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Tom O'Brien Talks To The BIG EAST Press

Oct. 16, 2000

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Boston College head football coach Tom O'Brien

BIG EAST Teleconference

October 16, 2000

Can you give us your overview of the Syracuse game and your thoughts about this week's game against Pittsburgh?

"It was a great effort by our football team. Syracuse is an excellent defensive football team. They present many problems on offense. We slowed them down enough on offense and created some turnovers, which ended up being, I think, the deciding factor in the football game. We came away with the victory. Now we have to get our emotional tank loaded up again and head to Pittsburgh for our game Saturday against Pittsburgh. We look forward to hitting the practice field this week and try to get better so we can hang in there against Pitt."

Can you talk about preparing for (Syracuse defensive players) Dwight Freeney and Duke Pettijohn last week? How did you prepare for them and did you change your gameplan for them?

"We thought about bumping them on pass protection a couple of times, but for most cases we were going to play as we did and try not get in all those long passing situations that gave them the advantage. They are the two best ends that we've seen. They rival Corey Moore and (John) Engleberger from Virginia Tech a year ago. They're really good players."

You said you didn't play your best game against Syracuse and you still won. Does that give you any sense of accomplishment of well being going into the Pittsburgh game having won a game like that and maybe you can get things together to win on the road?

"Well, it makes you feel lucky, I know that. After you look at the tape, you scratch your head and wonder how it came about. The kids hung in there. As I told them, it's something we have to learn from and something we have to improve upon. If we can tackle better, if we can not drop the football like we did. We have to continue to get to be a better football team. If we can do that, we'll have a chance to have a winning season and have a chance to go on the road and win at Pitt."

Is there a disadvantage to getting them after a bye week when they have two weeks to prepare for you and you essentially have a short week?

"I think it's a big disadvantage, but that's the way it happens in this conference. Three of my next four opponents have bye weeks before I play them. It's something that's happened to Boston College and I don't understand why."

Can you talk a little about the pass defense and the challenges they'll face this weekend going against Pittsburgh's passing game?

"Well, they have a great passing attack, probably as sophisticated as anybody in this conference. Walt (Harris) does a great job with it. So we'll be tested severely in the secondary. Our concern is stopping the rush. We're the worst rush defense in the conference right now. They have two big backs also. They're going to be the first team we play that runs the ball and passes the ball efficiently any time they want to, so it will really put a strain on our defense. And then the other interesting thing is they are the top scoring defense in the conference. They're the top rush defense in the conference. They're the top sackers in the conference. Offensively, we have a lot of things to get ready for this week."

Can you talk a little about Ralph Parent and how he's come along for you?

"Ralph was a kid who came here as a wide receiver and didn't want to move to the secondary and fought it even half-way through last year. The more he's played, the more comfortable he's become. He now understands a lot of what we're asking of him and asking out of that position. He had a great interception right before the half there that, as much as anything, [was the most important thing for us.] The next time they came down along on a third-down situation, he intercepts the ball for us and we go in for a score. He made two huge plays in the game on Saturday that helped us get the victory."

Your first couple of years at BC you had a problem winning games in October, now you can't lose a game in October. Is it a matter of you guys doing things better? Is it the schedule? Any magic formula picking up in midseason?

"Well, I think we have better players. My first two years here, by this time we were starting walk-ons. We had run out of players. I think the schedule, that couple with the fact that we were perfectly healthy last year through the whole year and had a senior dominated defensive football team with a lot of experience. That helped us last year. This year, we're only half way into it and we still have two games left to play. The opponent helped us in the first game with Connecticut and then we just played well enough last week to win and played very smart on offense, did not turn the football over, did not have many penalties, were very solid in the kicking game. We gave up a lot of yards, but didn't give up a lot of points on defense."

Ten yards of penalties. That's a good stat to have.

"They all happened at the end of the game and one of them was a false start when we were trying to run the clock down. We still ended up getting the first down out of that 1st and 15. The other was a delay of game that we took on the last punt. So really, it was one penalty the whole game."

Have you ever gone a whole game without penalties?

"No, I haven't. I'm trying."

With four wins in six games, does every game have bowl implications?

"Every game is important from here on out. Especially where we are and trying to fight to get ourselves to the six-win mark. Maybe the kid from Oklahoma said this weekend in the paper, that when you reach this point that's the way it should be. Each game should be a big game and it's going to be for us from the last five games of the year. Each one is the end of the world as far as we're concerned."

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