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September 9, 2019

Steve Addazio

Boston, Massachusetts

STEVE ADDAZIO: Appreciate it. Great to be back here starting week 3, college football season, exciting.

I want to start out by thanking the faculty and staff. It was faculty and staff appreciation week last week. The support we had in the stadium was sensational from them, from our student body. The cooperation from the faculty and the staff in terms of putting on a Friday night game is really important and much appreciated by us. There's a lot of work that goes into a Friday night game, and it's going to help make for a great atmosphere here Friday night, electric here at Chestnut Hill. I know our students will be out. So I want to say thank you to them. That was very, very important for us.

Don't really have much to say about last week, Richmond's game. I think all of our attention -- we're happy to get a win. We're about improvement and really on to Kansas. There's a short week. They'll be here Friday night. We'll be playing. They've got certainly an electric player in their running back. He's a special, special talent. Coach Miles is really one of the great coaches in our game. I've had a chance to play against his teams when I was at Florida and very, very much respect him and the way that he coaches and what he brings to the table. He'll have a team that will continue to get develop and be tough and get better and be a very, very competitive team. He's a competitive guy. You can see it already. They have talent and what he's going to shape that program into.

We have all the respect for Kansas, for Coach Miles, and everything he's doing there. So we know we have to have a great week of practice in order to be ready to play an elite football game. That's our mindset right now. Just got off the practice field today and had a pretty good day today.

As you know, normally, I'd come in here and not have had practice, but since we're playing Friday, this is our Tuesday, so we just got off the field and got a lot of work done. We're excited to move forward.

Q. What has Zay's impact been able to do, as far as not just what he's done with the ball, but take attention away from other players and open things up?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I think you need to be aware of where he is on the field. As I said earlier, he's got electric speed. Some guys are really fast. He's really fast, but he also is a tight turn guy, and he's got great ball skills. Our goal is to get him more and more involved in different facets of our game plan, and we're going to continue to push the envelope there because I think that he can be a game changer.

Q. Coach, coming out of a game like Richmond, just how do you then take the next step with the guys, even after the first game of the year, where you maybe had them on specific snaps or held back a little bit in the game plan? What's the next stage in developing them and maybe working on a few more intricate parts of the game plan?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I just think that we're going into week 3, playing a Power Five opponent, and I think, as we go into week 3 now, a lot of the things that we had worked on in camp and a lot of the things that we felt that we wanted to be a part of our game plan need to arrive in the game plan.

So for me to sit here and say there's going to be some radical change or something, I'm not really promoting that. But there will be more things within what we do, as I would say would be for a lot of people throughout the country as you're starting to go into week 3 now and you're into Power Five competition.

Q. Coach, can you talk about Max Richardson, 11 solos, 2.5 tackles for a loss, just getting to the football?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, Max is a really good player. He's a real student of the game. He really works hard at it. He's in great physical condition. He's got really good speed and explosive capability. So he's playing fast. I mean, he's the by-product of a guy that's played a fair amount of football around here. And his approach is very, very mature, very business-like. So he's on top of tendencies and things like that. So he's a quick read on what's happening in front of him.

Q. Do you have an Isaiah update? Anything? Is he getting closer?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, he is. He's really improving all the time. As I told you, I kind of just go through each week. We're not going to rush anybody, so we're just kind of waiting to see. It's in the hands of the people that it should be, but he's getting better every week and stronger and looks great. I'm hopeful that it won't be long before we have him.

Q. Is there anything you learned about -- whether it's logistics or preparation?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I think the key is to maximize -- when you have these short weeks, you've got to get going right away. You can't spin your wheels on Sunday, for example. We got in here very, very early in the morning, got the film graded, got right to Kansas. Then the players came in. You don't want to short-change a win, but you can't spend all day on the win. The next piece is the physical piece of this.

We didn't do any physical work on Sunday on the field. We had a very light lift, watched the tape, got the lift out of the way. Probably won't get another lift in this week. We knew we wanted to have a big physical day today. Had that big physical day, and we'll evaluate what tomorrow will be.

So we may start the recovery of the week already tomorrow. So I think we have an approach to it. It's something to me that -- I talk to a lot of people around the country that I trust and get input on -- especially the strength coaches that I know -- about body recovery. And you've got to have some feel of your own team. We didn't play a night game, and our players weren't on the field for 70 snaps, but on the flip side of it, I want to make sure we're fast on Friday night.

Q. (No microphone) playing such odd spots now? Different kind of days.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, again, I think the physicality happened today. I think we cut back the number of periods and the number of snaps today, and I think tomorrow's the day where I'm going to evaluate whether we're in shoulder pads or not because I like to start the recovery process. So tomorrow I'm going to discuss up top -- I haven't had a chance. I came really right off the feel. I wanted to see what today looked like, and then I'll discuss what tomorrow is.

