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December 30, 2017

Greg Knox

Mark McLaurin

Jacksonville, Florida

Mississippi State - 31, Louisville - 27

GREG KNOX: Been a tremendous week. Appreciate the experience from the TaxSlayer Bowl, the city of Jacksonville. Everything has been tremendous. They really put on a first class show, a first class operation. We thank you.

Today we talked about going out and playing four quarters. It took four quarters to win that ballgame. We knew what we were facing, Heisman Trophy winner, a guy that was capable of putting the team on his back and carrying them to victory.

But our defense, we talked about playing to their identity, fast, physical, tough. I thought we did that as a team. We were able to run the ball. Our quarterback, I take my hat off to him. A young freshman stepped in for his first start. He was phenomenal. He was phenomenal.

We talked to him about managing the game. I thought he did a great job of that.


Q. Mark, the first few turnovers you got, the first couple, you weren't able to put any points on the board, when you finally scored, any sense of frustration that the defense was forcing mistakes but the offense wasn't getting points out of them?
MARK McLAURIN: No, sir. We knew we had to go and make a stop or two. We needed to create on offense. We kept executing. We just said we are going to keep giving them the ball. We believed.

Q. Mark, what was it about the game plan or the team that consistently got you in the right spot to make a touchdown?
MARK McLAURIN: Just the coaching, play calling. The D-line, the linebackers, coach and the DBs. Great play calling. We all did our jobs, made plays on offense.

Q. Was there anything you saw on film for Lamar that tipped you off on some of those passes?
MARK McLAURIN: We knew what they liked to do. Studied him for a long time. We just knew to play and react and have fun.

Q. Mark, I know this is a game you easily could have not cared that much about. What is it that made you so passionate about it?
MARK McLAURIN: Back in January we made a commitment, we told them this team was not the same as our last game. We had each other's backs. Looked each other in the eyes, said, We're going to do this. Coach Knox is around, we locked on and said we're going to come out with a win.

Q. Was it part of the plan coming in to get Keytaon that many design quarterback runs? How did y'all go about reaching that conclusion?
GREG KNOX: We knew that's what he did best. When we first started him, I gave him a game plan sheet. I had him mark the plays he felt comfortable with. He marked about 60 plays, then we narrowed it down from there as we went through the practice sessions. We knew going into the game he had to run the football. If you go back and you look at Mississippi State, all right, over the year, when Fitzgerald ran the ball for a hundred yards, we won the game. We knew he had to run the ball today. We had to put the ball in his hands.

We didn't care if he was a freshman. We didn't care if he was starting his first game, all right? We knew we could tee some things up for him to run the ball and he could have success.

Q. Coach, you have to be surprised by some of the zip he had on some of his passes. Then the last drive, a pretty big completion he made on third down. Did he even surprise you a little bit?
GREG KNOX: He did. He threw some nice passes. I thought our O-line did a great job of protecting him, giving him time to throw, he was able to sit in the pocket. Our receivers got open. They created separation. He did a great job delivering the ball.

Q. Coach, players and coaches were very emotional after the game. What made this win so emotional?
GREG KNOX: The last three, four weeks we've been together, it's been a tough time for everyone. A lot of emotions. You're talking about 120-something guys, and everybody is hearing things differently. Coaches, I'm holding together the staff, holding together the team. So it's a lot of emotions involved.

Today I think that's what you saw on the field. It was a chance for everyone to just breathe a sigh of relief and say, Thank you, God, for this win.

Q. What about for you, I saw you get teary eyed.
GREG KNOX: I've been here nine years, all right? These guys, I've been in their homes, recruited them. We're all family. We're all family. As a family, we share that emotion.

Today, that was family out there that won that game. It was family showing a lot of emotion.

Q. Mark, walk me through the third interception. What happened on your half of the field?
MARK McLAURIN: Coach made a great play call at the end. D-line got great movement, especially on the quarterback. The corner ran a blitz. He got home. I seen the slant. I really didn't think he was going to throw it. I stepped up. Just seen it.

Q. Lamar had a lot of success running at times today. What did you see there? Who played him on scout team?
MARK McLAURIN: We had one of our redshirt guys, he jumped in as quarterback. He did a tremendous job these last three weeks. He helped us out. We give him all the credit for that.

Q. Greg, the swing in momentum right before halftime, what was your message to the team at halftime?
GREG KNOX: At halftime we talked about it's going to be a four-quarter game. Again, it was a big momentum swing. We had them pinned back. They were able to come out. They made a big play.

I talk to our kids all the time. They're going to make plays. They have guys on scholarship, too. They're going to make some plays. You just have to respond after that.

After coming out at halftime, we talked about playing four quarters. It's about playing four quarters, all right? We went out and we did that.

Q. Coach, I know you said you were completely committed to this team through this bowl game. Do you have any idea what's next for you in your career?
GREG KNOX: I have no idea. Right now it's just the focus of this team, enjoying this moment that we're in.

Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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