On Monday, a contemplative Steve Addazio met with the media to discuss the Pittsburgh loss and Saturday's upcoming game against USC. The full transcript is here, but let's hit on the most important questions and answers:
On the Pittsburgh game Friday night...
Just recapping Friday night - the Pitt game - I felt like after watching the tape I was pretty on point with my comments after the game. Defensively, we gave up 303 yards rushing, which is entirely too much. There's other things that we look at obviously. I think an interesting thing we had on defense there is that we had three quarters with 17 points: Touchdown, touchdown, field goal. Three back-to-back drives where we had given up close to 200 yards in one quarter. I think that was a really important thing that happened in that game negatively.
I also think that with the one turnover we got - the interception - we weren't able to convert any points on that. We missed a field goal. We had two wide-open play-action passes that we weren't able to connect on. I think that that segment and the drive before the half where it was 80 yards in 55 seconds and not converting is a really negative thing that happened in the game to us.
I don't think we tackled well in any way, shape or form. I don't think we played well up front on offense. I think you throw all that into the mix. I will at least give our kids credit for battling because with all that, in the end we still had a chance to win that game. It was meaningful time and a meaningful part of the game.
We have to play better up front, on both sides of the ball. We have to tackle better. We can't drop as many passes. We have to connect on our play action passes. You just can't give up that much offense in one quarter and think that's not going to have an effect. Because what happens there is those are all times where you're not really getting any legitimate cracks on offense. You're playing against strong defenses, you have to play strong defense too because there's a lot of three-and-outs and there's a lot of things that occur and you have to keep hanging in there until you crack that rock. Part of hanging in there to crack that rock is opportunities. We didn't get enough of them.
Collectively, we didn't play as well as we should have or could have without taking anything away from the Pittsburgh team. I think they were a solid, strong team. I see some of the games that are being played out there. We played our opening game. I felt like UMass was a better team than people thought they would be and I think that was proved to be true. I think in our second game, a year ago we didn't play the same level team as we did in year two. We played a really quality opponent. In order to beat that kind of opponent - in order to beat Pitt this year - we have to play our `A' game. Anything less than that would not work. And we did not do that.
There's obviously a lot here. First, like Bill, I'm not thrilled with pointing to execution as the sole reason for the loss. I'm also not sure how winnable the Pitt game truly was. Yes BC made a show of things towards the end, but that was a 2-3 score game for much of the game. You never really got the feeling that BC was gonna win after the missed FG following the Daniels INT.
To me, the most frustrating aspect of Friday's loss was the fact that BC had about a week to prepare for a team that looks remarkably similar to them. The BC defense couldn't slow the Pitt rushing attack, while the Pitt defense effectively took away the run and dared Murphy to beat them through the air. That suggests that the game plan was equally as ineffective as the execution. That falls back on the coaching staff.
Oh, and loved the subtle dig at Wake Forest, Coach. #therivalry
On taking on USC this weekend...
Hopefully the strength of our schedule will bring us value in the end. Obviously now as we get ready to play USC. USC is in the top-10 teams in country right now. And they should be. They're an elite team with elite players all over the field. There are more NFL players on that team than you can shake a stick at. So, we're going to go right into the fire. Here we go. We played a really good, really strong Pitt team and now we're going to play one of the finest teams in America. And that's going to happen and we've got to now worry about our game. We have to play the best game we can play. We can't ride the emotional roller coaster of everything, and that's going to be critically important.
People understand the quality of opponents that Boston College as a very young football team is going to encounter in the first three weeks of the season. There are other teams of elite status that don't even come close to that.
We have to fight because in football there's such a thing as momentum. We're trying to create positive momentum, but you also have to look out for negative momentum. We have a young football team, and at times an immature football team. We've got a big mountain to climb in front of us right now and that's the reality of it.
We're taking on USC, let's talk about their offense. They're averaging 215-216 yards a game rushing, 280 yards passing, close to 500 total yards per game 32.5 points per game. Cody Kessler, the quarterback, he's a solid QB. He's a game manager. He throws the ball well. I think he has a tremendous amount of poise. Max Brown is a junior behind him. At running back, they have Javarus Allen and Justin Davis, both really strong running backs with great ability. At wide receiver they're unique. Nelson Aguilar is exceptional. He's a game-breaker. George Farmer and JuJu Smith, the freshman, he's got five receptions for 121 yards, I think they're game-breakers out there. They have a quarterback who can get them the ball. They have a really good offensive line. That usually equates to a really potent offense, and that's what they are: A really potent offense.
We saw an elite back last week; we saw an elite receiver last week. Now, we're going to see that across the board.
