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December 30, 2017

Chip Lindsey

Daniel Carlson

Jarrett Stidham

Atlanta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Coach, just talk about what your Bowl Week experience has been like so far and how you're enjoying the week.

CHIP LINDSEY: Thank you for having me. It's been a great experience so far. Want to thank the Chick-Fil-A Bowl Committee in getting us here. It's been a great experience for our players. I know they have enjoyed it, and a lot of really neat events. I know one thing that our guys are excited about is being in Atlanta. I was a former high school coach here. People here love football, high school or college football. It's been a great atmosphere and we're looking forward to playing a really good football team.

We still have a lot of things we're here to try to accomplish, being one of the first Auburn or one of the very few Auburn teams to win 11 games in the regular season. I think our guys are really motivated and to be in a first-class bowl like we are right now, it's exciting and we're looking forward to playing.

THE MODERATOR: Jarrett, I'm going to ask you a tough question here. The panda picked you guys to win. You guys won the Battle For Bowl Week Championship Belt. At this point is there any reason to play the game?

JARRETT STIDHAM: Absolutely. Obviously the Battle For Bowl Week for the Belt and everything was a lot of fun, but you know, Coach Lindsey nailed it on the head. You know, UCF is a great team, and we're going to have to play our very best game to win the game.

THE MODERATOR: Daniel, what was your favorite Bowl Week event so far?

DANIEL CARLSON: Yesterday we did "Drop It Like It's Hot." It's kind of a trivia-like game. It was me, Jarrett, K.J. and Tucker Brown were up there, and we put out quite the dominating performance. That was a lot of fun.

CHIP LINDSEY: Luckily, no dancing was involved in that group.

DANIEL CARLSON: No dancing. Just trivia. We did well. We've had a lot of fun events the past few days. It's always just a fun time to spend time with your teammates and obviously get work, too, in preparation for a very special Bowl game.

Q. Coach, could you just talk to the UCF defense, what you see from them. The last couple games they really got lit up, but what have you seen over the whole season from them?
CHIP LINDSEY: Well, I mean, the last couple games, obviously they've played some really good offenses. That league has a lot of really good offenses in it. The thing I see is a really athletic defense. The guys are playing with a lot of confidence. They run to the ball well, tackle well, very well-coached.

I think it's a defense that probably has been one of the best ones in their league obviously. Later in the year you play better teams and so forth, but I think it's a defense that definitely can give you some issues, and we need to play really well to have an opportunity to win.

Q. Their offense gets a lot of attention because they do lead the nation in scoring. Do you feel like that puts more pressure on you guys to have to score some more points? I realize every game you want to score as many as you can, but based on the match-up, is there a little more pressure in this match-up?
CHIP LINDSEY: You know, I don't think so. I think we're really trying to focus on what we try to be good at on our side of the ball and let Coach Steele worry about trying to stop those guys, to be honest with you.

I think for us, we really tried to focus on being who we are and doing what we do well. I think any good coach tries to do that, and then, you know, as the game goes, different strategy and so forth plays out. But you know, we've got enough issues worrying about their defense, to be honest with you.

Q. Can you give us an update on Kerryon Johnson and how he's looked injury-wise and do you feel like he'll be ready to go on Monday?
CHIP LINDSEY: Yeah, he's been great. Practiced every day. Looks like the old Kerryon to me. Excited to get him back out on the field.

Q. To piggyback off that, what have you seen from Kerryon in practice, and also, can you just address, you know, what a healthy Kerryon gives your offense?
JARRETT STIDHAM: Yeah, Coach Lindsey said it. Kerryon's looked great every day in practice. Looks like the old Kerryon, running around a lot, smiling a lot. He likes to do that. So you know, it's been good having him back healthy and everything. I think it's pretty obvious to see what he brings to the offense every day.

He's an extremely great person, great football player. Knows what to do and when to do it and how to do it. So it's just a testament to him and how hard he's worked over the years, and he's obviously a big part of this offense.

Q. Could you talk about the visit to the hospital yesterday and the kids you visited?
DANIEL CARLSON: Yeah, obviously very special for us to have the ability, kind of, you know, give back and put some smiles on some faces. And so I can't remember where Jarrett was, but I know I was in basically a room where there are a few different patients, and kids that had been through some unfortunate circumstances. We got to just hang out. We played lots of Connect Four and Jenga with them and just enjoy talking with them. We passed out some Chick-Fil-A cows and some Auburn wrist bands.

