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December 30, 2017

Jamiyus Pittman

Pat Jasinski

Tre Neal

Chequan Burkett

Atlanta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Now we are joined by defensive lineman, Jamiyus Pittman, linebacker, Chequan Burkett, defensive back, Tre Neal, and linebacker, Pat Jasinski.

I want to ask each of you guys to comment. It's been a long Bowl Week and there's been a lot of activities and a lot of events for you guys to enjoy. What's the one memory or one thing that you're going to take with you from this Bowl Week experience?

JAMIYUS PITTMAN: Going to the church where Martin Luther King once spoke, because I've always wanted to know about our history, and I learned a lot that night. So I appreciate the Bowl for that opportunity.

CHEQUAN BURKETT: I would say the same, going to Martin Luther King's church. You hear from the panel and hear from the people that was there during that time and just to hear the knowledge that they were able to share with us about becoming leaders and making the change in the world and making the change and using the platform that we have. Also like to thank the Bowl for taking us there and for giving us the opportunity to learn more about our history and the history that they were able to make.

TRE NEAL: Yeah, I would agree with what they are talking about also. I think there was a lot of, you know, history in that. Going to them and listening to those people talk, I think there's a lot of knowledge they have over time. Those guys are old, and they have seen a lot of things in this country. And I think just being able to learn it and take advice on how to better this country and grow to our potential, I think that's the kind of things that I took in the most from them.

I think you can't really learn that in school and history books and people talking to you. I think people that have kind of life experience, it just helps being able to grow as humans.

PAT JASINSKI: I agree with these guys. I'm a big history guy. So the MLK thing was really cool, getting to hear from them. Also the College Football Hall of Fame was really cool for me, just getting to kind of see how far college football has come and look at all the guys that are in there. They had a cool little display of -- you could like look up all the players that were in there.

I was with Coach Ruud. His great grandfather was in there at the start of Nebraska football. That was pretty cool to see. Just getting to see all the stuff they have in there, the interactive things were pretty cool.

Q. I believe you're one of nine players that was there for the Fiesta Bowl, the 0-12 and now the 12-0. What kind of ride has it been these last five years?
CHEQUAN BURKETT: It's been a wild ride. I'm truly thankful for it, and to be able to come in as a freshman to experience the Fiesta Bowl year, going 12-1; the next year, going to another Bowl game, to having unfortunately going 0-12, and having this year going 12-0, I mean, that's an experience a lot of players, I'm sure, were not able to experience, having the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Being able to learn from those, each year that I was able to have at the University of Central Florida has been great in teaching -- in being able to teach the younger guys and share with future teammates and future players.

Q. Can you just talk about the challenge of Kerryon Johnson that he presents to the defense, please?
JAMIYUS PITTMAN: He's a very good player. He's a patient runner and he runs hard. We're going to have to get to the ball, and we're going to have to run to the ball. I'm feeling good about it, but we know he's going to be a tough task.

CHEQUAN BURKETT: Yeah, he's a great back. You can't hide that. Very patient. If he sees an open gap, he's going to hit it. So we're going to have to be prepared and playing fast like we usually do, taking our shots on the tackles. We're going to have to tackle well and we're just going to have to fly around as a defense and try to stop that.

TRE NEAL: Yeah, 21, he's a really good back. He's very patient in the hole. You know, if you over-play him, he's going to hit the back side and cut back. It's one of those things where we have to be real disciplined with our gaps and gap-sound as far as working as a whole defense. I think we're going to have to gang-tackle him. I don't think a lot of solo tackles will be made in this game. He's a really good back. He's an NFL guy, so I think once we gang-tackle him, I think it's going to take effort every play just bringing him.

And I think not enough credit goes to that O-line. Those guys are really good also. We have to limit him and try to take away that from their offense.

PAT JASINSKI: I definitely agree. I think one thing that the other guys haven't said is he's really balanced, so making sure that you hit him and hang on and wait for other guys to get there, too, is a big thing. If we have a lot of missed tackles, then it's going to be a long day. I think our tackling has got to be great. Like they have said, I mean, it's a tough task, but we're up for it.

