Ahead of some big ACC match ups, the coaches had their weekly media availability with the ACC sporting press. Here are the highlights.
Dabo Swinney – Clemson
On the depth of the ACC…
“This is a deep conference, man, and anybody can beat anybody on any given week. I know Syracuse didn’t beat LSU, but to go into Baton Rouge and play the way they did and to have a chance to win that game, just again, it’s just week in and week out, this is an incredibly challenging conference, and to see what Virginia did out at Boise, I mean, how many games have they lost at Boise? Not many. And for them to be able to go out there and beat a really good football team at their place, same thing. I mean, I think we’ve got a bunch of great teams and a bunch of great coaches in this league. It’s a huge, huge challenge week in and week out, but it’s good to see the league having success, but it’s also one of those things if you’re going to be successful in the postseason, you know, what you see week in and week out in your conference to me helps prepare you for that.”
Bronco Mendenhall – Virginia
On the theme of changes to Virginia’s bye week…
“The theme of the change simply is daily improvement. Sometimes in a bye week, there’s focus on rest and focus on recuperation and regeneration and contemplation. This is just about work and improvement, and so we’re really preparing more similarly as if we were to play a game this Saturday than if it was a bye week, and there’s a slight difference in volume, but really the mindset is very similar, and I think that’s probably the biggest change.”
strong>Bobby Petrino – Louisville
On fired athletic director Tom Jurich…
“I mean, he’s been unbelievable, you know, what he’s done here at the University and all the facilities for all sports. You know, you see what we’ve done with being able to create a competitiveness with every sport on campus.”
Jimbo Fisher – Florida State
On battling back from an 0-2 start…
“I thought our freshman quarterback did a great job. I think our guys are very excited about him and what we can do, and we can stand to play well around him and as a team, and you play one at a time. That’s what you do. Just like last year, I mean, when USC was 1-3, we were 3-2 or 2-3 or whatever it was, all those teams just battled back, and that’s what you find out about your program and your kids and you play them one at a time.”
Paul Johnson – Georgia Tech
On North Carolina’s uncertainty at quarterback…
“I mean, they’ve played the one guy the last couple of games, [Chazz] Surratt. Really good athlete. We tried to recruit him ourselves. He’s a good dual-threat guy. I think he’s had a couple of really nice games throwing the ball, and he’s a real threat to run the ball. You get ready for their system, whether they play either quarterback, they can both, I think, do what they want to do offensively.”
Dino Babers – Syracuse
On giving LSU all they could handle…
“Well, I think the biggest thing is that we went down, we played in a very difficult venue. We really did compete extremely well. It was a two-point game with five minutes left, and I’m really proud of that part. That part of the game I’m really proud of. To be excited we lost the game, I don’t think there’s anyone excited that we lost the game, but I am excited about the way the team competed in a very difficult venue.”
Larry Fedora – North Carolina
On the difficulty of preparing for Georgia Tech…”
“Yeah, Paul does an unbelievable job with the option and that offense. I’ve said before, he probably knows that offense better than anybody out there, and he makes adjustments within a game according to what you’re trying to do to stop him. He does a great job with it, and he’s got a quarterback that’s able to run the option efficiently for him, but at the same time, he’s got a guy that can hurt with his arm. It makes it a little bit tougher.”
Justin Fuente – Virginia Tech
On the showcase aspect of playing Clemson at home…
“Well, I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to not just show off our football program but our school. There is a tremendous amount of school pride here at Virginia Tech. I think that will be on display Saturday morning and throughout the day and into the game. I’d like for people to see a young football team that is on the rise and fighting and scratching and clawing for everything that they can get.
I think we play an attractive style of football on both sides of the ball. We have a culture of people that value those same things are attracted to. Hard work and trying to do things the right way. So hopefully people will be able to see that through their television sets.”
Dave Clawson – Wake Forest
On John Walford taking care of the football…
“We just continually stress in practice and devote time to working on turnover margin, both on offense protecting the football and securing it in traffic. You know, you want your quarterback to play aggressive, but also to be smart. There are times to take chances and times that you maybe don’t want to try to fit it in a tight window.
I think John has learned that very well. And I think as we improve on the perimeter, guys are getting more open maybe than they have the first two years and last year. So John has certainly improved, but I think probably as importantly, we’ve improved around him. We’ve been able to protect him a little bit better this year, and the receivers are getting open a little better. And all those things have to happen in order for a quarterback to be effective.”
Pat Narduzzi – Pittsburgh
On his two quarterbacks…
“So I’ve been happy with some of the things they’ve done and unhappy with some of the things they’ve done. But I’m also happy with the guys that are surrounding them. When you have two new quarterbacks that one is taking his first college start last week, and one who transferred in here and learning a new offense and being acquainted with new players around him and in a system and coaches, the guys around them that have been in the system, our seniors got to play better football.
They’ve got to make plays for the quarterback. We’ve got to protect the quarterback. We’ve got to be able to run the ball. We did not run the ball last week against a firm Georgia Tech football team. They loaded the box up to stop the run because they really weren’t afraid of our passing game.”
Steve Addazio – Boston College
On the play of quarterback Anthony Brown…
“Anthony’s had the majority of it for the first four games of the season. He’s shown us some poise. He showed us the ability to throw the ball. The ability to make good decisions and the ability to have poise. He’s had some ups and downs like any young guy would have when they come in here like this. We have played some outstanding football teams right now. We’re not in that situation where we’ve had three games, three kind of fluffy kind of games. That’s not been the case for us. Last few weeks we’ve played arguably two of the top football teams in the country.”
David Cutcliffe – Duke
On how to stop the Miami offense…
“Miami has got a lot of people, lot of players that have big-play potential. Big plays in modern-day football, we all call them explosives. You’ve got to limit the explosives so there are a couple ways of doing that. One is always tackling better. We’ll have to tackle well against some really talented people with the football. Starting with the tailback, quarterback, receivers, tight ends, et cetera. The other part of it is that everybody’s got to play team defense. You have to be where you need to be. And they’re a team that if you make a mistake, it’s exaggerated against that kind of talent.”
Dave Doeren – NC State
On the improvement of Ryan Finley…
“Yeah, he’s a second-year starter, so you expect to see improvement. I think a lot of the confidence is because he knows the players he’s playing with in a different way. His chemistry with our offense and our coaching staff, and the defensive teammates is just different. He’s been here for two solid years going on now. He’s had a chance to get to know them and for them to get to know him and be a leader.
It’s hard when you’re thrown into an offense and don’t know the players around you and you’re expected to have chemistry around you. That’s the situation he had a year ago, and I thought he did a good job. But he’s learned a lot. He’s also played against these defenses that we’re playing against now for a second time. So he has an understanding of what to expect when he winds up against some of these teams.”
Mark Richt – Miami
On getting back after Hurricane Irma…
“Well, we went two and a half weeks without going to school. Our campus let people out early enough to make preparations for the hurricane. Then after the storm it took probably a week later than everybody thought it would to get back to where we could go to class again. Then we couldn’t be on campus as well to even practice. So that’s why we spent a week in Orlando there after everything settled down.
But the goal from the very beginning was to focus on safety, focus on our families, and focus on what’s best for each player individually and each staff member individually. Then just go do it. So there was no thought of football probably for at least a week, if not longer. Then by the time we gathered everybody up from all over the world, basically, we finally got a chance to get to Orlando and spend about eight days before the last game.”