ACC coaches’ quotes, week 14

Quotes from the ACC’s weekly teleconference, courtesy of the conference office:

COACH JIM GROBE

WAKE FOREST

THE MODERATOR: Welcome to today’s

ACC football coaches teleconference.

Welcome, Coach. We’ll start with a brief

opening statement and then we’ll go to questions.

COACH GROBE: We lost this past

Saturday to a really good Clemson football team. I

was disappointed that we didn’t get a win, but I

think we’ve made some strides with our younger

players. I think we’re seeing some maturity from

our guys now, and we’re starting to improve.

Unfortunately, we’re out of time. We’ve got

one left at Vanderbilt this Saturday, and I’m hopeful

that our young guys will continue to improve and

will play better and get a win.

THE MODERATOR: Questions?

Q. Obviously the season was not good

for you guys. I was wondering, did you kind of

privately, before the season, think, okay, I’m

not going to say this but I think I’m in for a long

year here because I could see some certain

problems with this team? Did you see this

coming privately before the season there?

COACH GROBE: You know, honestly, I

think as coaches you always see a silver lining.

And you always have that pie-in-the-sky attitude.

You feel things are going to work out. And in the

past we’ve always found a way to get our teams to

be competitive.

Early in the year we weren’t even

competitive, and that was a shock to us. But I

think our biggest issue, aside from only having four

seniors in our two-deep right now is that the

quarterbacks that we thought were going to be the

guys, Ted Stachitas and Sky Jones, got hurt early

in the season, and a lot of the spring preparation

and August preparation to be a gun option team

kind of went out the window and we ended up

scrambling from about the third game of the

season on. And I think that was something we

didn’t foresee.

We felt like going into the season that Ted

Stachitas and Sky Jones would be our

quarterbacks, and both of those kids were down

right at the start of the season. So that got us

scrambling, and ultimately we ended up playing a

true freshman at quarterback.

So I think that was the unknown. I think

going in we felt if we could stay healthy that we

could be a competitive football team. But we

haven’t been able to do that.

Q. A follow-up on that. How do you

feel about your quarterback situation moving

forward? And how do you think your offense –

how much different will it look next year?

COACH GROBE: Honestly, I feel great

about the progress we’ve made with Tanner. It’s

not showing in wins right now, but I thought against

a really tough physical Clemson defense this past

Saturday, Tanner really grew up. We really went in

the game almost afraid to throw the football too

much, because we didn’t know if we could protect

him. And we really didn’t do a great job of that. I

think we gave up three sacks, if I’m not mistaken.

But he showed great poise. He got rid of

the ball. He made a couple of mistakes mentally

but for the most part, when we did try to throw the

football, he was sharp and showed some maturity

and made some great decisions.

So I think going forward, I think you’re

talking about a kid in Tanner that didn’t have the

benefit of spring practice. And being a true

freshman, he’s going to improve physically here in

the offseason and have the benefit of a good

spring practice and another August camp.

And so I couldn’t be happier to be honest

with you with Tanner Price’s development. And I’ll

tell you the other thing is I think Sky Jones has

hung in there pretty well as a back-up and really

been a positive for us.

And we haven’t had a chance to get him

on the field but I feel like going into spring, if

Tanner continues to improve, we’ll be good with a

starter and possibly have a couple of kids backing

up that are capable of coming in if something were

to happen to Tanner.

Q. How difficult is it given the

circumstances of this season and you closed it

out going on the road against a nonconference

opponent. Do you sense that the kids are still

looking forward to games on Saturdays? Can

you read that very well?

COACH GROBE: You know, I think a lot

of times, when you’ve lost as many games in a row

as we’ve lost, I think the nine teams we’ve lost to

are all Bowl teams. And several of those teams

had quarterbacks that were mentioned for the

Heisman Trophy preseason.

So we really have played a really brutal

schedule for having a young football team. And I

think typically at the end of a year, like we’ve had,

the coaches and the players can’t wait to get the

season over. But I really have never sensed that.

I know our coaches have had a lot of fun here

these past few weeks just seeing young guys get

better and better and practice hard and go out on

Saturday and play hard, even though the results

haven’t been good.

So I’m hopeful that the players feel about

the same way the coaches do. We’re just looking

forward to playing another game. I didn’t feel good

in the locker room Saturday after losing to a good

Clemson team. But I told the players the blessing

is we’ve still got another chance.

So I’m hoping the players are looking at

that. I got a sense that our players still want to

play and we’ll find out Saturday.

Q. How important is it for all the hard

work that they put in to see something tangible

on the field?

COACH GROBE: Well, it would be huge.

I think that one of our issues, especially in our

freshmen and sophomores, and there is a lot of

them, I think we’ve got 13 freshmen in our

two-deep right now, those are a lot of guys without

a lot of confidence right now. But their work ethic

is not diminished at all.

So I think you make a good point, with all

the work we’ve put in — and we’ve pressed our

guys pretty hard — it would be huge for us to get a

win at the end of the season and see a little bit of

reward for all the hard work that we’ve put in. But

we’ve got to play better than we have.

We haven’t played as well on the road as

we have at home. And I think our guys are going

to have to not only show some improvement on the

field, but show some maturity traveling to another

team’s backyard and just showing a little bit more

grit than we have this season.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

We now welcome Coach Frank Beamer.

COACH FRANK BEAMER

VIRGINIA TECH

THE MODERATOR: We now welcome

Coach Frank Beamer. We’ll start with an opening

statement.

COACH BEAMER: When you look at

Virginia you look at a team that’s been in every

ballgame, a couple got away from them, but

they’ve been there battling. I think they’ve been

able to run the football. That’s certainly helped

their passing completion percentage, Verica is

completing 60 percent of his passes. Defensively

they are very good and play hard.

Certainly they’re an in-state rival, and I

know they’re going to come ready to play and we

need to make a great preparation to get ready to

play these guys. So questions?

Q. Great win last week there. Can you

talk a little bit about your thoughts and the

team coming together to win those nine

straight games after a tough start to the

season?

COACH BEAMER: Well, I think, number

one, we’ve got good kids. I think great character

kids. I think the leaders on our football team, our

seniors, not only are they good players but great

people. And I think it starts there.

You can solve problems, I think, if you’ve

got good people. If you’ve got bad guys, it’s hard

to get problems solved. And we had a couple of

real serious problems there early – two losses in a

week.

And so I think that’s number one. But

we’ve had good players. We got good players.

We’ve got a quarterback that I think is as good as it

gets. And when you have that guy, I think you

always have hope on Saturday. And he’s played

great during this stretch.

So I think just things kind of fell in place

and we’ve been able to beat some really good

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football teams and been fortunate to get it done.

But I credit our players.

I’ve said it a bunch of times. You couldn’t

tell any difference in how we practiced the Monday

before Boise State and then the Monday after,

James Madison – Monday before, Boise State,

optimistic, looking forward to a great year.

Then after the James Madison game – two

losses in a week’s time. But we practice the same

way. And I think the fact that we don’t try to blame

people for this or blame — what we try to do is find

out what went wrong, correct it and go back out

and get that corrected and win the next time.

And I think that consistency helps the

players be consistent.

So we’re not an up and down football

team. And I take great pride in that.

Q. And how do you retain that focus

and drive heading into this final season

finishing off the year strong before going to

Charlotte?

COACH BEAMER: Say it again.

Q. How do you retain that focus and

that drive heading into the final weekend to

finish off the year strong before heading to

Charlotte next weekend?

COACH BEAMER: This is Virginia. And

of course they’re the team in the state that is our

rival. A team certainly we have great respect for in

how they do business. But this is one our alumni

remember — all those Hokie Club meetings I go to

in the offseason, this is the game we’re talking

about. So we understand how important it is to our

fans and our alumni of this university and how

important it is to us.

And it’s an important game to them, too.

So I think the fact that it’s Virginia, makes it a very,

very important football game.

Q. Andrew Lanier wasn’t projected as a

starter this season but yet due to injury ends

up over there on the left side. And I know on

Saturday it looked like he had a real big block

on Ryan’s long touchdown run. Could you talk

about his emergence this season and how he

kind of held out on to that job even once Nick

was healthy?

COACH BEAMER: Nick Becton went

down early preseason and Lanier stepped in there.

He’s a little bit light, but he’s another one of those

guys we moved from tight end. But he’s athletic,

and he’s really done well. Really stepped up and

helped our football team be successful.

And we had a couple of new starters in

there in that offensive line. And then we had –

Lanier was a guy we didn’t project as a starter. So

he came from back in the pack but has been very

instrumental in our success, that’s for sure.

Q. Mike London was saying that you

interviewed for a position on your staff some

years ago. What has your relationship with him

been over the years? And, second of all,

what’s been your impressions of what he’s

been able to do during his first year here?

COACH BEAMER: I’ve always been

impressed with Mike. I think he’s done a good job

now. I think he’s put together a good staff. They’re

working extremely hard. And I think he’s doing a

good job. There’s no question about it.

Q. I know you head coaches can get

called a lot of different names at a lot of

different times, but now that you’ve passed Bo

Schembechler and have an opportunity to

move past Woody Hayes, a couple of legends,

here on Saturday with a win over VA, what are

your reactions when people refer to you as the

legendary Frank Beamer?

COACH BEAMER: It means you’re getting

older. It’s really unbelievable. When you start

seeing your name there with those people you

grew up with, and they were your idols growing up,

and it’s hard to imagine you’re in there.

But I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had a lot of

good coaches, coaches that stayed with me. We

had a consistency there. And we had a lot of good

players come through here.

That’s what you’ve got to have. There’s

not a secret to it. You better have good players

and coach them up. And I’ve been fortunate to

have both.

Q. Also a win on Saturday would be

your tenth on the season. That’s significant. It

would be the seventh straight year that you’ve

won 10 games or more. Is that something

that’s talked about within your program?

COACH BEAMER: Absolutely. The thing

I’m most proud about is our consistency. We’re

talking about how we approach our players the

Monday after the James Madison game, I was

talking about that earlier, but I think we’re not an

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up-and-down program and that’s what I take great

pride in. I think the only team in the country to win

10 games for seven straight years — we separated

ourselves there.

So I’m proud of that. That’s for sure.

Q. As Tyrod goes into the last three

games of his career, do you feel he’s playing

his best football?

COACH BEAMER: Absolutely. I think

he’s playing as good as anyone in the country.

This guy’s special. I said it a couple of times, but

what Michael Vick can do in a ballgame, Tyrod

does the same things. You get the same feeling

over there on the sideline – and great confidence in

the guy that he’s going to do the right thing with the

football.

And he’s just such a competitor and very

talented and extremely smart, and a team guy. I

mean, he’s not into records. He’s not into stats.

He’s into winning football games and helping his

teammates win.

So I really appreciate Tyrod a lot. And I

know this: He’s been the guy. He’s the guy that –

we’ve had a lot of good players. Don’t get me

wrong – have a lot of good players on our team.

But I don’t know that you come back from those

two losses the way we have if we don’t have a

great quarterback like Tyrod Taylor.

Q. Over the course of his career, has

the main thing that he has gotten better at

maybe his decision-making, possibly when to

throw it, when to run, that sort of thing, and

where to throw it?

COACH BEAMER: Yeah, I think he’s

worked very hard. I think he’s worked hard at the

fundamentals and worked hard at learning the

game, and, yeah, I think experience is a wonderful

thing. And I think he’s more efficient throwing the

ball and more accurate throwing the ball because

he knows where the ball needs to go and when it

needs to go.

And those things all tie together with

experience. So there’s no question that the

experience has helped him, and he’s a very

complete quarterback right now.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

COACH MIKE LONDON

VIRGINIA

THE MODERATOR: We welcome Mike

London. We’ll start off with an opening statement

and then go to questions.

COACH LONDON: Good morning. It’s

our last game, last game for a lot of fifth-year and

some fourth-year seniors that have started out in

this program, and playing against a very, very good

Virginia Tech team that has, rightfully so, won a lot

of games and been involved in a lot of ACC

championship opportunities.

So going up there and playing in a college

atmosphere is something that’s quite a challenge,

as you see teams that go in there and have to deal

with.

It’s a rivalry game, two in-state schools,

where you respect the coaches that I know on their

staff and the fact that there’s a lot of players that

played with each other, grew up with each other,

and just those things that you can add to when you

start talking about playing a team like Virginia

Tech, particularly in-state.

So we’re getting prepared for Thanksgiving

and also a game up there with the Hokies.

Questions?

Q. How do you evaluate the season

that Marc Verica has? I believe he’s thrown for

more yards than anyone in program history,

except Matt Schaub, but yet some damaging

interceptions. Just curious how you balance

that and also how you would evaluate him as a

leader of the offense?

COACH LONDON: As you look at the

offense and the production that it has had,

obviously when you have a fifth-year guy like Marc,

was able to do some things that probably perhaps

some of these other quarterbacks we have on our

current roster would not be able to do because of

his experience.

I think Coach Lazor has put him in

positions to try to use the strengths that he may

have and had two wide receivers with over 40

catches – Moved up dramatically in a lot of

offensive categories over the last couple of years.

And it’s been attributed to Marc’s ability to

read defenses and coverages and make audibles

and things like that.

But, you’re right, there’s also been some

times where you throw the ball into — careless

decisions with throwing the ball into the other guy’s

hands.

But I think in terms of production and

getting the most maximizing what our best

quarterback as a current situation has for us is,

he’s done a nice job.

And I think he can go out with his college

career kind of with his head up as far as being

fairly productive when you look at, when you stack

his statistics up against guys that have been here.

I mean, I’m quite sure that Marc would say

all the statistics are great and things like that but

what matters is the opportunity to win games. And

I know he probably would say I’d rather have a

winning record or an opportunity to play

post-season more than any of these records or

milestones that he may have.

And that’s the type of young man he is.

The last home game that we had, and even though

we lost; he went and high-fived every student,

everyone who would stick their hand out around

the stadium. Even with the loss, even with how

you may evaluate how he played, I mean, he did

that.

And I think that speaks to the kind of

character of the young man right now, regardless

of good/bad game, whatever, he said he thought

he owed it to the people that were there and that

had stood by him to do that and make one last trip

around Scott Stadium.

So all those other things that may have

been said about him; to me that spoke volumes

about who he is as a person.

Q. Two years ago at Lane Stadium he

had a real painful pick late in the game when

Virginia was in field goal range, a chance to tie

the game late. Has he mentioned that to you or

the coaching staff to him this week?

COACH LONDON: He hasn’t mentioned

that. I think you speak to the leadership part of it is

part of being a leader is also recognizing your

strengths and your weaknesses and someone can

always tell you, look, you’re not fast enough, you’re

not strong enough. I think he recognizes that was

a critical point in the game. He would be the first to

mention it.

But I think he also recognizes that when

you’re playing a team like Virginia Tech who Coach

Foster has done a great job defensively with them

year in, year out, that you can’t make mistakes like

that.

You almost have to be mistake-free kind of

a played game, particularly by the quarterback,

because of what they do and the challenges that

they present. So he won’t mention it unless you

guys mention it. But I think that he understands

that he’s got to play a really, really good game

against a very good team.

Q. I’m just curious, how much –

because I know you were around originally

when these players were being recruited, how

much do you think it changed the course of the

last four years for these two programs when

Virginia Tech took Tyrod Taylor and Virginia

got their guy as well, also a highly recruited

guy, Peter Lalich, and it didn’t work out for

Lalich as it has for Tyrod? How much do you

think for those two quarterbacks and their

subsequent performances changed the

courses of these two programs over the last

four years?

COACH LONDON: I think it’s significant in

the fact that your quarterback is a guy that handles

the ball 100 percent of the time. He’s going to

touch it. And whether he’s throwing it or handing it

off. But also sometimes your quarterback is the

face of the program. And he’s a guy that can

either distribute the ball to the play makers or

himself can be a play maker with his arms or with

his legs.

And I think I was part of that recruiting

process when I was recruiting the Tidewater area

that with Tyrod and his family and I know that at

one point he did have a consideration for us,

strong consideration, but in the end we took who

we got and Tech got Tyrod.

And obviously you look at the fortunes of

both young men. One is getting ready to play for

an ACC championship, and I can’t recall where the

other one is right now – had a rocky career.

But any of those skill players, in particular

your quarterback, that can be the face of a

program and has great character and integrity and

does the right things, with the way he’s supposed

to do it and can represent and be a leader, that’s

the engine that drives a team, and I think Tyrod

has done that for his team – Has represented them

well.

And I’m hoping as recruiting goes on for us

and as we start to build a program here that we

surround ourselves with guys like that, with guys

that have that type of ability and the mindset of

conducting themselves off the field in a manner

that’s representative of their family and what the

university and the team expects. That’s kind of the

long and short of it.

Q. When you were going through the

interview process there at UVA, how much — or

was beating Virginia Tech, the in-state rival,

talked about or implied?

COACH LONDON: It’s always — you’re

the two BCS schools in your state and you look at

the record over the last several years in terms of

their opportunities and winning and things like that,

and obviously through alumni and through people,

through fans, it’s something that sticks out.

And I think it’s implied and it’s one of those

things that you always want to do well against your

in-state rival, because you’re always doing things

in competition with them, with players, with

coaches, with the community, about how they think

about you, with all just different things.

And they’ve done a good job because

they’ve had the upper hand for the last several

years. And as a new guy, new coach coming in,

then trying to create a culture and atmosphere of

trying to address that through recruiting, through

doing things with coaches, through trying to think

out of the box a little bit, trying to do my part to now

representing Virginia to try to have the level of

success that they’ve had.

So that’s something, whether it’s implied or

whether it’s thought. It’s out there. It’s just no

hidden element there. That’s what it’s about. So

we’ll go about the way of building this program,

playing this game and how we approach spring

practice and how we approach recruiting is all built

on trying to be a better team. And then perhaps

speaking about our opportunities to play in

championship games and go to consecutive Bowl

games and things like that. So that’s where we

are.

Q. Mike, also, Virginia Tech has won a

lot of games with kids out of the Tidewater

area, and I see here in your first year you’re

having success to see where another kid out of

that area is going to come play football for you.

Your thoughts on Tidewater and getting kids

from here in the state of Virginia whereas

perhaps the last — Coach Grobe, perhaps,

seems like he pulled talent from other areas.

Your philosophy there.

COACH LONDON: When I was a recruiter

down there, that was my area. As the head coach,

you know, I’m interested in not only 757, but 804,

703, 540, all those area codes.

But it’s no secret that I grew up, went to

school down there, and I’ve had a relationship with

a lot of coaches down in that area. And it takes a

long time to build a relationship with people.

It’s gratifying to a certain extent some

people can say you know what, you need to

consider the school itself has its own draw, its own

magnet, because it’s an outstanding school

academically, but there’s also a part about our

strength is probably in our people right now.

It’s not the stadium. It’s not how many

shoes you wear. It’s in our people and it’s in the

school. So you hope that the reputation or the

relationships you’ve established over the years has

paid off to the point that, hey, listen I can send my

son to this guy or to this school because of the

reasons I mentioned.

So the Tidewater area is very important to

us, but also now being the head coach, every area

in the state of Virginia is important when we’re

talking about the best talent in the state. So that’s

the main focus. But it does appear that there is

opportunities, as it currently exists to draw an

interest of several young men.

But, like I said, I’d like to look at the entire

state and entertain all the best talent from all over

the state.

Q. Along those same lines, I’m just

curious, and this is something the Virginia

Tech’s coaches have acknowledged as well:

How concerning is it to you or how much are

you aware of — you’ve kind of made recruiting

the state of Virginia an emphasis, but it seems

like more and more there’s national-type

schools, national recruiters coming into the

state because of the success some of the high

school players have had over the years there.

Is that something you’re aware of and

something that concerns you, I guess, going

forward?

COACH LONDON: No, not really. I think

when you look at the state of Virginia and

historically over the years and just the amount of

players that have come out of a state that doesn’t

have spring practice like Florida and California and

Georgia and Texas, you know, because that’s

year-round high school football, and the

development of those players are year-round. But

when you look at the state of Virginia, you don’t

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have those opportunities but, yet, keep producing

just players coming out of all different areas.

So being an in-state school, being a BCS

school, being a school that attracts a lot of young

men because of the profile of the school, it’s

important to be in, on, or have those young men

come take a look at us, because of what we’re

trying to get accomplished here. And there’s no

mistake as to why other schools from other areas,

whether it’s the adjoining schools or coming from

across country. Stanford comes around here a lot.

There’s a lot of schools that come here

because they know the type of players that are

have produced great coaching and just a

community of coaches and high school players that

just develop to be really good players when they

get into college.

So it’s something that you’re aware of and

we’ve just got to keep working hard to try to attract

those top recruits in-state and also not the top

recruits but some other guys, sometimes guys like

the school, want to be walk-ons – And in

developing those type of guys. Virginia’s had a

history of having walk-ons. Conner Hughes was a

walk-on I recruited, ended up becoming the place

kicker here and having a great, great career.

I think you’ve just got to do a good job with

the talent because you’re around it and you get a

chance to see it and go to camps and do all these

things. So there’s no secret why a lot of other

schools are coming here, want to do the same.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

COACH TOM O’BRIEN

NC STATE

THE MODERATOR: We now welcome

Tom O’Brien. We’ll start with an opening

statement.

COACH O’BRIEN: Our team is hard at

work getting ready to go play Maryland in College

Park on Saturday. Exciting time for our school, our

fans and our football team, and hopefully we can

find a way to win a game on Saturday.

Q. As you get ready for your

preparations for Maryland this week, and game

week, your team has never had a winning

record prior to this season. Do you guard

against maybe them getting too fired up? I

know they haven’t displayed that as the entire

season has gone along, but with this on the

line, do you guard against that?

COACH O’BRIEN: I don’t think that will be

a problem with this football team. It’s a mature

group of kids that have been very workman-like in

everything they do. And I wouldn’t think that would

be a problem.

When you look at Maryland and how

they’ve played this year and we know we’ve got a

huge challenge. They’ve had a great year

themselves. They’re doing a great job of taking the

football away from people and making sure that

they take care of the football. So I don’t think that

will be a problem.

Q. A question about the second most

important Dan O’Brien in your life, which would

be the Maryland quarterback, as opposed to

your son. How would you compare him to

some other quarterbacks you’ve seen?

Obviously he’s had a great freshman year.

COACH O’BRIEN: I think he’s

exceptional, especially for a freshman to play in

this league. It’s awfully difficult to play against the

defenses in this conference. He’s done an

exceptional job. He’s managed the game well.

He’s taken care of the football.

And I think that goes back to the coaching,

too. I think Ralph does a great job taking care of

quarterbacks and accentuating what they do best

and negating what they might not be able to do.

He puts them in situations where he can

succeed and he’s done a nice job executing their

offense.

Q. It’s interesting, NC State hasn’t won

the ACC title since 1979. At that time you were

an assistant coach at Navy coaching tight ends

and stuff. Given the success that State has

had through the years, does that length of time

surprise you at all? And is there any sort of

incentive that you feel from the alums or from

the former players to sort of break that streak?

COACH O’BRIEN: I think the former

players — every year we have our alumni reunion

before the spring game, the guys from ‘79 team

always remind us that it’s been that long. I think

it’s a source of pride to them. But it’s also an

irritant that it’s been that long since they’ve had the

opportunity to be a conference champ. So we’re

trying to change all that.

We have to go beat a really good Maryland

team at 3:30 Saturday afternoon, and that’s what

our focus is right now, to go win this football game

so we can get to Charlotte.

Q. And like this week, through North

Carolina, which was obviously a huge game for

you, have you heard from former players,

alums, stuff like that, or do you just sort of

block that out this week?

COACH O’BRIEN: No, we’ve heard about

it before. I haven’t heard anything this week about

it. But there was enough said in the previous

weeks that you’ve got a chance to be something

special and continue to work hard and we’re

behind you.

Q. In light of we talked about with

Maryland’s quarterback, how do you feel your

pass defense is at this point in the season?

COACH O’BRIEN: I think our pass

defense is much better. We keep getting better

each and every week. We had some issues last

week, but that came down to about three or four

plays that ended up big plays because of our lack

of doing what we should have done. The goal last

week was keep the ball in front of us and inside

and not get beat by any deep balls, which North

Carolina was — their big play capability.

So we’ll have our work cut out for us.

Torrey Smith did a great job against us last year – I

think caught eight balls for 100 some yards. So we

know that they have very explosive wide receivers,

and we just talked about what a great job their

quarterback has done. So we’ll be challenged

back there this week.

Q. Of course after what has happened

with the program in terms of last three years

kind of struggling for winning seasons, how

meaningful is it to everybody here that you

have a chance to, with a win on Saturday to go

to the ACC title game?

COACH O’BRIEN: As I said, I think

everybody is excited. Our fans, our alumni, our

faculty, the student body, I think everybody’s

excited about the prospects of what we can

accomplish this year. We’ve accomplished a lot to

get to this point. But the mission’s not finished -

And certainly a big, big game for us coming up on

Saturday.

Q. Not surprised to be here at this

point in the season?

COACH O’BRIEN: No. I mean, that’s

what you coach for and that’s what these players

play for, the opportunity to be here. And I think it

became apparent after the month of September

that we had a shot to be a heck of a football team

and it’s kind of played out that way.

Q. Two things. One is you know

Maryland probably in preseason wasn’t

predicted to do as well as they have. And all

those things obviously are guesses, but when

you look at this team this year, the Maryland

team, what is it about them that led them to be

where they are, pretty formidable frankly so far,

what do you see as a coach when you’re going

against them?

COACH O’BRIEN: I think, as we talked

about before, they’ve done a good job of taking

care of the football and not turning it over. And

they’ve created a bunch of turnovers. So I think

they’re second or third in the conference in

turnover margin.

They’ve always believed in running the

football. They’ve got two solid running backs. And

if you’re able to run the football and you don’t turn

the football over, you’ve got a chance to be pretty

good on offense. And certainly they’re in the

second year of Don Brown’s scheme on defense.

He came in a year ago and restructured their

whole defense.

The second year at it, they’re better at it,

they understand it and they’re playing very well.

They lead the conference in punt returns. I think

the kid’s third in the nation returning the ball. And

last year they returned a kickoff against us for a

touchdown and so they played well on special

teams.

Q. The defense, the changes they made

on defense, what have they done, or what have

they mastered to make them better?

COACH O’BRIEN: The concept and

fundamentals of defense, it takes you time to have

the kids and find the right kids that put in the

places that have to execute the defense. And then

they have to be able to understand the

adjustments and what they have to make.

And it’s a matter, in a lot of cases, of time.

And it goes back to ability is getting the people in

the right spots so they can execute.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

COACH BUTCH DAVIS

NORTH CAROLINA

THE MODERATOR: We now welcome

Butch Davis. We’ll ask for a brief opening

statement and then go to questions.

COACH DAVIS: Obviously there’s

significant challenges every time that you play any

football game, but certainly a couple of the major

ones with our football team this week is obviously

is the challenge of itself against Duke. a football

team that David Cutcliffe has built improving every

single season. Statistically they’re better,

athletically they’re better, and fundamentally and

schematically they’re a better football team.

That in and of itself provides a significant

challenge – Obviously two very disappointing

losses, and so emotionally and psychologically this

will put our football team very much to the test of

just bouncing back and playing to the very best of

our ability this week.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Your team obviously, as you can, as

anybody can imagine, was devastated after the

game on Saturday with the way it played out.

Do you think as you get with them today and

the next few days you really have to build their

confidence a little bit before this game against

Duke?

COACH DAVIS: I don’t think it has

anything really to do with the confidence aspect. I

think our kids looked at the film on Sunday and

they competed. They played hard. The effort was

good. The execution at times clearly wasn’t as

good as it needed to be.

You can point to any number of half a

dozen or so plays that — containment on a big

scramble, batting the ball out of the back of the

end zone instead of back into the end zone on a

fourth down completion for a touchdown.

You can look at some of those plays and

say here are things that obviously affected the

outcome of the game – Covering the punt – Giving

them an enormous big play in the punting game.

So I don’t think it’s a confidence factor. It’s

just more of an execution of guys being

responsible, doing your job.

Our kids are going to play hard. They’re

going to compete. They’ve done it every single

game for 11 games, and I don’t expect anything

different this Saturday.

Q. Do you ever mention to your team if

you win you can achieve X? Or obviously you

always talk about winning the game, being very

focused on it, but do you ever address, if we

win this game we could go to certain Bowl

game? Have you ever said that with the team?

COACH DAVIS: Not really. Because truly

the Bowl, there were times it looked like our record

indicated that we were going to get a particular

Bowl bid. And there’s a lot of things with the

exception of the Orange Bowl and maybe the

Chik-fil-A Bowl, there’s an awful lot of lobbying and

things that go on that have almost little to do with

whether you’ve won the game, lost the game, what

your record was.

We had a better record than Clemson a

couple of years ago, and they got an opportunity to

go to the — in spite of the fact that they played two

1AA teams, and they got a chance to go to the

Gator Bowl.

So I’ve never really ever bought into it

much. This is more about it’s a chance to have a

winning season, it’s a chance to finish on a regular

season, win another ACC game against somebody

that’s clearly a backdoor rival.

Q. I was curious, coming off

back-to-back losses, obviously disappointing,

are there several things you need to see better

from your team this week, or do you just write

those off to we’re playing two of the better

teams in the conference so that’s –

COACH DAVIS: No, our goal, obviously –

and this has been a long-held adage of mine — you

want to improve every week. You’re kidding

yourself if you look at game tapes from the

previous week and you don’t recognize areas that

you’re not getting better at.

If you continually — one of two things.

Either we’re not coaching well enough if it’s

habitually we’re making the same mistakes and

those things are getting you beat, and you’ve got to

fix those things. If it’s things that schematically are

sound and it’s just the execution, you work on the

execution.

And I’m not a big believer in, well, you just

chalk it off to playing against good teams. We

expect to get better every time we go play.

Q. Carolina has kind of dominated this

in recent years. It hasn’t always been like that.

During the week do you talk about the victory

bell? Do you bring it out to practice? Does it

even come up, that sort of tradition you have of

swapping that to the winner?

COACH DAVIS: I know it does with the

players, because obviously they know about it. But

I think during the course of the week, I mean,

you’re obviously so focused on practice and

preparation, you’re not dealing a lot with

distractions and things. Kids know that this is a

long-standing rivalry. They know the kids well.

It’s almost impossible when you’re 10, 12

miles away you don’t run into each other socially

and out in public. And clearly it means an awful lot

to the kids to win the game.

Q. Do you ever go ring it at all, have

you ever done that?

COACH DAVIS: Excuse me?

Q. Have you ever gone and rung it just

to do it?

COACH DAVIS: Me personally?

Absolutely. The team does. And it goes to

practice on our last practice of the week on

Thursday, and it goes to Thursday’s practice. At

least — I can’t tell you historically traditionally prior

to me being the head coach, but it has for the last

three years. We’ve taken it to our last practice

before the game on Saturday.

Q. You take it to the last practice and

the players ring it and you ring it, too?

COACH DAVIS: I think several people

have rung it. Mostly I think it’s kind of the seniors

that have done the majority of it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

COACH DAVID CUTCLIFFE

DUKE

THE MODERATOR: We now welcome

Coach David Cutcliffe. We’ll start with an opening

statement and then go to questions.

COACH CUTCLIFFE: We’re real proud of

our seniors and what they’ve accomplished. It’s

been a difficult year in that regard to play as well

as we have played at times – And the record to still

be what it is. But I appreciate the contributions that

our seniors have made to us, and certainly it’s a

big ballgame to finish their careers on playing a

rival team that sits so close to us.

Got a big challenge in front of us, playing

an extremely talented team – And we’ll have to play

as well as we can play to be in the ballgame.

With that, I’ll take your questions.

Q. How do you measure the areas of

where you’ve made progress this year?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Well, I think you

look at your team, not statistically. I think you look

at your team and the consistency that it has played

over the last half of the season.

We really played a couple of bad ball

games, which were, I hope, aberrations that go

away quickly. But we are certainly a team that has

played some consistently good football.

I also look at our practices and the level of

our practices, the competitive level of our

practices. So rather than measure it statistically –

and I’m not talking about records. We’ve got some

people with some nice statistics, but I think it’s

more important to measure that the culture of the

program has changed.

The expectations of the program has

changed. And certainly the habits of our program

have changed in a big way.

Q. If you could win this last one, is that

the kind of thing that momentum can carry over

into another season, or is there so much time

between the end of one season, the beginning

of another that what you did at the end of the

last one doesn’t mean much?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: I think we all as

coaches know that the last game you play, whether

it’s hopefully a Bowl game, always leaves a little

taste in your mouth that lasts. You’re going into

recruiting, you’re going into your offseason

program -Holiday season – Spring practice, all that

stays pretty fresh in your mind.

I don’t know next August that it makes a

difference, but it certainly kicks off the offseason

the way you would like it to be kicked off.

Q. Coming off those back-to-back wins,

looked like the program was really onward and

upward there but obviously now you followed it

up with two straight losses. What’s going to

happen to get back to this week how you were

playing before this recent –

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Well, you just keep

playing the way we’ve played. We’ve played

consistently over the last month, the two wins and

the two losses. There’s a lot of good football

played. So, as I said, you’re not really measuring

yourself externally as much as you are internally.

And you keep striving for excellence, which is what

programs have good habits do. So you call on all

the things that are good that you’re doing and build

on them.

Q. What do you need to be doing better

than you were the last two weeks to kind of get

back?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Obviously turning

the ball over and giving up big plays on defense

have been our nemesis. Even in these close ball

games. We’re to the point that we take a little

better care of the ball, and we don’t give up big

plays. Georgia Tech has 11 yards passing at the

point in the game that they throw basically a Hail

Mary, a jump ball, they come down with it, and a

79-yard touchdown pass follows.

Without that play they’ve done much of

nothing. And we throw a pick-6 for over 80 yards.

That’s just a perfect example of how you get

yourself beat.

Q. I was wondering, in this series, you

have the victory bell which goes obviously to

the winning team. Carolina has dominated the

series. Do you all talk that much about the

victory bell? Do you bring that up? It’s not like

you need a whole lot more motivation for your

team, but is that something that comes up for

you this week?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: I think without

question these guys know, but unfortunately none

of them have really had firsthand knowledge with it.

It hasn’t been much of a rivalry in recent years.

So it’s become a fixture over there. But,

yeah, I think that’s the carrot, so to speak, that you

use in terms of just what it means to beat a team

that’s 10 miles away from you. But I certainly think

the victory bell is very symbolic in our guys’ minds.

I don’t think there’s any question about that.

I think it’s a great tradition, one of the

better traditions in college football. We just need to

recreate a rivalry by playing well at Duke and

winning a few of these ball games.

Q. I asked Butch: Do you ever ring it?

He said absolutely. When you guys win, beat

Carolina at some point, would you ring it

yourself?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: For sure. It’s better

to ring while you can ring in this business. So you

take advantage of those opportunities while you

can, and certainly I think any coach and player

would be proud to do that.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

MARYLAND

COACH FRIEDGEN

COACH FRIEDGEN: Well, we’re

preparing for NC State, a very, very good football

team that’s played extremely well. We’re coming

off a tough loss to Florida State. Had a good

practice last night, and looking forward to practice

today. Open it up for questions.

Q. How’s the team’s morale doing after

that game against Florida State last weekend?

COACH FRIEDGEN: I think we were

down. We had a team meeting yesterday, and I

was very pleased with our practice. I didn’t know

how that was going to go. I don’t think there was a

lot of cheering or anything, but our effort and

execution was very good, so I was pleased with

that.

Q. Russell Wilson always seems to find

a way to keep his team in those close games,

especially of late. Is there anything you’ll be

doing different in this week’s practice to

prepare for him for this weekend?

COACH FRIEDGEN: Well, you know, he’s

such a great quarterback. He has tremendous

vision, he’s very, very mobile, and has a very

strong arm. He can beat you with his arm, more

with his legs.

Basically you try your best to contain him.

I don’t know if you can do that. I don’t know.

North Carolina did a pretty good job. Then he

ripped off a 34-yarder that really won the game for

them.

So we’re going to try everything we can to

keep him in the pocket, but that’s easier said than

done.

Q. This sort of follows up on the

morale question a little bit. NC State has a

tremendous amount at stake with whether or

not they go to Charlotte. Do you feel like your

team, even though you can’t win the division

now, still have something at stake in this game

and what would it be?

COACH FRIEDGEN: Well, I think there

are a lot of things at stake for us. First of all, it’s

our last home game by our seniors who have

made a tremendous contribution to our football

team.

Second thing is we’d like to get to the best

bowl possible for us. Being 8-4 and beating a

quality team like NC State, I think would help us do

that, with a chance to be 9-4 which is kind of a

special team. And I think this team is a special

team, and that’s why I’m pulling very hard for them

to realize what we’re capable of doing.

We’ve had a very good year. We’ve lost a

couple of tough games here down the stretch, but I

thought Saturday our kids played with everything

they had, and I think they’re willing to come out

and do it again this week.

Q. Considering the kind of season you

were coming off of, would you have thought

that 8-4 was a possibility?

COACH FRIEDGEN: Oh, yeah, I did. I

was very optimistic about our chances this season

because I know the type of kids we’ve got and I

know how hard they work. I’ll be disappointed if

they don’t play well Saturday. I really will.

I have a tremendous amount of confidence

in them as people, and the character that they

have that they’ll come out and play.

Q. Coming off that, last week’s game, I

guess, any certain things you were focusing on

this week that you need to get better at

offensively or defensively from last week?

COACH FRIEDGEN: Well, the biggest

thing we did that we haven’t been doing is we

turned the ball over. We had four turnovers in the

game. We didn’t play as well special teams-wise

as we have been playing. Gave up a fake punt in

a situation we were on punt safe. Then we got a

turnover on one of those pooch kicks down there.

Other than that, I wasn’t displeased with

the way we played both offensively and defensively. We gave up two big plays on

defense, other than that, I thought we contained

Florida State pretty darn well.

Offensively we moved the ball. We had

over 450 yards total offense. We dominated the

possession time. Probably could be a little bit

better in the red zone and scoring touchdowns

instead of field goals.

Other than that, I wasn’t displeased with

the way we played. The turnovers are what killed

us.

Q. I know in preseason the media had

you pretty low in the ACC?

COACH FRIEDGEN: About as low as you

could get.

Q. They’re best guesses, obviously.

But what’s been different about your team?

Why is it your team has turned out to be so

much better than what other people would have

expected in preseason?

COACH FRIEDGEN: We have

experience. Last year we played 24 freshmen.

This year we’re still a young team. I’ve got only 12

seniors, but we’ve got kids that have played

before. They’re getting better and they’re building

every game they get a little more confident.

They’re growing with each and every experience.

I think we’re playing pretty good right now

if we just play smart and take care of the football.

But I think we’re a good football team. We need to

go out and play Saturday and win Saturday so that

people start recognizing what kind of team we

have.

Q. Tom O’Brien talked about a lot of

elements of your play. One thing he mentioned

in particular is your defense is coming together

in the second year under your coordinator.

Has that made a big difference that those kids

have more experience in that system?

COACH FRIEDGEN: Yeah, that’s kind of

what I’m saying. They’ve all played the defense

now. They know it a lot better. We’ve kind of got a

little more speed on that side of the ball, little more

athleticism than what we’ve had before.

Offensively I think we’re struggling with our

injuries in our offensive line, but even there we

played pretty well Saturday against a very good

football team.

GEORGIA TECH

COACH JOHNSON

COACH JOHNSON: Good morning. I

don’t think there is any doubt if you ask our fans

and alumni; this is the game for the state

championship, a big rivalry game.

I don’t think either team has performed the

way they would have liked to this year, but that

doesn’t take anything away from the importance of

the game for our fans and team and everyone

involved.

I was happy to get out of last week’s game

with Duke with a win. I thought that Duke played

extremely well. David had them ready to play. We

were fortunate to come out on the right end of the

scoreboard.

So, looking forward to going to Athens this

week and seeing if we can play a little better.

Q. I was interested in your impressions

of the Georgia offense and your defense.

COACH JOHNSON: Well, they have a

host of weapons. I think A.J. Green is probably the

best wide receiver in the country. If there are other

guys that are in his category, it’s a small list.

They’ve got some really good tight ends,

Orson Charles being outstanding. They’ve got two

good tailbacks, a veteran offensive line and Aaron

Murphy has played well. So they have a lot of

weapons on offense. They are very talented, and

it will be a big challenge for our defense to try to

find a way to slow them down.

Last year in our game they didn’t punt in

the game, so it will be a big challenge for us.

Q. How do you think your pass defense

is playing going into this game?

COACH JOHNSON: Well, we’ve been

pretty spotty. We didn’t play very well against

Duke. I think you have to give them some credit.

We had some blown coverages, and sometimes

they just exploited the way we lined up.

So we’ve got to do much better than we

did last week to have a chance against Georgia.

Q. Now that he’s had a couple of

games under his belt, how is Tevin Washington

progressing?

COACH JOHNSON: Tevin did okay. I

thought he actually probably played a little better

against Miami than he played last week, but he

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made enough plays to win the game. He had a big

pass play there in the fourth quarter that really

helped us to Stephen Hill.

So I think he’s getting more comfortable.

Tevin’s certainly very capable of doing what we’re

asking him to do. He just needs to become more

consistent and relax and play a little bit. The more

he plays, the better he’ll get, I think.

Q. Is it possible for a young

quarterback to relax in a game that takes on

this magnitude?

COACH JOHNSON: Probably not; He’s

just going to have to do what he can to try to

maintain his focus and block everything around

him out. You’ve got to put yourself in the zone,

and that is his challenge this week, to not get

caught up in all the hoopla around it. Just try to

get it in your mind like it is at practice, and slow

everything down a little bit.

Q. If you guys win, your rival is

eliminated from bowl consideration. Is that

something that you discuss with your team or

is that just a distraction, something too

negative to dwell on?

COACH JOHNSON: We haven’t talked

about it, not as a team. The media has talked

about it enough. I’m sure they’re aware of it, but

that’s not a point that we talk about as a team at

all.

We’re more concerned about trying to get

us ready to go play the best game that we can

play. That’s just kind of the way we approach it

always, no matter who we’re playing. We try to

focus more on us than we do the other team.

Q. Anthony Allen has surpassed the

1,000-yard mark this year. Did he deliver the

kind of performance you’ve expected from

him?

COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I think

Anthony’s played very well the last few games

especially. Saturday he worked really hard. He

earned those yards. He ran really tough inside the

tackles. Almost all his yards came inside the

tackles.

I think he’s gotten more comfortable in that

position here in the last half of the season, and

he’s played well the last half of the year for us, he

sure has.

FLORIDA STATE

COACH FISHER

COACH FISHER: Hello, folks. We’re

looking forward to playing Florida this weekend. It

will be a great challenge. We were very fortunate

and excited about our win over Maryland last

week. We were able to have a co-championship

for the Atlantic Division.

The kids played very well to get six

conference wins. I’m very proud of them. One of

our goals was to reestablish ourselves in the

conference, which I think we did. I’m very happy

for our kids and the accomplishments they made.

It was a very tough ball game. Maryland

has a very good football game, and we’re very

fortunate to come out with the victory.

We’re looking forward to the challenge of

Florida. Florida is a very talented football team,

and we’ll definitely have our hands full this

weekend.

Q. What has it been like competing

with Urban Meyer and Florida on the recruiting

trail since they’ve done so well the last few

years?

COACH FISHER: It’s very difficult.

Florida, as I said, established themselves as a

great program. Urban’s done a terrific job since his

time there.

They’re out there on the recruiting trail.

They work very hard. We have our hands full in

battling them. In every facet we ever touch, we go

against them.

They’re excellent recruiters. Florida’s a

great place, and we know that. So we have to

work very hard to be able to get our share of

players. It’s a very big challenge.

Q. This game itself, how big is that for

recruiting? A lot of the guys in the state grow

up either Florida, Florida State or Miami fans,

how big is this game as far as recruiting goes?

COACH FISHER: I think it’s very big. It

has a lot of impact on a lot of young men. I think

you have to ask them more so than us, but it does

have an effect. Kids look at that. They want to be

in successful programs or programs that are

heading in the right direction and doing the right

things. That’s why I think we’re having success.

They feel good about where we’re going.

But, to them, it obviously makes a difference

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because they obviously want to be in good

programs.

Q. This is the first time Florida State

hyped up a player with an actual official

Heisman campaign. Can you talk about the

year that Christian Ponder has had?

COACH FISHER: I’ve been very pleased.

He’s been injured and banged up, and we haven’t

played as well around him, but his leadership and

he may have played as good or better football this

year than last year.

Numbers don’t always tell the story of a

quarterback and what goes on and what he’s done.

I’m pleased with his year and what he’s done in

leading us and being a team leader and

understanding. He’s not selfish. He doesn’t worry

about numbers, he worries about wins. I feel very

fortunate to have him and think he’s had a great

year.

Q. As big as this game is against

Florida, are you or any of your staff members

going to be keeping tabs on that NC

State-Maryland game this weekend?

COACH FISHER: No, we won’t. That’s

out of our control. We’ll worry about that when the

game’s over. We’ll definitely have our hands full

with Florida with the challenges that are in front of

us. We’ll have to do a good job there. They’ll keep

our attention, I promise you.

Q. What has to be done differently this

time to beat the Gators? Obviously, they’ve

had your number in recent years.

COACH FISHER: Score more points than

they do. That would be the same thing. They’ve

had a great team. They’ve had great leaders.

They’ve had two dynamic guys on offense and

defense with Spikes and Tebow on both sides of

the ball, and they’ve had great leaders.

We have to establish ourselves, play

consistent, not give up the big plays and be able to

compete with them. If you watch them, they’re

extremely talented. Their offense is coming back

around. They’re doing things they used to do. The

defense is tenth in the country so they do a great

job there.

There are a lot of things we have to do; be

sound in all three phases, not turn it over to at

least have a chance to be successful just like in

any game.

But we feel very excited about the

opportunity and like our team and the way we’re

competing. So we just have to play better in all

three phases and find a way to make enough plays

to win the game.

Q. Obviously no Tebow to worry about

this year. Is there a different set of challenges

to this team as opposed to recent years?

COACH FISHER: They’ve still got a lot of

great players. They have a lot of play makers, lot

of speed, lot of size. Obviously, Tim is not there,

which I’m not against. He’s one of the great

players in college football history, so that is there.

But they have plenty of weapons. They

have plenty of ability to make plays on both sides

of the ball. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge.

Q. I didn’t get a chance yesterday, but I

wanted to ask you as EJ stepping in, and

around the league, there have been a lot of

substitutes and back-ups to step in and fill key

positions. You’ve had to do it on your

offensive line as well. Can you talk about that

and the value of being ready and the back up

players?

COACH FISHER: I think the depth of your

team, that is what separates a lot of the teams that

have won 11, 12, 10 games and the teams that

aren’t quite there, because of the injuries and the

problems you have during the season. You have

to play a guy who is just not quite ready. I think

that’s why the depth of your program is critical.

We’ve had some offensive linemen do a

very good job for us, couple guys on defense. EJ

came in and did a great job against Clemson.

We’ve had young receivers that we’re having to

build into that role just like last week at Maryland.

So it’s critical. I think when you start

establishing yourself, getting the recruiting classes

and getting the depth on your football team that

you need, that is when you really start competing

for championships in my opinion. Because the

injuries are going to come – there is a year or two

that they don’t every now and then – but you have

to be very fortunate that way, and the depth is

critical. We’ve had some guys come in and really

give us a big lift.

Q. Obviously you’d like to accomplish

both, but from the input you hear from the fan

base, what would mean more to them, beating

Florida or winning the ACC? What would be

more important to the fan base do you think?

COACH FISHER: I think they’re both very

important because we have to reestablish

ourselves in the conference; obviously beating

Florida because they’re such a great rivalry and

such a great organization and such a great team.

I think both of them. If you ask them, I

think probably you may split. Fans tend to

probably favor the rival because of what they have

to live with every day, you know what I mean? I

mean, because our Florida-Florida State fans are

so close and they work with them so much.

So probably from a fan base you’d

probably say having success against Florida, but I

think as a program, I think they’re both just as

critical.

Q. In your career have you ever had a

circumstance such as this where you’re

coaching in a huge game and it is

simultaneous with another game that is of

great importance to your team?

COACH FISHER: I want to say yes,

because when I was in the SEC there were a lot of

implications based off of teams that won and lost to

be able to allow you to go to a championship

game.

I can’t remember; it mght not have been

the same day. One year Alabama was able to

beat Auburn, I believe. It helped us get to a

championship game, but I may be mistaken about

that.

I don’t remember one exactly like this. I

know that for sure. So good thing it’s going on

while we’re playing so we don’t have to worry

about it.

Q. Going back to the rivalry. Urban

likes to do a lot with psychological things when

it comes to rivalry week to pump them up a

little bit more. This is a storied rivalry, but what

do you say to your guys this week?

COACH FISHER: Just you have a great

opportunity. Florida is a great program. You want

to change the perception of yourself and

reestablish yourself in the national limelight, and

this is the chance to do that with success against a

very good football program.

And you’ve got to remember not to play

the game Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. The

game will be played on Saturday. You have to

prepare to play it during the week and do a good

job of getting yourself ready to play, and have

yourself an emotional high on Saturday.

Q. You talked about the fans probably

wanting to win this more than the ACC. But

with the players, how bitter is this rivalry with

them?

COACH FISHER: It’s big because they all

played against them. They have respect for them,

and they know Florida is a good team. But you

always want to beat your rivals. It’s very big for

them. It’s very big. They’ll want to play very well,

and hopefully they will play very well.

CLEMSON

COACH SWINNEY

COACH SWINNEY: Good to be with you

guys this week. Excited about playing

South Carolina in our rivalry game. It’s one of the

great things to be a part of in college football.

South Carolina’s had a great year.

Winning their division for the first time, they’re

really playing well as a team. All three phases are

very good. They lead their league in rush defense,

and they’re third in the nation in sacks.

Offensively they’re as good as anybody,

very efficient. Scoring a bunch of points a game,

and just very good on third down. They have a lot

of good football players that are playing well for

them right now, starting with their offensive line.

Defensively, they do a great job. Both

sides are well coached. It’s a tough challenge for

us. It’s a game that really will come down to

execution and whoever takes care of the ball the

best will probably win this ballgame. But we look

forward to Saturday night at 7:00 in Death Valley.

Q. When you look at South Carolina

film, obviously they’re having a really great

season. Do they look that much better than

they did to you on film last year, I guess? What

stands out this year about them?

COACH SWINNEY: No. 21, Marcus

Lattimore. He wasn’t there last year. He’s a very,

very good player. He’s got 19 touchdowns, rushed

for over 1,000 yards. That’s been the difference in

their football team.

Q. Given that, obviously you’ve been

playing some good defense in the last month

or two. How do you feel about your run

defense going into this game?

COACH SWINNEY: We live and die with

our guys up front. That’s where we build our

defense. Those guys have played very good.

We’ve had to play some other good offenses. I do

think this is the best one we’ll have played yet as

far as when we played them and most efficient.

But they present a big challenge. But it

still comes down to being able to block, tackle and

get off blocks. So if our guys up front will play well

and do a good job of minimizing the effectiveness

of their running back, then I think that gives us

certainly a better chance to win the game. If they

can stay balanced, that makes for a long day.

Q. Have you been at all surprised at the

caliber of your defense in the last month or so?

Or did you figure going into the year they’d be

this good?

COACH SWINNEY: No, I felt like going

into the year they’d definitely be the strength of our

team. I felt like we could be a dominant defense.

We kind of have grown into that. We really weren’t

that early in the year. We did some good things,

but we were giving up some big plays and not

playing very smart.

Our front has played really well all year,

but the last five or six games, our defense has

grown into what I thought they could be and not

giving up a lot of points. People are having to go

the distance and earn it the hard way. They are

just playing much smarter and playing very good

as an overall unit.

Q. Your offensive line, you were talking

about it last week and how well it’s performed.

How is Dalton Freeman’s role in all of that?

COACH SWINNEY: Oh, he’s the cog in

the wheel. He’s really performing well. He’s had a

good year as a sophomore. His experience last

year has helped him this year as it will next year.

But he makes all the calls and just does a great job

of quarterbacking that offensive line.

He really is what you’re looking for in your

center. He’s very smart, very athletic. He’ll give

you everything he’s got. I’m awful proud of the

season that Dalton has had. All of our

communication is inside out, so it all starts with

him.

Q. Like every center I’ve talked to, he

didn’t start out at center. He converted from a

guard. What are the things that you look for in

the center that you want?

COACH SWINNEY: You’ve got to have

good quickness. Good first-step quickness with

the ability to snap the ball. Some guys have a

hard time doing that. Dalton’s athletic, which is

something that we like to have with our center

guys, especially when you’re running the zone

scheme.

The main thing is you have to have a high

football IQ to play center in our scheme. Dalton

certainly has that. He’s the son of a coach, and he

runs well.

But I tell you what, he absolutely

understands the game and does a great job

making adjustments and getting everybody else on

the same page.

In our system, he quarterbacks that

offensive line. You’ve got to have a guy like him.

I’m glad we’ve got him for two more years.

Q. Just curious if you’ve ever read his

blog and if you were at all nervous about a

player doing that?

COACH SWINNEY: I’ve never read his

blog. I didn’t even know he had a blog. Anything I

need to know? Anything I need to be nervous

about? I haven’t seen it. I have no idea.

Q. It’s got some good stuff in there,

just some inside looks about what it’s like

being a football player. It’s good stuff, actually.

COACH SWINNEY: Who does he write a

blog for?

Q. FS South

COACH SWINNEY: I didn’t know that.

He’s an aspiring writer, that’s good to know. I told

you he was a smart guy.

Q. Coach, Da’Quan Bowers came into

the season with three or three and a half career

sacks in two seasons. What were your

expectations of him? He was obviously a great

recruit out of high school. What’s allowed him

to blossom to this extent some?

COACH SWINNEY: Just talent, work ethic

and perseverance, all of those things combined,

and he just really changed. I mean, he was a good

player but he wasn’t, I wouldn’t say, a good worker.

He wasn’t a consistent performer week in and

week out, play in and play out.

He really got dedicated and focused in the

off-season. He changed his body; went from 290

to 273 pounds. Through that work ethic, I think he

grew with his confidence.

He paid a big price in the summer as far as

how hard he worked and prepared himself. Then

he had to persevere through some personal

tragedy in camp. I think all of those things with the

talent he has, he’s just the epitome of what great

work ethic, plus talent, plus perseverance, what it

can result in.

He’s had a great season. We all felt like

he could be a dominant player, not just a good

player, and that’s what he’s become this year and

I’m just really, really proud of him for the type of

season he’s played. It’s just been awesome.

Q. As a coach, when something

happens as it did with Da’Quan’s family this

summer, I mean, there isn’t anywhere in the

handbook, so to speak, for dealing with that.

What did you do, what do you say and how do

you help someone return to football after

something like that?

COACH SWINNEY: Just like you should

handle it with anything. Anybody returning to a job

or whatever, whatever their normal routine is, you

just treat him like a human. You show

compassion. You give him time, and that’s what

we did.

We told him to come back when he was

ready to come back. It’s a very difficult thing. This

is his best friend. He’s the only boy. He and his

dad were very close, and he was actually with him.

He died in his arms really unexpectedly. They

thought he was okay.

So it was a very difficult time for Da’Quan,

and you know, we just reached our arms out, put

them around him, basically told him don’t worry

about football. Let’s just get through this one day

at a time. He came back when he was ready.

He had a lot of love and support from his

teammates, his coaches and his community. I

think all of those things along with his faith, his

mom and two sisters, helped him to get back.

The biggest thing I did was just being an

encourager to him and talked a lot about faith, not

a lot about football at all. Then when he was ready

to come back, he was out a week or so, he came

back and went back to work. He really hasn’t

looked back. He’s just been relentless ever since.

BOSTON COLLEGE

COACH SPAZIANI

COACH SPAZIANI: Thank you. Hello,

everybody. Well, we’re out of conference, and

we’re finishing with an old rival, an old opponent.

There is certainly a lot of history there.

So we’re excited and looking forward to

going up to Syracuse and finishing our season out

on the road against a very well-coached Syracuse

team.

So as Mike said, any questions?

Q. Who gets plugged in at Montel’s

spot? What kind of production can you

reasonably expect there?

COACH SPAZIANI: Well, Andre Williams

goes in there. He played last week, and he’s been

a back-up all year. He didn’t play as much as I’m

sure he would have liked to, obviously, because of

situations in Montel’s durability.

We feel very confident in him. He’s a

young freshman. He’s going to be prone to some

of those things. But he works extremely hard and

he has talent. So we’ll see if we can manage him

through the game.

Q. At this point, is it too early to tell if

Montel could be back for a possible bowl

game?

COACH SPAZIANI: Yeah, it’s too early.

Q. When you look at Syracuse,

obviously having a better year than they have

in recent years, what stands out to you on the

film when you look at them?

COACH SPAZIANI: Well, I hadn’t seen

Syracuse or studied them for quite a while. I’ve

seen them in crossing with other opponents

through the years, but they seem extremely

well-coached. They’re very physical. They seem

to be going in the right direction.

They certainly are a challenge to us. They

have a winning attitude. They’re playing hard.

They look like they have very talented players.

You know, it’s going to be a very tough challenge

for us.

Q. Do you have to attack them in

different ways because of not having Montel, I

guess?

COACH SPAZIANI: Well, once again,

what we always do is try to utilize our personnel to

the best of their ability, not our system. Now

having said that, we are who we are. We’ll

obviously tweak some things, but once again, we

are who we are.

Q. If I polled your players, what do you

think they would say if there was one thing you

did or said in any team meeting that helped

instigate this impressive turn around? What

would that be?

COACH SPAZIANI: I don’t know if there’s

one thing. I think it’s this: I think it’s a cumulative

effect of the character of these young men. In

other words, we had a young and experienced

team. The teamwork and the leadership needed to

develop, and sometimes that takes a little time.

Not sometimes, it does take a little time.

To the kids’ credit, they stuck with it. They

understood what the situation was and where we

were going, and some of the reasons for the

troubles we were having and are still having, by the

way. They’ve just worked hard and have been

able to win a couple of games at the end there.

There is not much difference than five

weeks ago, but the fact is they’re still working hard,

and they’ve got a very positive attitude. They’ve

never lost that. So there’s not one thing I can

pinpoint.

Q. I wanted to ask you, Mike kind of

mentioned that you and Syracuse haven’t met

since 2004, since the conference split. Have

you seen your program change at all moving

from the Big East to the ACC?

COACH SPAZIANI: You know that’s a

good question. I think there are subtle changes in

expanded recruiting areas and things like that, but

the core beliefs and the core philosophy hasn’t

changed.

Q. Does it give any additional

motivation that you’re playing a school in a

conference that BC used to belong to?

COACH SPAZIANI: No.

Q. To talk about Montel. What was the

reaction when you found that out, and are you

confident with who you have behind him?

COACH SPAZIANI: Well, obviously we

were very concerned for Montel and disappointed

for him and his family. The team withstanding, I

mean, everybody knows what Montel has

contributed to us and knows what kind of player he

is and what kind of person he is.

It’s just been the theme all year though.

We’ve had a lot of guys go out. Somebody’s got to

step up and do it. Yeah, we’re confident. That’s

what you have to do. There have to be guys that

are ready and have to come in. We’re confident

his back-up will perform and we’ll be able to

manage our way through it.

MIAMI

COACH SHANNON

COACH SHANNON: This week’s game is

against South Florida, a big game for us to end up

in our last game at the stadium for our seniors.

This is Senior Day for us for our seniors to go out

on a big note.

Really excited about this senior class

because four years ago when I took over the

University of Miami, this senior class was the team

that really started us off trying to get us back to

understanding what Miami’s about, creating a

culture on and off the field and in the classroom

and cleaning up the University of Miami, while also

doing the things on the field to get us to where

we’re at right now.

The game against South Florida is a

different team from last year. They’re a figure

team; played a lot of eight man up front to try to

stop the run game which in the last couple games

we’ve been very effective at.

We’ve got to rely on our offensive line to

do a tremendous job. We saw Seantrel

Henderson, Brandon Linder and Jermaine

Johnson step up against those guys they have in

South Florida.

Defensively, we have another quarterback

that likes to move around in the pocket. Our

defensive tackle has to do a great job of corralling

the quarterback and also stopping the run. They

line up in a lot of two back sets now. They have a

lot away from their one back offense and running

the spread offense, but we knew they had an

opportunity to do it.

It just gives us a great opportunity to play

and end on a great note this upcoming week at

Sun Life Stadium.

Q. I’m sure you probably addressed

this in your press conference. Is there a

chance that Jacory will be able to get on the

field this week?

COACH SHANNON: He’s cleared as far

as medical-wise, but I told him and I tell everybody.

It’s like you take a running back coming off a

sprained knee, he’s got to get back in the rhythm of

running and cutting and doing those things.

visit our archives at asapsports.com

ACC – 11 23 10 group 2.doc 9

Jacory has to get back into the rhythm of

throwing the football, the timing routes, dropping

back, letting the football release at a certain time,

get back to handing the football off, doing all those

things.

If he’s sharp and crisp, we’ll go with him. If

he’s not, we’ll have to go with Stephen. He knows

it, and he’s going to work hard this week in practice

to get to those things.

I’m kind of excited because I’ve seen some

things in Jacory in the game this week, the last two

games, sitting back helping Stephen on the

sideline, being fiery and talking to him all the time.

It shows you what type of kid he is. He always

wanted to be a part of something that was going

on.

Q. Stephen had the tough second half

against Virginia Tech. How is he handling

that?

COACH SHANNON: He’s a competitor.

He responds. You know, the second half was

down 24-17. I think it was going into the fourth

quarter or late third quarter, going into the fourth

quarter. They called a perfect defense on a

perfect pass route that we were calling and the guy

stepped in and made a play.

Those things happen in a game like that.

A young man has done a great job for us. He

started three games. We were 2-1 with him, so we

can take those two victories and build on it, but

also build on some opportunities in that game. He

doesn’t lose his confidence of what he’s done.

He’s a competitive guy. He knows there are

always challenges ahead of him.

Q. Do you think this is a situation that

could wind up making Jacory even better?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems it’s been a

while since he’s had somebody pushing him

like this?

COACH SHANNON: It has been. It really

has been. This is the first time I think since Robert

Marve that he had somebody to really push him to

where he needs to go. With Stephen there,

Stephen and him talk a lot. They communicate a

lot.

It’s just the competition factor of him

staying on top of his game, but also not feeling

heat, but just knowing that you have somebody by

you that is just as good as you that wants to work

as hard as you. I think it will be a great cohesive

deal between those two guys that will really work

out well.

Q. Is your schedule set up to conclude

the next several regular seasons with South

Florida or another non-conference game? Do

you have a preference as to whether you finish

the regular season with a conference or

non-conference opponent?

COACH SHANNON: I don’t know. If I’m

not mistaken, I think they made that contract a

long, long time ago. I think it’s always the last

game of the season, I’m not sure, but I think that’s

the way it’s been set up.

It’s kind of a situation where you’re

playing — you’re out of the mix once that game

comes up, which we’re out of the mix now. When

that game comes up, it’s like you’re playing an out

of conference game. It means a lot still because

you’re playing an in-state team. But like any game,

you want to win that last one.

2 comments Add your comment

juvenal

November 23rd, 2010
3:59 pm

juvenal

November 23rd, 2010
4:07 pm

this is the big fish this year……we play better as non-favorites..