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Head Coach Jeff Brohm Opening Statement
“We’re excited to get back to work and put the last game behind us. It was a good performance for our team. We played tough, physical football and did a lot of really good things. College football really comes down to who’s going to prepare the hardest, who’s the hungriest, who’s going to perform on game day, and minimizing the turnovers, that’s all going to be critical. We play a really good football team that’s hot. They’re playing good football right now and they’ve had some really dominant wins. Their quarterback – he’s been really, really good. Seven touchdowns, one interception and a bunch of rushing yards; really done a great job. Combine that with a defense that’s got a ton of sacks and gotten after the quarterback, that equals a really good football team. So we’ll have to prepare, have a good plan ready and come out and execute and play well in order to win.”
(On Virginia Tech’s quarterback and why they’re playing so well right now)
“I think that the quarterback has definitely stabilized what they’re doing on offense. They’re going to control the ball and it adds an extra runner to the offense that you have to account for and have a plan for. If you don’t, he’ll (Kyron Drones) expose you and they’ve done that. When they’re doing that, they’re controlling the football. I think Syracuse only ran a total 47 plays in the last game, which minimizes possessions, which means you have to take advantage of the ones you have. Combine that with an aggressive defense that has gotten after quarterbacks. They get a lot of sacks which equals wins. Some of their wins have been dominant wins, which means they are capable of playing at a really high level. This is a big game for us and we’re going to need to get ready to play.”
(On the team’s response to the Pittsburgh game)
“I really love our team. They work hard, they prepare, they want to win – it means something to them. They stick together when things are not going exactly the way they want. It was a good moment for our guys to understand that you have to do the small things in order to win football games. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. I think that really alerted our guys that we’ve got to do this each and every week and how important the “one-game season” mantra is. I think they know that on any given week you can get beat if you don’t play well. Identifying the issues we had, which I thought we did, like turning the ball over, giving up a couple of big plays, not converting in the redzone. A lot of things happened that hurt us, and we just have to fix those and solve those. I think our guys are more than willing to adjust and play hard and realize that every week there’s a lot riding on each and every game. So you have to come ready to play and find a way to win.”
(On offensive line in Duke game, pushing Jawhar Jordan in, overall performance)
“Our offensive line did a really good job. We wanted to establish the run, get chunks of yards, and get manageable third downs. I thought we were very good at that. They were hitting people, knocking people back, finishing with the ball, pushing the pile, and all things you want to do. They had a great time, and it was a really good performance by them. We got more guys in the game, which we’ll need as we go through the course of the season. We’ll need more and more guys to step up, so it’s important to get them valuable reps in practice, but also in games if we can. That will be an important component. To this point, those guys have really given us a lot of great effort. Some of them have played nicked up or with some issues and they continue to come out and compete hard.”
(On possibility of a special season for the program, being sharp for future opportunities)
“I don’t think it’s too complicated. We’re blocking everything else out until the next game. Looking at anything other than the next game as a team and as coaches can get you in trouble. I’ve been burned enough times and I’m sure others have as well. It’s as simple as let’s improve this week, get better, and try to go win this next football game. I think looking at whatever happens at the end is great when the season is over, but until then it is how do we find a way to beat Virginia Tech.”
(On defensive improvement, keeping them level, guys stepping up)
“It’s been a lot of fun to watch our defense. I thought we were pretty good from the day I got here, as far as the talent we had. There was some youth in a lot of positions or some guys who hadn’t played a lot, which was always a concern, and it always will be. But we liked what we saw, and they continue to improve. Now it’s just a matter of getting on the field and executing. We have some really good pieces on the D-line and some others that were really young, and they’ve gelled together and played really well. Having the depth there at the linebacker position has been very important. There was inexperience and guys who haven’t played, but those guys have stepped up, played hard, and have done a really good job. TJ (Quinn) and Jaylin (Alderman) are our two starters, but we rotate other guys in there and they’ve all played their role. We have to continue to build that depth, but I think that position is improving. In the secondary, two solid corners, and then Storm (Duck) has come in as a transfer, done a really good job. A couple other of the backups you’ll see on the field more, who are continuing to improve within the safety position. We had a couple of injuries early that knocked us back a little bit. Luckily, we took a couple transfers there that have played well for us. Now our other safeties, Josh (Minkins) and those guys, D’Angelo (Hutchinson), they’re getting healthy, we’re able to rotate that. All of it ties together. I think, you know, covering guys, getting in front of guys, having a scheme that all of our calls covers guys as much as we can within reason of the scheme allows the defensive line and those guys just a little bit extra time to get pressure. We just have to continue to tweak that every week. Do what we do well and emphasize that but also, I do think it’s important to beat their quarterback and to have some disguise, to create some confusion, to do some things they haven’t seen will always be vital to success while doing the things you do very well.”
(On balance between pursuing a postseason goal and maintaining one game season mantra)
“I’m not smart enough to overcomplicate it, so we try to keep it simple. As soon as you try to overcomplicate that, your mind starts to wander, and you think of a lot of different scenarios, what can and can’t happen, what we need to do and what we need to avoid. I just think that’s fun for parents and fans and schools, and it’s great. I’m all for it. But behind closed doors, I mean, this is a competitive football game. There’s a lot of great players, great coaches, great teams across the country. On any given day, anybody can win a game. As soon as you get this much distracted, it’ll cause a loss. I’ve been through it. We’ve learned the hard way. It sounds simple, but you have to just focus on the one game at hand. This is big boy football, competitive football every week. How can we beat the other team, whoever that is that we’re playing every week? If you just continue to do that, at the end of the year, when it’s over, we’ll look back and hopefully like what we saw, and there’ll be some time to look back and be like man, I wish we had a couple of these games back, we could have done this. It’s nothing more complicated than that.
(On third down conversion defense, holding opponents under 30%, Gilbert Frierson big game)
“I think we’ve done a really good job on third down. Anytime you can get them in third-and-long or extra-long situations, it helps the defense. I think the Pittsburgh game, as we look back on it, they got into very manageable third downs: third and one, third and two, third and three, third and four, and that hurt us. Creating negative plays, getting sacks, pressuring early on early downs is very important, and we’ll continue to do that. It’s not always easy, some teams are going to come in and hammer away, hammer away, hammer away and get to manageable third down, you have to stop it. It’s not always going to happen the way you want. I do think Gilbert (Frierson) is in our third down package. He’s athletic. He’s a former defensive back we have him at that outside linebacker position. He can read the screen play as good as anybody, he does it in practice. He’s picked us off numerous times in practice, and he read the screen play in the game, picked that off, and that’s not easy to do. He’s just got a good knack and feel of reading a quarterback and understanding this scheme because he’s played some football in the past. I just think they all play their role. We mixed the D-line around a little bit on third downs to create maybe a few more pass rushers, and I just think continue to be aggressive, but yet confusing the quarterback giving different looks will always be important.
(On only giving up seven points total in first quarter through eight games, overall defense)
“Probably nothing too scientific there. I do think that our team has come ready to play, so that part I’m proud of. I mean, even in the loss, I thought we were ready to play. We scored the first time we touched the ball, we got a stop, we had the lead at half. I think our guys work hard and they have confidence when they take the field. I think our defense has confidence in themselves and the package that we’re using, and they play aggressive. I think if we can not give their offense the ball back by having turnovers early on and sustaining some drives like we did this past game and putting points on the board early, it definitely plays to our advantage. Our defense has taken advantage of it and they’ve done a really good job, so it’s really a credit to our players. I think they play really hard early on and they come ready to play.