Dino Babers ACC Teleconference Transcript

See what Syracuse head coach Dino Babers had to say during Wednesday's ACC teleconference.

DINO BABERS: Well, obviously we're playing a very, very fine opponent. Virginia Tech is outstanding. They have nine individuals with more than 20 starts on their football team. We only have two. When you put Bud Foster together with Coach Fuente, who's been doing a fabulous job, had the opportunity to play him last year when he was at Memphis and I was at Bowling Green, you've got one of the top offensive and defensive guys in the country together. They've got fantastic personnel. Coach Beamer did not leave the cupboard empty, and you put that combination together with good football players, you're going to get a top 20 ranked football team, and that's exactly what we've got coming to the Carrier Dome.

Q. To look at the offensive line, obviously there's been adversity through injury that has happened early on in these first six games, just what you can say about the level of talent you have at the line and how they've responded to the injuries.
DINO BABERS: Well, talent is -- we have young talent, but the problem with young talent is that it's very young. Like I said in the opening statement, we've got three players out of our starting 22 with over 20 starts, where Virginia Tech has got nine. When you start putting talented young players on the football field, they're still young, and you get them against some experienced guys that are older and more mature, and there's going to be physical breakdowns, and then you start getting into the scheme of things where the other coaches can be extremely creative with some of the things that they're doing as far as pressures and things like that, and with not having a lot of experience on the offensive side, especially in the interior offensive line, it can be very difficult for them to handle mentally some of the things that are going on.

Q. And then defensively to not have Antwan Cordy who's obviously a big leader out there on the field, what can you say about the secondary through this point through the first six games and what you've taken away from some guys at that safety position like Kielan Whitner or Daivon Ellison.
DINO BABERS: Well, I think they're trying to fill in and do the best that they can. I think Cordy is one of our better defensive players, no doubt about it, and definitely a team leader. But we've been decimated back there, as well. We've got people rolling in and out of the lineup back there, and it's hard to be extremely consistent, outside of Corey Winfield, I'm not sure we've been consistent at any of the other three spots back there.

Q. As you study Virginia Tech, the two Edmunds brothers at linebacker and rover for them, are those players that jump out at you, and what do you see from that pairing?
DINO BABERS: Well, I think any time you're a defensive starter for Bud Foster playing at Virginia Tech that you're going to stand out. The linebackers along with some of the key parts of that defense along with the front, yeah, I think they both stand out. I think they hit, they're active, and they're extremely aggressive when they get to the ball carrier.

Q. When you look at that defensive front, it maybe lacks the single star player that they've had in past years, but it seems like they're getting production from all four spots. What does that defensive front look like?
DINO BABERS: Well, I think if you want to judge a defense, you have to judge -- especially when you're talking about the front, you think about the pass rush and the ability to stop the run. You're talking about a defense that's ranked in the top five. And then when you watch the D-linemen redirect and get after the football, these guys are running down screens, wide receiver screens, running back screens from behind, pressuring quarterbacks, just -- it's fun to watch them play, but it's not fun to know that you've got to play them.

Q. Wondering if you'd heard anything back from the league on Kendall Coleman's suspension.
DINO BABERS: Yeah, I learned that in our ACC conference, we're not allowed to -- they're not allowed to review something like that, that whatever the final decision was at the game, that it does not go to a review process, so therefore he will not be able to play in the first half.

Q. And who will start in his place this week?
DINO BABERS: De'Jon Wilson will be starting in his spot.

Q. As you kind of looked back and watched some of what Wake Forest did defensively, attacking the A gap, I'm curious, what were the conversations like with Colin at center, the interior linemen, the running backs? What kind of adjustments can you make to prepare for other teams maybe trying to do a little better what Wake Forest did?
DINO BABERS: Well, some of the stuff I can't talk about right here because those guys are listening, but we're obviously going to address that issue. That's not something that we can continue to allow to happen. And then hopefully we'll make the right decision so that we can move on to something else and make sure that they don't feel that that's an advantage to continue to do that against us.

Q. In hearing some of Tech's players in interview last night, it seemed when they reviewed your film they were struck by the frequency with which you were bringing pressure, bringing the blitz. As you examined the Hokies and ways to defend them, they haven't allowed a terrible number of sacks this year, but do you expect that that's something that you'll want to continue on Saturday, or might you want to put more of a focus on defending some of their skill players?
DINO BABERS: You know, they're a very talented team, and they're a very talented bunch. We're probably going to do a little bit of both, and I think that you have to have the ability to do both just in case one is better than the other or just in case one is not very good, and you need to lean more heavily on the other one. We're going to probably for the most part be balanced in that situation.

Q. I'm curious, when you have a player who's as talented as Etta-Tawo, do you have to fight the urge to not go to him too much, too often, to rely on him too heavily?
DINO BABERS: I don't know about that. I mean, he's got six more opportunities to play with us, and if we do it right, he'll have a seventh, and then he's gone. The way I look at it is somebody is going to be taking advantage of him next year. I've only got seven games left. I'll try to use him as much as I can.

Q. I think some of the reasons are obvious, but what makes him so special and such a tough match-up one-on-one?
DINO BABERS: I think he's a fantastic competitor. He's extremely intelligent. He's really probably adapted to the offensive system faster than anybody else on the offensive side of the ball, and because he knows the system and he's a fierce competitor with a lot of God-given ability, I think that's why he's done some of the things that he's doing and why there's so much interest in him from the National Football League.

Q. I just want to ask about statistical numbers and how you look at it. You guys are 12th in the nation in passing, you obviously throw it successfully. Virginia Tech is second in the nation in pass defense. How much of that is real and how much of that is a function of who they played, they played a great Carolina passing game in the rain where they couldn't throw it? Are their statistical numbers real or a function of their schedule?
DINO BABERS: Oh, I think it's real. I think when you look at the tradition of Bud's defenses and the things he's been able to do over the years, I think this year with the pass rush, I think that probably going against a different style of offense during the spring and during two-a-days and seeing some of the things that Fuente brought over from Memphis and to find out what's -- the things that are good and the things that are bad versus certain styles of offense, I bet you that's probably helped his growth, and that's kind of hard to say on someone that's been as good as he has for as long as he has been.

I'm sure that that's helped him and that those numbers are real, and that they're as advertised.

Q. Is it a function of their personnel, their skill, or is it a scheme that makes them so effective?
DINO BABERS: I think it's a combination of all three of those things, outstanding personnel, fantastic scheme with a cool operator calling it.

Q. Talk about Virginia Tech's defense; they don't give up a lot of running or passing. Just talk about their defense and how you're going to solve that on Saturday.
DINO BABERS: Well, they're good, they're good, and they're really, really good. I think the average of their last three games is a score of 45 for the offense, 7 for whoever they're playing. They're just fantastic. They've got good athletes. They've got a good scheme. They play at a great tempo. They get out in front of people with the offense, and then their kicking game is as good as always. I can keep talking about how good they are, but all you do is look at the statistical numbers. You're halfway through the season; that stuff is going to carry weight. They are as advertised.

Q. What are the three things for you guys to pull out a victory, the keys to the game for you guys?
DINO BABERS: Well, I think the first thing always starts with taking care of the football. We had turnovers in our last game. We've got to make sure we don't turn the ball over, then give them extra opportunities. We probably need some turnovers from them. We need them to give us some balls, and then we need to make sure that we hold court or hold serve on special teams. We cannot allow them to win the kicking game. That would not be good for us.

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