Publisher's Note: Nico Naha contributed to this transcription.
You've been successful against Boston College stopping the run. What are sort of the things that you do best defensively?
Well they're so big and physical. The thing we've done well is win our gaps and play on their side of the line of scrimmage. That's the biggest thing that these guys, they're a power football team. They try to wash you with their size and with movement and create creases for the big back to kind of gash ya. And ya know that's, I know two years ago when we went up there that was the one thing we were able to do. We were able to win our leverage and play on their side of the line of scrimmage, and then we were able to tackle well. And that's a big part of this whole thing is to stop the run with these guys. You've got to be physical up front. You've gotta play with your feet in the neutral zone, if not they're knockin us off the ball and we've gotta be gap sound and win our leverage. That gap moves and we've gotta maintain leverage on our gap. That's what we've done when we've had success.
With the depth chart coming out yesterday, DeShawn Crawford in that starting role. What have you seen from him this summer after he transferred in and are you excited about what he is going to do this year?
Yeah I'm anxious to see him get started. I mean he's had a great you know spring was new for him. He had 15 days. Had an outstanding summer in the weight room. Put on some added weight and then has had a great camp. The one thing he did in the spring was he put himself in position to make plays. His mind was kind of tying up his feet a little bit at times, but he was in good position. Maybe didn't turn it loose like you'd want him too and but the one thing he did this summer was learn his position, got stronger which you saw this fall camp was a guy that played at a higher speed just playing with a little more confidence and then was finishing plays and making plays and playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage. So I'm excited to see him play this week when it's for real right now. But he's been one of our most improved guys from last spring to this point right now.
You've been a part of enough season openers to know that weird stuff kind of happens in week one. It sounds like Justin [Fuente] has asked coaches to show clips and stuff of what they can see like weird plays, uncharacteristic mistakes that other teams make. Is that helpful? Does it sort of address that with the team?
Yeah without a doubt. I mean all you want to do is make guys aware of you know we don't get the opportunity like high school or the NFL to scrimmage against other teams. But with that being said sometimes maybe you hope your timing and all those things are right. You hope your eyes are where they should be defensively. So you're hoping that you know you're gonna be sound in the kicking game and can do those kind of things. And that's really kind of what we're showing as much as anything. It's about penalties. It's about protecting the football. It's about getting the ball. It's about being disciplined in the kicking game. And particularly on defense you know not give away any kind of cheap plays by being undisciplined maybe with your eyes or your technique or fundamentals. But that's I think the biggest thing is just making our guys aware of maybe what other people do. It's kind of like the burner's hot. Don't touch the burner. Okay I'm telling you it is scolding, you will burn your finger so we're trying to expose our kids and Coach [Fuente] has done a great job of that during the course of camp. We usually do it every Friday before we leave. He goes over several situations that may occur for our team to, that we've probably covered ourselves at some point in time, but you can't cover everything all the time. And maybe it's just a reminder to hey let's be focused, and this can happen if you're not disciplined.
Do you ever really know how you're team will respond or is it sort of a guessing game?
Well, I think it's a guessing game a little bit. I'm hoping, you know, kind of it varies from year to year. I think depending on the maturity you have and the experience you have, and the confidence guys have. I think that's a big part of it and how kids respond to certain situations and sometimes it's not so much that how they what happens it's that they respond to what happens. You know what I mean, and go move on and you can learn from it and you can move onto the next play. But still hopefully we've prepared for enough of everything and now it's just a matter and now you gotta go on and do it for real. And where you're doing it in controlled situations, in practice situations, and then now all of a sudden the games for real.
What kind of exposure do you know about Mike Bajakian about his style and what he's all about?
We looked at him when he was at Tennessee a little bit and when he was with Tampa. I know this. I'm sure he's gonna have some wrinkles maybe in the passing game or maybe a couple concepts they do. I know this it's Steve Adazzio's offense. I don't care who the coordinator is they're gonna have a certain mentality, and they're gonna run a certain core number of plays. It's gonna be, I thought Scot Loeffler did a great job of doing that and adapting, and doing some opening it up a little bit more himself, and I'm sure they are probably gonna try and build on that a little bit. But when it's all said and done it's still Coach Adazzio's offense they're gonna be who they are, multiple tight ends, try to gain angles on ya, out flank ya, out tempo you. They're gonna do those things. He may add a wrinkle here or there, but their big thing is they're gonna be sound fundamentally. They're gonna, hopefully they're gonna run the football when they have success they are able to run the ball and, but I see, I think you'll see a couple of wrinkles, but I don't see he's gonna go very far off what we've seen more or less in several years of playing these guys.
Do you feel like you will be able to play more guys on defense this year further down the depth chart?
Well I don't know about that. I'm hoping so, but you look at our depth chart we've got a little more depth then we probably had a year ago, but at the same those guys are inexperienced. So our first group is the experienced group, but the second group is gonna be guys that kind of where if you, if we didn't have those front liners like we do now or if we have a bunch of guys hurt, or had situations like we did last year all of a sudden you're playing with a bunch of guys who are playing the game for the first time, and at this level. But I do like our kids and hopefully we've got some young hungry kids that I think have a really good football IQ, and a good understanding, but we'll see when the bullets start flying so to speak live and when it really counts, but I'm anxious to see these guys play. I'm hoping as the season goes along and being in the perfect world we can play a lot of guys and I'm hoping we will, but we're not just gonna play people to play people they gotta be ready to play and ready to perform and that's the biggest thing, but hopefully we can do that yes.
You mentioned that offensive philosophy for Boston College just heavy on the running game, always has a big line. How do you, do you have a gameplan going in on how to stop that run game or are you kind of focusing on something else?
Well yeah hopefully we do, that's kind of what we prepare for. But yeah I mean we do have a plan obviously you've gotta. I'm not gonna give away what we do but from week to week. We do have to play physically up front.
We do have to be gap sound up front, and with the linebackers, I'm talking linebackers as well as that. And then we do have to do a great job of running to the football, ok, and tackling their big back. You know the [AJ] Dillon kid is, I mean he is everything they're writing about. I mean he is a big time player and he is hard to bring down and we got to do a great job of swarming him and being physical in our approach coming to the football and coming with a purpose coming with urgency, but it's pretty simple that way. I mean obviously we've got to win gaps and be fundamentally sound then we gotta finish plays too and that's a big part of it.
In an area where you struggled most last year much to your chagrin I know with the run defense, now you're playing a team that has maybe one of the best running backs in the country starting off for you. You don't get a chance to make the schedule, I know that. Do you like the fact that you get this measuring stick right away to figure out how far your guys have come or would you rather have maybe something else to kinda test you earlier?
You guys know our schedule. We haven't played in the last several years. We've been fortunate to play on a lot of kickoff games or, I like playing a big-time opponent the first game of the year. Do I like playing a conference opponent the first game of the year? I don't know about that. But I would, I do like playing a big-time opponent and we just have that this year we got a big time opponent and it's a big-time conference game. But obviously when you're playing somebody of that caliber your first game I think it, it just gets your mind set right in the offseason as far as what you're looking towards. There's an urgency about your work and your approach because of what you're preparing for. So I think those factor in, and you hope that doesn't change who you're playing in the first game, but obviously when you're playing a big-time opponent particularly a conference game like last year, there's I think a sense of urgency about our approach in everything we do.
Coach, kind of going back to Dillon do you think it helps your guys if you saw him kinda late in the year last year I mean does that make a difference for your team, or do you think you kind of throw that out the window?
I don't know if that helps us or doesn't. Our guys do know how hard he runs and how physical he is and how physical they are. I believe this, I think I've always thought BC was a different team on turf than they are on grass. I think that they are different at home. I think there's a quickness of speed difference there. I'm hoping our guys just have a true understanding of how good he really is and what we're gonna have to do to bring him down and how physical we're gonna have to play up-front and how important tackling is gonna be from not just our front six or seven, but they're gonna make our DBs tackle. And those guys gotta do a great job of bringing it and finishing plays.
