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January 11, 2020
New Orleans, Louisiana
Q. Tanner, when you look at this LSU offense, obviously Burrow stand out, but the weapons he has to throw to, can you compare them to anybody you've seen this year? And just in your career how does this offense rank?
TANNER MUSE: I don't know if they rank against anybody. I think they're their own unique team, their own unique dynamics. You can't really place them into any kind of category. They're very special, obviously, with the stats they've put up this year, but we've been going against a lot of teams that have been great, played them well, so I'm just really looking forward to this challenge and hopefully we'll have our best game.
Q. Facing a guy like Burrow, dual threat, challenges he presents to you as a guy who has to be so valuable tackling as well as in coverage?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. You know, whenever you get a running quarterback, that dynamic is tough for our defense, being able to stop that aspect, because you can try to stop one or the other, but at the end of the day doing both is very tough.
Q. With this D line, the youth that they have, how important is it for you guys to express to them the spotlight that's going to be on them and the problems that other teams have faced dealing with this week and everything that surrounds the game?
TANNER MUSE: You know, with young guys they don't really understand the magnitude of the moment sometimes, so you really gotta just let them understand that, I've been here, done that a few times now. I've been blessed enough to do that. But you just really gotta let them know the magnitude of this game, just relax. A lot of guys get uptight and think this is the end of the world. It's just another game and a part of your life.
Q. Last year going into this game a lot of the rhetoric was around Alabama and Tua Tagovailoa and how they could be the best offense ever in college football. Do you see similarities going into this game that the majority of the nation is picking LSU to win this?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah, from the media standpoint, you know, they're the best, very similar to last year, Tua and them put up a bunch of really good numbers. We did a really good job with them, so hopefully we just do our game and play our best.
Q. How much confidence does it have with Brent Venables in your corner?
TANNER MUSE: All the confidence in the world. Especially when you give him an extended period of time, I like my chances with him.
Q. What's the biggest key for you guys in disrupting an offense where Joe Burrow is completing 78 percent of his presses? Talk about trying to get pressure on the guy, but he seems to elevate his play when teams are blitzing him. How do you try to create pressure without putting yourselves in vulnerable position?
TANNER MUSE: I think it comes down to just your leverage. Whenever he does get to scrambling, he's got a scrambling drill where he has to snatch on the guys, a lot of people look in the back field or whatever else and they lose their man and it's free range for him. So you just gotta make it difficult, make him uncomfortable the best way you can and keep him in front of you.
Q. LSU has one of the most talented wide receiver corps in the country. Is there anything that you look at this year that you guys have played that kind of create some similarities between?
TANNER MUSE: No. You can't really do that in this game. I mean you can say this and say that, but at the end of the day you gotta go up against them in a lineup and get a real feel of how they play. You can never really prepare for something like that. You just gotta kind of experience it, get in the first quarter, get comfortable and go from there.
Q. What stands out when you watch that offense on film?
TANNER MUSE: Just their -- I mean whatever you see in the media is what you get you see the top-powered offense, throwing the ball all over. The offensive line is great, tight ends, receiver corps. You can't go wrong with that personnel.
Q. Does it remind you of any other offense you guys have played in your time?
TANNER MUSE: No, sir.
Q. Tanner, I was asking Isaiah about watching film of Joe Burrow. Is there something that stands out to you when you're watching his film that just makes him a little different than any other quarterback you've gone against?
TANNER MUSE: I think just the poise of the game. He doesn't really show anything. You've seen him make great plays, you've seen him get hit or whatever it may be. He'll just get right back up, same face. You know, guys like that, you gotta try to make them uncomfortable. You don't really know if they are or they aren't getting uncomfortable. So you just gotta keep applying the pressure and just keep doing your thing, but at the end of the day he don't show how he's feeling. So that's probably one of the best things about him is his poise and everything he does. He gives you nothing.
Q. He's very accurate, which is a trait that of the quarterbacks that you go against in practice every day. I know there are different quarterbacks, Trevor and Joe. But does it help have a quarterback that you go against every day that's that accurate in practice when you know Joe is not going to miss a lot of passes?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. It gives you kind of like just a feel. If you're not in your coverage, I mean he's going to expose you. But you just gotta do your best covering these guys up and hoping your D line and the pressure gets there. So you just gotta do a great job of covering.
Q. Going against Jefferson and Ja'Mar Chase, they expose secondaries quickly, you saw it in the Oklahoma game. What stands out when you go against them and those weapons they have on the wideouts?
TANNER MUSE: I think they're just very good at understanding coverage, man-to-man, zone schemes, just being able to manipulate their routes within those schemes. They do a great job of that, just being able to get open, and Burrow puts it where he needs to. So you get a one-two combo like that, it's very hard to stop.
Q. What were you feeling when you finally got to New Orleans there? Were you on this team that came here two years ago?
TANNER MUSE: Yes, sir.
Q. Bad taste in your mouth obviously. What excitement do you have being here this week?
TANNER MUSE: Just to be able to leave a better mark. You know, we didn't play our best football last time we were up here. So we really want to just be able to express this team at this location. We haven't really played well here. So being able to play well here and leaving with a good taste in my mouth that I left it all out there is really what it's all about.
Q. How is the preparation this season been different, if at all, for you guys?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. It's definitely longer, definitely the body feels it. But, you know, at the end of the day, Coach Swinney does a great job of keeping us fresh and healthy. When we need breaks, we get breaks. He's done a great job just managing that schedule, but you definitely feel it. Starting like July 31st or August 1st, whatever it was, till now, it definitely catches up with you. But we've done a great job -- our support staff in the training room have done a great job just freshening up our bodies. But mentally is where it wears on you. These long seasons each game, you prep, you prep, but we've done a great job just refreshing every week and just be the best version of us.
Q. Tanner, obviously a lot made of all their depth at wide receiver. As you guys prepare for it and have been watching the film on it, what have you noticed when they lineup?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah, it definitely makes it tough on a defense. You gotta have guys out there that can cover them. But I think we do a great job of recruiting, bringing guys that we need to for this moment. So I think we're going to do a great job. I just really look forward to the challenge. They're a great team, so we're very excited about it.
Q. How about for you specifically getting in on one-on-one coverage a lot?
TANNER MUSE: I'm excited for it. It's a chance for me just to be able to show my skills. A lot of people don't think I can cover and things like that. So I'm excited just to show them, hey, I'm here. I can do this and put my best game out here.
Q. Tanner, Burrow seems to toss up what look like 50/50 balls, but he just has a lot of trust in his receivers and feels like maybe he feels like they're more like 70/30 balls. How much do you feel like you match up when you watch film of Burrow and his trust in his receivers?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. Why wouldn't he trust his receivers? They come down with those balls, so he's going to keep on throwing them. I think when you look at it, the receivers just do a great job of just winning their matchups. Whenever you get something like that and you have a quarterback that can put it where he wants to, it's going to be a good outcome. So we just gotta do a great job of being in the right place at the right time and just making some competitive plays.
Q. Physicality and strength...
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. And you can see like their bin and stuff like that, they'll run this way, catch the ball this way. It's a test for sure, but we're really looking forward to it and it'll be a good one.
Q. There's been a lot of spotlight on your program each time you guys get here, especially this year. What do you think has allowed you guys to stay focused and continue?
TANNER MUSE: I think just keep doing what got us here. Not changing what we do. A lot of teams aren't built with a structure like this team is. When you get a structure that is built to last, that's when you see the competitiveness. You get teams that kind of just do it for one season, you don't see them again. I think when you build from the ground up like we have here at Clemson and then I've been on the back end of it just being able to just bear the fruits of everybody's labor that came before me, just really see the consistency.
Q. What part of the structure stands out being able to handle big games? Is it consistency? Is it Dabo?
TANNER MUSE: I think it's an on combination of everything, bringing good staff, keeping the staff together and just recruiting, bringing in good guys, not just talented guys. When you bring in the right type of people, things work out for the better.
Q. Dabo loves to use his little Clemson line with you guys. But what's allowed him to maintain that identity, the small-town program on a big stage?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. I mean that's what we are doing. I mean, when you look at Clemson and their alumni, it's not near as deep as these other teams, the state teams and things like that. We just gotta do what we do best, and everything else will fall into place. We don't have what everybody else has, but we're working towards that, you know.
Q. Is Coach Swinney different in a certain way when he gets in front of the cameras?
TANNER MUSE: What you see is what you get. He's goofy, corky, dances all the time. We try to keep him safe from the media with all these dances he does. They're not great. But, you know, just have fun with him. He's a good guy inside and out. He expresses his faith, which really harps for me. So just a great guy inside and out.
Q. As far as the game is concerned, what are the challenges (inaudible)?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. It's very tough when he extends plays, little scramble drills, especially when you got super athletic guys to throw it to, you gotta cover them up. He extends the plays for a period of time. You can only cover guys for so long. So we gotta do a great job of hitting when we can, pressure when we can and just keep them in front of us.
Q. (Inaudible). What's the receiver matchup like?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. I mean whenever you're able to do something like that on a big stage like that, it's very intimidating, you know. But we're here. We're excited about the game, and just going to put our best foot forward.
Q. When you came out of South Point, was Clemson a clear No. 1 for you? Or just tell me a little bit about your recruiting process.
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. So when I got recruited, I really liked, obviously, Clemson. North Carolina was another school I wanted to go to. And I always wanted to go down to Florida for some reason, Miami or University of Florida. Grew up watching them, loved them. But, yeah, Clemson was kind of a clearcut when I met Dan Brooks, the recruiter. He's gone now. But he's really what got my attention.
Q. And did they recruit you in the tackle position?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. So safety was always for Clemson. A lot of teams wanted me to play linebacker. But safety was always here for Clemson.
Q. What do you see (inaudible)?
TANNER MUSE: What do I see?
Q. Yeah. How do you think the next few months are going to go after this?
TANNER MUSE: I think teams want to see me do both. So just being able to get somewhere where I can train, train both as I go into it. So whenever I get down to training, I know it's a little late now, but get down there, do the drills, be the best version of me and that's all I can be.
Q. Have you met the Quarterback?
TANNER MUSE: No, sir.
Q. Can you compare him to anybody you've faced?
TANNER MUSE: No, sir. Different breed, you know. Different breed.
Q. As a senior on this team, as a leader on the defense, you've probably had to answer questions this whole season about how this defense is going to reload and make up for all the lost. Is there like an element whether it be in camp or spring practice?
TANNER MUSE: I never had any doubt. You know, we've had defenses where a lot of people don't think we're very good or worth a dang. But when you hit -- when you get out of the season, you see who's coming back, see who's going to stay and then you kind of like start looking at it and you're like, all right. This is what we gotta do. But there was never any doubt in my mind. I know what we gotta do. I know Coach V had some new schemes for us. And I knew our back seven was a lot of veterans, so I knew it was going to be easy to learn on the fly. We've done a lot of stuff this year, and I credit that to savviness and understanding plans. And it's really paid off for us. We've let our D line start to grow and grow and grow and get confidence and really start to flourish at the end of the year.
Q. When you had your interview I guess this spring, what did they talk to you about in terms of like, all right, you're going to kind of be the face of the team now?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. I just gotta be more vocal. That's something that I never really have done. I've always been kind of in the shadows, just cheering people on, encouraging guys, kind of like the dad. Mom gets on you, dad's there just to keep you safe. That's what I always do, get on them boys. But just being the vocal guy, I gotta lead by example and lead with my voice. Something I haven't really done till this year, and I feel like I've done all right at it.
Q. (Question on watching film.)
TANNER MUSE: I mean, you come in, you watch and you watch, you watch the cutups and things like that. You just gotta prepare for it. They are who they are. You see it every day on ESPN or Fox Sports or whatever else of how great they are. So we know how great they are, everybody else knows how great they are, so we're going to see how great they are. I don't know how else to say it.
TANNER MUSE: I mean, we're all built the same. They're a great offense, we're a great defense. Just going to go out there and do our best.
TANNER MUSE: They're different. Different in their own way. Everybody is No. 1 when you get to this end of the road. So you just gotta beat the best to be the best.
TANNER MUSE: Yeah, for me, I mean, you know, I've played the best, so-called best every year it seems like. So just going against the best, knowing what I'm capable of, knowing what this team is capable of, I have no doubts. The game's already played. We just gotta go out there and do it.
Q. What do you know about the receiver crew that LSU has?
TANNER MUSE: They're great. I mean everybody knows they're great, so we're just going to go out there and go against them, see how they are, and I'm really excited for it.
TANNER MUSE: No. Everybody wants to talk about it, so I love to talk about it as well, you know, just go out there, do my best and see how great they are.
TANNER MUSE: It is what it is. You know, people go out there with great plans, just gotta execute the plan at the end of the day. You gotta have great personnel. If you don't have great personnel, you can't win a lot of games. So we have great playing, great personnel, so we're going to see if we can execute it.
