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BOSTON COLLEGE FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE

November 5, 2018

Steve Addazio

Boston, Massachusetts

STEVE ADDAZIO: Okay, guys. Excited obviously for a big game here in Chestnut Hill. ESPN GameDay will be here. It's only happened a couple of times before, and will bring a tremendous focus to our campus, to Boston College, to our program, and that's always a great honor, a great opportunity.

I expect the atmosphere here will be sensational. We are expecting a full stadium and a crowd that will be in their seats early, and creating a great home-field advantage, which I'm sure it will be.

We are facing and unbelievable challenge playing the No. 2 team in the country in Clemson. I will honestly and candidly tell you that this may be the best team I've seen in my career. It's certainly the best time I've seen since I've been at Boston College. They are in the top 5 in almost every statistical category. They are sensational on both sides of the ball. They are explosive. They have got first-rounders all over the field. They're a legitimate, legitimate big-time team. Alabama 1, they're 2, and that's the elite of college football right now by a long short.

So it will certainly be a huge challenge for us, but we are looking forward to it and looking forward to the fact that we can play this game right here at home at Chestnut Hill.

I guess with that, I'm happy to answer any questions.

Q. Steve, can you update us on AJ?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Not really. Not really.

Q. Okay.
STEVE ADDAZIO: I saw him yesterday and was bouncing around, a good smile on his face. He's dinged up. It is what it is. It is not going to significantly change one way or another. The question then becomes how well can he handle that, but I would assume with these kind of injuries, you're not going to feel exactly the way you should feel until you get to a bowl game and have a few weeks.

So I think this is ongoing, and certainly a fair question will be does it feel good enough by game time to play on it? We will have to see each day with that.

Q. Can you talk about their front four. The strength of your team is your offensive line. Is this even more than most cases a trench game?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah. I mean, it's always a trench game. They are so talented across the board on defense, but certainly it starts up front, and they are as good as I've seen. When I was in the SEC, we were playing against some of these fronts. This is an outstanding front, but really can run at linebacker and the back end are extremely aggressive and athletic.

There's a reason why they are where they are and they are scoring as many points that they are scoring. This is not by any means a fluke. This is a very well-coached and very well-recruited football team. Dabo, I've really watched from afar, I think he's done a fabulous job of building and recruiting and creating a positive atmosphere, and really done a remarkable job with the whole football program. They just got it rolling and they are attracting in there the elite, elite players in the country. You can see it on the field. It is very, very evident.

So yeah, it is a trench game. We are going to have to play really well up front. We are going to have to have the ability to run the football. We are going to have to be smart and we are going to have do a good job and gets hats on hats and move the front a little bit. Very few people have had the good fortune of being able to do that to them. No one has done it on a consistent basis, that's for sure.

I'd say that I think Brent Venables is one of the finest defensive coordinators in the country on top of it all. They not only have good players, but he is outstanding and goes a great job of putting together their package of pressures of things that really alter and affect you.

Q. Steve, you talked about Clemson's defensive line. 32 sacks this season, sixth in rushing defense. For an offense like you guys that is built on play-action and running the football, are there changes you feel you have to make throughout the week or are you going to stick to your guns?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, as I told our team, I want to make sure we give our kids a chance to go fight and within this football game. So what we are not going to do is try to make this a chess match-scheme game and try to think on either side of the ball we are going to try to outdo this and outdo that. I want this game to be squarely in the hands of our players. They have earned it and deserved it.

We have good schemes on both sides of the ball. I want to play fast and physical. I want to give our kids a chance to feel confident in what they are doing, so they can go toe to toe. I don't want to start doing things that we haven't done.

Now, that doesn't mean that we won't have some wrinkles. That doesn't mean that we won't have some things prepared, just like everybody does. We certainly will. We are not going to go into this game and crawl up into the fetal position here. That's not going to happen. But that's not who we are anyways now. So we are not going to do that. We are going to play and go after Clemson with everything we have. We are going to play with great courage and on the attack. That's a mandate. We are going to play very aggressive, very hard and we are going to let it all hang out. We are not going to worry about anything.

So I think from the top to the bottom of the program there is going to be one mindset here, and that's going to be the mindset. So we are certainly not going to hold anything back. And we are going to play as fast and physical as we can. If anything, I'm going to cut practice down in its duration a little bit, keep it physical, but I want our kids to feel as great as they can feel on Saturday night.

Q. Coach, even though AJ is a game-time decision, is there some level of comfort knowing that you've been running the ball effectively without him season?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I think guys have stepped up. Yeah David Bailey and Benny Glines and this past week Travis, this guys have worked really, really hard, and they are really good play players. Next man up. We have got to roll.

We have prided ourselves here as being a sudden-change program for a host of reasons, I've mentioned here before. It started with the fact that never having an indoor here, like we have now, just having to shuffle practice around us. Everything is sudden change to us. Our kids are so used to it, we call it Irene. They are so used to that, that when these things happen, I'm not going to tell you they don't affect you, I mean, you are taking one the best players in the conference in off the field and one of the best running backs in America if that happens. You don't just fill that void, but that's not going to take away the fact that we have other good players. It's not going to take away the fact that we are going to compete and scrap and fight for every inch. It is not going to change our mindset and philosophy.

It certainly hurts when you take elite players off the field. Why Clemson is so good is they have elite players on the field. Like anybody else, when their quarterback wasn't playing and they have had some issues there, that's hurt them too.

The object is to stay as healthy as you can, and hopefully you have all hands on deck going into week... 10? I had to calculate that up. Going into week 10, this is about what you get right now. You've been in nine extremely physical contests. Now here you go into week 10 towards the end of the year, everybody has got a -- maybe not Clemson. They probably only have to play half of games right now. But we are certainly in fist fights until the very, very end of the game.

