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October 22, 2014

Dave Clawson

DAVE CLAWSON:  We're looking to bounce back after a disappointing performance last week against Syracuse.  Certainly have to give Syracuse a lot of credit.  They certainly out‑executed us, and it was a good win for them.  I was still disappointed with how we played.
There are some bright spots.  I'm certainly very pleased with our kicking game.  It's been very consistent all year, and really all four of the core units have done a nice job.  Our defense probably might have had their worst performance of the year in terms of overall execution, but fought and scrapped and found a way to give up only one touchdown.
Again, we continue to struggle on offense.  For the first 20 minutes of the game, it was the best we looked all year, in terms of having a run‑pass balance, we had our best drive of the year, and you hate to go back to one play, but the one play where we slid the protection the wrong way, our quarterback gets hit in terms of pick six, and he gets knocked out of the game for the day.  Two‑thirds of our offense happened in the first 20 minutes of the game, and then once John got out of the game, we really‑‑ I don't think we had another decent drive the whole day.  So, again, we continue to look really hard at what we're doing on offense and try to improve, and we'll have to improve this week playing a very veteran and very physical Boston College football team that has played really good football this year.  They've got 22 seniors in their two deep.
Up front on offense, they certainly have a reflection of their head coach.  Their offensive line is very physical.  They knock people off the football.  They've got five graduate students that start for them on the O‑line, and their quarterback has certainly added a dimension to what they do.  Tyler is an excellent athlete.  I think he's the leading rusher in the country at the quarterback position, and he's also a very underrated thrower.  He really throws a nice ball.
And defensively, they're outstanding.  They're multiple.  They're physical.  It's going to be a great challenge for us, but we look forward to being back at home and trying to get back to getting a win.

Q.  I know you alluded to Steve Addazio a little bit with the offensive line and the up front being like him and characteristic of him.  What can you say about what you take away from him as a coach and the respect you have for someone like him as you go into this game?
DAVE CLAWSON:  I've known Steve for 15, 20 years, and we were in the same conference together when he was the head coach at Temple and I was at Bowling Green.  Steve is a‑‑ he's an excellent football coach, and his teams play with an edge.  And a certain hallmark of a Steve Addazio‑coached team is it's going to be a very, very physical game.
Our teams played each other in the MAC Conference, and you played Temple, you knew they were going to come off the ball.  You knew they were going to be physical on defense.  If you look at their front, I mean, they come off the ball like nobody we've played this year.  That's certainly a testament to Steve and his coaching staff of how well those guys are playing right now.  They're an excellent rushing football team, one of the very best in the country.

Q.  And then as far as you said there are some positives that you've been able to take despite having the recent three‑game losing streak.  Outside of the kicking game, when you look at the offense and defense as well, what are some of the positives that you're seeing as you move forward either from your quarterback or some of the leaders on the defensive side that you're taking into this game against Boston College?
DAVE CLAWSON:  The positive I feel as a program is I feel our players are still playing hard and playing with effort.  We're getting more and more guys that are playable on the defensive side of the ball.  In this past game, we played 17 players, I think, 15 snaps or more, which a couple of weeks ago, we were only playing 12 or 13 guys that many snaps.  So we have younger guys in the program that are doing a much better job learning how to practice, learning how to prepare, and so we're building depth on that side of the football.
Offensively, it's baby steps.  Our guys continue to compete.  We're just‑‑ again, I've said this all year.  We're at times very overmatched up front, and we're just playing some guys that are probably playing before they're ready, but they continue to play hard and scrap.  Again, for 20 minutes there, I felt great about the Syracuse game.  We had a good balance going.  We were running the football.  We had a good mix.  Like a lot of teams, if you lose your starting quarterback, there's going to be some fall‑off, and it was pretty severe for us.
Certainly, Dez Wortham has come on at tailback, and he's put together two nice games for us, which makes you feel that that position and the running game is at least‑‑ it's still not good, but it's at least going in a positive direction.  I think when you are as a program as we are right now, you're looking for individual improvement in practice, and the concern is, as you're struggling, just keeping guys playing hard and keeping them engaged.  I think the leaders in our program have done a nice job of doing that.

