Q&A with A.J. Trump

A.J. Trump is excited about the Hurricanes' bowl eligibility. The junior offensive lineman knows not to look past this weekend's opponent, the NC State Wolfpack, as a win in Raleigh would mean a better bowl game for Miami. Read on to see what Trump had to say about this weekend's game and the bowl season.

After losing a shot at the ACC Championship game, what is there left to play for?
"We're playing for a better bowl. We're playing for next year. How we're going to start off next year because that makes a big difference. We're just competitive guys. Winning is important. A lot of these players that we're playing are from Miami or Florida. Personally, I'll be playing against two guys, one that I played with in high school and one that I played against in high school."

Does this team have it in them to bounce back from last week's loss and finish strong?
"We're all competitive guys so I don't think we're really let down. We really wanted that win but you just keep fighting. The coaches are doing a really good job of making sure that this game is important because it does mean a lot."

NC State was one of the teams that kept Miami out of a bowl appearance last year. Is there any sense of going up there and doing the same to them?
"No, not really. It's another game for us and another win that we need. It's another thing to build off."

While you guys did not meet all of your pre-season goals, do you think it has been a successful season?
"I think so. I think we matured as a team. We've got to still finish strong. We improved. We've got some guys that are going to come back next year and help us. They got some experience this year. It definitely was not what we wanted and not up to our standards but I'm not going to look at this season as a failure."

What is the lesson you learn from a game like last Thursday's at Georgia Tech?
"Every game is a battle. You have to be ready for every one. I'm not saying that we weren't ready but they don't get easier just because you win a couple games in a row."

What do you know about NC State's defense?
"They've got some guys. It's like any ACC defense. They all have people who are playmakers and they got guys who are good players. You have to get prepared for that every week."

Did this team struggle a bit with prosperity for the first time?
"No, I don't think so. I think a lot of these guys came from high school teams that didn't lose a lot of games in high school. Everyone knew what was at hand and knew it was a big game and really wanted that game. It just didn't work out."

It seems like the most realistic possibilities for what bowl game you will go to are the Gator Bowl and the Champs Sports Bowl. Do you have any preference between the two?
"For me, not really. I'm from Tampa so Orlando is about an hour away and Jacksonville is three so my family would be able to see it. I think we'd prefer the Gator just because it's higher on the list of bowl. We'd get an opportunity to face a better team. The Gator would be assuming that we win this week. The Gator Bowl sounds pretty good."

Do you ever look at any of the bowl projections that are available?
"I spent maybe five minutes trying to figure it out but it's to the point now that we just have to beat NC State and things will work out."

What the difference between 7-5 and 8-4 to you?
"It's a big difference. Winning football games and getting back to the winning ways. It's not fun to be around this place after a loss. That's just the way it is. Being around here after a win and finishing the season off with a win would be huge."

What would it mean to go from five wins last year to eight wins this year?
"It would be big. That's a big improvement. It's growth. It's good for the whole program. If we keep improving by three games a year I think we'll be alright."

If you beat NC State and win the bowl game you will finish 9-4. Where do you think that would put you in next season's pre-season rankings?
"I don't have a clue. I couldn't tell you that but I know that starting in that top 25 makes a difference. You start to win games and move up and if you lose one during the season you get knocked back a bit. It makes a difference so top 25 would be good."

What do you think happened to this team last week that led to such a lopsided loss?
"I think we just didn't have it. We came out and made some mistakes on offense that cost us. People might want to blame the defense but offensively we threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and we threw another interception that was inside our own 30. You look at those plays and it wasn't anyone's fault. It wasn't the triple option. The team just didn't get it done."

Every week it seems like a different guy steps up and makes big plays. Can you pick an MVP on this team with so many big contributors?
"I don't know how that's going to work. It seems like every week we have a different player stepping up at a different position. We've had some guys who have made big contributions. The thing about it is that it's a team effort. I think that's why coach is so happy with us. We don't have one guy who is that guy. It's an entire team effort and we're doing it together."

Do you think that for Miami to get back to the top that definite playmakers have to emerge on this team as go-to guys?
"Yeah I think that's somewhat important. We have a couple of those guys. I think there's going to be a couple of guys from this class that when Robert of Jacory needs a completion, that's going to be the guy they go to. We're still a young football team and we're still trying to find those guys. We're fighting to win football games and we're winning a lot so we'll take it. With that whole playmaker thing, if someone steps up and makes a play, I'm happy. I don't really have to have the cookie cutter mold of a playmaker but I think it will happen in time."

Last week, NC State blew out North Carolina. It seems like every week a new team steps up and surprises someone. What do you think of how the conference has been this year?
"It's quite a confusing conference. It seems like every week before we play a team they get really keyed in and ready to go. It's going to be fun having that challenge and seeing how we match up against them."

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