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Listen to Audio (9:03)
“I told the players in preparation for this ballgame that to win this game, it was going to take a total team effort…that there wasn’t going to be any one particular phase that was going to be able to dominate the course of the ballgame, and that we were going to get challenged defensively from a very good passing attack…that we were going to get challenged from their defensive standpoint from a good front seven and a special teams unit that has gotten onside kicks and has done a lot of surprises. They‘ve really done things to other opponents, and we had to get very, very prepared. I told the players in the locker room that it took all three phases to win the game tonight, and that it’s never easy when you play.”
On the performance of the offense, which totaled 519 total yards:
“I thought the offense, with over 500 yards, they were pretty much in control of the game. We moved the ball very well, especially in the second and third quarter, scoring some touchdowns. Again, one of the things that’s been an issue, you hate getting down there inside the five-yard line and having to settle for field goals. But you know, we scored enough obviously to win the game.”
On the defense, which held Duke to 275 total yards:
“Defensively, we came up with some interceptions. We always talk defense, that you’ve got to make the game one-dimensional. Holding them to 12 yards rushing made it a little bit easier to kind of focus on the passing game…rushing the passer, making sure you’re in coverages, and forcing good reroutes. We had for the first time some turnovers, which certainly makes a difference in the way you play. It certainly took everybody to win the game, and I’m very proud of this football team.”
On converting a number of long third downs:
“Ryan Taylor came up with a huge big play on a third down down the middle. [Quarterback T.J. Yates] did a great job. They expanded on the wide receivers on the outside, tried to take the outside guys and Ryan just outran the middle linebacker. Dwight made some big plays, and his 11 catches a lot of times bailed us out. Like I said, it was a good, solid performance. I don’t know what T.J.’s stats were, but a lot of the things that he does that helps our offense, they just don’t put them on the stat sheets: the things he checks to, gets us in and out of things and helping with the protection.”
On the performance of his offensive line:
“I thought our offensive line really rallied after last week. I thought that they came back; we ran for over 250 yards, protected the QB really well, moved the pocket some which certainly helped T.J. We got production out of every single group. Tight ends, wide receivers and the running backs did a nice job. On the whole, it was a pretty good offensive performance.”
On his team’s performance this season:
“This football team, in all the 37 years that I’ve been coaching, this is going to be one of the proudest group of guys that I’ve ever been around, the way that they’ve answered the bell every single week. In good times, bad times, tough times, there is a huge amount of strength and character in that locker room. There are some great kids that refuse to surrender, refuse to use any excuses. They just went out and competed every single week, and I’m very, very proud of this group.”
Listen to Audio (2:28)
How hard was it to bounce back emotionally from last week for this game?
"Last weekend's game was extremely emotionally draining for this team and it took us a couple days to get back on it. We had a good week of practice and knew this game would be just as important as last year."
What do you feel was your biggest accomplishment this season?
"It's good to have all the stats and stuff, but this team being able to do what we've done through all the adversity and being at the front of that is what I cherish the most. I challenge any other team in the country to go through what we did and come out like we did. I'm very proud of that."
Listen to Audio (3:01)
On how it feels to close the regular season of his senior year with a win:
"It feels great. It's more satisfying. A couple coaches got emotional before this one talking to the guys. At the end of everything you kind of think about the beginning. It feels great to go out with a win. "
On the bowl game:
“We doggone feel like we earned it this year, you know? When you’re in it, you don’t really realize all of the stuff that is going on. You just think, ‘Well, I can’t focus on that right now.’ You’ve just got to keep pushing. That’s been the mindset of the team.”
Listen to Audio (1:22)
On his limited carries in the second half -
"I was cramping towards halftime and they just thought it'd be best to give me some attention, let me sit out and see if the cramps go away."
On the bowl game:
“With all of this adversity, people never even thought that we would come this far. It shows a good deal to people about how closely knit this team is. We feel this bowl game is another [opportunity] for us to say, ‘Look what we overcame.’ It just feels good.”
Listen to Audio (1:32)
"It's a close rival, so for us to keep that bell ... we know with these teams, no matter the records, it's always going to be a close game. Just the way we came out and played and finished says a lot about our team and our season."
On T.J. Yates's efficiency:
"You know, he's been efficient all year, with the exception of maybe one year. He's been having a heck of a year, so that's nothing new for him."