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October 24, 2016

Steve Addazio

Boston, Massachusetts

STEVE ADDAZIO: Versus Syracuse, I felt that -- I think our kids played really hard. I think we had several opportunities on both sides of the ball. It was a close game, and we had several opportunities to push that game in our favor. You know, that didn't happen. We've got a great attitude. We're growing, we're developing, and you know, I'd say that in two matchup games, game 1 and then of course this game, we're a 4th and 19 away and we're a couple of plays away from this game, and the margin for error is small, but I like the development of our team. We're doing some good things. There's some things we need to improve on, and obviously we're frustrated with the fact that we're not sitting here at 4-3 right now, we're 3-4, but we've got to get ready to play NC State, and they're a fine football team.

There were some good things that happened offensively and defensively. We ran the ball quite well. I thought we had a pretty good rushing attack against them. I don't think in our throw game -- we had several open opportunities that we weren't able to take advantage of in the throw game, and I think that's where it was costly for us.

On defense, I thought that what was costly for us, we let up, again, a few big deep balls. They had a high efficiency throwing the ball on 3rd down, and that was costly for us. I thought their quarterback played at a very high level, made the plays that were there to be made, but all in all it was a tough, hard-fought game, and there were several opportunities for that game to go in our favor, and our job is to make sure we get that done.

Moving ahead to NC State, NC State is a talented football team. They're big and physical on defense. They're 26th in total defense, 12th against the run. You can see why they would be. They've played some good football teams and they're thick and big and powerful. These guys are all back from last year, most of them, and they were that way last year.

No. 9, Bradley Chubb, defensive end, is a hell of a player. He's got 31 tackles, 11 TFL's, six sacks. The middle linebacker, Jared Fernandez, 42 tackles, one interception, two and a half TFL's. The safety, Josh Jones, is a heck of a player, 6'2", 215-pound guy, big, strong guy. Airius Moore, No. 58, 47 tackles, seven and a half TFL's, I mean, talented.

On offense really impressed with their running back Matthew Dayes. I think he's excellent. I think the quarterback has been very, very efficient, and I think they have some talented wide receivers. They're rushing for 161 yards a game and throwing for 247. You know, and it's at their place and they're home, so we're playing a talented football team on the road. It'll be a big challenge.

I think that we're a team that is closer than people think, and we're developing. I thought last week obviously Connor didn't play, and that was hard for us, and hopefully we'll get him back healthy. We had -- at a critical point of the game, Patrick had to come out of that game. Hopefully we'll be able to get him back and get him back and healthy. Those are probably two pretty critical players.

Jon Baker played the whole game, which was a good thing. At some point in the game he retweaked and he was struggling a little bit, but he played and he played pretty decent and he finished, so hopefully he'll continue to mend, and those are obviously three players that are very, very important to us. The margin for error is not that great, and you need your best players.

We need a great week of practice, which we started out with yesterday. We've got one in the bank, and today is their day off, and then we go back at it tomorrow. Looking forward to doing that.

Any questions?

Q. Just going back to Syracuse, I was informed that you weren't given an option on that holding penalty deep in your own end prior to the Ishmael pass?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, the ACC acknowledged that that was mishandled, and we were not given an opportunity. There was confusion out there, and then we weren't given an opportunity to decide whether it's going to be whatever it was going to be, 1st and 16 or 2nd and 15 or whatever that was, and we lost a down in the process. I obviously was very vocal on the sideline. In fact, I tried to come out onto the field to get somebody's attention, and that was -- I couldn't get a penalty over it, but I couldn't get the attention to get that done, and they acknowledged that. They realized that that was not handled properly.

They do a great job. It's a tough job, the officials, and they do a great job, but this was one of those situations that it wasn't handled right, and we were not afforded that opportunity to be able to make that call, and unfortunately it cost us a down in the process.

Q. What about the situation on the sideline? Have you gone to the league about that?
STEVE ADDAZIO: You know, that's in the league's hands, and I don't -- I kind of just -- they're all over that, and where they go with that is where they go with that. Probably not really appropriate for me to really have too much commentary on that. It is what it is. It's documented on the video. You know, they do a great job. They'll handle that.

Q. What do you have to do with the throw game? Is there any chance you could shorten it up a little bit? I know Patrick likes to go downfield, but maybe get Tommy more involved?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I think -- we try to. We tried to target Tommy in that game quite a bit to be honest with you. But we had several short throws. We've got to get to them. Know what I mean? There were several opportunities in the throw game to hit guys in the flats that were kind of left unattended, and we've got to get that done. We left a lot on the field in terms of the throw game.

Sometimes when you say the throw game is not productive, like at Virginia Tech it was not very productive, and guys weren't open. Guys were locked down. That wasn't even anywhere near the case on Saturday. There was plenty of opportunities out there for us, and you know, all you can do is you review -- and the protection was pretty damned good, too. I thought we played pretty well up front to be honest with you.

We've just got to do a better job in terms of finding the open receivers and throwing and catching and hanging onto the football. In that game there was several easy, low-hanging fruit opportunities to be in the end zone, and we've got to be able to capitalize on those, and obviously a couple scores would have made quite the difference in the football game.