Q. Auburn is the team that's had the most success against them defensively. When you watch that tape, what can you take from that?
TANNER MUSE: One thing that always jumps out from the film when I look at that game is their D Line. No. 25, and he's probably one of the best players in the country. I will vouch for him, like he's a Top 10 pick. If you don't have a good front -- reminds me a lot of Dexter; super physical, super strong. Man, to create that penetration is huge.
Q. If you guys don't have that kind of talent in the front, how do you sort of make up for that on the back end?
TANNER MUSE: You just gotta help them out the best you can. I mean I think now our D Line is really starting to flourish, really starting to be a more powerful defense. We've had to let them grow at the start of the season and now we're getting in that four-man front and really start to heat up.
Q. Joe said after that game that part of the reason he was successful is that he couldn't -- in the first half --
TANNER MUSE: Talking about the Auburn game?
Q. Yeah. That that was part of the reason why they had to adjust at halftime. What does that mean for you guys? How do you sort of approach that?
TANNER MUSE: I feel like we do that stuff every week, week in, week out. We try to mix things up, show different stuff. So, you know, I think when you watch Auburn, you don't -- and I'm the same way. I didn't know who was who anyway. So it's hard to take anything from them schematic wise. So you just gotta figure it out. Coach B does a great job of just making plans and you gotta do a great job of executing them.
Q. Speaking of that, we know Burrow's kind of underrated ability to get out of the pocket and make plays. How important is it to start the game in a man match and scramble?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. Whenever he does extend these plays, you gotta cover him for ten seconds. It's hard to go out there and tell somebody cover this guy for ten seconds. So just being able to just understand where your help is when you have it, being able to just lock down whenever you can and just, you know, you just gotta hit these pressures. Whenever you see him do get out of these pockets, he has escape routes, so being able to just cover up those escape routes where he doesn't see them or just cover them up with man you gotta do your best.
Q. We talked about Joe and the wide receivers, but Clyde, the running back, what have you seen of him? He catches the ball. He's a shifty dude. So for you what have you seen of him? Again, same approach, how do you work that?
TANNER MUSE: Hard-nosed runner, catches the ball. Kind of like a total package for a running back. Not a lot of running backs in college football are able to get out and catch the ball. That's just another fat parcel on his toolbox. But you just gotta do your best to slow him down. I mean, they've got so many weapons, you just gotta go out there and match them up and cover them up and do your best.
Q. Interesting to call him a monster because he isn't the player -- the guy that's smaller, it must be difficult because can he get lost out there, too? When you were watching film, I know you haven't done it yet, but it must be a different kind of approach from your position when you're trying to track this guy who's kind of all over.
TANNER MUSE: Yeah, you won't really know how -- I mean you can watch as much film as you want, figure out how it's going to be, but at the end of the day you don't really know till you know, so get out there and get a good taste for it yourself, and within that first quarter you're kind of like, all right, here's how it's going to go. So we'll figure it out.
TANNER MUSE: No. I think of it as this. I think of it as a defensive player. We just want to be our best week in, week out and I think we've done a great job of that just understanding the play and executing the plan and just being our best. That's how I feel week in, week out. It's no different than anybody else.
Q. Tanner, playing this game in New Orleans, I know you've been asked about playing it here. Does it feel like an away game to you?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. I mean, we're in their heart. You walk around town and see all this LSU stuff. You don't see a lot of Tigers here yet. I know they're coming, but, yeah, there's a lot of LSU people here, obviously. We're in their home state. It's like us playing in Greenville, you know. We don't get that luxury. But we're excited to be here, love the city, excited just to play.
Q. Is it weird Tigers versus Tigers and you guys have the same stadium name, Death Valley?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. One of the Tigers is going to win Monday night. That's my forecast.
Q. So this year there's been a lot of hype and talk surrounding Clemson. They've almost been kind of overlooking Clemson and kind of talking more about LSU and LSU being the best team. Why do you think so many people are overlooking you guys, especially with all the success you've had in the last couple of years?
TANNER MUSE: I think when you look at it, everybody likes the new face, you know. Alabama has been the SEC team for a long time. Now you got LSU beating them. Everybody wants to see a new face up on the pedestal. Not a lot of people like repetitiveness. They want something new, something fresh. So I understand it because we've been there when we were the underdog, everybody's like yeah, go Clemson, go Clemson. Now everybody's like, ah, we're kind of tired of Clemson. I understand it, but at the end of the day we gotta do what we do. I'm still here. I still want to win, so we're just going to do our best.
