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January 6, 2018
Q. How are you doing?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I'm great. I'm great. I'm here, I'm great.
Q. Your kidney is not (indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, I have two kidneys functioning at full function. So I'm good.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yes, sir.
Q. What's it been like (indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It's been a good week at practice. I mean, everybody was a little slugged at the beginning because we came off a big win. But now everybody's pretty much focused, locked in. They realize what we're playing for, who we're playing and everybody is ready to go.
Q. (Question about his family)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I didn't even know anything that was going on really. My mom sent me one tweet and that was really it. So I didn't really -- what did my parents say?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Oh. Yeah, somebody tweeted out something that they weren't supposed to tweet out regarding my health. And there's laws that say you aren't supposed to do that. And she was pretty angry about that. But I'm good, and the team's good. It's all right.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, no, that's off --
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yes, sir.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: The day after the game?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, sir, it won't.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yes, sir.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yes, sir.
Q. Fairly common football injury (indiscernible).
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: The ground. I just dove on the ground, making a tackle and I just fell, fell awkward.
What arena is this? Who plays here? The Hawks? Okay.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It's not really funny when it's regarding of my health. But you can't really do nothing about it, because, I mean -- I don't know, you really can't do nothing about it for real. Just keep on moving. Whatever is true is true. Whatever isn't true isn't true. So just gotta deal with it.
Q. Talk about Georgia's running game (indiscernible) passing game. (Indiscernible).
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: They have a really good passing game. They have really good receivers on the outside. And Fromm is a great quarterback, and I think people really underrate his ability to pass.
But he does a really good job getting the ball out to his playmakers and getting the ball in his playmakers' hands. And they're really good at what they do. They block on the edge and they do a whole lot of play-action passes, trying to set you up.
Q. How do you match the intensity you had (indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I mean, we're playing for the national championship. And everybody pretty much realizes that. And that's kind of why I didn't want to see it as a revenge game, because when you get that revenge you kind of drop off, you know what I'm saying? Because you get what you wanted and you kind of lose that fire.
But I think everybody realizes that it wasn't just a revenge game; it was a semifinal game. And everybody pretty much is locked in and ready to go.
Q. Have you talked to Calvin at all about his brother (indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I haven't really talked to him about it. It's his brother. But on the field it's another person in front of me.
Q. The championship game (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: The championship game?
Q. The semifinal, seems like (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: What do you mean, like, we have the gap and all that? You say you think they favor the offense?
Q. Statistically, a lot more points have been scored (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I don't know about our game. But are you talking about from semifinal to final? Yeah, I'll definitely say the semifinal definitely favors the offense -- or the defense because you have more time to prepare. And then the final game is more for the offense, because you have less time to prepare. You can't really counter a lot of things that the offense do and stuff like that.
I think it will be -- yeah, the semifinal is definitely better for the defense and then the final game is better for the offense.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I mean, not really. There's nothing that he has seen as a coach that isn't on film. A lot of people have changed, a lot of people have matured including myself since he's been here. I was a freshman when he was coaching me, and I've grown so much and I've grown out of a whole lot of things that I've done when I was a freshman.
So, I mean, if he said something about that, then that's his thoughts on it. But I don't think it puts him at an advantage at all.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I would say LSU but they just have more talent. They run the ball really well. They run the ball a lot. They're great running backs in the backfield and they have a quarterback that can get -- that does his job. He manages the game, makes plays when he needs to, has a good arm, has good receivers on the outside that, one, block, and they can catch the ball and are really explosive, so they can make big plays.
Q. Two years ago, the Georgia game was kind of your coming out party as a college football player. What do you remember (indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I remember the atmosphere of that game. It was raining and it was cold. We hadn't played them in seven years or something like that or a while. And everybody was just really hyped up, energized.
And I just remember the atmosphere. I made a couple of plays. And the crowd was just going crazy. It was stuff that you dream about, you know? We came out of the locker room. They were right in our face. We was all jumping up in each other's face. And it was great from the beginning.
Q. (Indiscernible) says he hasn't forgotten that game, wants this one to be better. (Indiscernible) still motivated from you guys two years ago. What's that say?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: That means we left our mark. That means we did our job. And that's it for real.
Q. What's your favorite Nick Saban moment?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: My favorite Nick Saban moment? I don't know. He has a lot of good moments but just him being my coach for real and just learning from him every day is something that I really appreciate and I don't take for granted every day.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I don't know. You all dig deep. You all dig deep. You all know a lot. I don't know. I know y'all know about the oatmeal cream pies.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, he definitely is a player's coach for sure. I think y'all get a different kind of perspective because you're media, so you don't get to see the other side of him. He's definitely a player's coach, loves making jokes with us. He loves when we go over to his house and go in the lake, and just eat at his house.
And you see a whole different side when we're at his house and stuff like that because he can kind of relax, out of that business mode. He definitely enjoys the players and he always says that we keep him young. So that's something that we really like about him.
Q. You had a chance (inaudible). What's it mean to you?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It's crazy, because people speak of Bear Bryant like he's a -- well, he is a legend, but they speak very highly of him. And just being a part of Coach Saban's legacy and the history that he has at this program is really unbelievable. And it's truly an honor just to be part of his team.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yes, sir. I do.
