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December 31, 2018

Tyrel Dodson

Jimbo Fisher

Trayveon Williams

Jacksonville, Florida

Texas A&M - 52, NC State - 13

JIMBO FISHER: First of all, very proud of our team. Happy for our seniors, the first bowl win they've ever experienced against a very good NC State team. Dave Doeren and NC State is heck of a football team guys. That's a very well-coached, good team. We played very well tonight, and I just want to say a special thank you to those seniors and then I want to say a special thank you to all of our players. The work we put in, the ups and downs that goes with it and then the great bowl preparation, understanding how to prepare and come here with a mindset. We had fun, we worked when it was time to work and got a very mature group of guys that played very well, very excited. And like I say, the first bowl win for these seniors, it doesn't get any better than that. You have to learn to play bowl games, you have to learn to prepare for bowl games, you have to learn how to play in these big games and do the things you've got to do, and so I'm very proud of them in that regard.

As a team, I thought all three phases of our team were really, really good tonight. Our special teams, we kicked the ball well, had the one missed long field goal, but that's a tough one there. We hit our kicks, our punts, our coverages, returns, everything was really good, defense was outstanding. I believe they only ended up with 273 yards and that is a dominant team, and they were 0 of 13 on third down, so I mean, getting the ball back, that's as good as it gets. And then you get a pick six, some guys, I mean, you believe this guy ran down the field and scored a touchdown. No, it was outstanding.

But they got six -- they played dominant up front. And then offensively to be able to run for 401 yards against a team that was giving up 100 yards a game rushing and what we did. Trayveon, one of the greatest Gator Bowl performances of all time. He broke the single-season record this year.

And then converting on third downs. We were 5 of 10 and got some critical third downs. I thought one of the best third downs that was critical, it was 14-13 and were able to hit that third and 5 on the 5 that got it to 21-13. I thought that was a huge play in the game for momentum and then we come out the second half and play well.

We're learning to finish, that was one of things that we emphasized, and we've learned to get better at that as the season went on and that's something we're continuing to grow on, so hopefully we can build on this. Special thanks again to our seniors and hope these young guys learn from it and build from it.


Q. Trayveon, how special was it to get the record the way he did it with the 93-yard touchdown run?
TRAYVEON WILLIAMS: It was a special moment. I just want to thank those guys up front. Want to thank Coach Fisher and the whole coaching staff, just everybody and the 12th Man, this whole program that really came together and made a big-time moment. That was a big moment, but most important that we got that bowl win. That bowl win that we've been kind of missing out on the last four, five seasons, and we got that, the first bowl win under Coach Fisher, and we're definitely molding and showing where this program is going in a new direction, so this is the first game for the beginning the 2019 season, and we've got to get this thing going right, and we got that win, so I'm happy.

Q. Coach, your opponent did a real good job for the most part in the first half bottling up Trayveon. Did you make any adjustments schematically or did he just do what great players do and make the most of his opportunities?
JIMBO FISHER: I mean, listen, great players, you're not going to keep them down very long. I think two things happened: One, I thought Cullen settled down and started hitting some passes which forced him out, and then Cullen made a couple long runs with his legs because they were putting extra guys in the box. Cullen had 82 yards in the first half, had two long runs, and his ability when you're overplaying, you're outplaying them in the box, and the quarterback can do that. So they had to respect that. We made a couple adjustments, but he's just a great player. Listen, you give him enough touches, great things are going to happen in every phase of the game, and that's what great players do, and we knew if we just keep giving it to him, great things are going to happen.

Q. Tyrel, they had a really good drive going there before your interception. On that play, what unfolded, what did you see, and what was going through your mind when you kind of saw the opening to go in and make that pick?
TYREL DODSON: Yeah, well, I studied a lot of film and I saw they ran trips, and it was 3rd and 5 and they liked to run little slant routes to the sticks and stop, kind of a spacing route. So Coach Elko said if I see it, go get it, and I went to go get it and ended up with a touchdown.

TRAYVEON WILLIAMS: The crazy thing is he told us he was going to do it and he did it.

