BOSTON COLLEGE FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 7, 2018
STEVE ADDAZIO: Appreciate you guys all coming out. Thanks for being here.
Great to be four days into pre-season camp right now, enjoying this team, the progress that they're making, their attitude, how they go about their business. It's been exciting.
It's been obviously a thrill to be in our new facility. Just a spectacular facility. Almost like a sign. We're not in there but two practices, the rain is coming down like crazy. We would have been out there with nowhere to go. It didn't faze us.
Really excited about it. Our players just training in there, practicing in there. The whole thing is a big-time environment. It's been a lot of fun.
As you move forward through pre-season, today is a player day off, tomorrow we're back at it. We're looking forward to continuing to take the next step and get towards the season.
With that, I'm happy to answer any of your questions.
Q. I know last year you talked about the development of your rooms, the positions, how you had to rebuild and get the talent in. Now that you have the depth, what is it like for you now to be able to develop it with a full season under your belt?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, it's exciting. I mean, we've got talented players sprinkled throughout the roster. I think the challenge is to make sure we keep those players healthy. The other challenge is to get our quarterback back feeling comfortable again. He's doing well right now. There's still a process there.
I think just getting everybody back together at one time to push forward. I think that's going to be a process in training camp. We're not there yet, but we're working towards that.
We're excited on both sides of the ball. We can get to the quarterback on defense, we can play in the back end. On offense, we can move the ball and score, get chunks of yards.
I've said it a lot, I'm going to say it again: a lot has to do with that trigger man. Anthony looks great. Hopefully he'll continue on his course back and be ready in the appropriate amount of time.
The good news is we have a couple young guys that we really feel good about. They're getting an awful lot of work right now. They're getting the bulk of it right now. They all continue to grow at a fast rate, which I think is very, very important, even though they don't really have significant game snaps under their belt.
Q. When Anthony goes down, he has a big rehab in front of him, take us back to what kind of instruction you gave him so he can continue to develop.
STEVE ADDAZIO: He's a ball guy. I mean, that's his world. So when he got hurt, like anybody else, they go through a little bit of a devastating period mentally. That's understandable.
He was quick to get back on and say, Okay, get this done, get it behind me, every day I'm a step closer. In that process, he's there. He's in every meeting. He's all over it. He is a pleasure to be around and coach because I think he has that specialness to him.
Not only is he a talented guy, but he really loves football. He's a real leader. He's kind of a Pied Piper kind of guy. Guys are attracted around him.
He kept that going. Some guys sometimes can fade away a little bit, maybe they're going through a little something. Not him. That never happened. Through his rehab, every time there was an opportunity to do more, he did more. He's been exceptional.
Honestly, he's ahead of schedule. Everything looks great. Throwing the ball, great. I mean, so just got to keep our fingers crossed and continue down that path. There's no reason to believe that he won't be there.
Now, the thing about it is, like anything else, those positions, it's just the mentality of the whole thing, getting over that initial phase of full contact and everything else, which obviously I'm not about to expose him to in training camp. That will come when the season starts.
Q. Does it validate your choice regarding EJ's redshirt last year? He was somebody who company potentially stay off the field.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah. I mean, listen, that was a tough situation last year, as I addressed it last year. We sat down, EJ, his family. There was a very tough decision that I knew had the potential to go a whole host of ways. We all went into it with our eyes open.
Does he have an opportunity here? Potentially, like everybody else. You never know what's going to happen. Also with the new rule structure that just came out, certainly we'll appeal that. The new rule structure came out for a lot of reasons. One of them is student-athlete welfare. In fact, there was a time when that was going to be a retro rule, then that retro part came out of it and went active right now. The intent originally of that rule was to make that retro. That story is not complete yet.
Certainly you didn't ask me this question, but someone probably will. That's the beauty of this new rule. I think it's great for the players. I think it takes the burden off of some of these decisions that have to be made. Now the question becomes the strategy behind it, okay?
