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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCE


September 17, 2014


David Cutcliffe


COACH CUTCLIFFE:¬† The first thing I would say is just how impressed I've been with Coach Johnson, his staff, their team.¬† Looking at last year's tape, certainly there was a reason they were a bowl team.¬† Looking at them this year, a lot of athletes, a lot of speed, a very aggressive‑natured team.¬† Defense that will take the ball away from you, an offense that will throw the ball down the field.¬† They'll throw vertical after vertical.¬† They have backs, tight ends, quarterback that are playing well.¬† Very impressive job what they've done at Tulane and a very impressive team.
We have really focused on trying to become a better team ourselves this weekend.  I think we're going to have to do that to be successful.
With that, I'll take any questions.

Q.  I have something that's bothering me because it's a statistical oddity.  I was looking at the ACC stats.  You're right in the middle of the pack in terms of total yards given up.  Dead last in red zone defense.  Every time the opponent has been in the red zone, they've scored.  Yet you're first in the ACC in scoring defense.  How does all that fit together?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  Well, it's football.  It's a combination of a lot of things.  We've not turned the ball over on offense, so we haven't given people a short field.  Our defense does bend at times, but we've avoided breaking.  We forced field goal attempts, et cetera.  Our kicking game has given teams a long field to deal with.  Again, the further away they are from our end zone, the less chance they have of scoring.
There's some things we definitively have got to do better and defend better.  But ultimately the name of the game is points per game.  That is it.  Everything you try to do as a team is you try to average more points per game than the opponent does every week independently.
That's a positive.  But, again, it shows you a lot of things we've got to work on to get better.

Q.¬† Last week you beat a Big 12 team.¬† The ACC is 4‑2 against the other power conferences.¬† I know you're more concerned with your team than anything else, but how much as a coach looking at the league are you reflecting on how the league is doing against the other power conferences or overall outside the league?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  I pay attention to it.  I pull for our people.  We watched the Ohio State game when Virginia Tech was in Columbus.  We were on the bus in Troy.  All of us were pulling for Virginia Tech.  We want to see our people do well.
I have great respect for the coaches in our league, the teams.  This is my seventh year now.  I think we're the best we've been top to bottom.
All of us are trying to get better.  A lot of us battled our way off the bottom, still have a long way to go in trying to get better.  But last year was not a flash in the pan.  It wasn't an accident that the national champion came from this league, we had two BCS bowl wins, 11 total bowl teams.  We've got a good league regardless of what occurs.
But I'm proud of it, so I do pay attention to it.  Obviously you focus on yourself.  But when I settle down, I'm a voter.  I try to spend about 45 minutes of real quality time looking at all of college football on Sunday morning, part of my Sunday morning routine, I'm certainly going to pay attention to what is happening in the ACC.

Q.  In light of Shaun Wilson's big game last week, do you look at him in a different way saying I have a workhorse back now?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  We're going to still stay in the same rotation.  It's part of the reason he had as much success as he did.  We're going to keep our guys fresh.  We're going to play our guys.  He certainly is a part of our plan.
We talked about it going into last week, getting him in the game quicker and earlier, which we did, which paid off.  And Joe Ajeigbe as well.  Shaun will get his touches and carries.  We're going to try to put him in good position to be successful.
But we're not going to have a back in our system that's going to carry the ball 20 or 25 times in a game.

Q.¬† His great performance last Saturday, what is the explanation for that?¬† Did you see signs of this in the pre‑season?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  He's played really, really well up to this point.  He's a true freshman.  He does get better.  He gets better every game, every week.
We feel like he has a lot of special talents.¬† He's got great vision, incredible short‑space quickness at the beginning of a run.¬† We all knew if he breaks the line of scrimmage, he's got such great top‑end speed, he can take it to the house every time he touches it.¬† Those opportunities presented themselves against Kansas.¬† He certainly just took advantage of it.¬† Once he's in their secondary, they didn't have anybody that could catch him.

Q.  What do you see from Tanner Lee on film?  What kind of threat does he pose?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  He's a passer.  He's a big, good pocket passer.  He still can run some.  He's not going to major in running the football.
What I see is he's got great vision downfield, he's courageous in the pocket, keeps his eyes where they should be, has a big offensive line in front of him.¬† He's 6'4".¬† He's one of the best seam throwers we've seen since we've been here.¬† He really has a knack of throwing vertical seams and vertical balls down the field.¬† He's an accurate deep‑ball guy.¬† He poses a lot of threats.¬† One of those guys that can get hot on you and pick you apart.

Q.  When you do film evaluation of them, does it help at all that one of their games is against an ACC team that you're familiar with?  Does that help illuminate what they're doing at all?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  It does.  Georgia Tech's defense versus their offense, but it does nothing for us of Georgia Tech's offense versus their defense.  You kind of get half a game out of that.
But it does help us to kind of gauge them against Tech a little bit, because we do know Georgia Tech's personnel, how we might match up, et cetera.
Again, that other side, we get nothing out of it.  We don't even look at it.  I looked at it briefly, but really don't look at it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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