Q&A with Paul Pasqualoni

Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni met with the media on Monday and here is what he had to say:

On what he learned from North Carolina's game against Florida State:
"What you learn from that is Florida State is a great team. I thought (UNC quarterback) Darian Durant played very well. He has a very young core of wide receivers. He threw the ball very well. I think the backs are very good. North Carolina is a lot better than that score indicates."

On what area SU has improved the most since the end of last season:
"The kids have worked hard on getting better fundamentally, the techniques, skills and tools they need to play their position. Every position in football has to operate within a five-yard box so we have focused very hard on what's required, the skills, the techniques you really have to have to be a good football player at each position. I'm excited to see us play, to see how far we've come from an assignment and fundamental standpoint."

On Diamond Ferri and Anthony Smith as the starting safeties:
"We moved Diamond over there in the spring and I think he has done well getting a feel and getting comfortable with the position. Understand that Troy Swittenburg is going to play, as well. So there will be a couple of strong safeties you'll see in the game on Saturday. Anthony is in his second year and is becoming a little more acquainted with the system. He's an outstanding athlete. He has a lot of range. He's very gifted athletically, it's a matter of time and experience. At this point, we're going to play at least four safeties. Those two will get the nod to start."

On SU's secondary:
"I like the secondary a great deal. I like the safeties. I like the progress the corners are making in regard to techniques and fundamentals. Steven Gregory is the older of the two. Terrell Lemon is a younger guy who has ability. Tommy Whitfield has ability. I like Tanard Jackson. You could see Tanard in the game on Saturday. I think we have some other good young guys who are working hard. Marcus Clayton is working hard. He has a real sense and real feel for the position. They are a fine group athletically. They are learning a great deal. I think they have a chance to be really good."

On whether the secondary will be better than last year:
"I think we come out of preseason camp saying that we have the right people in the right places. I think we are asking those people to do the right things. The kids fit the roles they are in back there. This corp of wide receivers for North Carolina, in some respects is a young corp, is a very capable group. This is going to be a big challenge for us."

On which freshmen could play on Saturday:
"There are guys who are in development right now. Jameel McClain, one of the linebackers, is certainly in development. Marcus Clayton is in development. There are a couple there. Obviously, we are going to try hard not to play them until they are ready. We have put them in the development category so they can keep getting better."

On the kicking situation :
"Thursday of this week will settle that competition. We have not finalized that yet. We're going to work through it this week. Today is a big day for PATs and field goals. Thursday concludes it. There's been real good competition. Collin (Barber) has had good days. Justin Sujansky has had good days. Ricky Krautman has had a couple of really nice kicks. We'll keep that going. We are going to take it right to the end."

On SU's offense without tight end Joe Donnelly:
"Fortunately we have an experienced guy there in Lenny Cusumano. Lenny is the leader in there. Joe Kowalewski has done well. He started to come on in the spring. I like the progress that Alex Shor has made. I like the progress Brandon Darlington has made. Joe is hurt and he is going to be out for a little bit so you put the next guy in and you go."

On who has surprised him during preseason camp:
"Among the older guys, Kader Drame has continued to move up. Julian Pollard has practiced well. You will see Julian and Kader in the game in the first half. From the younger guys, Tanard Jackson has impressed us enough that he is going to be on the travel squad. We're going to get him in the game. I think there has been great focus overall. Robin (R.J. Anderson) has had a fine camp. He has been very focused, very confident. He knows exactly what he wants to do with the ball. The offensive line has performed well. (Louis) Gachelin and (Christian) Ferrara have played well. Rich Scanlon and Jameel Dumas have worked very hard. We have some guys who have really done well."

On the excitement going into the first game of the season:
"We are certainly excited and anxious, probably a little on edge, to get out there and get playing. Most everyone in college football has played. I think Pittsburgh and Syracuse are probably the only two BIG EAST teams that have not played. We're anxious and excited to get going."

On SU's plan to play more people due to the heat:
"You have to have a plan. Offensively, if things go great for you, you have six series. Defensively, if things went really well you would have five series. You have to plan what you are going to do. You also have to consider that around here, a lot of guys play a lot on special teams so there's another total of 15-20 plays right there. So I don't think you can wait very long before you make a decision. I think you have to play the way you practice. As we go out there today, we are going to practice with different combinations being in the game so that if it turns out be one of these warm, humid days down there, we have guys who are fresh to play in the second half of the game."

On whether having last weekend off was an advantage or disadvantage:
"Everybody has 29 practices. You can debate forever whether it is advantageous to get one game under your belt and play a second game. A lot of people in football believe that the most improvement you see in a season is between game one and game two. We have to hope that isn't true for North Carolina. I've never been able to figure out whether it is advantageous or it's not."

On what, if anything, North Carolina is doing differently this season:
"There are some new wrinkles as you have to expect there are going to be. From a philosophy standpoint, I would say they are very similar. (Darian) Durant is a great quarterback. Nobody really knew last year how good he could be, he obviously led the ACC in all categories. You are going to be hard pressed to find a better quarterback than this guy. He's really terrific. He throws the ball with great accuracy and confidence. Defensively, they are a 4-3 team. They blitz a great deal. They are very multiple in what they do. They have a lot of different concepts. They have great flexibility. They can get in and out of a lot of things. They present a lot of challenges to you in that way."

On Perry Patterson's progress since injuring his knee in spring practice:
"I am impressed with what Perry has been able to get done. There's no question Perry is still improving every single day. He has a ways to go. There is no way that I ever anticipated that he would be as far as long right now as he is. Had he never gotten hurt and was able to do all in the spring, he would be further along. We are as far along, under the circumstances, as we can be and we are very pleased with that. It is a credit to Perry Patterson, and it is a credit to the medical staff. He has worked unbelievably hard all summer. He didn't go home one day this summer. He was in the training room two or three times a day. It's a great credit to him."

On R.J. Anderson:
"R.J. is mature. He knows what he has to do and he knows trying to do too much is not the thing to do. That's part of being mature. I have a very positive feeling from him. I think he will handle the season and handle each week very well."

On why he feels the defense will be improved this season:
"I like the way they have approached it. I like the way they have gone after the objective of getting better every single day. Although we haven't played an opponent yet, as the season goes on, they will be comfortable playing with each other, knowing what each other's doing. Everyday we're improving upon things like communication, recognition of defensive sets and formations. They will improve each week. I think they have a chance of becoming a pretty good defense."

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