BC Head Coach Steve Addazio on Game Week
Aug. 25, 2014
Well, here we go right? Week one ... kicking off the college football season. I know you guys are excited and we're excited. It seems like the offseason goes by really quick. But we have a great opportunity this Saturday to kick it off. We have a young football team that's worked really, really, hard and we're all anxious to let it rip against an opponent instead of banging against each other all the time.
We've closed up our last full padded practice today and we'll move on to helmets and shoulder pads tomorrow and keep working back in an effort to start to bring back our team's legs. So that's our plan.
We had pretty good practice today, which we're happy to see. This UMass team we're playing, obviously we're all very familiar with Mark Whipple and the guys on our staff, myself & Donny, we go back a long way with Mark. He's a really good football coach and he's got a really good staff and is going to do great things at UMass. We have a lot of respect for what he'll bring to the table. We know his team will be well-coached and well-prepared.
Obviously, any time you play an intrastate game like this there's going to be a lot of energy. What we have to do is play our game. We're young, inexperienced...we've got to do what we can control, which is to take care of the football, tackle well, establish the run and getting off the field on defense on third down. So we have to control what we can control and go enjoy and play the game at a high level ... or for the freshman as they can possibly play at this time of year.
On preparing offensively against new UMass defensive personnel:
Obviously, Donny (Defensive Coordinator Don Brown) and Mark (UMass Head Coach Mark Whipple) worked together for a long time. I think we don't have a great feel for what they're going to do on defense. There's no video to watch. There's recent Mark Whipple-coached offensive film out there. There's no recent defensive coordinator film out there. I'd really feel more comfortable right now to tell you the truth if we were watching 6-7 games of last season, like they're watching of us. So, I think it's a disadvantage. It makes me very uncomfortable to be honest with you.
So, that part of it, I don't love. Next week, we'll see film that's relevant, but right now there's no film that's relevant really. It's hard. So you're really projecting right now. And what happens is you're preparing for a lot of different stuff which is fine if you're a veteran team - which we're not. So we're a young team trying to leave no stone unturned. So there's more on your plate and more margin for error. But I'm just wired in a way where we're going to leave no stone unturned and try to hustle and get it all done. But you wish you knew exactly what they were going to play so you could be more pin-point with a young football team. So, I would say that piece of it I'm not that wired up about.
On freshman playing time in the season-opener:
In the game you'll probably see four freshmen on offense and a couple of redshirt freshman. So you'll see 4-6 players in there who have really not see much of anything on offense. And on defense, it will probably be very much the same. That's a lot. You'll probably see anywhere form 6-10 freshmen during the course of the game. A guy like Matt Milano, who played a handful of snaps last year, you're going to see him a lot. Gutapel (BC sophomore DT, Truman Gutapel) who only played a handful of snaps last year - you'll see him a ton. Thaddius Smith, Gabe McClary, Jon Hilliman, Kamrin Moore, John Johnson, you'll see all those guys.
On having veteran guys on defense:
We have a little better feel for their offense probably, than we do for their defense. The more veteran players you have, the better you're going to handle the adjustments. It's hard to adjust at half time with a bunch of young guys on the field. With young guys you are just managing their mistakes.
The guys who are older have a reservoir they can tap into to adjust. But with the younger guys it takes time to acquire a bank. Sometimes you get lucky and you play a vanilla team early. That's a pretty good thing. But that's not what we're playing. This is going to be all over the place, and that's what it is.
You won't see Bobby Swigert in game one. You won't see (David) Dudek. Tim Joy is going to miss the season. That's the only real serious injury we've had this preseason camp. Your heart goes out to Tim. It's a tough thing to see. He prepared a lot and put a lot into working for the season. Overall, we're fairly healthy.
We had a very physical preseason, as physical of a preseason as I've been around. But I think we have done a good job of managing our players. We cut down our practice times; we were really prudent on where we strategically gave them some time off. I think we managed it as well as we could manage it.
On improved tackling:
We needed to tackle more, and we did. And we look better tackling. Now, that's got to translate in the game, sometimes it doesn't. But I feel like we did what we had to do to put ourselves in position to make those plays in the game. Sometimes though when you have an inexperienced team it doesn't necessarily translate ... I don't know why, but it doesn't, so it's a little bit unknown. I feel like there were more known commodities last year under the bright lights. It's exciting, but it's an anxiety that builds up over that. When the guys who haven't been out there, get under the lights sometimes they're like, where did that come from? It happens. And there will be some of that.
On the challenge of replacing the explosive elements from last year and a lot of those players are now the younger players:
Yes. So you sit here and say, okay, for the future of the program, we have to get them on the field, but you also know that you lose games when you put the ball there. That's the dilemma you're in. Game 1 ... in a perfect world you ease some of the younger guys into situations but we may not have that luxury, so you have to live with it. The guys are working hard every day and getting better, but the first time is tough. We're going to play in some tough environments. This will be one of them. There won't be 100,000 people, but it will be busy, so that's a plus.
Bringing the team to Gillette:
We brought them (the team) down there (to Gillette Stadium) and as you would expect the bus pulled up and the guys were gawking. They saw it, so now the next time there won't be a lot of that. That's why we did it, to do the bus trip and get the guys out for a team activity. It was great.
On comfort level of being in a system for a year:
Last year was about setting a new culture, it was about maximizing what we had, getting those seniors to really buy in and become a team again. And we did a good job of that. That group had been weathered, they'd been through a lot, and it meant a lot. They really experienced the hard times, and had a purpose.
Now you have a young group of guys, along with some of the older guys who are whittled down, the ones that are still here, there's some talent there. The ones that remain are building an identity.
Year two is the hardest year. Where we are right now, there's not a great personality amongst the older guys, in terms of football leadership, but there are a bunch of good guys. Then you've got these young guys who have been through nothing, and have no scars.
It's an interesting dynamic in year two. We have a lot more talent in here now, it's exciting. A lot of unknowns, that's what this season is going to be.
We will continue to recruit well and develop them. The goal while you're rebuilding a program is to become bowl eligible. We're not all set just because we were (bowl eligible) last year...time is what fixes the problems...recruiting and development. I knew it would take 3-5 years to get it back. Nothing has changed from my vantage point. Grabbing seven wins last year didn't solve it all, but we're rolling our sleeves up and building more. Year-by-year we will get more experienced and restocked. After four or five years, hopefully you'll be there. I know it's a footrace to do it as fast as you can, but it takes time.
On players stepping into leadership roles:
It's hard for younger players to do that and you're looking for a couple of your older players to do that, Josh Bordner and Dominique Williams have done great jobs of that. Little by little we're picking up more. Don't forget, some of the guys at the end, who were our best leaders last year weren't that way at the beginning, it's developmental.
I really like our guys, every day I go to work its fun to coach this football team. I have a lot of respect for the guys on this team. They really like ball, they have talent and they want to be good, so what else do you want?
Now we'll go about the business of putting it together and developing it. You hope you can get out early and get some positive development. It would be great, but part of development and maturity is the scars of going through it.