We've got to keep doing that. That's my job to make sure that we're able to operate that at a high efficiency level and make those plays that are right there to be made. When I say to you that, wow, we're frustrated with where we are right now, we also are encouraged by where the potential is, and we've got to keep developing, blossoming, and we're not that far off. You know, it seems like sometimes, well, we're this far off, well, we're really just this far off right now. We're really off in two games by a 4th and 19 and really a score.

But you are what you are, and you are what your record is. We've got to just keep developing, and we've got to keep growing and building positivity and let this team, this offense and this team mature and develop, and that's what it is. We play in a tough conference, and the margin for error is not great, and where we are right now is we don't have any one guy, like you look to him and say, that guy, that's a go-to guy. What we have to be is a collective group on offense. It has to be collective where we get to the point where a collection of talented guys fire consistently so you can spread the ball around, and it doesn't fall on one guy's shoulder. That can work.

When we were here with Andre, that worked. Andre and Amidon, right, that worked. With Tyler Murphy, that worked. You can see with the receiver from Syracuse and the quarterback, that combination, that can work. But ultimately to have a balanced team where all guys can fire is really fantastic. That's where we're trying to get to, and we're not there yet.

But there are signs all over the place of that will come, and now we've got to just keep grinding and not get derailed off of that with whether it be injuries, whether it be whatever. We've got to keep everybody engaged, working hard -- I mean, I thought our team played very hard on Saturday, very physical, and that's a good thing. That's a good foundation block to start with, and now we keep building from there.

Q. When you have a team 3rd and long, what goes into the process of either deciding to go with pressure or coverage? Is it like the athletic ability of the quarterback?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I think it's all of the above, if you're talking about preparation for a team or in-game line decisions. I think in preparation for a team, you make an evaluation of the strength of the receivers, the quarterback, how he handles pressure, how he -- do you want to disrupt him, timing. There's a host of things. And generally speaking when you go into a game, you're going to have plan A, plan B, plan C; you're going to mix things up. You're not going to stay one-dimensional.

And then in line while the game is going on, you've got to make decisions, okay, what do we need to do; should we press more, should we play off more, should we play zone more, should we bring more man pressures. Those are decisions that within your game plan you tweak your percentages based on what's going on: Where is the ball, I mean, field position, all that other stuff gets influenced. So there's a lot that goes into it, you know.

You know, obviously you've got to take into account if a quarterback is really accurate and you've got a receiver that can go up and just take balls, you've got to be careful what you're doing because those -- we're falling prey right now to big plays on defense, you know, big shots down the field. We just have come on the bottom side of too many of those right now because we play a lot of good defense along the way, and then we get caught in those one-on-one matchups and some really good plays are getting made on us right now.

We had three in the first quarter against Clemson which got us a little tilted when I thought as a team we were playing very, very hard, and then we had a couple of big ones against Syracuse when we were really right in the middle of the thing.

Q. On that same topic, those aren't the type of plays that happened to this defense last year --
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yes, they did. Yes, they did, they absolutely did. They've happened right along. They've happened against Clemson last year. I mean, probably between the long balls that were completed and the PI's that were called, they happened last year a lot, okay, and they happened the year before -- it happened against Penn State in the bowl game and they happened against Colorado State when the game was on the line at 4th and 12, and they happened against Arizona in the -- I mean, it's a byproduct when you play a lot of man and those guys get put on islands, and then it's a byproduct of the quality of the quarterbacks in the league and the quality of the receivers in any given year.

Right now we have some really high-end receivers and quarterbacks in the league, and we're playing them all right now, so you're going to get more of those, not less of those. But we've got the same guys in the same scheme in the same coverage. The fact of the matter is we're -- we were a heavy pressure outfit last year and we're doing the same -- really those balls we're getting beat on are in man coverage in pressure, and what we've tried to do is actually play a little bit more zone this year, but we're getting hit on the pressure man stuff.

When you do that and that ball is in the air, you know, it's -- you make the play, there's PI's involved, and then there's completions involved, and you're hoping on the percentages -- but we've got the same guys in the same scheme and in the same man blitz calls, and it's actually the same pressures, but we've got some -- you've seen it. We've got some -- I would say to you, look at Virginia Tech, look at Clemson, and look what happened to Syracuse. Three teams that had some big-time long receivers, right, going up and making some pretty big plays.

And then there's been a couple other plays that weren't so spectacular that were made, whether there was a missed tackle or a breakdown. That's also part of it. It happens. But we're working hard at that. I mean, we're working really hard in the back end. Those guys are really accountable, great guys, and it's a part of that -- when you have a quarterback that's on and some of those big tall receivers and you can get great touch on those things, you know, that's affecting us right now without a doubt. But it always has affected us. That's not a new phenomenon.

That's why we were preparing this year to try to play a little bit more zone, to take some of the pressure off of those guys. But you know, it's a mix, you know, and you get caught between wanting to disrupt that quarterback, get him out of rhythm, and playing soft zones, and then when you play soft zones they try to dink and dunk you underneath, but again, you need to have the quarterback and the receiver combinations that can do that, too, that's really critical. Think about what you just said, you guys -- those players we're talking about right now, those are high-draft-pick players right there, and they're doing what they're supposed to be doing right there. It's kind of like that's what we've been up against.

