“Wrapping up Notre Dame, I thought guys competed hard. Our team showed up with an attitude that we were there to win the game. Offensively, we did a lot of good things. We had a lot of yards, scored points and did well in the red zone. We only had two three-and-outs, but that pick hurt us. That led to seven points. Defensively, the bottom line we just didn’t get enough stops. When the ball got into space, whether in the throw game or the run game, we didn’t get it on the ground. That is uncharacteristic of our defense. Obviously it is something that we got to get fixed, in terms of our tackling, our pursuit angles and our leverage on the football. We did a really poor job of leveraging the football. When you play a team that is as well-coached and have the skill-level of Notre Dame, the result is 48 points and 700 yards. Nobody in our team is happy. I expect our defense to respond and put into a good week at practice. The challenge with Syracuse this week, with their offense, it doesn’t get any easier.
“Syracuse is a very improved football team. It is year two of Coach Babers and his system. If possible, they are playing faster. It starts with their quarterback, (Eric) Dungey, he is a winner. He is a competitor. He is gritty. He is tough. He hangs in the pocket and makes plays with his feet. He is a really, really good player. He reminds me a lot of John (Wolford), in that he is tough, gritty and a flat-out winner. At times, he just wills that team to move the football. The receiver tandem of (Steve) Ishmael and Ervin (Philips) are as good as a one-two as anyone in the country. Their offensive line has improved and their defense has really improved.
“The linebackers, Bennett and Franklin have played a lot of football. We recruited Parris Bennett back when I was at Bowling Green and thought he was a high-level player and he leads the team in tackles. Zaire Franklin has been one of the best middle linebackers in the ACC over the last few years. They are better up-front and better in the secondary. They are playing much better defense than a year ago.
“I just think this league is so competitive that on any given Saturday, anybody can beat anybody. That is not just a cliche, it has happened this year on the field. It’s year when we beat Louisville, Boston College has beaten Louisville and Florida State and Syracuse beat Clemson. The three teams that were once almost untouchable from the other four, are now a lot of those games have flipped. Syracuse is a team capable of beating anybody. They beat Clemson, played Miami tough and were a missed field goal away from taking Florida State to overtime. We are going to have to play well. Their record at home is 4-1 and their record on the road is 4-0. We are playing them at the dome, which is a tough place to play. It is loud and noisy. It is climate controlled, so once again thanks to Bob McCreary, Ben Sutton and all our alumni and donors for building an indoor facility for us so on a day like today, we got a good practice in.”
On Syracuse QB Eric Dungey’s Injury Issues:
“He played the whole second half last week and was running around and making plays and making Florida State miss. I’m going to be very surprised if he isn’t out there when the game starts. He was out for a while, but when he came back in, they were running the football with him. It would be hard to imagine that he’s not playing. When you play Syracuse, you have to get pressure, but it’s hard because they get the ball out so fast.”
On Luke Masterson’s first start at safety:
“Luke certainly didn’t play poorly. For the first time ever starting, in that environment, against that team, he did some good things. I think it’s a matter of start number two being more comfortable. I do think he found out that things are a little faster on Saturday than they are during the week.”
On the Defense bouncing back:
“We had a good practice today. It’s a prideful group. We’re in a situation here where those guys have kept us in games for the last three years when the offense has struggled. On Saturday, the offense probably played well enough to win, but the defense didn’t. We have good players, but they have to bounce back.
On watching the tape of the defense on Sunday:
“It was hard for us to watch that tape on Sunday. When you watch it, you physically feel sick. The challenge is to fix it. That’s the fun part of the job. We struggled on offense for a few years here and we knew it was a long-term project to get it fixed. The challenge of getting it right is what coaching is. That offensive line at Notre Dame is as good an offensive line as we’ve seen in four years. Their quarterback played great against us. He threw the ball accurately and made plays with his feet. (Josh) Adams didn’t play much, but their other guys are also good. What happened is, a lot of our mistakes that we got away with against some other teams we didn’t get away with on Saturday.”
On take away from Notre Dame:
“I thought we played hard and we executed. We still left plays out on the field, so I think we’re just going back to the drawing board trying to get better as we go to Syracuse, because I think we can get a lot better.”
On the offense playing well lately:
“It’s definitely positive, but at the same time it’s two games. It’s just about consistency, each and every week bringing it and coming at it with the same detail. For us, it’s about doing it again this week.”
“They’re a great team and the ACC is really deep this year, so you’re not going to have a game where you can take a play off and win. So, for us, we’re going into a very hostile environment. They play really fast on offense and they have a solid defense. We are about sticking to what we know and playing our football and executing.”
On take away from Notre Dame:
“I thought we did not execute in certain situations. There were some third downs that could we could have got off the field and we weren’t able to do that. Assignment wise, we didn’t execute which ended up in big plays and really hurt us at Notre Dame.”
On if last week’s performance was more of Notre Dame playing well or the defense not making plays:
“I would say it’s a little bit of both. Notre Dame, they’re a good team. They ran some nice stuff, but it was also a lot on us as well. Maybe even more so on us. We weren’t assignment sound throughout the game and as a defense that’s critical. You have to be assignment sound on every single play or big plays are going to hit you, like what happened on Saturday.”
On the challenges of going up against an offense that’s up tempo:
“Well, there are multiple challenges. The first one being that you’ve got to communicate fast. Everyone has to make all their checks, and at a much faster rate. Also, conditioning wise you’ve got to be pushed. You’re going to be out of breath on a few plays, but you’ve got to keep pushing and you’ve got to keep your technique. A lot of times when guys get tired they lose some of their fundamentals and that can’t happen, because that will lead to missed tackled or missed plays. So, the biggest things are communication, being assignment sound and keeping fundamentals and technique.”