Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: UCF vs Auburn
UCF – 34, Auburn – 27
Monday, January 1, 2018
UCF Knights Post-Peach Bowl Press Conference Quotes:
Coach Scott Frost, Linebacker Shaquem Griffin, Quarterback McKenzie Milton
THE MODERATOR: Coach, if you can comment on the atmosphere and your Bowl experience.
SCOTT FROST: Great Bowl experience. This is my tenth as a player or a coach, New Year’s Day Bowl. The Peach Bowl is right up there with all of them. The people were so accommodating and polite. We had so much fun here as a team, and we’re grateful to have been given this chance.
Q. Do you feel like maybe you guys have a claim for the National Championship?
SCOTT FROST: You guys go first.
SHAQUEM GRIFFIN: Like Coach already told us, only thing we can keep doing is winning games, and I don’t think we have any more games left to win. I guess to the College Committee, it’s just what more can we do? We won all of them, and I just feel that we should have had an opportunity to show our talents to any and every team that wants to go against us. There’s no more teams left for us to beat.
MCKENZIE MILTON: I said on the podium, you can go ahead and cancel the playoffs; I’m not changing my mind.
SCOTT FROST: Going through the season, I was afraid to say much about the rankings and everything because I’m a little superstitious. And just when a coach starts running his mouth, that’s when you lose the next game. But it wasn’t right. I was watching every week, the Committee sitting in a room and decide this two-loss team must be better than UCF because UCF is in the American. Or this three-loss team must be better than UCF.
It looked like a conscious effort to me to make sure that they didn’t have a problem if they put us too high and a couple teams ahead of us lost. And oh, no, now we have to put them in a playoff. But we just beat a team that beat two playoff teams and lost to another one by six points and we beat them by seven. And Auburn is a great team. I’m not taking anything away from them. I give them a ton of credit. But these guys deserve everything they get, and they deserve more credit from the Committee than what they got.
Q. Just for the guys, just wondering, exactly how motivating was kind of the perception of disrespect coming into this game when you are on this stage and you have a chance to prove what you’re all about?
MCKENZIE MILTON: We didn’t even really look at it like that. We knew Auburn was going to be the best team we played all year, and we’ll line up and go against anybody. I said in the springtime, I’ll take our ballclub against anybody in the country, and I still feel that way. We played our butts off tonight and we were victorious and this is an unreal moment and I’m going to cherish it
SHAQUEM GRIFFIN: Yeah, it’s no better feeling than coming into a game being the underdog, and everybody going around telling you you can’t win, and people say we going to lose by this much and that much. I mean, we just waiting for somebody say, what are we going to win by. We didn’t get that often.
All we could think coming into the game was hit them as hard as we can and keep hitting them each and every second of the game. And that’s what our team did no matter what the circumstances was. When we was down, we made sure we pulled together instead of crushing each other, and we made sure that we made plays when it was time to make plays. The guys, they studied the game plan to the best of their abilities, and it showed in the game today.
Q. Talk about the last three games UCF has been involved in, three of the most exciting games that anybody has ever seen.
SCOTT FROST: That’s a hard question to answer in a short amount of time. Listen, through the most part of the year, these guys put people away. You know, we won games by a good margin. We played three really good football teams to finish the year. Memphis offensively is as good as there is in the country. USF is a good all-around team. This is one of the best teams in the country.
What our kids accomplished and overcame, they overcame playing 12 weeks in a row, or 11 weeks in a row, to finish the season without a break, coming off a hurricane, having schedules change, having a Saturday game, and then coming back and playing away. And then coming back and playing a Friday game for — on the last game of the year, and then turning around and winning the conference championship, coming here with a coach that took another job and all those distractions, and finding a way to get it done.
I didn’t know if these guys would be able to do it. I came back because it was the right thing to do, and I wanted to help give them the best chance that I could. And they surprised me again with their heart and resiliency.
Q. In the season you were talking about wanting to soak in every moment you could, and you wanted to get everything you could out of this season. Do you feel satisfied with the results and everything that’s happened this season for your last year?
SHAQUEM GRIFFIN: I mean, I’m just going to wait for that phone call from my brother, and then once I see his reaction, then I asked him the actual answer will come out. But, you know, I feel awesome. I feel great about the season. I feel great about being around great guys. And really these guys, they brought me in as a brother. It’s been a long time since I had somebody or a team that brought me in as one of them. I fought so hard to get where I’m at today, and it’s kind of good where I can actually showcase my talents with guys like McKenzie and guys like Coach Frost. Any guy can’t ask for that much. It’s hard to have a family environment like how we do. When I leave, that’s what I’m going to miss the most. Not just winning, but being around guys like that and having that family vibe all the time and being able to not talk about just football but just life itself.
Q. Over the last three weeks, we’ve heard you were sick, the crazy hours; how gratifying was it to see that clock hit zero and then the confetti for UCF come down?
SCOTT FROST: Yeah, it makes it all worth it. I hold my head high because through this whole process and decisions everything and, I tried to do everything the right way the best that I knew how. It was the right thing to do to come coach these guys. I’m not happy for me. I’m so happy for these guys. I told them in the locker room, this was an 0-12 group when I got there, and they looked like they weren’t having any fun and didn’t care about each other.
We had a long way to go, and to think that they are sitting here Peach Bowl champions and 13-0 in two years, I couldn’t be happier for them. Yeah, I told them it’s onward and upward from here for UCF. I expect to turn on the TV and watch them keep getting better and keep winning, and I look forward to going and hopefully turning another group of guys into the same type of family that has love for each other like these guys do.
Q. The defensive plan today, the caliber of Auburn has a diverse, tricky offense. How did your defensive coordinator put it together today and how well do you guys play on defense?
SCOTT FROST: You know I thought we could have played a lot better on offense in the first half. We missed some chances, uncharacteristic for us. They have great defense, and they have future NFL guys at every position. Defense kept us in that one early and then offense hits its stride when it needed to. This guy over here was playing like his dreadlocks were on fire today. Every time I looked up, he was running somebody down and making a play and making a sack. A lot of credit to Coach Chinander and his staff and that group of guys on defense. I told them before the game they needed to play harder than Auburn and they did.
SHAQUEM GRIFFIN: For me it was making sure my team was rallying to the ball. We had a good offense and had to make sure where our coaches put us in, and we did a good job of that all year. We had the game plan and they gave it to us, and all we had to do was study it and all the guys bought in. Even when the coach wasn’t there, as a group we came in and watched and made sure we learned it. And then when the game came, everything we’re saying, we knew what was coming and we just made plays. And when we got an opportunity to make a play, our guys did. We was all over the place. I heard recently that the quarterback wasn’t getting sacked that much this year. I think we had a thousand sacks today, so, I mean, I guess we did something right (Laughter).
Q. The game ball you’re holding right now, what does that mean to you, everything that went into this whole process, what do you take away when you take that home?
SCOTT FROST: You know, a memory, I’m going to have a ton of memories from this place. UCF has been unbelievable to me. Having my first child was incredible and then getting to spend time around guys like this all season and watching them have the success that they had. It will be hard for me to ever top 2017.
Q. Can you just talk about your ability to obviously stay effective when you weren’t being able to find your receivers early in the first half and then in the second half, finding your receivers then?
MCKENZIE MILTON: Yeah, you know, we kind of came out sleepwalking, throwing the ball in the air. I don’t know if it was the big lights or the big Jumbotron. You know, I think we kind of started hitting our stride later in the second quarter and then in the third and fourth quarter we started rolling. But yeah, I mean, coaches were calling good plays and utilizing my legs and the O-line dominated the game today. I don’t think anybody expected them to do that. Just it was an all-around team effort today. Chequan Burkett getting a pick-six, didn’t know if we were going to have him this year, and he pulled that off.
Q. We saw you holding your baby boy out on this field. I’m just wondering, when he gets old enough to understand, what will you tell him about this team and these guys?
SCOTT FROST: These guys will all still know him when he gets older because I expect to stay in touch with guys like this as long as I live. You know, I love looking at other people’s pictures of big moments in their lives with their children, and that was special for me to hold him.Listen, I’ll get heat for saying this, but if I’m a recruiter out there, I want to come play at UCF. It’s an incredible campus, it’s an incredible opportunity.
They are going to come in and play with some unbelievable human beings and football players and if I’m a recruiter out there, I want to come to Nebraska and play for this group of men that made this happen. I’m going to be a fan of both, do everything I can for the guys at UCF and do everything I can at Nebraska, and I can’t wait to watch what both programs can accomplish.
Q. Schedule you in our kickoff game, UCF against Nebraska —
SCOTT FROST: Pump your brakes, pump your brakes (Laughter).
Q. A lot of people talk about the Auburn team is loaded with NFL talent and I think you may have said that but Shaquem looked like the best defensive player out there.
MCKENZIE MILTON: By far.
Q. Is he ready for the next level?
SCOTT FROST: Yes, whoever gets him is going to be lucky. Listen, I had some crackpot dynamite reporter from Auburn at the first press conference ask me how in the heck we are going to possibly thrown the ball when they keep a lid on their coverage, and who’s the best pass rusher you’ve ever played against and how are you going to stop number. This is the best pass rush that offense has played against. This guy is unbelievable. One hand, two hands, two foot, three feet, I don’t care, I want him on my team and whatever team drafts him is going to be lucky to have him.