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October 4, 2017

Dino Babers

Greensboro, North Carolina

DINO BABERS: Well, we know we're playing a fine Pitt team. Coach Narduzzi's team is going to be physical, like it always has been. Looks like they had their breakout game versus Rice offensively. The quarterback opened up for over 400 yards of throwing, obviously, and now with that offense and that defense, I think they're ready to get on a roll, and they're coming into our place hot, and we desperately need a win. I'll open it up for questions.

Q. You've coached at a lot of places, but I'm particularly interested in the influences you received at two of your last jobs before you became a head coach, including what Walt Harris taught you at Pitt and what you learned from Art Briles at Baylor, and how much are you incorporating with your Syracuse team today?
DINO BABERS: Well, the thing that I learned from Walt Harris, especially with Larry Fitzgerald on the team, is that you can throw into double coverage. I thought, hey, if you get double coverage you need to go the other way, and he's like, hey, it's double coverage, we understand that, you need to look at Larry. And then if he's triple covered, you might want to look at Larry again and then decide you don't want to go to him. So it just made me realize that even though people are trying to through Xs and Os take players away from you, you need to find ways to get your really, really good players the ball. That's one of the things I learned from Walt. And the thing I learned from Art is that just a different style of philosophy of offense of being super, super aggressive and playing at a fast tempo.

Q. Will we see much of those concepts in the game Saturday, those passing game concepts?
DINO BABERS: I think so.

Q. I believe all three of your losses have been single digits. What's kind of the keys for you guys as you try to turn some of those close losses into wins?
DINO BABERS: Well, we're still fighting to get healthy. When you don't have the depth that some of the other teams have, and as the season moves along, you get guys injured, out of your lineup, and you get new guys coming in that just don't have the experience or the strength or the age that some of the other people do, and that's going to be a while until we get our program up and running. One of the things I noticed about the NC State program with Coach Doeren is that he was on his fifth year, and a lot of those guys on defense were fourth and fifth-year players in his program, everybody that he recruited, and there's no doubt that that defense was shaped and made by him, and I think it's the same thing going to happen with Pittsburgh and ourselves, that as we get later on into our coaching careers, four and five years with the same University, I think the teams will more start to take the flavor of Narduzzi and myself.

Q. I was talking with Parris Bennett this morning, and he said that at yesterday's practice, he kind of felt a different level of urgency and maybe some kind of response from that Sunday meeting. What did you see in practice yesterday? Was anything different in your eyes?
DINO BABERS: Not really. I just thought the guys were giving fantastic effort, and a lot of coaches were demanding that from them, and I thought that was exciting to see.

Q. In your opening statement, you kind of said you desperately need a win. I know a lot of the guys don't really look ahead, but after this game, you've got maybe the hardest three-game slate, one of, in the country. Does that make this Pittsburgh game even more important in your eyes?
DINO BABERS: No, not really. I thought that the LSU game was hard. I thought that the NC State game was hard. I don't know if these teams are better than those teams, but they were hard and physical, and some guys got hurt and some guys aren't with us. I think we just need to take it one at a time.

Q. Can you just talk about Ishmael's contributions this year, and this is kind of a breakout year for him like Amba last year?
DINO BABERS: You know, it's not unusual in our program to have somebody that was there the year before that had an okay year, and then all of a sudden they have a breakout year. I think any time there's a changeover in coaching staff and a changeover in techniques and fundamentals and schemes that sometimes kids do them but they're not totally bought in. The thing I love about Ish is that he's totally bought into what we're trying to do, and he really changed his body and changed his attitude from last year to this year, and I think that change in attitude and the change in body is what we're seeing now on the football field, and I'm so excited for him that he finally saw the light and excited for us that he's on our football team.

Q. Scoring only two touchdowns this year despite all the touches, Amba had 14 last year, is that a part he needs to improve on?
DINO BABERS: You know, I think he's leading the country in receptions, so I think he's doing his part. I think the touchdowns will come. You don't judge your players by whether they get a touchdown or not. A guy rushes for 100, 200 yards and never gets a touchdown. That doesn't make him a bad back if he's rushing for 100 or 200 yards.

Q. You mentioned a minute ago in maybe four or five years, Syracuse would take on the flavor of its head coach. What is the flavor of Dino Babers?
DINO BABERS: I think that people don't have an appreciation for defense. I think that we want to play really, really good defense, and I think we will get to that. I love running the football, although people may not believe that in my first 16 or 17 games, and I think that you need to be a balanced offense, and that's something that we'll work desperately to achieve later, if not this year, then later on, and I think with that that you can play a style of offense that draws fans in and makes them want to come and watch you play and fill up those arenas and make your athletic director's job a little bit easier than just playing winning football. I think you can play exciting winning football, as well.

Q. Quadree Henderson, Pittsburgh wide receiver, one of the nation's most dynamic players, what's your plan for him on Saturday?
DINO BABERS: Well, you know, he's one of those guys that you've got to know where he's at all the time. They try to get him the ball in so many different ways, and he's so explosive. It's hard to be able to say you're going to shut a guy down like that. It's almost impossible. All you want to do is try to contain him. They're going to get him the ball. He's going to make plays. Hopefully he doesn't make too many plays and we can find a way to score one more point than they get.

Q. And then they have another pretty good wide receiver in Jester Weah. When you're going up against a team with two great receivers like that, can you double team one of them or do you have to just single cover?
DINO BABERS: You know, you've got to -- you can pick and choose when you want to move a double around or something like that, and obviously if you're going to do something like that, you're weakening yourself somewhere else, so it's not something that you want to be consistent when you're just doubling one guy or the other. You need to move it around so that the offensive coordinator can't get a real jump on when it's coming and where it's going to happen at.

Q. Can you just give us a little glimpse into your mind and what you were thinking as you were watching the game against Pitt unfold last year?
DINO BABERS: (Laughing) I've never been through something like that before. You really didn't have time to think. I've got -- now, this is going to be a bad analogy, but maybe it's a good one. I want to say it was the -- Hearns had a fight with -- who was the other boxer that they were just throwing bombs that went about seven rounds? Hagler -- Hearns versus Hagler, was one of those fights, if you're a boxing fan, the fight started and you were like, oh, my God, how can they keep this pace up, it's back and forth; somebody is not going to survive this thing, and it was one of the most amazing boxing matches you ever saw, and it didn't even go the distance, I think it was five or seven rounds. That's what that game reminded me of. You didn't even have time to make adjustments on the sideline before your units were back out there, and it took your breath away, and you were totally exhausted after the game.

Now, I was exhausted with the loss, and the other guy was exhausted with the win, but I think we were both totally exhausted, and it was something I've never been through, and I'm not sure I ever want to go through it again, either, unless we're going to win the dog gone thing, but it was very taxing.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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