVIS: They are very disruptive. Definitely with number 18, Shaquem, he does a great job. I feel like they feed off him, his energy and passion, giving you different looks. Try to keep everything in front of them. Being in that league, it's pretty much a passing league, high-scoring league. Them guys, they try to keep everything in front of you, and try to keep you from being in pass and different things like that. They try to give you different looks. You know, just try to confuse you and things of that nature.

AUSTIN GOLSON: I think they play with a lot of passion and a lot of juice. My opinion, 18 is probably the best pass rusher I'll go against all year. I think he's a very good player. I have a lot of respect for the style of football that he plays. He's very good. They fly around the ball. Like I said, we look forward to the match-up. We think it's going to be a great game, and hope we come out on top.

KERRYON JOHNSON: I think overall, just the whole defense plays with a lot of heart. I mean, they are very solid all around. But one thing they do well is, like Ryan said, they are disruptive. They like to shoot gaps and get back in the backfield and wreak havoc. 18, it begins with him; they have other people that do it as well, but it begins with him.

They are going to be motivated to play this game, and that's going to make them go even harder. If we don't let them disrupt us, that will be a huge advantage to our offense.

BRADEN SMITH: When you see them on film, they are athletic, they run to the ball, and they get after it. At the end of the day, we just have to be able to go out there and execute. They are a great team and there's a reason that they are undefeated. So we have to go out there and just execute.

Q. How much did you know about UCF before they were announced as your opponent, and I guess were you following them at all throughout their season?
RYAN DAVIS: Really during the season, we kind of focused on us, really. So we wasn't really too focused on other opponents. But, obviously, you watch TV and ESPN, so you hear about them and hear about their high-scoring offense and things like that.

Really, we know they are obviously undefeated, so obviously, we're going to hear about them a lot more. I mean, we really wasn't too focused on them. When we got announced we were going to play them, that's when our focused leaned towards UCF.

KERRYON JOHNSON: I didn't hear much about them. I watch our opponents and who we are going to play the next week so, they weren't on that list.

So I didn't hear much about them until we got announced to play them, and then that's when you start going back and obviously you watch their games and all that.

Didn't hear much about them. Kind of focused on who we were playing the next week or the week before.

Q. The last time you guys were here was a month ago in the SEC Championship Game. Is there going to be any memories or will you try to put that behind you when you head out on Monday?
AUSTIN GOLSON: Yeah, obviously, that game was a disappointment. Our team is trying to look at it as a chance to redeem ourselves in the stadium, come out and play much better than we did the first time we were here. But at the end of the day, you have to put that game behind us. You can't let Georgia beat us twice; that's what Coach says, and that's what we have to be able to do. And we have to go out and perform to the best of our ability come Monday.

BRADEN SMITH: Just going back to the stadium, we're looking forward to this game. Of course, the last game we played in the stadium, it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to, but the goal is to win, and, of course, get the bitter taste out of our mouth and set the team up for next year for great success.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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