Louisville’s offensive and defensive coordinators, Garrick McGee an Todd Grantham (respectively), met with the media over the last couple of days to discuss the upcoming game against Clemson. They also talked about their own team a little bit. The links to the videos are provided, as well as summaries of key notes they talked about.
-Practice was good. The kids were spirited. Not everything was perfect but it’s like that on Tuesdays because you are installing a new game plan, playing against a new defensive structure, but the spirit was there.
-Clemson has a really good defensive scheme. They have powerful guys in the middle. They have one of the top pash rushers in the country (Vic Beasley). They have three really good linebackers. They have length at safety. “I think #20 is 6’4.” So they present plenty of challenges for us.
-Communication, hand signals, focus, concentration will all be important this week. You’re not going to be able to hear anything (Saturday).
-On DeVante Parker: If he’s healthy, he brings (you) one of the top players in college football. Any coach or player would say that missing one of the top players in the game would change some things. So it’s not just us.
-Realistic expectation on how much he (Parker) can do if he plays: It depends on how he practices. If he can go, everyone has to play well. He can bring some energy and enthusiasm to the team, some confidence if he’s healthy enough. When he’s healthy, it changes the defensive structure because it’s hard to defend him 1 on 1.
-On Reggie Bonnafon: Reggie is poised. He didn’t start very well the other night. I was really mad at him early in the game (McGee is smiling while saying this). But he settles in. And once he gets hit and settles down and starts smiling, that’s when you know that he’s under control. When he has this look on his face and he’s frowning, he’s not really on his game. Reggie’s better when he’s got a smile on his face.
-He asked the players how Reggie is in the huddle because that is something that coaches don’t really get to see. They said he has a lot of intensity, but at the same time he is really pushing them and is up-beat. “So I am pretty happy with him.”
-When asked about having to rely on your defense more because the points aren’t all there for the offense, he said that he just expects to win. They have to just find ways to score more than the opponent. It is kind of different because we have always led with our offense and could shoot it out with anybody, but we’ve also been able to win. We would rather win than score a lot of points and get beat.
-On Will Gardner: He’s doing well. He was healthy today, took a lot of reps today. We’re really in a good position, really fortunate to have both of those guys (Gardner and Bonnafon) on the field and healthy because a lot of teams don’t have one guy, and we’ve got two guys that are big time players that have really proven that they can win for us.
-Clemson is a really talented team. They have some skill guys outside that can go get the ball. They are well coached up front. They are more of a two-back team than people think. They have a really dynamic quarterback that’s a freshman and we’ve known about him for a long time. They have gotten in a groove now in the last little bit with him. They certainly present a challenge to us and we understand that we have to play well.
-Even though they have two quarterbacks, they have kind of settled in on the guy they have now (Deshaun Watson). I think he’s a really good player and not only a guy that can throw the ball down the field, but he can run it too and make things happen with his feet, so anytime you get a dual-threat like that, you’ve got some challenges.
-On Death Valley: It’s an awesome place. I think their fans are passionate about their football. They’re loud and very supportive of their team. It’s why you come to college, it’s why you play. It’s our chance to be in front of a very vocal, hostile crowd. I think it’s fun. It’s why you work, it’s why you prepare.
-The game is played between the lines. The atmosphere creates excitement in the pregame, but the players that play the game are what affect the game.
-Everyone has to be prepared and know their assignments. So from that standpoint, it’s just another game. You have to be prepared and then go out there and play with energy.
-On Jermaine Reve: He’s a guy that’s gotten some reps in the last couple of weeks. Hopefully we can mix him in there a little bit. He’s a guy that can give us some versatility on the back end. So we’ll see how he does in the next two days and how he feels after practice. The key is going to be how he feels after practice as he gets more reps.
-How does Deshaun Watson compare to Reggie Bonnafon: On the field they are very similar from the standpoint of they both have very good arms and can throw the ball down the field. Both guys can make plays with their feet. They can make a bad play into a positive play, which is something that creates issues for defenses.
-The next game is the most important game. It’s a conference game and it’s on the road so all of those things add to the game a little bit. We understand the challenges that they have (for us). We know what we have to do, so the biggest thing for us is to maintain our focus and understand that it’s our preparation and what we do. And then go out and play with effort and energy and do it for 60 minutes.
-On the defensive backfield: They’ve done a really good job of understanding our system, understanding their technique and fundamentals. Coach Brown has done a great job with those guys. The guys did a good job in the spring of saying “these are the things I need to work on and improve” and they worked their tails off over the summer and in August to improve in those areas, and it’s showing up on the field.
-On Gerod Holliman: You have a better feel as you move forward in the season of what guys can do. Coaching is about relationships too. Now that we’ve had some experiences together, we can recall back to those. Anytime you can develop that kind of relationship with a guy that’s kind of your quarterback in the back end, you can say “here are the things I’m looking for.” I think it’s important as a play-caller to tell him how you are going to call the game, so be prepared for these kind of calls.