FRANK SPAZIANI: We're excited about going down to Miami on this anniversary of what everybody remembers the infamous Hail Mary pass. Once again, we've got a tough task ahead of us. We've got a very good Miami team and a short week for both of us. We're looking forward to it.
Q. You've known Al a long time, of course. How would you sort of assess from afar how he's kind of rolled with all the punches, all he's had to deal with this year?
FRANK SPAZIANI: Oh, I think Al is‑‑ first of all, Al is a quality individual, human being, great character, great football coach. I think he's handled it marvelous. I think he's done a tremendous job, really, with all the distractions and all the problems that he's had to navigate through. It's a tribute to his skills.
Q. Obviously, too, they won't be head to head, of course, but you've seen a pretty good linebacker all year. When you watch film of Sean Spence, how do you kind of assess how far he's come this year?
FRANK SPAZIANI: Oh, he's a great football player. You have to know where he's at, and you have to be conscious of him. Once again, our players are conscious of him, other coaches are conscious of him, and he's done a great job, he really has.
Q. These kids were kind of caught a little off guard on Sunday with the fact that they're not going to a Bowl. Do you address that with your guys at all, preparing them for maybe the extra emotion, whatever intangible that might bring on Friday?
FRANK SPAZIANI: Once again, I can't‑‑ I've got trouble getting in the heads of my own guys, let alone figuring out‑‑ that's Al's job. We're going to do what we can do as you hear coaches say all the time and take care and prepare the best we can. They're tremendous athletes. They're well coached, and they play hard. I don't expect anything different.
Q. You guys are among the least penalized teams in the country, and in fact, there's several teams that are among the least penalized that are kind of in your position in terms of won‑lost record. Why do you think that is? It seems kind of counterintuitive to think that a well coached team that doesn't get penalized would be‑‑
FRANK SPAZIANI: Well, let's look at the positive side of it. I guess there's a million slants to that whole thing, and we coach them, and they understand that penalties are very negative, and we have to get every advantage that we possibly can. Obviously it hasn't translated into the wins that we would have liked, but we're ever striving to be up there in the top echelon of people least penalized.
Q. With the way you guys have played, particularly defensively the last three weeks, to what do you attribute that, holding Notre Dame to‑‑ really making them for fight for everything they've got? Why do you think your defense has improved even though injuries have continued?
FRANK SPAZIANI: Well, there's a lot of factors, first of all. The major factor is that everybody on this football team, the players and the coaches, understand that the object is to go out every week and get better, and we have done that. And then there's certain factors, you match up a little bit different sometimes against certain teams. The mental attitude and the match‑ups sometimes make things look a little bit different than they really are. But the whole idea is to improve, and we've got a lot of young guys, and they're improving, and the guys are working hard and the coaches are coaching hard. I'll attribute most of it to that.
Q. To follow up on that, you mentioned match‑ups. How does your defense match up against Miami this week?
FRANK SPAZIANI: Yeah, this is a total different match‑up. You know, there's tremendous team speed, size, a very mobile, athletic quarterback, and we've had problems with this type of match‑up before. We're certainly going to have to put ourselves in the right position, first of all, and then we're going to have to make some certain‑‑ some plays that we haven't made in the past. But this is a very difficult match‑up for us in a lot of ways.
Q. So just the fact that Miami only scored six points last week doesn't have you licking your fingers there?
FRANK SPAZIANI: Well, when you're 3 and 8, you don't lick your fingers too much. And once again, I look at their whole body of work, and that's a good football team that's played some very, very good opponents, and they played one last week. That has nothing to do with what happened last week.
Q. When you look at the big picture of this season, what are the things that you feel like possibly you've laid the groundwork for next season and beyond, some things to build on?
FRANK SPAZIANI: Well, once again, I want to make this clear: This game here is the most important game in our future. But we've‑‑ it's very hard to say what you've done well and how well you've gotten to and still be 3 and 8. But we have kids that have come in and worked, and I haven't seen the difference in them from week one to now, and that's the foundation of moving forward. And certainly experience‑‑ once again, we have young players. A lot of teams have young players, and we don't make excuses. But they're gaining experience, and there's only one way to gain experience, and it's by doing it.
Success comes from making mistakes. So we certainly have made our share of mistakes this year, and hopefully we have a foundation, and we think we do. We're moving forward.
Thanks to ASAP Sports for the transcript