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ACC Football Kickoff

July 23, 2007

On college football
“The passion on the college game is at an all-time high. It’s all the things that passion brings on to play. Caring about the record, the young men, and the impression that being successful leaves on their friends. The passion on college football is what makes it special.”

On not having Calvin Johnson
“We will not go into the game saying that there is this guy and make sure that there are 10 ways to get him the football. I think that it will have a good change in game plans.”

On the upcoming season and the change
“Motivation is handled a lot of different ways. I hate to lose no matter what I’m doing. I hate to see people not be the best they can be, whatever that may be. That just means learning to be the best you can be.”

On coaching changes
“We have good coaches in this conference. There is less of likelihood to have a ton of turnover. I think that it will probably be less, rather than more, as the years go on.”

On the inexperience of the quarterbacks
“The quarterback position has a drastic impact on everything in the game. If you have some of the other things in place, it helps the quarterback along.”

On the team
“I love our experience and leadership. I think that they are going to accept challenges, without any frustrations. It’s a mindset that has unfolded over the years. This group gets it, more than most of them. Senior leadership is strong, and if they get it, the rest of the guys will follow along.”

On the keys to the season
“Turnover margin, sack margin, big play margin, all those kinds of things. Offense, defense, and special teams. We need to be solid in all three phases.”

On last season and the way it ended
“If we are doing it right, we see where the pulse of the team is and make sure that we get everyone on the same page and head them in the right direction. They realize what we want to do, we realize what they want to do, and we want to change the outcome. That’s something that has unfolded as the summer has gone on and they are extremely motivated.”

On the quarterback position and why he didn’t play more
“We didn’t think he was ready and Reggie (Ball) gave us the best chance to win the game.”

On the NFL prospects
“No, I told them straight up what was going on and they understood. I will always be straight up with the team and let them know where I stand.”

On accepting new role and not play calling as much
“I try to evaluate my role and see where I can best help the team. I felt like last year I helped the team most by stepping back. I thought about going back to my old role, but things hadn’t change. I thought about it when Patrick (Nix) left, but we looked at the options and whether I would take over play calling, but we decided that we would hire somebody and I’m very comfortable with John Bond.”

On the accomplishments last year
“We took a step forward. I feel like we have done that every year. We haven’t gotten to where we want to yet, but we are getting close.”

On Tashard Choice carrying the load
“We will be balanced. Did he have as many yards at the end of the season because he didn’t get as many carries early on, or could he have had more yards if we gave him more carries? You can what if yourself to death.”

On the offensive line
“It’s the most experience we’ve had and the most depth we’ve had. So on paper, yes it’s the best we’ve had,”

On Taylor Bennett’s style

“He’s your prototypical drop back quarterback. He has a good arm, and is a smart quarterback, but will not make those runs that we had in the past. He doesn’t stand out a lot. We have a team that is dedicated to winning and very intelligent, so he doesn’t stand out compared to the rest of the players.”

On the ACC
“It just mirrors society. You want to talk about what people aren’t doing instead of what they are doing. Let’s tear people down, rather than pump them up.”

On the quarterback position in the ACC
“We have had a lot of new guys last year, and this year. So there is going to be some inconsistent play. But, I think that the more you play the more prepared you’re going to be.”

On Taylor Bennett doing so well in Gator Bowl
“Being a quarterback in that position is easier. Everyone is patting you on the back. When you are the backup quarterback, everyone loves you. Now when you are the starting quarterback, the weight of the season is upon you and can you handle it. That is part of being a starting quarterback and you have to be mentally tough, If you are not, than its going to be tough.”

On the recruiting class
“There is normally five or six freshmen that can make an impact right away. I think that this year we will have five or six that can go out there and play. Injuries come into play on that, but normally we have a handful that will go out there and play.”

On the wide out position
“I’m excited about those guys. I get to see them in practice and that’s why I am excited about those guys. James Johnson played last year and has a ton of potential. Greg Smith played a little and has potential. We have two redshirt freshmen that have a ton of talent. We also have some freshman that we are going to take a look at when fall camp starts. So we are excited about what we have there.”

On instant replay
“We have a back judge who stands out there on the field, we trust his decision. He has information, and experience, and he makes a decision that can affect a ballgame. We have an official in the booth that has the same experience that can also make a decision that can make a game changing decision. I think it’s fine the way it is, he can make the decision, that’s why we pay him.”

On the offense and the running game
“The running game will be about 80 percent the same, but the difference will come in the quarterback position. Probably less runs from the quarterback.”

On looking at Taylor Bennett differently now that he played well in Bowl Game
“Of course you look at him differently, he’s been successful, and he looks at himself differently too. He has proven that he can go out there and do the job.”

On the Virginia Tech tragedy
“That could have happened to any of us. We better understand that it could happen anytime. Are you prepared for it? You never are prepared for something like that. You trust in your faith and try to be strong enough within yourself, your small group, and larger group to deal with something of that magnitude.”

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