Steve Addazio Weekly Press Conference Transcript: Oct. 2
COACH ADDAZIO: Looking forward to getting back to conference play here. It’s great to get a win. And we know we have a big, big challenge ahead of us here Saturday night. Virginia Tech is an outstanding football team, as you all know, one of the best defenses in the country. Bud Foster is one of the premier coordinators in the country. Once again, they’re 12th in scoring defense, 24th in total defense, 29th in rush defense, 48th in pass defense, and that’s with playing a marquee team in Clemson. Key players, Termaine Edmunds; Andrew Motuapuaka, their middle linebacker; and Tim Settle is a big, strong, powerful guy in the interior of their defensive line. They’re very, very good on that side of the ball, really always have been. And people are struggling to move the ball on them. On offense, you know, Josh Jackson is a redshirt freshman quarterback, a talented guy. He can run; he can throw and has done some really good things this season. Running backs, Travon McMillian, Deshawn McClease, talented guys, good size guys, very productive, both averaging over 4.5 yards a carry. Wide receivers, Cam Phillips, 41 catches, almost 600 yards, outstanding receiver. So they have some skilled players. They have a run game. They’re very, very good on defense. They, too, have had an opportunity to be in a tough game versus Clemson. They had them at home, which is a great advantage for Virginia Tech with their home field advantage. But they were in a tough game there, played a physical game. So we know that this Saturday will be a great challenge but one we’re really looking forward to, really excited about. We’ve been in some big challenges against real good teams. So we have another one here and it’ll be at home. Any questions?
Q. Does Bud Foster kind of have a set pattern on defense or does he kind of go with the athletes that he has in the system?
COACH ADDAZIO: I mean his defense has fluctuated a little bit over the years. Coverages, a little bit of front variation, but for the most part, for the most part their standard defense which is a four-down defense has been pretty consistent. Their ability to play man coverage, their ability to pressure you in certain scenarios and play zero has been pretty consistent. I think he does a great job of defending formations and defending plays and things like that. He’s a real good coach, been proven over a long time. I go all the way back to my days at Syracuse going against Virginia Tech, so have a long history here of watching him call defense. He’s been here a long time. And I just think he’s an outstanding football coach. Once again, they’re good. They have good talent. I mean they have good players. Never mistake that. They have the ability to recruit some really good players, and they do a great job on defense recruiting to what they want to do.
Q. How about Lukas Denis? The five interceptions, is that just part of his athleticism or is he just being in the right spot for those?
COACH ADDAZIO: Like everything, it’s a little bit of everything. I think he’s maturing. He’s coming along on defense. I think he has a knack for playing back there. Also we’re mixing our coverages more than we ever have here before and he’s getting more comfortable with that. So I think it’s a combination of all. But he certainly seems to be in a good position frequently. And he’s a good athlete. He’s a really good athlete.
Q. What about A.J.? Was he okay after that?
COACH ADDAZIO: Yeah. A.J. is doing really great.
Q. No problems?
COACH ADDAZIO: Not to my knowledge. Not right now.
Q. Back Lukas Denis, were the interceptions for him a surprise? Is that something you saw coming from him during camp?
COACH ADDAZIO: I think all those guys I saw during camp, they’re all pretty really good athletes back there. And, you know, I just think that safeties depending on the coverage you’re in, have a great opportunity for those interceptions. If you’re in a two-deep coverage, if you’re playing quarters, I mean you’re going to get a little bit more of that. And man coverage you’re more isolated at times with corners locked up in man on receivers and it’s not quite the same whereas in safeties you can play zones and they can sit back and see the field and break on balls, you’re going to have a little bit more opportunity with that. So we’re playing more zone coverage, so you’re seeing more of that.
Q. Last year your team lost to Virginia Tech 49 to nothing. Does that loss still sting and are the guys using that as motivation for Saturday’s game?
COACH ADDAZIO: Every loss stings. We went down there in a pretty hostile environment, and we got beat. A lot of people got beat. Do I think you sit there and dwell on a game? No. I mean it is what it is. And you move forward. We’ve beaten them two out of four years. Let’s not forget that either. Okay. So I think you learn from what you feel were mistakes that you may have made in that game. You grow from those kind of games. And you move forward. Listen, man, we’re in a really good conference. We play some really good teams, and when you play them at home, it’s really tough. This is not standard fare across the country what we’re playing against right now. We’re playing against really good teams, in tough, tough venues. So sometimes that can happen. And you don’t want it to and you’re not happy about it, but we went down there and played pretty poorly, especially on offense, which a lot of people do against that defense last year. And you know, so our goal is to learn from our mistakes. But dwell on them? No. I mean you know, we’ve been in some pretty good battles already.
Q. Virginia Tech is in the Coastal but you play them every year. Talk about the rivalry, just a macro look BC/Virginia Tech. Even going back to ACC Championship playing against them two years in a row in ’07 and ’08. What is it about Virginia Tech that makes them so successful?
COACH ADDAZIO: I think their steadying the boat gave Frank Beamer a chance to build that program. I was a Syracuse at the time when they were about ready to take Coach Beamer and make a change. They were on their last legs. And they hung in there with them, and he was able to build it and turn it around. He will tell you. If he was standing here today. I’ve talked to him. He’s an awesome guy. And he would tell you that, that they hung in there with him and gave him an opportunity to recruit it and hang in there and build. And they got over the hump. They built magnificent facilities. They’ve put a lot of money into their program. You guys have been down there. Their stadium is packed and sold out every week, and they have tremendous facilities and they have a major commitment to football down there. Okay? And then they gave him a chance to hang in there and build that program. And all those energies — this is not a new phenomenon. All those energies go together and it can lead to really building a program that’s committed to excellence if in football.
Q. We’re entering time now, early October, exams, mid-terms. Teams have been playing since late July. How is everyone feeling? How is the moral going with the team? And this is really the full swing of ACC play now, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Notre Dame. How is the team handling the week-to-week grind?
COACH ADDAZIO: I mean great. In terms of excited to play the game, in terms of the attitude in our locker room, it’s phenomenal. I think guys are excited and energized and feel great about getting a win. And I think our team knows exactly where we are and what we’ve gone through and what we’ve had to overcome right now. Got to keep grinding. In terms of the academic piece of it here, I mean this is a real — this school is a really high end, as you guys know this, a very high-end academic school. Our kids are challenged every single day in the classroom. This is not where you come and find a major to put people into. This is where you come in here and you compete every day. And we’re really proud of that. And our kids have to grind. So our kids carry a real load academically. So yes, what I’ve learned here is you get into a certain time of year and mid-terms and work — academic workload happens. You can see the kids start to get, you know, mentally pretty tired. And they have to learn how to cope and deal with that. Okay. But I think we’ve got bright guys here that are committed to wanting to do well in their education. So as they get older — I worry a little bit about the young guys, when it’s all new to them. The older guys learn how to balance that and how to handle that. And the young guys I think sometimes that’s pretty overwhelming for them because they’ve never seen that kind of quantity of work, matched with the intensity physically and mentally of this level of football. This is the highest level — I mean the ACC has never been better than it is today. It’s at an all-time high. And this is not ten years ago. It’s at its all-time high. So these kids — and sort of speak, BC is at an all-time high. This is considered now — it’s always been a phenomenal school but it’s one of the most elite schools in America. So in recruiting, we talk about it. It’s one of the elite schools in America academically. But you’re playing against the very, very best talent there is in the country right now, at a high, high level. And we play in a division on the side of it that as you can well see who we’re playing right now, it’s not like the other side. So you have that ability to have both at a high level. And if you’re a guy that thrives in that kind of thing, it’s awesome. And you get to get challenged every single day.
Q. After Saturday’s game you talked about how the play action passing game wasn’t exactly where you wanted it to be. You guys have been running the ball and increasing better. What is it that needs to improve? The protection?
COACH ADDAZIO: You know what, it’s a good question. It’s a little of both. We met on this Sunday — yesterday. And it’s a little of both. Sometimes, you know, we’ve got a misread. Sometimes we break down in protection. But I would say the consistency factor. We had a couple wide open guys that we missed a couple throws on. It’s a little bit of everything. We’d like that to be better than it is right now. When I talk about play action, that’s a broad-base term, too. I’m talking about more the longer chunk play action more than the shorter play action. And we run naked and those kinds of things. I think we’re doing well there. I just think our chunk throws down the field have not been what they were really during training camp, you know, pretty consistently. You know, we fell off just a little bit there and we need to regain that back. It’s there to be gained. At times, like I said, it’s more 11 firing consistently more than it is — you know, we’ve had some challenges in here that have — up front that have created a little havoc for us and we’re still ironing them out. And our run game is improving incrementally because we’re starting to get a little more cohesiveness. But as we all know, that’s a real big piece. Hopefully this week, I’m hoping — this might be the first week that I’m hoping we can have five guys working together all week long that will be the starters in the game. That would be a good thing. And that can go a long way in helping us. Of course, we’re going to ratchet up our competition level going against one of the marquee defenses in America as well, as we did two weeks ago.
Q. How is Michael Walker able to do both disciplines? Sometimes a good punt returner is not necessarily a good kick returner. How has he kind of mastered both of those disciplines?
COACH ADDAZIO: I think you saw Mike at his very best because Mike is a run-into-the-catch guy. Some guys are not that; right? Good kickoff return guys can rock and run into the catch, so as they catch it, they’re moving as opposed to a stationary catcher that has to start. That’s what makes Mike really a good kick returner. And the punts he was able to get those punts. If you remember kind of almost on a dead run, which is hard to do, but he does a great job with that. So that gave him great momentum. Whereas a lot of punt guys, they catch it and then they’re stop-start guys. Mike is more of a hit it on the move guy. So those short punts that came at him like that, low trajectory, short, whatever played a little bit into his hands. That’s what he does actually quite well. And some do, some don’t. He does that well.
Q. What about his decision making like went to fair catch, went to let it go for the end zone?
COACH ADDAZIO: Been pretty good. He’s done a really good job of that. It’s not easy, as you can tell, especially with the kind of kick that was coming at him this week, that kind of side rugby, half rugby-style kick, low. There’s a lot of decisions that would have to be made. And he’s a bright guy, and he handled those really, really well. And I thought he did a fabulous job with it. And that’s a tough place to play right there. I mean both those jobs are tough jobs. A kickoff returner and a punt returner are kind of different. People think they’re really similar, but they’re really not. And he handles both pretty well.
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