Q. I know you've been in a leadership role for what seems like a while now, but is that even further intensified these past couple of weeks trying to inspire some of the younger guys?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Not really. Just doing my job and the only thing with younger guys is making sure they're keeping their head on and they're not letting all this get to them and they're not letting the city get to them. Just making them realize we're here for one job and that's to win the game. We're not here to enjoy the city for real and stuff like that because we can come back at any time. Just gotta make them realize the importance of the game.
Q. How does Georgia's offense compare to what you guys face in practice every day?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Very similar. They've both got very good quarterbacks. Know how to manage the game don't turn the ball over a whole lot. Great running backs. Different types of running backs that can do different things and make plays and great receivers. And they're very similar. A whole lot of talent on both sides. And they're very physical up front. And they just do their job.
Q. Think it's going to be a road game atmosphere at the stadium on Monday?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I'm not sure. I think they sell the tickets 50/50. So I don't know. I would like it to be a road game. I like playing on the road.
Q. How come?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Just going into somebody else's house and getting what you want is a whole lot more satisfying than being in your house and defending your house. So I think we just like being kind of the underdog on this team.
Q. How would that translate to beating Georgia for the national championship in their own state?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: That would be nice. It would be a nice win.
Q. Do you have a chip on your shoulder with the playoffs? A lot of people think --
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I think my whole team definitely had a chip on their shoulder when everybody was saying we don't belong here, we shouldn't be in the playoffs and stuff like that. And everybody was trying to find reasons for us not to be here. So we just had to really prove to them why we do belong here.
Q. Your defense suffered injuries. Saban said that it's some of your best defensive efforts to get to (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: We had a lot of people come back. And so we had a lot of guys who were hurt come back and do their job. But a lot of the younger guys who were kind of forced into a certain role. They did a really good job and other people, other leaders on the team kept them focused, kept them thinking about the right things. And we did our job.
Q. (Indiscernible) for all the stuff on (inaudible). Anything to offer about your health?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I'm good. I'll be playing on Monday and that's it.
Q. (Inaudible) going around?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: There's some truth to it. But I can't really talk about it.
Q. You're playing?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yes, sir, I'm playing for sure. I'm playing, that's it. I'm playing. I'm playing.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Actually played in a 7-on-7 against each other up at my high school. He's from Philly. He went to, I think, St. Johns, something like that -- saint something in Philly. And we played each other in a 7-on-7 and he's really good. He's really good. He's making a lot of plays in the 7-on-7. And I kind of recognize his talent. He's a real good player, real quick, real explosive and he can do a whole lot.
Q. Were you surprised in terms of how well he (indiscernible) played?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, sir. Everybody thinks because he's from up north or even with me, that we (indiscernible) going to play. But he's up there playing with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb and making plays and doing what he's supposed to be doing.
Like I say, he's extremely explosive. So I'm not -- I'm not surprised by his success there at all.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I don't think it gives them too much of an advantage but I think it's just -- it's interesting, like you said, both the coach know all the players and their tendencies and what they do.
So myself, I've grown since my freshman year. I've changed a lot of my tendencies and habits. And it's just interesting seeing all the other coaches swapping all over the place and stuff like that.
Q. What do you remember about that transition (indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It was pretty smooth. Coach Pruitt was there pretty much since, I think, December and Coach Kirby was still our coach. And he was just there, we was talking to him, getting to know him, learning about him as a coach. And as soon as -- as soon as we finish the national championship, Coach Pruitt just stepped in as a DC and that was pretty much it. It was a real smooth transition.
Q. What are your memories of Kirby?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: He was a great coach. He's really passionate, really fired up. And he was always, was always on his job, never not thinking about football. He was always trying to find new ways to counter this or to counter that. So he's really thorough in what he does and he does a really good job as you can see with his results.
Q. Define the passion. (Indiscernible).
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: There's different types of passion. Some type of passion where people, they do it, they work at it and that's it. But he's out there, he's doing it, he's working at it every day. But he's out there, you know what I'm saying? I guess you could say he shows emotions but he's passionate, which isn't a bad thing because it fires everybody up around you and gets everybody going.
Q. We've heard the yelling and breaking things story. Now that he's on the other team, any good Kirby stories you couldn't share then but you can embarrass him now?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, you all see it week in, week out. That's about as crazy as it gets. In the locker room and in the offices he's a normal dude, but on the field he's fired up, he's passionate and ready to go.
Q. (Inaudible) what did he mean to you?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: He was my defensive back coach my freshman year. He was a great coach. I learned a lot from him. And he really challenged me a whole lot going into my freshman year. And I appreciate everything he's done for me, and I appreciate all that he's done for the program while he was there.
And he was a great coach, a lot of experience. And like I say, he's somebody that challenged me and pushed me outside of my comfort zone every day. So definitely got better from him being my coach.
Q. Dealing with such a big game, how are you taking all of this in, with your emotions and the excitement?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Just gotta look at it -- it's a big game, but you gotta look at it as the next game. Still the final game of the season. Just gotta prepare. Can't really put too much emotion into it. But just gotta lock in, focus on the right things and be good.