Q.  Coach, thank you for taking the call.  Just wanted to follow up, kind of a housekeeping thing with regard to the status of your quarterback.  How is he?  What is his status for this game?  What was it that knocked him out against Syracuse?
DAVE CLAWSON:  He's going to play, and he's going to start the football game, and we expect him to be full go.  There was a play in the Syracuse game that he got blindsided and went down, and he did not get hit directly in the head, but he got hit in the back, and it looked like his helmet impacted‑‑ had impact on the turf.
We got him out of the game.  When we got him to the sidelines, the doctors looked at him and said he had no concussive symptoms.  At halftime, they evaluated him and said that he had no concussive symptoms.  We just made a decision, in the best interest of the player, that we did not want to take any chance because the hit did result in his head hitting the turf.  Even though he did not show concussive symptoms, we just felt, for the well‑being of the player, that we should not play him.  We did not want to take a chance with that.
John was upset.  He said, Coach, I feel fine.  I feel I can play.  That's not his call.  That was a call made by our doctors and our training staff that I fully support.  We just wanted to make sure that night that no concussive symptoms appeared, that he didn't have a headache, that he wasn't nauseous, all the things that go along with having a concussion.  When he woke up the next day, he said he felt fine and he didn't have any of those symptoms.
So, again, I think our training room and our doctors, although‑‑ I think they made the right call.  Because of that, he'll be able to go this week, but he did not have any of those issues, just the nature of the hit.  We did not want to take any chance.  So I think we were very conservative, but I think wisely conservative in protecting him.

Q.  What concerns, though, do you have about a reoccurrence when you face a Boston College defense that‑‑
DAVE CLAWSON:  I'm not worried about any reoccurrence because there wasn't an occurrence.  He did not have a concussion.  He did not have concussive symptoms.  So, again, we're not worried about a reoccurrence because one never happened.
Now, we're certainly worried about the Boston College defense because they're an excellent defense.  I think Donny Brown is one of the best coordinators in all of college football.  I've known Coach Brown for 15, 20 years.  This goes back to when I was coordinator at Villanova and he was at UMass.  And he was head coach at Northeastern, and I was at Fordham.  And he was the head coach at UMass, and I was at Richmond.  When you get ready for a Donny Brown defense, you know they're going to be physical.  You know he's going to bring pressure from everywhere.
He probably does as good a job disguising pressures and bringing people who are not accounted for in the protection as anybody I've ever faced.  Certainly with our offensive line and the young quarterback, those things are concerns because Donny can dial up a lot of different pressures and he knows what he's doing.  Like I said, I think he's one of the best defensive coaches in all of college football.  I have great respect for Coach Brown.

Q.  In terms of the game he called against Clemson, how impressive was that?  And then conversely too that Ryan Day called up that defense.
DAVE CLAWSON:  Both of those guys are‑‑ they're really good coaches, and certainly Donny's been doing that for 20, 25 years.  Anywhere Donny's been that he's been the head coach or the defensive coordinator, his teams play good defense.  He is as good as there is in the country, and I certainly have watched Steve's teams at Florida.  He was at Temple.  And the coordinator is doing a great job of carrying out the philosophy of what Steve Addazio believes in, but they've added some wrinkles, that there's certainly a power aspect to what we're doing that we saw at Temple and you've seen at Florida, but I also think with the quarterback and the slot receiver they have, they're doing a lot of different things with the Alston kid that creates some misdirection and some deception, and it also opens up some things in their play action.
I mean, they have a play action game that really complements their run game very well, and their receivers look like tight ends.  I mean, they're huge.  They're 6'4", 220, 230‑pound guys, and 6'5", almost 240, that they can throw some big body balls, and these guys go up and get it.  I think they are utilizing their personnel as well as it can be utilized.  I think they're maximizing the strengths of what they have. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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