Excited to get a win in the ACC at Syracuse and great football game, fought hard by both teams. Crazy finish to the game, really played well defensively throughout the game, and we were able to stop the run, holding a good rushing football team to 38 yards rushing, I believe it was, and less than one yard a carry on first down. Had 21 tackles in the backfield and 8 sacks. So really happy with the disruption.
Offensively, did not turn the ball over and scored when we needed to, in opportune moments. I think their defense played well, and best thing we did is not turn it over, really kicked and punted the ball well, and had good field position for our defense all day.
Had a great finish and now come home for homecoming against probably the best offense we've seen in the run game all year, maybe in the country as far as running the football and playing at a high level, really good quarterback. They know what they're doing. They do it really well, and they're physical and all the cut blocks and crack blocks and everything else you get to face.
New opportunity, new challenge this week. Offensively, I know our guys are feeling better and better about just the rhythm they're getting into. Now we just need to get a few more chunks and big plays and a few more points on the board against a team that averages almost 40 points a game.
I was wondering what you think a guy like Tony Creecy brings to the locker room on the field, off the field, that kind of veteran, mature presence. Obviously, has a handful of his own to take care of off the field. What's a guy like that do for the team?
Tony is a great leader, not only by example, but vocally. He's a hard worker, smart player, selfless, plays hard on special teams, gives great effort. I think he's an ultimate example of how you want guys to handle their role.
Like any running back, he wants more carries, and if he didn't, you'd be concerned about him.
But whatever he gets, I know he tries his hardest to do the best he can with it.
Just going off of that Syracuse victory, what were some of the biggest things that you were able to-- I know you talked about holding Syracuse's rushers to a yard a carry. Some of the other big areas that you were able to take away from a game like that and getting your first win in the ACC this season. Just what were the overall things outside of maybe that running game that you talked about?
The number one thing was not turning the ball over and taking it away. We forced three turnovers defensively and didn't turn it over on offense one time. The only turnover of the game was on an onside kick there at the end. So our formula for victory going in was to have a positive turnover margin, to be able to run the ball and stop the run. We felt like, if we did that on the road and played good special teams, that we would win.
I think it was a great team effort. I think we fed off each other in all three phases of the game. I'm proud of all three phases for when they needed to do something, they did.
And then as far as your quarterback with Jacoby, just we talked about him a little bit earlier on in the season, how you've seen him grow and do what he needs to do. He had a touchdown in the game against Syracuse, but just where you saw him grow throughout the season so far through his ups and downs.
I think he's learning to take what the defense gives him, and sometimes it's hard because you want more and you want bigger plays. When you play defense like Syracuse that blitzes all the time and has a guy in the middle of the field, there's not a ton of throws that are going to be easy. You've got to take the easy ones you get. I think he did that in the Louisville game, he did that, in the limited number of throws we had against Syracuse.
We struggled on third down in that game. That's the biggest area that I think we need to do a better job offensively. I know part of it is getting open, part of it is mixing up launch points a little bit more and have a little more variety in the routes. But really proud of Jacoby just on how he's grown throughout the year.
Congrats on your victory against Syracuse.
One quick question. I know physically you guys are prepared for this game against Georgia Tech, but mentally how do you mentally prepare them for the cut blocking techniques that Georgia Tech does?
We do live cuts in practice yesterday and today and work it hard. We show them a lot of film, and cut blocks are great when they work, but when you know how to play them, there's bodies on the ground and defensive plays running to the ball.
That's the biggest thing you sell is, when you defeat the cut. It's not like playing a high block where a guy can lock onto you and hold you and then cut you. It's a one-shot deal. If you stay on your feet, you can win.
Also, congratulations. I didn't know you were such a good dancer.
Neither did my wife.
You mentioned your run defense effectiveness against Syracuse. Now another big challenge to stopping the run game against Georgia Tech this week. What did you do well this week that's your message to the guys we need to do that exactly as well as or better this week?
We won't do it better. Georgia Tech is going to get their yards. They're going to run the ball. It's more about yards per carry than it is total yardage when you're playing against Georgia Tech or any triple option team. They're going to run the ball 50 to 70 times in the game. So it's more not giving up big runs.
The biggest thing is tackling and limiting big runs in the game. First down efficiency is huge. If you can get them behind the chains, that's the big message from last week. We were very big on first down defense last week, and that led to third down success defensively.
Same formula. We've got to do a really good job on first and ten.
Coach, in the case of David Grinnage, beyond the obvious, 6'5", 255 pound dimensions, what are the qualities that have made him a Mackey Award candidate, and how has he improved the last couple of years for you?
Last year he was a receiver really playing tight end and struggled in the run game. He's worked really hard to get better there. He still has a lot of work to do, but I think he's become a more complete player. He plays very fast. He's gotten himself in much better condition than he was in last year. He can play more plays.
He's always been a dynamic athlete. For how big he is, he can really run and catch the football. He's got great hands, and he understands space and how to use the space and bodies to leverage the defenders to the quarterback.
But just really improved his conditioning and versatility, I would say.