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November 21, 2015

Steve Addazio

South Bend, Indiana

Notre Dame - 19, Boston College - 16

STEVE ADDAZIO: Obviously Notre Dame has got a heck of a football program, got a heck of a football team. They won tonight, deserved to win. I thought we came out and played hard. I thought our kids battled. We made a bunch of plays early on defense. I thought we made some plays on offense in the second half. I thought both those young quarterbacks competed hard. I thought our team competed hard.

Our goal was to come in here, be physical, be tough, be relentless. As a coaching staff we made our mind up that we were going to lead this team very competitively. Everyone was going to have a lot of energy, a lot of juice, and we were all going to fit for a win in this arena here in Fenway, and we did that. We missed some opportunities early, but as I told our team, you know, when you're competing at the level that you're competing at, you're going to make some plays, you're going to miss some plays. We can't worry about the ones that we miss.

We were going to be aggressive in everything that we did, and that's what we did tonight. I'm proud of the way our team played and fought, and I thought that we could see the makings of where we're heading in the future. I'm excited for the development of our football team.

I thought the venue tonight, I thought the game tonight was an exciting game and the kind of game that you want to play in.

Any questions?

Q. Was it on your mind that you were going to have Jeff Smith go out there?
STEVE ADDAZIO: No, we wanted to play Jeff. We had planned on doing that, and you know, we didn't know how much and exactly when that was going to be, but we wanted to get him in the game. Jeff worked real hard. Jeff got hurt down at Louisville. John came in. Both these young guys are battling like crazy, Troy, they all are, and Jeff had a great week of practice and deserved to be on that football field.

You know, he's an explosive guy, and he created a couple of great explosives in the game. Just like John battled early and did some things, you're talking about two true freshmen quarterbacks right now that just got here, and I think the job they did tonight was remarkable against a quality opponent that we played against, and I'm excited about the future with these guys.

Got a chance, both of them, to be on a big stage like that. That's our third top-10 team we've played this year, so these are valuable experiences that are going to come back to us.

Q. Did you see something on the tape of Notre Dame that led you to believe you could probably force some turnovers?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I mean, I just think it's a mindset of the way we're going to play on defense. You know, we're going to play that way on defense. We talked about kind of going after them physically and whacking the ball out and all those things. It's just the way we want to play.

You know, just a belief that those things are going to happen. We wanted to go in and block punts. We wanted to go in and fake a field goal. We wanted to go -- we just wanted to do everything we could do, and that was our mindset. We went for the fake punt. We weren't able to convert on that. But I thought the defense did a great job of holding them, and then we were being real aggressive on our field goal blocks, and we were real close and we went after that and we were real aggressive with that.

That's what I'm trying to explain to you. Our mindset coming into this thing was as a staff, as a player, as a program, we were going to be tough and fight and get after it. Just get after it. And that's what we did, and I don't have any regrets about any of that.

Q. Could you have expected anyone (inaudible)?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I mean, I think that without a doubt, I mean, responded extremely well and battled and fought and played every snap and just competed, but that's our team mentality. That's a team mentality. That's not a one-side-of-the-ball mentality, and in special teams, as well. This team goes hard. You know, we have some more veteran talent for sure on defense right now, and there are some really, really quality players there that are playing their best football right now. One of them is sitting right behind you, Justin Simmons. He's playing his best football right now. Steven Daniels is playing his best football right now. Connor Wujciak, Mehdi, those guys are playing their best football right now. They're older guys; they've been through it. They've learned under fire, and they're playing great football.

But our team is playing extremely hard. I mean, wherever you want to look at it, the young offensive line, the young quarterbacks, the young receivers, Justin will be the first to tell you, this is where it's forged for these young players. He's been through this process. He knows that. We spoke about it the other night, and he's come out of this the kind of player he is right now, getting ready to catapult himself because he was forged as a young player through these experiences.

Q. When you play a physical game like this against a top-five team, what does that mean for the program going forward?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, that's a good question. We addressed it in the locker room. We put a lot of effort into this game, a lot of emotion into this game, a lot of preparation into this game. You say, well, you do for every week. You do for every week, but a lot for this week, and now we've got to go play a rival game against Syracuse next week at the Carrier Dome. That's a challenge for us right now. That's another challenge for a young football team. When 63 of your players are freshmen and sophomores, to get that response back again -- it won't be hard for Justin Simmons, but it's going to be hard for some of the young players, and that's another step that we've got to do.

That was, I think part of your question was that, and the other part was again --

Q. Going up against a top-5 team and being physical --
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, we've done that. We did that against Clemson. We did that against Florida State. We took on some real injuries against Florida State. That's what set us into a little bit of a tailspin this season. But we're used to playing great competition, especially -- we play in the ACC and we play on the side of the ACC that's the most competitive side. It's the best defense on that side. There are some of the best defenses in the country. One thing we're used to is that and we're used to being a physical team. We're that way in practice every week against ourselves. We're that kind of team.

