STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, we’re getting ready this week, obviously, for a talented Louisville team, athletic, quick, great coaching staff, great program, and a lot of playmakers on their field. We’ve had a good week of practice Tuesday, Wednesday. I thought our kids are working hard fundamentally, schematically, great attitude, great work ethic, and looking forward to the challenge.
Q. In your opinion, is it harder to get a team to focus for the next game after a big win or a big loss?
STEVE ADDAZIO: You know, it just kind of depends, I think, on your team, depends on the time of year. A lot of factors play into that. But certainly a big win or a big loss or a deviation from the norm, and any time that happens, you worry about how your team handles those things.
But I think a lot of teams are pretty well-conditioned that you’ve got to get back to work, and each week is a challenge. I think players and coaches realize that.
Q. What was your impression of how your offense did without Dillon last week?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I think it was a tale of two halves. I thought in the first half, we had some tremendous opportunities that we did not take advantage of, and I thought that hurt us a lot. I thought in the second half we didn’t touch the ball until about 10 minutes into the third quarter, but I thought from that point on, I thought we were extremely explosive and productive.
So I think we’re — we were in the process of trying to maintain our consistency with a new normal, and any time you’re missing a — it’s one thing when you miss a player. I think it’s another thing when you miss a marquee player, not just on your team but in the whole conference and maybe in the nation, at a position where it’s probably very integral to what our attack is. I think that’s going to change your approach a little bit.
So we’re probably dealing with that a little bit, but I thought our kids competed hard throughout the game and found a way to come back and put ourselves in position. We played an outstanding football team in North Carolina State. Very talented offense, and down at their home field.
I thought the fight of our kids was excellent, and I thought that we started to get our feet on the ground with our new normal.
Q. And did you see signs of certain things that that new normal is going to be the case again this week and have a different result?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, that’s what you’re hoping for, right? If we’re in a situation where we don’t have AJ, obviously we’ve planned on both, and you try and — one week doesn’t rectify what you spent a spring and a whole training camp on, but I think I like what I see in practice, and we have a lot of good players on our field, and I think other guys that are very talented need to realize that they have to step up and shoulder the ability to make big momentum turning plays. That’s important.
I mean, in that game with a limited amount of touches, our back ran for over 100 yards, and we had like 10 explosives in the game, and that’s with limited touches.
So I think we found our way. I just think that as a team we’ve got to play more consistently. Our stats show that we’re explosive on both sides of the ball on special teams, but I think our consistency needs to improve.
Q. As a follow-up to that, do you know yet whether AJ will be available on Saturday?
STEVE ADDAZIO: No, each day he’s improving at a pretty good rate, so we’re hopeful, and it’s just a — it’s kind of a fight-the-clock, day-by-day deal.
I might have told you no a couple days ago, but now I’m not sure because he’s moving along at a pretty good clip right now.
You know, we’re going to evaluate him each and every day. Certainly by no stretch of the imagination are we going to put him in harm’s way, and what we’re going to do is figure it out, and my guess would be, not to be the old cliché guy here, because I’m really not interested in trying to have any gamesmanship here to be frank with you, it’s probably going to be a game-time decision. We’re planning both with him and without him right now. That’s it. That’s where we are. I wish I had a different answer, but I really don’t.
We’re just dealing with it as it comes each day.
Q. You just said the consistency needs to improve —
STEVE ADDAZIO: Right.
Q. What kinds of things can you do either in practice or in games for that to happen?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I think we had some wide open receivers in the first half. We didn’t hit a couple and then we dropped a couple. And what happens in the style that we’re playing in right now is that that gets you off the field, and then so 3rd down is critical. And then you don’t get 1st downs and you don’t reload another set of three or four. And normally, in our normal deal, AJ is a big part of keeping us on schedule, and it gives us a great opportunity to get those 1st downs and let our offense start to crank.
We relied a little bit in the first half on more throws probably than normal, and we didn’t complete and catch them, and we were 50/50 at the half, which is a little out of character for us, just a tad.
I just think that 3rd down — I guess I’m babbling here. 3rd down. 3rd down on both sides of the ball. On offense, 3rd down. We’ve got to do a better job on 3rd down on offense. We were 0 for 7 in the first half of that game, and on defense we were poor on 3rd down. I think on both sides, we get off the field, we stay on the field, and I think it’s a completely different ballgame, 100 percent. And those were all very makeable. Like it’s not like opportunities aren’t there to do that, but we’ve got to get that done. So I would say in a nutshell, it’s 3rd down, and we put a lot of emphasis on that this week.
Q. Especially given the popularity of RPOs today in college football, I’m curious about your thoughts on the ineligible receiver downfield rule. There’s been talk in recent years about matching what the NFL does. What are your thoughts on that?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I’m not a big RPO guy. I understand the RPO game. I don’t — I think it’s probably unfair competitive advantage for the offense, and I’m an offensive-minded guy. I just think it’s very, very difficult on the defense. But in the same breath, if you’re willing to play some bump man coverage, you can do a lot against these RPOs, as well. I mean, you know, some people are having some success with them. I don’t know if that’s something that’s going to stand the test of time or not. I just don’t know that.
But they certainly challenge you on defense, especially when these linemen are downfield. You know, I know it’s hard for those calls to be made, but I think we’ve got to do a really good job of trying to make those calls because I think there’s got to be some fairness in there, and I think this will evolve. Defenses will catch up and maybe rules will catch up. I don’t know that.
I don’t really have a horse in that race. I mean, like I said, we’re not a big RPO team. We do see them. We face them. But it’s not really something that I’ve got in my head that hard.