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Players' Press Conference

SS Chris Reis

Q: You go against him in practice, so what kind of challenge is Calvin Johnson for defensive backs?

“Calvin is Calvin and he does what he does and no one in the nation can stop him. I think he’s the best wide receiver in the nation. He’s good for our defense in that he gives us the best look that we can have: we’re not going to go against any better wide receivers, and his abilities are absolutely ridiculous so it helps on a defensive side.”

Q: Are you looking forward to playing against their offense?

“We know that they are going to come out passing and running and we know that we are going to have to get after it and counteract with that and just come with the pressure, which is blitz, and everybody knows that. We’re just going to come and do what we do best.”

Q: How can you win this game? What do you have to do to be successful?

“Our biggest thing is that in these past few games, we’ve been killing ourselves. We’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot and we’ve been doing everything: turnovers have been a big thing for us, penalties have been a big thing for us, and big plays-we’ve got to eliminate big plays-and we have to execute. If we do all those things and we don’t turn over the ball and we don’t let them score, then they won’t win the ballgame. We have to do our job with the aspect of, defensively, if we don’t let them score, they aren’t going to win the ball game.”

Q: What is it like playing on kickoff coverage? How did your playing on it come about?

“It’s fun. It reminds me a lot of my freshman and sophomore days, and I like it. It’s fun. You get to run down the field and hit some people, which I enjoy, so it gives me another opportunity to make some plays. They just pulled some guys up because I think they just wanted to give some of the younger guys that are on there a little bit of confidence, like `go ahead and run down the field and do what you’ve got to do: make the play, and don’t worry about it because we’ve got some older guys, some starters, backing you up.’ We [the starters] don’t really do much. We’re kind of on the outside, the safeties, we’re not wedgebusters or anything like that, but we just give those guys some comfort and a little bit of confidence and a little leadership. When I was a freshman, I was a wedgebuster.”

Q: What is the most impressive thing about Miami’s tight ends?

“They are just athletic. They’re tall, they’re athletic. They’re not massive in size, but they are just quality tight ends that you have to take into consideration. They run good routes, they have quick hands, and they can do it all. They have a few tight ends that are pretty good too, so we’re going to have to keep an eye on them. Everybody has quality tight ends, Miami just have those route runner tight ends that they like to throw to a lot. Not many people like to throw to their tight ends, but they do. It’s not something that we haven’t seen, but it’s just something to take into consideration.”

Q: Did anything about Miami strike you after playing them last year?

“I think we look at Miami as they win a lot of games before they even start the game, with the intimidation factor. Miami is Miami, that’s who they are. Everybody knows that they have athletic ability, they have speed and they have great players, but I think last year, we were shocked because we realized that we CAN play with these guys, and we realize that this year. We can play with anybody, the Miami’s, the Georgia’s, whoever. We have to build some confidence this week in practice and just go out and see what we can do Saturday.”

Q: Does playing a team like Miami that has such an impressive defense put more pressure on your defense?

“Not really. We don’t pay attention to their defense. We are more focused on our defense and what we have to do to and our main thing is that if they don’t score, then they don’t win. That’s the bottom line and what we have to focus on. We’re not worried about how many points the offense is going to score or what the offense is going to do, we just have to worry about what our job is and that’s just shutting them out and limiting their yards and their big plays.”

Q: Is there any reason that Philip Wheeler leads your team in interceptions, and were you surprised when you were moved back to DB for him to play linebacker? Does he ask the veterans questions?

“Not from my standpoint. I think he’s doing a great job. He’s athletic as all get-out, so it doesn’t surprise me that he has like four interceptions. I think he’s just doing a great job. I think everyone knew that he was a raw athlete, but he didn’t have any experience. That was the key right there, everybody else on defense had some game experience except for Philip, and that was one of our concerns. But he’s really done a good job. He’s picked it up fast and he’s really learning out there, each game. I know that it’s tough, coming into a new environment and to play right off the bat to start, but he’s doing a great job.”

Q: Where are you now compared to where you wanted to be at this time in the season?

“Defensively, I think we’re a little below our expectations. I think we wanted to be better, and I think we can be better. I don’t think we’re ever going to reach our expectations because our expectations are so high. But we’re doing good and we’re getting better each game. We just have to continually get better, I think that’s the key, so that by the end of the year, we are the best that we can be.

Q: When [Miami’s] Hester is on the field, do you give him more attention?

