Hey, how ya'll doing? I'm Brandon Harris. I'm just going to talk a little bit about the exciting season we are all ready to get started. We have been having a great summer here as a team, just getting to know each other a little better and training very hard, really trying to work together to accomplish a goal, trying not to rush it too much, but take things one step at a time through a process. We realize that now, after being here a couple of seasons that sometimes you may not be able to achieve your main goals right away, its a process and everything and you can't get to the end and actually reach your goals until you have taken the proper steps to the process to get to that point and a lot of us realize that now, getting a lot older and mature, and we realize that college football is a lot like a business and we really apply ourselves that way now. We take everything very seriously and we're just ready to get the season started.
On proper steps to take:
For instance, everybody knows that we have a very tough schedule and you are playing teams such as Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Clemson, and you know your ACC opponents, a lot of us we look directly ahead and say Ok we want to be an ACC champion, we want to be able to win a national championship, but we realize now that we have to position ourselves to understand what it takes to get to that point. We have to take it one game at a time and not rush it. Not saying its not ok to want to win an ACC and to win a national title, but you also have to go through a Florida A&M, then Ohio State. Take it one step at a time.
On getting the best out of the team:
It's going to start with a lot of the leadership that goes on and not just being satisfied with one big win. We kinda got caught up in that a little bit last year, winning some big time games on national tv. We didn't respond well coming back, we kinda got a little relaxed. I think that comes a lot with experience and maturity, and I think that is something that this group really has. You know we have been there and done that, and we have made the proper adjustments and corrections, and we are ready to move forward now.
On who has developed over the last few months:
That's the exciting part about this team. We have no set leaders here. There have been so many different guys that have stepped up during this summer that even I have been impressed.. Everybody is more vocal now and everybody is to the point that they respect each other so much, whoever says something that they think can better the team, everybody backs them that day. One day it may be a certain person, and the next day another person steps up and takes that leadership role, and I think that's what you need as a team, when you are enduring a long season. Some games certain players might have a better game than others, and you know whoever is hot that day you need to ride their wave.
On applying lessons from last season:
That goes back to the part where I mentioned consistency. A lot of the guys here, we understand that you can't take a team for granted. Everybody on our schedule can beat us at any given time and we realize that. With Coach Swasey's training program this summer and his workout keys, he's applying a lot of that in his workout strategy also, just to keep guys, everyday coming in ready to work, no matter who your opponent is, knowing that you have to take that team down in order to be successful. You can't really relax on any team right now.
On whether they got too relaxed last season:
I'm not going to say we were relaxed but we got put in some tough situations after winning some tough games. Young bunch, getting excited, getting a lot of national exposure, it kinda got to us just a little too quick, more than expected.
On what they need to do defensively better:
I would say our communication. Our communication will definitely have to improve, which it made great strides during the spring. You had linebackers communicating with the secondary, and also communicating with the defensive line. When you have all of your guys on the same page, and everybody is playing the same defense and they are confident in playing it, everybody's on the same page, you're also easy to stop people.
On who might be ready to break out on defense:
It's a couple guys I've seen but if I have to name one guy, I would say it would be Marcus Forston. He played great as a freshman and he played great as a sophomore also, unfortunately his season was cut short by injury, but he'll be the one person I'll say will be a great asset, we need him to play at defensive tackle. He's been working very hard during the summer and he's taking everything very seriously and everybody can see his hard work and determination ready to pay off. I'm actually excited to be able to play with him again and have him back in the line-up.
On who some of the other guys might be that are ready to step up:
I think (Adewale) Ojomo. He's definitely ready to get back on the field. He was sidelined due to injury the whole last season. He's kind of had a weight placed on his back ever since that point, and every day he makes sure that everybody knows when he's in his workouts. He's really excited about this season, and ready to get back out there and show people what he can do.
On Defensive Tackle, Marcus Forston:
He's the type of guy that brings a lot to the team from the defensive tackle. He's just a momentum changer, he can make the big plays in the run game, he's a great pass rusher, a lot of people don't realize how much energy he brings to the defense. He's a high motor guy, he runs around a lot, he's the guy that gets everybody fired up and gets everybody going and his just one of those guys that the defense can rally around when he's playing well.
On whether it affected Forston and Ojomo being injured and having to watch from the sideline:
I think that was a very humbling experience for both of them because both of those guys are great athletes and both of them can play great football, but just being on the sideline and not being able to play and watching your teammates go to war each and everyday, I think it humbled them more and now that they are back, and they are healthy and both appear to be humble as ever, and more mentally strong than ever. They know there are going to be doubts when they do get back, and people saying they are a let down so far, maybe they haven't produced as much as they should, both of them understand that and both of them are not worrying about that. They just want to be able to get out there and play football again and help this team get better.
On when the shot was lost last season:
I would definitely say it was the Clemson game. After losing to Virginia Tech, we were able to put together another run and we got back in national title contention, we were ranked in the top ten for the second time in the season, and we were finally thinking "Ok this is it, we suffered a tough loss to Virginia Tech, now we are back at home, we got another ACC title opponent in Clemson and maybe this is it." Leading that game late in overtime, still thinking "Ok we're going to pull this one out again, we are going to wrap it up," and to lose that tight one, that was definitely the shot that got away.
On whether the Clemson game ever gets brought up:
I think the season as a general gets discussed a lot, and we use that as motivation. Last season we had a very fast start, but we didn't finish how we wanted to finish, and I think that is the strategy that Coach Shannon really wants to apply, and that's what Coach Swasey is really teaching us the principals of that theory. Just to take each rep really one rep at a time, and that's the same thing as during the season, take one game at a time, and take advantage of your opportunities. You don't know what position you're going to be in when it's time to play the Clemson, you take care of everything before that, then once you get to that role, you can deal with that task.
On defensive line:
I am very confident in our defensive line play right now because watching them in the spring, they have improved so much. They are really adjusting to Coach Petri's coaching style and they are really trusting in each other. We have a great defensive line, and the depth is amazing but what a lot of people don't know is how much each and everyone of them wants to play, everybody wants to be the star.