Friedgen Remarks on Clemson

Maryland head coach talks about Saturday's ACC opener.

Opening Remarks About Navy/Clemson
We're very happy to get our first win of the year over Navy last week. We're physically preparing for Clemson; we think they're a very fine football team, and they had a very big win over Texas A&M. We're going to have to play very good to have a chance to win the game.

Could you talk about the play of your quarterback, in fact your entire offense, on that last drive against Navy – how it operated and how they responded?
I think they played very well, of course. The play of the drive was a fourth-and-8 when Lance Paul caught a pass out of the backfield and made three or four people miss to get the first down. But I thought our quarterback played well, especially in the second half. He did a great job of… He had a great throw for the touchdown and made a couple of other big throws in the half, and I thought he played with a lot of poise and executed the offense very, very well. We had good balance; we threw the ball for over 200 yards and we ran the ball for over 200 yards, so I think he and the offense had a good night. We're going to have to play better, we know that, but we think we can get better.

Trying to get you to elaborate on that: the positives you saw coming out of that game because it was a win and also what your areas of improvement from the first game to the second game - what areas you're working on there?
I think we've suffered some adversity here; we've lost some players, especially on offense. We've lost our best offensive tackle; we have our tight end playing left tackle; we've lost one of our fullbacks who is a co-starter, and then we lost a receiver in the game. So the fact that we were able to win a game and the way we won it, to come back, and play through a lot of adversity and persevere - I was very proud of our players. We're a very young team, and I'm hoping this will help mature us, but we've got a long season to go. I like what we're doing; I like where we're at right now. We're just a young team just growing.

Any certain areas of improvement you're working on?
Well, we're always working on getting better in all areas. I think our running game still needs some improvement; we're still not where I want to be. And defensively, we've got to play better than what we've played. We usually deal with a totally different game plan against that type of offense, and it doesn't allow us to do a lot of the things that we do to help our players. I think certain individuals have to get better, and I think they will as they mature.

A couple of years ago - Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers, Darian Durant - the league was known as a quarterback's league. This first week, the 10 quarterbacks threw for a total of seven touchdown passes. What are your thoughts on that? Is it tougher because of the defenses for the quarterbacks to shine? What do you think?
I think it's a defensive league. Last year, I thought the defenses in the league were really, really tough. You can just go through them; almost every team has a very, very good defense. Whether you're talking about NC State, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland – there's not an easy out there. So I definitely think it's a very tough conference. From a defensive standpoint - a lot of good defenses, a lot of good defensive coaches.

Clemson has got new schemes on both sides of the ball this year. Could you discuss a little bit of the problems going into trying to prepare for these new schemes?
You don't get to see a lot of the… From an offensive standpoint, Texas A&M is kind of a wide open team that uses a lot of wide open sets, so you really don't get to study how Clemson would play a lot of our sets. We have looked at film of Troy State. It's tough whenever you're looking at one team to try to figure out how another team's gonna be. And it's similar on the defensive side. We've been looking at lots of film – Toledo – and trying to evaluate how Clemson will be playing. They use a lot more multiple formations. I'm very impressed with their offensive line, the speed of their wide receivers and Davis, their running back. You put that together with Whitehurst, and they have a lot of material to be a very good offensive team. Defensively, to me, they're just big, strong and fast. When you have those types of things, it really does, no matter what scheme you play, it's gonna be a good football game.

Is your defense… Is it as good as last year, or has there been some sort of drop off with the players lost?
We're playing with a lot of young kids, and we've had some injuries in the secondary, and we got some more on Saturday night. I don't know if… I think it might be too early to tell that. I think we'll… Our secondary has a chance to be faster than what it was last year, but still we've lost both of our safeties and a corner, so we've lost three-fourths of our secondary. You lose a guy like Shawn Merriman, it has an effect on your team, even though I think the two kids that are young that are playing there have done a good job. I only have three seniors on defense, so we're very, very young. I like our talent, they're just young, and they've got to grow into it. I think we'll get better as we go along.

Do you think Navy's running totals were just a reflection of their unconventional offensive philosophy?
It's a tough offense to simulate practicing, and they run it very, very well. I think you'll see that probably week in and week out with what they do. I think their quarterback was a very, very good player; he was a lot better than what we anticipated because their starting quarterback last year had graduated, and he hadn't played a whole lot. But he's a very good player. He's not real big, but he's very fast and does a very, very good job running that offense.

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