Duke Football: David Cutcliffe Press Conference Transcript

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: It’s a good time for us to have had an open date after nine straight games. Really impressed with our team spirit. We practiced yesterday morning. We practiced again this morning. They have been resourceful. These are as two of good of practices as we have had.

So certainly I know there’s hope that we can continue to improve and win some of these close games that we’ve had and then play better when we were in every game down the stretch. Three to go, so we’ll see what happens.

Q. Can you talk about how important it is after nine weeks and then four weeks of practice before that, for the players to take a mental break from football, as well as physical?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, I think it’s a big deal. This is actually a five-week camp this year. This is the longest camp because of the rule change. So we started in July. Our first practice was in July, and then we played nine weeks in a row.

And I think it has some — I just heard Mark Richt talking about Thursdays. Players are going to school and the tests and the requirements along those lines and then when you’re playing every week, and particularly in our circumstance, where things got tougher each loss; I think they are stressed beyond physical. It’s emotional.

So we have had to take that into consideration. We’ve had shortened meetings. Shortened, not just brutally short, but less than an hour and a half on the field but we have gotten the quality we wanted from them and we are going to work even a little bit lighter tomorrow. And I want them away from it. They will be away from it Thursday evening, Friday, Saturday, and we won’t be back till Sunday night.

Q. In the last few games what have they shown you about your team that you think it’s possible to get in there and fix, some areas that you really want to work on?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, yeah, I don’t think there’s any question that it’s very evident to the players, to the coaches, offensively, we haven’t thrown and caught the ball with much efficiency like we had earlier in in the year. You know, giving up some explosive plays on defense. And it’s not been any literally just one thing.

We are a team. We have seven seniors that start for us. We’re playing a lot of young people. That’s not an excuse because our job is to have everybody ready.

But again, it’s probably consistency, and so one of the other reasons we shortened practice and talked to our coaches is because I wanted to see if we can go wire-to-wire at the highest level possible. I’m really impressed with the way our team has taken on that challenge.

Q. The early signing period, has that already changed the way you do recruiting in your calendar?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Not really the signing day. The 2019 class is going to be taking official visits in April, May, June, and I’m not in favor of that at all and that significantly changes their calendar, our calendar. Our class has committed for quite some time, and I don’t expect any surprises and — (audio break).

The early signing day isn’t really going to affect us. It’s the 2019 class early official visits. They are signing in December — but we have had our class committed for quite some time, so that portion of it has not really been a big issue to us.

Q. Will you be bringing in kids that signed for visits in January?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Most of our visits will be in December. That’s what our commitments have always wanted to do. If they can’t because of some scheduling circumstance, then we would bring them in. We may have three or so midyear enrollees, but most of our class will come in next summer.

So they can still make their official visits after they have signed with us, and we would go about what we do the same way. And what I was saying before is that December, January, we are going to — the biggest change is we are going to be having to do a great deal more evaluating of 2019 players because they are going to be wanting to make official visits in April. How do you know, you know. That’s a nightmare. That’s something I am totally against as far as legislation.

Q. Planning that time in summer, January — to start looking at kids?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, I’m going to go into homes and schools of everybody that we’re going to sign. I always have and always will. I want to know their families, the dynamic surrounding the family. My only chance to do that as a head coach is in December and January. So I’m going to do that.

But while I’m on the road, I’m going to have to be doing the best I can of evaluating 2019 players that may want to set up visits in April, and I’m not all in favor of just bringing people in that I don’t know enough about their character, their academics, let alone even their athleticism completely by that point.

So I’m going to be trying to go to basketball games and see athletes for what they are or just see workouts in the weight room. We’ve had a lot of conversation about that type thing as a staff is we’ve got to get as many evaluations in as we can with those young people.

Q. Would it make even more sense to push up the early signing period to September or August —
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Possibly. You know, with you again, we’ve tried to move up, move up, move up, and I’m not sure that’s the best approach to people making quality decisions. If you start looking at transfer rates in other sports, and now you even see like men’s lacrosse is trying to move all theirs back. These kids sign early, way early and next thing you know, they are at an institution a year and they don’t want to be there. I just don’t think that’s the healthiest approach.

Earlier is not always better, and I think we’ve got to be careful. I think we need a little bit more maturity in our approach as we study this, personally.

Georgia Tech Football: Paul Johnson Press Conference Transcript

PAUL JOHNSON: Good morning. Certainly disappointed in the outcome of the Clemson game. I think Clemson is an outstanding football team for sure. We did not play particularly well. So you put those two things together, and you end up losing by two touchdowns, as we did.

Looking forward to having a chance to playing again this week and seeing if we can’t right some of the mistakes we made this week.

Q. Virginia has defensively improved this year, but they’re much better against the pass than the run. I’m curious, what do you see in their scheme or their personnel that has made that the case?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think they’ve got some really good players. Certainly Andrew Brown is a dynamic player up front. He’s kind of a difference maker. You’ve got the Blanding kid at safety, Kiser at linebacker. They’ve got several good individual players, and they play well as a team. They’re well-coached on defense, they know what they want to do, and play hard and run to the ball.

Q. They’ve been playing without their outside linebacker No. 17, Cook. They’ve also been without a corner, Juan Thornhill. What is the difference from what you’ve seen with those guys in the lineup versus out of the lineup?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I don’t know that there’s a big difference in the scheme or what they’re doing. They’re both good players, but I think at this time of year everybody is playing without guys. That’s just part of it. When you get to — for us, this is game 8. When you get to there, we’re probably down two or three guys, and I’m sure everybody that plays is. You know, I expect those guys will be back this week. If they are, I don’t think it’s going to change the way they play. I mean, they’re going to line up and play the same way.

Q. I saw in your game notes that you are the least penalized team in I’m not sure whether it’s the country or the conference. Do you do anything special that enables you to be less penalized?
PAUL JOHNSON: I don’t know about special. I mean, I think that we try to be disciplined and try to be poised. You know, we’ll have officials during fall camp in practice pretty much every day, but I think some of it’s probably the nature of what we do, as well.

Q. Will it be your expectation in this early signing period that the kids that are committed will be signing?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think they’re all individual, but yeah, most of them. I would think if you’re committed, then you would be signing. If you’re not ready to sign, then you probably aren’t committed. That would be the way I look at it.

Q. I know with kids taking visits other places, would you kind of approach it the same way, that if you’re not signing, then we’re going to go ahead and recruit that spot?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think as long as kids are looking, you have to be looking. That’s usually the way it works. I mean, you’d be pretty stupid to sit and hold pat and let them visit five schools and not recruit somebody else, and then at the end they decide they’re going somewhere else and you don’t have anybody. You know, as long as we’ve got kids committed in the numbers, we don’t bring kids in for those positions. But if they start visiting, then you have to visit kids, too.

Q. Bronco Mendenhall has spoken about his passion for defending against option games. As you’ve gone against him over the years, has that been a particular challenge for you any different than what you see on a weekly basis?
PAUL JOHNSON: I think he does a good job coaching. I mean, it wasn’t a big deal — they played us very well defensively here a year ago. We hit them with some big plays. But all in all, defensively they played really well. You know, I don’t know about that. My passion is playing against 3-4 teams; I don’t know. It’s something, we’re going to play the game. They beat us twice, I think, when he was at BYU and we beat them last year. You know, I’m sure it’ll be a tough, hard-fought game, and the kids on the field will decide who executes the best. We’ll both have a plan. He’ll have a plan, we’ll have a plan. That’s the way it works.

Q. I know you guys get breakdowns on pretty much everything. They’ve been very good, Virginia, defensively on 3rd down. You guys obviously are the best in the conference at converting on 3rd down. In terms of their 3rd down defense, do you notice a difference of success? Are most of those pass stops 3rd and long, or have they been good in 3rd and short situations?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think they’ve been probably good in all of it. We don’t really break that down as far as whether it’s runs or passes on 3rd down. We do it by distance, which is more than what the thing is. I think the key to being good on 3rd down defense is you have to get people in 3rd and longs, which means that they’re creating some negative plays and loss of yardage plays, and when they get people in 3rd and long, I’m sure with their nickel and what they’re doing they create a lot of problems.

