As always, feel free to head on over to BCEagles.com to get the full transcript.
On the Louisville upcoming game...
It's the eighth game of the season. It's really rolling by fast. Especially when you don't have a bye week, it keeps coming at you.
I'll agree on one thing: this season feels like it's flying by. Hard to believe, but it's been over a month since the Maine game. A month really isn't that much time, but it's been seven games since the season began. We're on 2015's back swing, and there's so much that feels incomplete.
You know, coaches always talk about improving through the final week of the season. I feel like some teams have already peaked, some aren't close to peaking, some may never peak, and some may peak all year. Hard to imagine that seven games into the season, we still don't know where BC falls on the spectrum. We can make safe assumptions in some regards, but there are other regards that we're really not sure about. That's something that really requires you to take a step back and reflect.
On the Clemson game...
We're coming off a tough game against Clemson. I thought we made some improvements. It seemed like we played faster on offense. We had a lot of young guys in the game. At times there were five to six true freshmen on the field at the same time. But they played well. We watched the tape and I think they responded well in a tough environment. I think our special teams improved. I'm really excited about our coverage unit. Against a really fast team, we really flipped the field on Saturday night.
It's a good sign that BC is starting to build. The three weeks prior to the Clemson game were tough pills to swallow for a lot of people because there was no sign of progress. This past week, naming the starting quarterback, moving forward with a game plan, starting that end of the season construction—it all adds up to tangible, visible progress.
Against Clemson, Jeff Smith didn't play particularly great, but he didn't play poorly. He didn't commit a turnover. He protected the football. The aspects of the game where he is deficient are easily attributed to needing further work since he's just a kid, a true freshman playing with other young guys. He needs to have better accuracy. He needs to be able to make better reads in the running game. He needs to trust his skills. That's stuff that will get better with age and time as he makes the adjustment to the speed of the game. He's already made some progression. Now he needs to make more.
Don't forget that Clemson was one of those games where BC "should have lost." They're a top five team, in a much better place than the Eagles in all phases of the game. They hung tough before the game got away from them. But in the past three weeks—when did you ever say those words? What needs to be worked on will be worked on, but we're starting to see some positives.
All in all, I thought we played a physical and hard game. I would say in my three years here—with no disrespect to any of the previous teams—this is a hard-playing football team. Obviously we're a young team, so we're having a hard time making explosive plays and we've made some mistakes along the way. That's a sign of a team that's not very [experienced], especially on the offensive side of the ball. But they play hard, which lays the groundowkr for the future, where we know we've got some talent. Now it's about growing that talent and getting experience.
I'm pretty sure this is what I've been preaching to everyone the past few weeks. This team will be good if you trust the process more.
On Louisville's youth...
Yes, they are young like us, but I would say the thing that would be different is that [Louisville] is a very explosive team on both sides of the ball...On defense, the two transfer players, Fields and Harvey-Clemons, are big time players. So they've got this interesting deal going on.
There are some other positions where I think they've probably got some youth. That's where it's more mirrored to us. But I think they've got some veteran skill players on both sides of the ball. So it makes them dynamic.
Devonte Fields is going to have a monster day if BC loses track of him on Saturday. The Big XII Player Of The Year a couple of seasons ago for Texas Christian, he's now at Louisville getting a second chance at big time college football. He occupies a lot of space and is a tackle machine. Florida State was the first time he didn't have three tackles, and he opened the game wreaking havoc on Auburn, Houston, and Clemson. He did damage against NC State. He's going to do damage against Boston College; the trick is to minimize his impact by attacking other sides.
On secondary issues against Clemson...
...all in all, I think our philosophy is that we're a heavy run stopping team. We're really good against the run. One of the reasons we're really good against the run is because we play man coverage in the back end. We load the box. In passing situations, we try to scheme the protections so we can put pressure on the quarterback. We play man to try and force the ball out of their hands quicker than they want to be. A couple of times we got in some max protections where there were truly some one-on-one routes.
I've actually noticed that from the get-go about the Don Brown defense. The cornerbacks have their assignments and guard the receivers one-on-one. Last year, that was a problem because the DBs had a tendency to be crossed up. This year, they've corrected some of that with more athletic defensive backs who might actually have higher ceilings.
One thing I actually remember from the NFL a number of years ago came from the New England Patriots of the mid-2000s. The Patriots went on a run with defensive backs like Randall Gay and Earthwind Moreland and wide receiver Troy Brown playing nickel corner. The Patriots did such a good job of disrupting passing routes by playing one-on-one while the defensive front seven destroyed running games and quarterbacks.
If the front seven can continue to cover the backfield, it will rush throws and allow BC to do more with their pass coverage. As I pointed out on Monday's Key Play, that's exactly what happened in Steven Daniels' interception. The linebacker fell back into coverage, and because someone else got to the QB, it set up a pick. It's not rocket science, but good luck stopping it.
That said, expect BC to play more zone and double down on different schemes. They were caught against Clemson in straight up man-to-man coverage with more athletic receivers, and the DBs paid the price. Against Louisville's skilled receivers, BC will need to lend some more support with the linebackers in the middle and the deep safeties. They'll use slightly altered coverage schemes because the DBs ran into some trouble. That said, the front seven will still need to apply pressure while the back end is tinkered.
On building from Clemson...
I think we played our best all-around game. That wasn't our best defensive game. But in terms of special teams, offense and everything put together, I thought—in a very tough environment against a very good football team—I saw more spurts of good things. That's the best way I can see it.
I like the look in our eyes. I liked the way we competed. I liked all of that. I can't account for the three drives when we were off the field and there was a penalty. That derailed us completely. But I thought we grew as a football team. But I also know it's not necessarily like all of a sudden we're going to be off and running now. You're going to gain ground and then you're going to lose some ground. Experience is something that takes time. So what I think you're going to see is flashes and hopefully more good flashes as we move forward. But I'm not naive enough to think that we're not going to have some missed assignments because that goes with it.
Like I've been saying all along, this team is improving. It's nice to come out of a game and realize you hung with a team that was clearly better than you, yet you still competed hard with them. You can point to the exact areas where you need to improve rather than be faced with a blob mess of suck (I think that's the scientific term for it). It's going to take time, and this team will take steps backward from here. But it's great to see them start moving forward. As more skilled guys come back and as the guys currently playing get more experience, we might be able to see this team gel.
We're onto Louisville.