STEVE ADDAZIO: We're obviously really excited about playing a great Colorado State team here at home Saturday. I think Coach McElwain has done an unbelievable job with his program. I've watched them, they're really well coached in all three phrases. On offense they're very explosive with their quarterback. He's got a great arm, and they've got a couple of really good running backs and receivers, very talented team on defense, real stout inside, two‑two techniques that are explosive guys. So very, very good football team coming in here off of a bye week with an extra week to prepare, and so we've got to play our "A" game. We've got to really rally together here and to have a great finish or a great week of preparation so we can take this team on and give ourselves an opportunity to get our fourth win.
Q. I just wanted to go into Darius Wade, the true freshman for you at quarterback. I know he was only out there for a very small amount of time, but what have you seen from him, and having the decision to kind of just throw him in there and give him a couple opportunities, what put you in that position to make that decision early on this season?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, we obviously think very highly of Darius. He's a talented guy. We need so get him some reputation. He's the next quarterback in the game, and we run an offense where the quarterback carries the ball, so we've got to find game snaps, so we're always looking for an opportunity to get him on the field. He does an excellent job, like I said, he's a very talented guy, so we're in a foot race to get him as prepared as you can. Like anybody else, until you're in the game, it's not the same.
Q. You said you're looking for your fourth win, obviously the only one coming to Pittsburgh. When you look at this Colorado State team, what are some things you're looking at in practice that despite a 3‑1 start, some areas you want to work on going into this game?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, we're spending a fair amount of time like we always do on tackling. We've got to keep our tackling at a high level, cutting down on the missed assignments, which is the thing that stymies you from an execution, either side of the ball. We're working on our throw game on offense, continue to hone in on that and practice it and get crisp with it. So we're still developing it, obviously like everybody else is.
You know, this is still that meat part of the schedule. Now, this week we were struck down with a bunch of injuries and nicks and bangs and bruises, so we traditionally have been helmet and shoulder pads Sunday and full pads Tuesday, full pads Wednesday, and we weren't able to do that today. We had to take some of that gear off today because we've got to get healthy so we can play fast. I didn't think we played as fast last week. So we're trying to do that. We've got an early game, so these are all some of the things we're working on right now to try to get our players the best chance to play as physical and as tough and as fast as we can.
Q. Just wanted to get an update from you on Bobby Vardaro, and is there any hope that you might be able to get him ready for Saturday?
STEVE ADDAZIO: There is. It seems like he gets better every day, and that's all you can ask for. I think there's some reason for optimism here. It's not a serious deal, it just comes down to how quick he can heal and the short amount of time that you have to turn this over, but he's on schedule and doing well.
Q. In terms of the guys that you're preparing in the event that he isn't able to go, how confident are you that they've been able to pick up what they needed to get done this week?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, they've had a good week and are preparing to play and stand up and do their job. Obviously you lost Harris Williams, who was a veteran player, and if you're going out without Bobby you're going out without your two most veteran guys, but in the same breath we have confidence in the young guys that are stepping up, and that's what football is. You get an opportunity, you've got to capitalize on your opportunity and don't let your teammates down and be prepared, and these guys have been working hard, so we'll be ready to roll.
Q. In talking to Tyler yesterday, he said he was a little bit surprised just how big of an impact he's had in the run game. Is this what you kind of envisioned he would be able to do in this offense?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I mean, he's just multitalented. I mean, yeah, he can do everything. He can throw it, he can run it. He gives us great diversity. You over play the power game, then you've got to watch out for the spread option game. You over play those and you've got to watch out for play action out of both, and of course he can throw it. He's a talented guy. We had hoped that we would have his athleticism and his talent would give us more diversity on offense within our run game because last year we were just a real power run team. We're not just a power run team. We can run power football pretty well, but we can also run some zone and spread option principles which makes the defense defend the whole field.
Q. Can you talk about the process in the spring and in the off‑season of mixing your power run game and putting in the aspects of the read option? What was that trial and error like and the hit and miss?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I mean, I've got a lot of background in it, obviously, so it's just a matter of gaining bank with our team. But the beautiful thing about our system is that up front our linemen are rocking off the ball, blocking our gap schemes and our zone schemes. This is really no difference to them. It's really got more to do with whether the quarterback is carrying it, the tailback is carrying it or the wide receiver is carrying it, kind of like we did at Florida. It's a little bit of acclimation, just learning a couple of different schemes, but it's been great. Really it's a lot of fun. We're really having a lot of fun with it. Tyler has been exposed to this before when he first got to Florida, so he's got some bank in it, so I'm excited. He's growing all the time. In his career he's only had a small amount of starts, so he's a young quarterback with a really, really high ceiling, and he's got a lot of potential. The more he plays, the better he'll get.
Q. What kind of challenges does that Colorado State passing game pose for you and what's your assessment of your own pass rush and pass defense heading into this match‑up?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I think we're doing a great job on our pass rush, and we're much improved in the back end from where we were a year ago, but we're going to be challenged by Colorado State. I mean, they're really good. I mean, they really are. I've been watching them on tape and really respect what they're doing. Garrett Grayson, senior quarterback, is 66 for 112, 993 yards, eight touchdowns. He's a really productive guy, and their receivers are outstanding.
They're a balanced offense. They're going to make you defend the field in the throw game and in the run game. They're a zone team, a wide zone, tight zone team. There will be some real challenges for our defense, and our defense has played well and we'll have to stand up and play well again.
Q. I just wanted to ask you a little bit about what things that are making your defense so effective. You've got one of the best defenses in the country against the run and in total defense. What are the things you're seeing from that group?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, we're pretty diverse on defense. We run a lot of scheme. We're playing hard, running to the ball. We didn't tackle well against Pittsburgh and it cost us dearly. We've worked real hard in practice in full pads tackling every week, and I feel we've gotten better, and I think just the multiplicity, especially early on, is hard. I know as a former offensive line coach, blocking all those schemes can be difficult.
We're playing really hard, and I think every day in practice we go ones versus ones, offense versus defense, and our defense has got to hat it up because our offense is going to roll downhill now, and they've got‑‑ they on defense have got to defend a real hard‑core power game, they've got to defend a zone read game, an option game. So they get challenged every day, and they challenge us.
That part has been really, really good. And in the throw game, I think we're playing better in the back end, and we've got to continue to do that, but we're going to get really challenged this week there, and that's something that's out there for our guys that they know that we've got to really do a good job defending the pass.
Q. What are the reasons you guys do so many different types of things on defense? Is it just to keep the offense off balance? A lot of teams do a lot more reading than you guys from what I understand do, pretty much are going somewhere on every play to keep that offense guessing.
STEVE ADDAZIO: You know, we believe that‑‑ I wanted to be an attack defense here when I came here and pressure. As a former offensive coordinator, it's really hard when you're preparing for teams that are coming after you. The hardest thing on offense‑‑ on defense, whoever‑‑ penetration kills offense, it just does, whether you're trying to run the ball and there's penetration, you're dropping back and there's an extra hat coming in hereafter the quarterback and you're hitting the quarterback and you're getting him out of rhythm. So that's what I believe in, we believe in. There's liabilities to those things. You pit a lot of stress on your coverage. You're going to come after the quarterback, you need to get home. But it's a philosophy, and Don Brown, our defensive coordinator, is phenomenal, had a lot of success with that in his career, and we keep developing it and just trying to get better and better, and we're committed there, we're committed to that.
So I think that's‑‑ you know what your liabilities are, but high risk, high reward.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports