STEVE ADDAZIO: Hard to believe we're going into week eight right now. Crazy. Flies right by. We really want to thank the fans last week. I thought we had a great home atmosphere here. It was a beautiful day. It was a great day for college football. We had a lot of people on campus. Obviously, the game was a lot of fun. It was a great result, and I thought it was a good football weekend here in Chestnut Hill. We're very appreciative to our fans and our people just for the support they've given us.
Last week, I think we had a good opportunity with the bye to work on some things, and some of those things came forward for us. We got some younger guys on the field, and they had some good experience out there and made some plays. We were able to do some fine tuning a little bit. Obviously, I thought we played well on both sides of the ball. Guys stepped up, and we showed some improvement, which was important and necessary.
Now as we move forward, we need to continue to grow. Obviously, we're going down to play the defending National Champion. We're going down to play an elite football team. On a personal note, I just have the utmost respect for Dabo Swinney. Gotten to know Dabo over the years. I think he's an outstanding football coach, a better motivator. He just has a knack for creating a great culture with his program, that's been obvious, and then, of course, recruit at a high level. So they have a lot of elite players on their program, on their team. That's very obvious when you watch the tape.
There's no doubt in any mind that they're the No. 1 team in the country -- skilled, talented everywhere, proven it on the field. So when I watch their tape, I see no weaknesses. I see great athletes and a great coaching staff. I think their offensive coordinator, their defensive coordinator, those guys are elite guys, and you can tell by, when you watch the tape, how well-coached each side of the ball is.
The challenges will be high, but we're looking forward to it. We had a great meeting yesterday with our team. The team had a lot of energy, a lot of juice, excited, excited about the game. Looking forward to getting down there and playing.
We've been down there a few times and here and had some wars, and our guys are well aware. They're smart guys. They know that this is an outstanding football team but also excited for the challenge. I expect that we'll have a great week of preparation and go down there and play with great effort and finish.
Q. Talk A.J. being on the precipice of all these school records in such a quick amount of time.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, that's great. I think with great, great teammates around you, I think you can have an opportunity to play at the highest level. He's obviously an elite player. He's got a great supporting cast around him, which makes a difference. He's been terrific.
I actually said a week ago, I believe to somebody -- was it Julian or somebody? I said I thought we still hadn't seen his best yet. I would tell you, I'm not sure we've seen it yet. As good as it's been, I still think he can explode. We all saw what David Bailey can do as well. So it's a heck of a one-two punch.
And when you watch the tape, what you really saw too was an offensive line that really, really played well. Tight ends and offensive line really played well. So it's a team effort. It really is.
Q. It's one thing for him to come in as a freshman What does it say that, one, he marked these things out and has the potential (no microphone).
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, he's in his junior year. This should be that year. His freshman year was a transition year, and he had some unbelievable moments. In the second half of the season, he exploded.
Last year, Game 3 or 4, whatever that was -- I can't remember now. I think it was against Temple -- he had that horrific injury. That was a rough injury now. For a normal human, that would have probably been a surgical deal, but he's just so, you know, physically big and strong that he -- what he had was a severe high ankle sprain, a really bad one. He tried to gut it through the whole year, and he wasn't himself until the Bowl game. I was just watching last year's tape, obviously, against Clemson, and watching him run, you're like, wow, you look back, and he was like really half of who he is. So he's healthy, knock on wood.
I hate to even talk about it right now. He's healthy, and there's a lot that goes into that. Some is obviously good fortune, and the other is the fact that I think he's finally -- he's in fine tuned shape and really strong. I think his running style, he's done some things to lower his pad level and some other things like that.
So he's taken some unbelievable shots, but knock on wood, he's healthy. Again, some of that sometimes is good fortune too.
Q. How important was the bye week?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I mean, there's no question it helped. As I said, Saturday, we needed to have that bye week for a lot of reasons. The obvious was just physically and mentally tired. As I said, I think Saturday too the school piece here is very important, and that's not easy. Everybody brushes over that, but this is a very challenging school academically, and our guys compete in the classroom.
So we needed it for that, and then we needed it for the obvious, which is get some young guys accelerated, make a few adjustments on both sides of the ball schematically, and all those things, they paid off. That's good fortune that it fell for us at that point in time for sure, no doubt about it.
Q. You see a guy bounce off tackles and break away the way that Andre did with that kind of stiff-arm, there's a lot of qualities I see.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I think that's fair to say. They're big strong guys, big leg guys. It's hard to tackle them. David Bailey is in the same kind of boat, people ricocheting off both of them. It's hard. You get a lot of people trying to low tackle them all the time, which is dangerous. Yes, you saw that with Andre for sure, same kind of stuff.
Q. What effect does having the strong play from the freshmen on defense last week help them prepare for Saturday at Clemson?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I think every time they play, you're putting something in the bank as an investment for the future with them. They're just guys that are learning. Now they've got to do that on the road in a really unique venue, and that will be different for some of these young guys. It's just the facts, right? I mean, you're going into an environment, it's like right up on you. It's going to be really, really loud and all that, and there's just going to be a lot going on. That will be a process for them as well.
Although Louisville had a little bit, that wasn't quite the same as going into Clemson. This is part of the journey, man, and that's -- offensively, this will be the first real crowd noise game we've been in this year. We handled it in Louisville, and I'm not worried about it with that crew, but it's a factor. You watch the tape, teams come in there, and you can see them struggling to communicate a little bit. The good thing for us is we don't -- everything is signaled. So not a lot of talking going on anyway. It doesn't affect us quite as much.