Q. I know you watch a lot of film on Auburn, but now you've been able to see them in living person, so to speak. How have you been able to size them up, and has your observations changed after seeing them here throughout the Bowl activities?
JAMIYUS PITTMAN: Well, at first, when I looked at them, I'm like, oh, man, they don't really -- I thought they were going to be big, huge. But then, I noticed that they were wearing the same jumpsuits we were wearing, so I looked at myself in the mirror. So I'm thinking, so what do they think about me right now? I thought I looked like a linebacker. I was like, I look a little smaller in this jumpsuit, so that's probably why they look a little smaller. So I have to wait to see them outside of the jumpsuits.

CHEQUAN BURKETT: Yeah, I'd say the same thing. You can't really size them up. You can see the height, but you can't see, like, the definition or I guess the muscle, whatnot. Pretty much wasn't even looking. You could kind of tell from watching film and watching live games on the size of their -- the size of their team.

That's pretty much it.

TRE NEAL: Kind of like what these guys are saying. You can't really tell the size of people when they are fitted up real tight and their muscles are squished in with the jumpsuits they are wearing. It's one of those things where guys look huge in pads, and they can be kind of average-sized dudes when they are just walking around the streets. I don't think there's really a difference with it.

When we get on the field on Monday, that's when we'll really be able to size them up. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter. They put on their pads and pants the same way we do. It's football. It's two different types of football, but it's still football.

PAT JASINSKI: I agree with Tre. Sizing up somebody I don't think, is the most important thing. If you can play, you can play. It doesn't really matter how big you are. It's what happens on the field and in between the lines. We'll see on Monday.

Q. Pat, when you came in, you go through the tough season. How valuable is it to have some guys that have been here before that, like Chequan and Shaquem to lead you to where you guys are now at?
PAT JASINSKI: It's been huge. Obviously coming in that first year, it was pretty tough. It's kind of hard to see that we could come back this fast and have a season like we did.

You know, having the guys that had been there before was huge because they gave us hope and they had confidence in us. I think they have done a good job bringing this team together, and, you know, it's shown.

Q. Just talk about what you guys have maybe done in terms of adjusting defensively after those last two weeks of the final season?
JAMIYUS PITTMAN: I don't know if we adjusted. The last couple games, we made mental errors, and we went back and fixed those. But as far as that, we've just been following the game plan that our coaches have gave us, and right now, we're dialed into it and we're 100% ready. And I feel like all we've got to now is go in and execute.

CHEQUAN BURKETT: The past -- you know, the past two games, we faced some very good opponents. Coaching staff had great schemes to attack our defensive scheme. We're able to adjust, notice the way that those teams were attacking us.

So we're more aware of what to expect on the spots where those teams were hitting us at. So our antennas are up and we know what to expect, and we know the holes that those teams were attacking us, so we're ready. We know what to expect and how to play fast on defending the way those teams attacked us.

TRE NEAL: Yeah, I think those last two games, those are top-ranked teams in the country, and especially on offense, those guys are really good. They were going to put their points up anyway. I think as a defense, going 12 weeks straight of banging and hitting and tackling, it takes a toll on us. You know, I'm not trying to make an excuse for that, but 12 weeks straight is hard and it's physically demanding. It's a physically-demanding sport.

We're rested up now. We had a lot of mental errors those last two weeks and missed assignments and stuff like that. I think practice, it wasn't the same, and our coaches were saying it, also. I think we've locked in. We've got back to the basics, even as simple as tackling drills and stuff like that. I think that's what we've been working on, and I think it's going to help us having this time off and just practicing and get better.

PAT JASINSKI: Yeah, for sure. We've been cleaning things up. You know, you have to make adjustments as the season goes on because you know, offenses kind of copy each other. If one team hits you with this or that and it's successful, the next week, you're probably going to be getting it, too.

We've had to do that all year. You know, Memphis and USF posed some, you know, very high-opponent offense and hit us with some things that we weren't necessarily ready for. I think we've made some good adjustments and focused on that a little bit and put our game plan in for Auburn and just be ready for Monday.

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