I think everybody is a work in progress with that, how they want to handle this new rule. I think what we're going to do is we're going to evaluate those freshmen that are the most ready. If the situation arises where we can get them into a game early to give them some experience, we will. You're going to have to manage each thing uniquely different, but there will be a component to what you can leave towards the end of the year or the bowl game, as well.
So there's a strategy here that's unchartered waters. But it allows these kids to play in four games and still not lose their year. I think there's a lot of pieces to that that have to come together. You're not going to put a guy that you're trying to give him some time obviously in a tight football game. Nor do you randomly want to blow those four games either.
Some people have a little better chance on the front end of their schedule to have that opportunity, give something there, then hold something on the back end. It's going to be different for each guy. Some guys are going to flat play because they're going to play. They start out with one mindset. As they get in there, they may, Wow, he's going to play this year, we're not going to worry about the four game rule.
It will be a little fluid. There's going to be a lot of discussion about it. I think much more of a mindset of if a guy you think might be a guy, and the opportunity arises, get him in initially early, get a little feel when it's live.
Q. On the defensive side of the ball, Zach Allen was such an impact player last year. What went into the decision for him to return? What skills is he working on this summer?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I think his decision to return was wanting to get his degree. Zach is a 3.7 I believe GPA in finance. It's very, very important to him. His teammates, being a part of something special.
I mean, those were all the right reasons why guys want to come back. Of course, to continue to develop, have an opportunity for another year and mature. I can already look at Zach right now pre-season camp, he's different than he was last year in pre-season camp. He's grown. He's a better player now than he was last year at this exact same time. That validates why a guy does that.
Guys that rush the quarterback, their pass-rush skills. I mean, it's not that he's not working on run defense and defeating a block. Those guys all want to get to the quarterback, so they're working on different moves, different techniques. That's got their major attention.
Zach is maniacal about everything. He wants to be the best, which is a great thing. Fun to be around him and watch him.
Q. (Question about the five points.)
STEVE ADDAZIO: I'll give you a couple more because we're focused on it right now.
You talk about taking the next step, how do you take the next step? We just got to take the next step. Okay. How are you going to get there? You try to identify the areas you feel you need to improve upon. Duh!
Let the team see that we're attacking those areas and we have improved upon it. You feel like, Okay, we had to get this done, we got this done. That means we're en route to being more productive.
What are they? On defense, stopping the run on third down. The third down run has become more predominant nowadays because people are getting into these, and we do the same, blitz packages, these dime blitz packages that put a lot of smaller bodies on the field. Consequently people are starting to run the ball a little bit on third down. Gets you a little bit light on defense and try to hit you with the runs. You have great pass-rushers. What do great passers want to do? Get up the field, all right? Get up the field. All of a sudden there's open gaps sometimes in there. We last year felt like we needed to do a much better job on that.
We also felt on defense that a couple things we wanted to be able to do was a lot of teams are getting up in tempo, they have the ability to try to unwind you. We want to have answers for that, okay? We're working on that.
Examples on offense. Third-and-medium for us, throwing down for us in a throw game we have a heavy emphasis on third-and-medium. We also have a heavy emphasis on shotgun runs because we don't want to be just a team that is under center when we're going to hand the ball off, in the shotgun when we're going to throw the ball, right? Simple. We feel like now AJ is in year two, he's an every-down back right now, third down included.
We want to be able to help run the ball and throw the ball out of shotgun. We want to be able to run the ball under center and come out under center old school and three step or five step drop it. Those are some things we're working on.
Working on sudden change both sides of the ball. We are doing something we call Irenes, the sirens blow. The horns go off, we make the team go down into a calisthenic mode in a combination of sit-ups, up-downs, burpees. I blow the whistle, they have to sprint. Wherever they were, they have to drop into this activity. Then, boom, they sprint to the line of scrimmage. All of a sudden they're confronted. Third down and one, winner, loser. Whoever loses, there's a consequence for that.
