We're excited about the opportunity to get into this bye and really study the first eight weeks of the season. Give some of our players that have taken a lot of reps a chance to get not just their bodies but their minds back where we need them to be, some really good time in the weight room, good time studying film, kind of a fresh start for everybody going into these last four games, critical games for our program. Excited about the chance to do that with these guys.
Had a good practice today. Go again tomorrow. Give the guys a couple days to kind of recuperate, get back at it on Sunday.
As far as your upcoming opponent, you have a bye week, but how much do you know about Syracuse so far?
I've watched all of one side of the ball, plan on spending the rest of the night tonight and all day tomorrow getting through everything they've done for the first part of the season there. Obviously we'll catch up with their Clemson game this weekend.
I'll try to know everything we're thinking about doing going into their next game, see if anything changes. Obviously they have an opportunity to put some more things on film. Kind of know what they like to do, what their tendencies are, what the matchups are, things you have to be prepared for, watch it, put it all together on Sunday.
What have you watched so far and what have you taken away as bullet points from that?
Spent a lot of time watching their offense yesterday, watching their defense today. Offensively their backs are productive runners, they're physical up front. They've made some nice plays at receiver. (Indiscernible) has done some nice things down the field for them. They protect the football. They don't turn it over a whole lot.
Defensively, I've known Coach Shafer for a long time. I have watched his defense for a long time so I kind of know the pressure we're going to see, the coverage package that goes with it. That side of the ball we feel a little bit better. Kind of had a little change midseason with their play callers. See if there's any different tendencies there.
How many days off did you give the guys?
We didn't go on the field Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. Got a good lift in on Tuesday. We practiced this morning. We'll practice tomorrow. They'll have Friday and Saturday.
On-the-field work, we're going to go two of seven days, get in the weight room a couple days. Some of these guys have taken every snap of the season. Giving them a chance to get back in there, really study the things we feel we need to improve upon, give those guys a chance to do that with a few practices before Sunday.
The way Airius played against Louisville, any consideration to using him as the Mike going forward?
Airius definitely deserves playing time. Coach Huxtable has talked about him playing a lot, not just at Mike, but sub packages, and even Jerod at times. When you play the way he did, you're going to earn playing time. And he did.
I think I saw the number that you had 10 guys from your two-deep that were not in uniform against Louisville. With the off week, how close to getting back to full speed do you think you will be?
Well, we need it bad. We were beat up. Obviously the suspension added to that. Just a chance to get everybody as healthy as possible.
We'll never be back to 100% because we lost a few guys for the season, but we'll be as close as we can be coming out of the bye week.
All the suspensions, are they technically over now?
Yeah, that's right. It's over.
As you review the first eight games of the season, do you feel regarding conference play that you're right on the verge of breaking through? How close are you?
I think we're really close. I mean, there's a lot of indicators, there's a lot of small victories within the losses that you see improvement, certain guys.
The bottom line is we need to be more consistent. There's a lot of plays that we're leaving on the field, whether we're right there to make a sack, we're an inch away from it, or we break up a pass, it goes off our hands instead of it being an interception. Just little, tiny things that you see it. In some cases you see great improvement. It's really not a matter of if we can do it, it's just when. That's what we keep talking about, using this week to study yourself, have thick skin, have great reflection of what you've done, myself, our assistants, our players. Let's all try to do one little thing better. That's where we're at, we're really close to getting what we need.
Florida State, fourth quarter, at Louisville we were shorthanded and played a really good football game. Didn't play as well obviously at Clemson, then Boston College. Trying to take the best things we can from the way we played in certain games, be able to mimic on those things and improve upon the bad things going forward.
Your tight end David Grinnage is on the watch list for the John Mackie Award. Talk about how his play has helped you and his qualities going forward?
David is really attacking the ball in the air, catching it. Doing a lot of things. He's out at receiver as a wide tight end, on the move as an H. He's in a lot of locations for defenses. He's a bit of a target at 6'7", 260 pounds, and he runs well.
He's a dynamic player at that position.