First of all, what a fantastic football team that we played, Clemson University. Outstanding. Coach Swinney, my hats off to him, complete win. I'm not sure there's a weakness in that football team. The atmosphere was unbelievable in Death Valley with military appreciation day, and it was quite a venue to see a football game. Didn't work out our way, but we're looking forward to playing a very, very good North Carolina State team at home this weekend.
To go into NC State a little bit deeper, just what you've seen on film offensively and defensively with this team as well as special teams wise, just what some of your biggest takeaways were in this upcoming matchup and what's to be expected?
Well, first of all, they're very, very good on special teams. On the offensive side of the ball they've got a tailback that can get it done. They've got a very good quarterback in Finley. Their offensive line is very solid, and they've got wide receivers that can make plays.
Their defensive side of the ball, they have an outstanding defensive lineman in Bradley Chubb. Mike Stevens is an outstanding corner, and then I want to say Fernandez, No. 4, the linebacker, he's an OMG guy. He is an outstanding football player.
They're an extremely, extremely solid team, obviously taking Clemson down to missing a field goal where they had an opportunity to win the game, and you saw how that game turned out for us. We're going to have our hands full, and I guess the only positive we really have is we get an opportunity to play them in the Carrier Dome.
Some of the offensive representation of student-athletes had said with Eric Dungey and the uncertainty that Austin Wilson and Zack Mahoney, that this offense is not built for one guy, it's a system, and the next man up can come in and do some good things with it as far as their concerned. As the head coach, what can you say about the Austin Wilsons and the Zack Mahoneys, and the fact that Eric Dungey is a good quarterback but the system can help anybody excel?
Well, first of all, hopefully Eric Dungey is still playing, but we run our system, we're going to do the things that we do. We think that Austin has certain skills that are very favorable, we think that Zach has certain skills that are very favorable, but the biggest thing is not trying to change your entire offense. You need to do what you've done all year long, and hopefully the players around you, around the quarterback position if Eric doesn't play, plays better.
I just have quick bigger picture question. You had such tremendous success at Bowling Green. Obviously the bottom has fallen out there this year. Do you feel you left Bowling Green in a good place where maybe that success was sustainable, or did you think that if you had stayed this kind of season was coming?
You know, I don't want to talk about what's BG doing. That's not fair for me to say. The biggest thing you've got to remember in any transition is that you're changing terminology. You're changing a style of offense. You're changing a style of defense. You've got different players coming in and going out. In the transition you may lose people academically just because you haven't got all -- there's a lot of reasons why things happen.
I felt that we were in good shape. I'm sure that Coach Shafer felt like he was in fantastic shape, as most coaches do when they leave a program they think they leave it better than they find it, but that's not for me to judge. You guys can decide that stuff.
On Monday you mentioned that Eric Dungey was still going through testing, you hadn't gotten everything back. I'm curious, were you referring to the concussion protocol, and is he still in basically testing, be it that or not?
Well, I really stayed -- I really didn't say what the testing was for because I think I have some legal rights that I've got to make sure I don't surrender in Eric's situation. He's still under testing, and we'll make a release with the ACC on Thursday night.
A couple of the players last night, Zaire and Amba, mentioned that -- they were asked if Dungey practiced and they both responded positively. Neither really shared kind of the extent to which he practiced. If he's still undergoing tests, how much can he really do in practice?
Well, I don't know the answer to that, but I know that we're waiting for the tests to come back, and that's going to clear up basically what our opportunities with or without him are going to be.
If Eric is unavailable to play in this game, how will you make your determination on who will start at quarterback for you?
It'll be based off of the practices that we have this week along with the style of play and the play calling that we think will be most effective versus North Carolina State.
Obviously you would like for better results than what happened last weekend, but is there anything you learned about your team in that game against Clemson that will help you guys moving forward?
I think there was two things that really happened. One, I thought the team played hard all the way down the stretch. It was an electric atmosphere, and Clemson was really, really tuned in to us. They were really, really ready to go. It was a fine performance by their coaching staff and their players.
But I think it also gave me an opportunity to see what the top echelon of this conference looks like and what kind of players and what kind of style of play that we need to have an opportunity to be successful in the future, and now given that glimpse, I think I have a much clearer picture on the things that we need to do to have an opportunity to be successful at the highest level here.
We're almost through your first season. How would you gauge the difficulty you've experienced in taking over this program?
Well, first of all, I don't like to judge a season until it's over. I think, like all programs, if you're going to build it the right way, you have to almost tear down the foundation, get right down to the bottom and start building it up, and I think once we get the depth issues settled and we get our numbers back up and we get two or three recruiting classes underneath our belts, I think we'll be right back where we need to be and doing the things that I think a lot of people up here in Syracuse, New York, feel that we can do in a very, very tough ACC conference.
Has it been more difficult than you thought it might be or pretty much what you thought?
I remember when I was little my dad used to send me out to cut the grass, and it wasn't those electric lawnmowers, it wasn't those push lawnmowers, it was the ones with the blades. I never thought about how hard it was going to be, I just knew I had that lawnmower and I needed to cut that grass and I wasn't allowed to come into the house until I was done.
I'm starting to cut this grass, the grass of Syracuse University, and I'm not going to stop until we're done and until we have a football team that a lot of people up here, up north, can really feel proud of.
I was kind of curious with Zach and Austin, how are you distributing reps, practice opportunities, as Eric is kind of still going through tests?
Well, I can't talk about that because NC State is listening, and that would give them a little bit of a technical advantage. But we're making sure that all the guys that are capable of playing along with Eric are getting enough reps so that they can represent this University in the right way.