Q. Was last year's match-up a confidence booster? I know the score looked a little bit different than the actual game was. But going into the fourth quarter 7-7 (inaudible). Is that a motivator?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I think that certainly our kids feel like, hey, we went toe to toe with them a year ago, they are not going to be intimidated by them. But in the same breath, every year is a new year, a new dynamic. What happens in this football game when you are playing them at a high level, sometimes it doesn't take much, and things can tilt, positively and negatively.

We have played at times in my tenure here we have played Clemson very physical, very tough. Hopefully we can do that again. Obviously we are going to have to play great defense. Their offense is extremely explosive. I mean, they are the most explosive they have been. Quarterback is a great thrower. Really confident guy. The running back might be one of the very finest in the country, like ours. They have got a really good offensive line. They have got elite receivers. So they are very, very explosive. They are averaging something is like 48 points a game or something right around that number. That's a real number. I think they average something like giving up 13 points a game. That's a pretty big swing right there.

I just think that our kids have the mentality that we are going to play our level and our brand of football, which is going to be physical and tough, and we are going to go after them that way. That's not going to change. Just let it hang out and see where we are.

Q. You mentioned some of the running backs that you've relied on when AJ couldn't go. Could you describe the different looks that they might give a defense, kind of what they provide for you, different styles than AJ?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, David is a lot like AJ. He is a physical, 250-pound back that brings a lot of force.

Benny is kind of like that in-between size guy. He's got decent size, decent speed. He's a one-cut guy.

Travis has been outstanding out of the back field, but as a runner you saw him on Saturday, he is very, very explosive, and ran very, very physical and hard. He's a hard-nose guy. I think David and AJ are more your bigger, bruiser type of back.

What makes AJ unique is on top of that his top-end speed. Then I think Benny and Travis are just a little bit different style. So it gives the defense a little bit different kind of back.

I think we need to be available to present each. You are going to need those two-yard runs that become four-yard runs. I think David and AJ do that for us. That in this game is critically important. You just can't get the third-and-long against these guys or you got problems on your hands.

So we have got to be able to manage our -- our run game has got to manufacture the three or four yards a carry. So if you are running it twice, you are in that -- even if you can get it to third-and-three third-and-four, it is all very manageable. It's when you get out of whack, and they do a great job of that, that you got problems. Get yourself into third-and-six, seven, eight nine, and they are coming after you and it's rough duty.

So we have got to stay on schedule on early downs with a combination of strong run game and some really good play-action, and then when we have to punt, you gotta punt, and you gotta play defense and you have to be patient here, and you can't be foolish. People turn the ball over at a high rate against them, throwing it all over the place. So you just have to be careful.

Q. Is there one of these guys who might be better suited against this Clemson defense?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I would say we need all of them but certainly one guy you would like to have ready to go is No. 2.

Q. Style-wise?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I think it's good to have a combination against them. AJ, God willing, will be healthy again, and we can get 30 carries out of him and the other guys will account for 10 or 15 carries in there. Even if it's 25, and 20, this will be probably a good thing.

But we have got to stay fresh. We don't want to have someone in there that's tired. Because we want to play fast and hopefully we can get enough first downs where we can keep that going. That will be a great advantage for us if we can do that.

Q. I believe in tenure you've coached against Tajh Boyd, Deshaun Watson, Kelly Bryant, is this guy in the same mold, or is he a little different?
STEVE ADDAZIO: This guy is going to be a first-round draft pick. This guy is accurate. He's got size. He's got some savvy. This guy is an outstanding player. They have had some outstanding players, we all know that but this guy is certainly an elite guy on their standards. So I think he's outstanding.

There is a reason why he was able to capture him, and people were talking about how could you put that guy ahead and this and that? Their staff obviously knew exactly what they were doing.

They are playing an elite caliber player. That's not saying the other guys weren't. I'm sure they have got depth in there. They are very talented but this guy is the real deal.

Q. Coach, with GameDay coming to campus, is that something like that ranking where you don't really mention it or do you let the guys kind of enjoy it? Do you use that to inspire them at all?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I think this is something that is good for the program, good for the university. Our guys, they all know it and they are fired up about it. It's a signal that you are playing in a really significant game in November.

I don't think this is one of those games where you have to play the motivation game or you have to worry about -- I think this game will speak for itself. I think the atmosphere, the players going down the homestretch know. I'd like to think that while we are going to keep our focus on what we need to do to win, I don't think the fact that GameDay is here or they know that or talk about that or anything, that's going to matter.

I think we are going to play a really good football team. We are going to have a play with a lot of energy, a lot of passion, and we going to play at the highest level of execution that we can have.

You know what, there is no pressure on our football team right now. We go out there and just swing away. That's what we'll do. So I want them to enjoy it and enjoy the fact that they are playing in a meaningful big-time game. That's what they came here for and they are doing it. We know what the challenges are. We have got to have a great week of practice and put this team in a great position but they will handle all that well.

Q. This is a more specific question, but Isaiah McDuffie has six or more tackles in three of the past four games. What have you seen from him?
STEVE ADDAZIO: He's a young player who every week now gets better and better and better. He has he has an unbelievable motion. We tease him, he is like a bloodhound, he's going after the defenders. He had two finish plays again Virginia Tech where he actually wasn't where he needed to be, and reversed the field and ran down the ball carriers. It's impressive to watch.

He can accelerate. He is physical, he's tough and with every game, he gets a little bit more experience. He's en route to being an elite player.

All right, guy. Thank you very much.

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