Just a chance to hang out and put our lives in perspective. Coming straight from practice, basically, you have to change your mind-set, and you realize that football is still just a sport and that these kids are going through so much tougher things in their life. So very cool opportunity to hang out with some of those kids.

JARRETT STIDHAM: Yeah, I think it was a great opportunity like Daniel said. You know, like you said, it puts things into perspective and some of these kids are fighting for their lives every day, and we're out here playing a game.

At the same time, it's kind of why you play, you know, college football to have this kind of platform to reach out to kids like that. And just not only change their life, but it changes ours, too. It was a fun opportunity for sure.

Q. UCF's defense, Coach talked about giving up a little bit of yards in that league, but they seem to be opportunistic with turnovers. How do you avoid the big mistake against these guys?
JARRETT STIDHAM: You've just got to take care of the football. Obviously, they have a great offense behind them, and I mean, their defense is, like you said, very athletic, they run to the ball very well.

So you know, we've just got to take care of the ball, and for the most part, we've done a good job of that this year. We've had some critical turnovers and some pretty big games. Yeah, we just have to do a better job of holding on to the ball and not giving it to them.

Q. You look at where you were at just a year ago, you transfer to Auburn. Did you consider yourself putting yourself in this situation where the team is at now, just one year later?
JARRETT STIDHAM: Yeah, it's funny, like, looking back on it. You know, I didn't really know how everything would play out. I'm thrilled with the outcome. Obviously, you know, we had hoped to win the SEC Championship and so on and so forth, but you know, to be in a New Year's Six Bowl like the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, it's a very big opportunity for this team. Like Coach Lindsey said, winning 11 games, that hasn't been done very much at Auburn.

Yeah, I'm very thrilled with the outcome and hopefully we can finish it out.

Q. Following up to that, after all the controversy at Baylor, is Auburn everything you expected it to be, and go over real quick why you chose Auburn again.
JARRETT STIDHAM: Yeah, I love Auburn. If I had to do it over again, I would choose Auburn again.

You know, Auburn, to me, is full of great people, and you know, I like to surround myself with great people. You know, teammates, coaches, support staff, professors. Everybody's just really wonderful at Auburn.

I think anybody can see that if you come and visit the Plains. It's just a great place, and you know, like I said, if I had to do it over again, I would do the same thing.

THE MODERATOR: I want to ask Daniel: Daniel, have you had a chance to scout out Mercedes-Benz yet and are you looking forward to kicking there?

DANIEL CARLSON: Yeah, obviously, the SEC Championship Game was in there, and I even took a tour of it one time. Definitely a very, very cool stadium. It's an awesome atmosphere, and for a kicker, it's great, no wind or anything to worry about. Very excited to play in that atmosphere. We should be able to make it a nice, loud atmosphere for our team.

Q. Obviously recruiting is a big business now. What advice would you give quarterbacks, top-notch quarterbacks, coming out when choosing a school. Do you have to look at the offense, the school, everything? Just talk about that a little bit.
JARRETT STIDHAM: First off, they should come to Auburn (Laughter).

Looking back on it, which I've gone through it twice now, I had a little bit better perspective the second time around because I had obviously played.

But I mean, yeah, you've got to look at a lot of things. Obviously you've got to look at the depth chart and you've got to look at who is coming back, who is leaving. You know, you have to look at, you know, receivers, offensive line, running backs. You've got to understand what kind of defense you have behind you. I mean, there's a lot that goes into it. You know, quarterback is a really big position. So I mean, there's a lot that goes into it, like I said.

But at the end of the day, kids just have to do what's best for them and their family. As long as you're happy, I think you can make the best out of any circumstance. So that's what it really comes down to, I think.

Q. Daniel, you weighed the possibility last year of leaving early and going to the NFL Draft. Now with this being your last game in an Auburn uniform, any thoughts or emotions running through your mind?
DANIEL CARLSON: Yeah, I mean, I've had a little time to reflect. Thinking back to where I was last year, and the decision I made to come back; you know, couldn't be more happy. To be able to play an extra year with this group of guys and these coaches and with this university, it's been a blessing on my life, on my family's life; getting to play with my little brother has been really special.

You know, I'm excited about the future, but I'm really just trying to enjoy the moment right now. It's been an awesome ride.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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