ACC coaches’ quotes, week 11

A transcript of the weekly teleconference with the ACC’s coaches, courtesy of the conference:



COACH GROBE: We had a really

disappointing loss this past week against Boston

College. I thought Boston College’s kids played

really, really well. You know, we threw four

interceptions and fumbled a punt, so five turnovers

with us, it’s very hard to beat anybody. I think it’s

hard for anybody to beat somebody with five


I thought our kids played hard. I thought

we made some improvements individually in

different positions. As a team we played really,

really hard, but just weren’t able to overcome five


Q. You’ve talked a lot about

fundamentals and that is something that you’re

really focusing on right now with these kids,

not as much about wins and losses but

fundamentals. How much have you done from

a mental standpoint though to try to rebuild

their confidence?

COACH GROBE: Well, I think the thing

that we’ve tried to do, Taylor, is just work hard

enough that we’re not sitting around worrying

about our confidence.

I thought in the game Saturday against

Boston College we probably missed a couple of

opportunities by being a little bit too tentative. And

I think that’s what happens when you don’t have a

lot of confidence. You don’t step up and make

some plays. You’re a little bit more on your heels.

I thought that happened to us Saturday a

little bit. But I thought our kids played really, really

hard. So instead of trying to sit around and dwell

on not having enough confidence, which I think

only comes through winning, I think we’re just

trying to continue to work real, real hard. And not

give our guys enough time to sit around and think

about what could have been or about lack of


Q. I know in a perfect, ideal situation,

you’re probably preparing for the opponent a

lot, talking to your team a lot about N.C. State.

But right now are you focusing so much more

on your team than you are on any opponent

you have?

COACH GROBE: Little bit of both. Little

bit of both. I think if you take — if you’ve got a more

veteran team, I think sometimes you go more

toward game planning and next opponent. But I

think for us we’re having each day to coach our

own football team as far as fundamentals and

where you’re supposed to be in our scheme, and

then try to look forward to N.C. State, so a little bit

of both.

Q. What is your major area of concern

for preparing for N.C. State this weekend?

COACH GROBE: Well, I think you have to

say Russell Wilson. I think their defense is much

improved, and we’ve got a really tough job

offensively to try to find first downs against their


But I think the guy that stands out to you is

certainly Russell Wilson. I think from a defensive

perspective you have to worry about the schemes

that they run on offense, and how you’re going to

stop the run. How you’re going to stop the pass.

But ultimately you know the guy that has

the ability to improvise when things don’t go well is

Russell Wilson. So I think we’re trying to stop what

they do offensively. But you know the wildcard is

Russell Wilson’s ability to ad lib and improvise

when things break down.

Q. With just a handful of games

remaining in the regular season, are you

focusing more on getting your younger players

game experience and building for the future


COACH GROBE: Not really. I think our

philosophy is we only get 12 regular season

games, and we’re going to try as hard as we can to

win every one of them. So our focus is to try to win a game, and not trying to develop kids for next year. We’ve got to play these next three games as

hard as we possibly can.

As you know we’re already playing a ton of

young guys, so it would be hard to plug in more

young guys. But I think our focus is always in the

season trying to win.

Q. I was just looking at the numbers.

You guys made a quantity leap up on defense

this past week after some real tough struggles.

Was there any reason for that? Is it just finding

the accumulation of the fundamentals you’re

talking about or was there another reason you

guys did so much better this week?

COACH GROBE: I think we’ve thinned

our package down a little bit. I think we were both

sides of the ball, actually asking some pretty young

players to do some things that have really been

good to us in the past. But that involves being

multiple on offense and defense. I think we were

too multiple to be honest with you on both sides of

the ball.

I think a couple of weeks ago we started

making a move toward simplifying our package

defensively and offensively. But I think one of the

things that helped us on Saturday against Boston

College is our offense helped the defense a little


Now it doesn’t sound like it when you

throw four interceptions, but I do think we balanced

the game out a little bit possession timewise. And I

thought our defense made a couple of great stands

with their backs against the wall.

I think probably a couple of things, we’ve

cut the package down a little bit, but I think also

our kids are getting late in the year.

Q. I want to ask you about Marshall

Williams. Is he your best passer. What did you

say to him?

COACH GROBE: Don’t tell him that too

much, he’ll want to play quarterback the last three


I guess Marshall was telling me he played

quarterback some when he was younger in high

school and as he got older they moved him to wide

receiver. But he’s got a great arm. He’s especially

got great arm strength to throw the ball down the


I tell you what, we probably should have

thrown it more with him, more gadget plays with

him throwing the ball because he really does have

a nice arm.

Q. When you look at the film every

Sunday or Monday, do you see anything that

you say we do this better, we do that better we

can turn it into a W? Is there anything that

you’re saying we’re almost there in this area or

that area?

COACH GROBE: I think so. From our

perspective, we had a good chance to win last

Saturday and didn’t get it done because of

turnovers. So I think from an offensive standpoint

we have to keep stressing taking care of the

football. That was something that was really

disappointing last Saturday.

I’ve got to give Boston College’s defense

some credit. They’re pretty good on that side of

the ball. But, again, in special teams we fumbled

the punt and that is something that you shouldn’t

do. Devon Brown fumbled the punt and he’s been

doing it for a couple of years now, so that is

something that you really hate to see.

And I think defensively, we’re getting a

little bit better. I think we just need to continue to

improve. I hope we don’t take a step back. We’re

going against a great offensive team and a great

quarterback in Russell Wilson this week. So I’d

like to see our young guys continue to improve.

But I think that is the emphasis for us right

now, is not taking a step backward and trying to

continue to improve on the defensive side of the




COACH BEAMER: Our football team has

taken a hit here recently. I think when you take

Dyrell Roberts and David Wilson out of the lineup,

you lose some real skill and some guys that are

very much competitors. So we’ve got to have

some guys to step up for those fellas, for sure.

Hopefully, I think we’ve got some guys with

the ability and hopefully that is going to be the

case that they’ll step up. I think Chris Drager on

the other side is a guy that is very important to our

defense. He’s a consistent guy, steady guy,

dependable guy. He’s affected other people like

that. So we’re missing some really good folks

there this week.

But we’re facing a team that is really good.

You know, I think the quarterback (T.J.) Yates has

played exceptional. Jones and several of the

receivers are going to get the ball. Defensively

visit our archives at

ACC – 11.10.10, part 1.doc 3

those linebackers are exceptional. Probably the

best defense we’ve played all year. So a

tremendous challenge this week. Questions?

Q. I just wanted to ask you first and

foremost why you feel this rivalry that it’s

become in the last few years is so evenly

matched? This game goes down to the wire on

almost an annual basis?

COACH BEAMER: I think we’ve both

been very good. I think we’ve both got players that

have played very hard. I think just both teams

compete very hard, and for that reason the games

have gone down to the wire.

Q. I was just talking to James Hopper

yesterday, and he told me that during spring

practice his child was born the night before

your spring game and he rushed back so he

could be at the spring game and participate. I

was wondering what that tells you about him

and his dedication to your program that he

would do something like that?

COACH BEAMER: Yeah, everything’s

right about James. He’s a good player, very

dedicated, very much committed to the football

team; a good person. The kind of guy you like to

have in your program.

Q. Were you aware of that situation and

did you guys try to help him out and say, yeah,

it’s okay for you to go and to be there for the

birth of your child?

COACH BEAMER: Well, I think he did that

on his own. I think that was his — he set his

schedule on that one.

Q. I was just wondering what was said

after the second game this season. How were

you able to turn this thing around as quickly

and as thoroughly as you have in the first two


COACH BEAMER: It goes back to you’ve

got to have good people. I think when you have

two losses in a week’s time as devastating as

those two losses were, that if you don’t have good

people you’re probably done. Everybody’s starting

to blame and point fingers.

You know, we didn’t have that. We had

senior leadership. I think it told us that we better –

we had some nice things written about us before

those two ballgames–and we better get back to

work to see if we can’t get some good things

written about us at the end of the year.

Then I do think that the relationships with

our coaches and players is very important. I tell

our coaches all the time that you work every day

for the crisis, and that was a crisis around here,

0-2, and looking at our schedule.

But I think if you’ve got good, strong

relationships and trust each other and care about

each other, then you can overcome. I think that’s

what we have in our players and coaches and this

football team is people that trust each and care

about each other.

You know, we’ve worked out the problem

and we’ve solved the problem so far. We’ve got

another big problem this Saturday that’s not going

to be easy to solve. But I’ve been proud of what

you’re football team has been able to accomplish

after two terrific or two really tough setbacks.

Q. What is it that’s allowed you to come

back from all these double digit deficits you’ve

faced? I know ideally you wouldn’t want to

have faced them, but you’ve been able to

overcome some of these double digits?

COACH BEAMER: I think it gets back to

your quarterback. We have a quarterback that can

make things happen and can keep you in the

game, can bring you back. He’s got some good

people around you.

But I know for this operation to work, you

better have a quarterback that can do it. I think

we’ve got a guy that can do it. It means a lot to our

football team.

Q. I wanted to ask an a attendance

question. What’s been the secret at Virginia

Tech to continue to sell out all the home games

at a time when it seems the economy and

maybe some other factors are taking at least a

small toll, maybe a big toll in some other

places, in some of the league’s larger


COACH BEAMER: I think we just have

terrific fans. I think the game experience here in

Blacksburg is terrific. I think they get here. They

tailgate. They get in that stadium by kickoff.

They’re not going to be late because they feel like

they can help us win, and they do.

Our fans for sure help us win here at

Virginia Tech. They’re very much a part of the

success of this program. We’ve had some good

wins on the field, but they’ve been very much a

part of that, and I think they feel that. As a result they know they need to be there on Saturday to

help us out.

Q. I forgot to ask you, I wanted to talk

to you about Jeron Gouveia-Winslow. How

important is he on your punt unit? And just the

way he’s handled what’s happened to him on

defense, is he sort of emblematic of the

unselfishness this team has sort of shown,

especially since the first two games of this


COACH BEAMER: Yeah, absolutely. He

took over for Cody Grimm as the personal

protector there on the punt team, the pride team

we call it. He’s just been terrific. You know, he’s

the quarterback of that team. He’s a smart guy.

He understands football. He understands what

we’re trying to get done. He’s just been terrific on


And, you’re right, he’s just an unselfish

guy. I think our team’s made up of a bunch of

those guys. It’s not what my stats, it’s what can I

do to help this football team win, and you certainly

appreciate that.

That probably goes back to why we’ve

been able to come back after two tough losses,

too. I don’t think we’ve got a selfish guy on our

football team.

Q. I just was curious. There are a

couple of different scenarios for you guys to

clinch. Either win two of your last three or win

this weekend plus help from Georgia Tech

against Miami. But are your guys aware of that,

or are they just — are you all just focusing on

just do it, just win, just keep winning?

COACH BEAMER: Yeah, I think if you

start trying to figure everything out in your mind

somewhere else, you’re probably in the wrong

spot. I firmly believe you better go play as hard as

you can against North Carolina and as well as you

can against North Carolina and hope to get a win.

Then let everything else sort itself out.

We don’t spend a lot of time talking about

the ifs, ands and buts. We talk about we’ve got to

play a great football game against North Carolina.

Q. Is there anything you can take away

from the UNC-Florida State game that help you

guys get the edge in the competition this


COACH BEAMER: Not other than they

went into a great place, against a good football

team and took it right to them. They’re playing

well. Their quarterback’s playing well. They’ve got

most of their guys back.

They’re very, very talented, very good.

And, like I said, starting the same thing, probably

the best defense we’re going to play — or up to this

time, I should say. So, you know, got to get ready

to go.

Q. What are you doing to help your

team focus on the one game at a time scenario

versus the handful of conference games you

have left and winning the conference — I’m

sorry, winning the division there?

COACH BEAMER: Well, again, it goes

back to your leadership. We’ve got some smart

kids that like to compete. I told them in the

meeting this week, when you get into hoping

somebody else loses or somebody else has got to

do this or somebody else does that, you know. I

think you better go play as hard as you can

yourself and hopefully take care of business. So

that’s what we’re going to try to do against a really

good football team.

Q. I have a quick question as a

follow-up from earlier. Given the way that your

team lost to North Carolina in the last year, do

you think that they want to exact some sort of

revenge on the Tar Heels?

COACH BEAMER: Well, I think last year

is last year. It was a tough loss; two good football

teams. Both of them played hard, and

North Carolina played better. We had a tough play

at the end and they capitalized.

I don’t think that’s got a lot to do with this

year. I think this is a new year for both of us. I

think every tough loss you certainly remember, and

every great win you remember and all those things.

But I think if you start relying on what

happened last year to help you this year, you’re

probably thinking wrong also. I think you better

study the film and look at how good the players

are, and how good they’re playing and get ready to

block them and tackle them.



COACH LONDON: Good morning, good

to be here back to practice after a tough loss against Duke. But getting ready for our last home

game for a bunch of seniors that have experienced

the highs and lows of their college career here.

Going to try to do whatever we can to help

them go out with a victory. So we’ve got a very,

very tough talented Maryland team coming in.

Q. Wanted to ask you concerning Duke

and the offense they run how difficult is it on

your defense when they change from Sean

Renfree to the running quarterback in Brandon


COACH LONDON: Like some teams

we’ve played, there are two different styles of

quarterbacks. They have two different systems

that you play against, and it causes you to prepare

for conventional styles and also a pistol style of

offense as they call it. Or much like Maryland’s

case, they have two quarterbacks and one O’Brien

does a great job with the offense that they run.

Then No. 11 comes in and does another

version of whether it’s the wildcat or whatever it is.

So it causes you to spend time in preparation and

practice for both of those.

The biggest thing is because that’s what

they do, they’re very adept and good at executing,

and that is one of the advantages they have. So

it’s tough, but you’ve got to play defense, and

whatever they put out, you’ve got to be prepared


Q. When they bring in Connette, how

did he seem to perform? He had a good game

against you Saturday, but he seems to be

getting better as the season goes along?

COACH LONDON: That’s what you hope

at this point of the season. You hope to be getting

better as the season goes on. You have a system

that you run. You hope the system and the

experience of the people that are in the system,

that they gain experience within.

And as a quarterback, that, you know,

particularly a running style quarterback he knows

where the holes are. He knows the challenges

that defenses have against defending it, so that’s

what happens. You hope that your quarterback

and anybody that’s playing, you hope they all get

better as the season goes on, and certainly he


Q. You’ve gotten great contributions

from a number of fifth-year seniors and guys

who are not going to be around really to enjoy

the fruits of this rebuilding project when it’s

done. How important was it for you to have

that class and those guys kind of buy in this

year to what you’re doing?

COACH LONDON: I think it was very

important, Jeff, because most of them or all of

them were here when I was here first. Then left

and came back, because there was a prior

relationship that was established as far as knowing

who I was and me knowing them. When you come

into a new situation, you always want the senior,

the senior leadership to buy in because they’re the

ones that set the tone and the pace for some of the

young guys that are in the program.

For the most part, aside from the guys that

are no longer with the team because of disciplinary

actions or academics or whatever it may be, the

ones that stayed helped provide some of that, hey,

this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to do it

in a classroom or the community or what we’re

going to try to do on the field and buy into it. So it’s


I’m very appreciative of those guys

because in turning the program around, you need

that type of leadership. Then when leadership

leaves, you need that type of imprint that they’ve

left on younger players.

Q. Attendance has kind of been an

issue recently. This weekend with it being

Senior Day, has there been any extra push to

appeal to the fans and the students to come

out or is it just, hey, it’s Senior Day, you know?

It’s our last home game, come out and see us?

COACH LONDON: I don’t know outside of

what I’m doing. I’m in bunker mode. I don’t even

put my head out. I’m trying to get ready for

Maryland. Any opportunity that I have whether it’s

through radio or media or television whatever it is,

is to urge fans to come out and support the team.

Let alone the seniors, but support the team.

So whenever any opportunity that I have

given the media access, then I make an appeal for

that on the grounds that I’m here, class checking or

whatever, when I run into students. So I know

about what I’m doing.

I can’t attest or speak to the efforts outside

of the marketing or the athletic department. But I

know they’re doing their best which we’ve been

doing to try to get people to come in Scott Stadium

watch a team that’s growing and developing.

You know, it’s a great time. A 3:30 start

time which bodes well for a lot of people, so we’re expecting and anticipating a fairly decent crowd.

Q. When I look at guys like Keith Payne

and what he’s done so far this season and

maybe somebody like Darnell Carter, those two

plus maybe a few others they were basically in

the dog house with the last coaching staff. Can

you just talk about this year and the fact that

you gave them a second chance and what

they’ve done with it?

COACH LONDON: I tell you, the term you

used, I mean, that may be very appropriate. But

when you give a person new life and new energy,

and you give them a chance to perhaps sometimes

redeem themselves. Then they go out and give

you everything they’ve got.

It’s just not, it’s Darnell, it’s all the guys that

for some reason or not have maybe not fit into a

certain style of play, whether there are personality

conflicts or whatever it may have been. Aaron

Taliaferro was a guy that didn’t play much, Keith

Payne like you mention.

So it’s gratifying that you see as they end

their career, that they’ve had a chance to

contribute significantly.

I think Keith is maybe leading the league in

touchdowns or something like that. Darnell, in the

last couple of games, has really played well. So

everyone wants their college experience to be

positive before they’re all done. Hopefully, this

year, although the record itself doesn’t indicate it,

maybe the experience, the overall experience for

this year will be gratifying for them.

Q. What went into the decision to put,

what were the factors or factor that caused you

to put Landon Bradley on the right side when

he returned?

COACH LONDON: Basically because of

his hand. When you bandage up a hand like that,

you can debate about what hand, inside or outside

hand, is the one that you need the most to stop an

ongoing pass rusher.

So we try to do some things that would

maybe give him an opportunity to not have to use

his dominant hand. Being on the left side, give him

a chance to play on the right side. That’s what he

and Coach Madison talked about.

For a while it seemed like it was working

until he came down with another lower leg injury.

So we’ll see how things go. And how

things go for him, but that was the reasoning.



COACH O’BRIEN: We look forward to

Wake Forest coming here to Carter-Finley. It’s our

Senior Day, little bit early for Senior Day, but that’s

where it is. There are going to be 19 kids playing

in their last game here at home. So it will be an

emotional day certainly for them.

But it’s an opportunity for our football team

to continue to try to get to Charlotte. So each and

every game now is do or die for us.

So I think we understand the task ahead of

us, and we’ll play at an ever getting better Wake

Forest team. They certainly improved with their

performance last week, and looks like they’re

getting a little confidence about them. They are a

bunch of young kids playing and playing awfully


Q. There’s no reason to have to try to

get your team fired up for Virginia Tech or

Florida State or North Carolina. When Wake is

struggling, do you have to tell your team

basically what you just said there: These guys

are dangerous, be careful, take them seriously.

Do you have to say those sort of things?

COACH O’BRIEN: We say them, but I

don’t think we should have to. We’re a fortunate

football team that still has control of our destiny.

We let one get away from us last week. Certainly

as I told the team, you don’t get do-overs. But we

got one. We got another opportunity, and we

control our destiny and shame on us if we don’t

take advantage of that situation right now.

I think they’ve taken that message to heart.

They understand that it doesn’t matter what name

is on the jersey, anybody’s capable of beating

anybody else, and that’s been shown week in and

week out in college football this year. So we’ve

prepared as we have for the past three or four

weeks, so it hasn’t changed our preparation

looking at it so far.

Q. You mentioned do-overs. First I

know the team was listening to the

North Carolina game on the way back. Jake

Vermiglio mentioned that. Tell me how surreal

that was to be listening to the Tar Heels, and

N.C. State is pulling for North Carolina to win

so they can be back in control of their own destiny?

COACH O’BRIEN: I wasn’t on the bus

listening with them, so I don’t know what it was like

there. But certainly after the game as I talked to

them, I didn’t — you know, one loss would definitely

get you there. But most cases two losses in your

division will get you the championship game.

Our favorite team, other than N.C. State,

had to be anybody playing Florida State at that

point. Certainly North Carolina gave us the

opportunity to stay alive.

Q. Any update with kickers, coach?

COACH O’BRIEN: No. We’re in a

competition situation right now. I had a pretty good

session today, and we’ll continue tomorrow and

decide what we’re going to do by Saturday.

Q. I was talking to Michael Lemon

about what his plans are after he graduates.

Do you anticipate that there’s a chance, based

on your conversation with scouts, that he

could have a chance to play professional


COACH O’BRIEN: Yeah, I think there is.

Certainly they’re taking a good, hard look at him.

He’s got to continue to play. Every time he makes

a play it’s going to help him if he wants to do that.

I had talked to him prior to the season.

That wasn’t the number one thing on his mind

coming into the season. So I think he’s pretty

grounded and has a good grasp of what reality is

right now.

Q. Coming off last week’s game, what

has been the focus in terms of the offense

revving back up again?

COACH O’BRIEN: Well, certainly red

zone offense. We had a little trouble the week

before when we lost to East Carolina. Turned the

ball over and didn’t get it in the end zone. We

seemed to solve the problem against Florida State.

Then weren’t able to convert there in the first half.

It made a huge difference in that football

game. So that’s getting into the scoring zone.

That’s been a little bit of a problem for us all year.

We have to take advantage of the opportunities–

defense gave us a lot of opportunities–and we

didn’t take advantage of them last Saturday.

Q. So is that a question when it comes

down to the red zone, the short passing game,

the running game? What do you think needs to

be better?

COACH O’BRIEN: Well, nothing worked

on Saturday. We couldn’t do anything down there.

Clemson just shut us down. So it’s we. It’s a

collective we. We the coaches, we the players, we

have to find a way to get the ball in the end zone.

Q. You didn’t play Dean Haynes in the

previous game. What is his status this week,

and what are you looking at as far as your

running game?

COACH O’BRIEN: Well, he’s coming off

the head injury from the week before. You know,

even though he was cleared, he didn’t practice

until I think Wednesday, and Thursday there was

no contact. I’ve always been pretty leery,

especially if it was a serious blow to the head. It’s

not just a headache walking off and you’re a little


I had a similar situation with Russell his

first year playing. The same thing happened on a

Thursday night game at South Carolina. He was

cleared to play the next week medically by the

staff, but we held him back just in case. Because

once you get a head injury, if you get another one,

you’re talking months out. So I just wanted to be a

little safer in that situation.

Right now he’s back in the mix, and we’re

still, because of some situations, looking at — well,

not sure who is going to end up starting, but all

three of them will be available to play Saturday


Q. You expect him to practice and you

expect Dean to practice full speed this week?

COACH O’BRIEN: He’s full go this week,


Q. Another guy who I think didn’t play

on Saturday, Darrell Davis. Do you have an

update on his situation?

COACH O’BRIEN: No, I don’t. Not right


Q. On your running game, Mustafa

Greene, what have you seen from him this

year? Just seems like, for a guy that’s a true

freshman, he’s had some explosive moments.

Then other games it’s been more like he’s more

of a freshman it seems like where he’s

adjusting to the speed and pace of the game.

What do you see and what do you expect of his

role down the stretch here?

COACH O’BRIEN: He’s going to continue

to be in the rotation. I think you appropriately

described the play of a freshman.

Consistency is tough to get out of

freshmen. There are so many different things that

go into playing and participating. Not only

football-wise, but also campus-wise, and grades

and everything else. They’re not used to the pace

and everything that they have to do to be able to

be the consistent performer.

We’ve gotten a lot of good football out of

Mustafa, and I think he’s still got more to give. But

certainly he’s going to be much better as he goes

on and matures and grows in age as a football


Q. Is he, as far as picking up the

blocking schemes and those types of reads,

has he progressed pretty quickly along those


COACH O’BRIEN: He’s better certainly

here in November than he was in September. I

think that’s a fair statement to make.



COACH DAVIS: I think one of the things

that our football team obviously always recognizes

is that when you play against Virginia Tech, it’s

probably one of the most challenging teams to

prepare for.

They’re always clearly a talented football

team, but they’re very good in all three phases.

Sometimes when you prepare against certain

teams, they’re really, really good, and maybe

offense or defense, and they’re average or okay on

special teams.

But when you play against Virginia Tech,

you better be very, very prepared in your

fundamentals and your execution in all three

phases. I think our kids have learned that over the

last couple of years. You’ve really got to execute.

You’ve got to watch a lot of film.

You’ve got to really understand because

the nuisances of what they do offensively with

Tyrod Taylor and the running game is certainly

something that you have to prepare for. Bud

Foster’s defenses are always very good, they’re

very aggressive, very fundamentally sound.

And it’s unique, the scheme itself is

unique, and certainly special teams has had its

own reputation for how good they were. You can

go back to last week’s game against Georgia Tech

and look at the effect they had special teams wise

in helping them win the game.

So it’s a challenge for our team. We’ve got

a lot of work to do this week to get ready for it.

Q. You were talking earlier in the week

about Ryan Houston and whether or not he

would play and how you’re trying to evaluate

that. Do you anticipate him playing in this

game on Saturday? What do you anticipate

your running back rotation to be?

COACH DAVIS: Well, you know what, we

haven’t decided any of those right now. Certainly

I’ve had some conversations with Ryan and that

will probably be a potential game-time decision.

The other running backs, obviously, we’ve

lost Johnny White for the remainder of the regular

season and we’re working with the guys that

played in last week’s game.

Q. So is Shaun Draughn, is he cleared

and healthy for this game?

COACH DAVIS: Again, we’ll release a

medical report on Thursday that will give

everybody an update on everybody’s health.

Q. We talked about T.J. and the check

down routes earlier in the week. But he seems

to be throwing the ball away more and living for

another down, which is something that you

emphasized this off-season. Is that something

that you’ve noticed in particular at the line

there before Casey’s field goal?

COACH DAVIS: I think again, Joe, I think

T.J.’s making good decisions with the football. You

know, he had some growing pains a year ago

where, obviously, he was criticized by a lot of

people for trying to squeeze balls in that maybe he

wishes he had certain throws over.

I think that obviously you’re always a

byproduct of the experiences that you go through.

You learn about things and people make mistakes

and you learn from them. He clearly is much better

at a lot of that stuff this year.

He’s making really wise decisions either,

like you said, checking the ball down or going to

the second or third receiver and maybe not feeling

like you have to get everything all in one chunk. If

the smartest decision, and John has said this for a

couple of years, sometimes the best passes that you throw are the ones that are incomplete or you

throwaway and live to have the next possession

you don’t turn the ball over. And T.J.’s done that

pretty good all season long.

Q. For someone who hasn’t followed

the team closely all year, could you talk about

the resiliency this team has shown in light of all

the injuries you’ve had to suffer through and

the NCAA investigation? And I’m curious if

you see any similarities between what you’ve

shown and what Virginia Tech has done this

year after starting the year 0-2?

COACH DAVIS: Obviously, I think that for

you to be able to handle distractions and issues

that they pop up with every team. Some teams

have it a lot worse than others, but just about

everybody’s going to be faced with challenges and


And there are a lot of factors that play role

in a team’s ability to deal with that. Certainly

talking about it, and communicating about it before

the season ever starts, you kind of lay the ground

work that there are going to be things that are out

of our control. Whether it’s an officiating call or

how the other team plays and prepares. So that is

part of it.

I think your coaching staff and their ability

to maintain a positive attitude and kind of a

commitment to the kids that no matter what’s going

on, we’re going to keep working to try to improve

every single practice and every week and every

game for the entire season.

Then ultimately a lot of the credit has to go

to the leaders on the football team. Those are the

guys, the unspoken voices in the locker room away

from the football facility. Those guys helping

younger guys that could get distracted or dismayed

because of circumstances that are going on.

They are kind of the rallying point. There

are guys that talk to people like, hey, look, hang in

there, we’ll keep fighting, competing, playing hard

and preparing. And we have been fortunate to

have had some guys that have been able to do

that for us.

Q. I wanted to ask about Quintin

Coples. What’s made him so effective moving

from the inside to the outside? Is it his speed

and quickness from playing defensive end


COACH DAVIS: Well, it was a transition.

He was groomed to be the starting defensive end

after E.J. Wilson graduated and went to Seattle.

Then we moved him to the defensive tackle

position, and it was baptism under fire.

But he’s a good athlete. He’s competitive,

he wants to do a good job. And there are a lot of

growing pains. Sometimes when you go from an

exterior outside on the edge position to now you’re

in the middle of the fire.

But every week his fundamentals and

technique continues to improve. He’s got a lot of

pride. He wants to do a good job. And he realizes

how important his role and his performance is to

the team. I’m very proud of the way that he has

handled that. We’re hopeful that he’ll continue to

improve certainly for the rest of the season.

Q. I was wondering how surprised you

were with Hunter Furr being thrust into that

situation last week, and how he responded.

What does he bring to the table that may be

different from your other backs?

COACH DAVIS: Well, obviously, I think

the whole team was very ecstatic for Hunter. He’s

been very unselfish in his willingness to play

whatever role we’ve given him.

And he’s played on a lot of special teams

this season. Because we had four senior running

backs he knew this probably wasn’t going to be the

year that he was going to get an awful lot of

opportunities at running back.

He continued to practice hard, and study

and know the game plans. As I said in the

postgame comments after the game, he had spent

predominantly the last four or five weeks as the

scout team running back.

But I think it’s a tribute to him how hard he

worked to know everything that was going in.

Then when he went in, he did a lot of the things we

thought he could do. We had seen evidence of

that in our spring practice when he got the

opportunities to do it, and clearly the team was

very happy with what he did.

Q. How much practice time has

Hunter’s role jumped up this week so far,



Q. A lot?

COACH DAVIS: Yeah. He’s no longer –

let’s put it this way, he’s no longer on the scout


Q. Can you put any type of percentage

on the snaps he’s getting now then?

COACH DAVIS: I don’t know, probably

20, 30%, you know?

Q. James Hurst playing left tackle as a

true freshman, are you surprised at all, sort of

what he’s given you this year and how he’s

played? Could you assess that? You just

don’t see a lot of true freshmen linemen

making contributions?

COACH DAVIS: Yeah, he’s played

remarkably well for a freshman. I think he would

tell you that certainly some of that is a correlation

for coming in at midterm.

I think it’s one of the biggest advantages

that kids that are able to come in and go through

an off-season conditioning program, go into spring

practice with no pressure to have to actually play

games just work on fundamentals, learn how to be

a student. Get involved academically without all

the travel and the hoopla of games.

Then the two summer sessions and stuff,

he would tell you that was an enormous advantage

for him to get familiar with just his teammates.

Then clearly having said all of that, he’s an

outstanding football player in high school.

He’s got great work ethic. He’s a smart

kid. He takes a great deal of pride in being good.

And I think he’s gained confidence from week one

from LSU throughout the rest of the season, and

he continues to work to improve. He’s clearly

going to have an outstanding career here.

Q. I’m no expert offensive linemen, but

when you watch him, it seems he’s got

particularly good feet. You see him sort of

moving and standing in front of guys and that

sort of thing. Is that natural? Is that something

that’s taught? Is that about right?

COACH DAVIS: Well, no, I clearly think

you can improve on their fundamentals and skills.

But fundamentally kids have to have good athletic

background, and good agility, change of direction,

feet, balance and a lot of those things. And that

clearly will eventually separate the great players

from just the good or the average players.



COACH SHANNON: This week’s

opponent is Georgia Tech. It’s going to be a very

tough opponent. Playing Coach Johnson it’s a

team that’s always been very sound in what they

do offensively, and especially defensively.

They’re doing a great job of running the

football and also ball controlling the football game

with their offense. Coach Johnson has done a

tremendous job of coaching his guys with what he

wants up front and what he wants as a quarterback

to execute and what they’re trying to get done.

I don’t think much of the offense will

change. They’ll run the offense exactly what he’s

been doing at Georgia Southern, Navy, and what

he’s been doing at Georgia Tech. So it will be vital

for us to start off fast on defense and get the pace

of the football game. That will be the key to our


Defensively, it’s going to be a team that we

haven’t faced all season long with the three-four

attack. They’re going to do a lot of different blitzes,

lot of different drops and zone drops, cover two,

cover three. It will give us a different kind of look.

We haven’t faced this type of defense all

year, so it’s going to be a big challenge for us to be

able to establish the run game and throw the

football in certain situations and key situations. It

will be a vital game for both teams and both

opponents because it’s always in this division it’s

coming down to the last week.

Q. Last year you guys did a good job of

controlling Nesbitt in the option. Is it different?

I know you haven’t seen a lot of it with the

Washington kid running. It seems he has some

skills but he’s maybe not the same guy in the

option. What problems does it present facing a

guy like that?

COACH SHANNON: Oh, it’s going to be

tough and difficult for us because he’s an athlete

from what I’ve seen on film and watching clips in

high school. But he’s a very athletic young man.

He’s going to run the offense and has

been in the offensive system for a little bit. Just

haven’t gotten the snaps in game time. But I know

they’ve worked very hard to get him all the snaps

he needs and his reads down.

So I don’t expect anything different from

him than Nesbitt. Two good athletes at

quarterback that can do some good things to effect

what you’re doing on defense.

Q. How does it affect your offense to

game plan when you have an inexperienced

quarterback like Morris as compared to Harris?

COACH SHANNON: Well, you know

what, Morris is our four string quarterback coming

into this season. So he just got here in January,

so he didn’t get the reps of being a second-team

guy. So you know we have to go back like we did

last week and evaluate what he did in camp, what

he did in the times that he had the opportunities

and what he was successful at. So we did those

things and tried to bring it along that way.

The difference with their quarterback was

he was the second team guy. He knows the

offense well, he’s getting a lot of reps at it. There

will be two young kids going in there and trying to

compete. Making sure that they give both teams

opportunities to win the game.

Q. On the transcript from the ACC

yesterday, you were referring to Tech using

chop blocks. That was something they do?

COACH SHANNON: No, you know what

they do, Coach Johnson does a great job off the

back side. What I was explaining that our guys

have to do a great job of standing on their feet,

because backside they do a good job of getting

guys on the ground.

Chop blocks to me are not illegal. It’s

getting guys on the ground within the scheme.

They do not high-low you. They just make sure

they get you down on the backside.

So sometimes you know when people hear

the word “chop block,” they’re thinking it’s

something negative. No, you do a good job of

coaching what he wants and trying to get done.

And I think that’s something that we have to work

on. I’m just working on something that we don’t

see very much and our guys know it.

Q. You had said last week that you just

wanted Stephen to manage the game and not

win the game and have people around him step

up. But seemed like he did a good job of not

just managing the game, but doing his part as

well. Did you kind of think he did even better

than you expected last week?

COACH SHANNON: No, you know, it’s

what he did against Virginia. He did a great job of

this game of throwing the football and getting the

ball into guy’s hands to get first downs and getting

us into third down in five and six situations. Also

giving an opportunity at the end of the game of

completing some passes, but also making a

big-time play to throw to Hankerson.

When you watch the way he managed the

game, it’s exactly what you want from a young guy.

He threw two interceptions. One of them, the guy

made a great read on it and got him. But what he

did was the second one he went after the guy and

got him on the ground to give us an opportunity to

defense lineup and play and a big play came of it.

He stayed calm and collected in that type

of game, and did a lot of great things. I’m really

proud of him. Very happy to have him on our

football team. And very, very excited to see how

much he’ll grow and get better from this Maryland

game to the Georgia Tech game this week.

Q. Do you ask him to do even more this

week or build upon that in any way?

COACH SHANNON: No, we’re just

building upon what he can handle. What he can

do, what offensive part he can throw and what

routes he can throw, what kind of concepts that he

understands. And that is our job to find out what

he can do.

It’s not, sometimes in coaching, it’s not

what you want to do as a coach. Sometimes what

the players can handle, and what they can do to

make you successful.

Q. How important was, though you

don’t want to be trailing in the last two minutes,

how important was it to have a true freshman in

there under such circumstances, and do you

think he benefited from throwing a clutch

touchdown pass to win the game in the final


COACH SHANNON: Well, I think from the

overall picture it was good to see him have that

success and come up with a win for us for a start

at the University of Miami; for a tough throw like

that, taking the hit after making the throw, standing

in the pocket knowing that. We told him when you

see this front now, this blitz is going to come and

here’s the hot guy. If you can spin away from it

and stand up and throw it, throw it. But you have

to make sure this is the guy that’s coming down

and bearing down on you.

He stood in there, made a great throw.

Kept his poise, and that is something that tells you

about a young kid that is trying to get better each

week and give us a chance to win and he did it.



COACH FRIEDGEN: We’re actively

preparing for a very big game against the

University of Virginia. I think they really are coming

on in their season. We know it will be a very

hard-fought game.

I’ll open it up to questions.

Q. Coach, when you look at the film of

Virginia’s game last week, they had career

highs in passing, second best receiving day in

Virginia history. Is that a function of them

finding something or maybe the flaws in the

defense they were going up against?

COACH FRIEDGEN: Well, I think they’re

playing very well right now. I thought they played

extremely well against Miami. I thought they

played very well against Duke. They had a very

disappointing loss, very similar to one we had.

Situations were almost parallel.

They have a very good balance between

run and pass. Payne and Jones are two very good

runners, very good up front. Verica is a senior

quarterback who has a very good idea of the

passing game with Inman and Burd, their other

receiver. They have a very balanced attack.

Whenever you can run it and throw it, I

think you got a chance to have a pretty good

offense. They’re second in the conference, so

they’re pretty good.

Q. Payne had a pretty good day. A

back that size, what kind of problems does he


COACH FRIEDGEN: Tough to bring

down. I mean, he can move the pile. He’s a big,

strong kid. Looks like he has very good vision. He

runs extremely hard. I’ve been very impressed

with him all year long watching him. He’s a force

to be reckoned with.

Q. Ralph, what were your early

impressions of (Quarterback Danny) O’Brien

dating back to his recruiting? Was he a “can’t

miss kid” at all?

COACH FRIEDGEN: I don’t know if there

is such a thing. We were very impressed with him,

not only as a player but as a person. Said this

numerous times, he’s a very bright individual but

also has a tremendous work ethic, exceptional

poise for a person his age. I think that’s a rare

combination to have all of those things and I think

he has a bright future.

Q. Was he a bit of a sleeper in

recruiting then?

COACH FRIEDGEN: No, actually I think it

came down to us and Duke. There were a lot of

people recruiting him. I was concerned about

losing him to Duke. I think his stepdad went to

Duke. We recruited him very hard. We were very

happy we got him.

Q. Curious how last Saturday went in

general. You lose a tough game, got on the

plane. Where and when did you learn that

Florida State had lost and what was your

reaction to that?

COACH FRIEDGEN: Well, I had learned

about it when I got on the bus after we got back

from the plane. I guess a couple of my other staff

members knew before then. Wasn’t a whole lot of

talking going on on the plane. We were very


I learned about NC State losing while I was

on the plane. So keeps us still in the game. We

just got to continue to win.

Q. You have hit 60 twice this year.

You’re playing a team that just played a game

with over 100 points scored. Does that say

anything about the explosion of offenses in

this day and age, how tough it is to defend?

COACH FRIEDGEN: I tell you what, if you

want to go out and start matching scores and stuff, I don’t think you can tell. I mean, East Carolina

beats NC State. Navy hangs 76 points on them. I

mean, you can go up and down the line every

Saturday. It’s who’s ready to play, what the injury

situation is, I don’t know, what your biorhythms are.

Q. I’m not trying to compare scores.

I’m trying to talk about the explosion of scoring

in certain games. How do games get to the

point where offenses just take over?

COACH FRIEDGEN: Well, again, with

Wake Forest, we got a couple of gifts, a couple of

defensive scores. Really kind of got out of hand.

Injuries play a part in it. This time of the year,

everybody’s nicked up some. You lose a key guy

or two, it can really affect you on defense. Same

thing on offense, it can affect you.

We’ve had some issues with our offensive

line. They’re not easily solved. I think it’s also

tough, what emotional state is your team at, how

many Saturdays can they keep a certain level in

order to be ready to play.

So all of those things factor in. I don’t think

it’s something that you can make an exact science


Q. Ralph, it seems as if these two

programs have been pretty evenly matched

over the last 20 years or so. Yet it seems as if

one or the other school continues to put up

winning streaks against the other school. One

is always dominating the other. Is that kind of

odd, do you think?

COACH FRIEDGEN: Well, I don’t know.

They’ve won the last three. I know two of them

were pretty close games. We won a few early in

my tenure here. Before we got here, there was a

streak the other way.

It’s a rivalry game. A lot of that determines

how things go in the game. I don’t know if you can

read a whole lot into that.



COACH JOHNSON: Good morning. I tell

you, we’re excited to be back home this week. I

think we’re coming off two very tough road games

where the results didn’t turn out the way we would

have liked. It’s not going to get any easier this

week. We’re playing what might be the most

talented team in the league, for sure.

It will be a big challenge for us to try to get

this thing turned around and get the ship sailing in

the right direction. Anytime you lose a game,

you’re always looking forward to the next one so

you have another chance to play.

Q. Coach Shannon talked about going

back and looking at high school tape of

Washington to prepare for this weekend’s

game. Did y’all do the same with Morris?


Q. Do you have any comment on

Shannon talking about y’all using chop blocks?

COACH JOHNSON: No. I think that’s

illegal, isn’t it?

Q. Yes.

COACH JOHNSON: We’ve been called

for one this year, so we must not be using them a

lot. Some people don’t know the difference

between cutting and chopping, I guess.

Q. How complex offenses and defenses

are these days, how do you avoid chasing

ghosts, things you’re not going to see when

you prepare for opponents?

COACH JOHNSON: I think what you do is

you have a system and you try to work off what

you do. The same thing on both sides of the ball.

You have to prepare. But it doesn’t matter what

you know, it’s what the guys playing know. You

can have every tendency. I’ve worked with guys

that can sit in the press box and can call the plays

before they’re run, two seconds before the ball is

snapped. It doesn’t do you any good unless the 11

guys on the field know that.

So you just prepare for what you can do,

what they do best, get a game plan and go play.

Q. Who is the guy, the Nostradamus

guy you were in the press box with?

COACH JOHNSON: Rich Ellerson, when I

was defensive coordinator in Hawaii, was good at

that. He couldn’t tell you when they were in the

huddle, when they broke the huddle. I’m saying,

once you saw the formation, the set, this, that and

the other, he knew.

Trying to get all that information to

somebody else was overload. Just like we have

guys on our football team, there’s some guys that

learn by a million reps, there’s other guys who are

a little more worldly. I’ve had guys that played right

guard that couldn’t tell you what anybody else did

on the team but the right guard. I’ve had other

guys who could tell you what other 10 guys did on


It’s just different people.

Q. Against the Hokies, where Tevin

made a touchdown, did that show you this guy

has what it takes to be productive in the

offense, working that series shows how you

can win with this guy? What did that kind of

drive tell you, if anything?

COACH JOHNSON: I thought Tevin did

an admirable job to be put in a tough situation. We

were disappointed we didn’t finish the game. I

think we had a lot of chances to win that game and

we didn’t get it done.

We didn’t do anything different in the last

drive than we did in the others. We missed some

reads in the other drives. Virginia Tech made

some plays. But it wasn’t anything totally different

than what we’d done the whole game.

Q. Did that give you any

encouragement that this guy can get the job


COACH JOHNSON: I have confidence in

Tevin and David Sims, the other quarterback.

Tevin was our quarterback all spring because Josh

set out. We got a chance to watch him play a lot.

He ran with the ones. If everybody around him will

do his job, I’m sure Tevin will do his.

Q. Can you talk about the differences

Washington presents than Nesbitt? Nesbitt

was one of the great quarterbacks in ACC

history. What does Washington do?

COACH JOHNSON: I don’t know that he

does anything better. We haven’t seen him play.

If he did a lot of things better, he probably would

not have been the backup.

I think until he gets a chance to play a little

bit, we’ll find out. He’s not exactly a freshman.

He’s been in the program for a couple years. He’s

had a million reps doing what we’re doing. He’s

not any faster than Joshua. He’s probably doesn’t

have as strong an arm. He might have a better

touch on the ball when he throws it.

He hasn’t really played enough for us to

know what he can do, but in actual live games.

I’ve seen him against ourself in the spring,

whatever, and he can be adequate. He’s a

slippery runner. He can make people miss. He

can run through some tackles, as well.

Q. Obviously with Joshua Nesbitt’s

career at Georgia Tech ending, he just

managed to get the ACC all-time rushing

record. Can you sum up what he’s meant to

the program over his career.

COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, he’s

been the only quarterback we’ve had since we’ve

been here. I mean, he’s been the starting

quarterback since we’ve been here. I think he

brought a lot of leadership, a lot of toughness to

the program. He’s helped us win a lot of games,

no question about it, with just his competitiveness

and his toughness and his desire to win games.

He’ll be a tough guy to replace.

Q. Coach, a few false start penalties

last week. To what extent are they governed by

or created by the sound of a new voice calling

signals with a new cadence?

COACH JOHNSON: I don’t think it was a

new voice. I think it was noise. We weren’t very

disciplined. The defense for Virginia Tech was

yelling calls, it was defensive calls. They were

yelling their defensive calls out. The stadium was

so loud. A couple of times, we just couldn’t set in

there, couldn’t hold our water, so to speak.

It really hurt us. We had seven of them.

They killed the drives. They did as much killing the

drives as anything else. It was disappointing. We

need to do a better job coaching it.

But it was pretty loud. Thursday night in

Lane Stadium can get pretty loud.



COACH FISHER: Looking forward to

playing Clemson this week as Clemson came off a

great win. We came off a very tough loss to a very

good North Carolina team who played well. Our

kids have responded very well this week. We’re looking forward to the challenge.

As I said, we have a lot of ball left to play.

We’re one of the teams still left in the country that

November can mean a lot. We’re looking forward

to the challenges ahead of us, and hopefully a

good week. Looking forward to a great game

against Clemson this week.

Q. Coach, could you address a little bit

the job that Everett Dawkins has done for you

this year as far as moving inside on the line

full-time? Seems like even though he’s a

young guy, he’s done a very good job of

emerging as a leader for you this year.

COACH FISHER: He really is. First thing,

Everett is an outstanding young man. High-quality,

high-character kid. Pushed his weight up to 283

pounds. Has great body quickness and has

played very solid football for us this year. We think

he’s going to be a very fine player as he continues

here at Florida State.

Q. Jimbo, defensively are there certain

things you’re focusing on you want to get

better after the recent weeks?

COACH FISHER: We still have to stay

physical up front, be able to stop the run, and get

pressure consistently, correct some mental

mistakes in the back end. We had some

breakdowns mentally in some coverages that

normally doesn’t happen, quit giving up the big

plays. That’s been a thing that’s hurt us here the

last week or so. We have to continue to grow in


We have to get better all the way around

as a football team. On defense we continue to

grow, can play with more consistency, not give up

those big plays. As we say, we have a lot of

meaningful football to play. I’m anxious to see how

we respond to the challenges.

Q. You looked so good after the Miami

game. Are you surprised with what’s happened

the last two or three weeks?

COACH FISHER: I’m not surprised. I

think BC is a very good football team that played

well, did a great job on defense. I think North

Carolina State played a great second half against

us. North Carolina played a great game.

Hopefully we can play better.

Like I said, we had opportunities to win

both football games. But like I tell our guys, we still

would have the same problems. We’re still a team

who is learning to win consistently. It’s a process.

We’re a young football team. I know a lot of

people have picked us to do a lot of things. You

have to remember we are still a young football

team. Guys are learning to win, have consistency.

Like I say, I don’t know if things were as

great as everyone thought they were after the

Miami game, and I don’t think they’re as bad as

they are now. I like where we’re going. I like the

attitude and character of this team, the work ethic

of it. It’s a process in which we have to continue to

push on with.

Q. Coach, I saw Christian (Ponder) had

fluid drained from his elbow this week. How is

he doing?

COACH FISHER: He seems to be doing

well. I think most of it has gotten out. Trainer gave

me a report a little just a little bit ago that he was

doing fine. Everything is coming out very nice.

It’s happened already this year once.

We’ve kind of been through it. We kind of know

what to expect a little bit. It seems to be

progressing very nicely.

Q. Where are you at in terms of

Christian’s availability for practice tonight?

Will he be able to practice at all?

COACH FISHER: I don’t know. This

afternoon, the doctors will be in around noon to

examine him, look at him again. There’s a chance

he could practice again today. There’s a very solid

chance because I think they were going by the

amount of fluid drained daily. It’s come way down,

extremely way down, to where it’s almost


When they say that happens, he would be

released to go back on the field just like he was

before. I’m hoping for that. If not, we’ll move on

with EJ with this practice and make a judgment


Q. That is an injury that can worsen, is

that right?

COACH FISHER: There’s no structural

damage of any kind. It’s just an issue of fluid

which builds up the tightness of the arm and all

that. But he had MRIs on it. There’s no structural,

ligament damage as far as that goes, or anything

that could be permanently restricting to him. If it

was something like that, I wouldn’t even think

about playing him. That would be unfair to him.

He’s got a great future ahead of him, even farther

beyond college, and I would not do that to him.

Q. Coach, just looking at the standings,

there are five teams in the league with two

losses, another two with three. ACC parity, it’s

been this way for several years. No team has

been able to establish itself as a dominant

power. Can you talk about why that hurts the

perception of the league that we don’t have a

top-five top team, but competitively this league

has been as competitive as anybody in the


COACH FISHER: It is very competitive.

You have to play every week. Like you say, the

standings prove that. Environments, where you’re

going into play, home-field advantages throughout

the league. It’s a very well-coached, very athletic

and very good conference. It really is.

I mean, as far as the national limelight, like

you say, we haven’t had the one team that’s

jumped up in the top five consistency. I think that’s

because of the parity we have. That will happen.

That goes in streaks I think at times. I really do. I

mean, it will happen. There’s some really good

coaches, really good programs in there. I think as

other programs and coaches get more stability in

their programs, I think some of those situations can


I know what you’re saying as far as from

the national spotlight from what they say. If you’re

not in the title hunt, they push you aside because

that’s what all the national news is about. I

understand that.

We’re playing great football down here.

Look at the number of people drafted out of this

league. I think that shows the parity and strength

of the conference.

Q. I was wondering if the league might

be better now without a national championship

contender than in the ’90s when Florida State

was going 70-1, dominating the league every

year. They were always in the national title


COACH FISHER: You’re right. That’s a

good point because when you talk about a league,

to me as a coach, I think from A to Z. I don’t think

from A to B. I think a lot of people nationally, you

get caught up A to B that you have a national

champion, which is great. But as a coach, what

you fear is having to play teams A to Z that are all

equal. You need to be totally on your game every

week to have a chance to win.

If you’re A to B, sometimes you can get by

not being the best you can, and that’s a very good


Q. Jimbo, with all the complexity and

multiple formations, the computer systems you

have to break down teams, how do you avoid

chasing ghosts when you’re preparing for

teams, things you may or may not see? How

do you anticipate that stuff?

COACH FISHER: Well, I mean, you have

to be sound. That’s where in the off-season, the

things that go on, you try to create as many

situations, formations. You have base rules. You

are teaching concept based off of three-man side,

two-man side, two-man bunches, three-man

bunches, all those different empty sets, all those

different things. I think conceptually when you do

see something that somebody hasn’t shown you of

that nature, you have base rules that can apply

until you can make an adjustment in the game.

People are always breaking out things that you

haven’t seen, different blitzes that go on defense.

Guys come in different formations, bring different

pressures. If you have rules that apply, you ought

to be at least sound, then you fix it when you get

back to the sideline.

How you teach conceptually and how you

install things is a big factor.

Q. Coach, for the first time in an

awfully long time since you were seven or eight

years old, there will be no Bowden on this field.

Secondly, there’s no C.J. Spiller in this game.

COACH FISHER: You’re right. It is ironic

because Bowden, Clemson, Florida State, the

great history. That is ironic that there won’t be one

in there. The Bowden name won’t be forgotten

because what they’ve meant to college football,

meant to a lot of people.

C.J. Spiller, I’m all for him not being in

there. I’m all for him. I’m glad he’s gone because

he was a very dynamic player. You can see that at

the next level. He’s doing a great job. Jamie

Harper is banged up. But Jamie Harper and some

of the guys they have up there are excellent

players, too. They’ve still got a bunch of great

players, that’s for sure.



You know, Boston College is coming in

here playing I think probably their best football by

far. Typical physical Boston College team with a

leading rusher in the league, a young quarterback

that just is playing better and better and better,

with weapons around him. Defensively, like they

always are, they’re as good as anybody there is in

the country. They know what they’re doing, how to

do it, and they do it with good players. Very

physical defensively. We have our work cut out for

us to match up with this physical Boston College


Q. Building depth on the offensive line

has been one of the things you’ve been

working for since you got there. Can you talk

about how well you think you’ve succeeded to

have a David Harding in place to play when

Brandon Harper can’t play, to have other

options there? I know it’s not where you want

it to be, but can you talk about the progress

you made there.

COACH CUTCLIFFE: I think we’ve

brought in quality players. They’re young. We’re

starting a sophomore and two freshmen along with

a senior and a junior. We’re redshirting some

players that I think are going to be excellent

offensive linemen that could probably be helping

us now. That bodes well for the future.

The problem we have is currently we’re

just a little light in numbers in that area. People

forget that we lost Mitchell Lederman to start the

season, who was a returning starter. Never was

able to make it to practice because of an

off-season surgery and had to give up his playing


There’s challenges there. But thank

goodness we have some good young players. I’m

real proud of Perry Simmons, Dave Harding, John

Coleman and Joey Finison, a lot of those guys that

are giving us quality snaps as young players.

They’ve been very encouraging.

Q. You talk about a couple of guys who

you’re redshirting. You did that last year. You

had the same kind of situation. You bit the

bullet and redshirted Harding, Simmons,

Coleman. David Harding said he felt like he

should have played last year. Now that he

looks back at it, he’s happy he wasn’t ready.

But he thinks he’s better prepared now. Can

you talk about it, is it sometimes tough on

biting the bullet to play Laken Tomlinson or

Takoby Cofield?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, it’s hit us on

both sides of the ball. But we’re not in this for a

short fix. We’re building a program. It was in the

best interest of the program, as well as those

youngsters. Dave Harding is exactly right, he

wasn’t ready. He would not have been able to hold

up in there a year ago.

We’ll certainly play a freshman when

they’re ready or they’re by far the best we’ve got at

any position. But those guys, they do much better

generally up front when they have a little time to

soak, so to speak.

It is difficult. It’s been tempting this year.

But I think it’s in our best interest as a program to

continue to try to do this where we can.

Q. In terms of your last few weeks here,

what has been the biggest difference in your

offense in terms of where you’ve seen some



executing and not turning the ball over. We had

executed at times all year long. We’ve had some

poor games offensively where we really shot

ourselves in the foot turning the ball over. We’d

have a different record right now if we didn’t do

anything different but take care of the ball. We

wouldn’t have any more yards or any more

anything. So protecting the ball is the biggest


When you got a lot of young players out

there, sometimes it takes a little experience to

understand that. Hopefully that will be a trend we

continue. We’ve never turned the ball over – knock

on wood – at a high rate. Florida just kind of came

out of nowhere. Hopefully that’s past and we’re

beyond that.

Q. How much more of a challenge will

it be from when you watched the BC defense

on film to put up points this week?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Well, they’re very

good. Every week in the ACC is a new battle, a

new circumstance. You have to just try to find

matchups. You’re hunting matchups every week.

Unfortunately, with a team like BC, they’re not easy

to come by. You just pick and choose the right

places. The most important thing we can do,

again, is take care of the ball, try to be

opportunistic when it presents itself, because it’s

visit our archives at

ACC – 11 10 10, part 2.doc 7

not going to present itself all that often with a team

as sound as BC is.

Q. When you recruited Brandon

Connette, did you envision using him in the

manner that you’re using him or is that

something that sort of evolved as things have

gone along?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Well, football’s

changing a little bit offensively. So with all of our

young quarterbacks, we’ve kind of gauged their

ability to run, even Sean Renfree. His athleticism

was high. He’s a good all-around quarterback. It’s

just this year, at this point in time, he’s been very

beneficial to use him that way, plus it’s a great way

to get him experience.

When you came back to the 2010 season,

we had one quarterback on our team that had ever

played any college football. It was going to be

necessary to get somebody else experience.

Much like University of Florida did with Tim Tebow.

It’s a very good way to get a young quarterback

some experience in situational football. It has just


But we did know that we were signing an

excellent athlete and runner as well as an excellent


Q. When you game plan, do you look to

get him a certain number of snaps in a game or

is it usually developing into a situational type



situational. It’s not going in saying we’re going to

play him this many snaps or anything else. It will

be situational.

Also some of it is based on what a defense

is doing to deploy against us, the kind of success

we’re having in other areas. It’s always there. We

have grown that offense, grown that system, and

continue to do that. It’s something we’re going to

do. So we’re kind of liking where we’re headed

with it.

Q. How has he adjusted to the way

defenses are adjusting to when he’s in the


COACH CUTCLIFFE: Well, he realizes

the line of scrimmage is getting a little crowded up

there. He’s like most quarterbacks, he wants to

throw the football, and he can and will. He was

very successful all the time in practice. We got to

give him some chances to make plays in that


You give a quarterback that opportunity,

they’re going to take it, I guarantee you. He’s like

any of them, and I’m glad he is. He believes he

can beat you throwing the football.

Q. What is the most important thing

you hope to accomplish defensively in the next

couple of weeks?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Well, we’ve been

beat up defensively, pushed around a bit off and

on all year long. You know, the thing you want to

do is we’ve had chances to make some big plays,

and dropped an interception. What I want to see is

to be a little bit more opportunistic. We have to

create some turnovers, continue that as a trend,

always looking to tackle better.

If I had to pick one thing, it would probably

be our ability to play blocks, get off blocks. That’s

how you have to win. Hard to tackle people if you

get stuck on blocks. That’s one of the things we’re

working very hard at. We basically have gone live

defensively the last two days in practice up front

trying to improve our skill in that regard because

we know that Boston College is going to be a huge

challenge when it comes to stopping the run.

Q. The game-winning play last week,

was that intended really just to get about 5 to

10 yards and facilitate a field goal or did you

think it could break?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Oh, no, you don’t

ever know. We were calling it to improve our field

position. We were out of timeouts. But it’s part of

that two-minute package because it’s a sideline

run. You’re always hoping to go. But they got

caught in a substitution situation. We teach them,

we’re going to snap the football. When you get the

ball outside, which is what we did, it’s a toss, when

you get the ball outside, a lot of good things can


Our left tackle flipped a safety off his feet

and opened it up. It was a sprint to the end zone.

But we wouldn’t have been unhappy had it gained

15 yards and set us up in field goal range.



COACH SWINNEY: Good to be with you

guys again this week.

Well, this is another opportunity for us to go on the road. We have not been a road team

this year. Tough task to go down and play in

Tallahassee. It will be a night game, a great

atmosphere I’m sure. We’re going to have to play

our best game to be able to win down there.

But our focus is just on trying to get better

as a team and try to have the best finish as we

possibly can. It’s the biggest game of the year for

us because it’s the next one, and we’re trying to

have that good finish. Gets us eligible for a Bowl if

we can win this one. Certainly keeps us alive in

our conference. Same for Florida State. So a lot

on the line for both teams.

We’re going to have to play very well. But

we’re looking forward to it. So far we’re having a

good week of preparation.

With that, I’ll take whatever questions you


Q. Coach, I wanted to ask you about

Da’Quan Bowers. He’s putting up remarkable

numbers as a pass-rusher. I’m correct, he

blocked the kick earlier in the game, right?

COACH SWINNEY: I believe it was Jarvis

Jenkins that got his firsthand on it, but Da’Quan

was right there as well.

Q. Can you talk about him as a

pass-rusher, what he’s brought? His numbers

are out of sight.

COACH SWINNEY: Well, he’s come into

his own this year. He’s been a good player his first

two years here. But this has been a year, like a lot

of players, the light kind of goes on for him. Not

just on game day, but just the off-season, how they

prepare, take care of their bodies, the commitment,

all that type of stuff, knowledge of the game,

studying the game. Those are the areas where

Da’Quan really grew up in. He played at 290

pounds this year. He’s been playing about 273 this

year. He’s a very smart player, but has worked

really hard in studying and preparing every week.

He’s playing like a man on a mission.

When you put great work ethic with great talent,

most of the time you get a great player. That’s

what the case has been for Da’Quan. Awful proud

of the season that he’s had. If he continues to play

and finish the season like he started it, he’s going

to put himself in contention to win some of those

post-season awards.

Q. I know it takes a combination of all

these things to make a guy that successful.

Out of strength and quickness or technique,

what area does he really excel in?

COACH SWINNEY: Size, speed and

explosiveness, the combination, athleticism to go

with it. I mean, you just don’t find many guys 274

pounds that can run like Da’Quan, can change

direction like Da’Quan, and have the power and

explosiveness in their hips like Da’Quan does.

That’s what makes him special. He can speed

rush you or he can turn that speed into power and

get up underneath you. He’s strong enough to bull


When you put a high motor with it, you got

a tough day’s work. He’s just put it all together. In

the past, he has shown flashes of that, but then he

would not be consistent with his effort, things like

that. This year, he’s been at a different level.

Q. Coach, I’m sure you’ve seen reports

that Christian Ponder has had to miss a little

practice time at the start of the week and is day

to day. I guess you have the luxury of having

some film on EJ Manuel. How much are they

alike or different to prepare for? Are you

preparing as if Ponder is playing?

COACH SWINNEY: We’re just preparing

what they do offensively because it’s not going to

matter who’s under center. They’re going to do

what they do regardless. They’re similar players in

that regard. I mean, they’re both big guys. Both

can run well. We played a little bit against Manuel

last year. We certainly have watched their Bowl

game from last year. He was the MVP of that

game, I believe, and a good player.

He’s played a little bit this year. But

Ponder is the leader of their team. That’s an

obvious thing you’re going to keep up with day to

day. Here is a guy, he’s a redshirt senior. He’s got

a tremendous amount of experience, a lot of

success. I think this is the best offense we’ve

played all year.

So definitely he’s the starter for a reason.

But Manuel is a very good player, and he’s just

waiting his time. If he plays this week, they’re not

going to change what they do or become

something different. We have to prepare for what

we’ve seen.

Q. The play last year where Ponder was

hurt after the interception, some guys might

not have gone out there and tried to knock

DeAndre out of bounds. What did that say to

visit our archives at

ACC – 11 10 10, part 2.doc 9

you that I don’t think it crossed his mind to let

it go at that point in the game?

COACH SWINNEY: Christian Ponder is a

guy that every coach would love to coach, I can tell

you that. He’s a true competitor. I have a ton of

respect for him. He’s been a very good player,

handles himself the right way. He plays the game

the way you’re supposed to play it. He may make

mistakes, do this or that, but that sucker plays hard

and he competes all the way to the end.

That particular play, the game was over at

that particular point. He is still laying it on the line.

There’s a lot of guys that kind of would have gone

over there, dove at his ankles, gone over and tried

not to make the tackle. Not surprised at all that he

went over there and tried to take his frustration out

on DeAndre.

Q. Offensively are you looking for any

certain things to improve upon after the last

few weeks?

COACH SWINNEY: We just got to finish

in the red zone. That’s our big Achilles’ heel. We

really were doing very well for most of the year.

We’re really struggling with our kickers right now in

putting it between the pipes. That’s the big thing.

When you have long drives, 12-, 15-play drives,

you get no points, it’s very deflating.

We have to execute a little bit better as an

offense. We’ve done some good things, but we’ve

been shooting ourselves in the foot. This past

week we put it on the ground five times. But we’re

growing up in some areas. KP played a very good

game this past week. We’re going to need him to

play well. We’re growing up at receiver. We got a

couple of freshmen that are stepping up big-time

for us and are continuing to get better.

So we’ve made some progress. But for us

on offense, it’s about executing, getting 11 guys to

do their job, stop shooting ourselves in the foot.

We need to get a little bit of help from our kicking

unit, as well.

Q. Coach, probably for the first time

since you were a preschooler, this game is

going to be played without a Bowden on one

sideline, or two for that matter. There’s

probably a little bit of that influence from that

family in what goes on with your coaching.

COACH SWINNEY: Oh, yeah. I got a ton

of respect for the whole Bowden family. I had the

privilege of working for Tommy, also played for him

for a year. But Coach Bobby Bowden, he’s a guy

that I’ve respected for years and years and years,

even when I was a player, got into coaching,

started studying the coaching profession, all that

stuff. He’s just an icon.

Real privilege for me to have been able to

get to know him first through Tommy and then

obviously with the transition here and all that. He’s

just been first class all the way. Been good to my

family. It’s going to be different.

One of the things I’ll never forget is being a

part of that game last year here at Clemson, his

last game as the head coach here at Death Valley,

that’s something I’ll never forget. I was just visiting

with him before the game and after the game. Just

a gracious man that’s given this game, the game of

football, so much.

His influence will still be greatly felt down

there in Tallahassee, there’s no doubt about it.

Even though he won’t be there, he’ll be in a lot of

people’s thoughts, I’m sure.

Q. Can you tell me what your time with

Tommy, any particular influence he had in what

you do every day as a coach?

COACH SWINNEY: Coach Bowden was

just a great person in how he dealt with the staff.

He really treated everybody with a lot of respect.

Genuine guy. Loved his family. Really set a great

example to me as a father, how he dealt with his

children, how he dealt with adversity. He was a

great example of applying your faith to your daily

walk. Also just seeing his relationship with his

father was very inspiring to me.

A lot of the things that Tommy did and

brought into the program were obviously things

that Bobby Bowden, he grew up watching his dad

do. Some of those things we still keep as a part of

our program and always will, some of the things we

may do in pregame, things like that. There’s a lot

of things that I learned from Tommy Bowden and

Bobby Bowden.



COACH SPAZIANI: We venture back

down to North Carolina our second week in a row

to play a very well-coached Duke football team.

We need to make sure we improve and play as

well as we possibly can play.

So with that, we’ve got ques-ti-ones.

Q. Frank, Duke uses two quarterbacks with different styles, which seems to be a bit of

a growing trend in college football. How

difficult is it to prepare on the one hand for

Sean Renfree’s passing and then when they

change up to No. 18 when he comes in the

game? Defensively how tough is that to get

ready for?

COACH SPAZIANI: Well, it poses some

problems obviously. They seem to have two

packages. Of course, Connette is the backup in

the other package. He can do both.

You have to address it. It certainly

complicates your practice time.

Q. Just watching Connette on film,

what have your impressions been of him?

COACH SPAZIANI: Seems like a very

good athlete. Seems like a very good quarterback,

Tim Tebow-ish. Looks like he fits exactly what

they’re asking him to do.

Q. Frank, your defense of late, what

has been helping that defense to be so stingy

in recent weeks?

COACH SPAZIANI: There’s a lot of

factors. We’ve tried to simplify a few things and

tried to focus in and coach it a little bit better, make

sure we’re not asking our players to do things that

they’re not exactly equipped to handle.

Then our guys have been working hard. I

mean, every week they come out there and they

work to get better. It certainly has shown in the

last couple of weeks.

But having said that, they will have their

work cut out for them this week.

Q. Obviously your running game has

been there the last few weeks. Montel has

been there all year for you. Is it the offensive

line has been blocking better in the recent


COACH SPAZIANI: Once again, there are

a lot of factors to that. One of the biggest factors

has been that the offensive line has been intact

practicing during the week. Now, that wasn’t the

case last week. We missed someone, then we

have some other issues again. But that helps, to

have the same guys blocking. Certainly Montel

can feed off of that.

Q. I think it’s interesting you’re playing

Duke for the first time in a while. I know Montel

Harris originally committed to Duke and

opened up again after the coaching change.

Were you involved directly in his recruiting?

Can you fill us in on what went on there, how

you got in it?

COACH SPAZIANI: No and no (laughter).

All I know is that he showed up on our campus.

Q. Can you talk about going down to

Duke. It’s a place that none of your guys on

your team, I don’t think your staff, has ever

been. Location, does it matter at all in college


COACH SPAZIANI: Well, we have guys

that have been down there. Coach Brock has

been down there. Coach Tranquill has been down

there. I certainly have been down there. So we

have a familiarity with going into Durham.

Q. Coach, can you explain how Luke

Kuechly’s excellence makes life easier for

some of his teammates, and in particular which

players benefit the most from his ability to be

all over the place?

COACH SPAZIANI: Well, let’s see, we

have 85 guys on scholarship, we got 84. I can’t

name them all (laughter).

Luke is a very good football player as I

said over and over again who instinctively plays

and he just loves the football game. A lot of times

players like that make up for other errors. We’re

certainly glad to have him over there.

Having said that, he’s had a couple issues

himself, too. He’s not by any means a finished


3 comments Add your comment


November 10th, 2010
6:44 pm

College Playoff Conundrum…

For those, like me, who believe the FCS Bowl Championship should go to a playoff format because it’s fairer, take a deep breath, it’s not. Right now, in the DII Playoff Super Region Format there’s a bevy of deserving schools that will be on the outside looking in and only God knows why?

For example: FVSU (8-2) lost to undefeated Albany St. (10-0) in the Fountain City Classic this weekend, are tied for 2nd in the SIAC and #23 in the DII AFCA Coaches Poll. Yet, are ranked #7 in DII Super Region 2 behind Morehouse (8-2).

Morehouse defeated FVSU early in the year, so they own the head-to-head, but they lost to Tuskegee (8-2) and Albany St. FVSU beat Tuskegee soundly and lost 12-7 to Albany for the SIAC championship. Morehouse lost soundly to Tuskegee and played Albany St. close as well. Morehouse is ranked #24 in the AFCA Coaches Poll behind FVSU, but #6 in the DII Super Region 2 ahead of FVSU.

Similarly, Winston-Salem State, Shaw and St. Augustine are all 8-2 in the CIAA and ranked #6 or worse in the DII Super Region 1.

As it currently stands, from this group, only Albany St., Shaw and Morehouse will make the DII Playoffs while other 8-2 teams: St. Augustine, Winston-Salem, Tuskegee and poor FVSU will sit home and watch while 6-3 teams continue to play.

Somethings not right here. Even Sheridan Broadcasting Networks Black College Poll did not even rank FVSU after its loss to Albany or did it receive any votes whatsoever. What’s the logic here? If you lose to the undefeated champion, you fall out of the poll completely, while other teams with the same or worse record remain?

for better analysis goto

Black Power Poll
Week 10

1. Bethune
3. Grambling
4. Albany St.
7. Shaw
8. Tuskegee
9. Morehouse
10. Tx Southern


November 10th, 2010
9:45 pm

I must be a college football geek, because I love coachspeak!!


November 11th, 2010
9:49 am

There are some funny comments in there. Shannon explaining a cut block, but naming it a chop block. No wonder his players seem confused at times. I wonder if he calls a flag route a “skinny post”?