Q. Is that something that maybe adds a chip to your guys' shoulder?
TANNER MUSE: I wouldn't say so. I think if people behind us or not, we're going to keep doing what we do. They're going to have to deal with it either way. We're going to do our best and just continue to try to just be a great team and just do the fundamentals well.
Q. What's it like playing with Isaiah?
TANNER MUSE: Isaiah. He's a goon. Very goofy. I love him like a brother. He came in after me. So just being able to just power my heart into him and him pouring his heart into me. I think we'll be brothers for life.
Q. How have you seen his versatility kind of grow since he's been here?
TANNER MUSE: He used to play free safety, what I play. And then he moved over to Sam, and it's the best decision of his life. When you see him last year, he didn't get all ACC credentials, none of that stuff, and now he's the Defensive Player of the Year for the ACC and going to be like a Top 15 pick. It's just his knowledge. He's always been super fast, lengthy. He can jump out the gym. But mentally, his knowledge of the game is really just above and beyond now.
Q. Kind of a left-field question for you. I'm asking you to reflect back to Wake Forest. I know that was a while ago for you. Jamie Newman is a guy who's on the move and a guy you prepared for as quarterback. What do you recall from your scout on him and what did he bring? I know you guys played well that day, but what did you see on tape?
TANNER MUSE: You want me to give away a secret? Is that what you're asking?
Q. Just profile the guy.
TANNER MUSE: I think he's great. He's hard-nosed, physical runner and then he can pass the ball. So when you get a dual-threat guy like that, it's very tough. You see it all around college football now. Just a guy that can be able to throw and run is very difficult. I think Georgia got a good pickup. I like his game. He didn't play the year before for Wake Forest. And then this year he just burst onto the scene and picked up all these stats. I think they should be really excited about him. He's a really good player.
Q. How has this playoff experience been different and similar to some of the other ones you've had so far?
TANNER MUSE: So we've only been here for a day, so I haven't really been able to dab into it. I think it's a lot noisier. I mean we're in the lion's den. So it's a lot noisier. We just gotta do our best, just kind of silencing the noise and being our best version. All the other years we were kind of out in the outskirts, kind of to ourselves and now we're in it now.
Q. When you were younger, were there older players that would offer you advice on how to be on this type of stage?
TANNER MUSE: I ain't listening to nobody then. I was a young hothead back in the day. I can pass it on as much as I want to, but there are still guys out there on this team that are like me back in the day. But I do my best just to tell them, help them understand how it works. This is a business trip. This ain't a bowl experience anymore. We're not here to have fun during the week. We're here to prepare and plan and get ready for this game.
Q. When you're look at Burrow, what is it about him that makes him so good?
TANNER MUSE: Just everything. I mean, you know, competitiveness, how great he is. Everybody knows how great he is. His poise is probably the best thing about him. You don't really know if you're getting to him or not. Same face; steel face through in through out.
Q. When you look at your all's performance against Ohio State, obviously that's not what you guys are accustomed to doing. You're not accustomed to playing like that. Now, granted, Ohio State is a good team. When you went back and watched the film, what was it that stood out to you and said, all right, we can't do that against LSU, if anything?
TANNER MUSE: I think we just had to figure it out, figure out their plan. I mean they did a lot of new things, a lot of new wrinkles, and we can't plan for what they're going to do new. We were fine with the game. I mean, you gotta tighten up little things. It comes down to the little things, tighten up those third-and-longs that we gave up, myself included, but you gotta figure it out on the fly when you get into this type game. You have an extended amount of time to prepare.
Q. How special is it for you to play against a Heisman winner? Not everybody gets the opportunity to go against somebody like that.
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. Been there, done that. Excited about the challenge. So looking forward to it.
Q. What's the Clemson culture like in your eyes?
TANNER MUSE: You know, you hear about this family thing a lot. You hear about family this, family that, family -- everybody is sick of it, you know. (Laughs). But it really is. It's hard to explain, how to put into words of how tight knit this group is. You get recruited very early on. They don't take very much late guys. So you come in knowing who you're getting recruited with. So you already know your roommate by the time it's your junior year of high school. So you're talking all the time, just trying to figure things out. So it's just family oriented at the end of the day.