Q. On crowd noise and the impact it will have on QB Dennis Grosel.
STEVE ADDAZIO: No, he's a pretty sharp guy. That stuff, I think he handles all that really well. I think with Dennis it's just game experience, just being in those games and all the unique things that come up in a game, and managing all of that. I thought he did a good job managing on Saturday. He had a critical play on Saturday, obviously, that 99-yard run -- I mean, 99-yard drive that he started off with that critical third down conversion. Really nifty, smart running, and set that up. I think Dennis did a lot of good things.
But he's going to continue to grow with every game. This will be kind of a different deal for him too, right? But he's got a really good mindset. He's a very mature guy, very mature.
Q. What type of impact has Richard Yeargin had on BC and thoughts on his return to Clemson this week.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, he's brought great maturity to our program. He's a wonderful guy now. Dabo said he's a wonderful guy. He is a wonderful guy. He's about the right stuff. He loves his teammates. He loves being with the coaches. He loves coming up to the offices. He's fun to be around, fun to talk to, very, very high character guy, terrific person. He's grown on the field.
I mean, he went through some really tough stuff for a couple of years, and little by little, he's chipped away at that, and he's really -- you see each week he gets a little better. Each week he gets a little more confident. Sometimes it's hard to put yourself in that situation, what that must really be like, very, very difficult.
But I think he's got himself there now. I'm sure that going back, he certainly loved Clemson. He loved his experience, loved his teammates and his coaches. So I think -- I'm guessing, going back, there's some excitement about going back, and sort of like -- I mean, that's where he graduated from. They treated him great. He had a lot of respect and love for those people. So he's probably got a mixed bag of emotions going back in here, but I saw him last night. I actually said something to him, and he's pretty fired up, as you can imagine he would be.
Q. On the impact Yeargin has made at BC.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, when I met him, I said to myself, he'll fit in here beautifully. He's like our guys. He's a great guy. So I thought that that would be a great fit. Did I know whether this would work out physically? No, I did not. I trusted our doctors. They communicated with his doctors. Everybody came together and felt like this was the right approach and that it was safety first.
So that part of it was the unknown, but he has really -- it's been seamless on every front. He's just melded right into our program as if he came here day one. So it's been fun. Really enjoy having him be a part of our football family and real excited that he's here.
Q. Talk about the pressure that you guys were putting on Devin Leary. I don't know if you've seen the film, but some of the hits he took even when he completed the pass. Where did that come from, out of the bye week?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah. We wanted to get a little bit more pressure and felt we needed to do that. Every week is a different week, but we certainly felt that's something we didn't do. I feel in any given week you need to do something to unsettle these quarterbacks. You can't let them sit back there and set their feet. They're very talented players, and you've got to challenge them. You've got to challenge the offensive line.
You've got to challenge an offense. Penetration is a disrupter to offensive football, whether it be in the run game or in the pass game. You've got to disrupt. You just can't let offenses feel like they have their own -- they have control of their flow. With that comes associated risks. So you're trying to pick your poisons in the game and just really who are you playing? Where are their strengths? What do you need to take away to win? To win, what do we have to do, sort of speak, and then go from there.
Every week it's a little bit different, and you make your choices. Hopefully, you made the right choices in that you can execute the game plan that you put together.
Q. Clemson won last week and dropped in the poll, and I know that midseason polls aren't all that important, but if they are feeling disrespected because of that, is that another thing for you to worry about going into the game?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah. A long time ago, I gave up on all that, you know what I mean? I'm sure it's all in there somewhere, but to me, I'm sure quality -- I know what Dabo is like. It's about -- I'm sure down there it's about Boston College right now. Just like for us right now, it's about Clemson. All that stuff, if you ride those roller coasters -- not to say that human nature doesn't a little bit, but if you ride those roller coasters, I don't think that's very positive.
So if you're riding it, it could be as much of a positive as a negative. I think, if you're getting caught up in that stuff, say, well, hey, it's us against the world and we're getting disrespected, I guess that can work. But sometimes that can cause you to lose your focus a little bit too. I know what my thought process would be, but the key is getting 85 young men on the same thought process, and that's always been the key, right?
Come on now, they've been there before. These guys, they've won championships, National Championships, conference championships. This program knows how to ride through the emotional ups and downs of everything. What is it now, 22 straight? I mean, that's really hard. Everybody has bad days now. That's really hard. You're everybody's big game. You're taking everybody's best shot. That speaks volumes to what Dabo Swinney and his stuff have done down there to me. That's very, very difficult to do.
So I would put them in the expert category of handling noise.
Q. Any thoughts about activating Isaiah McDuffie for the last four games?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Oh, yeah.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Absolutely.
Q. Is he better? Is he ready? Is he practicing? What's he doing?
STEVE ADDAZIO: He's better every week. Yes, the simple answer is he is practicing. I too just keep -- I want to make sure that he's super healthy and everybody's crossed the Ts and dotted the Is. But he's doing fantastic. I know, kind of like Steve, we're going into week 8, and we're still talking about this. All I can tell you is it's not an exact science.
Will he be back? Can I tell you 100 percent? Probably no, but in my mind, yes, he will be back this season, in my mind. Unless something changes course here, which I guess could happen, but it hasn't. So I would anticipate that we're getting real close. What does real close mean? I said that before, so I sound like I'm full of it, and I'm not trying to be. He's real close. I would say we will see him certainly at some point before this season comes to a close.
All right, guys. Thank you.