And I already explained this to our team, that -- so that they feel like they're a part of the plan. But I'm going to start the recovery process. Now, what exactly that means tomorrow? It could mean a couple of things. It could mean the shoulder pads could come off. It could mean a reduction in snap count, which that will happen. And we may basically take a Wednesday and meld a little bit of a Wednesday with a Thursday. Like when we start the season out, we usually have two Thursdays before we play the game in our minds and the way our practice is structured. So I would anticipate that we'll try to find a way to meld a Wednesday and a Thursday practice tomorrow on a Tuesday.

Is there an exact science? No. I think you've got to have the feel for your team -- where you're at, what you're trying to get accomplished. Do you feel like -- in the words of Coach Meyer, do you have enough game snaps from practice? If I go up and watch the tape and I don't feel we have enough game snaps, we're going to go out and create more game snaps tomorrow, and that's the way it is. So I want to evaluate it.

Q. I was talking to Max last week about it, but I saw Coach Reed (no microphone). I thought that was super interesting.
STEVE ADDAZIO: We've had a huge focus on getting the ball out and creating turnovers. I think I told you this before. We're big into the daily double. The daily double is you want to win the explosiveness battle and the turnover battle. If you can put those two things together, call it the daily double, you've got like an 85, 90 percent chance of winning the game.

So we're really conscious of explosive plays, so we have to win the battle, meaning we have to have more on offense and we have to limit them on defense. So we need to come out ahead of that battle.

Then on the turnover battle, we've got to get more takeaways, and we've got to not give away. So we've been pretty good with that.

Q. I'm assuming you can -- a lot's been made of the total yardage that you can gain just by taking the ball away. How do you navigate getting yards and taking the ball away?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I mean, we're tracking takeaways for that reason. They're game changers. You've got to win the turnover battle. It just has to happen. It's critical. So you've got to focus on that. We have a tremendous amount of accountability to how we carry the football on both sides of the ball. If we intercept it or we carry it on offense, whoever has the ball, carrying it high and tight. So we put a tremendous emphasis on ball security, and then we're constantly trying to get the ball out on defense.

You know, I think like anything else, it's something -- you're trying to get something done, you have to put a heavy emphasis on it.

Q. Total yards the defense allowed so far a concern, or is this kind of like (no microphone)?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I mean, yeah, it's a concern. You don't want to give up a lot of yards. But I think what you don't want to give up is a lot of scores, and I think we've been pretty good there. We've kind of bent, but we haven't broken. I think scores are what scare me. Those are explosives usually, but I think we've given up some chunks. The starting defense gave up 10 points last week and whatever it was the week before, and I think we're able to stay explosive on offense and stay ahead of that tally.

But the goal is to have zero points. The goal is to be three-and-out as many times as you can be, 100 percent. And I think the next thing is stop the run. Don't worry about the throw if you can't stop the run. Because, if you can't stop the run, you'll never get to the throw. They'll just run it right down your throat. So we've got to make sure that -- this is a big game for us, so we've got to stop the run. They've got an elite tailback.

Q. On the offensive line, you've got three different positions -- your guard, tackle, center. How do those three different positions differ within your mindset and how you approach just blocking schemes and development of the players?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I'm a big five best on the field guy. I'm never going to -- I'm not going to worry about playing a shorter guy at tackle or -- I just think you play your five best players. Now, having said that, I think you're looking for a little more length at the tackle position, and I think at the center position you're looking for a little bit more athleticism and a little bit more quarterback leader mindset at the center position. I would say those are fair things to say, but we're trying to get the five best players on the field and play them to their best potential positionally. That's just what I've done my whole career.

Q. And does that generate versatility, or do you look for guys that are versatile when you look at the five best guys situation?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I think you have to have versatility. If you're a young lineman coming up and you want to play at the next level, your value is based on how many spots you can play. Unless you're an elite tackle, you've got to be able to play two or three positions across the board. Then your value's high because they don't keep that many offensive linemen active. In college, I just really believe in cross-training guys. I've been on this for years. You cross-train your guys up front. Right, left, center, guard, tackle -- we're all cross-trained up here. We've got a lot of versatility here. We've got four guys that can snap the ball. We've got a bunch of guys that can play tackle, guard.

Just because I think with your depth, you've got to be able to have that. I think what you don't want to do is have an injury and put a guy that might be your ninth-best talent, but he's your third tackle. That doesn't make any sense. People get way too hung up.

I used to hear -- not to get off on a tangent, but -- I remember -- when we left Florida, I remember someone saying. I forgot whoever was the coordinator at that time after we left. They said, well, we've got to re-recruit the team now because they recruited it to a spread. Well, I was the offensive line coach there, and no, we didn't. We recruited the best offensive linemen we could possibly find, and we coached them. So that's another, to me, bunch of garbage. They recruit to an offense. Yeah, right. If you're an elite offensive lineman, we're not going to recruit you because we want a thinner, taller guy, so we won't take you even though you're a heck of a football player. I don't know where this stuff originates from. It blows my mind. People just talk to talk.

