Jack Bicknell, Renato Brown Preview Wake Forest
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Heading down to Tallahassee, Fla. for their first true road game of the season, Louisville (3-1, 0-0 ACC) held off a second half rally from Florida State (0-4, 0-2 ACC), escaping Doak Campbell Stadium with a 31-23 win in their first game of ACC play.
Next up, the Cardinals will hit the road for a crucial matchup against No. 24 Wake Forest (4-0, 2-2 ACC) in Winston-Salem, N.C. Kickoff against the Demon Deacons is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 2 at 12:30 p.m. EST.
Prior to their upcoming matchup, offensive line coach Jack Bicknell and offensive tackle Renato Brown took time to meet with the media. He discussed the previous game against FSU, previewed the upcoming game against Wake Forest, and more.
Below is the transcript from their press conference, as well as the videos:
Offensive Line Coach Jack Bicknell
(On how he would grade that line through the first four games, and how they have improved since their early struggles)
I really think they have. The thing I love about these guys, they have great character. They have great attitude. They come to work every day, they really do, and it means something to them. That's been a really positive thing, and the thing about offensive line, it's such a precise technique position. You can't be two inches off, if you're going to get a T.E. or whatever and you're going to go vertical set, the three technique picks you, then it's over. That's just an example. We have to be so precise. In some cases they're learning that, but I really just believe they just have a lot of pride in themselves, and they believe in themselves. The work that they're putting in practice - you can give a hype video, you can give a speech before the game, none of that stuff means anything. What means something, is going out on Tuesday and getting it down in practice, and all those things. That's where I think we're improving. We've had some tough games, but I can see progress every day in the group.
(On if he has seen a continued focus on the little things, particularly against Florida State)
Yeah, I think it did. I got news for you guys, and I think you guys know this, Florida State is a heck of a team. They really are. Defensively, they got some players. I've only been around 35 years, I think I know when I see some players, and they got some. I knew that was gonna be a battle, and I thought they played extremely hard too, Florida State. I can bring you guys in, and show you the film, and it's black and white. It's not like we're trying to figure out, "hey, what's the right way to do it?" We know exactly the right way of doing it, and they have to do exactly the way they're being coached. That's the most important thing. It is the little things, it is if I'm running outside zone, I hit short of the landmark. That's not gonna be good play. I mean, I could go out there and hit on the landmark. That would be all I could do, but I could do some of those things. Get my second step down, all those things. I think they're starting to buy into how important that is, just the technique and being specific, and doing exactly the way it's coached. I don't have to be right. If I'm wrong, fine, we'll see it on film and I'm wrong. We'll change it, but I can show them countless times, of the exact technique and what we're talking about. We don't change it week to week, like, "hey, let's do this this week". We have very specific language as to how we're doing things. Everybody better talk that language, and to me, I think they're starting to buy into that. They're a mature group, they've played a lot of football, that helps. But it definitely is a little thing, especially when you play against these great players.
(On how he feels about the offensive line rotation now, compared to the start of the season)
To me, there's seven guys that deserve to be starters. Luke Kandra's right there too, he's close. It's just a very competitive situation, but he's gonna be a great player. But there's seven guys that deserve to be starters. We had a couple of injuries there right when Michael Gonzalez was really coming on, he got injured. Then the same thing with Adonis Boone, he was injured that one week (UCF). Last week, they kind of got back into it, but this week, I think they're both going to be completely healthy. I think part of it is, it's a great opportunity to keep guys fresh, especially on a 12 game season. Hopefully, including a bowl game. You got an opportunity to keep guys fresh. You look at a D-line, they're rotating in and out. Why do we have to be there, and really exhausted? One time, Renato Brown was saying, "hey coach, can I get one? Can I get a series?" I said yeah, get in there, Mike. I feel like he's been playing with more energy and things, because as you guys know, especially in heat and all those things, it can get pretty tough by the time the fourth quarter starts. But again, it's a competitive situation every day. I mean, if somebody starts taking over more, they're gonna start playing more. Somebody falls back a little bit, they're gonna start playing less. But I feel really good about those seven guys going into the rotation, and so far that's been working out well.
