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Head Coach Steve Addazio's Press Conference For Duke Week

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What did the head coach have to say?

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Statement...
"It's great to be 3-1. A lot of teams wish they could be 3-1. That's where we are. We have a lot of improvement to do, much like we thought we would at this time of year with this team, given the fact of the number of injuries we have had. We're moving along."

Recapping the Northern Illinois win...

"We played a really good football team in Northern Illinois, like we said they would be. We said they would be physical, they'd be tough and we knew the strength of their team would be on defense. That was the case.

"I will start with offense. As I said, you have the stats. We rushed for 234 [yards]. We had five explosives runs. We had three explosive passes. Our time of possession was 38 minutes. We had 18 first downs. That's a total of eight explosives for 146 yards and two touchdowns. We had a couple of good drives. We also had some poor drives. We missed some opportunities: a couple of play actions that were there, wide-open, and that is where we need to get better. We are very inconsistent right now and that has a lot to do with a lot of things. Most specifically, that would be the youth of our unit coupled with some obviously very key injuries right now.

"On defense, we held them to 72 yards rushing, 81 yards passing; they were of 3-of-15 on third- and fourth-down conversions, which is outstanding. I thought we played great on defense all day and I felt like we should have played great on defense all day. I thought we played against a unit that our defense would do well against.

"On special teams, Sherman [Alston] had two returns for 21 yards average which was good. We wanted to get better there. He had the one where he slipped, which is too bad. Other than that, he would have had a pretty good day on punt returns. We have a young freshman [Colton Lichtenberg] who got involved that kicked a critical field goal, which is great. Obviously, the thing that wasn't so great was the kickoff return [for a touchdown] at the end. The only way we could have let them into the game was through that play and we did that. We kicked a poor kick to about the 30 and the thing was gone, which we have to get handled. That is where we were regarding last week's game. But again, they were a quality opponent."

On the matchup against Duke...
"We're 3-1. The best thing about being 3-1 is you have a chance to be 4-1. We are getting ready to play a Duke team. Duke is outstanding. They are a really good football team. Start with the defense. They're the number 10 in total defense in the country -- number 29 against the run and number 14 against the pass. The strength and experience of their defense is in the secondary. They return three starters. Jeremy Cash is an outside linebacker; a walkout backer. I think he is a hell of a player. He was a wrecking crew against Georgia Tech. I think he is a force to be reckoned with. I really do. He is all over the field. I think DeVon Edwards, their free safety who is also a kick returner, is excellent. The cornerback, Breon Borders, is an excellent player and I think inside, Carlos Wray, the defensive tackle, is a real run stopper. I think he is a very good football player.

"On offense, I think they are excellent. They are averaging 209 yards rushing per game and 239 passing. I like their quarterback, [Thomas] Sirk. He is a dual threat guy. He can run, he can throw. He has good size: six four, 220 pounds. The two running backs -- [Shaquille] Powell and [Shaun] Wilson -- are really good running backs. The receivers -- [Johnell] Barnes and [T.J.] Rahming -- are excellent. I think they are a run-first offense but the quarterback has an excellent arm. He is a junior; he has some experience and he is a good player.

"They are well coached. They are sound. A good football team and we have got to go on the road and play them, which adds another element that will be a new and interesting element for our team, being that we have a lot of guys who have never played on the road. Those are all the factors going into this game."

On the injuries the offense sustained...
"We will be without Jon Hilliman. Jon Hilliman had surgery on his foot. He'll be lost for an extended period of time.Myles Willis will be questionable. Louis Addazio will be questionable at best. This was a physical game that took a real toll on us from a personnel standpoint. Our offense right now is just getting hit with a lot of injuries. We are now down our two starting tight ends, our quarterback, our starting tailback; we lost our center so we are down a fair amount of guys on offense right now which is a very young offense to begin with. That is something that we can't do anything about other than the fact. It's a little disruptive and it's adding to our lack of execution right now. So it affects everything in those situations. It affects everything you do, especially in the middle of a game. There was one point in the game last week where we down three tailbacks. We closed the game with Rouse. We didn't have anyone else available at that point in time. They were all out. Every one of them. Outlow was out from the beginning of the game. Hilliman was out at that point of the game. And Willis was out in the game at that point. We were down, depleted, pretty good at that point. That is why I give the kids a lot of credit. The kids hung in there, found a way to win given all the adversity. That's a good thing. When you start complaining about wins, it's probably a good thing. You could be complaining about a loss. You are complaining about wins. That is a good thing. Hang on there, battle, find a way to win each week. Dig in, claw, fight and learn how to deal with adversity, which is what the offense is dealing with a lot of right now. Mostly with injuries. And I just breezed by the quarterback position. If you lose your quarterback, you've lost a lot. Especially when the other guys have not taken very many snaps, if any at all. That is where we are."

On Tyler Rouse's ability to take a lot of snaps as the No. 1 back...
"He is (capable of taking 25-30 carries). He is the toughest guy on the entire football team...

"He's a guy that will go 10,000 miles per hour and won't say a word. We'll take him off special teams, which is a shame. He's doing a great job on kickoff team and doing a couple of good things, but you know, we can't afford to risk him. Then you worry now, what young guy is taking his spot on the kickoff team?"

On if the offense will change due to injuries...
"What is changing for us is just really difficult to call a game right now because you are worried about a lot of different things that are going on. You're trying to find a way to win. That's what you're trying to do. Finding a way to win is not turning that ball over. That is how you try and find a way to win. That is really what we are doing. We have a situation going where we are playing two quarterbacks right now. One of the things about playing two quarterbacks right now is that we need to get them both experienced in case we lose one. We can't play one guy right now and then all of a sudden, something happens, and then you have another guy that has never really played before. We have to integrate them. That integration is hard right now because they kind of having a little too different skill sets a little bit. You are trying to deal with that and then their youth. You get one guy that puts the ball on the ground and you try and settle him down a bit. You have to settle him down and then get him back going again. Both those guys had some good moments and they had some tough moments. We threw a play action pass that went 70 yards. We put the ball on the ground on air. You're in with nothing more than just a gut feeling, trying to manage that. It's not that easy. I'm the one on the field looking at the look in their eyes. I have to deal with what I see as an emotional state that I have to deal with. There is a lot to that when you are 17 years old."

On the difference between the two quarterbacks...
"There is nothing like a game: the speed of the game; the intensity of the game. It'll get better each week. If one [quarterback] clearly move that team, we would stay with him. But nothing was clear in that game. What happened is we saw Jeff Smith make some pretty good plays and we saw Troy Flutie make a couple of pretty good passes. But you saw the good and you saw the bad. And it happened right in front of my eyes and your eyes. That, coupled with the fact we have to get them both going. Now, what is that exact mix? I don't know the answer to that and I probably won't know the answer to that for a bit. There are two different skill sets. We want to attack with a little bit of option football. We got Jeff and Troy can do a little bit of everything. But if all of a sudden, one guy turns the ball over, you have to get them out. There are just a few issues in there right now. It's not that easy. In fact, it's pretty hard."

On who to expect as starting quarterback on Saturday...
"I would say we will start with Troy [Flutie]. What that means, I just can't define that. And I'm not going to. I'm going to watch it. But I am going to get them both in the game and they are both going to get experience and I'm going to try and develop both guys and that is what we are going to do. I wish it wasn't that way, to be honest with you, but that is the way it is."

On Jon Hilliman's injury...
"It was during the game when he hurt his foot. He couldn't go. And then after the game, I really just thought we were dealing with some sort of foot sprain. I had no idea that after I left my press conference that I was going to find out that he had a fracture. He will be back but it is going to be an extended period of time. It happened towards the end [of the game]. He made a cut, he planted and that was it. He had it going. We challenged those guys and he had it going. Giveth. Take it away. Move forward. That is where it is."

On Duke's effectiveness against Georgia Tech's ground game...
"Watching the film, first of all it was pouring rain. Not that that has to do anything with the game. It was really bad weather. But secondly, I thought they did a great job of being all over the place. It looked to me, having not watched Georgia Tech prior to that, they looked like they were giving them a lot of looks on defense. They were playing with a lot of grit running to the ball. There was a lot of unblocked defenders at the point of attack. Why? I'm not here to judge or know. There were just a lot of unblocked defenders. I thought Duke played exceptionally well, to their credit. But they are the number-10 ranked defense in the country right now. We are going to face another good defensive team, which is good."

On the productivity of the special teams...
"I talked about Sherm [Alston] and how he was able to get some punt returns going. He had two returns and averaged 10 yards apiece, which was good. He fell down on one of them, which we lost about 30 yards of field position, but I think we are improving there. I don't think we are where we need to be on kickoffs. I am not happy with the kickoff returns. I didn't even mention that Alex Howell is battling an injury. That is what we are dealing with. One of our biggest weapons is our punter and he is hurt so he is out there without practicing and he didn't have his best day. But I think we are improving. But we did give up the big kickoff return. A lot of that had to do with the kick. It was a very short kick.

On Howell's injury...
"He has a quad injury. He had had it for over a week. He just strained his quad kicking."

On getting some traction offensively...

"We did [have some sustained drives]. We are very inconsistent on offense. It's been the same since Maine. Even here, two years ago, we were pretty good up front. And we go down and play what I think was the best defense in America. That was Clemson. I thought that was the best defensive front in the country. There are a lot of plays where our guys were coming off the ball and we weren't getting much done in the run game. We were pretty decent but they were a little better. You have that. That happens. You just can't block them like that. That really hasn't been the case this year. And that is what is maddening. Even against Florida State, we had times when we were knocking them back but we have a lot point of attack issues where there is a mistake, somebody falling off a block, and I'm not just saying the O-Line. It could be a fullback, it could be a tight end. We are very inconsistent.

"You don't want to hear this but the reality is that it has a lot to do with the inexperience. You have to live with that. You have to hope that gets better and sometimes it doesn't get better that quickly. That is what we are really dealing with. Inconsistency. We have had plenty of opportunities and we are missing those opportunities, whether it be a play action pass or a run. We are just one block off, one guy off, one misread off. We are leaving in each game right now, two or three touchdowns. We are leaving them on the field. Without much more, we would have those. The bottom line is they are not happening. We had a few penalties in there. Like a holding penalty or an inopportune holding penalties. We had one two weeks ago, we had one last week down in the red zone where we had the ball down to the 12-yard line and then it comes back. Then what happens is that you are in these games and you are trying to evaluate without turning things over. You just want to be really careful because the goal is not to increase your offensive stats. Your goal is to win. And in my opinion, you play to your defense right now to do that."

On consistency of the defense...
"They are our most veteran unit. That's where all our older players are and they need to be [consistent]. And that's good. They're healthy. They've got all their guys. We're very, very healthy on defense and that's a good thing. It's the luck of the draw. It could easily go the other way. I feel like I jinxed myself saying it, but we're very healthy."

On how injuries have affected offense...

"We're probably down seven or eight guys on offense. We were down our three tailbacks, our two tight ends, our quarterback and our big receiver [against Northern Illinois]. So it's not a lot of bodies right now. It's not an excuse, it's just what it is. We're taking an inexperienced unit and making them even more inexperienced.

"So some of those camp reps that we banked on, those camp reps are gone. I mean, we put a whole camp into [Darius Wade]. That's gone for the year. Now it's almost like we're kind of trying to rebank, which is hard to do.

"So what's happening right now, you're trying to get a little consistent, but all these new bodies are taking you back to the starting point. And you know, you just have to get better. And we are and we will. We got a little better last week, but now we're going to have to revisit some of these injuries. We don't have a tight end with experience to be playing in games."

On benefits of limiting seniors Mehdi Abdesmad and Bobby Swigert thus far...
"We took the approach of not giving [Abdesmad] much of anything in camp. We're just bringing him back slow, same with Bobby Swigert. I think we've done a really good job managing both of those older guys and trying to get the most that we can get from both of them.

"Abdesmad is playing at a very high level right now and Swigert each week, a little bit more, a little bit more, a little bit more. And he wants to go a little bit more and I'm all for it. But those guys, during the week, don't take a lot of practice reps. With those kind of things, you can't beat them up during the week."

On what David Cutcliffe has done at Duke...
"I would say he's revitalized their defense. They're one of the best units in the country. That defense right now. They stuffed Georgia Tech; they stuffed Northwestern. That's the strength of their team. They have a good offense too, but the strength of the team right now is that defense. They're pretty good. When you stuff Georgia Tech's running game, you're doing pretty well."

On growing with BC's youth...

"We'll take another step this week. We'll be better this week than we were before and how we were the week before that. In small increments. We'll just keep improving and hopefully, as we go on, our quarterbacks will get a little more comfortable and get a little bit more confidence and then we can do a little more things. Like we did last week, we opened up the game with a play-action pass. So I think we had a pretty good mindset on that, of course, we had one come back for 70 yards on us. At that point, we probably had that mindset come a little bit down on us.

"But we'll continue on that. We had that mindset back in preseason camp with [Darius Wade]. We had a lot of confidence with him throwing the ball, trying to break him in as a quarterback. He was young too, but we felt like we knew where we were headed with him.

"Right now, we've got to make sure these guys learn to take care of the football. We've got to take care of the football, whether we're running it or throwing it. We've got to take care of that ball. That's the fastest way to get beat. Turn the ball over. You'll see how quick that happens."

On young players getting game reps...

"Here's the beautiful thing, there's a lot of young players getting experience now and that's going to pay dividends for you one day. You'll see. You get better by playing. There'll be a time where we'll have a bunch of guys who've played a lot of football at a relatively young age and we'll be alright. We'll have three quarterbacks who have played some ball; [Wade] still hasn't played much ball, but he's been around a long time. But you'll become a more savvy team.

"But there's always exceptions. A guy like Maurkice Pouncey played for me in Florida and he was exceptional as a freshman. Every once in a while you get lucky with one of those guys."

On being 3-1 after all this early-season adversity...
"I don't like the way we're playing right now. I mean, I like the way we're playing physically. We're going hard and scrappy; that's what I like. That's what stops you from getting upset. You've got to love this football team. But I'd certainly love to be executing at a much higher level on offense right now. But I am happy that we're 3-1, because there are a lot of teams that are not. There are a lot of guys who woke up Sunday morning with some tough losses, and we're able to fight one more time.

"It's going to be this way each week. I'm telling you what I tell our team. And the best part about these kids is that they know it and they own it. Just get ready to scrap and claw and just find a way to win this week. Don't worry about anything else. Clear everything else. Get rid of the noise. Clear the docket. However we have to win, just find a way to get one more point than the other team and you'll be 4-1.

"You can't worry about much beyond that right now. You just can't do that. You're fighting and clawing and that's the mood we're all in right now. And they kind of like it. To their credit, you've got to appreciate that, and I do. Let's just get better. We're getting a little better on offense each week. And we'll continue to get better on offense. It'll happen. As long as we don't take too many more hits. We probably can't handle too many more hits.

On having a late bye week...
"We've got one of the longest to wait for a bye week out of anyone else in the country. So we've got a long way to go here. Who knows, maybe we'll keep growing and finding a way to win and all of a sudden we'll get some guys back. That'd be a heck of a deal.

"I know other teams have bye weeks early, but we've got it right before we play Notre Dame. It's the end of the year. To me, that's the worst time to have one because you're kind of hitting your stride and you're starting to see the end line. Over the next three weeks would have been when you need that bye week. You know, you have kids banged up and you've been going since preseason camp and you need just a minute to put your head up and take a breath real quick. But that's the way it is."

Thanks you to the BC Sports Info Department for the transcript