And I think sometimes coaches say bizarre things too, like they've got some secret sauce. There's no secret sauce. Get the best players you can get your hands on and play them. If they're good, they're good. They're all the same plays. They all work. Crazy.

Q. The reason why I asked --
STEVE ADDAZIO: You're asking the wrong guy because I'm a line guy, right? For me, that's like my pet peeve, you know. I just listen to this stuff, and I just laugh to myself.

Q. The reason why I asked is it looked like on Saturday, A.J. looked like he was bouncing a little bit more outside, and I didn't know how much of that was the linemen versus the -- him hitting the hole versus guys being able to shift in learning to develop the position.
STEVE ADDAZIO: It's a little bit of both. There are times sometimes -- one thing that A.J. is working on, God gave him such great speed. He feels like he can beat everybody to the perimeter, and sometimes he can. But sometimes you've got to hold that gap, and then that gap opens, and then you can split the defense.

On the flip side of that, I still think that we're still seeing a fairly multiple amount of defenses and so early in the season, I think there's some gray in there sometimes. It just happens. But I think we've played pretty well up front, to be honest with you.

I just heard John Phillips was co --

Q. He will be later.
STEVE ADDAZIO: I shouldn't have said that. Press the delete button. Delete, delete, delete. Jay Baum said that, not me.

Q. I was going to ask you about John because he's a guy that's been through the program a long time and has sort of come along slowly. Now he's sort of -- he's playing really well. What can you say about his development overall?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I mean, he is a guy, like you said. He's come in here, and he paid his dues, you know. He redshirted, and he didn't really play. There was some early on -- like, oh, you know, is he going to be a player? All of a sudden, in his redshirt junior year, he gets on the field and has a really good year, and then he's off and running.

Honestly, that's the norm to me for a good offensive lineman -- develop, develop, and have a really good two-year career. Sometimes it's three years, but everybody, this whole fast-paced deal now, everybody thinks like, you know, you come out of high school, and you should be starting as a true freshman. But John's done it the right way, and John is having a great year and will go on and have a great opportunity to play at the next level.

Q. Have you had a chance to look around the ACC at all? Obviously, Clemson is up there, but the rest of it seems pretty wide open. What do you see? Some teams have kind of come down a little bit the past weekend?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I don't really know. It's so early in the season, I don't really gather too much. We all know Clemson is an elite team. That's not the great mystery. But where everybody is, who knows? We're going into week 3. There's a lot of football left to be played and a lot of team cultures yet to be developed. So it's hard to know. I'm not real sure. I don't pay a lot of attention to it early, even I don't pay attention with us. It's all about the next game, and it's not a cliche. I think that's just the way it is, especially early.

I think, as the season moves on, you can kind of get a better read on where teams are, but right now a lot of things are up and down. It has a lot to do sometimes with turnovers and penalties and things that get you out of whack a little bit, and it can skew the game one way or the other pretty quickly early on, and teams have a mechanism of battling back.

I think you get into week 6, and you're going to start getting a good read on what's going on within our conference or any conference probably.

Q. (No microphone) has the most catches for a running back -- but what has to happen for the scheme for a coach (no microphone)?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I think there's a lot of ways to get the ball in the air. There's screens, underneath routes against the linebackers. We're dog all those. Usually there's a lot of checkdowns to backs. So I think screens and checkdowns are where you're going to see those guys catch a lot of balls or can catch a lot of balls.

So I think being on the field in third down. And A.J.'s on the field more than third down. So you're going to see more of that. Sometimes our first and second down game is a heavy play action game. They can have a tendency -- there are checkdowns, but there's such a heavy play fake, that it's down the field a little bit. But he's pretty involved with a lot of naked game and stuff like that. That's been good.

Just today, he looked great catching the ball today. I mean, it's really starting to eye-pop to me. He's doing a great job with it, that and protection.

Q. You mentioned coaching against Les Miles back in the SEC when you were at Florida and he was at LSU. What do you remember about those games in particular and coaching against him?
STEVE ADDAZIO: He always had the fake on the field goal one year, and the ball got mishandled. I'll never forget it, watching on the sideline, and it was on the ground. When it hit the ground, it could have went this way or this way, and of course it rolled, like they got the first down like that, but he's always got some trickeration in his bag. That's one of his big things over the years.

I think he's one of those guys that's going to take chances. He makes college football fun in a lot of ways, not just with that, but just with personality and everything else. Been in a lot of big-time ball games, and certainly one of the great coaches in the history of our game. No doubt about that now. He gets his teams ready to play. I always felt like, when you played LSU, they were ready to roll. They had some great players, super talented players. He's got personality with it.

I mean, whether you're playing in the Swamp, or we played them at their place -- which playing at their place is rough duty, really tough. Hold that Tiger.

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