On defense they returned seven starters. Last year they were ranked 13th in total defense and 16th in scoring defense. That's what they were last year, and the bulk of their team is back. They were 14th in rushing defense. Week one they beat Fresno State, 52-13. Last week they beat Stanford, which is a really fine, elite team. Obviously everybody hears about Leonard Williams, the defensive tackle; he's projected to be on the top players taken in the draft. He's a great player. But they have a bunch of great players. That defensive line is maybe one of the best I have ever seen as a collection of guys. Hayes Puller linebacker, he's an exceptional player. JR Taddei is a great player. Cravens, the strong safety, has four interceptions on the year. I mean these guys are loaded. Palman, Antoine Woods the nose tackle, these guys are all legitimate, 295-310-pound guys on the interior. This is a really good offense, a really good defense, and one of the elite teams in America.
For Boston College, what we need to do is keep growing, keep developing, and we have to make our team better. We have to do that fundamentally and continue about the growth of our team right now. So it's a very big challenge on the field and off the field and in scheduling. We have to take that challenge on and keep our eye on the target and get ready to roll Saturday night here in our stadium which we will do. We've been in games like this before. A year ago we were in these games. We were in it with Florida State, we were in it at Clemson. I'm grateful that we're at home.
I hope that we're relatively healthy going into this game. Each game we've lost a starting player, so that's taking a young, not-very-deep team and stressing us right now. That's where we are.
I have nothing else to add here except to commend Addazio. I mean, my god does he do his homework on the upcoming opponent. I don't think Spaz ever said anything about that week's opponent that couldn't have been said about roughly half the opponents on the schedule. As Coach said to me last night, "the days of the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants coaches are gone. These guys are a different breed."
On the injury to senior linebacker Sean Duggan...
I don't think he is definitely out. But he is certainly questionable. It's a knee thing; he's got a deep bone contusion. He was and is the command center in the huddle on defense. He'll be back, I just don't know when yet. It's a tough loss for us. The week before we lost our starting right guard, veteran player [Harris Williams]. Now we've lost our middle linebacker. We've been in two really physical games and we're getting ready for a third one.
Definitely a big loss for the BC linebacking corps. Hopefully Duggan can return to the field soon.
On freshman linebacker Connor Stratchan playing...
We've been very impressed with Connor. Like a typical freshman he was injured for a part of camp, so he's got a ways to go to get ready to play against one of the elite offenses in America. I think he's in the same position as the rest of the freshmen; they're going to have a baptism by fire.
The question was about Strachan specifically, but interesting to hear Addazio's take on playing true freshmen more generally. Throws candy at Team #Wade4Maine
On more playing time for everyone...
I think more guys need to and will be playing. I need more of a rotation and I think competition brings out the best in everybody. I want to see more young guys on the field. Everybody gets resistant to playing more young guys because with young guys comes issues and mistakes. I get that. I'm the head coach, I understand. But I feel like we need to play more players. That's where I'm at and what you're going to see. On the defensive and offensive sides, in all the positions. Wide receiver, running back, defensive back, defensive line, linebacker, you name it, you'll see them.
More on playing the young guys. That gentle rustling off in the distance is the sound of redshirts burning.
On Boston College's difficult schedule...
Never mind our out of conference schedule, but our in conference schedule is tough. We play Clemson and Florida State and Virginia Tech. We play USC and Colorado State who has a really, really good football team. We played UMass, not a traditional small school that's a 1A program that's gotten some transfers in there and you're going to see them grow because of that. We are playing an extremely challenging schedule right now. We're coming off of a tough loss and we're doing it playing USC. How many other teams are doing that? But it's what it is and we have to turn it into a positive.
Ehh ... really dislike pointing to the schedule at this point in the season. Yes, Boston College plays in the wrong ACC division. Yes, the program has the misfortune of playing Virginia Tech annually -- the class of the Coastal Division more years than not. In fact, BC may very well end up being the only team in the conference that plays the top five teams this year -- Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Pittsburgh. Still, no one looks at a non-conference schedule of @ UMass, USC, Maine and Colorado State and thinks BC is playing a bunch of world-beaters. It's not N.C. State-levels of awful, but it's certainly manageable.
Addazio even said "It is what it is" ... / shudders
On how to play USC in the upcoming game...
We have a little bit more of a spread run component to our game than we did a year ago, which can be a blessing and a curse because we are still developing who we are, we have a different style quarterback and running back, so we're trying to maximize who we are so there are more quarterback runs in there are things like that. Whereas last year we had to make of what we had. Our bigger freshmen running backs can handle more of a power run game. You're going against maybe one of the top-five defenses in the country. I thought they were really good last year, I think they're better this year. It's hard to run the ball on them. It's really big strong, physical guys who can run. We have to come up with a plan where can move the ball with diversity and play great defense. Because if you think you're going to play against a defense like that and go down and start driving the ball, it's not realistic. I think this is a game where you have to have strong resolve. You need special teams help. When you have a chance to make a big play, you have to make it. It's not going to be pretty. It's going to be a street fight in best case scenario.
Those are the challenges, but it's exciting. You're a competitor. You get to compete against one of the best. Let's go let it hang out and understand where we are. It's a game and an opportunity to compete at the highest level.
After last weekend's debacle, I think we'd all like to see more diversity on offense.
Anything else stand out to you? What do you wish Addazio had addressed? Leave your thoughts below.