With spring football wrapping up around the conference, it was time for the coaches to address the ACC media.
Here are some highlights from the ACC teleconference from each coach.
Brian Kelly – Notre Dame
On players who stood out this spring…
“Offensively, Tony Jones at running back will be a guy that plays a significant role for us offensively. Defensively, Daelin Hayes, who played sparingly really for us last year, but will play a significant role for us. I think those two guys stand out. I think if you continue to look at other guys that are going to be significant for us, right tackle, Tommy Kraemer, will go in there and play a significant role for us, and I think from a defensive standpoint, I think you’re going to see a guy like Jay Hayes, who’s a junior, but who’s been playing sparingly, has had a great off-season for us. Those four guys stand out and had really good springs.”
Bronco Mendenhall – Virginia
On assistant coach Ruffin McNeill…
“Yeah, Ruffin McNeill is possibly the best human being that I’ve ever been around in the world of coaching. He’s compassionate, he’s caring, he’s insightful, he’s wise, and he’s just genuine and authentic and has the players and the program and his colleagues’ best interest at heart. He just is — he was one of the first to be integrated in his high school. His parents were the first to teach in integrated schools, and he has amazing life experiences from cropping tobacco when he was a young man to about every kind of experience you can imagine, and he has a way to connect with young people that’s unlike anything that I’ve seen. And he’s so much fun to be around. But he’s also so wise, and he has head coaching experience.”
Bobby Petrino – Louisville
On what Lamar Jackson is working on…
“Yeah, we worked hard on him playing under the center and doing things we like to do from under the center. We worked hard on throwing the ball down the field and him really improving on his progression reads and sets in the pocket. I thought he did a good job of really working hard on concentrating and focusing on seeing the defenses and the safeties and linebacker movements, so I was happy with what we did with him in the spring, and we thought that we made the spring game, both teams equal. Lamar became a big difference in the spring game.”
Dino Babers – Syracuse
On improving the rushing attack…
“Well, I think there’s no doubt that we need to be better in the run game. You just can’t go back and throw the ball every single snap and be consistently good. You’re only going to be occasionally great, and that’s not good enough. I think the physicality of the game, any time that you can run the football, that means you’re winning the physical battle in the game, and if you win the physical battle there’s a very good chance and most likely that you’re going to win the football game unless turnovers or something else comes into play, so we’re working hard on not only running the football but making sure we’re able to stop the run, and to me those are still the keys minus turnovers and special teams are the two main keys to winning football games.”
Paul Johnson – Georgia Tech
On if he’s surprised at the number of NFL receivers produced by his offensive system…
“Not really because I’ve said before, if you’re a really good wide receiver, you couldn’t have a better system to play in than this one. You know, you might not catch 100 balls, but you’re going to catch 45 and over 1,000 yards and average 20 yards a catch. The pro scouts really like our guys because they will block. They’re more complete players. They tell me they have a hard time finding that. You know, if we don’t have the most, we’ll be right up at the top of the league in wide receivers in the NFL. We may have more than any other team in our league. Probably do.”
Larry Fedora – North Carolina
On what an NFL tam is getting in Mitch Trubisky…
“You know, they get a very, very competitive, level-headed young man who can make every throw there is. He’s got the will to win. He has all the intangibles. He’s the more accurate quarterback I’ve been around in my 30 years of coaching. He’s just a winner is what he is, and he has a very unique — how to say it, just a unique temperament. I mean, he’s just very even-keeled about everything, but he’s got — he has the respect of all of his teammates because of his work ethic and his will to win. I think they’re getting a guy that can be successful for a long time in that league, a guy that can — because of his work ethic and his study habits and his will to be great, I think they’re going to get a great quarterback.”
Justin Fuente – Virginia Tech
On the ongoing quarterback battle…
“Well, we had 15 practices to evaluate them. I think there were some good and some bad in there with all three of them.
The thing that we’re looking for are predicted outcomes. I want to see them deliver the ball in the manner we’re coaching them to do. Sometimes the outcome may not be good, but I want to see them do what they’re coached to do on a consistent basis. I want to see them make the easy fundamental plays consistently, and I want to see them value the football.
All three of them at times did that and at times didn’t do that. So I think that’s why the competition is continuing into the summer and will continue through camp.”
Dave Clawson – Wake Forest
On being given enough time to turn the program around…
“Well, I’m certainly grateful that they have given us time. But that goes back to the interview and when I was hired. That we had a blueprint or plan on how we wanted to do things, and that was going to involve redshirting.
Sometimes when you do that, that’s a little bit of delayed gratification from that. Now that we’re into year four, we’re still not an old football team. We still have less than ten seniors in our program, that’s three straight years. We now have a big junior class. We have a lot of third-year sophomores. So even though it’s not senior heavy, we have a lot more experienced guys.
Now the challenge is to take the next step. We’re in a conference and division that that next step is a very difficult step. There are no easy steps in the standings in this conference. There are some other teams that are getting better as well.”
David Cutcliffe – Duke
On the role of young players this coming season…
“Yeah, I was really pleased with our young people. Those skill guys on offense are going to have an impact. We have offensive linemen that are competing to play or start that are redshirt freshmen, which is awesome. We have some people on defense that are going to impact things. Some of them redshirt freshmen. But some of them true sophomores that maybe didn’t play as much as we would have liked, but they grew up in spring practice.
It’s going to impact this team. I think we have some true freshmen coming in here that can impact this particular 2017 team. So I hope it’s a team that blends as well as I think it can, and the biggest thing is I’ve got to do my job better than I did a year ago. And if I do my job well, this team will blend well. It’s never easy, but we’ll have a lot of reasons to win if I do my job well.”
Dave Doeren – N.C. State
On what an NFL team is getting in Matt Dayes…
“Well, you’re first of all getting an incredible person. I think Matt, everybody loves Matt as a person. A human being, great worker, treats everyone with respect. So just the ultimate player and teammate, which I know NFL clubs, like college teams, it’s something that you want in your locker room.
He loves the game. He’s super competitive, very hard on himself. Skillset-wise, I think he’s one of the more skilled guys when it comes to catching the football. His ability to put his foot in the ground and get to top speed, you know, people may question his 40 time, I guess, but when it comes to getting to top speed fast, making good decisions and being aggressive and all of that, I think Matt’s as good as any of them.”
Pat Narduzzi – Pittsburgh
On whether or not having players selected in the NFL Draft helps the program…
“It certainly does. Again, is it six guys drafted tomorrow? Could it be five? Could it be seven or eight? There is another guy that might end up getting drafted, and it could be a total of seven.
So it certainly is a great moment for Pitt football and the University of Pittsburgh if we have that many guys drafted. It tells you you could develop anywhere. When we have six guys at the combine, and you look at the other thing that hit me a couple weeks ago, all the guys at the combine are from Western Pennsylvania, we’re not only developing players for the NFL, but we’re developing guys from our backyard, and I think that’s important.”
Mark Richt – Miami
On how Manny Diaz has impacted the defense…
“Yeah, well, he’s a very passionate coach. A lot of defensive coordinators are. But he’s got a great mix of the passion for the game, and the ability to motivate. But he’s also — he really understands offensive football, which helps him understand how to play defensive football. He’s very calculated in what he does and why. He understands people’s protections. He understands people’s run schemes and what they’re trying to accomplish.
So he’s got a great blend of being a really good football Xs and Os kind of guy, but also a great motivator.”
Steve Addazio – Boston College
On the return of Harold Landry…
“Here’s a guy that’s laser focused. Came in here, made a decision, a great decision, number one, to get his degree. Harold never red shirted here. So this is his fourth year. He wanted to get his degree and continue to grow physically in terms of power, strength and speed. He wanted to be part of building something special with his teammates.
So Harold, for all the right reasons, has decided to come back here. When guys do that, they’re usually laser focused on their goals, both personally and team.
He had an outstanding spring. He didn’t back off anything. He’s increased his level of play, which is what he should do for a guy that never redshirted, I think putting himself in a position to be one of the most elite dominant players in college football off the edge. And we’re excited about that. He’s going to continue to have a great off-season and look to have a marquee year.”
Dabo Swinney – Clemson
On seeing Deshaun Watson move on…
“It’s great to see these guys have opportunities. But you always have a special relationship with your players, but especially your quarterback. The quarterback and the head coach, there has to be a ton of trust and respect. That’s the way it’s got to be, and it’s certainly been that way.
I saw a picture this morning, it was a picture of him at Gainesville, and a picture of him at Clemson. I said soon to be you’re going to have another championship team to add to this picture. Excited to see where he’s going. Just happy for him. It’s a culmination and a ton of work. It really is. It’s a great moment.
Deshaun is such a team player. But this is a great individual accomplishment and individual moment, and I’m blessed to be able to be a part of it and witness and experience it with him. Just can’t wait to see that. He’ll be the first one to thank everybody who has helped him get here. That’s for sure. But this guy has put in the work and done it the right way. Just excited for him.”
Jimbo Fisher – Florida State
On rumors of character concerns for NFL teams considering selecting Dalvin Cook…
“Tremendous guy to coach. He’s a very easy guy to coach. Great team guy. One of the hardest working guys I’ve ever coached. A great personality. Plays his tail off. I mean, he’s not a superstar mentality — what I’m saying, an entitled guy. This guy is a tremendous guy. Never had any issues with him. One of the best guys I’ve coached.
You know, the information out there, it’s amazing the information goes in — you can’t — to say that’s out there, you don’t know if it’s false information in our world today, in the media, whether it’s — look at our elections, all the stuff that goes on in the elections. Look at that. You can’t believe any of that stuff. You have to do your own research and your own decisions in that regard. Our media in that regard has gotten so crazy that it’s — anything that’s said, anybody can throw something out there. Come watch the guy play, watch him practice, and he was a tremendous role model for us.”