We're attacking that situation. Even more than that, our thing is, I want to attack it in duress, fatigue. That's why wherever they are, they drop. We get them exhausted, blow the whistle. Can we perform when we're completely gassed and everything is stacked against you. You got to go in.
People talk about that, but how do you train that. This is something we're doing to training exactly that. In our toughest moment, when we're completely fatigued. As the old saying goes, Fatigue makes cowards of us all. You're trying to figure out how can I sustain a level of play when I'm completely fatigued, or at least a level of play that's better than the opponent across from me. We're working on that.
We're working on increasing our tempo, faster, maintaining execution. There's a host of things. Not 20 things, but there's five or six things that we have. Every day we attack 'em. Every day we attack 'em.
Q. (Question about scheduling.)
STEVE ADDAZIO: I think there's a few tiers to that question. I'm kind of a believer in non-conference games, I think it's good to have some regional, geographical link in. I don't know that you have to travel across the world in a non-conference game.
We play in a really, really great, tough conference. We play on the toughest side of it. It's a challenge every day. Philosophically I think certainly don't need to be traveling all over the place. That's an opinion, okay? It's easier said than done. Not always easy to get games.
I think you also are always trying to work your way through your non-conference schedule. We play enough Power 5 teams. We don't need to play multiple Power 5 teams in our non-conference schedule. I would say that consensus is pretty strong.
I think in the Big Ten, they have to play one more conference game or Power 5 game I believe it is. There's certain mandates coming from the conferences now. Then you got rivalries in there that people have to keep in consideration. If your rivalry game is out of conference...
I think pro football in pre-season camp has scrimmages now, right? I think it's good to have the ability to build. We just jump in that conference, and there's no opportunity there. I mean, you're in it. You're in the deep end of the pool in every game you play.
I don't think we should be going out and playing non-conference top five in other conference opponents. I don't think that's necessary. I understand everybody wants to see you play everybody, all that other kind of stuff. But I think it's a long, hard season now. If you're playing at a high level, you're fortunate enough to play in a conference championship, then there's a semi game. Holy cow, man, it's a lot.
Q. Might your thoughts on that change?
STEVE ADDAZIO: The most important thing is winning. When you play in a good conference, I don't see a lot of people looking back and checking out their schedule, okay? It starts with winning.
You want to put yourself in position that you can win the most football games you can win. That's momentum. One of the toughest things, momentum is good to build, right? I've seen some really good football teams get beat early in a season because they played a huge matchup game in game one, and it affected the rest of their year. Had they opened up with a lighter game, it might have been a completely different season for them.
I think you just need to be careful in your scheduling. I think you have to have an aligned plan. Certainly the more established you are in your program, I think the more that you can change that up just a little bit. How much do you really want to change it?
Now the conferences and TV may dictate some changes as we move forward. That may happen. There's already some changes starting to happen, mandates on what you can and can't do.
Isn't it great, to me, to be able to see some of these regional games? We open up with UMass. There's a lot of interest, a lot of fan interest about us playing Holy Cross because of the old rivalry games. What's wrong with that? Going out and playing these teams, I think it's been really, really good. Especially with these conferences the way they went. In the old days, the old Big East, there were a lot of regional games. I think that's good. I'm a proponent of that. Maybe that's why you hear me kind of going on a little bit about it. I like that a lot.
Q. (Indiscernible) heading into the senior year, what have you seen in him?
STEVE ADDAZIO: He's dominant in these three, four days of camp. He's developing into being an elite offensive lineman. Honestly, he's as good as there is in the conference right now. I think that will show to be true at the end. He's very competitive, very tough guy.
What a tremendous representation of Boston College. He just comes in here, kind of guy that stands for all the right things. His whole family. His brother Alec is a young guy here, following exactly in the same course as Chris. Chris will have a great opportunity to go on and play at the next level, have great things ahead of him. I wish I had 20 of him. He's a great guy, really, truthfully.
