Boston College veterans Mehdi Abdesmad and Harris Williams spoke to reporters on Monday at the annual ACC Media Days in Pinehurst, North Carolina. See some of what they had to say below. Quotes courtesy of ASAPSports.com
Q. Last year you guys pulled off something phenomenal defensively, jumping like 105 places in terms of total defense. How did you pull that off?
MEHDI ABDESMAD: That’s something that Coach Brown and all the coaches really pushed us to do. They told us when they got here, they said, We need to stop the run. Every practice we showed up and we had to stop the run. Then you get just used to it. It’s in you. Then you show up to games and you just do it.
Q. I noticed you’re playing Notre Dame at Fenway Park. Tell me what that is going to be like.
MEHDI ABDESMAD: Well, that’s going to be a football game in Fenway. Just the fact to play there, it’s a really nice stadium. It’s one of the best baseball stadiums in the country. Playing there going to be fun. There’s going to be a nice crowd, so yeah.
Q. Playing Syracuse, it’s an old Big East rivalry. Your thought on that rivalry and how it continues to grow in the ACC.
MEHDI ABDESMAD: The last two years, our last game. When you watch the game, you can feel it’s really tense, it’s a strong game. When we go there, it’s for a fight. We really want to win this game.
Q. How has your conditioning been, your rehab? What is your frame of mind heading into the season?
MEHDI ABDESMAD: Well, right now I feel great. The past two years have been hard. But, you know, I have a great coaching staff, family and friends that really push me. I feel great right now. I’m just ready to play football.
Q. You talked a little bit about injuries, how you’ve overcome the adversity, not only physically, but mentally to be prepared to go back out there.
MEHDI ABDESMAD: Well, you know, at first, I really never got hurt before, so you never think you are going to get hurt before you get hurt. But, you know, that’s tough. The first few weeks, the first few months are tough. But then, like I said, I got great family, coaching staff, friends. They really helped me out to get through this. I did it. I just want to play football.
Q. This league has a phenomenal number of great mobile quarterbacks. How much does that complicate things for a guy like you to go up against them?
MEHDI ABDESMAD: Well, that’s harder. When you pass-rush, you got to make sure you get him contained, that he doesn’t get through the free gap. You got to watch him. It’s not like if you play a quarterback that stays in the pocket. You have to beat the guy, then get back to the quarterback.
Q. Last year you had stretches which were very successful. You also had some stretches in the season that were sort of disappointing as a team. How does this team this year stay consistent for 12 weeks?
MEHDI ABDESMAD: That’s something that we really work hard on. We have a fourth quarter in the workout that makes the workout harder. We just go hard and really thinking about all the games that we couldn’t finish. Next year we’re going to finish those games.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We have Harris Williams. Questions for Harris.
Q. Last year you had the all-grad student offensive line. All five of them are gone. You started the year before but were injured. What was it like to watch how they came together, made all those holes? What is it going to be like having to rebuild around you after them?
HARRIS WILLIAMS: Watching them is kind of sad, but it’s also a great opportunity to learn because I get to sit back, learning the coach’s dynamics with the players, learning the interactions, how I can leverage that now being in a leadership role as I get older. Jumping forward to this year, it’s kind of like a blank canvas. Michelangelo has a blank canvas. It can be a myriad of different paintings. The guys now, we can blast off and be whatever we want to be, but come together with great chemistry and unity.
Q. Harris, you’re from Massachusetts. I’m assuming you grew up a Red Sox fan.
HARRIS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. Playing at Fenway against Notre Dame, what does that mean to you guys?
HARRIS WILLIAMS: I almost came to Boston College to play baseball. I’m a San Francisco Giants fan, love Barry Bonds, power hitter. Playing on such hallowed ground where such players played before me, it’s a great honor and great pride to be able to accomplish a dream to play in a pro baseball stadium, but playing football there, too. It’s a great opportunity for us and Boston College.
Q. For years Boston College had the identity of playing smash-mouth football. For a couple years they seemed to get away from that. Do you feel that’s the identity back now with Boston College, trying to dominate up front and run the football?
HARRIS WILLIAMS: Definitely. That’s something that I love that Coach Addazio has brought back to Boston College. That’s something an offensive lineman likes to do, run it straight at you, run it from Point A to Point B against his will.
Q. Tyler, one of your runningbacks, how has he progressed? What are you expecting out of him this season?
HARRIS WILLIAMS: He’s a great player. I don’t expect anything less than for him to have a great season.
Q. A little bit deeper into the runningback arsenal, what you can say about the guys behind you, what they can bring to Boston College?
HARRIS WILLIAMS: We have a stable of strong backs. As an offensive lineman, I’m very proud to open up holes for them. You know our bread and butter is to run the ball. Having that stable of running backs is definitely going to help us get some victories this year.
Q. How have you stayed ready, given you haven’t played a ton of football in quite a while
HARRIS WILLIAMS: Definitely studying in the film room. You learn a lot from teaching others. I teach the freshmen my experiences on the field. Teaching them keeps me fresh with the plays, the playbook. Just always being around football, always watching film, always talking to coaches, always talking to other players, football, football, football, yeah.
Q. You used the Michelangelo comparison a minute ago. Why?
HARRIS WILLIAMS: Michelangelo is something I would figure a lot of people could relate to. Me personally, I’m a coder, if I set a blank document to code, I don’t think many people would understand that.
Q. So what is success at the end of the season? What would it look like for you?
HARRIS WILLIAMS: As a senior class, we expect nothing less than to compete for a conference championship. For myself, I would love to lead this team to a conference championship. Regardless if I played one down or if I played every single down, I would like to lead this team and help out my team in any way I can.