Q. Can you share with me any of the conversations you and your guys have had just as far as encouragement, getting everybody fired up?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: We're just getting each other locked in because we have to realize the importance of this game, who we're playing, where we're playing. And, like I was saying earlier, can't be hung over from last week's win. You've got to realize that was a semifinal game and that this is the big one and this is the one that we're here for.
Q. To get you locked in, what are you personally telling yourself? And also what are you doing to prepare?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I'm doing my normal preparation, just talking to myself, telling myself gotta do my job. And that's it for real.
Q. Talk about the two running backs, (indiscernible) the styles?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Chubb is more of a north/south runner, but he can bounce the ball and he likes to bounce the ball and cut back on the zone runs. And Sony Michel, he's more of a slasher. He's going to make you miss in the open field. He can catch passes out in the backfield really well, along with D'Andre Swift, he's a real athletic running back. You can line him up in the slot. You can do a lot of things with all three running backs that they have.
Q. Does that change anything at all (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yeah, you know, you have to prepare differently or you have to know what plays are coming when different backs are in the game because they all run different types of plays and stuff like that.
Q. You're a young man headed from New Jersey to the deep South. How has being at Alabama (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Hasn't really changed me a whole lot as a person. I was born and raised in New Jersey for 18 years, so I'm deep rooted in that. But when I go home people say I picked up a little accent. I don't think I did.
But besides that it hasn't really changed me a whole lot. I learned a lot about the South and how people think down here. That's about it for real.
Q. What are some of the things you learned?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: You gotta like barbecue. I don't like it that much but you y'all love it down here. Y'all love football. I don't know -- that's about it for real.
Q. (Inaudible) what do you remember about him?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: He would go over some stuff with us. He was kind of limited with what he can and can't do. He's a real good dude, real good family guy and the players loved him. I like him. I still talk to him to this day. And he's always texting me, telling me congratulations, proud of me. I'm really happy for him that he's got that job over there.
Q. I remember a couple of years at the Senior Bowl, some Alabama guys (indiscernible). Is that it? Does the title fit him?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Definitely, he knows everything about the defense. There's times I'll go to him. When the coaches are busy I'll go to him and talk to him about the playbook and stuff like that. And I learned a lot from him from that standpoint.
Q. What do you remember about (inaudible) workout (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: The most memorable thing was definitely just the whole atmosphere. Everything, the whole game we came out it was raining, it was cold. It was, like, I think we're both top 10 teams at that time.
And we walked out of the locker room, come to warm up and they was right there in our face. They was blasting their music. We was all jumping up and down, ready to go. And every play in that game was just awesome because of the whole atmosphere.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I think I left my mark that game. It kind of put me on the college football map, I guess you could say.
Q. Did you understand when you came down to Alabama how crazy people are down here?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I mean, I kind of understood it a little bit, but I learned it a whole lot more when I actually got down here and I seen the fans and seen the passion that everybody had for the game.
Q. Is there something from freshman year you remember going (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Our first home game when we had walked outside the stadium and, like, all the fans were there waiting for us asking for autographs and for pictures and stuff like that, I never -- like I thought that was stuff you seen when you're in the NFL and movies and stuff like that. But that's something I seen as soon as we played our first home game.
Q. How impressive is it (inaudible) Levi Wallace (indiscernible) walk on (indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It's really impressive. He's done a really good job. Since I've been here he's somebody that's been really consistent in the way he's working and the way that he's really developing himself and challenging himself. I'm really not surprised by the results he's seen. And I always said he's somebody that once he gets on the field he makes an impact. And he has for sure.
Q. What has he added to the defense?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: One, he's very knowledgeable in the defense. He knows the defense very well. And you don't have to worry about him making a mistake out there. He's that sure corner that you want out there to make plays. He can lock up any receiver -- big, tall, fast, whatever he is, you can put Levi out there and he's going to do his job.
Q. Does it free you up a little?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It frees the whole defense up because we have two great corners on the outside, him and Anfernee, both of them. You just know that they'll do their job, so you can say you can play more man-to-man and we don't have to help over the top, or we don't have to help underneath, you know what I'm saying? So we can all just play man-to-man, let the rushers rush and the guys that cover, cover.
Q. When you look at them do you see similarities? Obviously (indiscernible) was Alabama for so long. They're big and they're physical (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Talking about Georgia and Alabama?
Q. Yeah, do you see similarities?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I do. We're both big, fast, physical teams. We always try to outphysical our opponents, get to the ball, make plays on the ball. That's any great team.
Last year you could have said the same thing about Clemson. And so it's just the best teams pride themselves on the same type of things, that's what makes them the best team, so that's really it.
Q. (Indiscernible) now that it's happening what's that mean?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: We're here. It means we did our job, did what we were supposed to do. Had bumps in the road, lost a couple of people. But that's football. And now that we're here we've gotta do our job and win the game.
Q. What's your health status? The last 72 hours (indiscernible).
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I'm good. I'm playing in the game.
Q. No doubt?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No doubt I'm playing in the game.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, I'm good. I'm playing in the game.
