From today's ACC coaches teleconference, which you can listen to here
We're coming off a good road win at Syracuse where we had to fight hard to win the game in the 4th quarter, which I thought was really good for our football team. Defensively, we're playing at a very high level. Offensively, we continue to get better. So I'm excited about the improvements we've made.
We know we have a great challenge ahead of us going in to play at Clemson, which is a very loud atmosphere and a great crowd. But we look forward to the challenge.
Is DeVante Parker fully cleared for Saturday?
We're waiting on a few more things. He came out and practiced yesterday, but he didn't go through the entire practice. He went out and ran routes and took part in parts of our practice. He looked, but we just have to see how the week progresses.
What is it about Clemson's receivers that have allowed their young guys to shine so fast?
I think they do a great job on their teaching of their get off and their route-running. They're big guys who can get down the field and catch the ball well in their hands. It's a great challenge for us.
What have you seen on film of DeShaun Watson and how does your defense stop him?
He does a great job in executing their offense. His ability to run the ball on quarterback runs and when he gets outside of the pocket on pass plays is a great challenge to our discipline and our eyes. We have to do a great job with that. And then his ability to make the throws. He throws the ball deep real well. He's a very impressive on video.
Is there anything in particular you need to do to stop him?
Well, there's a lot of things you need to do. Obviously we need to be successful on first downs and stopping the run and try to get him in 3rd and long.
What were your biggest takeaways from the Syracuse win?
I think Reggie improved as the game went on and did a really nice job of executing in the second half. He looked more comfortable and our timing was better. Our offensive line did a better job in the second half in our run blocking and our protection. The ability to get better as the game went on on offense is something that could really help us. And then defensively we were able to stop the run against a very good rushing team. You know going into the game Syracuse was averaging a lot of yards rushing the ball, and defensively we were able to get that stopped.
What can you say about Brandon Radcliff and what he was able to do?
He did a really nice job with his speed and his toughness running the ball. He's been very hard to bring down with the first tackler. He's given us a big boost because of his speed through the holes and his spped before he gets the ball. And he's seeing things real well, so he gave us a big boost as an offense both against Syracuse and against Wake Forest.
What is going into the decision at quarterback this week?
Well obviously the first thing is Will's health and how he's doing and is he 100 percent. And we do feel good about that. He came out yesterday and was running full speed and conditioned afterward, which was great to see. He threw the ball well. We just have to come out and see how they execute in practice throughout the week and then make a decision on who we think gives us the best opportunity to win.
How do you prepare for Death Valley in terms of the crowd noise and that environment?
Yeah, I think it's something you just have to work hard at in practice with communicating. We'll have the noise going in practice and making it loud. We just have to be able to communicate, keep our poise, understand the time clock and communicate in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams. We know it's gonna be a real loud hostile environment, so you just have to keep your focus on the field.
Is there a timetable for making the QB decision and will there be a rotation?
Yeah, we're not gonna make a big deal of it. We're just gonna practice and see how it all plays out.
Once the decision is made, will you consider using two quarterbacks on Saturday?
Yeah, that's something that we have not even talked about yet.
Did your comment comparing Death Valley to the Carrier Dome come out wrong?
I didn't really mean to compare them. I was just saying that when you go on the road and play, it's loud. We know this is going to be a loud, hostile environment. I really didn't mean to make any comparison. It was just the fact that when you do go on the road it's really loud, and you have to do a good job on your focus and your concentration on the job at hand.
What is your confidence level on your QB handling a place like Death Valley?
Well, we're gonna find out. He's improved, he's gotten better. We've been on the road, so that's a good thing. If this were our first game on the road then it would really be a concern. But we've been on the road a couple times and had to be able to communicate with noise. So it's just something that we have to work on and execute all week in practice.
When did you see Brandon Radcliff really come on and how did he get to this point?
It's really his work ethic that gave him the opportunity. And he's been that way since we got here. He's a guy who goes out and practices extremely hard. He runs every run into the endzone when he touches the ball. He got injured in spring ball. Wasn't able to finish spring ball. He had to get his knee scoped. And that put him behind in learning the offense. Through camp you still saw the burst and the effort and the vision, but he was catching up as far as understanding the offense. Then in practice he started to get to know things better and you still saw the effort and the speed and the burst, so it was time to give him the opportunity to play against Wake Forest. We knew going into that game that we were going to give him a few series.
Do you have a specific rotation at running back or are you just feeding the hot hand?
I think it's a position where throughout the year you're going to need two, three maybe sometimes four good running backs because they're the guys that take all the shots and get nicked up. So we have to get into a game, find out who's hot and then feed him. Against Miami in the opening game, Dom Brown had a huge game and so we rode him. And then the last couple of weeks it's been Brandon. So we'll wait and see how it plays out.
Do you prioritize your running game based on yards per carry or on how many carries guys are getting in the game?
Well kind of the way you do it is you grade it more on efficiency and what runs are efficient, because if you're running a 3rd and 1 play and you get three yards, that's an efficient run. That's a win. It doesn't relate to yards per carry or anything like that. We grade it out by efficiency according to down and distance and the situation in the game.
What's the biggest key for Louisville to hang with Clemson for the full game and not just part of it?
Well, first we've got to get off to a good start. Clemson has been very aggressive in the first quarter of games. They play extremely hard and fast in the first quarter, so we have to get off to a good start. And then we really have to focus and concentrate on one series, one play at a time. We've been a good second half team, we've been a good fourth quarter team, so I think the No. 1 thing we'd like to do is get into the fourth quarter in a position to win the game.