Miami and Florida State renew a classic rivalry this week, while Pittsburgh and Syracuse match up in a game that finished with a basketball score last season. We bring you the highlights of the weekly ACC coaches teleconference ahead of all the action.
Brian Kelly – Notre Dame
On North Carolina…
“Obviously third road game in four weeks for us, and playing a talented North Carolina team. Coach Fedora has got them playing really hard. Regardless of their record, it’s a dangerous football team.
Offensively I think they’ve done a great job bringing in the freshman quarterback, [Chazz] Surratt along. He’s really the heartbeat of their offense. It all runs through him. 50 percent of the team’s plays run through him. He’s done a real nice job for them.”
Bronco Mendenhall – Virginia
On preparing for ACC teams in his second season…
“…I would say it’s a substantial difference, and probably on both teams’ parts. Familiarity is really helpful, of personnel, of how the games are managed, and those things are all in addition to the style of play that you’re defending or taking on.
If anything, and what I am learning, is that in coming to a different league, if anything I’d be spending more time in the off-season getting the baselines for what our conference opponents have done and what they do do, more so than just using it for game week. So yeah, I think that was an underestimation, I think, on my part coming to the league, and in learnings and going forward, that would be something I would focus more time on and am focusing more time on going forward.”
Dabo Swinney – Clemson
On Wake Forest’s defensive line…
“Well, I mean, as I said in my press conference yesterday, I’d put them kind of right there with Auburn. These guys are active. They’re deep. They’re good all the way across the front. I mean, I’m watching tape, and I’m like, okay, well, who’s that guy. I’m like, all right, dang, 51, he’s third-team guy. They’ve just got a bunch of guys that can go in and play, and they’re very well-coached.
But as I said yesterday, I just appreciate seeing a team that plays relentless and really you can tell by then who they are, and they care. They play very smart. They’re very, very seldom out of position. I mean, you have to out-execute them, and you have to physically win the match-up because they’re going to bring it.”
strong>Bobby Petrino – Louisville
On the NC State defensive line…
“Yeah, I mean, they’ve got a very good defensive front. Seems like we’ve been playing against them forever. I think a lot of them are the same guys for the past three years. They’re doing a really nice job of rushing the passer, do a good job in their run defense. We’re going to have a challenge. I do think that we’re a better offensive front and that we have been playing well. But certainly that’s going to be a big part of this football game.”
Jimbo Fisher – Florida State
On Miami running back Mark Walton…
“Well, we’re going to be challenged, that’s for sure. Mark Walton, I remember he was at our camp. We all recruited him. He’s a heck of a player. He’s competitive, he’s strong, he’s physical, he’s tough, he can catch the ball. Last week he did as much damage out of the backfield catching the ball, not only just running. He is a complete player, and our defense is going to be challenged, so we’re working hard on doing those things. But then you’ve got to be careful because they give up the tight end, the two receivers and the quarter — they’re a complete team. Mark [Richt] knows how to call the game. We’ve got a challenge.”
Dino Babers – Syracuse
On what he learned from Walt Harris at Pittsburgh…
“Well, the thing that I learned from Walt Harris, especially with Larry Fitzgerald on the team, is that you can throw into double coverage. I thought, hey, if you get double coverage you need to go the other way, and he’s like, hey, it’s double coverage, we understand that, you need to look at Larry. And then if he’s triple covered, you might want to look at Larry again and then decide you don’t want to go to him. So it just made me realize that even though people are trying to through Xs and Os take players away from you, you need to find ways to get your really, really good players the ball. That’s one of the things I learned from Walt. And the thing I learned from Art is that just a different style of philosophy of offense of being super, super aggressive and playing at a fast tempo.”
Paul Johnson – Georgia Tech
On how this offensive line compares to others he’s had…
“Well, it’s still a work in progress. We’ve had so many guys injured. We haven’t played the same offensive line in two games I don’t think. But I think the center guard box has a chance to be pretty good. Both the guys who we thought would start at offensive tackle haven’t really played. Jahaziel [Lee] has played a little bit, but Andrew Marshall hasn’t played at all, so hopefully we’ll have those guys back for the Miami game, and then we’ll be able to start to tell.”
Larry Fedora – North Carolina
On Chazz Surratt handling defensive pressure…
“Really, he’s handled the pressure fine. He’s a pretty even-keeled kid. You know, the things that he’s got to do this week is No. 1, he’s got to take care of the football. He’s got to stay within the system, you know, and believe in it. You know, if he does that, he gives himself a chance to be successful and he gives this team a chance to be successful.
What we’ve got to do is make sure the guys surrounding him do a great job of stepping up and making plays and doing some things to take some of that pressure off of him.”
Justin Fuente – Virginia Tech
On How Bud Foster continues to keep the defense so good year after year…
“Well, I think the first thing with Bud is he’s a student of the game. He’s not afraid to look at other people and see what they are doing and think about it and try and see if he feels like he needs a way to adjust year-in and year-out to keep up with what people are doing offensively. He enjoys that part of it.
He’s not — while there are some characteristics of his defenses that have carried over from year-to-year schematically, I think one of his strengths is he’s willing to think and look outside the box. The other thing is I think he does a great job with not just his position but his side of the ball in terms of they have got some real core values that they stand for and a level of play that’s expected.
Those kids feel a level of responsibility to live up to that on a weekly basis.”
Dave Clawson – Wake Forest
On the ACC doing them no favors with Florida State and Clemson back-to-back…
“No, we requested this. We request that every year (laughs).
But you know what, the schedule’s the schedule. I joked about it yesterday in the press conference, and you know, every time the schedule comes out, different people have different complaints, and we have to play both those games.
You know, whether we play them back-to-back or a month apart, we still have to play them. Again, I don’t know if anybody would request that. We certainly didn’t. But it is what it is and you know, we have to prepare for them.”
Pat Narduzzi – Pittsburgh
On scoring 76 points last year in a wild game against Syracuse…
“Well, me and Dino [Babers] have laughed about it in the off-season at ACC meetings, like, golly, what is the game going to. We were beat up a little bit the last game of the season, a year ago, whatever it was. We had some guys out and weren’t as fresh, and then you were on the field for a long, long time, 35 minutes.
So you didn’t have a chance to get a blow. As a head coach, if I was a defensive coordinator, I’d be really, really miserable. As a head coach, I was only a little bit miserable. I think as a head coach, you’re always miserable, because it’s always — someone’s going to be weaker than the other on a game day. One day your offense looks great and your defense doesn’t look good, so you’re happy for one side and you’re consoling the other side, and the next week it’s something different.”
Steve Addazio – Boston College
On punt returner Michael Walker…
“I think, yeah, some guys catch the ball stationary and then there are exceptional darters; quick change of direction. Mike on kickoff returns and on punt returns rocks into them, runs into them. And so when he catches them, he hits them with whatever speed you’re at, three quarter, full speed, which is different.
A lot of guys don’t do that. They can’t rock into kickoff returns. They can’t rock into punts. If you see that, you watch, some guys catch it stationary and go. This guy rocks into them. So it gives them that burst and momentum and that’s a little risky. You have to catch that thing pretty clean when you do that or it can ricochet off your chest. I’d say there’s a little bit of courage there, and I’d say — and that’s the technique that he has that maybe gives him a little edge.”
David Cutcliffe – Duke
On the qualities other than experience that have changed for Daniel Jones…
“Well, he is so much stronger than he was a year ago. It not just in arm strength; his ability to run. He’s faster. He was 205 pounds a year ago. He’s 225 pounds now. He’s a big guy. His pocket presence is better, and quite honestly, as you would think from experience, his decision-making is much better.”
Dave Doeren – NC State
On playing Louisville last season versus this season…
“We didn’t do anything well last year in that game. We were coming off a very emotional loss to Clemson and didn’t handle it well and I take responsibility for that.
I think our team was really fractured after that loss and I didn’t get them back and we didn’t play the way that we need to play against a really good football team. It started early with an interception on the first play of the game and it never got better from that point on.
We’re just a different team than we were last year. I wouldn’t really point at our defense. I think we turned the ball over five times. The whole team played poorly. I coached poorly. Last year’s Louisville game is not going to be the same as it was, this year, when you look at how we play and how we coach; it’s just a different year.”
Mark Richt – Miami
On his view of the Miami-Florida State rivalry…
“Quite frankly, I lost track of what was going on with the rivalry. I couldn’t have told you who won or didn’t win the games. For the 15 years I was at Georgia, I was up to my ears in the Southeastern Conference.
I think that it’s still a very, very important and passionate game for the players and the coaches and the fans. I think on a national basis, it’s not quite as exciting as it used to be because, you know, first of all, Florida State’s been dominating it lately, and Miami really has not been in position where people are talking much about the Canes when it comes to a national community of people that love college football.
If we can keep winning and playing the kind of games of football that people respect, and then, you know, win our share of these, then it’s going to be fun again, for everybody.”