The first full weekend of college football is upon us. With that, comes the weekly conference media availability. Each week, we’ll bring you the highlights as coaches discuss their upcoming games.
Enjoy the final teleconference of the offseason.
Bronco Mendenhall – Virginia
On the recent violence in Charlottesville…
“It was very difficult in a unique setting, but I really welcomed the chance, not the circumstances and not the story that we were facing. But I think all of us — well, a lot of us craved adding value and having significance and being able to lead in some capacity outside of just the game.
Certainly our philosophy here and mine is it’s through football that we can make a difference, not because of football. So I think through football we can help change and with the necessary things that need to happen in society and we can be an example and a rallying point for that.
Yeah, luckily I have very strong leadership on this team in what we call our task unit leaders, and Micah Kiser in particular. He did a nice job of setting the tone of this is real and we can make a difference. He wasn’t sure that that would happen. The then I had a chance to address the team in a team meeting, and I just basically shared with them my personal beliefs that when there is challenge and conflict and things that are very, very difficult, in my life, I go to faith.”
Dabo Swinney – Clemson
On having a new quarterback this season…
“Well, we start over every year regardless of who we have at quarterback. Whether they are a returning starter or not, we really do. I think when you’ve got a guy that’s kind of been there and he’s got a ton of experience, you can get to calculus pretty quick. But when you have a new guy, you can only go at his pace. So it’s just very important when you do have a new guy to go at his pace and not try to overwhelm him with maybe some things that you did with the last guy or whatever. Go at his pace, and help him have success. Then as his confidence grows, then you can continue to add more or whatever. But the pace is just usually a little different when you’re starting over with a new guy.
But we’re not really starting from scratch with [Bryant] Kelly. He’s not a returning starter, but he’s been in those meetings for the last couple years. So he’s up to speed. Now it’s just, okay, here’s who you’ve got. You expose him and put him in situations and see how he responds and just really pleased with his development from spring through fall camp and excited to go see him play.”
Justin Fuente – Virginia Tech
On the devastation going on in Texas right now…
“Yeah, I have several family members and close friends that live in Houston that we’ve been keeping in touch with. They’re all doing fine. But the biggest thing is it doesn’t matter where it’s occurring, whether it’s occurring in Texas or Florida or Louisiana, across the globe, I think it’s a pretty important reminder to all of us that we’re all very fortunate and we need to be mindful of those that are less fortunate…I mean, when you know those lives, you’ve been in the homes that have been affected, it certainly does. I know when we were at Memphis, we had several players from the Houston area that we recruited. I was at TCU for five years. It certainly does shed a little bit of a different light on it.”
Jimbo Fisher – Florida State
On what he learned from Nick Saban…
“I mean, there’s a few things. The thing about he and I that we always thought, and I think he said it or someone told me it was interesting that he had said, we think philosophically very similar. We have very similar ideas.
The thing about the way he — his all-encompassing program about how to develop players and how offense plays the defense and the defense plays the offense, and you don’t separate yourself, that’s one of the great things that Nick does, is build that team concept. People say, well, sometimes he says he wants to be a conservative. That’s not it at all. Nick wants to do what he has to do to win the game. That’s the first and foremost thing. He kept that in the forefront, whether it was game planning or scheming, whether it was offense, defense, special teams and how the game had to be played. It was over-encompassing development of players. He’s obviously a tremendous football mind.”
Dave Clawson – Wake Forest
On starting camp earlier this year…
“Probably every two or three practices, I would have our trainer, I would say, Give me an update of what our injury report looks like now compared to a year ago. It was more than consistently cut in half. I mean, again, I don’t think anybody liked the idea of starting camp in July. But by not having doubles, by giving our players one day off a week, the health benefits to our football team were obvious throughout training camp.
In terms of the injury report and also asking the players how they felt, because of that, I thought our practices were more productive. Camp is always a lot of hard work. It didn’t seem like nearly the grind it was when you did doubles and never had a day off.
In terms of something that’s in the best welfare of the student-athletes’ health, I think this was a really good move. Now it’s hard to please everything because you can’t do these things and start camp early and give them a day off and also give them more time. Those are both things on the agenda. Those two things are impossible to reconcile.”
Bobby Petrino – Louisville
On defending Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson…
“I think the greatest thing is Lamar doesn’t worry about it. He likes to come to practice. He likes meetings. He works extremely hard every day to get better. He’s a great teammate. He’s just been really fun for me to coach. He doesn’t worry about it. I don’t worry about it. The number one thing we’re focused on is being a better team and winning games.”
Pat Narduzzi – Pittsburgh
On replacing key players from last season…”
“Obviously we lost a lot of great players. That’s probably why I said in my opening statement I can’t really wait to see what this 2017 football team really has. You play against each other for four weeks, thanks to the NCAA they’ve extended the period of I guess pre-season camp. Who knows what you have. When you see your offense score a touchdown, was it because they’re really good or is it because your defense wasn’t so good and vice versa. When you sack the quarterback, what’s wrong with the O-line. Is it good, maybe the pressure in our D-line is really good.
I don’t know what we’ll have. That’s why I’m looking forward to it. We did lose great players. Then there’s next players to step up. We have a few on the roster. Dewayne Hendrix, defensive end, a lot of exciting thoughts for him last year. He doesn’t make it through first quarter last season. Keyshon Camp up front. There’s so many new names you’re going to see out there this year. I think it’s going to be offensively, defensively and special teams, something that will be interesting to see how they handle the pressure of a game day, what we’re all about. We’ll find out who we are this weekend.”
Steve Addazio – Boston College
On the improvement of the offense…
“Well, the quarterback play here has been outstanding by both guys. We’re better at every position. Reminds me of what we had here my first two years. Had a great pre-season camp. We have a stable of running backs as good as anybody’s. We have a stable of tight ends that I think are as good as anybody’s. We have real good speed on the edge. I would say offensively we look for us to be significantly improved. I’m excited every day to go out and watch practice. It’s fun. We got some play-makers. They’re developing, having a great time with it.”
David Cutcliffe – Duke
On how good the ACC is compared to the SEC…
“I think it’s right in line with it. I became used to in the Southeastern Conference the same thing we’re doing now: amazingly competitive conference top to bottom. We’ve been able to do that in the ACC maybe best of all as far as expansion. We’ve got everybody playing better football. That’s something that maybe is even a little bit more so than what I saw in my time in the SEC.
Then as far as national championships and national award winners, it’s the same type intensity. What I love, I think one of the biggest differences, people ask me all the time, Why is the ACC making the move? I think it’s been a commitment across the board of our individual institutions to magnify football and invest in it. I think ESPN has helped that. ESPN’s commitment to the league has helped that. I think all the schools are following suit.
We’ve got good coaches, good programs. This is going on for a while. It’s not just a matter of good teams. We have a lot of good programs in the ACC.”
Dino Babers – Syracuse
On the offense now compared to last season…”
“Well, you know, they know what to do. They’re not thinking, they’re just reacting. I think anytime you get athletic people where they don’t have to think about their actions, they’re just reacting to it, you get pure emotion. You get pure speed. There are no delays in their movements. I think it makes you faster if you can become faster. Hopefully that will be more pressure and more stress on the defenses that we play.”
Dave Doeren – NC State
On the progression of the secondary…
“Well, the nice thing for us, we’ve got a great group of receivers here that challenge them every day. I feel like it’s been a good back and forth. You see improvement. You see guys getting better at certain skill sets. Jonathan Alston has had a great week of practice. Nick McCloud is always consistent. Shawn Boone has really adapted well to our nickel position. Dexter Wright and Jarius Morehead have played well for us, steady players, great tacklers. Now it’s time to do it. The test is on game day. They’re going to be tested. I look forward to watching them go out there and compete.”
Paul Johnson – Georgia Tech
On who will carry the football out of the backfield…
“Well, that KirVonte Benson is a red-shirt sophomore, and he’ll start at B-back. I think he’s got the ability to be a really good player. You know, he’s about 215, strong guy. Squats 600 pounds. Ran ten 600 meters in high school. He just hasn’t played. He was injured his freshman year and missed all that. Last year I think he was just kind of getting back accustomed, and we had Dedrick [Mills] and Marcus Marshall that played in front of him. So, you know, we’ll see. I think he can be a viable option.
Got a young freshman named Jerry Howard that’s probably going to play. Probably the third guy right now would be Quaide Weimerskirch. He’s played a little as well.
I think through the years we’ve interchanged those guys, and I’m anxious to watch them play. I think they’ll do well.”
Mark Richt – Miami
On the status of Ahmmon Richards…
“I think once a guy thinks he’s ready, you probably need another two, three days after that, quite frankly. That’s been my experience.
To this point, Ahmmon has not practiced with us. Start out running in the underwater treadmill first. Then we have a machine that takes some weight off you. I think it’s called an UltraG, whatever. They’re running with not all their body weight on a treadmill basically. Then you finally get on land and start running. That’s where he’s at now. He started to jog, cut a little bit here and there.
It’s very unlikely he’ll play in this first game.”
Larry Fedora – North Carolina
On who his top three quarterbacks are right now…”
“I think right now it would definitely be Jordon Brown and Mike Carter at this point. Who that third guy is going to be that will roll in, that’s still up for grabs.”
On how they’ve all progressed in camp…
“Yeah, what we have learned is we’ve got some talented young men that don’t have a whole lot of experience that are learning and growing every day. The great thing that I will tell you is when they make a mistake and you come back out in the next couple days, that situation comes up again, that you don’t have that same problem. So they’re learning from their mistakes.
So I know they’re studying the game hard, they’re working hard. I think all of them want to be the guy, and they know there’s going to only be one guy. So we’re really looking forward to seeing who emerges and who really does a great job on Saturday.”