Q. Is this a different Virginia squad than you played them last year? Are they improving this year over last year?
PAUL JOHNSON: I think so. I think they’re certainly better. They came out of the gate really strong, and they kind of hit a buzz saw against BC, but BC has been playing well. And then last week at Pitt, that game kind of got out of hand with the punt return, I think it kind of changed the game. But yeah, I think they’re better. They’re experienced. It’s a lot of the same kids, same guys, and year two in Bronco’s system, and yeah, they’re much better than they were a year ago.

Florida St. Football: Jimbo Fisher Press Conference Transcript

JIMBO FISHER: Yes, after watching film last week, I said it before, BC did a great job. They beat us in all three phases, played an excellent game. We need to rebound back this week and play. Had a really good practice on Monday and Tuesday and play a very good Syracuse team who’s playing really hot. They can throw the football down the field. They’ve got two outstanding receivers that are tops in the country in receptions. The quarterback is doing a great job. They’re running the football much differently. Their new tight end and things caused a lot of problems with what he does. Defensively they’re doing an outstanding job. I think they’re one of the top teams in the country on 3rd down. Defense giving up about 23 percent of their 3rd downs. Mixing different looks, do different things on defense. Really do an outstanding job in that regard, playing outstanding football and special teams hands full play well, get back and play a very good Syracuse team.

Questions?

Q. How would you compare the Lamar Jackson that you guys faced in 2016 to the one that you guys have played this year?
JIMBO FISHER: He was outstanding in our game. I mean, he ran and threw it and made the plays and made critical plays when he had to. Had the big drive when he had to. He was very dynamic. I thought he was outstanding both years.

Q. Where have you seen him develop the most?
JIMBO FISHER: I can’t say that because I don’t see him that much, just occasionally on film. And then when we played him. But you see — I think he’s matured in just overall knowledge of how he’s doing and what he’s playing, his poise, his pressure. I mean, you can just see a more relaxed guy say. I don’t think he was unrelaxed any other time, but this guy — everybody knows what he does, so I think him still being able to put up the numbers he does is amazing because when people game plan for you and have have a whole year to plan for you and he’s still putting up numbers and doing those things, I think it’s amazing.

Q. You’ve always been a big proponent of having a second bye week. Are you still of that opinion?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, I do. I think the kids do because of school and everything else. I mean, and just the mental break and relaxing they do, and then for the health and the issues that you get from healing up. I definitely do.

Q. In the interest of fairness, should the ACC schedule makers make sure that teams that have to play Thursday and Friday both have a bye week the week before so the playing field is equal?
JIMBO FISHER: I mean, if you can possibly do that. I know saying it and wanting to do that and doing it, I think when you get into making schedules is very tough on our conference, and I know we’ve had those discussions before. I definitely do on Thursdays. Fridays make it much tougher, and if you could in a perfect world, without a doubt. I think those are definitely — could be done. But I think that’s easier said than done in the format which we have, not just the ACC, but I’m talking about college football.

Q. With the early signing period, is it your expectation that kids that are committed are going to be signing then?
JIMBO FISHER: Yes, you’d hope so. I mean, that’s the plan. With what you have, yes, sir.

Q. If they didn’t want to sign, would you be — would you still consider them committed?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, yeah, you wouldn’t be signed but if you’re saying you’re committed, depending on what their visits are or what the reasons are, I think each situation would have to be evaluated differently, know what I’m saying? They could still say they’re committed because like I say, committed is not signed, so they could still be committed or they may say that they want to open up the recruiting. I think each individual situation would be different.

Q. Obviously you don’t know what injuries are going to befall you during the year, but do you privately kind of look at your offense this year before the season and think the margin for error is less this year with Dalvin gone or do you kind of foresee potential storm clouds on the horizon this year offensively?
JIMBO FISHER: No, we do, but at the same time I thought by losing the people we have, we’ve lost some significant people, not just skill guys. Keith Gavin had an outstanding camp. I mean, Auden Tate has been hurt all year, and he’s still having a good year. Noonie. And then your quarterback, and then you lose your tailback, too. I mean, plus a couple offensive linemen. So I mean, we still felt like we have a great offense, and some of that things, we’ve got youth in some key situations and different scenarios and had a very tough schedule as far as who we could play defensively early. We never had those — some of those buffer games at times where you can build confidence and continuity in what you’re trying to do, and your numbers reflect that, also.

But we felt very confident. We had a really good off-season and we felt very good going into camp with our offense.

Q. Syracuse, as you look at them on film, do you see certain things that make them more dangerous to you than they were in the building process of Syracuse a year ago?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, I see them playing with much more confidence and knowledge in what they’re doing. They’re comfortable in their systems. As much as scheme and what they’re doing, the guys are playing much faster, much more confident, much more consistent, and they understand what the — you can see that when they play, and that to me is the ultimate thing you want to have.

Q. You mentioned Syracuse tight end Pierce. First time in a while Syracuse has had a real threat at tight end. In what ways might he change things and how you plan to defend?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, I mean, he’s a very good run blocker. They run a lot of power and different things with him in there, and he blocks, but you can flex him out like a wide out and you see him on those jailbreak pumps and verticals and routes and different things he does. He can block and catch, and you have to be aware of him, and then you’ve got those wide outs and they’re throwing it so fast, and then the quarterback can run and they’re running the football. It makes it tough, and he is another weapon for them and a very good player, very athletic.

Q. Length of college football games has been growing longer the past few years. Would you be a proponent of a rule change that would keep the clock running after 1st downs or shortening halftime so that —
JIMBO FISHER: I don’t know, we’ve shortened halftime now, and I don’t know if I want to get into that because when you start changing rules just to shorten things and you change the game and how it’s played, I think those take deep thought and reason for doing it and not just because we’re in a hurry. I think that’s the problem with our world today. We’re in such a hurry, we want instant gratification, kids want it, we all want it. We need to make sure we do things the right way, so I would have to think through that much more and what rule changes you’d be talking about.

Q. On Ricky Aguayo, was it a foregone conclusion he was going to come to Florida State because of his brother, and overall what was the process like getting him there?
JIMBO FISHER: No, it was definitely not a foregone conclusion. I mean, we knew we liked him and we like him early. But it was a process in which we had to recruit him and it was not a foregone conclusion, and it was a very tough process, but he has a tremendous mom and dad and family, and we were very blessed to get him.

Q. And what do you believe his ceiling is? Can he be an NFL kicker like his brother?
JIMBO FISHER: I definitely think he has the potential to do that if he keeps improving. The miss he had a couple weeks ago in the Syracuse game, he had hit 11 in a row. It was 10, 11 — it was 11, I believe. It was 11 in a row he had hit and had an outstanding — having a really good year. He happened to miss that kick and one early got blocked, but other than that, he’s kicked the ball well.

Notre Dame Football: Brian Kelly Press Conference Transcript

BRIAN KELLY: Well, we continue our swing into the ACC with another very tough opponent in Wake Forest, coming off a very impressive 42-32 win against Louisville. Really impressive offensive performance last week, over 600 yards. John Wolford was outstanding at the quarterback position, counting for six touchdowns. Very explosive offense.

Defensively they lead the country in tackles for loss. They get you off schedule and have done a really good job.

This is a well-coached — Dave Clawson has done a great job at Wake Forest, and you can see this is a football team where you have to be on top of your game for four quarters. Another very good challenge for us.

Q. In terms of Josh Adams’ development this year, is he doing certain things better than he did last year, or is some of it the people around him improving, as well?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, I think it’s been his physical development since January. You know, his lower body strength, explosiveness, so there’s a maturation there in terms of his physical. I think there’s also — he last year was injured earlier in the season and really didn’t come to full strength until middle of the year, then really finished strong for us. I think he came into the season very healthy from a great off-season, and I think he’s really just built on where he left off last year. And obviously the five guys up front, including the tight end and receivers, are working so well together in a run-based offense compared to last year.

Q. Did you see this coming? Did you think he was poised for takeoff this year?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, it was a conscious decision knowing the assets that we have. It was a matter of just making sure that we went to the strengths, and I knew that Josh was capable of playing at a high level, and we wanted to take advantage of a great offensive line coming back and Josh’s talents, and that’s why we’ve gone in the direction that we have philosophically offensively.

Q. Talking about Wake Forest, you played them a couple years ago, in 2015. Are they a different team in 2015 than this year? I know they have that running game, we talked on Sunday about the running game, and they’ve been improving each week and they beat Louisville. Are they a different squad than the last time you played them?
BRIAN KELLY: Much more mature on offense. You know, I think from an offensive perspective, the weapons are outstanding. The quarterback, so much more seasoned, if you will. He’s been in the system now. You know, two more years in Coach Clawson’s offensive system, you can see the maturation of this offense, the big play ability, the ability to spread you out, play with tempo. Very dangerous on offense.

You know, there’s some remnants, certainly, of Coach Elko and his philosophy, but it’s still Coach Clawson’s team, so you can see that that defense, although there are some new wrinkles there, they’re still philosophically a similar look. They’re still bringing fire zone pressures and playing very smart defense, very fundamentally sound.

Q. I know this time last year you were dealing with a lot of injuries, and I know Jimbo Fisher is going through the same thing this year. If Jimbo Fisher gave you a call today, what would you tell him to help out with his season because you went through it last year?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, I think Jimbo doesn’t need much of my advice, but I can tell you that from our perspective, it’s always been next man in, and to always have your team prepared for that. He does a great job of not making any excuses. He hasn’t made any excuses about losing his quarterback. You just don’t — college football is such that you’re always going to lose some players, and you’ve just got to be prepared to get the next guy in. You know, I know he’s been at it a long time, and like I said, I think we’re all understanding as coaches that you’re going to lose key players, and you’ve just got to plug the next guy in and get ready to go.

Q. Give us your thoughts about being ranked third in the first CFP rankings last night.
BRIAN KELLY: Well, I mean, certainly we’re better being third than 13th. But we’re only two-thirds of the way through it, so this isn’t a time to look back and see where you are; this is a time to keep your eyes in front of you and keep driving towards the finish line. Our guys have done a great job. They’re going to have to do it for the next four weeks, and then we’ll kind of pick up and take a look at where we are.

But again, we’ve positioned ourselves after two-thirds of the season in a good position. Now it’s up to us to finish it off.

Louisville Football: Bobby Petrino Press Conference

BOBBY PETRINO: Well, we’re working hard in our bye week. We’re excited to have it. It’s a long time to go without a bye. Coming off a tough loss at Wake Forest, where our offense played well at times but wasn’t consistent enough, and had the ball twice in the red zone and didn’t score touchdowns. So that hurt us in the game.

Defensively we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re working hard on technique, fundamentals and scheme, and what we really want to do is finish strong and win these last three games.

Q. How would you kind of grade or assess Lamar’s play this year?
BOBBY PETRINO: Lamar has played really well. He’s throwing the ball well. He’s doing a lot of great things in the passing game, going through his progressions, taking care of the ball for the most part. He’s done an unbelievable job running the football and executing the offense. You know, we just haven’t been able to give him enough help in areas where we can stop teams and score enough points to win.

Q. How do you think he’s handled that this year, not really having the success and the wins and losses you guys have had?
BOBBY PETRINO: You know, he’s a great young man. He comes to practice every day and works extremely hard. He is a great competitor, so obviously he doesn’t like to lose games, and he works hard every day to get better. So you can’t say enough about that.

Q. Where do you think you’ve seen him improve the most from last year?
BOBBY PETRINO: I mean, he’s improved probably in all phases of the game, but his understanding of defenses, understanding what exactly we’re trying to do offensively, his ability to get the ball out on time and accurate. He makes a lot of great throws each game.

Q. Typically I know the Heisman is supposed to be an individual award. Typically it goes to the best individual on a good team, though. Where do you feel like Lamar’s performance this year is relative to last year, and do you think he deserves to be in that conversation for the Heisman despite the fact that maybe as a team you guys aren’t quite where you would like to be?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah, I think he’s playing really well, and obviously is one of the best players in the country. We’re not taking care of business as a team enough to really get him into that talk and what he’s doing, but when you look at his numbers and what he’s done individually, you know, he’s certainly one of the best players in the country. Now, I don’t see all the other players and obviously know there’s a lot of great players out there, but what Lamar does week in and week out really is amazing.

Q. I know you guys talked in the off-season about his future and what he might need to do to develop to get ready for the next level at whatever point that comes in his career. Have you seen the strides in that direction, and what has your advice been to him about whether coming back for another year is a good thing or — in terms of preparation for when he does get to the next level?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah, you know, as you’re going into a season and during a season, you never talk about what you do after the season is over with. You just focus on what you can get done, how you can perform individually, how you can help the team win games, and just do the best that you can each week in practice and each week in the game.

He certainly made huge strides in his knowledge of the game of football and his ability to throw the ball accurately, throw it deep. Obviously he’s one of the greatest athletes there is as far as his ability to run and the speed that he played with. But we don’t talk anything about that. The time and the place for that is when the season is over with.

Q. Just in general across the country, dynamic tight ends seem to be a little more rare, tight ends who can both block and catch. How have you seen the role of tight end change nationwide, especially the past few seasons?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah, I mean, it’s changed in probably the last 10 years from the big, physical on-line guys that can really block to guys that now play multiple positions, not only tight end but play in the backfield as a fullback, play split out as a wide receiver. So you’re always looking for that guy that can do multiple things. It’s one of the toughest positions there is in football because you have to run block, you have to pass block, and you’ve got to run routes and catch the ball and run after the route. You know, it’s a very unique position, something that you have to work hard at in recruiting. We’ve always been fortunate to have some really good tight ends.

Q. Length of college games is growing a little bit longer the past few years. Would you be a proponent of a rule change, keeping the clock running after 1st downs just to shorten games a bit?
BOBBY PETRINO: No, not at all. I think that’s why you see some of the great college games and the great comebacks and everything that there is in college football. I don’t think that we need to try to shorten the game at all.

Q. I was wondering in regards to the early signing period in December if it’s your expectation that all of your commits will be signing?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s new to all of us, new to everybody in the country, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out. You know, obviously the best thing for us would be if we get them all signed when you can in December. I’m certain there will probably be one or two or a number of guys that don’t feel comfortable yet and maybe haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet. I know there’s a lot of unknowns out there. I think it’s going to be really interesting to see how it all plays out.

Q. Do you have a feel yet of this is going to be a good thing overall?
BOBBY PETRINO: You know, I think it’s going to be a good thing for staffs that are intact and are going to stay intact, and I think it’s going to be a shocking thing for some players that all of a sudden there’s a new staff in place. You know, I guess there’s just so many unknowns. I really don’t know.

University of Miami Football: Mark Richt Press Conference Transcript

MARK RICHT: We had our typical Wednesday practice. It was a beautiful day for it. The guys I thought practiced well. I thought our scout teamers gave us great effort. Got a lot done today.

Now that the hard work is in, we’ll probably be in just shorts and helmets tomorrow, and probably go at a pretty light pace. I think they have worked hard and done the things they need to do to this point.

Q. As you look at Greg Stroman, their punt returner and the entire unit, what has made them so dangerous?
MARK RICHT: Well, first of all, he’s a good return man. Usually you’ve got to make — most of the time, you’ve got to make the first guy miss. People talk about that a lot. But even before that, you have to field the ball well and you have to make decisions on when to return it and when not to.

If the ball is punted long and not enough hang time, there’s enough space for him to get started, that’s the problem. The rest of the guys just have to get in position. His blockers have to get in position to mostly shield guys off. You’re not really knocking people down on that play. You’re getting in a position where you’re shielding them from the return man.

And then when there’s enough space, you know, good guys with speed and agility can make people miss at the end, as well, and usually you make somebody miss on the front end, you get some good blocking and then at the very end, there’s usually another guy you’ve got to make miss and he’s got the agility and the speed to do that.

Q. At this point in the season, I know obviously guys get a little more comfortable in their roles but you also have guys get dinged up. How would you evaluate your coverage units?
MARK RICHT: Well, not bad. I think the more we go dig deeper into our two-deep lineup on offense and defense, we get a little bit deeper into our special teams depth.

For example, Travis Homer, our starting running back now, he was the starter on the big four units, punt return, punt, kick return and kick and he’s the best special teams player we got.

Well, now that Walton got hurt and he has to play the majority of the snaps at tailback, we had to pull him off of at least two teams and probably shouldn’t even have him starting on two specials.

But he won’t take himself off, No. 1. And No. 2, we just can’t afford to lose him. And that’s just one example of what happens when you have a little attrition here and there; all of a sudden it trickles down on to your special teams, as well.

Q. You and Coach Fuente took over programs at about the same time. When you took the Miami job, did you see it as a program with good bones and just needed some adjustments, or did you feel like there were significant things to do that needed to be done?
MARK RICHT: Well, I wasn’t sure what we had to be honest with you. I didn’t watch film and try to make a determination of: Do I want to take over this team or not. I just knew I wanted to be back at my alma mater at a place that had the rich tradition of winning and winning in a big way, and being in a fertile recruiting area, which South Florida is.

So all those things are the reasons why I decided to come back, and I really wasn’t gauging where I thought we were. Once I got to meet the guys and start working with them, I knew the cupboard was not bare by any means, and the last staff under Al Golden did a good job of recruiting.

After living through it a little bit, I realized there was some pretty good ones and we also brought a few guys in that have helped us, as well.

Q. And what have you seen Coach Fuente do in his season and a half up there in Blacksburg?
MARK RICHT: I think the guy is a very detailed coach. I think he demands things to be done a certain way and his staff does, as well. You see a tough, hard-nosed football team, offensively, defensively, special teams. I think football starts with a certain amount of physical play. They are very sound in what they do, and they execute well and that’s why they win.

Q. He seems to be able to develop quarterbacks, as well.
MARK RICHT: Oh, yeah, very good. First-year starter, he’s playing extremely well. A lot of touchdowns, not many interceptions. He’s got some outstanding running plays that he’s had. He’s made good decisions, not putting the ball into harm’s way. I think he’s done a wonderful job.

Q. And I noticed in your regular press conference, I guess it was Tuesday, you were very effusive in your praise of Doug foster. You have a lot of respect for the job he’s done.
MARK RICHT: Well, I’ve known Coach Foster a long time and competed against him once or twice, you know, way back when. You can’t help but admire what he’s done and what he is in the middle of doing right now.

I mean, the No. 2 scoring defense in the United States of America this deep into the season is very significant. It’s the No. 1 stat in defensive football; you know, points against your team. Only have given up on average 11 points a game. That’s pretty spectacular.

Q. You guys introduced this turnover chain through your defensive players this year, and it’s turned into this huge deal, people wearing shirts, making homemade chains, people around the country want it. I’m curious when Manny introduced the team and when he introduced it to you, did you have any idea it would blow up and become this huge thing it has become?
MARK RICHT: Well, first of all, it only blows up if you get turnovers. If you don’t get turnovers, it stays in the box. It stays in the trunk.

So it helps when we get some turnovers and we break it out. The players get so excited about getting it but they get excited for their teammates when they get it. In the very beginning, as soon as they got the turnover, they were popping their helmet off because you have to take your helmet off to put the chain on.

So they are popping their helmet off midfield and we’re telling them, look, you have got to get to the sideline before you take off your helmet because that’s a penalty.

After we trained them to do that, I felt a lot better about it. But it’s just pure joy, pure joy for the player and his teammates and our coaches and the fans. I think that’s one thing about this place, the University of Miami and Coral Gables and Paradise, like I call it.

We want to have fun. We want to enjoy life because life’s worth enjoying, and when you’re down here in this beautiful weather and this beautiful place; that’s so Miami, a Cuban-link chain like that, it’s a little gaudy, but hey, that’s how we roll.

Q. The way you approach things in recruiting —
MARK RICHT: Well, we’d like everybody that’s committed to us to go ahead and sign in the early signing period. We’re hoping that they will do that.

You know, there are a lot of kids that come in in January, and there’s never a signing day for them. And this provides a nice ceremony, you know, for them and their family. I think it’s great and I’m hoping that even the guys that are not midyear enrollees will be kids that want to sign, knock it out and be ready to help recruit the rest of their class.

Q. Will you be okay if some are late —
MARK RICHT: Well, we’ll cross that bridge when it happens. But I’m sure that will be on a person-by-person basis on what we’ll decide to do about that.

Q. Are you in favor of the early signing period?
MARK RICHT: Well, I don’t know yet. I think we’ve got to live through it a year or two and figure out if it’s a great thing or not so great.

Q. Greg Nosal, one of your offensive quality control guys. He’s a Virginia Tech alumn, also. When guys kind of get to this stage of their career, they kind of have to set aside allegiances and those kinds of things to make this a full-time employment situation. Has that ever crossed your mind —
MARK RICHT: No —

Q. Any scattered — (interrupting / crosstalk) — loyalty —
MARK RICHT: — no, it’s not about his loyalty, no, I don’t have any question. I played in Miami, and then I coached at Florida State for 15 years, you know, so I was the enemy of my former teammates for 15 years.

I would say that the first time I was coaching in a game with the other colors on besides my alma mater, it was weird. I was still a pretty young guy, and some of the coaches and even the players that were still there when I was at Miami, so it was very awkward. But once you kick it off, it’s time to try to win.

Q. Do you have much interaction with Greg during the course — I know he talks with Stacy — what does he do for you, what are his duties?
MARK RICHT: So much. The background work as far as film breakdowns and just helping to prepare things for scouting reports and just learning ball and interjecting things that he knows and has experienced. He’s a very sharp guy.

Q. The way you’ve played this year, you put yourself in a position to control your own destiny. Is it nice to know that you don’t have to look for help from anybody else but just concentrate on winning the game in front of you?
MARK RICHT: Well, this deep into the season, yes. When the season starts, everybody controls their own destiny, so to speak. At this point, that’s where we’re at. We’ve been blessed to win every game.

We know there’s been a lot of tight ones and quite frankly last year we had three very close games and we lost all three of them. And then we had a game against Virginia Tech last year and it wasn’t very close. So that was our four losses last year.

This year, really, we’ve had three or four tight ballgames in a row and found a way to win every one of them. That’s the formula: Win your close games and hopefully have a few where there’s not quite so much drama and keep winning and move on to the next stage.

We’ve happy to be undefeated, but we know there’s a lot more meat on the bone, so to speak, when it comes to our schedule. Virginia Tech is not a good team but a great team in our mind.

Q. Do the ACC schedule makers have to start looking at providing a bye week for both teams that have to play on a Thursday or Friday night just to make it an even playing field?
MARK RICHT: There’s no question. I don’t think anybody should play on a short week when someone else has 12 days to prepare. That’s just — there’s no way that should ever happen.

And I don’t think anybody should really have to go Saturday to Thursday if at all positive. That’s a tough, tough turnaround, and it’s not only tough for coaches to prepare but it’s just not good for the players. They need time to recover. They don’t get that time. It’s a midweek game. They have got school; they have got exams; they have got all these things, and it’s just not a very comfortable way of going about business.

I think if you have a Thursday night game, have an open date prior to that if at all possible.