Football Players Address Media

I addition to the coaches, several players were available to speak to the media on Friday. Anthony Castonzo, Josh Haden, Montel Harris and Damik Scafe sat down with Eagle Insider to talk about the team, their off-season and the upcoming season.

Anthony Castonzo, Offensive Lineman

Eagle Insider: How was your summer?

Castonzo: Summer was good. I was here the whole time, training, getting ready. I'm excited to get back out there.

Eagle Insider: A lot has happened off the field since the last time you played a game. How would you describe the team's mindset heading into fall practice?

Castonzo: We've really come together a lot as a unit. We've had a lot to overcome, but we plan to do that successfully. Everyone is picking us to be down this year, saying we're not going to have that great of a season, but that really just motivates us to overcome everything.

Eagle Insider: How has practice gone so far?

Castonzo: The practices have been very intense. Very physical. We've got a lot of kinks to work out, just like any team at the start of the season, but we're working on it and getting better every day. It's nice to get back in the groove and be on the field.

Eagle Insider: What are the major differences so far under Coach Spaziani compared to Coach Jags?

Castonzo: The biggest difference with Coach Spaz is that he's definitely an old-school coach. He played under Joe Paterno, so that tells you a lot about his style. He loves smash-mouth football, and keeps it physical. It's just a different philosophy. I've enjoyed it so far.

Eagle Insider: How has the offensive line come together so far?

Castonzo: It's just the second day, so you can't really tell a lot. The first couple days are all about getting to where we need to be, getting on the same page.

Eagle Insider: Are you excited about the prospect of the offensive line being one of the team's strengths this year?

Castonzo: Definitely. As the offensive line, we're really excited about trying to bring back O-Line U. We take pride in the offensive line tradition at BC and we hope to build on it this year.

Eagle Insider: With the uncertainty at quarterback, does it make the offensive line and the running game even more important?

Castonzo: We've got confidence in whoever ends up as the starting quarterback, but we take pride in trying to make things easier on him by establishing the running game. It doesn't matter who your quarterback is, if you're not giving him good protection and starting with a strong running game he's not going to have as good a chance to succeed.

Josh Haden, Running Back

Eagle Insider: How have the first few days of fall practice gone so far?

Josh Haden: Really well. I'm liking the new offense. We've got some new plays, and we're really focused on hard-nosed, old school football.

Eagle Insider: How does the offensive line and the running game feel going into the season? Obviously, it's going to be an important part of BC's offense this year, with the uncertainty at QB.

Josh Haden: The O-Line is coming together well, and Montel and I are confident that we can build on what we did last season. The line has a lot more confidence now that they're more experienced as a unit. Thomas Claiborne has really stepped up as a leader for that unit, too, and they really respond to his leadership. I expect them to be a real strength for us this year.

Eagle Insider: How was your summer?

Josh Haden: It was pretty good. Coach Loco is really tough on all of us and gives us no choice but to work hard and be in great shape, so that's really good for us. We're definitely all ready to go when we get back because [Loco] makes sure we're ready.

Eagle Insider: What's the team's attitude so far, given some of the negative predictions for this season in the media?

Josh Haden: The team's coming together well. Like coach says, the predictions are for other people to make, it's up to us to go out there and execute. Obviously we've got a much younger team so it's taking time to get in the groove, but I feel like we're coming along well at this point.

Montel Harris, Running Back

Eagle Insider: How are you feeling going into this season?

Montel Harris: I'm feeling great. I worked really hard over the off-season. The off-season really is the most important time of year, because that's the only time you have to really improve physically and get ready for the grind of the season.

Eagle Insider: While some are predicting a down year for BC, the consensus is that the running game will be strong. How do you feel about that?

Montel Harris: It's obviously great for us whenever we get complimented like that. We like to try to be the engine for the team.

Eagle Insider: Anthony Castonzo and Josh Haden mentioned that Coach Spaz seems to want to return to a more smash-mouth style offensively. Seeing as that's your running style, are you excited about that?

Montel Harris: Absolutely. I'm excited about it. Ever since high school, my coaches have told me, ‘run it down their throat.' I'm ready to do that this year.

Eagle Insider: How has Coach Spaz's style manifested itself so far?

Montel Harris: The practices are a lot more physical, a lot more up tempo. That's the main difference. There's a lot of hitting. We're getting really loud and intense out there.

Eagle Insider: Going into your second season in the ACC, how would you describe the experience so far?

Montel Harris: It's been great. A lot of great stadiums, lots of fans – they make it really loud and intense. I can't really describe it, it's such a great experience.

Eagle Insider: Are you excited about getting to play at Clemson this year?

Montel Harris: Oh yeah, definitely. Getting to play against my old high school teammates. We're already calling each other trash talking, they're saying they're gonna beat us again. It would be great to win down there. Can't wait to go to Death Valley and see what it's like.

Damik Scafe, Defensive Tackle

Eagle Insider: How did your off-season workouts go?

Damik Scafe: Good – I was up here working mostly on my leg strength. I feel like my legs are at their best, which really adds a lot for me.

Eagle Insider: How have the first few days of practice gone for you?

Damik Scafe: Intense. We've been bangin' heads out there, getting physical. It's exciting. It's hard not to be really excited for the season.

Eagle Insider: After all of the off-the-field happenings this off-season, it must be nice to finally be out on the field again.

Damik Scafe: Definitely. We can't wait to get it going. We faced a lot of adversity, but we've got a mentally strong bunch of guys and we're ready to overcome it the best we can. Our goal is like it always is, to get to and win the ACC Championship. The people who make their predictions can say what they want, that's our goal and we think we can get there if we work hard.

Eagle Insider: After those two tough losses in the ACC Championship game the last two years, the upperclassmen must really be itching to get over the hump. Does that provide a lot of extra motivation?

Damik Scafe: No doubt about it. We've got a bunch of seniors, especially Claiborne, who are really fired up, saying we need to get it done this year and get over that hump. We believe in ourselves and think we can get it done.

Eagle Insider: Who has stepped up as a leader so far during summer workouts and fall practice?

Damik Scafe: The captains are all great, Mike [McLaughlin] is obviously a great leader, really getting us going as a defensive unit. Tennant's got the offensive line going, we know they're going to be important to us this year. And on offense, Rich Gunnell is such a great leader. He doesn't accept anything less than full effort from anyone. He leads by example by always giving 100% in practice and over the off-season and expects everyone to do the same.

Eagle Insider: Are there any games you're particularly excited about this year?

Damik Scafe: All of them, but especially some of the big road trips. Clemson, obviously, it's such an incredible experience playing down there. And definitely Virginia Tech, to try to exact some revenge from last year – that's become such a great rivalry. They've also got a great O-Line, so I'm looking forward to going head to head with them.

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