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December 30, 2002

Jonathan Vilma

Matt Walters


Q. Matt, can you elaborate a little more. You were talking a couple days ago about their offensive line, the way they try to block people.

MATT WALTERS: They have a big offensive line. They're position blockers. They're patient on their plays. When they have a back like Clarett back there, they have to get on you for a second and he'll hit the hole and do the job.

Q. All season long you have been asked questions about stopping the run and all that stuff. Is it kind of ironic that it comes down to that again? Are you looking forward to that? Is it exciting?

MATT WALTERS: We love it. It's a challenge any time, especially for me and John. I think earlier in the year we had a little bit of trouble in that we were trying to make plays that we didn't need to make. We were trying to do too much as individuals. I think that got us into a little bit of trouble. I think we've got that fixed.

JONATHAN VILMA: I don't think it's kind of ironic. I figure any good team is going to have a good running back and good running game. We're going to have to play. It doesn't matter who we play; they all have great running backs.

Q. A lot of defensives have said after games that Ohio State looks better with Maurice Clarett. Can you speak to that?

MATT WALTERS: We've watched a lot of film on him. Krenzel is a great quarterback. There is always that chance he can break it and make that play. When he wasn't there, they relied on the quarterback a little more to make a big play.

JONATHAN VILMA: As Matt said, Clarett is a playmaker. With him in the game, you know, there is always the threat of him breaking one for a touchdown. They want to give it to the go-to guy and if they have to rely on the quarterback, then so be it.

Q. Would you like to see a day when college players share in some of the money in events like this?

JONATHAN VILMA: If they give me the money next year, I'll take it. Other than that, no, I'm gone next year. If no one else gets the money, I don't want it.

MATT WALTERS: I think we're getting a cut of it. I think it would be selfish to ask for more. They're paying for our school. I think one day we'll realize that. Being able to come out of school without student loans, we'll realize it. In the grand scheme of things, they're paying us as it is.

JONATHAN VILMA: I think the same way.

Q. Do you have enough to get by month to month?

JONATHAN VILMA: For the most part it's pretty good. There aren't a lot of luxuries. You just do your thing. If you want to get paid, that's the whole point of going to the NFL.

Q. Matt, if you guys win these two titles in two years, what would that mean to each of you personally, to the program and historically?

MATT WALTERS: It would mean a lot to me going out on top. As far as the program, it always helps with recruiting.

Q. Do you think this year would be just as special ? Could it be just as special?

MATT WALTERS: Definitely, last year it was a totally different team. Once this year started, it didn't matter what we did last year. We have had to win every game. It would almost be a waste. If we don't win this last game, what we have done for the whole year has kind of been a waste.

JONATHAN VILMA: I'm just glad to send last year's seniors out on top and hopefully the same this year. It will be that big of a challenge for me next year to get in the same position. For me, it will be a great accomplishment that we win, but my job is not done yet.

Q. I guess Frank Gore has been playing the role of Maurice Clarett in practice. How would you assess his performance?

JONATHAN VILMA: I would give him an A. He's been running the ball very hard. He's trying to take two to three guys with him. He's not going down. That's what we need. We need someone to have the same vision, hit the hole and try to get up in there.

MATT WALTERS: Sometimes it's even harder to stop him than people on Saturdays. You will really see how good of a back he is next year when he's back healthy and running the ball as much as he can.

Q. Is it like it's more than just being as good as he can be in practice, but how much does he actually have to act like that running back he's supposed to be?

MATT WALTERS: He's just himself. You can't tackle Frank Gore with one guy. You have to practice good habits. It really shows up on Saturday. When you practice good habits, you play the same way on Saturday.

Q. John, you say you're gone after next year. Some people are saying the NFL will be coming after Friday. Any thought of coming out?

JONATHAN VILMA: My thoughts are on Ohio State right now.

Q. Is it possible to stop Maurice Clarett or just try to contain him?

JONATHAN VILMA: There is no one guy that can beat us. It's a group effort. It's going to take the whole defense, all those guys rallying around the ball.

Q. Yesterday, we had Romberg here representing the offense. Is there anybody on the defensive side of the ball who is a character like he is and keeps you guys loose like that?

MATT WALTERS: On the field we have fun and we let our talking take place on the field.

Q. Does he ever let any of that stuff spill over on to your side?

MATT WALTERS: During our practice, we have had our times, but once we're back in the locker room, we're teammates again.

Q. Being here in this position this year is very different from last year. Is it a case of "we've been there, done that, we know what to do, how to do it?" Is it much different from last year at the

Rose Bowl?

MATT WALTERS: We know what to expect out of the week. As far as the game, it's a lot different. We lost a lot of leaders last year and it's kind of given this team a new identity. People are looking at us to make plays. We have had a little more pressure on us. It feels a lot different this year.

JONATHAN VILMA: I think it's different in what Matt said about having lost the leaders; that we had the seniors. It's a different atmosphere, things like that. As far as the game is concerned, the game is going to be the same 60 minutes, grind it out; things like that. We're preparing the same, but it's a different personality of the team. So it's a different situation.

Q. You have been watching Maurice all week. Can you put into perspective what it means as a freshman to be so effective at this level? Can you guys appreciate what he's done? Can you think back to when you were freshman, how you were able to play, what he's able to do now?

JONATHAN VILMA: When I was freshman I was lucky to play a little bit. He's doing good things. He played more than me. I remember in the Sugar Bowl it was hard to understand what it was to be in the Bowl, having the media and crowd around you and everything like that. To me it looks like he's always had this "been-there-done-that" type of attitude. I don't think he's taking anything away from himself or the game. He's going to be there and play hard. He's a gifted athlete and has the mentality to go out there and do what it takes.

Q. Dorsey ; you're talking about leaders; how much is he going to be missed next year and what has he meant to this team, and do you feel kind of sad he didn't get as much credit as he deserved?

MATT WALTERS: When it's all said and done he'll get the credit he deserves. He'll be missed a lot next year. He really set an example of how to prepare for the games and all the preparation that goes into the games. There is going to be some guys next year stepping up to take his place. It's hard to fill Ken Dorsey's footsteps because he's done it right every time. It's hard to find guys like that.

Q. But he's gone through so much criticism this year. It's kind of a weird way to go out.

JONATHAN VILMA: Here at the University of Miami what other people say outside the program doesn't mean that much to us. It's what the coaches say that really matter. We've won stuff all year long. We're really more concerned about how the coaches say we're playing or how they feel we're performing than how people outside the program say we are.

Q. How much, John, will you miss him?

JONATHAN VILMA: I'm going to miss him a lot. He doesn't say much. It's always his performance that amazes me. Everyone wants to get technical and criticize his throwing arm. The bottom line is he wins games. Whether he's throwing the side arm or whatever, he's still winning the games. I'm going to miss him a lot because obviously what he's done is come through in the big time and critical situations. He's come through so we're going to need another quarterback like that. I feel we have two good quarterbacks that will come in and step up.

Q. What is D.J. Williams like as a person? He has a stand-off personality to us. What is he like?

JONATHAN VILMA: As a person he's a real good guy as a person. He's more outgoing than you would think. He likes to go out a lot. Laughs and cracks jokes. With us he's a teammate and friend with us. He's real outgoing with us.

Q. Matt, has Coach Coker ever described his days at Ohio State or ever said "I know what their pride and tradition is about?

MATT WALTERS: He doesn't really focus on the past; he focuses on the day at hand. Every once in a while he'll mention where he's been and where he's came from. He doesn't really elaborate much on what he did while he was there or anything like that.

Q. Matt, if you guys are able to win this second straight national championship where does this place you in the history of Miami football or history of college football?

MATT WALTERS: I don't know if I can answer that question. That's up to the fans and general public. First, we have to win it so it doesn't matter unless we win. We're focused on trying to win this game.

Q. John, were you aware that Coach Tressel came down to Miami sometime this spring and the coaches exchanged ideas? Were either one of you aware he came down?


MATT WALTERS: I wasn't aware of it. I've seen crazier things. After we won the Rose Bowl last year, the Nebraska coaches were calling asking what were they running, what were they doing. I couldn't believe that.

Q. If Ken weren't playing football, what do you think he would be doing if he wasn't playing football?

MATT WALTERS: That's a tough question. He's a great people person. He's very smart, intelligent. I could see him being a coach. He's got a lot of gifts. He almost coaches right now as it is on the field along with playing.

Q. I would assume that you guys have a friendly rivalry in practice with the offense. How does that make you guys better as a defense?

JONATHAN VILMA: It makes us a lot better as a defense. Competing against our number 1 offense you can see how they are producing so it's only going to help us to go out there and give 100 percent. If we slack off against each other, we're not benefiting it, so we have to go 100 percent.

MATT WALTERS: We compliment each other on Saturday. I wouldn't even call it a friendly rivalry. We go at it at practice. There is a lot of pride on that football field during practice. We want to win practice just as bad as we want to win the games. It really, really helps you to practice and play fast come Saturday.

Q. I know you're really good friends with Ken and spent time at his house. To someone who has no idea what Ken is like off the field describe it for us?

MATT WALTERS: He's a pretty laid back guy. Most people would think being the starting quarterback for the University of Miami that he would thrust himself into the limelight, but he's not. He enjoys sitting around and playing video games, he's got a pretty serious girlfriend so he spends a lot of time with her. You're not going to find him out late at night on South Beach or anything like that. He's kind of a homebody and likes to stay at home and hang out.

Q. John, from what you've seen on the field do you feel like you have had a speed advantage?

JONATHAN VILMA: I feel we always have a little bit of speed average. We practice and work hard on being quicker than the other teams. On film their athletes, the receivers and backs, they have speed. The offensive line is big and the back and receivers seem like they have speed. It's just we feel like we have a little bit more than them.

Q. Matt, out of curiosity I don't want to make it seem like you're living in the past, but do you wear your championship ring around very much or on special occasions?

MATT WALTERS: I wore it one time. My high school coach saw it. I think I've only put it on one other time. I haven't seen it in six, seven months. It's in the past. It's a new year. I want another one this year. I think when I get older, I'll pull those out and maybe wear them then. I'm still playing football. I have a job at hand to do and I want to win another one.

Q. JONATHAN VILMA: I'm very happy for him. I knew he was going to turn their program around because he turned ours around. I hope they go all the way. Best wishes to the coach.

MATT WALTERS: Same here, he recruited me. He gave me an opportunity here. It was a career decision that he made to go to the NFL and give it a shot. You always want to know how you can perform at the top level. We always expected him to do a great job. We know how he prepared and coached. It's just carried over to the Cleveland Browns and they have had success doing it that way.

End of FastScripts�.

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