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September 13, 2017

Dave Doeren

Greensboro, North Carolina

DAVE DOEREN: It was great to have a home game, and had a really, really good environment. Our fans and student section, it was great to see them that way, and had a lot of recruits here. Good environment to play a game, and played a good Marshall football team. I was proud of the way our guys responded after getting down in the game early. Had four straight offensive touchdown possessions and scored in our second straight game to end the half on a two-minute drive, and then defensively I thought we made some very good adjustments and had a second-half shutout. A lot of things that we need to do better, and that's what this week is about as we get ready to play a Furman who's played in two very close games and runs a difficult offense with their triple option. Difficult preparation, and another opportunity for our guys.

Q. Ryan Finley has had a great start to the season. Can you talk about how he's playing? He looks very comfortable in the offense.
DAVE DOEREN: Well, I think it all started just with him building chemistry with the players around him. He came in last year and didn't know anybody and was learning their skill set as he was getting to play, and he was trying to fight for the job, whereas I think this off-season he's a returning starter, he spent a ton of time building relationships with players, so he understands them.

And then he's built 15 pounds of muscle on his frame. He's throwing the ball really well. His timing is good. His understanding of what we want to do offensively and what Coach Drinkwitz expects, how he manages the perimeter and getting the ball to the right people at the right time. He's playing at a high level, and he's just got to keep doing that. He doesn't have to do too much, just be himself and take the throws that are there and know that if the defense does a good job, the next play may be a great one.

Q. And I know that you commented after last week's game that Bradley Chubb had played a great game, but talk about his leadership and what he means to your defense.
DAVE DOEREN: Right. Yeah, Bradley, the game is really playing -- the game has really slowed to him right now. He's playing at a high level and he's seeing things extremely fast and he's playing within himself. He's not trying to create plays. He's just taking the plays that are there and really playing within the scheme and playing with great effort. His leadership ability has been incredible on the sideline. You know, there were moments in the game where we were struggling at some positions, and he was over there encouraging guys and picking guys up, and then at the end of the game, he was as good as he could be in pass rush when they were trying to catch back up. So I was really proud of him.

But all those guys, you know, up front are playing well. It's just Bradley is playing as good as I've seen him play right now, and his mentality, preparation-wise, is as good as it's been.

Q. I'm just curious your take on where you think the ground game is at for you guys so far. I know certainly Reggie and Nyheim have had a couple of good runs here and there, but both averaging under about four yards a carry. Are they performing where you'd like them to perform, and if so, or if not, where do you need to see some improvement?
DAVE DOEREN: I think a lot of it goes to the moving around we've had to do on our offensive line in the first two games. This will be the first game this year where we have our true five guys that we expected to play with playing together. Will is back, and Terronne Prescod played the entire game at right tackle last week. He'll be back at left guard. So we'll have five experienced offensive linemen that have played together in this game, and we were playing the two redshirt freshmen, Justin Witt and Joe Sculthorpe, in the last two games at times, and they both played well for a redshirt freshman, but they both struggled, which you'd expect. I think a lot of that in the run game is creating the lanes that those guys need to be able to see. On top of that, obviously the backs are going to get better and better as the holes do. I don't think there's one singular thing that you can point to, and it's definitely not because Reggie and Nyheim aren't talented players. They've got to run through contact and we've got to do a better job of being consistent and creating lanes for them.

Q. Do you have an update on James Valdez, and also, have you had a chance to watch Mike Stevens this week the first couple days of practice, and what have you seen from him?
DAVE DOEREN: Yeah, James sprained his knee and will be out this week for sure, potentially longer, and we're waiting to get the MRI results back from our docs. As far as Mike, Mike practiced this week and moved around really well, and we're hoping to play Mike in this game. We'll just have to see what type of game it is. With them being a triple option offense we're not going to put him in there unless it's a third-down situation where he can play coverage, or if we can get a lane that turned into a passing offense, but we'd like to get him some reps in this game where he cannot have to make his first plays against Florida State for the season. He went through all of our individual the last two days, he went through pass skelly and did a really nice job, and I think he's got good confidence in it.

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