Q. (Indiscernible) to get that interception?
TANNER MUSE: How does it feel for me or how does it feel for him? I don't know how he feels, you know. No. I take great pride in his performance, because I feel like I've just been -- I've been a part of it for so long. I've been here four years with him, just being able to see him grow. Not a lot of people wanted him to be here at first. There was a lot of heads turned when he came in. So I was, you know, I was in the same boat. And just a kid, a small-town kid. Not really built for this position, but being able to just continue the grind, continue to just be your best and really starting to flourish. And he really is. He's one of the best players and people.
Q. The streak in the competitive world of college football to win that many in a row. Not to experience losing in a couple of years. What's that like and how impressive is that what you've been able to do?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. I mean being able to win this many games, especially at the highest levels has been special. I think when you look back at it a lot of people are going to be like, wow, they were really great. And not a lot of people appreciate that now. But they'll look back on this two years and yeah, we really missed something great. I get to live it. So I don't miss any of it. So I feel sorry for other people that don't get a chance to really enjoy it.
Q. It all means nothing if you don't win --
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. It don't mean nothing. You can look back at years that we have won a National Championship. That would have been great. But the 30 and 0, if we don't get there, but this season, you know, I'll remember the wins and losses here and there, but what will really stick with me is the relationships and bonds I've built with these -- my teammates and my coaches. That's what really counts.
Q. How would you describe the upcoming atmosphere? Xavier Thomas said you guys were like walking into Russia on Monday night.
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. Coach Swinney has been saying that. You can't trust nobody around here. This is LSU territory. So we're just excited -- we're excited about it, really looking forward to it. I mean this week alone is going to be a journey. So just get through this week and prepare the best we can and just be the best version of us Monday night.
Q. What was your take-away when you watched them in their last game, eight touchdowns or whatever they had?
TANNER MUSE: They're great. I mean they're great.
Q. You knew that already.
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. We already knew that. We already knew what they're capable of and they just showed you. They showed everybody how great they are, and they really just made a statement that game. So we're here, we're ready. That's all we can be.
Q. Tanner, what is Brent Venables like?
TANNER MUSE: Crazy. No, he's super intense, super -- super invested in his work. He says if he didn't do this, he'd be a lawyer. He feels like he would be a great lawyer, trying to figure out, manipulate things in his own way. But all in all, just a great guy. I mean off the field he's a totally different guy. You see him around his family and how much love he gives everybody, it's special.
Q. What's your favorite story, like Brent Venables story?
TANNER MUSE: Story. I don't know if I can tell it. You got hot mics over here, you know. No, no. There's a lot. He just gets up with Chad all the time. Chad's so funny. He's kind of like slow motion sometimes when he gets tired and he kind of falls. So we come in and watch the tape, and Coach V will just -- he won't say anything, and you look over and he's over there dying laughing at Chad. Those are probably my favorite moments.
Q. How has he done as Joe Burrow?
TANNER MUSE: Jimmy green beans? Yeah. He's slicing and dicing, as always. He knows where the holes are, and we're still learning what he wants us to do. He'll be like, yeah, I really carved you all up yesterday, didn't I? I'll be like, yeah. You did. But he's great. He gets us ready week in, week out, preparing us, putting the stress on us in practice so we're stress free in the games. He does a great job of that.
Q. He did it this week for this game; right?
TANNER MUSE: Every week.
Q. Did he have to do something different every week?
TANNER MUSE: No. He's the best player in college football. You know. Usually we'll have Patrick McClure in there, and he'll do a great job for us. But whenever it's not going the right way, maybe it's not fast enough, maybe it's not slow enough, maybe not having the read, Coach V will step in and he'll give the perfect read. He studies so much he knows all of Burrow's mannerisms. He has everything but the athletic ability.
Q. I was going for say, does he look like a Heisman Trophy quarterback out there?
TANNER MUSE: No. You know, he'll do some throws where he'll kind of like jump and throw it, trying to get more air under it. He does his best, though. We can't do nothing but love him.
Q. So you feel like you guys got a good look from him the last couple of weeks?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. He's been his best version this week. So we really look forward to how it plays out.
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. You gotta kind of just hone in. This moment is very big, obviously. It's the biggest game of the year. But that's always our mindset. When you get the biggest game of the year week in, week out, things become simple. I think when you get these young guys together, you just gotta calm them down, understand that this moment is huge, but at the same time it's just another game.