Q. What's it like playing for Kirby Smart?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: He's definitely somebody that challenges you. He's passionate about the game. He's really going to put a lot of effort in the game. He puts that on his players, too. You learn a lot. He challenges you a lot, and I loved playing for him because he was a great coach.
Q. When you were a true freshman (inaudible) chewing out?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: There's a couple. There's a couple. That happens to everybody. But, yeah, I did receive a few.
Q. What's it going to be like seeing him out there?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It's going to be pretty interesting. I'm happy for him that he's had the success he's had. It was kind of expected.
Q. Not surprised at all that year two (indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, sir not at all. He's a great coach, like I said earlier, and he's a great leader. And he had plenty of talent at Georgia, and so I think I wasn't surprised at all.
Q. (Inaudible) anything that makes you worried or (indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I'm not worried about it at all. But they do present a challenge. They know their run game. They have a great quarterback that manages the game really well. And he can beat you with his feet, with his arm. And he's a really great player.
And, of course, that trio, a lot of people say duo but that trio in the backfield is really effective. And we've just gotta do our job and that's it.
Q. Does Jake Fromm look like a freshman to you?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Does he look like a freshman? No, sir, he looks like a very experienced, well-seasoned quarterback out there, like a three-year player or three-year starter. And he makes really smart decisions with the football. And you don't really see him turn it over a lot. And he has a great cast around him. So he does what he's supposed to do.
Q. Your strength coach, last year (inaudible) what kind of message?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I don't know what he was doing. I was just walking in the locker room and he just threw the trophy on the ground. I think he was just trying to juice us up a little bit. Everybody was feeling a little under the weather I guess, and we didn't have a lot of energy when we were in meetings and stuff like that. He was just trying to charge us up, get us right for that practice.
Q. You laughed about that. Can you reenact that for us?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I can't reenact it.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: He did.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I think he did. Everybody was laughing and it started going crazy. So I think he definitely gave us that boost that we needed.
Q. Talk about Ronnie Harrison, the relationship you guys had.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: We both know the game really well. We know the defense really well. We make a lot of calls out there. He controls his half. I control my half. And he's a great player. He's -- what you all call it -- some type of hitter. He's a big hitter, a punishing tackler. That's what you all say, a punishing tackler. And he does his job and he has success.
Q. How have you seen him grow this year?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I would say definitely just challenging himself to lead and to step outside of, outside of his comfort zone. He's definitely done that a whole lot, making more calls on the field, running to the ball more and that's led to more plays and more tackles, more interceptions by him.
Q. How far does the fan base for you (indiscernible) and what does it mean for your team, the fans?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I mean, it means a lot. It shows they respect us. They're here for us no matter what, the ups and downs, the peaks and valleys.
But I don't want to say it but you don't play the game for the fans; you play the game for each other. You play the game for the man next to you and that's what we do for real.
Q. All the fans that are watching (inaudible) in front of the video board on Monday, can you tell them a message how much they mean to you?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Y'all mean a lot to us. We love the support. We appreciate the support. Roll Tide.
Q. (Indiscernible). What's your favorite Kendrick Lamar song?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I like the Section 80, the whole album for real. I like "Rigormortis," "Back Seat Freestyle." I have a lot. Kendrick Lamar is one of my favorite artists so I like a lot of his music.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I don't know. I mean, he moves a lot. But I think that's just when you're ready to go you move a lot.
Q. (Inaudible) in practice?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: When he throws his hat in practice, that's when he reaches -- that's when you know practice isn't going to be good. Once he throws his hat or his paper, that's when he kind of reaches that notch where you know it's not going to be a good day for anybody.
Q. (Indiscernible) clutter?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Clutter, it depends on what you're talking about, if it's actual physical clutter or mental clutter. Mental clutter? I think there's a lot of things that people will try and make important when they're really not and it can kind of distract you on what you're really looking at. So people could really make a bigger deal about, like, media, like people can say that media is a big deal when it comes to playing football and people kind of be -- or social media -- people can be distracted by it, rather than just focus on what they're supposed to do, their assignments stuff like that. They're worrying about who is liking my picture or who is doing this or that, rather than just trying to become a better person.
You kind of have to remove that stuff and not worry about it and realize that it's not important at all and put what's first first and that's about it for real.
Q. What is the process?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: The process? Like when it comes to Alabama?
Q. Yeah, with Nick Saban.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Honestly, it's doing what you're supposed to do, how it's supposed to be done and that's really it.
Q. (Indiscernible) the conversations you had with him?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: A lot of them were just saying just make sure everybody is locked in, everybody is focused, not worried about the city, not worried about whoever, just making sure everybody doing what they're supposed to be doing and get ready to go.
Q. Does it motivate you guys that they come around and they come back (indiscernible) your games?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yeah, because we play for them, too. I played with a lot of guys, a lot of great teammates. And so you definitely do it for them. When they come back and show support for you, it means a lot. And I respect it a whole lot because they could be doing other things, you know what I'm saying?
And so you just play for them, you respect them and you're really happy for them that they're on to the next chapter, but they're still here with us.
Q. What's your opinion of talking the story (indiscernible) runner up?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I mean, I think it definitely worked for giving us energy and that boost we needed for that day. But I'm sure the college football committee wasn't really happy about it. But it's all good.
Q. Are you all the underdog in this game?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: The underdogs? I don't know, that's for you all to decide, not for me to decide.
Q. (Indiscernible) you're in your third straight national title game. They're the SEC champs.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I was about to say "Nick." (Laughter) Coach Saban's just telling us we gotta do our job and do what we gotta do and that's how we're going to win the game.
Everybody realizes what's at stake, what we gotta do to win the game. I don't think we really need the underdog tag.
Q. Being a veteran like you are -- you played for Coach Tucker and Coach Martin and Coach Pruitt, played for Coach Saban throughout, and now they're all involved in this game. How would you say those guys are alike or different?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: They're all really alike in the sense that they're passionate. They're very thorough in what they do. They put a lot of effort into the game and they love to win. I mean, that's why they're all great coaches. You see Coach Saban has his success. Coach Pruitt has his success. And Coach Kirby has his success. They all have different assets that make them great coaches, but they're all very similar.
Q. Are you surprised to see Coach Kirby get Georgia to this level?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, sir, I wasn't surprised at all. I knew once he got that spot that, one, he was going to have talent, and he's a great coach and a great leader. So I'm not surprised at all.
Q. When you study their defense, (indiscernible) have you noticed similarities? (Indiscernible) seen their defense (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Oh, yeah, I actually watched the Oklahoma game last night, just the whole thing. Went on YouTube. I hadn't watched it yet, so I just wanted to watch the whole game. And so I was watching it, and we basically run the same defense.
They added a couple of different things just like we added some things. And even the hand signals and stuff like that are pretty similar. So it's pretty interesting. And I think -- so we run pretty much the same defense.
Q. (Indiscernible) the president's going to come to the game. (Indiscernible).
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yeah, it's pretty cool to see that he's interested in the game. He's going to bring a lot of security. But I think it's still cool that the president's going to come and watch us play.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, I don't think so. She got me beat for sure. She got posters, not posters, but what they call, billboards, billboards and everything.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I don't know what's in my future.
Q. What's it like seeing your strength coach smash the trophy?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It was interesting because my first thought in my mind was I'm pretty sure the college football committee isn't very happy right now. But I think it definitely gave us a lot of energy for that practice because we were a little low on energy and it did its job.
Q. Is that all that matters (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Doing your job is what matters and that leads to winning. I would say doing your job is what matters at Alabama.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I mean, I knew Alabama was a championship-caliber team when I came here. But I didn't think we were going to go back to back to back to national championships. But we have a great team and great players and great coaches. So I'm not surprised that we did it. But it is an honor and a blessing to have this opportunity.
Q. Everybody's been talking about this running game of Georgia. (Indiscernible) the passing game and the receivers and that perspective?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: They do a real good job. They set you up with the run game. A lot of people sleep on the run game and Jake Fromm, his arm. But he has a really talented arm and he doesn't turn the ball over a whole lot. He does his job and he gets the ball to his receivers down field. And he has great receivers on the outside. So, we're not sleeping on it at all. And he does his job, and they make a whole lot of plays.
Q. Does it make it easier if he's not as vocal as (indiscernible) Bryant and the preparation (indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: He's mobile. I wouldn't say -- he's obviously not a Kelly Bryant, but he's very mobile and he can make plays with his feet and get out of the pocket. But we're not sleeping on him at all. He's in the national championship at 19 years old as a freshman. So obviously he has to be talented even with the cast he has around him. He's done a great job out there. He's won a lot of games for them and we're ready to play.
Q. You were in that spot, (indiscernible) played in the national championship at a young age (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It all depends on the person, but for me I wasn't really nervous. I just got excited and it made me prepare more. It made me lock in more. And I think that's the type of player that he is, especially with leading Georgia. I think that's the player he has to be. He's ready to go. He's locked in and he's just doing his job, thinking about doing his job.
Q. Coach Pruitt has been in tough situations. Preparing for this game all week (inaudible) coach. Have you seen any difference in him?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, sir. You don't see any difference for real. Right now he has one job and that's Alabama defensive coordinator. Once he leaves he's going to be the Tennessee head coach. And you haven't seen any drop-off at all. He's still passionate, still out pushing us, and we're still doing what we're supposed to be doing.
Q. Seen a lot in your career. How have you been able to do that from a preparation standpoint?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Just gotta focus on the right thing, do your job and know what position you're playing, what you're supposed to be looking at, who you're playing. And the coaches do a really good job preparing me because it's a lot of them challenging me, asking me, can you do this, can you do that? And I say, yeah. And they just show me what to do and they prepare me. And then we watch film together and we break it down and we go out there and play.
Q. Have you ever told them no?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, I don't think so. That's why I am where I am because I never say no.
Q. (Inaudible) head coach, when he talks about you he discusses the players. What's it mean to you listen (inaudible) Coach Saban, doesn't (inaudible) what's it mean to you to impress a guy like that?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It means a lot because he's coached a lot of great players in his past. And so when he compliments me like that, it means I'm doing my job, I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. And that's it for real.