Bud, there's a lot of elements about last year people want to forget but the season opener wasn't one of them I mean that was one of your best performances. For those guys who were on that team and remember that going to Florida State, going on the road like they'll be doing this week, can that experience help you at all or just the way you guys have prepared over these last few months just to get ready for that?
Yea I hope so. I hope, we were on the road last year in the first game a lot of our guys particularly played in that game for the first time so this is their second go around. You know and it's as far as starting our season and so hopefully were I think hopefully more prepared mentally as much as we are physically so as far as our approach and what the expectations are traveling and those types of things.
Coach Foster, I was gonna ask you obviously you've played Boston College so many times in your time here at Virginia Tech, is there a memory or fond memory that you have going up to Chestnut Hill or just playing Boston College in general?
I thought a couple years ago going up there we were really good on defense and they were really good on offense and I thought we played really, really well up-front and that was a big game. Probably one of the early ones that I remember going back to was probably around 1994 when we had to play them back-to-back and we went up there and won a big game up there. That was a physical contest, low scoring game. I think Torrian Gray might've got a pick six in that game and brought it back. And there was another one we had, it was a rain game and that was in 1998, I'm going way back. We were down to Nick Sorensen at quarterback and Pierson Prioleau who's on our staff now got a pick six and we had a big-time goal line stand. They had a running back by the name of Mike Cloud that was a big-time player. And really that was a hard fought football game. And that's the one thing about BC, I have tremendous respect for this program. They're tough, they're hard-nose, they're well coached, they're disciplined, they don't beat themselves. They do a great job defensively themselves with takeaways. They did a good job last year on that side of the ball. And they had an experienced group. But this time I'm hoping it's gonna be that same kind of game from our standpoint of it. We play like were capable of doing it'll be a four quarter football game. And guys are gonna go nose to nose and it'll be a fight for sixty minutes. And hopefully we'll be the one that has the most discipline in the end to do it the right way play after play after play, 'cause thats what it's gonna come down to once it's all said and done. So, who's gonna play consistently well you know every play.
So Bud after looking at the video did you get any feedback from the Marching Virginians after your audition with them?
That was really pretty cool. I wasn't expecting that. To be honest kinda emotional. Those guys come out and for them to ask me to lead their charge so to speak that was a little intimidating too. I don't know, my technique was not very good at times. But they do such a great job and they've been so supportive of our program over the years and we got one of the better bands in the country so that was a pretty cool experience for me.
We saw some really crappy tackling in that Miami game and a couple of the ACC Network analysts who played the game for a long time were on a conference call yesterday. They said, "Look it's hard to prepare in this climate of football where you're worried about concussions and everything else physically to go out there and practice and bang heads. So how have you managed that? How are you ensuring that they'll be physical like you said they need to be?
Obviously we pick our moments to do live work. You can't do it all the time, or you'll beat them up, that's just the nature of the game. We do a lot of angles to the football, leverage to the ball. That's a big part of it. I mean you gotta work the segments of what it takes. Who has inside leverage, who has outside leverage, who's pressing. We can't have two guys outside the ball or two guys inside the ball. I think those are the things that kind of create situations for poor tackling. But also, the nature of the game of playing in space nowadays it creates a lot of one-on-one situations. And you know we, people talk about the rugby tackle and those kind of things. We really work hard on what we call a roll tackle which is that kinda thing that we're gonna go grab their feet and pull. Those are plays where you got sometimes you got when I was a young lad you didn't they always talked about you didn't leave your feet to make a play you had to run through people. Nowadays you have to leave your feet in a lot of instances so we work on those kinds of things. We really study in the offseason what the position demands are for individual positions. What kinda fits and what kinda tackling what kinda things do they need to be good at and we really spend a lot of time in the spring and this fall camp working on those and creating drills that will simulate those situations. And so I hope that's one area that you know we've improved at least closing the distance zone where help is and then working on the part of finishing. But that's always one of the scary things like I said you don't have you're limited with how much contact practices you have. You don't get to work against anyone else and so sometimes timing can be off just a little bit. That's the one thing that's concerning as a coach sometimes.