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SI: What are the biggest issues facing your team this season?
NS: We lost the quarterback, and we had three very talented players who were dominant at their positions and went into the draft. Are we going to find ways to overcome the losses? How hungry is this group to dominate the competition?
SI: ANY LESSONS FROM LAST YEAR'S LOSS TO AUBURN?
NS: A NATIONAL-CHAMPION-CALIBER TEAM ISN'T GOING TO GO AWAY. WE DIDN'T FINISH THE GAME—THAT'S THE BIGGER LESSON.
SI: What can we expect from Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower?
NS: Courtney developed a lot of confidence throughout last year, and that carried over to the spring. That confidence has helped him become a playmaker. Dont'a seems like he's got a little more juice, playing a little bit faster and is a little more comfortable [being a signal-caller].
SI: It's been a rough off-season in college football. Do you think the sport is "dirtier" than it used to be?
NS: I don't think there are any more issues in college football now than in the past. They may be different because the landscape changes and there's much more information out there now. In the old days, back in the '80s, SMU was getting the death penalty. There was a different set of issues, but there were issues.