Clemson is still undefeated and they’re using some unconventional methods to prepare. Preparation and reacting to all kinds of adversity are the themes of this week’s ACC coaches teleconference.
Bronco Mendenhall – Virginia
On team’s improved record in his second season…
“…The simple answer for me is understanding of our current launch point, which means that it took me an entire year not only to understand our current team, understand our current program, understand, really, some of the unique strengths and challenges that are specific to our university and our program, but also a clear understanding of what the conference looks like and what the surroundings and what our opponents look like.
And I’d love to say that I was faster than that, but our entire staff, working as hard as we could, from the minute we got here, it took an entire year to really understand where we were launching from. And all we’ve tried to do is apply all of that knowledge now in a more comprehensive and effective and efficient way into year two, which has helped us start fast. Whether we continue or not, you know, that remains to be seen.”
Dabo Swinney – Clemson
On his defensive backs wearing boxing gloves in practice…
” It’s been great. The reason we started it was, again, every year, you self-evaluate and try to figure out ways to improve and things that you didn’t do very well. We were very good on defense, obviously, last year to win it all. But we were — we led the world in PIs, so it’s just something I’m trying to figure out how to get us better.
I don’t even know where I saw it. I think I saw it on an interview or something. But somebody, I think, had asked Coach Belichick, I might have read it somewhere. I don’t really know. And he said that one of the things he did is he put his DBs in boxing gloves.
And so that’s what we started doing in camp, in our one-on-one periods, just to really challenge them and stress them to have to win with their feet, play with great technique, not grab and hold and things like that.”
Jimbo Fisher – Florida State
On his team’s mindset and leadership after a 1-3 start…
“Excellent. We’ve had great practices. Our practices have not tailed off one bit. We’ve practiced our tails off. We’ve been competing, getting after it really good yesterday. Attitude has been great, you can listen to them talk. They understand the things that have to go on. They also understand they’ve got a ton to play for. Individually, they’ve got tons to play for. When you play well individually, it makes you play well as a team. They’ve done a great job and our leadership has done a great job of speaking up to that.”
Bobby Petrino – Louisville
On getting the running backs more involved…
“Yeah, definitely. That’s what we’ve been trying to do. Unfortunately, sometimes the game has played out where, like last week, we got a two-minute drive before the half and then two of them late in the game. So it’s like you’re throwing the ball way more than you want to.
So you just have to be in the game where you can mix in the run, the play action. Every week, with the assistant coaches, I’m on them about how we need to be able to hand the ball to running backs and let them run with it.”
Dino Babers – Syracuse
On Clemson’s defense…
“You look at it, there’s no holes. There’s no weaknesses. It starts with fantastic athletes. They do an outstanding job in recruiting. Obviously, Coach Venables does a fantastic job with the defense. He’s got a lot of experience with spread teams from his Oklahoma background, being in the Big 12. I just think he puts a lot of fantastic athletes in the right spots and gets them to play at a high, feverish pitch.
You put those combinations together and you’re going to have a national championship type defense, and that’s exactly what they have.”
Paul Johnson – Georgia Tech
On Miami quarterback Malik Rosier…
“I’m not sure we’ve played anybody that can throw the ball with the type of skill that they have. But we’ve been pretty good defensively this year through four games. It will be a big test for us this week.
…They’ve got some really good skill players and he’s played very well. I think that he’s taken care of the ball and distributed it the way they like to do to their playmakers. Of course, he had the big drive last week with 1:20 to go to come back and win the game. So he’s made a lot of plays for them, been a really good player and he’s been really accurate on film for the most part.”
Larry Fedora – North Carolina
On if his heavily injured team is still finding its identity…
“It’s fair to say. We’re still trying to discover who we are. I think defensively, we’ve identified who we are. I think our guys understand that. I think offensively we’re still struggling to find that identity. We’re trying to get some continuity going and still trying to just discover who we are.
I think it is difficult, especially at this point in the season to still be doing that, but it is what it is and it’s where we’re at right now.”
Justin Fuente – Virginia Tech
On dealing with receiver Sean Savoy whose brother was shot and killed last weekend…
“Well, I think the first thing is we let the young man know that what’s going on here with football is secondary. Their first reaction is always to worry about that, and we want them to put that on the back burner and handle their family. We have a system obviously of checks and balances when someone has got to go home in terms of making sure we’re up to date on what their responsibilities are academically, and then we encourage our team, and our team has done a fantastic job of being there for Sean, not just our players but our coaching staff, just to let him know that we’re here to support him. It’s really difficult as a coach when your players, your young players have to deal with very adult circumstances through really no fault of their own. You know, it’s a tough time, and it’s part of — I guess part of growing up and dealing with tragedies or difficult situations. But I think the biggest thing we do is we let them know that we’re there for them and we want to be here to support them.”
Dave Clawson – Wake Forest
On the status of quarterback John Wolford…
“Well, he was ready to play against Clemson. He was cleared to play, and he practiced yesterday and threw the ball. It was just — John was probably at about 80 percent, and we just made a decision that we thought Kendall Hinton at 100 percent would give us a better chance to win the game with John at 80, and we did not want John to take another hit that possibly would keep him out for longer.
Again, John was able to play. He was cleared to play. We just made a coaching decision that we thought would give us the best chance to win. John will be able to play against Georgia Tech.”
Pat Narduzzi – Pittsburgh
On how they gameplan to use Jordan Whitehead on offense and defense…
“You know, we’ve only got a little tiny package in for him, so we don’t get him out there as much as you’d like to. Again, he played I want to say 80 snaps on defense a week ago, now playing against a fast-tempo Syracuse team he had a total of 98. So I think it depends on how defensively, how he’s doing on defense, are we getting some three-and-outs on defense. If you’re on the field for a 17-play drive or 12-play drive, it’s hard to catch your breath, get Gatorade to go and get him back out on the field offensively and expect him to go back out. We can’t wear him out, and I felt like we wore him out a little bit Saturday in the second half defensively.”
David Cutcliffe – Duke
On how they’re changing the approach on offense…
“How we practice, focus on what we’re doing at practice. Everybody has practice schedules that you go through, this is kind of what you do on Tuesday, this is what we do on Wednesday. Every now and then you need to shake it up a little bit, and obviously we’ve hit that point. Taking a few different things, basically a different approach to how we go about things, and I’ve done it in the past, and when we’ve done that in the past, we’ve gotten results from it. That’s what our expectations are.”
Mark Richt – Miami
On if his long experience playing Georgia Tech helps him prepare for the triple option…
“Well, first of all, if I was a defensive coordinator and the guy that was year after year dealing with that from a defensive standpoint, maybe it would be some type of advantage. But I’ve had a few different defensive coordinators over the years during the time that I would play Georgia Tech and that offensive system. It’s more on Manny Diaz to get the plan together and do the things that need to get done there, and I trust him with it. I’m spending most of my hours thinking about our offensive team and what we’ve got to do against Georgia Tech’s defense.”
Steve Addazio – Boston College
On the play of Zach Allen…
“He’s an exceptional player, every-down player, big, physical guy, run stopper, pass rusher, and I think he can do all of the above. You know, when you have Harold on one edge and Zach on the other, and then of course we have Wyatt Ray here, who’s also a very, very talented edge rusher, and then we’ve got pretty stout inside with Ray Smith, so I think that defensive line is well-coached that we have and well-put together, and Paul Pasqualoni has done a fabulous job in their development, and I think Zach is having a breakout year, and I would expect that that will continue each week.”
Dave Doeren – NC State
On Ryan Finley not throwing an interception this year…
“Well, I think there’s a lot of things that go into that. He’s more comfortable. His receivers are playing at a higher level. The protection has been good. You know, a lot of times interceptions happen because a guy drops a pass and it goes up in the air and the defense gets it. So there’s a lot of things that come into play there. I think they’re all working in sync right now with each other. Whether it’s quick game or screens or the play actions, Ryan has done a nice job understanding the timing of the plays and not putting our defense in a bad place, and hopefully he can continue to do that.”