Press Conference for Clemson vs. Boston College
On BC running back Montel Harris On Andre Branch at linebacker On playing at Boston College On safety Jonathan Meeks On road games On BC linebacker Luke Kuechly On Andre Ellington On relationship with Mark Herzlich
“It was a good team win last week, and now another big opportunity for us this week against Boston College. We need to continue to try to build momentum. We’re just sticking to our mentality of a one game season and the season this week is Boston College.
“We have to continue to prepare well and keep on getting better. I’m proud of the effort these guys have given so far. We’re still in the fight. A lot of people probably counted us out when we got knocked down early, but we’ve battled back.
“Boston College is always tough. You can take the names off the jerseys every year and it really doesn’t matter. They’re big and strong and always a very difficult team to play. We’ve only won in their stadium one time. It’s not a place Clemson has had a lot of success.
“They’re getting better as a football team. It’s pretty obvious. They went down to Florida State and it was a five point game, and then they lost by three points to Maryland. They’re getting better.
“The biggest thing has been their quarterback. That freshman (Chase Rettig) is getting better. They’d like for us to look at their record and think that they aren’t going to show up, but we know that’s far from the truth.
“Offensively, they’re huge. They’ve got nine guys that are 6’6, 6’7, or 6’8 and they’re veterans. The center is the only new starter on the offensive line. Montel Harris is a very good back and is leading the league in rushing. He’s a tough runner and capable of making big plays.
“They love to be balanced on offense. The leading receiver is a freshman and they have very capable guys at tight end.
“For us, it’s about playing smarter and solid defense. We have to stop the run and affect the quarterback. Defensively, they’re first in the league in rush defense. They’re right around there every year, regardless of the players. They’re third in the ACC in total defense; typical BC.
“The biggest thing about them is that they don’t beat themselves. You have to take opportunities when you have them. We have to do a better job this year of getting the ball in the end zone.
“For them, it all starts up front. Every year we play them, they have a couple defensive tackles that cause problems. Luke Kuechly is their leading guy that makes a bunch of tackles; he is first in the nation.
“It’s great to see (Mark) Herzlich back. It’s been fun watching tape and seeing #94 back out there. I will be excited to see him before the game and congratulate him on his success. I’m really proud of him, but I wish I didn’t have to see him play against us.
“Special teams were a key for us last year and it’ll be key again this year. The biggest challenge for us is going on the road and playing a complete game. We’ve been in position on the road, twice, to win but we just couldn’t finish. We have to finish like we know we’re capable of.
On defense versus Boston College
“Last year, we held them to 54 yard. Fifty-four yards against an opponent doesn’t happen very often. It was just kind of our day last year. They hit some big plays on us, but they had a lot of negative plays too. Hopefully we’ll play well against them again, but 54 yards is a tall order. They know what their issues are; they’re just trying to get better. They’ve got a young quarterback and have kind of settled in and they’re getting better. They’re gaining confidence, especially on offense.
“We’re getting better and as you win games, it builds momentum. These guys have shown up every week. We haven’t played smart every week and beat ourselves on occasion, but now we’ve started to play smarter and they continue to play hard and that’s the biggest thing.
“I saw him play in high school a lot. He and Jamie (Harper) were high school teammates. He was committed to Duke for a long time and backed off right before signing day. That was a great pick up for Boston College; he’s a heck of a player. He is so consistent and comes to play every game. Every film you watch you are impressed with him.
“We’re not doing that again unless someone’s running the triple option. We’ve got a good system in place. That was a unique opportunity for us based on the game plan. Without him at end, we only have three and you have to have four guys there. We were proud of the job Branch did last Saturday.
“We’ve gotten used to them because we play them every year. We’ve been up there a couple times and won up their last time (2008). It’s our longest flight and a little bit of a longer day but we try to stick with a routine, regardless. The only difference is the distance and time we actually travel. But, it is not as tough for us as it would be for someone in the Coastal Division who does travel up there every other year.
“He’s a blossoming player. He’s really started to come on and give us some significant reps. He started the game (against Georgia Tech) and played great. We’re starting to really build some competitive depth on defense and that’s a great thing for accountability. With that comes confidence and better practices and it’s been good. Seeing the success that Meeks has had and watching his confidence grow is great, he’s a special player.
This team, regardless of where we’ve been, has been ready to play and has battled all the way to the end. I’m just looking for us to be able to finish the right way on the road. It’s all about how you practice, how you prepare; it shouldn’t matter who you play, where you play, what the weather is, or what time it is.
“You come and play your game at a high level and find a way to win. I could care less what the weather is. We played in the coldest game in Clemson history in Nashville, last year, and we’ve played in pouring rain; it doesn’t matter to me. The only thing that we prepare for is their field turf up there. We’ll address that in our practice this week. We’ll do all our competitive work on the turf this week.
“He has great vision and just understands their system. He preps every week and studies formations and tendencies and he’s just a good football player. Their scheme, with those big guys up front, he’s unblocked sometimes. It’s a system where the linebacker should make a lot of tackles and he does a good job finishing those tackles.
“He’s a great back. His maturity off the field is the biggest thing. This guy has really gotten focused. He came here as a little runt, around 180, and now he’s a 195-pounder, rocked up and just very put together. He’s gotten more explosive, more physical and just a better runner.
“When you put that development with his talent, he’s a great player. He’ll press a block and move a linebacker and then he’s gone. He’s got the ability to make full speed cuts and we’re just really proud of him.
“The best thing about him is that it’s like having a senior because of his knowledge of this system. His high school coach learns the zone play and this system and now Andre is wise beyond his years in knowing how to play in this zone scheme.
“I have had relationships with players on other teams because of recruiting, but that is a little different situation. I didn’t know Mark other than as a player and had a ton of respect for him. In that situation, your heart just went out to the guy. I love his competitive nature and his will to win no matter if it’s a football game or battling cancer.
“I wanted to help make a difference for him (last year when he presented him a check for Cancer Foundation). He has a great family. It kind of parallels the Clemson/Boston College game. There is a lot of respect between the two fan bases. It’s been a good game every year.
On BC running back Montel Harris
On Andre Branch at linebacker
On playing at Boston College
On safety Jonathan Meeks
On road games
On BC linebacker Luke Kuechly
On Andre Ellington
On relationship with Mark Herzlich
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