(On what they learned about their depth during the UCF game when Gonzalez and Boone were out)
The depth is absolutely huge. I learned that we got the other guys that could step up. Both Mike and Adonis Boone, I've learned are extremely tough individuals. They wanted to go, they just weren't ready to go. But, you kind of get a feel for these guys - especially, you hit some adversity to get into the season. Like, how much do they really care, and how much are they really willing to work and sacrifice for the team? I've learned a lot about that in the last few weeks, I feel like. Just seeing guys go through struggles and things. It's been really positive. Then the depth, I really believe I've had more depth here than I have in a while. Ole Miss, the first year, we probably had seven or eight guys that can play, too. But since then, there hasn't been seven to eight - I mean, I'd put Luke Kandra in the game in a second. He's just a young guy and still learning, but that depth is very, very important, obviously.
(On what he expects from Wake Forest's defensive front)
I'll tell you what, Wake Forest is very, very well coached. They play extremely hard, and they're good players. They're never gonna be out of the gap, and they bring it every play. But I feel like we bring in every play, so it's gonna be a real battle in that sense. I was telling those guys today, it's not like Muhammad Ali just went in there and just beat everybody into submission. There were some blows back and forth, and that's going to be the kind of game it is. We just got to be ready for for a true fight and a battle. But we got a veteran group, too. I have the utmost respect for their whole team. They're very well coached, you can tell they play hard, they don't beat themselves - all the things I feel like we are, too, in a lot of ways. That's what we're trying to be, and I think we've done that. I really feel like we're a team that cares, is going to fight you, and they're not going to try to beat themselves with turnovers, and things of that nature. It's gonna be an exciting game. I can't wait to get down there, and we're really looking forward to it.
Offensive Tackle Renato Brown
(On what having Gonzalez and Boone back does for the offensive line)
At the time, we know that brotherhood was down, so we just tried to try to execute best we could. But we knew the five that were playing, we knew we could get the job done, and that's what we went out there and did. With them being gone, it taught us that we're fighters, that we'll do anything. We're gonna fight until the end, and we're not gonna give up. We're gonna finish the whole game. You got to play four quarters when you play with us.
(On how much they have improved since week one)
I think we've improved a lot. We're just getting our calls, being more vocal, and communicating better. Communication has really improved a lot, just guy's making the right calls. If you see something, call it. Help your brother out.
(On the UCF game and first half of FSU, where they had a really dominant stretch)
Going into that game, we talked about the sacrifices. We all made a lot of sacrifices to this game, and we're just trying to impose our will. That's what we try to go out there and do. We just try to be physical and dominate every chance we get. That's what happened in the first half, and the momentum kept rolling, and we we rolled with it.
(On dealing with a lot of talented front sevens so far, and how it sets them up for the rest of the season)
We've faced a lot of guys, but I think the guys at Wake Forest, they're hard workers. They're gonna come out, and they're gonna give us their all. We're in their house, they're 4-0, they're ranked. They're trying to get their lick back from last year. We know what we're going to expect there. They're very defensively sound, they play really hard. They're hard players.
(On Michael Gonzalez dominating early as a freshman)
I think that Mike has a very bright future. I'm seeing him go out there and do that (hold his own against FSU DE Jermaine Johnson), just makes me think like, "what about two years from now?" That's really exciting to think for the future of the program. That kid, I like him. I like him a lot.
(On how big it is to be able to use the depth to get a series or two off)
It's very important, because the fresh legs come off the ball harder. Come off the ball, you move people off the ball, so the fresh legs just keep us into the game physically, so we don't get too fatigued.
(Photo of Renato Brown: Jamie Rhodes - USA TODAY Sports)
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