Q. Jimbo, do you feel like this was the most complete performance you showed all year?
JIMBO FISHER: I would probably have to say in all three phases and learning to come out and finish a game. We kept talking about at halftime, once we get ahead, try not to give the other team hope, and I know that sounds crazy, but when you kind of let up and a team gets back, and anytime they get within two scores if not three scores, you give them hope, and they're back in the game. And it was one of the most dominant performances from that standpoint and learning to just play the next play. Whatever you made, okay, go make another play, go make another play, go make another play, and learning that mentality. Yes.

Q. Jimbo, I know that you expressed how much respect you had for Ryan Finley and what he can do, and your secondary has been maligned so much this year. How were you able to turn things around and play so well in pass defense today?
JIMBO FISHER: You know, and I'm going to say this: Practice. Practice, and the kids learning to be coached, wanting to be coached. There's a difference between practice and wanting to be coached. You can practice and not want to be coached. It's tough. Those guys want to be coached. They want to learn. All the little things that Mike and the defensive staff did to put in place, and I think our pass rush, I think we started getting rushed. I think we started affecting them that way, guys studying film, learning how to prepare for a game, learning all the details like he just said, and that's something they like to do in that situation and trusting your eyes and playing. And our guys just worked hard, and our coaches did a heck of a job developing those guys. Like you say, nothing is ever created in one day. It takes time, and things happen. You've got to have trials and tribulations, and just very proud because that was a heck of a quarterback and a heck of a offensive team that they did a good job against tonight.

Q. Both players, how much fun was it there at the end to see Cullen stretching to the end zone?
TRAYVEON WILLIAMS: That was probably one of the best moments I've ever been a part of at this university, man, not only just having that moment for Cullen but having a moment for the 12th man. We were always talking about the whole season, we were always saying, Cullen, we're going to get you in the end zone one way or the other, and the coaches wanted that, too, and they called the right play. They called a good fullback run play and Cullen made a play. He broke about three tackles and he was determined to get in the end zone and he got in, and if you couldn't see, this whole team, we erupted and we all ran to him, and that was a big moment for us and this university.

Q. Trayveon, how much were you keeping tabs on where you were in rushing yards and when did you know that you broke the record?
TRAYVEON WILLIAMS: Believe it or not, I wasn't. I was just going out there and running. Coach Fisher kept telling me, you've got to keep going, you've got to keep going. Coach Graham was just saying, we've got to keep going, just definitely just doing my job. I didn't want to get caught up in that moment. I just wanted to get that win, and got to do my job and got to stick the system with it, but I king of knew that once I broke that long run, it kind of happened, and it was an emotional moment in the end zone when me and my teammates, everybody was running up to me telling me they love me, and it was kind of emotional, so I shed a few tears.

Q. Tyrel, do you have a different story about that?
TYREL DODSON: No, I don't. I knew he was going to get it.

Q. Coach, was Gilly pleading his case there at the end?
JIMBO FISHER: No, not one bit. Gilly never said one word, and it was something we did, and it was a play we wanted to run, and if we could get it in there and do what we wanted to do it. Like I say, it's special, and what that represents for the 12th man and Texas A&M, that is A&M. That is what A&M is about.

Q. Tyrel, can you talk a little bit about the fact that your defense was without Donovan Wilson, you didn't have Otaro Alaka, and you guys still had a very dominating performance out there tonight.
TYREL DODSON: Yeah, losing those two key guys, those are veterans right there. Coach Elko's thing is next man up, and Buddy Johnson came in, and Leon O'Neal came in and played their tails off. Buddy, he was driving back in pass, Leon was communicating, and that's why they recruit. Buddy and Leon were big-time players out of high school and will be big-time players in college.

Q. Jimbo, could you speak to that, as well, Buddy and Leon coming in and filling in those gaps?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, that's the thing about team sports and why football is the greatest team game there is. You have adversity with other guys being hurt, but it's also an opportunity, and that's what you have to look at. This is not an adverse situation, it's an opportune situation, and you have got young guys, that's why you recruit and coach.

You always say, don't wait to play, prepare to play, even if you're not playing, because when your moment comes, you don't ever know. What both those guys did tonight, they took advantage of the opportunity because they prepared very hard for it and did a great job.

