STEVE ADDAZIO: All right. We've got a big game. Heading up to play our rival game against Syracuse in the carrier dome. I know from personal experience what it's like to go on the road and play up there. It's always a tough environment. It's always a great football game.
Syracuse has got some real talent. Their quarterback, Eric Dungey, whether he's playing or not, I have no idea. I feel like he may be one of the top three quarterbacks or top two quarterbacks in our conference, and I think he's one of the better quarterbacks in the country. Aside from his physical skill set, I think his intangibles, his toughness, his leadership, to me, is completely dominant in their football team. I'm very, very impressed by him.
Zack Mahoney has a world of talent. He throws the ball extremely well. I've watched him play, and I'm really, really impressed with him. I know Rex Culpepper. I knew his dad when I was at Florida. What a great competitor, family of great competitors. He comes from a great football bloodline. Those are all three guys. Whichever one of those guys play, I have the utmost respect for all three of them. I think they're all super talented and really, really impressed by them.
Dontae Strickland and Moe Neal, both, are very, very good running backs. I think Strickland is an exceptional back. He's averaging close to four yards a carry, and he's a tough, physical back.
Their skill players, the receivers, I think Steve Ishmael and Philips and Butler, I know all those guys, and I think they're excellent, fantastic skill players. I think the quarterback-receiver thing is a great dynamic for them.
On defense, I think they're playing very physically on defense. I knew Zaire Franklin coming out of high school in Philadelphia. That was about the time I believe I was coming out of Temple coming here. I think Zaire has got a real knack. He's a real football player, real nose for the ball. I think he's outstanding. We've played against him a bunch.
I like Parris Bennett a lot. I think he's a hell of a player. Evan Foster in the back end. They've got talented guys. I'm impressed with how hard they play. I think they play really hard on defense. They bring a lot of pressure and create a lot of pressure.
This is a talented football team. They've been in some unbelievable games. You all saw how they beat Clemson and how they've played really well against elite teams in our league, and I respect all that.
I know Dino, respect Dino a lot. I think Dino has done a great job. So, they'll be well prepared, well coached, and I'm sure highly motivated. So, we're in for a huge challenge up in Syracuse. We need to have a great, great week this week preparing in all three phases, and we've certainly got enough work to do in our three phases. So, we're busy today preparing hard.
With that, I'll take any questions.
Q. Steve, when you talk about receiver/cornerback you're talking about Steve Ishmael, right?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah.
Q. I mean, he's up for the Biletnikoff award.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Completely dominant player. He's certainly one of the very finest players in the country. He is a great, great player. I mean that. I think he's a dominant guy. You watch the conference, and there's elite guys in the conference. He's one of the elite guys in the conference.
Q. Can you talk about your quarterback situation? Are you going to platoon a little bit, or are you going to start with Wade, go with Perry?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I mean, Darius is our starter. E.J., we were able to get in the game, as we said we would. Last week was the first time he took practice reps really substantially, with the varsity, so to speak, with the starters. He's been dynamic running the scout team and doing a lot of things. But he had to -- this is the first week of having to work the offense, if you will, with all the motions, adjustments, checks, you know, different things that come along with that. So, I think that was a big step.
Then we got him in the game. Would have liked to have played him, like I said after the game, at least another series. So, this week, once again, he'll share reps with Darius in practice, and then we'll evaluate it at the end of the week.
I thought Darius did a great job in the game. Really proud of Darius. He played well, made some big plays, managed the game well, did some really good things. That was a week for him to get back and get all the reps. He's taken a very small amount of reps because the starter gets the majority of the reps.
Darius has just continued to improve because just by sheer fact of getting those reps in practice. It's hard enough for any position, never mind a quarterback. You've got to get the reps. That's why any time something happens to your starter, there's a lot of stress on the No. 2 guy because it's always disproportionate.
Q. With Syracuse's front seven, you're probably going to need a more potent passing game because you can't run it down their throat, I would think.
STEVE ADDAZIO: It's hard to run it down anyone's throat. As you know, we've really worked hard on our throw game, and probably last week wasn't very indicative. I mean, we tried to throw the ball downfield a little bit. We dropped a couple balls. But it was pouring rain. I mean, pouring rain, and it was cold.
I thought we kind of got a hot hand with the offensive line and the backs. Both backs had a hot -- we rushed for over 330 yards. We had a hot hand there.
But we're going to spend a whole lot of time on our throw game. They bring a lot of pressure. And when you do that, you've got opportunities in the perimeter, and we have the ability to strike there. So, we put a lot of emphasis on that. Even though we didn't necessarily show a whole lot of that, we ran it last Saturday into eight, nine man boxes, but we were able to.
So I think we're in conference play again, and I think we'll be back to where our mindset has been. One thing I do know, we'll have the perfect weather. Probably a great advantage for them too, but obviously. We're not going to deal with elements. That's not going to happen.
Q. What was Cheevers' role before Cam got hurt? How did you assess his play as a starter?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Hamp has been in the game in certain situations in nickel and dime deals. He's made plays in all the games he's been in. He's kind of that guy. He makes plays. He's got great body control, and he's got tremendous ball skills. He's very, very nimble, and he's got great quickness, change of direction. He's just a little undersized. He's getting bigger. He's come a long way since he's got here. But he has exceptional talent.
So he's gone in, made plays, and done a great job for us. He'll continue to get better. He's got a very high ceiling.
Q. Just comment on Ty Schwab's play the last five games. I haven't seen a letdown at all.
STEVE ADDAZIO: No. He's playing really hard, relentless football. He's all over the place. Plays very physically. He's preparing real hard. When we talk about is football your world? Football is Ty Schwab's world. I mean, it's his world. He's all about it. He's fun to coach and great to be around.
Q. Coach, talk about your success in the rushing game. Was it the offensive line on Saturday or A.J. Dillon?
STEVE ADDAZIO: It's both. Jon Hilliman had over 100 yards. A.J. had a couple hundred yards. Obviously, you're not doing that if the offensive line isn't doing their job and the tight ends. I thought they played really well -- we played really well up front.
Q. And then with Darius Wade, does he prefer to be under center or in the shotgun?
STEVE ADDAZIO: That's a good question. I think in high school he was a shotgun quarterback, but aren't most of them today? I mean, he's totally comfortable under center. But we're a shotgun team on third down. First and second down, we're more under although we have been some in shotgun. I still think we have a rookie freshman center that I think is a lot more comfortable under center, and we have two big time tailbacks, that like any tailback -- every tailback wants to be at the top of the "I" and get the ball 7 1/2, 8 yards deep and have total vision running downhill.
So I think -- Darius, I think when he's throwing the ball, he'd want to be in the shotgun, and he is. He is. The only time he wouldn't be with us is a lot of play actions. Play actions, we do a lot of play actions from under center, but that's different because that's a different setup than a drop-back pass. So, I don't think it's a factor.
Q. You mentioned Syracuse likes to press the front. Will that change the mindset or keep the same first, second down, and then third down?
STEVE ADDAZIO: We're pretty multiple right now. We really are pretty multiple. I mean, the quick game was started underneath the center. Quick three-step drop. I think play actions, quick game, those types of things -- I mean, it -- we see a lot of -- every week we see a lot of pressure. Very few people don't bring pressures against us. Now, when they bring pressures, are they bringing zone dogs? Are they bringing man pressures? I mean, those are all the different questions.
But most people want to stop the run by getting an eighth man in the box or one more than you have formationally. Whether you blitz to it or line up to it, they want to get there to it. That's not anything knew, same old, same old.
Q. My last question. I'd like to get your take. You see both sides of this rivalry. You coached Syracuse, now BC. Obviously, a lot of big moments in this rivalry. In 2004 Syracuse had a big win here, cost BC the Fiesta Bowl. BC has had a lot of wins over Syracuse. Just your take from both sides.
STEVE ADDAZIO: The only side for me is this side. This is where I am. It has been and is becoming again -- we're in the same conference. It's been an Eastern football rivalry. Of course, being in the same conference, on the same side of the division adds to that. It's just ACC team 4 1/2 hours up the road, and we're going to clash and battle each other. I love that in college football.
There's a couple of teams you'd like to see realigned on our side because it's just the old Eastern football. I think that's awesome. And fans can drive to the game, all that kind of stuff.
Back in the day, even more so. I mean, really, really battling for same recruiting areas and everything. I mean, shoot, when I was there, I recruited this whole area back in the day. So, I think it's good for college football. I think it's good for Eastern football, and I think it creates for fun rivalries. So, I'm excited that that's become that focus again because I think in every conference there should be rival games, and in our conference, this gives us that tremendous opportunity.
When I was at the other place, it was a big deal. It's a big game, circled on the schedule.
Q. Could you just talk about how gratifying it is to be going to a Bowl again.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, it's very, very -- it's great to see the kids -- in college football, it's a preseason goal, and so when you achieve it, it's a barometer of success, and it gives you, obviously, an unbelievable opportunity to get another month's worth of practice, which allows you to develop your team, and that's critically important. When you lose that, that really hurts you.
We've been very, very fortunate here to have gone to four bowls in five years and have the opportunity to develop our players. And I think postseason play is exciting. I mean, you want to be -- and it matters in recruiting, and you want to be in that whole hub. So, it's fantastic, and it is -- it's gratifying. I think having the schedule that we've had this year and the way it's played out, I think, has been unbelievable. To be able to, right from the beginning, battling every game, and overcoming a bunch of stuff along the way and playing really talented teams -- I think it's been part of the development of our team, which bodes very, very well as we move forward here this week and in the future, obviously.
We've got a chance to showcase so many young talented players that are as talented as they are anywhere in our conference and in the country. That's really important. So, think of all these freshmen that have unbelievable, important roles on our football team right now. They get a chance to extend into the Bowl.
I mean, never mind the obvious ones. What about the not as obvious ones like Brandon Sebastian as a corner or C.J. Lewis as a wide receiver or Jaleel Berry as a defensive nose tackle? I could keep going on and on here. I mean, they're all over the place. And those are the guys to me -- E.J. Perry. I mean, these are the guys -- you know, Travis Levy. I could just keep going on and on. These are the guys that -- a guy like Tate Haynes, super athletic, super athletic, talented guy that needs to get to -- Hunter Long. We just feel like he's got unbelievable potential.
I don't want to leave anybody out, but I'm just naming guys that I know just can't wait myself to see them grow and develop. Isaiah McDuffie, I think you've seen flashes of him on special teams. He flashes. He is the real deal. So, we'll continue to work with these guys. Very, very exciting.
You know, Alec Lindstrom. I'm watching him, like his brother, develop right in front of my eyes. He's exactly like Chris was. The only difference is Chris had to play as a freshman. Alec doesn't have to play. Alec is going to be 285, 290 pounds next year, and he's an animal. He's going to be a really good football player. So, that's a guy, like you can't wait to watch him in Bowl prep. Offensive lineman that needs all that work, fantastic.
Anyways, I kind of rambled on with your question, but that's how I feel.
Q. Let's go back to Bennett a little bit. How is his motor? Does he have like a (indiscernible) motor, Steve Bennett of Syracuse?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I think he's a really good football player. Yeah, absolutely.
Q. Coach, I know you talked about the Bowl. Just talk about what winning against Syracuse would mean to be 7-5 versus 6-6, that mindset as you go into Bowl season, the difference that it plays winning versus losing.
STEVE ADDAZIO: I just think you want to win every game you can win. I think every one of them is unbelievable. Here we are. This is our last game of the regular season, and we've got to go up there on the road and go beat a very good football team. So, yeah, it means the world to us.
Being Bowl eligible, we know now we're going to play in a Bowl game. That's the great thing. We know that. But that's got nothing to do with our approach to this football game right now. Our approach to this football game is it's the Super Bowl and we've got to go win it.
So they're all huge, and here's another one. Obviously, a rival game. Our kids, we got together yesterday, and trust me, we got their full attention. They know how talented Syracuse is. They understand the rivalry game. I think our kids are very, very mature, and they have an unbelievable amount of respect for Syracuse and are really anxious to have a great week of preparation.
I would anticipate we'll have a heck of a week this week. I'm excited about that. I can see the look in their eye.
Q. How are you getting through the holiday schedule, Thursday? What's the schedule?
STEVE ADDAZIO: We have a system that I use here, that I came and brought with me, that I used to use back when I was with Urban, and I like it. We kind of have a normal week. On Wednesday, we'll have a little Thanksgiving family dinner with our team and our families in the evening. And on Thursday, we'll practice in the morning. We'll practice a little bit earlier on Thursday so that kids who have an opportunity locally can go home and be with their families.
Those that are further away team up with either coaches or players and are able to have a meal with -- a Thanksgiving meal with the families, and they can relax in the afternoon and enjoy Thanksgiving because Thanksgiving is meant to be with their families. They'll be with their football family or their own family. We'll be back here ready to roll for our walk-through meetings on Friday morning.
So we kind of give an opportunity to really be with family, if they can be, on Thanksgiving, and we try to create that same atmosphere the night before on Wednesday night, which is what I love. We'll do the whole deal -- turkey, trimmings, the whole nine yards. And I just really enjoy that piece of it, which we normally do on Wednesday nights, but this will be a Thanksgiving dinner. It will be a great week for everybody.
Thank you guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports, Courtesy Jason Baum and BC Athletic Communications