CHARLOTTE – It’s half time on ACC Media Days already and the Coastal Division has survived media scrutiny all day, taking a quick lead.
Optimism, of course, reigned supreme and was a common refrain. Here are the best evaluation quotes from the main stage, where the head coaches showed they are trying to reach the league championship game.
North Carolina coach Mack Brown explains how the Tar Heels became contenders:
“One of the reasons we’ve had continuity with our coaches is that we pay them. We pay them at a high level. … Second, I challenged our fans to join. People said the fans don’t come to the games. I said, ‘Come on, fans, you want to be a good football program, you have to be a good fan base.’ We have sold all games, one of seven teams selling all games in 2019. We have already sold all of our season tickets, which is amazing after the very tough year that most people have had financially at over the past year.
Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente in a home game against North Carolina to open the season and set the tone:
“The games at Lane Stadium are special and unique. Our fans are the best fans in all of America. Our fans come to the game not for fun but to participate, to help our football team win a ball game. They have been denied this opportunity (since 2019 due to COVID restrictions). But it’s more than a game. It’s a social event. People show up several days earlier and start to prepare, to prepare. … I predict it will be a special night, a moving night, something we will remember for a long time.
Miami coach Manny Diaz on the Hurricanes with the most experienced offensive line at the FBS level:
“We must have taken pieces a few years ago. We threw two freshmen on the offensive line and it’s tough. But the good thing is that freshmen become sophomores and they become juniors. … I think this is the first time that we have two depth on the offensive line when I train every day, if I am not at my best I will finish in second team by the end of the day. The players said to me, “Coach, it’s amazing how much everyone has improved because we have to compete every day in training.”
Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins on offense, who has changed from the traditional option-based offense:
“We are delighted to know where we are. We had some real freshmen for us on offense last year; Jordan Williams on the offensive tackle, Jahmyr Gibbs on the running back, Jeff Sims on the quarterback. And just the growth and development they have brought to our program since January is staggering. … In the past seven months, there hasn’t been a single day that I’ve walked past the office (of offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude) and Jeff Sims isn’t in this room, watching tapes, studying the playbook, to learn defenses, rotational covers, where the pressure is coming from and how to redirect protections. These things are huge.
Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall explains where he thinks his team are in their sixth season:
“Year four was the Coastal Championship, then the Orange Bowl, which is a pretty aggressive climb in four years. I don’t know where to put (2020) COVID, not necessarily an intermission but a different category. Now Act 2 is coming, which is the next four years. I think aggressive success, incremental improvement, and now applying that to the learnings of the COVID year will really determine the next four years. ”
Duke coach David Cutcliffe, on his team last season, recorded the most turnovers in the country:
“Obviously we have studied this. … I went back and looked at the practice tapes, just the random practice Tuesday and Wednesday. If you aren’t doing everything you should be doing, every drill counts for ball safety. … If you don’t care about the safety of the ball, it’s like you’re in a slump or when I can’t kick free throws. The more negative you hear, the harder it becomes to come out of this crisis. … If you don’t take care of football, you won’t win. The only stat that really matters is the points per game. I don’t know of anything that affects him more than flipping the ball.
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi on the extra push it would take to win the division:
“I go to church Sunday morning at 7:30 am to say my prayers and hope for luck. Everyone needs a little luck.
Todd Shanesy is a 30-year Spartanburg Herald-Journal veteran who now focuses on Clemson athletics for the USA Today Network.