Q. Jimbo, you just talked about all the recruiting. Are you going to be trying to re-recruit some of your third-year players now?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, yeah, listen. Here's the key. You don't re-recruit them, you find the right information out for them. I tell them, life is about making the right choices. And that's all it is. It's about making the right choices, and my job as a coach, it's not to make a choice for them. It's to find out the exact information so they don't get misled in any way, shape or form and they have all the information from front of them that they can make a lifelong decision. I'll voice an opinion about where I think their development is and what they can do and whether they can do it, and listen, I'll back them a hundred percent. But at the same time, we'll have a discussion about it because life, these -- here's what I always say about the NFL: It's not about getting to it, it's getting there and staying, making sure you get there at the right time with the right things and are you really ready, and if you are, like I say, I'll be the first one to kick you out the door. If not, I'll forget that, and if not I'll help you. But it's about making choices.

Kids today, you don't want to hurry up and get somewhere. Take your time and do it right, know what I'm saying, and if it's the right time, it's the right time. But our job right now is to get the proper information, and I got great information for them, I believe, and usually it's very accurate, and I think that's what they've got to do and trust and make a decision, and like I say, we'll back them 100 percent either way. Hopefully they will be, and if it's right for them to come back, come back, and if not, it's time to go.

Q. Both players, what do you guys take away from this whole year and winning the TaxSlayer Bowl?
TRAYVEON WILLIAMS: This is a big-time moment. We had a great year, a lot of ups and a lot of downs, and there's a lot of adversity we fought through, but Coach Fisher didn't just make us great football players, he put us in position to be great men, and the things that we learned off the field, he always tells us, the player that you are off the field is the player that you are on the field. So that's definitely what really started mold us into great players and allowed us to be able to finish in these big-time games, but we went through and we fought through a lot of adversity. We had great practices, and we kind of learned how to become a winning program. And you're definitely -- we're in a new direction with this program, so just excited to be a part of it and excited to see what the direction this program is going.

TYREL DODSON: Yeah, taking off what Trayveon said, Coach Fisher always preached about who you are off the field is who you are on the field. I take that very personally now, and just seeing me take care of my academics, it's easy to take care of on-the-field stuff. It's just all a snowball effect. Once you do one thing good, it turns into a habit. I think Coach Fisher did a great job coming in and installing that toughness, effort, discipline, pride into us, and I'm very grateful he came here.

Q. Coach and Trayveon, Trayveon, obviously you broke the record, but what can you say about the way the offensive line progressed this season that paved the way for you to do so?
JIMBO FISHER: Listen, nobody achieves a record in football without the other guys on the team. It is a complete team effort. Those guys up front become a dominant -- even our tight ends, our fullbacks, our receivers did a great job blocking downfield. You go look at those blocks, those guys are 15, 20 yards down the field, allowing him to make cuts. Here's the thing: They want to block for him. See, people don't think about that, a guy is a great player and guys do their job, but then you have guys that want to block for a guy who works his tail off and deserves it, know what I'm saying, and there's different thing, and those guys wanted to block for them because they love him. They watch him practice. There's no accident why he's doing what he's doing. It's the way he comes to practice every day. It's the way he would get on people. It's the way he would lead. He would carry the messages and things I would say and do to the offense, Tyrel would do to the defense. And those guys carried him and they respected him. They knew he was a great player, but they respect him as a human being, so they wanted to play hard for him, and he performed.

TRAYVEON WILLIAMS: I definitely feel like when I saw that practice we was doing, we were definitely getting better week by week, and our offensive line and receivers, everybody was definitely developing week by week. Throughout this whole bowl prep, Coach Fisher would have to pull us off each other because we were getting into a way that we were getting so physical and so acclimated to the program and the new direction we were going and just learning how to become a good team, it was getting competitive. So Coach Fisher just stepped back, and with his job he didn't have to do it because we became a team and we kind of made ourselves better at that point. We were just competing and going out there and making ourselves better, so I definitely feel like that showed in the game. Offensive line, defensive line, we were competing so much throughout the week that we were all just getting better and the receivers and everybody just did a great job, so it just showed this game, and we want out there and played a complete game, and it just all goes back to practice.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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