Q. The guys that you have right now, do you think they're struggling to adjust to this zone format that they haven't had to do as much in the past?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, we've been pretty productive in that, so I don't think so. I think we're still in that mindset of those high-risk man situations where we're getting hurt a little bit right now. But again, it was -- it's been similar every year, it's just the percentages of them and how many of them hit you and how many of them don't.

I mean, you know, like I said, PI's are all a part of that, too. You get locked in man, and all of a sudden they're arm barring, was he looking for the ball, was he not, and then you've got those judgment calls going out there, and that's the game. Why do we get a lot of them? Because we play a lot of man.

So we're trying -- but when we've played more zone we've stopped some of that from happening. But we're playing some -- you know, some good passing offenses right now, and we've got to tighten up on those big plays, but in between that, we played a lot of good defense now, a lot of good defense in there. I think if you talk to our players, we have really grown up front fundamentally, technique, fundamentals up front. We're very productive. We really do a pretty good job of getting a darned great four-man pass rush. Our linebacker fundamentals are increasing. The play is rising.

Of course we played without Conner last week, and he's a great pass defender because he has tremendous speed, right. One of his biggest assets is he can run, and he's strong against the run, but he can run. So there was a lot of guys playing a lot of extra snaps, which is -- because you get depleted in numbers.

We've got to eliminate the big plays, and on offense right now, we've got to be able to take advantage of a lot of the opportunities that we actually finally have a lot of opportunities out there, especially in the throw game, and we've just got to be able to capitalize on them, which will come. It'll come. We've got to get there.

Q. Strachan, Towles and Hilliman, three key players on this team. What do you expect to see out of them on Saturday?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, we're hoping that we see all three of them. I mean, as I said to you before, I don't talk a lot about it, but we're a young team, and to have -- it's hard to have that many of your so-called best players not out there, but that's life. I'm hopeful that all three of them will be available for the game. I don't know that yet. Jon looks pretty darned good to me right now, and Connor looks a whole lot better already. I'm pretty hopeful. It's too early for me to tell with Pat right now, but we'll see.

This is the game in week 8 -- it's really week 9, but for us game 8. This is the -- sometimes you cruise to this stuff unscathed and there's a little bit of luck of the draw, and sometimes you get beat up pretty good.

Right now, aside from Garrison, we haven't really -- and Jake Burt, but we haven't really had many season-ending injuries, but we've had enough injuries to hurt us in a consistency fashion, especially up front on the offensive line. That's the place we can least afford the shuffling, and while it looks like we're going to have everybody back, we've really rarely had them back all at once to practice on any given week since preseason camp.

But I'll tell you, I was really proud of the way they played last week. I thought you really saw them start to play. Now, they're going to get challenged this week because this defensive front is outstanding.

Q. How was Patrick moving around in the days after the game? Was he limping at all?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, he's not fine. I mean, he's got the pull, which we said postgame, and it's early. Today is Monday, and the game was Saturday. He was out there yesterday. I think he's feeling better every day. I think with those injuries, it's always a racing the clock a little bit, and it's hard to really tell when you're through with those. They run their course, and they're all different.

But sometimes you've got to be careful with them, too, because if you -- they can linger or you can reaggravate them, which usually means that you double your time to get them back. We're going to do what's in the best interest of Patrick and for his health and not put him in risk, and we'll play it day by day. I really honestly -- it's going to be day by day. I mean, that's the truth. I mean, it's going to be day by day, whether we'll have him or we won't have him, but he looks pretty good. He looks right now pretty good.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
STEVE ADDAZIO: Oh, Anthony. Well, Darius, yeah. I mean, we have confidence in Darius. We put Darius in the game, and Darius has got to be prepared to play as many snaps as he needs to play, which could be the whole game this week, right? Could be all of the above.

In terms of Anthony, right now with Patrick down, Anthony is taking the backup snaps right now, and so he's now going to be thrust into a position where he's taking more real reps, right. He wasn't doing that before because Darius was getting those reps. So now Anthony will get those reps.

Anthony is really talented guy, and we have a lot of faith in Anthony. Anthony right now, we wouldn't just put Anthony in unless we felt like we had to put Anthony in because once we do that, I mean, that year is over for him in terms of redshirting.

We're going to do what's in the best interest of Anthony. We're going to do what's in the best interest of BC, and all that'll depend on how this thing goes down with Pat's injury status.

I mean, hey, we can paint whatever picture we want on Saturday. Maybe say Pat's down and then Darius goes and then God forbid something happens to Darius. Well, that conversation is over, right? Here comes Anthony Brown, he's in the game and that's life, and we move on. So these decisions can go a whole lot of different ways, but I would say right now for Anthony to go in the game right now, today, it would be because we were forced to do that.

Next week, who knows. Who knows, and it's got to stay fluid, and he knows that. But he's very talented.

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