Steve Addazio kicked off Syracuse week by addressing the media yesterday. The transcript for this week’s press conference, as always, provided by BCEagles.com and TheACC.com. To the tape:
COACH ADDAZIO: All right, guys. Good morning.
Week off's been great. Bye week has been a good opportunity for us to get some players some much-needed treatment and rest, which was good for us. We were able to get a head start, which was good for us.
We're heading into obviously Syracuse week here. They had a fine game against Virginia Tech. Thought they played at a high level. Just another reminder that every week in college football, man, you have to show up and you got to bring your A game. That's just the way it is.
I thought Syracuse brought their A game, and they played well on both sides of the ball. I thought they competed at a high level, out-competed their opponent in that football game.
Offensively I think the quarterback, Eric Dungey, is a very, very good football player. I've thought that for two years now. He's a play-maker. He's a baller. He makes that team go, whether it's with his feet or with his arm.
I think Strickland, the running back, is a very talented guy. I think they got a really good corps of receivers out there. So they're matched up to their skill set right now.
They have a quarterback that can move around and move the ball and runs it. They got some receivers, you know, that can go up and grab the ball for them. So I think that's matched up and I think they're talented.
Passing-wise, they're ninth in the country at 346 yards per game. Rushing-wise they're 109th in the country. On defense, I really thought that's where I saw them really improve and play really well.
Statistically they're 113th in total defense, 93 against the run, 111 against the pass. I thought they played an outstanding football team and shut them down, and that's what matters.
Zaire Franklin, the middle linebacker, I've known him since I was at Temple. Thought he was a talented player then. He is extremely talented. I think he's one of the better players on defense. I think the nose guard, Steve Clark, is outstanding. So they've got some real good players there.
I thought they played really, really well Saturday in the Dome. They pose a lot of challenges. They have good skill players. They're playing at an emotional high level right now. We're very well-aware of that and know how tough this game will be on any front just by the mere fact it's Boston College and Syracuse. Those games are always really tough and always seem to come down to the wire.
We're fortunate and excited about the fact that we have them here at home. We're looking forward to a continuation of great preparation and a great week.
Q. Coming off the bye, good for everybody to deal with bumps and bruises?
COACH ADDAZIO: Yeah, it was great. Honestly, if we had to play last week, it would have been really problematic. But we've got a bunch of guys that hopefully we'll have all back here for Syracuse, which is a good thing.
I mean, we played the last game without our starting left tackle and our starting center after quarter one. We were able to get them both back. That in itself is certainly a good thing.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH ADDAZIO: They got banged up, you know. Aaron got hurt during the week in practice, tweaked his knee. John tweaked his ankle. But they're back and they're ready to roll.
Q. When you look at a team like Syracuse, are there things you can bring from (indiscernible)?
COACH ADDAZIO: Yeah, I mean, Syracuse did what they did. They're kind of who they are. I thought they played really hard. They really battled. It looked like to me they went after the game.
You got to show up every Saturday. You got to go. I mean, you can't just come up and think that you're going to show up somewhere and it's just going to happen.
Syracuse came in there with a mindset, was at home in the Dome. I'm been in that place many times. As that game went on, they realized, Hey, we got a great opportunity here. They just kept playing harder and harder and harder, and the other team wasn't able to respond.
It's a reminder that on any given Saturday, when you go in, you've got to be ready to roll. College football, man, it's funny how that thing can go.
You go on the road like that, you go up to that place on the road, that's a hard place to play on the road. It really is. It's a different feel, a different vibe. It is. I've seen it happen before several times up there.
So, again, I thought Syracuse played really, really well. They had an opportunity. They seized it. They out-competed them on both sides, and had a higher energy level. Plain and simple.
Q. Your situation now, this is where the second half has to begin. Almost like a must-win situation for you.
COACH ADDAZIO: You know, they're all must wins, they really are. Nowadays, every game has got so much importance. I really look at it every week like you go everything you have every week. I don't really look at it much different than that.
This is a big game because it's the one that we're playing. It's Syracuse. That's a northeast natural rival game for us. They're big.
I focus a lot more on, you know, where we need to improve, where we need to get better, where our mistakes were, how do you correct those mistakes. I'm constantly interested in the development of our team. Sometimes it's easy to see, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's reflected in whatever stats. Sometimes it's not.
I want to see the team continue to develop and get better. They're all important, as you mention. As you start to go into the back half of the season, you only got so many shots left. It's just the simple fact of what it is.
We played some pretty good teams. We'll continue to do that. It's not going away. I mean, the facts are that we've got six games ahead of us, and they're all tough, every one of them.
Q. Talk about the significance of Tyler Rouse in the punt return game. Tops the ACC right now.
COACH ADDAZIO: Yeah, I think Tyler's done a great job there. He's done a great job everywhere, to tell you the truth. He's just a highly accountable guy. You give him a job to do, he does that job exactly the way you want it to be done.
I know this game has always got special importance to him, being from Syracuse. He's really intently focused on Saturday. Love nothing more than to try to get him loose in the punt return game.
Q. There are four new coaches in the league. First of all, is there anything more challenging than preparing for a new coach or at this point in the season do you have enough to go on? The other question is, when there's kind of an influx of new coaching ideas and talent, does that change the character of the league? You've seen new things going on in the league.
