Upsets abounded last week and while some teams regroup, others hope to build on the momentum of huge victories.
Here’s what all of the ACC’s head football coaches had to say leading up to week eight on the college football season.
Bronco Mendenhall – Virginia
On what’s made the team’s red zone defense so good this season…
“To be truthful, I really don’t know. I can’t say that there’s been some magical formula or this amazing intensity and effort put into defending that area of the field. It just has kind of what we do best, and with a little bit, maybe a little bit more urgency and early success we’ve had to where there’s a different level of confidence.
But there isn’t much more to it other than assignment-sound football with urgency because of where we are. I would say the ranking on where we are is probably more lucky than good at this point.”
Dabo Swinney – Clemson
On being honored at his alma mater as part of the 1992 national champion Alabama Crimson Tide…
“Well, that was awesome. I wasn’t real fired up about going. We got in about 5:00 and got a few hours sleep and caught a plane to Tuscaloosa. I thought it was great to be with my teammates and especially to be with coach [Gene] Stallings. It was awesome, really just what the doctor ordered, get perspective.
I’m really glad we were able to have that moment in that time. What we accomplished 25 years ago was very special and it was fresh last Saturday; it was 25 years ago. We had a couple hours just us as a team and coaches and to see all of the coaches there: Larry Kirksey, Bill Oliver, Jeff Rouzie, Jay Fuller, Woody, Coach Stallings, it was great and then most everybody came back from a teammate standpoint. So we just had a lot of fun cutting up and just telling stories.
But to have that time with Coach, because obviously he’s not doing great, he’s had a couple strokes and a heart attack a couple weeks ago. For him to still make the effort to be there, it was important that those who could got there.”
Bobby Petrino – Louisville
On coming back from an upset loss to Boston College and playing Florida State…
“Yeah, it was a hard loss, there’s no question about that. Something that we didn’t expect to have happen. Got in a position where we could still come back and win the game and then had a real bad turnover.
But our guys came back and practiced well and put a lot of effort in, and working hard on our preparation. It’s just one of those things that you have to overcome adversity. It’s one of the things that football is supposed to teach student athletes. We’re going to stick together as a team, have a positive attitude, a lot of energy and go out and practice hard.”
Dino Babers – Syracuse
On what he learned about his team against Clemson…
“That they are capable. We played a complete game on offense, defense and special teams. We turned the ball over one time, and that one turnover was actually a ten-point swing because I felt like we were going to be in position for a field goal opportunity and we fumbled the ball and they picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown.
Being able to lose the turnover battle and play a team like that and still find a way to win, I think just goes to show you how well we can play when everything’s functioning together. Now, whether we play that well again, this week, back-to-back, it’s tough to do. But that’s the task and we’re going to go see if we can — if we’re capable of doing that two weeks in a row.”
Larry Fedora – North Carolina
On recruiting an Australian punter…
“Yeah, at least for me, it was a heck of a leap of faith because I never got to see him in person. Talked to him on the phone a few times.
You’re really — you’re hoping to evaluate what you can from the film and then you’ve got to have a lot of faith in the coaches that are coaching them and take their word for it, and they have got a great reputation with the guys that they have sent over here and the job they do at the various schools they are at.”
On if the process made him nervous…
“Yeah, I was extremely nervous. I mean, I was worried that I was getting catfished. So yeah, I had no idea — because I never got to see Tom’s face. I never knew what he looked like.
And then he was going to come at the beginning of the summer and then it got pushed back to midsummer and then it got pushed back to right before camp, and so he walked in the day or two before we started camp. It worked out all right, though.”
Paul Johnson – Georgia Tech
On overcoming two close losses this season…
“I think we’ve got to coach better and play better. That’s the bottom line. We’re not getting it done. We’re not finishing the games. That’s two games that we certainly had an opportunity to win.
You know, we’re two points away from being 5-0. They don’t let you do it over but there’s so many things that we could have done better. We’ve got to dial in and focus and play because we’re playing another really good team.
Wake Forest has got a lot of experience. Those kids have been together now for a couple years and they are playing well. They have got a good scheme. They are well-coached.”
Justin Fuente – Virginia Tech
On the challenges of the ACC’s Coastal division…
“Well, I just don’t think there’s a nickel’s worth of difference from the top to the bottom right now. When I watch the cross-over film I think anybody can beat anybody on any given day. I think it’s going to be a tough, hard grind for anyone to make it all the way through.
I know there’s some really, really good football players throughout the division, some fine coaches and programs, and I just think it’s going to be rough. It’s going to be hard. And it could go about a thousand different ways.”
Jimbo Fisher – Florida State
On the effect of last year’s blowout loss to Louisville…
“Well, I think it woke some guys up because we played a really good quarter and half. It was 14-10 and they got the big third down conversion — I remember the drive and score that we turned it over and then they turned the faucets on. Shows you how dynamic and explosive they are. They did a great job and earned every bit of it.
But also, showed there’s a lot of character here in our kids when they rebounded back and ended up having a great season; we won the Orange Bowl. It says that one game does not define you but at the same time, it show how explosive and how well balanced things are. You have to be ready for everything. When you’re on the road and things happen, you have to be able to rebound and you have to be able to have damage control to keep the game intact so you can get back in it.”
Dave Clawson – Wake Forest
On John Wolford and executing on offense…
“John’s practiced every day and he’s going to start on Saturday. And, I mean, it’s as simple as you just have to execute. And part of executing has to do with the defense you’re playing.
Sometimes there may be things that you execute a little better against Utah State or a little more difficult when you play Clemson, just because of who the 3 technique is or who the corner is. And we play a lot of good defenses in this league. And this week is no exception.”
Pat Narduzzi – Pittsburgh
On Syracuse coach Dino Babers…
“Dino Babers, I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He’s a great football coach. He didn’t just turn into a great football coach. He’s got good players. You gotta give Scott Shafer a lot of credit for what he’s done and some of the players he’s brought in up there.
But Dino’s a super football coach, a great motivator. He’s a guy I’d like to play for, and he’s my kind of guy. So they’ve done a great job up there. The dome is not an easy place to play, I don’t think ever, and he’s got his kids believing. And that’s part of it.”
Steve Addazio – Boston College
On what he’s learned about his team…
“I think we’re gritty. I think that we have handled a lot of adversity, taking it on and went to work. Each week we’ve had to overcome certain things like a lot of other teams do.
But your ability to handle it and keep grinding and keep believing in each other is critically important. I think we’re continuing to grow. We’re continuing to develop.
I still don’t think we’ve played our best football. And I think that’s ahead of us. And obviously each week you’re hoping that that week is going to be the best game that you’ve played.”
David Cutcliffe – Duke
On the coaching talent in the ACC…
“Well, it’s been changing since I’ve been in the league. This is the tenth year. And I think the quality of coaching, as you mentioned, has continued to just get better. You have a league now where coaches are coming to take jobs to stay, not to get another job. They’re building programs.
The universities are committed to building programs, and therefore you are definitely seeing more balance and better student-athletes across the board.”
Dave Doeren – NC State
On staying true to his system and process…
“I think that’s the one thing that I’m proud of our players and our assistants. We’ve never wavered on what we believe in.
Our core values have been the same. Our mission statement: One tackle, one goal, a united mission to win a championship. Nothing’s changed. We’ve stayed the course, like you mentioned, by being the same people every day, not allowing guys to underachieve, believing in more victories and working with these kids and staying positive with them, even in the midst of a lot of negativity that was going on outside last year.
And just let them know that the process will take us where we want to go if you believe in it and if you do the right things. And I think a lot of people give up on things and give up on people. And that’s something that I don’t believe in.”
Mark Richt – Miami
On what winning close games and coming from behind to win means…
“I think when adverse situations come up, it reveals to you whether or not you have a strong team or not. And so I mean it’s a good sign that when things were looking rough in the Florida State game, when things were looking rough in the Georgia Tech game, that no one quit. Nobody felt like, oh, we’re out of it or started to point fingers at one side of the ball or the other.
That’s a great sign. And sometimes you make the play and sometimes you don’t. We were able to make the play two times at the moment of truth, and that’s why we won those games, along with a lot of other plays, obviously. But it comes down to one play: Do we make it or not? We’ve made it. So now we’ve won two close games.
A year ago we had three close games, lost them all. This year we’ve had two close games. We’ve won them both. So hopefully that trend will continue.”