Boston College head coach Steve Addazio spoke at the ACC Media Days in Pinehurst, North Carolina on Tuesday about the upcoming season, quarterback Darius Wade, and several other topics. All quotes below courtesy of ASAPSports.com.
Q. Coming out of the spring, some of those big things you were able to take away, as well as Darius Wade, what you see in him as a quarterback now.
COACH ADDAZIO: Obviously spring was big for us, replacing most of our offensive line, in addition to the quarterback. On offense we have a lot of new faces. I think on the other side of the ball, we have more veterans coming back, a little bit more experience. The big question of course is the quarterback question. Darius came out of the spring as the leader, has done a nice job. He’s a young guy, got a lot of talent, throws the ball well, runs the ball well. Obviously he’s preparing himself, as are the other quarterbacks, for training camp. But you never are really going to know that spot until you hit the bright lights, it’s all on the line, all the intangibles happen then, how they handle the big pressure, the stage. Those are unanswered questions that won’t be resolved for some time yet.
Q. How steep is the learning curve going to be for him?
COACH ADDAZIO: He and Coach Fitch have a great relationship, as they need to, as a position coach and coordinator. I think it’s going well. You’re talking about a young guy who is very bright, extremely bright guy, has a great understanding mentally of the big picture. I think it will be developmental. It will be what it is when young quarterbacks have to take the reins. Certainly has all the ability to get it done, all the intelligence to get it done. But now we’ve got to make sure he’s going to play his most competitive moments, he’s going to play with competitive excellence, as well as the other quarterbacks.
Q. Your defense improved 105 yards up to 11th in the country. How did you pull that off?
COACH ADDAZIO: Don Brown, our coordinator, has done a good job. We throw a lot of scheme at people, we’re a pressure defense. That’s what we want to be and that’s what we are. I think the disruption that’s created both in the run game and in the throw game has served us well. I think what’s important for us is that we stay on the cutting edge, we keep constantly bringing new schemes into our pressure packages. I think it’s really important for us. So we have a little bit more experience, more veteran players that will be involved this season. So I’m looking honestly for us to play a pretty high level of defense.
Q. Second year in a row, you’re replacing virtually your entire offensive line and your quarterback. How tough is that when you’re trying to get a program going?
COACH ADDAZIO: Well, it’s difficult. I think we were able to do a good job in year one and year two of maximizing our talent, putting together offensively and defensively the pieces and special teams that fit the talent that we have at hand as we rebuild this program. We’re in year three right now. The process is still going on. Over 60 of our players out of the 85 are going to be freshmen and sophomores. It’s a work in progress. I think when I took this job, I knew this would be a three- to five-year process. Essentially we’re going to change our roster over. We’re in the middle of it right now.
I think even though we’re a completely different team this year than we were year one and year two, I think we’re still in a similar situation where we’re trying to say, Here is our talent level, here is where we are, these are the schemes we need to use to maximize who we are right now. Until we restock our roster and gain experience and say, This is the real schematic direction we want to head into. But right now it’s all about making sure that we maximize our players based on ability or based on experience. This year is a year that I really believe we have to play great defense because we’re very young on offense. We’re more athletic than we’ve been in the last couple years, but youth usually equates to mistakes. Mistakes equal inconsistency. Inconsistency brings about a lack of execution. That’s the battle we’re in right now. How fast can we get the execution level to a high rate.
Q. You committed the fewest turnovers of any team in the Atlantic Coast Conference last year. What is your secret? With a younger team, can you duplicate that?
COACH ADDAZIO: We have to. It’s not a secret. That’s something that we pay really close attention to. We call it the no-talent things, N/T. We have that sign up there, N/T. We’re going to play like a team. We’re spending a lot of time on the chemistry and the development of our team, the accountability from one player to another. There’s a lot of great players out there, but there’s not a lot of great teams. We need to be that great team. We’re not going to out-athlete anybody. That’s not going to happen. Things like turnovers, penalties, we have to keep that low. Mental mistakes, we have to keep that low. Why? Because we can control that.
I can’t control right now how fast we are or how athletic. We’re working on that, that’s a recruiting process. But the other things are controllable. Control the controllables. We spend a lot of time on that. Ball security is a huge deal. Our plan to win at Boston College is play great defense, because I think you have to play great defense to compete. You have to be able to run the football. If you can’t run the football, it’s hard to have any level of championship football. You have to be outstanding in special teams. We always have been. We had some kicking issues, but our overall special teams are very productive. And turnovers, you got to control turnovers. All of those things equate to field position. Field position is what the game is all about. That’s how we piece the thing together.
Q. A couple of players yesterday talked about one of the themes for the offseason was finishing games. How important was that to you?
COACH ADDAZIO: Well, you know how you come in each year and kind of have a focus. Our biggest focus is finish. We created a highlight video of where we didn’t finish this year. There were several games. We had an unbelievable opportunity in front of us versus Clemson, versus Colorado State, versus Florida State. These were all games that came down to the last play or last drive of the game. That’s the difference between a seven-win year and a ten-win year. Even in the bowl game against Penn State, we missed the extra point. That could have been an 11-win year. That’s what it is. The focus is on whatever it takes to finish. We want to be a great finishing team. What does that mean? I think what you do is attack it. What is our energy like in the fourth quarter? Do we have one more snap than you have? How do we focus on that? We’ve done things in the off-season to try to make it an emphasis, bring a focus on it, and hopefully usually you get what you emphasize. It wasn’t like we didn’t play well in the fourth quarter, but for whatever reason, we didn’t make those three or four extra plays, which was the difference between seven wins, 10 wins or 11 wins. That’s something we’re going to get done and pay close, close attention to.
Q. This question is always going to come up. Coming back to the Carrier Dome, especially after what happened last time you were there a couple years ago, after the game against Notre Dame at Fenway Park.
COACH ADDAZIO: Syracuse is our rival game. Another rival game is Notre Dame. Those two games, they happen to be butted up against each other. Having spent four great years at Syracuse myself in that Dome, I know how hard it is to play there. It’s a different environment. When you walk in there, it’s just got this deal. It will be a great challenge for us. So we’re going to play our rival game on the road in the Dome, in one of the harder places to play a college football game. It’s quite a ways off from now, but we’ve already begun talking about that. The challenge will be great, but I think the intensity of that game has been increasing over the last couple years. As you pointed out, we lost a heartbreaker, down to the last, whatever it was, six seconds on the clock, two years ago. That’s certainly not something that’s been forgotten, nor will it be. We’ll be looking forward to getting out there and visiting the Orange in the Dome.
Q. Looking at year three like you were talking about, changing the environment, rebuilding, where do you think Boston College is at under you right now as far as where you want to be? Where are we on the timeline right now?
COACH ADDAZIO: I would say to you we got a little ahead because we’re able to be bowl-eligible year one. Seven wins year one and year two. As I said earlier, I felt when I came into this job, and I still feel now, those first three years were going to be in that range. We were able to maximize that range, which is a good thing because it built confidence, it built energy, it build buzz. Those are all things that you need in recruiting. There’s really a lot of positive momentum right now at Boston College. It’s been great for us as we rebuild. You certainly don’t want negative energy, you want positive energy. It’s been very positive. I think Brad Bates, the administration, our team understands that, listen, we’re right now a work in progress, but we’re a fun team to watch.
Why? We play hard. We play everybody hard. We’re tough, physical. When we’re building that foundation off of a physicality, Boston College needs to be that kind of program. It needs to be a play tough, run defense, be able to run the football, big, strong, physical football team. That’s what we’re building. I think people are excited about that. They’re excited about the energy of our team and also the kind of players we brought in. They represent BC unbelievably. High-character guys that understand how important it is to receive a great education. They do a great job representing BC and what BC is all about. Those are all the important foundation pieces. What does the year bring this year? We’ll see. We’ll see. What do I feel? I feel like we’re on a great path. I feel like we’ve increased our talent level.
I like our athleticism. Will that be reflected this year in the number of wins? Who knows. You don’t know that. We’re in the range right now where a little can go either way. I know where we’re headed is in a positive direction. That’s not coach talk. No one is going to come up here and say, We’re headed in a negative direction. I like where our program is going to be over the next three years. I think we’re stocked with a bunch of very talented young football players. Now it’s our job to get that experience developed as fast as we can because we all know, especially now more than ever, it’s unforgiving. You’re judged so much on the here and now of the season. But I like our future and I’m excited about our future and I’m excited about our present. We’re just a developmental work in progress. What you can count on is we’re going to play hard. You can count on watching a tough team and a hard-playing team. That’s what’s most important to me as we go into the future.
Q. 2016, opening up the season against Georgia Tech in Dublin, your thoughts? It’s several months away, but your thoughts as you think about the future of your student-athletes?
COACH ADDAZIO: We’re excited about the opportunity to go to Dublin, play in Ireland. I think it’s a great experience for our players. Part of the educational process is to be able to have our kids exposed to all kinds of different things. We’re going to have the chance to go to a different country, be exposed to a different culture. That’s part of the great things you want college football players to come away with. My thing all along has always been this: I get nervous that I think sometimes there’s been an environment where you’re just passing through college to get to the league if you’re a football player. I’m so against that. I think college is the destination, it’s an experience, a lifelong experience.
College athletics are unique and unbelievable. Going to Dublin, Ireland to play a football game against Georgia Tech, for our players to experience this, I thinks is an unbelievable growth opportunity and an experience they’ll have for the rest of their lives. It makes the college experience so much richer. We’re fired up about it. It’s a long way away. We’re excited. Time moves so quick. Next year I’ll be standing right here talking about that game which will be a matter of weeks away. Certainly going to be a great opportunity for BC, Georgia Tech and the ACC.