COACH ADDAZIO: Not really. I'm a big believer, always have been, the ACC's got good players, okay? It's a player-driven game. They got good players. I think the key is trying to get your players to match up to what their skill sets are. I think it's critically important.
I think we've got really good coaches in the ACC. I think the ACC right now is the most dominant conference in the country. I stand by that statement.
I think we've got a lot of teams on the top that are just athletic and fast and can play with anybody. That's what I see.
I think you asked me about new coaches, new schemes. I think at this point in time, I mean, nothing is that new. Like I watch what Clemson does. Those things we were doing it four years ago. I think they do it really well. I think their staff is great. I love Dabo. I think what he's doing is fantastic. They've got really good players. That quarterback is really talented.
Those quarterbacks drive a lot. It's like a couple years ago, we had Murphy. He was a really talented runner. We were a really good running team, one of the best running teams in the country. He was super talented. He was a game-changer. He was a game-breaker. An eraser, if you will. A year before that, Andre was an eraser.
These teams have some erasers. I think Syracuse has an eraser in their wide receiver. He's an eraser guy. When the ball is up in the air, he's up vertical getting the ball. I mean, throwing the ball vertically down the field is throwing the ball vertically down the field. You got a quarterback that can make that throw, and they do, and a receiver that can go up and take that ball out of the sky.
I think when you watch us against Clemson a couple weeks ago, they connected on one play. I mean, I don't know what to say. It was a perfect throw and a perfect catch. Diving, outstretched. You got to appreciate that for what that is. That's two players just making a great play, two veteran guys, two big-time guys.
So I think by this time, you know, scheme-wise you have enough film. But you got to stop it. Some guys are really hard to stop. It's not so much that you don't know what's coming, it's stopping it, trying to make enough decisions to make that happen.
You just got to play hard. Virginia Tech has some highly skilled guys out there. But it just wasn't happening. But you have those days. Those days occur. Then those days occur where teams are playing lights-out. You get them on both ends.
So I think the key right now is, I don't think there's any great mysteries about what Syracuse is doing. But defending it is another thing. They're going to go fast, they're going to go tempo and they're going to lay that ball up there and we're going to be up in the air or they're going to be up in the air. One of those things is going to happen.
But it won't be a mystery. It's going to be vertical in the air on us. That's going to happen. We got to go make the play and change up what we're doing, play some zone, play some man, do some different things.
It just comes down to it's a players' game. I believe it's a quarterback's game. I believe that. You look around college football, quarterback's playing at a high level, team's playing at a high level. There's a lot to it, so...
Seen it all, all fronts.
Q. Do you see any changes in personnel or strategy when you're going up against another one of these big quarterbacks?
COACH ADDAZIO: I know on both we mixed it up. We played a mixture of man and zone. It's kind of interesting in the game. We played man on the big throw and catch to Clemson and we played zone on another one. I think you mix it up.
Like I said, we've been out of position a couple of times, but not a lot. I've seen a lot of catches go up there where we're right where we need to be, but now we got to make the play. We make it or they make it. That's the nature of that beast a little bit.
But I'd say there's no question that we've had some hot hands against us. We play Clemson, they turned it over five times before our game, then the game after they turned it over four times, but in our game not so much. I think we've gotten people's great shots, which is great, and that's what it is. We just got to go make the plays. Simple as that.
Q. (Connor), as a person, what have you learned about him since his time here on the field and off the field?
COACH ADDAZIO: I think he's a bright guy. Loves football. Very, very competitive. Very competitive. Has been a tough year for him this year. He's been nicked up. I don't think he's practiced a full week since Ireland. He's been dealing with different shoulder deals. He's been out every week since Ireland.
He's able to rally back for the games. He's been dinged up pretty good, but he keeps rolling. He's a tough kid. He's a tough kid. He loves football.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH ADDAZIO: Pressure to win Saturday. Every game has unbelievable importance, as I said. That's not cliché. That's just is what it is. I don't care who you're playing. Doesn't matter who we're playing, they get all your focus. Right now all my focus is playing Syracuse.
I don't really look into anything beyond that, around it, behind it. It's just, Let's get a great plan together, let's go and play as fast and hard as we can, let's go beat Syracuse. That's our goal. That's the way I think every coach in the country approaches it. I don't think it's any different.
I think if you start jumping around, it just isn't productive. I've never been around anything different than that. I've never seen or heard anything different than that, ever.
I think the minute you do that, you run amuck. All of a sudden you walk into a game, guys are going through motions, not playing real hard because they're worrying about the next game or something. That happens. It's human nature.
You can't let it. You just got to go about your business. That's why I think coaches like routine.
Q. Do the players have to do the same thing, too? They can get distracted.
COACH ADDAZIO: Just think it's human nature. Human nature is what we're talking about. When it's really good, you think you're really good. If it's not going good, you think you're not.
It is what it is. Go practice, go as hard as you can, watch the tape, believe what you see. What you're seeing on the tape is usually what is. Just continue to go after each game one week at a time. That's the only thing you can do. It has to be that way because otherwise, if you don't keep that focus and keep that routine, outside forces, human nature starts to happen.
It's like I remember we beat USC here a couple years ago. You could just see it. All week, everybody patting everybody on the back. It's going to be really hard the next week. I think we were playing Maine if I remember correctly. It was going to be really hard because human nature sets in. You're fighting all week to fight that off.
So it can be on a positive side or a negative side. You talk about it, you address it, you go after it. That's what you do.