TANNER MUSE: I think when you look at the whole season, you gotta just understand it's one-game mentality. You don't win, you don't get to these spots. So the magnitude of the moment is very big, but at the same time we just gotta be our best version week in, week out.
Q. For Norman, what was that moment for him to see him get that interception?
TANNER MUSE: It was awesome. He's like a brother to me. Really love the guy. I was super excited for him. I had to tell him -- he wanted to bring it out of the end zone. I'm all for it, now. But in these games, you know, you just gotta get down and give the offense the ball back, take a knee. But looking back, I probably should have let him run a little bit.
Q. For that ball being in the air so long and for him to be as wide open as he was, is it almost harder to catch the ball in that moment when like there's no one around you?
TANNER MUSE: No. I don't think so. I think the competitive plays are always the hard plays. You look at it, why there's been a ball like that, you just gotta catch it. It's just a ball, just another day like off the JUG machine. Just go ahead and catch the ball.
Q. What was he like after that?
TANNER MUSE: He was excited, man. He got beat on that play before. So being able to have redemption and make the play is powerful just in the sense of him learning from his own mistakes in such a short period of time. So him being able to do that and just kind of redeeming himself was really big for him.
Q. What was that moment like on the sideline?
TANNER MUSE: We were cool. I mean, you know, everybody gets beat. I get beat, Isaiah gets beat. Corners get beat. It is what it is. There's never been like a pointing fingers situation or anything like that. We're like, look, brother, we got your back, just continue to battle, and we'll be right there for you.
Q. You guys have played Alabama every year. Is it weird?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah, you know, it's kind of like a stepbrother where he's always there. But, no, I mean they've had a great season this year, but everybody wants a new face, so we're excited for the challenge.
Q. Do you see anything else, any parallel to the SEC style?
TANNER MUSE: No. Everybody wants to talk about the SEC, how powerful it is and things like that, but it's just another team at the end of the day. It's just another team. So we're excited for the challenge. They're a great team, and really looking forward to it.
Q. What did that win last year in California over Alabama, what does that mean for this program?
TANNER MUSE: Just what it's capable of, I mean being able to go out there and win 44-16. Not a lot of people can do that to a team like Alabama, in any year. So being able to do that, just being able to play our best and just know that we gave it all out there that night is what it's all about.
Q. Tanner, your defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, a lot of people consider him to be one of the best, if not the best, in the country. What makes him so great as a coach?
TANNER MUSE: He's been the best. Ever since I've been here, the best. Everybody wants to always talk about this guy, this guy, this guy. Nobody does it consistently year in, year out like he does. So that's not even up for debate. But when you get a coach that's so invested, puts so much time into this, it really makes you appreciate it, and you really don't want to let him down. So we've gone out there week in, week out just playing to the best of our ability and hopefully it's good enough.
Q. Talked to a few of your teammates and they say, man, how did he think of that or how did his brain go in that direction to think of that angle? Does that happen with you when you hear him coach?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah, he's always got a few little wrinkles week in, week out, and he lets us do new things, which is always spicing it up. We're super excited always coming in there Sunday and Monday getting the plan and understanding the plan. So we're always looking forward to what he has up his sleeve.
Q. It's a National Championship game. You don't need any motivation but where is the motivation when you go up against an offense that hasn't been shut down and say we're going to be the guys that do it?
TANNER MUSE: They're the best, you know, so we always want to go against the best to be the best. So we're really looking forward to just going against the best and see how we stack up.
Q. And Heisman Trophy winner on top of that, too; right?
TANNER MUSE: Maybe get the best offense with the Heisman winner, you know, just a cherry on top. They're the best, you know, so...
Q. It's the best against the best according to what you've told us, huh?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. If that's how you want to put it, yeah. At the end of the day, these are just hearsay, the best players, the best people or whatever. At the end of the day it comes down to numbers. So at the end of the game we'll see how those numbers stack up.
TANNER MUSE: Deer Park. Best logo in the game.
Q. So I heard Jordan Williams is pretty fast.
TANNER MUSE: Jordan Williams is pretty fat. He's not fast.
Q. Oh, wow.
TANNER MUSE: (Laughs). Jordan is fat. On the record.
Q. In a race, who do you think will win, you or Travis?
TANNER MUSE: Me or Travis? Wow.
Q. Because we've seen you make some pretty speedy plays.
TANNER MUSE: I think my numbers say I'm faster. Those are catapult numbers, not my numbers. You'll have to ask Beano on that.
Q. Who's Beano?
TANNER MUSE: Alex Beano, the king of the castle.
Q. I bet J.K. Diamond knows that you're fast. Running against Georgia Tech. His eyes are up looking at the screen. Looking for -- I guess.
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. You don't want to get tripped up. I mean that's how a lot of guys get hurt like that. Being tripped up or grabbed, pulling, you know. Always looking to cut this way or this way.
Q. He was peaking, though. (Inaudible).
TANNER MUSE: I feel like I know everything as a player. I think a lot of people didn't realize how tough he was and how strong he was. But he's, what, 6-6, 270? So you know he's strong and fast. He doesn't look fast. He's got this long stride.
Q. So it looked like it took him a long time. He kind of like had a drink and (inaudible)?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. He's just a long-strided guy. A lot of people get fooled by that.
Q. (Inaudible). How did you know?
TANNER MUSE: Just the way he goes about practice. We compete every day. So we have a great back seven. So we've been given a lot of trouble, but he'll come in week in, week out and shred us up sometimes. So we go back and forth. That's the only way teams get better and get beat week in, week out with what you have. We've always known better and better.
TANNER MUSE: It's been a good ride.
Q. Say your name, position and how it feels to be here. Say something good. Give the people what they want?
TANNER MUSE: Tanner Muse, free safety, Clemson University, checking in. Super excited to be here in New Orleans. Town to party, so just getting started. See you Monday night. How's that?
Q. Thank you.
TANNER MUSE: Thank you.
Q. Where are you from?
TANNER MUSE: I'm from Belmont, North Carolina.
Q. Have you had some of the food down here a lot?
TANNER MUSE: No.
Q. You know, that's our secret weapon. Exotic spices.
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. They had some salsa in there for us yesterday. And it was like salsa, God, it was hot. It's so hot. I was like, my roommate was sweating and he was like, bro, you gotta try this. Just dipped it a little bit and kept going and kept going.
TANNER MUSE: I've heard of she crab stew.
Q. You're from South Carolina?
TANNER MUSE: No, I'm from North Carolina. Liver mush. That's my claim to fame. Liver mush. Have you ever had liver mush?
Q. Where is that in North Carolina?
TANNER MUSE: Outside of Charlotte.
Q. Do you know where Shelby is?
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. Right down the road.
Q. My friends have a paper up there.
TANNER MUSE: Okay. Is it Shelby Star?
Q. What happened with North Carolina? That was close.
TANNER MUSE: Yeah, it was a good, fun game. I think they did a lot of good things schematically. Definitely defensively we didn't really execute the way we know now. I think we all made mistakes. Made a lot of little mistakes that really paid off for them. At the end of the day they were a good team. They executed, and we didn't do as well.
TANNER MUSE: We'll see. I'm doing a lot of different things. Excited just to show my versatility. We'll see. Whoever lines up out there.
Q. Well, you get to practice with some of the best in the country. You got a couple of new guys.
TANNER MUSE: Yeah. They definitely help, but you can't really simulate these guys. They're really good.
Q. The only guy in the country you can't say that you want from Alabama. (Inaudible)?
TANNER MUSE: That's what you like to see. You like to see new faces, new guys get in and play at the highest level, so it's exciting.
Q. (Inaudible). What have you seen from that LSU offense that's made it so potent this year?
TANNER MUSE: They're just great, through in, through out. All the way up their lineup, they're just great.
Q. And Joe Burrow in particular, what have you seen from him that kind of helped him in the Heisman campaign?
TANNER MUSE: I think we all see it. Play every day. What you see is what you get. Just a great dynamic player through in, through out.
Q. How good are you at picking baby pictures?
TANNER MUSE: I'm okay.
Q. Let's see what you got. We've been doing it with your teammates. Hold on just a second. Somebody got ten out of ten.
Q. So what is your greatest accomplishment and why?
TANNER MUSE: My first interception for a touchdown. Seriously. 1996.
Q. Where do your celebration come from?
TANNER MUSE: Some of them came from NFL street football.
Q. Who is the dirtiest person on the team?
TANNER MUSE: Oh, Denzel Johnson. Denzel.
Q. Why did you say Denzel?
TANNER MUSE: Dirty Denzel.
Q. What does he do in the locker room?
TANNER MUSE: I have seen that man put on blue Jean joggers, no drawers. That's all I'm going to say.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports