Transcript courtesy of BCEagles.com.
One thing this year we’ve done is we’ve come out and opened up with an ACC Conference game in Europe, and we came back and played a UMass team that we felt was pretty talented team and will win a fair amount of games as – they’re not in it anymore – as a MAC Conference-level team. We went on the road for a third consecutive week and we played a Virginia Tech team that came off the previous two games of nine turnovers and I think really skewed their outcome the week before. They’re a pretty talented team with a pretty old, veteran, senior-laden skill group on offense.
I think we got ourselves on the road in one of the most competitive environments in the ACC. We created some real negative momentum for ourselves very, very early that we were not able to really push back on in turn. There’s a lot of reasons for that. I think we need to do a better job – all of us, coaches, players, everybody – in terms of that was a learning lesson for us in handling that.
Obviously I wish there were things I could do over. But we can't and I think that’s one of those games where you say, ‘OK, that happened. This is what we took from it, put it on and move on.’ And move on and get ready to go. We didn’t have the luxury this year, and that’s fine. I think the games we played will come back to us. I think they’re come back to us. The lessons we learned, the experiences we got, I think are going to help us.
Sometimes when you start the other way around, meaning you start with some lesser teams and work your way up and crescendo, things get masked and they show up later. We’ve had a lot of things now where we’ve played some real tough teams now on the road, and they’ve shown up. As hard as it is, I think it will come back to us that we’re going to get into a part of our schedule that allows us – we’ve got to play better – to regain some momentum and some confidence. And that’s critically important when you’re developing a football team, let alone a young football team. So that’s our goal right now. We’ve got to get ready to play Wagner.
We’ve got to get ready to go out and fundamentally improve. Our goal is to fundamentally improve, it’s to really continue to hone in as you do your early weeks of your season on really the best things you do as a football team: your offense, your defense, your special teams. Usually by the time you get to game three, four, you’re starting to get a handle on that and you’re starting to watch that thing crescendo. We’ve gone right into the meat grinder with it and we’ve come out the other end right now and I think we’ve learned some valuable lessons. It will help us moving forward as we move forward into our schedule. Our obvious goal right now is to go out and win on Saturday, and be the best BC that we can be. And that’s what we’re working at right now.
Obviously watching tape on Wagner and getting ready for Wagner, Wagner’s got some good players and they’re working hard and they’re going to come in here ready to rock-and-roll as any football team does and we’re going to be ready to go. Football is football and you have to be prepared every Saturday for anybody you play. And that’s what we’re going to go. But we’ve got to make sure we’re taking care of Boston College and the continuation and development of Boston College. Because we have the makings of a good team and we’ve got to make sure we’re bringing the very, very best out of our team as we develop.
On injury updates …
That’s a hard question for me to answer just yet with it being Monday and (we’re) still compiling that information. I know where we were yesterday and I think we’ve got some guys dinged up and the assessment of where they’ll be tomorrow, by the end of the week, is still unclear.
On LB Mike Strizak’s injury status …
Mike didn’t play Saturday. We held Mike. I think Mike is doing really well right now. I think Mike is going to be ready to roll.
On the team’s attitude coming out of Saturday’s game …
I think ticked off. We practiced yesterday. We went out and we had a fundamentals day, man. Went back to fundamentals: special teams fundamentals, offense-defense fundamentals. We had 7-on-7, threw the ball, hung around. I told you guys earlier in the year and I meant it: this group loves football. I’ve said this before. Players have the advantage over everybody. They’re in there. They watch the tape together. They know what’s fact and what’s fiction. If you don’t watch the tape, you don’t really know. They know. And so they see where our issues are, what we need to correct, why they occurred. And that’s what you do when you’re teaching, you’re coaching, you’re a player. You have be evaluative, self-evaluative, coach-evaluative. A as a coach you have to be self-evaluative. And you take these games and you go through them in great detail. That’s what we did. And understand where the deficiencies are, whether it be coaching, playing, whatever it is, and have a very honest dialogue with each other and move forward.
When you have a group of guys who love football and you love football, you do what you love. You get ready to roll the next game, man. It’s what it is. Listen, there’re going to be highs and lows left to be played this season. There’s going to be some highs and some lows. It’s going to happen. We’ve got to weather it. Obviously when you put a lot into something and it doesn’t go the way you want it to, it can be crushing. You’re a competitor, you’re devastated. Then you realize over the course of the next 24 hours or whatever it is, now I’ve got to put that away and get ready to move on because I’ve got to get ready to play another game and get ready to do what I love, fix my deficiencies, our deficiencies, whatever it may be, and continue to grow because you have a passion for the game. That’s what competitors do. That’s what competitors do. That’s what competitors do.
And that’s why I have that quote when you walk out of our locker room, a Teddy Roosevelt quote about the man and the arena. I believe in it with my whole heart. You throw yourself out there, you lay it all on the line and sometimes it doesn’t go great. People are going to criticizes you; people are going to tell you everything you did wrong. People are going to tell you you’re a bum. They’re going to tell you everything they want to tell you. But at the end of the day, it’s about the competitors in the arena. And when you have that, you’re ready to rock and roll the next week, man. And our guys right now? Rock and roll next week. They’re rock and roll yesterday. We had a lot of intensity going on yesterday. We had the young guys scrimmaging out there in full pads and our players were encouraging them and rolling. That’s what happens. Temperature’s great. In fact, the greatest thing for me is to get back around the players. That’s what I love doing. They want to roll.
Looking back at the game, are there things you would’ve changed?
I felt like we probably schemed a little too much for this game, meaning they have a very unique style of defense and offense and you’ve got bunch of ball guys, pro football-ish so you’re trying to scheme a little bit. We’re pretty young and sometimes you do too much of that, and you’re doing things that you don’t have enough reps at instead of sticking core. I think we probably got a little ahead of ourselves, which made us look like we’re nowhere. That can have a counter effect on you sometimes. We’re going to really make an emphasis to going back to real basics. I felt like we played really fast in the first two games. I felt like we played slow Saturday, slower, a little bit tentative. A little bit, ‘What’s coming at us?’ both sides of the ball, special teams. Some of that is the venue and some of that is our inexperience and some of that is making sure we’re aware of our inexperience and our venue. I think those are things that we’re going to consciously work at. That was an anomaly and sometimes that happens in football.
I felt like we got caught a little bit in the perfect storm, too. We had a lot of things wave at us in a negative fashion and we couldn’t overcome it. At the end of the day, we couldn’t overcome it. But I thought we got a little bit of perfect storm and everything else and it turned into what it turned into. But I’m more interested in the real dynamics of series-by-series, play-by-play. The good news is it isn’t like we played the Sisters of the Poor and all of a sudden we go out and we play a real team. No, we’ve been playing some good football teams. That’s the good news. When you open up with some of the teams we’ve opened up in our history with, and you wipe them out and then you get stunned, then you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ But that’s not what happened here.
We you surprised or alarmed by some of the players’ reactions to the game on Saturday?
No, absolutely not surprised. Some of these guys are on the field for the first time in that environment. That’s part of maturing as a football team. Don’t ever underestimate that. When you talk about home-field advantage, home-field advantage is that. When you’re in that kind of home field, you get a little bit of an advantage. And it can sway a young football team. Now is that the whole thing? No, no. Absolutely not. But is it real? Oh yeah, it’s real. It’s very real. You’re used to being able to communicate with each other and all of sudden you can’t hear each other. Try that sometime. We practiced it all week. But I’m just telling you, when you’re a lineman and you’re able to talk to the guy, or the center’s got experience and he’s trying to help the younger players, ‘Hey we’ve got this scheme, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup,’ and all of sudden you’re in a game and it’s like you’re in a silo. You can hear nothing. There’s no more communication any more. No one can help you with your assignments if you will. For the first time in your career it makes a difference. When the communication gets stifled and you’re on an island and you have to perform and know your craft inside and out like that, it’ll stress you if you’re not accustomed to it. That’s why experience is experience.
What are some of your concerns coming out of Saturday?
The concern I had on Saturday is we didn’t move the ball offensively. That’s my concern. I think the defense was on the field too long. And that’s kind of it. We got hit with a couple of deep balls. But one of them we got hit on we had double coverage. The guy went up and made a play. I really don’t have much to say. You guys saw it, I saw it. It doesn’t take a genius to see that. We’re in the right coverage, we’ve got two guys right there, the guy made a spectacular throw and a spectacular catch. You’ve got to move on.
We had a couple of critical PIs – pass interference calls. I’m not here to judge calls, but I’m telling you. Wow, we’re making a play on the ball and so we’ve got to coach through that. Those created some really big plays, so when the offense had terrible field position – terrible!. We already can duly document that. We have a seven-point kickoff return swing, so not only do we not get the seven, then we get the penalty attached to us. Then on the next series we’re offside. So we’ve got a really tough field position, so we’re punting. The percentage of moving the ball from inside your 20, the stats on that are incredibly poor. It’s a loser deal. Then we’re punting and putting the defense on a short field. So the defense is playing on a short field, and the offense is playing on a long field. Those are not good things. And I think lack of productivity offensively left our defense on the field too long.
I would’ve like to see that game – which I thought was really realistic – be a 14-7 game at halftime. I think that was very realistic of where that should’ve been … but instead it was a 21-0 game at halftime and those 21 points came off what I just talked about. I don’t think we had any scheme issue. There was no personnel issue. I really think what it was was a lack of productivity on offense, poor field position which put the defense at real risk. When you get out there and you start getting fatigued and you’re out there too long, these things happen. It was something that happened to us in our first bowl game, back when we played Arizona in year one. Very, very similar. Those things can happen. You’ve got to be able to sustain drives and get first downs and get your defense off the field and put their offense on a long field. And not give them the ability to make a completion or one play and all of sudden you’re in striking distance. That’s a huge momentum boost. There’s a psychology to playing on a short field. Those are my thoughts right there. Shoot. Stop the run – we played pretty well against the run until toward the end of the game. What about the throws? Like I said, right off the bat there’s three plays that turned into huge gains and first downs – two PIs and a deep ball – that counted for a large, large amount of that surge that created that momentum.
About your goal of 200 yards rushing every game and what’s the missing key …
That’s one of the biggest things bothering me right there … It’s pretty easy: we’re young up front and we’re not handling well right now some of the things that are going on. I think that I’ve got to do a better job of simplifying the run game, because we can’t handle multiple – I know it sounds like, hey, it’s just running in the middle. Well, it’s not. There’s zone schemes, gap schemes, isolation schemes. There’s all sorts of things you do. And I’ve got to do a better job of simplifying and giving our guys a better chance to continue to fire off the ball and be able to pick up pressures and movements and keep things going. When we know exactly what we’re doing – everybody – and they’ve repped it over and over and over again, we are able to get some good surge. What we’re suffering from right now is a little bit of lack of continuity. I’ve got to get Chris (Lindstrom) healthy again. He doesn’t practice during the week right now and he’s too young for that to happen. These guys have got to practice together and get those reps. We’re not getting the reps and you get in the game and it happens so fast. The disruption … we’ve got to play better up front. To answer your question, we’ve got to play better up front. We’ve got good backs, we can throw good play-action passes, but we’re off schedule. That’s the short of it: we’re off schedule and it’s hurting us. And we’ve got to go back and re-establish our run game. Probably lessen what we’re carrying and rep it more and get better at it.
I felt like the Georgia Tech game we were a couple of blocks away from really hitting it. I felt the same thing about UMass. And then we went to Virginia Tech, they have a very unique style of defense so we really tried to game-plan that defense a little bit. It didn’t help us in the run game. We’re too young. We’ve got to just stay in a groove and get better. That’s really where our charges are going to be right now. When you play Virginia Tech, the way you beat them – and we beat them two years – is you’ve got to go at them with the run game, you’ve got to keep them in that game, get your three and your four yards, get yourself to a very manageable third down. Take your shots where you can, get them in the second half, play great defense and then try to get them in the end. Because if you get enough shots at them, the way they play – they’re so pressure oriented, every once in a while they’ll miss a gap and you’ll hit that gap. And we probably got away from that a little bit, that formula.
Part of the reason is we felt like we could throw the ball a bit better. But we didn’t throw the ball very well in that game, and when you do that, you get away from that mindset against a team like that, you try to keep yourself, you try to always say if I get three and I get three that’s six, and I’m in third and manageable now, as opposed to third and long. So, in an effort to really have a little bit more balance and an effort to say we have some guys who can make some plays in the throw game, we did that a little too much. And I think in a game like that it hurt us. That’s where I think we probably under evaluated – we probably thought we could throw that thing a little better than we did. We didn’t get off man coverage very well. So those are the real technical things I see.
How critical are the next two games, for you personally and the team …
The personal thing doesn’t mean a thing to me. We’ve got a game on Saturday and we’ll go win the game. That’s the only way I think about things. There’s a game to be played – go win the game. That’s our charge. Every game’s critical. Every game is critical. This game, this Saturday, go win this game. That mindset is what I’ve known since high school playing high school football. I don’t know any different. That’s it. I love my team. I love coaching this team. I like their work ethic. I know in my heart this group of guys is going to continue to get better. We’re talking about the offensive line. There’s going to come a day when this is going to be an outstanding offensive line. My job, our job, is to make that happen as fast as we can. That’s what occupies my brain right now: development of our football team.
Are they on the right track?
We got stuff going well in the first two games. We didn’t play well in Saturday’s game. I don’t need Wagner or Buffalo to justify anything. I know exactly what happened in last week’s game. We didn’t play well. We got our (butts) beat. That’s what happened, OK? We showed great progress game one, game two. I think everything was duly documented. Our ability to throw the ball, our ability to strike balance, the way we played on both sides of the ball, the speed with which we played, how fast we were playing, our team’s athleticism – it’s all real. It wasn’t make-believe. For all the things I’ve spent time talking about here, that didn’t happen on Saturday. That’s ultimately my responsibility and it didn’t happen. We didn’t play well. We went into a very hostile environment and did not play well. And that’s what happened to us. OK? We’ve got to move on.
Now it’s time to go play Wagner. It could be anybody. I don’t care who we’re playing. It wouldn’t matter who we’re playing. The difference for us is we didn’t play those teams early, but we’ve got to go play now. And our goal is we’ve got to go be the best BC team we can be. That’s what they’re concerned about. I met with the seniors, I met with our guys – they want to get back to work and really grind at their craft to get better. We all do. We want to get back going again. And that’s what football is. You can’t wait. We’re looking forward to it. This Saturday, this game, getting in the locker room and playing well enough so we can sing the fight song in the locker room. That’s how my brain works. It doesn’t work any differently than that.
What’s kept Chris Lindstrom out of practice?
Ankle. He had a high ankle sprain in training camp and missed the last week or so of training camp. And those things take a while to overcome and then he rolled the other ankle. So he’s got two ankles right now, so it’s hard. Hard to push off, hard to drive, hard to practice. If you practice, you’re trying to get strong in there for the next game. But you’re talking about a young guy, so he’s not getting any reps. Everybody’s got these issues. It’s not isolated to us. It’s football. But when you have a young offensive line, you want all those reps. It’s as simple as that.
The good news is these are all recoverable things and the bad news is they can stop your growth a little bit until you get yourself healthy again. The good news is it’s not going to stop you from playing over time, hopefully. You get to your bye week sometimes and these nagging things get a chance to put them away at that point in time, which is good thing. And we’re anxious to get home and play at home. We just can’t wait to play at home. It’s hard to believe we’re going into the fourth game of the year and we haven’t been in our home stadium yet. That’ll be a good thing to play at home. The familiarity, that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. So we’re excited. I think our guys are excited for that, and looking forward to it. I am too.
How much practice as Chris Lindstrom missed?
He’s completely out of practice for a while, then limited. And limited sometimes means you can’t take the full-speed contact reps which are the ones that matter. The other ones are just assignment reps. It’s one thing to know your assignment, and it’s another to do it full speed when you’re flying. That’s the world of the O-Line. The world of the O-Line is to be able to do it at a full speed level when things are flying around 100 miles per hour. That’s the world of the O-Line that they live in every day. When people say we’re going to be in uppers today. No lowers. For the offensive line, what does that mean? Nothing. It’s still live. You know what I mean? It’s a different world. It’s a tough world.
How much does Saturday make you re-evaluate things moving forward?
Sometimes you try to gauge where you are as team, your ability to handle things – game planning. How much mental load you can handle. You don’t know that sometimes until you load them. When you’re working out. ‘I’m doing two plates. Can I do three?’ You try three. ‘Oh I can’t do three.’ So you go back to two. Problem is in our game, it’s sometimes hard to shift. But I would say our goal is simply this, the take-away would be this: I want to do a little less. I want to really focus on our fundamentals. Less focus on scheme, more focus on fundamentals and playing as fast as we can play. Try to get rid of as many mistakes as we can on the field. I think that will help us. I’m not saying that’s the answer to all the ails that happened on Saturday, I’m saying that’s something we need to do – on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game.
When you get into those tough, pressure-packed games, you’ve got to be able to hold on to your fundamentals. Sometimes what happens is when it gets really hot, so to speak – we use the term rat trap – you come out of your fundamentals. The key is your fundamentals are so engrained, it’s like brushing your teeth. No matter what happens, you might be so exhausted, you might be half out of it, but it’s like brushing your teeth. You brush your teeth every day. Every day. The goal in football is that.
Along the way with that, you’re trying to create some schemes, some game plans. Some people call it specials, tricks. That’s one piece of it. The other is just basic scheme. Let’s do this out of this formation, or let’s do this adjustment. Let’s man block it instead of zone block it. A gazillion things we could talk about right now. And every time you do it out of a different formation, that means someone else has got a rep somewhere in there they haven’t taken in a certain way before. And if they don’t have any banked, then it can lead to mistakes. So you’re always a little bit of a struggle of can we do this? Is it a little too much or can we do it?
I’ve been on all sides of that. I remember a couple of years ago when we played USC, that week we put in a Wham scheme. It ended up working out great. We executed the Wham scheme very good. Now had that failed, we would’ve said we wasted too much time on the Wham scheme. Did we really need that? That’s the dialogue you have with yourself. You don’t want to have too much of that dialogue. And when you play sometimes a specialty offense or a specialty defense, you find yourself a little bit more sometimes than you can handle. You don’t know if you can handle it because when you evaluated it, it’s too late. Like everybody, like you do in your business, you make your educated calculations on what you think you can do and sometimes you’re right on the money and sometimes you’re not. And that’s part of evaluation. That’s why they call it evaluate. I would say to you that I think less would be better and we’re going to hone in on that right now and be the best fundamental, best, fastest team that we can put together on Saturday.
My goal is to come in and have a dialogue with you guys and do the best I can to be candid with you and talk about football, and I hope that can be appreciated. I know that always leads yourself open to further evaluation of every little thing you say, but I’d rather do that than come up here and, ‘Yup. Nope. Yup. Yup. Nope. See you later,’ and walk out the door. I don’t think that helps anybody. So that’s my mindset. You guys come out here and I appreciate you coming out here so I want to give you everything I can feel I can give you. So, that’s what I just did. That’s what I know.