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October 31, 2012

David Cutcliffe

COACH CUTCLIFFE:  Well, another huge challenge for us again this week, with an extremely talented Clemson team, defending ACC champions and obviously we have Tallahassee pretty beat up physically and emotionally getting beat pretty badly.  So a challenging week of preparation.  Guys are trying to bounce back, get themselves ready for another huge challenge as we face the toughest part of our schedule down the stretch.  With that, I'll take your questions.

Q.  Clemson made a change at middle linebacker a couple of months ago, and I wondered what you noticed about that watching them on film?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  They changed their entire defensive alignment from three down to four down which changes your linebacker play a bit.  I think they're probably at a point where they're learning the new system, learning their personnel, had a feel for what was the best combination.  For a lot of us, it takes a while to learn your people.  It's been good for them.  Obviously, they've played well and played more consistent in this circumstance.  So it's made them pretty versatile, too, that they can kind of go either way with their three‑down front or their four‑down front.

Q.  Have you noticed anything from the guy in the middle, Spencer?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  Like I said, he's a youngster that I'm very familiar with him.  He's from Charlotte.  He's a good football player, but, again, he fits what they're doing.  He has performed well.

Q.  You guys haven't played Clemson since 2008.  Is there an unfamiliarity there?  Does it have any impact on the preparation of the game?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  I don't think so.  Our guys watch a lot of football, and Clemson's got a lot of high‑profile players.  They keep up with them, so I think our players know who their guys are.  They've seen them a lot on TV, and they're playing at home.  It might be a little different if we were headed to Clemson to play.
It's much like it was last week.  I think they weren't just familiar with Florida State for a couple of reasons.  One, obviously, on the road, they weren't familiar with Tallahassee at all.  I think Clemson's got 12 players from the state of NorthCarolina, a lot of players obviously from the state of SouthCarolina.  We have some from down here.  A lot of these kids have played against each other in the Shrine Bowl.  They're just more familiar with each other being geographically closer.

Q.  Last week your placekicker Ross Martin had a really start.  Are you doing anything in practice to challenge him?  How do you approach that?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  No, because his practice habits are really good.  We've put him under pressure a good bit in practice anyway.  So no real change needed.  Neither he nor Will had their best ballgames, obviously.  So you put it behind you.
I said it earlier this week; you can't ever be great until you learn how to fail then come back and perform at a high level.  That's what the great ones do.  We've seen placekickers in the NFL, great ones miss kicks in the first half and hit game winners.  We've seen quarterbacks throw three interceptions and turn around and put together phenomenal fourth quarter wins.
So that is part of becoming a great specialist is that you have to fail and then turn right back around and be great.  That's what his challenge is.  He's got to do that for us to be as good as we can be.

Q.  Second straight week you're facing a powerful team.  What do you have to do better this time around to make it more competitive than it was when you played Florida State?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  The biggest thing is we're a team that has to represent ourselves in all three phases of the game, which is what we've done.  We've worked hard at developing a program like that where our offense, defense, and the kicking game complement each other.  When we played pretty darn good in all three of them, we're a good football team.  We went to Tallahassee and played poorly in all three phases.
We're not going to survive on talent alone when we close the gap better than what we did by a long shot.  But we need all three phases to hold our heads up and play well.  We don't have to play great but pretty well.  I think that is the biggest difference.  If we don't play well in all three aspects, we'll have a difficult time with great teams like Florida State or Clemson.

Q.  Is there anything you can tell us about Renfree, how he's been this week or do we have to wait for the injury report?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  I can tell you that he's better than I thought he would have been.  He's been able to get some work.  We'll see.  I think he's going to be cleared and good.  But I can't make that call.  He's not had any contact or anything close to anything like that, but he's gotten some work.
One of the big things down there was he was so sick before the game, that I think the combination of the two just threw him for a big loop, a big hit, and he was already running the high fever and struggling.  I was worried about him in pregame meal down there because he looked horrible.  The fever stayed with him through Monday evening.  That's one reason he's feeling a good bit better right now.  So hopefully he passes all those tests and he says he feels good, then we'll be okay to go forward.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about Brandon Connette.  Early in the season he was a huge weapon for you a lot of ways.  Short yardage, pass receiving.  I know he was hurt and missed a couple of games.  He's come back.  Is he getting close to the point where he can be the contributor that he was from the first part of the season?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  He's kind of pieced together a little bit physically right now.  We have to pick and choose our spots.  He's got some pretty significant things going on physically.  But he is one tough guy.  He's eager.  We're just kind of taking it day‑to‑day to see where we can get with him.  As you well know, you follow us.  It's been one of those years that's been incredible the number of things that players have pushed through from an injury standpoint to continue to play, and he's certainly one of them.

Q.  Anthony Boone has been so effective for you when he had extended playing time early in the year a couple times.  You had mentioned this weekend that he had a little bit of a rough game on Saturday as well.  What is the key to getting him going?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  Well, he's another one of those guys.  You don't want to go into detail, that's battling through some things physically.  He's been in the training room a lot.  It's not what you would call injured or even questionable or nothing that you have to go there, but he's not full speed.  That is the biggest thing is to get him where he can practice consistently.  You have some best practice time and things like that that's not ideal, but he's been a little better the last couple of days.
Anthony's got a lot of pride.  To go 3 for 15 in a ballgame is unthinkable to him.  So he's really worked hard and bounced back.  Every time I go into the training room, he's not in class.  He's in there.  So he's trying to get himself back full speed.

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