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October 8, 2014

Dave Clawson

DAVE CLAWSON:  Yeah, we're enjoying the bye week here and trying to get better as a program.  For the players I think it's good to give them some time off and allow them to get healthy and catch up on a lot of their academics, and we'll have a couple of practices this week and more fundamental practices, not really geared towards game prep.  But I think it's always good at the midpoint in the season to go back and make sure you get in individual periods and get back to a good fundamental base, and certainly as a staff it's been great to get out and recruit and look at players that will be the future of our program, and we'll start preparing for Syracuse this weekend.
Any questions?

Q.  This week you said you're going to have a few practices, work on some fundamentals.  What are some things that you want to assess this week and get the team moving in the right direction?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Well, I think part of it is just getting to a fundamental base.  I think as you start game planning, you see different defenses, sometimes you turn on the film and you're not performing on a fundamental level the way you want.  And there's things we need to do in every area.  Certainly on offense it's finding ways of running the football.  We have to become more successful in that regard and get some balance in our offense.  Certainly on defense there's times that our fundamentals up front, we're not making plays in space that we need to make.  And in the kicking game there's some things we need to work on, too.
I think it's kind of good to get in here and go back and watch some of the film and look at some of the cut‑ups and say, okay, what are we doing well, what are we not doing well, and what does the identity of our football team have to be moving forward, especially knowing that this is our first six games as a staff coaching here.  I think we have a much better idea of what our relative strengths are and things we clearly need to get better at.

Q.  And then as far as the way that the season has gone where there's a loss and a win and a loss and a win, now two losses in a row, where do you see the disconnect being that your team can do what they need to do and then the next week they seem to struggle a little bit more?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Well, part of it is certainly level of competition.  I think there's some games that we've matched up pretty well with teams from a personnel standpoint, and those games we've done a lot of things we wanted to do and have found ways to win the games.  There's certainly been a game or two we didn't execute as well as we needed to, and there's been a handful of games that we were just a little bit overwhelmed from a personnel standpoint.
I don't look at the season saying, geez, we played well, we won, we didn't play well, we lost.  Sometimes the ability of your opponent has a lot to do with this.  These past two weeks we've played two really good football teams.  Florida State has won 21 straight games, and they're the defending national champs, and Louisville has the No.1 defense in the country.  In those games you've got to execute at such a high level, and we obviously didn't do that.

Q.  You talk about addressing areas in the off week.  Can you talk about the running game, and what can you do in a week to get that going?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Again, I mean, I've watched every‑‑ I've re‑watched every run play from this year.  Again, you go into a season as a new staff, and you're not sure what your relative strengths are.  I think the first four non‑conference games gave us a little bit of an indicator, and now that we've stepped into ACC play, there's good teams in this league and very good defensive linemen, and maybe some of the things we felt like we could do up front we're finding against some of the better teams in the league, that those are some challenging match‑ups for us.
Again, we've just got to look, and we can't get caught up in what we can't do.  We've got to start finding the things that we can do and try to emphasize those things more.  Maybe we're a year or two away from doing some of those other things that we'd like to do that we're just not capable of right now.

Q.  One of the things you have done relatively well is play defense.  You go two minutes to go with the No.1 team in the country, two minutes in the first half to play, and you're tied.  Can you talk about how well your defense has played under sometimes difficult circumstances since they've had to be on the field so much?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Yeah, I mean, if you consider the amount of snaps they've played, I mean, those guys have done a nice job for us.  We've got some good players on that side of the football and guys that have played a fair amount of football, and we've got more experience over there.  We're doing a good job of disrupting the football.  We're creating turnovers.  We're finding ways of getting off the field, and that's been really the best thing, I think.  Sometimes when you watch the film, it's never as clean as you'd like, but guys are finding ways of getting off of blocks, and there's plays that Florida State has everybody blocked and they've got a nice run alley, but we've got one guy who gets off a block and makes a nice tackle in the backfield, and it's minus two, and maybe for eight guys that play didn't grade out well, one guy got off a block, made a play, and that's what you have to do if you're a good defensive team.  At times guys will just within the scheme overwhelm their opponent.
So again, I'm proud of how hard they're playing, but I'm proud of how hard we're playing on offense, just the results aren't there right now.  Again, when the film goes on, I don't see guys not giving effort or not giving us their best.  On that side of the ball we're not as far along from a personnel standpoint as we are on defense.

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