Our depth is a little bit short right now. We took some injuries here tonight, and to the extent of them, I don't know that. That's a byproduct of playing this kind of game.

But we've got to move forward next week, and we've got to get ready to go against a rival game where records aren't going to matter. They're going to throw them out the window and everybody is going to play like crazy. But we're taking steps, and I like where we're headed right now.

For those who can't understand that, then they can't understand that, but when you take a young group of guys that we have right now working together and the foundation that we're laying -- see, people don't really look -- people look a lot at stats and all that, and I get that, and that's fine. But what you want to look at is real foundation, the physicalness, the toughness, the resiliency, the growth, you want to see all those things, and it bodes for where you're going to head in the future. And I like where we're headed right now.

I don't like where we are in terms of our wins and our losses right now, but I like where this team will progress and grow to.

Q. Do you feel that the Boston precinct, NCAA football, was hurt from today in terms of what impact it might have, this game, going forward in the landscape of the playoffs?
STEVE ADDAZIO: We played a really good football team, and they're a really good football team that knows how to win, and we played them nose to nose, and we played them that way with a very young football team that has had a series of unbelievable disappointments.

You know, I heard somebody -- I heard somewhere on ESPN today while we were waiting around to play this game, they talked about TCU I think it was, and they listed their injuries. I mean, after all, they've lost all these players. I said, wow, that injury list is a lot smaller than ours, okay.

And so I think that for us to come into the season with three wins under our belt at 3-7, to come in here and play the fourth-ranked team in the country the way we played them speaks a lot to who this football team is. We went to Clemson and we played our tail off against Clemson, as well, and then we were battling Florida State, as well, early on. That was a 7-0 game early on. Ended up being a 14-0 game. But we're playing hard and we're playing physical as a team. That's what we do.

And then the execution level of the offense is going to grow. That's going to grow as our quarterbacks grow, as our skill players grow, and our line grows. Those things get better and better and better. When you're into -- with no disrespect because it's going to be great for our future, but when you're into young guys and you're where we are right now like that, one day all these experiences are going to come back. They're going to come back. It's going to happen. And when you play against these caliber of teams, you play against Notre Dame, you play against Clemson, you play against Florida State, you play against these teams, you get better faster. Not fast enough, but you get better faster because you're playing against -- who haven't we played? You've played against elite teams.

And then when you compound the fact that you get into our offense which is really young right now against these other defenses, like Virginia Tech did against North Carolina today, or who do you want to talk about on defense right now? Do you want to talk about Louisville's defensive front? Do you want to talk about North Carolina State's defensive front? Even where Duke was when we played them, they were the ninth-ranked defense in America.

This is going to come back to us. It's exciting. It's heartbreaking. It's frustrating. But it's exciting. And it won't just be -- it's not like we're going to be all fixed right away. We're still a young team, but we're going to get better and better and better.

To watch Jeff compete out there, to watch John Fadule compete out there, to watch Thaddeus Smith compete out there, to watch Elijah Robinson compete out there, to watch Mike Walker compete out there, to watch Tom Sweeney compete out there, and I'm just rattling off some really young guys, guys that are freshmen or redshirt freshmen, to watch Chris Lindstrom and to watch Aaron Monteiro and John Baker, wow. I've been coaching a long time and haven't seen a list that long of that kind of youth before, but it'll come back.

Q. Can you talk about Colton Lichtenberg?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Colton Lichtenberg came out today. I'll tell you, it was 4th and whatever it was, and I'm not going to lie to you, I sat there, like, whew, fought really hard on that one, like the gerbils were moving, like, ugh, what do we do here? Do we take a shot at this thing right now? It's 4th down, I mean, my God, I can't watch this not go through the uprights, and then, you know what, that's the right thing to do. We're going to kick the kid, and that's what we're doing, and that's what we did, and he had a rough snap and he managed it and he banged it. And then he banged a couple of great kickoffs down the field.

So I really -- I was really happy to see that. I'm not saying we're all fixed. I'm just saying in a big stage, in a big moment, that occurred. That's progress.

Anybody else?

Q. The unsportsmanlike penalty call?
STEVE ADDAZIO: That's on me. It was me. I really can't comment on that, not because I'm trying to cop out on anybody, I just can't comment on officiating, okay. You know, and I'm not happy that I got that penalty, but all I'm trying to do to be honest with you is I'm out there competing for my team, and I'm not making excuses about it. I shouldn't be getting a penalty. But I'm just telling you that my mindset is I'm fighting for my team, fighting for my team on every play, on everything that happens in that football team. I'm going to fight for my football team, and I want them to know that I'm fighting for them, okay.

It is what it is. At the end of the day, I'm always going to be responsible for that, so that's my fault, and it's on me.

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