Q. How would you describe your relationship with Coach Saban?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: He's a coach; I'm the player. He challenges me a lot. And he's definitely pushed me and pushed me outside my comfort zone. But I think that definitely allowed me to grow a lot and made me into the player I am today.
Q. Last Monday night you guys did a great job (inaudible) defensive front (inaudible). When you see tape of Georgia, what looks different?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: What looks different from Georgia and Clemson? They're two very different teams. I mean they both like to run the ball and establish the run, but Georgia is more physical up front. They like to move the line of scrimmage, change the line of scrimmage, run zone runs and stuff like that. And their backs, they have a trio, people think it's a duo but it's a trio of great backs. And they're a great team.
Q. Given the fact that you guys had a chip on your shoulder all last week, what are you seeing this week in terms of the physicality -- Monday night in terms of (inaudible) talk about the mindset you guys have had this week in preparation?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: We went into it like we're preparing for the national championship. I mean, we were a little slow in the beginning of the week because everybody is just tired. We were preparing hard for the Clemson game and Clemson game was a very physical game. So we had a couple of people beat up.
But we all locked in, we're all energized. We know what we're playing for and we know what's at stake. So we're all locked in and ready to go.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yes, sir, I've been ready since Monday night after we won.
Q. Life after football (indiscernible).
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Life after football, what's next? I don't know. That's just to be determined.
Q. Does Georgia remind you of any other team?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I would say LSU but obviously more talented. They do their job a little bit better. And they both want to establish that run game with their backs. But they have a quarterback that can really run the game well, establish the passing game with his arm and he's a really good talent. And I think those two teams are very similar.
Q. Going against Jalen Hurts (indiscernible) last year, what have you seen from him as a freshman quarterback?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: He's matured a lot on and off the field. He makes smarter decisions with the ball. He just does his job. He's gotten better at doing his job as a quarterback, which I think is really good for him. And just the maturity that he showed and the poise he's shown the last couple of years is really impressive.
Q. (Inaudible). Do you think it's warranted?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I don't think it is. I think -- you know, he's the quarterback, so a lot of people put more pressure on him than is necessary. And they love him when he's doing great and they hate him when he doesn't have his best game. So I really don't think that it's fair to him.
But it doesn't bother him at all. He kind of shuts all that out. He knows how to focus on what's important and who is important. We all try to encourage him and make sure he's in the right state of mind.
Q. (Inaudible) is there any one thing that you can point to that (inaudible) Monday night in the game?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Everybody's gotta do their job. That's what all football games come down to. No matter what you think, it's just doing your job. If you do your job, you set the edge, you cover the man in front of you, you block the guy in front of you, you catch the ball when you're supposed to catch the ball, that's all it boils down to, doing your job. Whoever does their job more wins the game.
Q. Does your hair reflect your creativity?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, not really. (Laughter) I don't know.
Q. What's been the biggest difference between preparing for that first snap (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: The difference between preparing? I mean, the two teams are different including Alabama and Georgia and Clemson. But, I mean, it's not too much different. Everybody knows what's important what we're focusing on. Everybody's locked in on their job. That's about it.
Q. (Indiscernible) the process and technique?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I think everybody's kind of used to this atmosphere. Obviously as a freshman who haven't been here before, and a couple other people who haven't been here before. But everybody is pretty much used to the atmosphere. We're not here kind of starstruck, I guess you could say, or overwhelmed by the atmosphere. We're all just ready to play. Been ready to play. And we just want to get out there and get on the field.
Q. What's the biggest thing you've learned from Coach Pruitt?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: The biggest thing I learned from Coach Pruitt? Honestly, how to lead. He's a really great leader. And the coaches, they really challenged me to be a leader this year and step up and be more vocal and stuff like that. I watched him as he led the defense and I kind of try to reflect a little bit of his leadership to the team and to the defense.
Q. (Inaudible) were you worried that he would not be around the whole season?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yeah, I was kind of worried that he wasn't going to come back at all. But we found out quickly that he's going to come back, and so we weren't worried about that.
Q. (Inaudible) how does that balance the roles (indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I mean, right now he has one job. He's the Alabama defensive coordinator. And once he leaves then he's going to become the Tennessee head coach. So it hasn't been any change at all. He was gone for like two weeks, we weren't even practicing. So yeah, there was no drop-off for real.
Q. (Inaudible) were you able to at any point, this year or last year, were you able to enjoy the moment? What was the gratification of the results?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It was both. My mother says I never enjoy the moment, which I don't think is true. I try to all the time. But I just do it in different ways. But I think it definitely comes after the wins and stuff like that.
Q. (Indiscernible) it's April, you're working out at 5.00 a.m., (indiscernible) preparing at 9:00 p.m. It's like we're doing this with the idea that at some point we're going to get the gratification?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yeah, for sure.
Q. Now supposedly this might be your last year. Nobody knows (inaudible) I guess. Who does your hair?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Loretta. Loretta does my hair.
Q. What is that style called?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Faded and braided. (Laughter).
Q. Who is your favorite teammate?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Favorite teammate? This dude named Da'Shawn Hand. He's pretty cool. (Laughter).
Q. Who is your celebrity crush?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Oh man, you put me on the spot.
Q. Top three.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: So there's a singer named Sabrina Claudio, Jennifer Lawrence and gotta go with JLo.
Q. Who is your second favorite teammate?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Second favorite teammate, I love all my teammates. I love them all.
Q. There are reports there about having internal injuries, et cetera, that are limiting you in this game. What's your response?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I'm good. Everybody's a bit bruised up, but I'm good we're going to go out and play the game.
Q. What has practice been like in terms of your full availability?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I've been able to practice -- I practiced yesterday and I'll be practicing today. So I'll be full go and be ready.
Q. A tough and tight turnaround here. Coming into it from the semi, what's been the chief challenge, mental or physical for you?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I'd say more mental because a lot of people were really happy about the win over Clemson. But Coach told us we can't really be hung over from it and couldn't really see it as a revenge game because when you get that revenge you kind of get satisfied, complacent. So we kind of see it as a semifinal game, which we did and now we're ready to go, locked in and ready to play.
Q. What excites you most about the matchup?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It's going to be a physical game. It's going to be a real challenging game. Gotta stop the run. And that's about it. I'm just ready for the challenge.
Q. Kidney functioning?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: They're both in there, that's all that matters.
Q. Winning, have you thought about how difficult it is to (indiscernible), to keep it here?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: We're Alabama. We do our job, we do it consistently. We have great coaches, great players come in. And so we're not really surprised that we're here.
Q. A lot of stuff floating around about your health situation.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I'm good, I'll be out there. I'll be playing.
Q. Georgia, Kirby Smart did an incredible job here, (indiscernible) led you guys on the defensive side to a national championship game last year. Now he's there. The significance of trying to win a national championship, does it make it special (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Definitely for sure. He did a great job when I was here and years before. So, you know, just seeing him having success and doing really well out there, I'm really happy for him and his family. And I kind of expected him to kind of do really well out there. So really happy for him.
Q. When Coach Pruitt came in (indiscernible) he'd been at Alabama, but because of same coaching tree, I'm assuming there wasn't that much of an adjustment, was there?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: There wasn't any adjustment for real. I mean, they're very similar personalities. But they have their differences, of course, but they're out there calling pretty much the same plays. We added a couple of wrinkles here and there, but not just too much of a difference.
Q. You saw Coach Martin handle the same transition when you were a freshman. Now Coach Pruitt is doing it. (Indiscernible) how has he handled it?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: He's handling it really well. Right now he just has one job and that's the defensive coordinator at the University of Alabama. And he was gone for like two weeks but we weren't even practicing. I think he missed one or two practices, basically walk-throughs. So after that he's been locked in, focused and ready to go.
Q. Question about Jake Fromm, he's very effective on play-action. What have you seen from him and what do you think makes him successful?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: He's a really good quarterback. People really estimate his arm and the things that he can do with his arm because, one, he has very talented receivers on the outside and he's very talented with his arm.
I think if they let him throw the ball more he would have more success with his arm. Just because of that great running back trio that they have back there that he doesn't get to throw the ball as much. But I think in years to come he'll have a whole lot more success with his arm and y'all will realize he's a great passer. And he doesn't turn the ball over a whole lot and he just does a job. And he leads Georgia very well.
Q. After not being able to finish against (inaudible) last year, comes down to one or two plays. What's the difference in making those plays or not making them last year?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: One, I think everybody was more locked in on their assignment rather than the emotion of the game. Everybody went into last year's game fueled on emotion. And I mean that's good and it has you fired up and flying to the ball, but you're not really focused on doing your job.
I think last week everybody had that emotion, that passion, but they were also focused on their assignment and what they're supposed to do and how it's supposed to be done. And that definitely reflected in the way that we played.
Q. (Indiscernible) Alabama, what is needed in the championship game. Do you take pride in that?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I do. I think the SEC is the best conference. We have our downfalls and stuff like that, but I think it's a testament to how great of a conference we are.
Q. Scotty is a good friend of mine (inaudible) last few years?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: It's been really cool. Scotty has been somebody who has really challenged me and allowed me to do a lot of things in outreach programs and stuff like that around the community because he's well-established out there. But been really cool just seeing the people that I've met, the relationships I've formed and how much I've grown as a Christian man the last couple of years, especially just last year, because I just found a great community out there and great people. And they challenge me every day and they push me every day. So I definitely have grown a whole lot.
Q. Does it help you balance the responsibility at all?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yes, sir, I definitely would say that. It makes it a whole lot easier when you have those people that you can go to especially when you can talk to the Lord or God or whoever it is you want to talk to. But it definitely eases the stress levels, I guess you could say, and all that.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: His golden hair? It's actually pretty funny. Somebody made like a Wikipedia page. And it was like Da'Ron Payne, American football player, defensive tackle and elite wide receiver for the University of Alabama. It's pretty funny. I didn't even know they had that play in their playbook. It was pretty cool just seeing him catch the ball, put the two toes in and do what he does.