“Obviously, when he’s on the field, they are going to give him the ball. That’s the reason that he’s on the field. We all know who the ball is going to. He’s a playmaker, that’s what he does. He has great speed, he has great moves, and we just have to tackle him.

LB Gerris Wilkinson

Q: Do you remember anything in particular about Miami from last year?

“The biggest thing that comes to my mind is big plays. They got some big passing players against us. We did decent against the run, but I just remember that they did complete a couple of long pass plays.”

Q: Do you think you need to be more dominant against the run or the pass?

“Definitely against the run. They have some talented offensive linemen and some talented backs. Every week our goal is to stop the run, so if we can go out there and stop the run and make them throw the ball, then we’ll have a much better chance.”

Q: Talk about their tight ends, and what makes tight ends more difficult to defend

“They are talented. They are very talented, great route runners, good hands, nice speed, good blockers.”

Q: Is there a reaction in the film room to the number of interceptions that Philip Wheeler has this season?

“He’s a playmaker, and it’s great to see that. Having him come out and have him play the way that he has been playing is definitely something that we have to look forward to and something that we’re really excited about.”

Q: Was their skepticism last year when Chris Reis was moved back to safety to make room for Wheeler?

“Not really because we felt like Chris could make plays wherever he was. Moving him back to where he originally was we thought would help out the defense because when you have someone like Philip Wheeler and Chris on the field at the same time puts the defense in the great situation.”

Q: Do you go into a game thinking differently against a first-year quarterback vs someone with more experience?

“We don’t really think too much about it. It’s in the back of your mind, but our game plan doesn’t change much because of experience. It doesn’t change our goals on defense. It’s something to think about, but it doesn’t have too much of an affect on how you prepare.”

Q: Chris Reis said that you have more confidence going into this game than you did last year. What kind of confidence do you have?

“Mainly focusing on defense, we feel like if we stop their running game, it gives us a chance to win the game. That’s our main focus on defense. You want to go into every game thinking that you have a chance to win. In the past, they were a dominant force, but I think that now it’s just a matter of having confidence in your teammates and your game play.”

Q: Do you notice when [Miami’s] Hester is on the field? Is it tough for one guy to bring him down?

“He’s the type of player that you have to know where he is. If he’s on the field, you definitely need to know where he is, because they are trying to get the ball to him. He’s not just a speed guy, he’s a great player that has power.”

QB Reggie Ball

Q: How excited are you about going against the No. 1 defense in the country?

“I don’t look at any of that. The guys around me know that I’m not into stats, so I didn’t even know that until you said it. It’s a challenge each and every week. It’s another opportunity.”

Q: How comforting is it to have Calvin Johnson out there?

“It’s comforting, I’m not going to lie about it. But I have confidence in all of my receivers out there. Calvin Johnson is a 6-4 phenom, so when I need a play, I may tend to throw to him. But I have confidence in everyone that is out there, including James Johnson and Damarious Bilbo. They all can and have made plays. Calvin is just another piece of the puzzle.”

Q: What do you remember about last year’s Miami game?

“It was tough. A lot of misreads, a lot of missed opportunities, and turnovers. The bad is overweighing the good in my memory and the memories that I have. We’re just trying to capitalize on the opportunity that we have right now, and we’re just looking to get a win in Miami this weekend.

Q: What do you know about Miami’s defense.

“They have tremendous speed. but like with any defense, there will be opportunities to make plays. We’re a lot more experienced, and we have our heads screwed on right, so we’re ready to go down there and make something happen.”

Q: Talk about Miami’s speed.

“I think any Florida team is in a class by itself when it comes to speed. Virginia Tech was very fast, but I think you’d have to put Miami in its own class when you talk about speed.

“They are just so quick and so fast. They can recover at any given time. Even if they do make the slightest mistake, their athletic ability sometimes hides it.

Q: What did Charlie Whitehurst do that presented Miami problems?

“He threw the ball and his receivers caught it. It’s simple. He did make a great throw in double-coverage, but that was about the most complex thing that he did all game. That, and he made a great run, I think it was like 50 yards. He didn’t do anything fancy though. He made the right reads, and threw the ball where his receivers could catch it.

Q: What would beating Miami down there mean to this program?

“It would mean 5-2, 3-2 in the ACC. A win is a win, you always get a boost from any win. This is only the seventh game of the season, and next week, we’ve still got to worry about whoever we play next week.

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