Quotes from the ACC’s weekly teleconference, courtesy of the conference office:
COACH JIM GROBE
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
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
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
THE MODERATOR: We now welcome
Coach Frank Beamer. We’ll start with an opening
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
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
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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ACC COACHES – 11 23 10.doc 3
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
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
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
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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ACC COACHES – 11 23 10.doc 4
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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ACC COACHES – 11 23 10.doc 7
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
THE MODERATOR: We now welcome
Tom O’Brien. We’ll start with an opening
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Q. What do you need to be doing better
than you were the last two weeks to kind of get
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
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
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.
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
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
So we’re going to try everything we can to
keep him in the pocket, but that’s easier said than
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
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
Q. I know in preseason the media had
you pretty low in the ACC?
COACH FRIEDGEN: About as low as you
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
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
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
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
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
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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ACC – 11 23 10 group 2.doc 3
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
COACH FISHER: It’s very difficult.
Florida, as I said, established themselves as a
great program. Urban’s done a terrific job since his
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 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.
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
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
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
Q. Do you have to attack them in
different ways because of not having Montel, I
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
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
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.
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
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.
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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
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
Q. Stephen had the tough second half
against Virginia Tech. How is he handling
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
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
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
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
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.