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Steve Addazio’s Weekly Press Conference: Boston College’s Youth is Starting to Settle In

Last week was great, but it’s on the Eagles to keep their momentum ahead of this week’s clash with Florida State

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Boston College Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

STEVE ADDAZIO: Well it's great to be back in here and obviously, we're in a short week, so we had Tuesday's practice already today, we completed that and it seems like the week's rolling. We're playing Florida State here on Friday night, big challenge. Florida State has got a lot of great players on their roster. Obviously, they had a tough blow this year losing their quarterback, but they have, you can see that there's some talented players on their roster right now. The young freshman Blackman is getting better each week, they have got two strong running backs, their tight end Izzo has a lot of experience, their wide receivers starting with Tate I think is a phenomenal player, six-five, 225-pound target. On defense, I mean this was a team that was predicted to be a national championship caliber team early in the year, you can see why, on defense their extremely talented. Key players Derwin James, Ryan Burns, names that we're all very familiar with. When you watch them on defense, nobody can really run the ball against them, stout, they're athletic, this is a well-coached team, I think that without a doubt obviously Jimbo Fisher is one of the best coaches in the country, his staff, unbelievable job of coaching, they have got a really good offensive line, the line coach there does a fabulous job. This is a talented football team and a hungry football team. And it will be a great challenge for us and we're looking forward to that challenge here at home, obviously, our hope is that we'll have a big crowd here and it will be a really exciting, loud night here in Chestnut Hill. So, with that I'll take any questions.

Q. What's the level of confidence right now coming off those two road wins?

STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I think that there's no doubt that as you come off of those wins and you bear a little fruit and young players are gaining confidence, you talk about let's start on offense, Anthony Brown is I think leading the country as a freshman in passing yards and touchdown throws. I think A.J. Dillon as a freshman is fourth as true freshman in the country in rushing. You talk about Kobay White, A.J. and Anthony at the apex of the offense and at the receiver, they're considered elite in their class in the country right now and I think that's exciting. We have scored 40 points in the back-to-back games, first time they have ever done that in the history of Boston College. Either Big East or ACC and first time in ACC since we have been in we have had two back-to-back over five hundred yards of offense. I think that helps you and it builds confidence.

On defense I think that Kevin Bletzer and John Lamot are building confidence every day at linebacker and we continue to play at a high level to the defensive front and I think our back end is playing. So, yes, we're gaining a little bit of confidence, I think we're gelling a little bit here, but I also understand the tremendous challenge of what I believe this defense of Florida State's to be. I think they're outstanding. I haven't seen -- of all the tape I'm watching I'm not seeing anybody run the ball effectively on then. And having said everything I said in a positive fashion and I think it's positive, I think it's very positive, about our young players, about our confidence, about momentum, but having said that, we have got one of the very elite teams in our conference coming into our stadium.

Q. Talk about Anthony a little bit. What he did against Virginia, to be successful in the ACC he's got to do that every week. Is he aware that he is capable of this and continuing on?

STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I mean, yes, you're right, this is a tough league and he's got to do it week-to-week, but he's shown us all along the line of signals of him having these kinds of performances. The bottom line is he's settling in. The center's settling in, he's settling in, A.J.'s settling in. All those guys are starting to settle in a little bit. Does that mean that roller coaster rides are over? He's a freshman. A red shirt freshman, true freshman these guys, I mean think about what's ahead with them, you're talking about three years with these guys of nothing but growth. But for me to sit here and tell you that young players won't ride the roller coaster a little bit, they're young players for a reason and they're going to make some great plays and then they're going to do some things you're going to shake your head a little bit and that's going to continue to happen. That's part of the maturation process. But you are going to see more good along the way and more consistency and I think we have seen that. Anthony's had a rough go. Considering the shakeup we had up front and then the injuries that he's had and he's still managed all that. I give him a lot of credit. And we're really excited about his future as he rolls forward and this will be another challenge because this is an elite defense in our conference.

Q. Talk about the tight end play. It seems like they really emerged the last two weeks offensively.

STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I would say that's accurate. I think that they're starting to really put their foot in the ground and get vertical and really making plays which is what we had envisioned at the beginning of the year. We're a 12 personnel team, sometimes 13, they're on the field a lot, and they have got to factor in into the offense and the throw game as well as the blocking game. That's what they're doing right now and I think that's really great. So we're blossoming a little bit there.

Q. Earlier now what's emerged, was there something that triggered it? It seems like they're a totally different unit.

STEVE ADDAZIO: Just cohesiveness growth development comfort level, I think it's all of the above. I just think that we played some really good football teams and I think we're really emerging. Tomorrow he's playing his best, he's the oldest, Christian missed the whole year last year, had a really horrific injury, and then Ray Martin and Korab's been hurt the last couple weeks, but Ray Martin and Korab are still young players that are also developing. They're second year players, they didn't red shirt and now they're starting to really, it's starting to happen for them. So collectively -- Jake Burt missed a whole year last year, he's been out with mono for the last few weeks but he's coming back. So I just think it's a little of that stuff, cohesion, starting to get a little bit more cohesion with Christian and with Tommy and Ray and now we got to get Jake geared back in and then hopefully along line here whether it's this week we got to get Korab back in the flow of things. And we have stayed, we're pretty lucky when those guys have been down the other guys have stayed healthy, so I just think that with the maturation of the center and the offensive line and then of course the maturation of the quarterback. It kind of all is kind of together, we fired a little bit more on all cylinders last week. And we certainly saw glimpses of it the week before and but for me to say there wasn't glimpses, I mean there was against Virginia Tech, we dropped a touchdown ball, we dropped a ball on the one, so it's coming.

Q. Seemed like you did really well getting yourself in good third down situations and then converting them. Talk about that third down conversion?

STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, we did a good job, Anthony did a good job we made a come conversions with his feet, made some with his arm. That's football today. He's doing a good job with that. I think that we have taken some third and mediums, third and shorts and threw the ball on them a little bit which has been good. They're a really heavily playing our run game last week and so that opened up some other opportunities, we still hammered away a little bit at the run game but we were able to make some plays in the throw game. So that's what we have to do. Jeff made a huge catch, Kobay made a couple big catches, Mike Walker made them and then we hit them in the perimeter with Thad and the slip screen with Kobay, so we spread the ball around pretty good and we like to continue to do that. That will be the plan. Of course, we're playing against an elite secondary and an elite front. Like I said, this team is going to try you and in every way. And we have got to be able to have some balance against this outfit. There's no doubt about that.

Q. You talked about the Florida State defense, A.J. Dillon is doing really well but getting a lot of hits. Talk about the rotation the running backs and what Florida State coming in, how are you going to balance that with filling in Dillon?

STEVE ADDAZIO: I think we balanced it well. People asked me a lot of times I think John Hilliman is playing his best football right now and making a lot of plays. He's making critical third down catches; he's doing a lot for us. And so both those guys are taking the load and Travis is starting to get a fair amount snaps. And like you said, we need them all and I mean you're going to run that tail back, they're going to take shots. That's why you got to have some depth. To go through this league and think that you're going to go unscathed, that's a difficult thing. But we have got some depth, guys are playing well, they're unselfish, and complimenting each other I think really well. We're not letting one guy get so gassed that he can't function. And trying to play to all their strengths right now and so far, that's been pretty good. I thought we did a good job of letting A.J. mature. We didn't just -- we did that over time throughout the season. But I think all along the way John Hilliman's been playing a really high level of football. And I like the emergence of Travis as well, he's had some critical plays for us, so that position's been good to us and it's going to need to be we still got a lot of football left to play we're going into week nine and we have not had a bye week and we're on a short week. So depth at that position is a good thing for us right now. So we're not like in practice we don't have to beat the dog out of one running back in practice like this. It's hard to do that, hey, carry the ball 25, 30 times in a game and let's come out on a Monday and do it. That won't work out well. So we're lucky there right now. I say lucky because you don't know what's around the corner tomorrow.

Q. Florida State, they're a wounded team, but they're still Florida State, do you kind of have to balance that when you talk about preparing for a game like this?

STEVE ADDAZIO: It's really easy, honestly, when you put the tape on, like I don't look ahead, so like I'm focused and watching, all of a sudden I came in Sunday, which is yesterday, I flick on that tape, and honestly like I went like, ugh, I mean, I start, as I tell you guys every week I start on defense early in the week watching them on defense. I mean, so, no, our players, they put the tape on, and they know what they see. It's like I'm just starting to before I came in here I actually was starting to look at them on offense and I watched their offensive line, wow, so, like you said, they're still Florida State, but like a lot of teams, doesn't matter who you are, top to bottom, you lose your starting quarterback and you put a freshman quarterback in the game, there's a transition period with that. And again, does everybody really realize that? I don't know that, but that's not the same. They had a guy that they played as a freshman a year ago who was a freaky talent and all of a sudden, bam, and now they're in it trying to develop another young guy and along the way you know those, just like we have a young guy, they got a young guy and all of a sudden they start emerging. But the surrounding talent? It's really good. It's really good. Really good. Really good.

Q. How is the defense holding up and how do you navigate around that?

STEVE ADDAZIO: You know, luck. We're thin, we still have to practice at a physical high level because you got some inexperienced guys that need every real rep and you just hanging on saying, please stay healthy, be honest with you, okay? And we took a hit with Harold and he's not healthy right now. But Wyatt Ray stepped up and is playing really well, Zach's playing really well, Noa Merritt, they're all playing really well. But you see us at the end of the game, we start getting -- we're tired. We starting missing tackles towards the ends of the games and that's, you can, it's not hard to see it. It's fatigue. But we're paper thin, we're in a foot race trying to develop Isaiah McDuffie and Davon interior, at those linebacker positions and each week just because you just a play away from one of those guys being in that game now and to Davon's credit he's been really unselfish, he's not getting a lot of reps because he's kind of learning and training there, and Isaiah is not getting a lot of reps as a true freshman and he's playing on some special teams and played a few reps, but he's got unbelievable talent. And we just got to get him more comfortable within the system of the defense, because we're trying to, we're trying on the run to build the depth. But we're playing such a tough schedule that you done get many opportunities to get them in. Like last week we got him in. At the end of the game those guys played some valuable, valuable snaps. So I hope we can stay healthy down the end run here right now.

Q. (No microphone.)

STEVE ADDAZIO: It is. Absolutely. For a lot of reasons. One, injuries, two, you still have young guys playing at critical positions and they can fluctuate, they have to learn how to handle and maintain the intensity of a full football season and a heavy academic load. Those are all things that have yet to completely play out right now. But I think we're playing well right now, I think we're getting better, I think we have some good momentum, but like anything else, if you don't stay on top of it and you're not locked in things can change on a dime on you. Whereas when you have a more depth and more veteran team, you're probably you have less risk of that fluctuating on you a little bit.

Q. (No microphone.)

STEVE ADDAZIO: Just I think we have worked really hard in practice at, which is to use your words, delicate, because you're thin. But we have stayed in practice with competitive snaps. And I think that's helped us. And so hopefully we can maintain that because I agree, I think that's critically important that you are able to pick up some momentum early and not playing from behind. It's harder, much harder. I think that last week especially we were able to jump out there and make some really good competitive plays early and that was something we really hadn't done and we did and that was another step. Hopefully we can maintain that. But the yards are going to come, this is going to be one of those games where you're going to be clawing for every bit of real estate you can get and you're going to get a very small number of opportunities and when you get them you better capitalize on them. It's going to be one of those kind of games. And everybody has to prepare for a mindset that when you play against this level of talent on the defensive side of the ball, you got to grind, you got to be patient and you got to capitalize.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports, Courtesy Jason Baum & BC Athletic Communications