DAVE DOEREN: You know, excited to be back in Carter-Finley. Been on the road for two games. Proud of our team for finding a way to play really good football on the road. Thought we executed at South Alabama. After the first drive they went down and scored, we responded with a big kickoff return, and unfortunately that was called back, and then the offense responded with 28 unanswered points, and then the defense didn’t let them back in the end zone. I thought our response to adversity was really good. A lot of guys played in the game, and I think everybody on the trip played. When you can get four games in a row where you’re backup quarterback and a lot of your backup players get valuable game experience, it’s really good for the future of your program and for potential injuries that may come. Moving forward, looking forward to starting ACC play and playing Louisville, who had a good win last week, good football team that looks like they’ve settled in on Jackson, the athlete at quarterback that can really run and does a lot of things with his feet, and they have a lot of good young athletes. Defensively Coach Grantham does a really good job with their defense and presents a challenge with their pressure packages, and D-line wise, one of the better D lines that we’ll probably face this year, great defensive tackles and long, athletic ends that can run, and a secondary that leads the nation in interceptions. Louisville definitely presents a great challenge to our football team, and we look forward to having them here in Carter-Finley on Saturday, and hopefully the weather will hold off and we can get a great game in. Any questions?
Q. Running back Matt Dayes, nine rushing touchdowns in four games, have you coached a running back that’s been this effective this early on with the talents that he has, or is he kind of a gem that you were able to find?
DAVE DOEREN: You know, Matt is a special kid because of his versatility. A lot of times when you find guys that are space players, they’re not tough guys, and Matt is extremely tough. He’s worked hard. He was overweight when he got here, and proud of him and our strength staff and our nutrition staff for getting him to be the best him physically. He’s really bought in the training and nutrition, and to answer your question, I’ve been lucky to be around some good backs, particularly at Wisconsin. We had some great backs. Matt is like those guys. He’s super productive, ultra competitive, and he’s been consistent. He’s one of the best ones that I’ve been on the team with.
Q. When you look at the fact that your rush defense is also strong throughout rankings in the country, would you attribute some of that to the fact that they have to go up against someone so versatile as Matt in practice?
DAVE DOEREN: Yeah. You know, one of the reasons that I like running the ball is that, because it makes your defense tough. You know, those teams that throw it all the time, a lot of times you’ll see their defenses don’t do well because they don’t see it in spring ball, they don’t see it in fall camp, they’re out there just playing skelly all the time. There are some head coaches that figure out a way to split the reps and get their defense ready. For us it all starts on defenses stopping the run and we have to play against an offense in practice that runs the ball very effectively. It helps our team all the way around, mental toughness and adding balance on both sides of the football.
Q. I realized in the Samford game that Coach Petrino went from Bonnafon to Jackson at quarterback, which Jackson had almost 400 yards himself, but Petrino did show different looks with both on the field. I know as a coach you may have many concerns, but how much does that concern you with both being on the field at the same time?
DAVE DOEREN: You know, it’s just hard to know what they’re going to all do out of it, so you’ve got to cover a lot of unknowns. He’s played three quarterbacks, and you just don’t really have a good feel for what their offense is because it’s been piecemealed. They’ve all played. They’ve all had starting opportunities, and you have to kind of lean on the most recent game because I do know there isn’t a coach in the country that wants to switch quarterbacks that much. I think he wants to settle in on what they’re going to be and have an identity with it. We’re planning on seeing a lot of Jackson, and there are packages with him and Bonnafon in the game, and we know that if those guys are injured or if they’re not playing well that he will make a change. We’ve got to have really two game plans ready, one for his traditional offense that he ran on us a year ago and one for the more athletic running quarterback, which is what we’ve seen throughout every game but exclusively last week.
Q. How do you handle Shad’s arrest?
DAVE DOEREN: Joe, I found out about it late last night and we had practice that I ran from to be on this phone call so I haven’t had a chance to deal with it yet. As soon as I have all the information, I’ll make a statement on what I’m going to do.
Q. Last year you entered ACC play at 4-0 and things didn’t necessarily go your way for a while after that. What are you hoping that maybe the players learned from that experience that’ll have them a little bit better equipped to handle it?
DAVE DOEREN: Well, we’re more experienced. Last year’s team was extremely young, and we’re still young, but at least we have guys that played a lot in ACC games last year. We hope we can take those experiences that we had and learn from them. We lost in close games, in our ACC opener the last two seasons to Clemson, and then to Florida State. What we talked about was being a team that can finish. I think last year we learned how to finish as the season went on, and towards the end of the year we were able to do that in multiple games. I’m hoping we take those lessons to the field with us Saturday and play four quarters, and when you get into conference play, that’s what you’re going to have are four-quarter games. We look forward to the first one this weekend.
Q. I was curious, what have you heard from your administration or anything as far as monitoring this weather this weekend, and I guess now it’s a hurricane out in the Caribbean or whatever?
DAVE DOEREN: Well, we’ve got our thumb on the weather button, so it’s not coming. I’m just kidding. You know, obviously we’re going to monitor it daily. We know there’s 100 percent chance of rain. It’s just — there’s been many times, I know all of us have heard weather reports and then they dissipate, so you’ve got to kind of hope for the best and plan for the worst. We just hope that it’s not lightning and things like that. Sounds like it’s going to be heavy rain, and I know there will be heavy winds on the coast, but they may not get to us. We’ve heard all kinds of things — it’s just what’s going to be real. I don’t think we’ll know until we see what happens with the storm, if it gains momentum or dissipates throughout the week.
Q. Does that change how you guys prepare?
DAVE DOEREN: Well, yeah, it does, yeah. To be honest with you, we probably would have practiced inside today, but we went out. Our field was pretty wet. It wasn’t raining, but it rained here all night, and it was actually pretty nice outside, but the field was pretty wet. I told the guys, hey, look, the balls are going to be wet and the grass is going to be slippery and we need to be ready to play on that on Saturday, so let’s use this for preparation from a field standpoint, and the guys bought into it and had a great practice.
Q. What did you think, as I assume you’ve looked at multiple games of Louisville, what did you think of the changes that they’ve made on the offensive line and did you think that they were improved in that regard?
DAVE DOEREN: Yeah, I mean, I have a lot of respect for Coach Petrino. I think he’s a great offensive coach. I know we were kind of where they were last year. They had a lot of young guys playing, five freshmen. It’s going to take a while, especially when you’re not sure who your quarterback is, to figure out who the best five are on the O-line. They move guys around. We’ve had to do a similar thing this year because of our injuries. Now that they’re playing plus-1 in the run game with an athletic quarterback, it does change things. But we recruited Lukayus McNeil, the guy they played at left guard last week, and I thought a lot of him in high school, hasn’t played until now, so this is the first game we’ve seen from him in college, but he was a very talented guy. But this is his first road game, and it’s going to be extremely loud hopefully in our stadium, and all those things can help us.
Q. Regardless of how Shad’s situation shakes out, how do you and the coaching staff kind of try to keep this from being a distraction leading up to a big game, and are you concerned that it could become one?
DAVE DOEREN: No, it’s no different than when you have an injury on your football team. You’ve got to approach it from a next-man-up standpoint. We’ve always talked about handling our business one play at a time and not letting things that we can’t control affect how we do things and controlling the controllables. If I’m a right guard or a defensive tackle, regardless who the running back is, I have a job to do and I need to go do it. Our coaches will do a great job, regardless of what happens, and you know, as a team we’ve just got to stick together, and any time you have any adversity, there’s a lot of it in college football. There’s a lot of season-ending injuries, there’s unfortunately been a death at Eastern Kentucky that they’re dealing with, and there’s a lot of tragedy in college football. You deal with it all the time and you’ve got to learn how to deal with adversity and persevere.