Q. Your defense has been great this year and obviously you've forced a lot of turnovers like (indiscernible). But compared to last year a lot fewer touchdowns on defense. Why do you think that is?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I don't know. That's a good question. I just think that the type of turnovers that we're getting, we had a lot more forced fumbles than interceptions and stuff like that. And so when you get the forced fumbles the more jumping on the ball and stuff like that. So I think that's really the biggest difference.
Q. Really hasn't affected your defense that much. Still have top ranked defense. Is that a part of emphasis, don't just get a turnover, score?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Oh, yeah, as soon as you get the ball in your hands, first thing you say is, one, secure the ball, and, two, score. It makes it a whole lot easier on the offense when you can score. And it kind of affects the other team when you can score on defense.
Q. What can you do in this upcoming game to try to make one of those happen?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Just doing my job and it will happen.
Q. The opposing offensive coordinator referred to you as a wrecking ball --
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: A wrecking ball --
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Just do my job, if I've got to rush the quarterback, I'm going to rush the quarterback and be disruptive in the backfield. If I've got to play man-to-man and cover my receiver, I'm going to do that and disrupt the route and the plays that they want to run. So I guess wrecking ball is a different term. I never heard that one before. But I'll just say when I do my job I'm disruptive.
Q. Do you let opportunities come to you or (indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I mean, you just do your job. You can't really think about making plays because that's when you kind of, you don't do your job or you lose focus. But if you just focus on doing your job and locked in on the assignment the plays will come.
Q. How difficult is it to prepare for the trio of running backs that get to the third level of defense so quickly?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: You know, I mean, it's not hard to prepare; it's just about doing your job, setting the edge when you're supposed to set the edge, making the tackle when you're supposed to make the tackle. It's really not difficult to prepare for that. It's just more of, like I said, just doing what you're supposed to do and when the opportunity comes and just making the play.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Discipline. Just doing what you're supposed to do, even when you think something else might be easier or might take you there quicker. Discipline is just saying, no, I gotta do what I'm supposed to do. I gotta be locked in and look at the right things and realize what I'm supposed to do and just doing my job for real.
Q. Who set that passion for you in your life? Was it your parents, Coach Saban?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I'd definitely say my parents for sure. I wouldn't say that they're super strict, but they kept me disciplined in the sense of, whether I'm on the field or off the field, just because they really enforced just doing the right thing, even when it might be easier to conform or to be like everybody else, trying to tell me to be different and do different than everybody else. I think that kind of lined up with just the discipline aspect of it as well.
Q. So it really hasn't changed that much since you got here. Maybe for other guys it might have changed when they got here. (Indiscernible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, sir it hasn't changed. It kind of just reinforced it more and it challenged me more. And I had to just apply it more because now I'm away from my parents, and they couldn't really enforce it. So now I'm away from them and I just had to apply it.
Q. Heard any good rumors?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, sir.
Q. (Inaudible) Coach Smart, Coach Tucker, coaches on the other side (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I mean, it's really cool just seeing the success that they've had. I'm kind of not surprised by it. I'm just really happy for them that they're having the success that they've had. And you just gotta be happy for them because a lot of coaches come into the coaching business to become head coaches. When they leave you kind of expect it. And you've got to roll with it. And that's it, for real.
Q. Have you had to change too much (inaudible)?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, sir, just the coach has to come in and learn the signals and that's about it.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: The other coaches?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I talked to Coach Schumann a whole lot. He texts me every once in a while just checking on me or just saying he's proud of me or something like that. Coach Kirby, every time I see him, when we're at an event, we have a good conversation. I seen him in Charlotte and Atlanta. We were talking for a little while. And I'm just happy for both of them. They both have great careers so far at Georgia and you're happy for them.
Q. As a leader on the team what would it take for you not to play at this point?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: To not play? It will take a lot for me not to play. If I can walk I'm going to play.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Kirby and Coach Saban? I would say they're very similar. They're both very passionate. They're both very thorough in what they do in their game plan. And they challenge their players. They challenge them to be great and to really do what they're supposed to do.
Q. People say you make a lot of (inaudible). What makes (inaudible) so special?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I would say, one, he doesn't change for anybody. He kind of sticks to what he knows. He's thorough. He's disciplined. And he challenges the people around him, which I think is something that a lot of people -- like, when a coach comes to a new place they want everybody to like them. But he goes there and he wants everybody to get better, and he wants everybody to do their job and do what they're supposed to do.
Q. You've been around him for four years. Have you seen him change an iota in the way he coaches?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Not really. No, sir.
Q. I've been hearing a lot of things (inaudible). I'm here to ask you the tough questions, the real questions. Do you have a nickname?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Do I have a nickname? Just Mink or Little Mink. My father is Big Mink, and they call me Little Mink.
Q. Is that how you got the nickname?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: Yes.
Q. Do you have any talents you want to share?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: No, not really.
Q. What's your favorite emoji face?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: My favorite emoji face? I always use the one with the tears, laughing face.
Q. Can you do it without the tears?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I can't do it. I can't do it.
Q. You're on a TV show for a month, like six months, however long, what TV show would you be in?
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: I don't watch a lot of TV shows. What would I pick? I don't know what I would pick, what would you pick?
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports