Press Conference: Boston College football coach Steve Addazio
COACH ADDAZIO: Okay. Well, it’s great to get on the road and get a conference win. It was a big-time game against a very, very talented opponent. Heading into Week 7 of the season, and we’re improving and continuing to get better and I thought showed great toughness, great resiliency, from the start of the game being down, coming back, fighting back and going on and scoring 45 points against an outstanding team, an outstanding defense, which was, you know, the second most points since the history of us being in the ACC. I think that shows improvement. I think it shows more importantly than anything else the mindset of our players, a credit to their character and their integrity and their ability to keep finding and keep grinding. And I’m really proud of them for their effort.
As we move forward, we’re playing a very good Virginia team, 5 and 1. Their quarterback, Kurt Benkert, I think, is a very talented player. He’s having a heck of a year. Jordan Ellis, their running back, has done an outstanding job, averaging over four yards a carry. Evan Butts, fantastic tight end, really good size, really good athlete. And then they’ve got some receivers, Dowling, Levrone and Zaccheaus that are, I think, big-time guys. On defense, they’ve done a great job. I think their No. 1 player there is No. 9, Andrew Brown. He’s a ^ fantastic defensive lineman. He’s powerful. He’s athletic. And you got Quin Blanding, one of their defensive backs. I think an excellent player. And I think they’re well coached. And I think they’re well put together. And schematically on both sides of the ball, this is a really good football team we’re playing here on the road. And we have our work cut out for us.
Looking forward to the week, as I always say, because it’s a pleasure to be around our guys. They’re going to come in tomorrow. They’re going to come in with a great mindset and a great attitude, with that mindset that we got to continue to improve. We got to work on the things that we felt we needed to do a better job with and continue to grow and develop. So, looking forward to the week and looking forward to another big-time ACC game. Any questions?
Q. Coach, quarterback Darius Wade emerged last Saturday. What are we thinking going ahead this week between him and Anthony Brown?
COACH ADDAZIO: I mean Anthony Brown played great in that game. Anthony Brown got hurt in the game, came out, and I’m really proud of Darius; he went in and did a great job. So, I think it’s a credit to both guys. I think it’s a credit to Anthony the way he played. I think Anthony played fantastic. And he was physical in the run game. He threw the ball well and did some great things. And then Darius came in and he ran the offense and had confidence and threw the ball well in our naked and our play action game, and I thought he managed the game and did a great job. So, you know, I think like everything else, you go to work and you get rolling, and I don’t know the status of everybody yet injury wise and everything else, but I’m proud of both of them. I’m proud of the way they both played in that environment. And so, that’s the way it should be. You should have enough hopefully enough talent there at that position where it doesn’t need to drop off; you should be able to play.
Q. Are you going to wait to announce the starter till later in the week?
COACH ADDAZIO: Yeah. I mean there’s nothing — there is no quarterback controversy here. I mean one young man got hurt in the course of the game and came out of the game and another young man went in and did a great job. And that’s the way it rolls. So, we’re going to keep going the way we’re going. As I said from day one, I have confidence in both guys. So, we’ll see how Anthony is feeling and where he’s at, and I don’t have the read on that right now, but there’s no more to that.
Q. Defensive secondary really played well, I thought, especially causing the last fumble on the last drive for Louisville. Just your thoughts on the secondary?
COACH ADDAZIO: Yeah. I think one of the great things coming out of Saturday’s game were all three phases made plays. And at the very end of the game it was one of those games where who was going to make the next play, maybe the final play. I thought for Hamp Cheevers to come off the bench, hadn’t really played at all at that point. Right? Maybe not at all at that point. I can’t remember. Came off the bench and came and stripped that ball like that. You know, was great to see, young player like that come in and next man up and did a great job with it. I thought during the course of the game we were playing against — one of the struggles against Louisville, one of the challenges against Louisville is they have a very powerful, sophisticated throw game. Okay. And yet they have this quarterback who is utterly one of the very best players in college football. And they run option with him. You have to say, okay, we need to play some coverage to defend the multiplicity of their throw game, but in the same breath they come rolling at you, even on third down with option football. That contrast is very, very difficult on the defense right now. Okay. That’s a hard combination. It’s very unique to them, to be honest with you, because of who that guy is behind the center. So, I thought that we did a really good job in the back end trying to manage the sophistication of the ^ throw game and still be able to give some run support in those scenarios. And it was a challenge. And then of course, as the game wore on, fatigue became a factor. Will Harris was cramping. You know, depth is a factor, and you know, we could see that at the end of the game. It was really playing in, and of course, Harold was playing at about half speed in that game and was giving everything he possibly could. So, you know, I think the DBs did a fabulous job of reacting and making enough big plays in that game to stem that tide.
Q. What have you noticed about the offense line play?
COACH ADDAZIO: Well, it’s been getting better every week, you know, and I think I said this a couple weeks ago. You know, as we — we’ve been able to practice the last couple of weeks with continuity at that position. And it’s growing. I thought they did a great job. They played really, really physically and against a really talented defensive front. And you know, they did a great job. The key for us is to stay as healthy as we possibly can with that unit right now because like a lot of spots right there, due to the amount of the guys that we’ve got knocked out right now, we’re a little thin. So, we’ve got to stay healthy there. But they’re performing at a really good level right now and gaining confidence.
Q. What about Lindstrom at tackle? He made a couple of big runs.
COACH ADDAZIO: He’s all over the place, Chris. I mean like we ran at the end, I don’t know if you saw it, we had him in the back field as like a blocking fullback when A.J. popped that run into the end zone. I mean Chris is playing at a high-level right now. I said that from pre-season camp. But he’s playing at a high-level right now. He’s playing tackle. He can play guard. We lined him up in the back field. I mean he is a physical, rough player right now. I mean you talk about you think about a BC offense lineman, he’s a physical, rough player as you would imagine when I always envisioned a BC offense lineman. He’s developed into being one heck of a lineman, I think he was ACC Lineman of the Week this week, and honestly, justifiably so. So, I love his development and where he’s at. And he’s playing very well. And he’s also supplying a great deal of leadership up front right now. Sort of, you know, kind of emerging, taking the roll of Jon Baker. And Jon is still trying to do everything he can from off the field right now. But on the field try to immersion recapture that role we had in training camp with Jon, and Chris was sort of like that understudy, if you will. And he’s starting to capture that right now, which is good. Everything, a team, a unit has to establish a personality, and that happens as you gel together and you stay together as a unit. And you have great opportunity. You know, and I think the beautiful thing is we have — including Jon, but we have them all back. I mean they’re all coming back. And that’s a very good thing to look forward to.
Q. Coach, I know after the game you said that you — with the injury to Anthony that you decided to switch to a more power game. Did that develop kind of changing any formations, limiting plays? Like what went into switching over towards that power game?
COACH ADDAZIO: Well, I think because we were throwing the ball well on first and second down in our naked play action game, I think we were able to move the chains. If you follow us, you know, we started out at Northern Illinois with 92 plays. We ran against Wake Forest 82 plays. We ran 85 plays against Notre Dame and 87 plays on Saturday. And as you start to move those chains and you start to wear down a defense, you start to have the ability to impose your will a little bit. So, we have some different styles of run game that we can run. You know, we have a power game and sort of a — you know, we’d like to be further along in some of our Q run game things, but given the fact that we had to break somebody in at center that hadn’t really shotgunned the ball before and then Anthony got hurt against Clemson; and of course, in this game when he got dinged up, we had to shift it back more towards a little bit more of a power run attack, although in that game early we ran some QB read zones in there. So, I thought as the game moved on and we started imposing our will, and of course, Jon and A.J. were running at a very, very high level, and you know, we started to, you know — you know, sometimes you take your lead off these linemen, right? And they’re coming off the field and they’re confident now. And they’re like, Coach, we’re knocking these guys off the ball right here right now. And it’s like let’s roll. Let’s just roll this thing right here right now. Plus, there’s another piece to this. Want to keep that quarterback of theirs off the field and so you’re trying to control the ball and maybe at the end we kind of scored a couple of times maybe too fast. So, there’s a mindset there that you’re shifting to, and we’re trying to handle all the different things that happen in the course of a game. You know, how the game’s going, how the injuries on the field are affecting you during that game and you’re trying to have some ability to shift and figure that out on the move. And it makes — you know, when guys play like A. J. Dillon played, you know, makes you a smarter coach, you know. And that’s usually the case. You know? It’s like that on the other side. That guy they had pulling — the trigger man over there. Takes care of a lot of issues with that guy. A lot of unblocked guys, can’t make a play sometimes on that guy. And that’s never changed. That’s kind of what football is. It’s a player’s game, and our guys I thought stepped up and I just give them all the credit in the world.
Q. And it looked like that you had been lining up offensive linemen off the line kind of behind in almost like an H back position. What kind of advantage does that give you lining up an extra offensive lineman kind of in that free spot?
COACH ADDAZIO: Yeah. That’s what I said earlier with Chris, we lined him up, yeah, back there. Well, you know, the reason that you can do those things is it gives you a little more schematic flexibility based on the kind of front you’re playing. Sometimes you don’t want to open up a gap up front. So, you can close those gaps off and yet still get an extra puller to where you want to go, and especially if you have an athletic guy that can run and is powerful like Chris Lindstrom is. I think it gives you, you know, in that kind of set — you know, those are sets where you’re looking — your goal is you’re looking for a couple, three yards. You know, those aren’t — those sets — and the big ones sometimes come and they take care of themselves, but you’re trying to get as much mass and explosion you can get at the POA, the point of attack, and get one extra hat. That’s why.
Q. Is Anthony still — is it the same shoulder from Clemson or no?
COACH ADDAZIO: Yeah.
Q. Have you seen it affect him at all?
COACH ADDAZIO: Clearly, the week after Clemson it affected him clearly. He didn’t practice all week. It’s hard to take a redshirt freshman and don’t practice all week and think you’re going to be a whole lot of productivity out there. But I thought as each week went by — I’m time trying to go back in time now. The season clicks by on you so quickly. I think there was a two-week run post to this game. I think the first week, you know, I think was a tough week. I think it got better in the second week, and then, of course, I thought really came out strong in this game. You know? And so, got to see where we are, and we roll from there. You know.
Q. The shoulder and he’s a quarterback, is that something he’s just going to have to manage throughout his career?
COACH ADDAZIO: Probably. You know, probably that’s the reality of it all. It’s not uncommon. I’ve been around it a lot, you know, and then it comes down to sometimes, you know, I think the older you are, sometimes the better you can manage those things. They’re not as overwhelming. And so, we’re just going to have to manage it. And the good news is that, you know, we have a very — another very capable guy that went in and got some unbelievably great reps, and we just got to manage the situation, whatever that is. I’m not saying what it is, because honestly, I just don’t know yet, you know. You know, you don’t get — I won’t really know that until — I’ll start to get a feel for that tomorrow and probably not in totality tomorrow, but at least a better idea.
Q. If Anthony is healthy, will he be the starter?
COACH ADDAZIO: Yeah.
Q. Do you feel more comfortable this season throwing on early downs?
COACH ADDAZIO: We’re trying to — yeah. In that game, we were really trying to work that — I mean we threw it on 4th and 1. I mean we’re trying to really strike some balance in here. Nah, I mean you get a guy like Jon or A.J. with a hot hand rolling, you’re going to just roll. But even within that we were still trying to operate our first and second-down throws in there, you know, until maybe the very end. Then we were trying to handle that clock and everything. But I think we consciously want to keep a mix. We were — the key right now — I think if you really follow this thing, is you got to stay on schedule on first and second down so you’re getting manageable thirds. We did a much better job. What was our stats on third? 9 of 18? I think when you have more manageable down-and-distance on third and you can convert your thirds at a higher rate, then you have an ability to stay on the field. And the more you stay on the field, the more you impose your will and the more plays you have the ability to run. So, I think it all kind of — it’s all about staying on schedule on first and second down. When we get off schedule for whatever the variety of reasons, then it makes third down really difficult. And then it makes it more difficult to keep your mix sometimes.
Q. Do you feel like you’ve thrown more on first downs this year than years past?
COACH ADDAZIO: I’d say we’ve thrown more on first and second down. Yeah. And that’s what we’re trying to do. I don’t know that it always equals out. Like in a game like that, I wonder — I don’t have the stats handy for me, but that would be our goal. I mean there’s no question about that, you know. I want to see what our mixture is on first and second down. I think we’re going to be a little bit more run than we’re going to be throw, but I don’t want to see it crazy out of whack, unless we’re just running it at such a high level that, you know, then that’s another story. But I thought Saturday we rushed for 300-and-close-to-70 yards and 270 by A.J., and I mean that’s a lot of yards; that’s a lot of toll. I think at the end of the day that’s a good formula against a team like that if you can get that to happen, because you got to keep that other guy off the field, because you all saw when he’s on the field what’s going to happen. I mean he’s going to get his yards. I mean that guy is sensational. And I mean that. And I think I’ve been around a couple few of the top quarterbacks in college football history. And but this guy here, now, who, when he gets going, you know, he’s going.
Q. Does this win over Louisville get you guys back on schedule?
COACH ADDAZIO: Well, here’s the deal. In a football season, every year, for different reasons there’s ebbs and flows. You know, some things that happen like you thought they’d happen and some things happen like you didn’t think they’d happen. And there’s a lot of reasons for that. What our mindset has really been this year — and I’m not being cliché-ish here — has really just been every day we got to improve, every week we graduate improve. And we just got to keep swinging away. And so — and if you just keep banging on the rock, at the end of the year, you know, you find out where you’re at. You know? And I try not to with the team, with anybody ride the roller coaster, because I think the roller coaster, it’s kind of like they say like, you know, like when you go into a pro camp and you’re trying to make a team, if you start looking at the numbers, like I’m an offensive lineman, they’re going to keep 12. And there’s like 18 of us here. And if your day is consumed with that, you know, you just can’t get there. But if you just say to yourself, every day I’m going to get better, every day I’m going to pound the rock. Every day we’re going to grind and we’re going to stick together as a football team. And when it’s all said and done, the dust settles and you know, you are where you are. And the emotional roller coasters, those are tough rides to go on. And I try — now, I’m not unrealistic about it, but you try with your team, with everybody, not to ride those, because they’re wearing, and they’re tiring. And you just got to get ready for the next week. It’s kind of like whether you came off a devastating loss or you came off a sky-high win. You know, tomorrow is Tuesday and we better have a great Tuesday or we’re not going to be in position to go down and have an opportunity to beat Virginia and at Virginia. And that really honestly is just the facts. And so, that’s the way I occupy my mind. I can’t look in the rearview mirror. And hey, human nature, you got to fight that, right? But you know, as a coach, a player, a program, you got to look forward, and you got to have belief in where you’re headed, and you got to go, and I think that’s critically important to be always forward thinking, not rear thinking, you know. And that’s just — that’s the way I’m wired. That’s what I believe in. And so, I couldn’t be more excited about Tuesday. Now, hey, you know, when you win, everything tastes better, the sky is bluer, the sun is brighter. Who can argue with that? That’s the fact. But we got to get better.
Q. So, do you feel this win gets you back on schedule?
COACH ADDAZIO: I think what that win does — and I’m not dancing around the question. I think what that win does is help to build confidence. In the words of Father Jack when he talks about your foundation to bear fruit, everybody wants to bear a little bit of fruit in this game. All right. Period. You want to bear fruit for your work, and times it comes early, sometimes it comes a little late, sometimes it comes real late. But when you bear fruit there’s a great feeling of validation for what you’ve been seeing or — on the tape, what you’ve been talking about, what you’ve been striving for. You know, when you’re out there and you’re saying, this is what I think, this is where I think we are. I mean we just got to — this can be a really good thing. And then you get some validation of that. Whether you’re a player, whether you’re a fan, whether you’re a coach, it’s good to see some validation of what you think you see. Okay. And so, what does that win do for you? That win gives you a little bit of fruit. That win gives you a little bit of confidence. But if you don’t handle your business, that’ll erode real quick, and we’re still in the process of really building, you know. And we’ve got to keep building. And I think I said this the other day, that you know, as you’re building, you just want to try to keep seeing the spike go up. Okay. But along the way, you got to deal with the reality of what happens in these games like we’ve had to do from the beginning of the year. And I think we’ve done a really good job managing — you don’t always control all of those variables. And trying to manage them all, I think has been — is a credit to our team, our players, you know. And I give them a lot of respect for that. We’re going into week 8. In week 2 we were on our third center. We’re going into week 8. We like the way our third center is really coming along right now. Okay? And so, I’m grateful for that. But you know, you don’t know what’s around the corner on Tuesday and Wednesday or next Sunday in this game. Anything can happen, and all the sudden you’re back into another variable, and you just got to keep handling the variables.
Q. Coach Mendenhall has been making some pretty good gains down there, but they really turned the corner this year. Any theory on that? Seemed like they just got good.
COACH ADDAZIO: Yeah, they look good. I mean, yeah, I think Bronco has done a great job, and I like the way they’re playing. I think they’re very, very talented. And I think he’s done a really, really good job, and he’s developed a nice-looking football team right now. So, you know, yeah. I watched them on tape. I’m very impressed by them right now. I haven’t gotten to the detail on offense, but I know they’re pretty explosive. I saw a couple of TV games that I saw Thursday or Friday night we were at the hotel; I saw them playing against Boise. So, I’ve seen a couple of snapshots. And I’m studying them right now hard on defense, I think they’re really well put together. So, I think he’s done a fantastic job.
Q. AJ had 39 carries on Saturday. Going forward is there going to be a cap at all on the number of carries he has as a true freshman?
COACH ADDAZIO: I think what we try to do is manage him during the course of the game. I think that when you’re dealing with young players, you know, sometimes like they’re not — you know, everyone has got to get used to the workload, and when fatigue sets in sometimes, you want to try to keep a young guy as fresh as possible, because you know, when you’re older — hey, turnovers happen all the time. But as you get fatigued, sometimes the ball gets a little lower, you get a little bit sloppy, and I think the key is to keep him in a really good place of feeling strong and fast. And Jon Hilliman is just playing really high level; and he and Travis Levy. Those guys are playing at a high level. We’ve got some really good running backs, and I think managing that — and that’s kind of like, honestly, it’s a series-by-series manage. We don’t have a count. I mean there’s no count involved here. It’s just kind of watching the flow of the game and how all that’s going and how a guy feels and how he looks and what his productivity is. If a guy gets a hot hand, the guy’s got a hot hand. And so, I think that’s just the mindset that we have.