Q. You mentioned the regional rivalries. You recruit a lot of guys out of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, too. In terms of mining the local area, what does getting the brand to help you out?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I think it's great. We played UMass, we played Connecticut, Holy Cross, love to play Rutgers. Obviously Syracuse played them as a rivalry game in our conference. Used to play Maryland, played them in a bowl game. Those things are all good things. We're playing Temple this year. Temple is a Philadelphia, Northeast team. I don't think we left any out. Maybe Penn State or something like that. Named 'em all.
I think it is good for interest. I think it is good for recruiting. I think it is good for filling the stadium up. Part of this is probably I'm a Northeast guy, too. I grew up in the Northeast. Even though I jumped out, I've been in the Big Ten and SEC, I still fancy myself as a Northeast person. Growing up, that's the way it was. You thought in terms of that.
Again, I go back to when I was playing at Central Connecticut. We'd end our year and take a road trip. The road trip would be to come watch Boston College play Holy Cross. I was in a Division II school in Connecticut. That's what we did. Our world, especially back then, didn't extend that far out. That was a big trip. It was a lot of fun.
Q. What type of leadership role have you seen Harris and Lukas?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Sometimes Will Harris seems -- he's a dominant player now, a big-time guy. Both of those guys are big-time guys. Lukas and Will are the older guys in that group. Those were guys that have a lot of pride and came up in a group that has a lot of pride, starting with Justin Simmons set that course, Cam, Ike. Now you have Will and Luke. It's going to keep rolling. It's kind of a good deal.
Luke has done a great job. What a role model. If you haven't spent a lot of time around Lukas Denis, you should do that. He's a tremendous kid with a great personality, wonderful heart. He's a really talented player. That makes usually for really good leadership skills. You can look up to him as a role model, as you can Will.
I think there's a lot to that. Program-wise that's what's happening right now. We have that in a lot of positions now. That helps you in your development of your team as opposed to maybe when you get here, it's not quite that way. It takes time because you're refostering that whole development. I think obviously going back, Tom O'Brien had that going pretty good here, where he had that scenario happening, where there's a lot of development in groups.
You talk to Ricky Brown on our staff, Josh Beekman, Rich Gunnell, they'll all tell you that's what it seems like right now, a real opportunity for guys helping mature the guys. It's kind of really fun to be around right now.
I've just never been around as good a group much guys in terms of talented, high character, love ball, not very distracted. I'll say that and something will happen, right? For 17- to 22-year-old guys. I say it a lot, I should say it more. If I'm a BC graduate, if I'm a BC fan, alum, it's hard not to be real proud of the guys that are representing your football program right now, the players. It's hard not to be. They're outstanding, they really are.
Q. Sometimes there's a healthy gap between the starter and second string. Is quarterback a position when Brown is healthy, he's your guy, the other guys are a distant number two? A guy like Perry, is he in the mix?
STEVE ADDAZIO: That's a good question. I think EJ and Matt McDonald are competing like crazy right now. They're very talented. We're excited about them.
Anthony Brown is our starting quarterback. That's not open for debate right now. Anthony doesn't play so well, I guess we'll start having that conversation.
Anthony is clearly our starter. We love the fact that we have two guys that are as talented as the guys we have that are pushing every day. Your program is healthy when you have competition within positions. Chris Lindstrom is a heck of a football player. He's our starting right guard right now. But we've got other guys on offensive line that are playing at a high level as well. Ben is playing at a high level, Jon Baker, et cetera, et cetera.
The difference now is, all over the field that's happening. We don't just drop off because we pull a couple guys out of there for whatever reason. That's not the case. I'd say the one position that I'm looking to see the depth respond right now is at the pass-rushers. Wyatt Ray and Zach Allen are two elite pass-rushers. We have a couple guys we think have the talent and ability, but we want to see them start to come on.
I would say that depth is something. Your question is Anthony Brown the starter? Absolutely. Absolutely.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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