football Edit

Transcript: Justin Fuente on ACC Teleconference

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JUSTIN FUENTE: Before I begin, I would like to just thank everybody that's reached out and offered prayers and condolences to Sean Savoy and his family. He lost his brother this week. It's really been a fantastic example of people understanding that football is only a part of these kids' lives, that they deal with things much bigger than football, and we're just very appreciative of the way everybody has handled that. We're here to support Sean as he goes through this deal.We have a bye week this week, focused on ourselves, getting better, and improving. We've gotten some good work already this week with some of our younger players, and we'll be back on the field today with the full team.

Q. When the real world, so to speak, intrudes like this on a young man's life, especially in season, how do you as a head coach try to deal with it?

JUSTIN FUENTE: Well, I think the first thing is we let the young man know that what's going on here with football is secondary. Their first reaction is always to worry about that, and we want them to put that on the back burner and handle their family. We have a system obviously of checks and balances when someone has got to go home in terms of making sure we're up to date on what their responsibilities are academically, and then we encourage our team, and our team has done a fantastic job of being there for Sean, not just our players but our coaching staff, just to let him know that we're here to support him. It's really difficult as a coach when your players, your young players have to deal with very adult circumstances through really no fault of their own. You know, it's a tough time, and it's part of -- I guess part of growing up and dealing with tragedies or difficult situations. But I think the biggest thing we do is we let them know that we're there for them and we want to be here to support them.

Q. And then either as a head coach in Memphis or an assistant at your other stops, ever anything like this that you've faced?

JUSTIN FUENTE: Yeah, we've had, unfortunately, similar things happen through our times with family members having tragedy one way or the other. I guess unfortunately, yeah, we do have some experience with it.

Q. Is Sean home with his family, and is he just kind of home or away indefinitely as he deals with this?

JUSTIN FUENTE: Yes, he's home, and we'll get a plan together as he handles those things about what Sean wants to do in terms of returning and all those things. We've got great communication lines with Sean's family and Sean. Sean really wants to be back with his teammates, and he will be in due time when he takes care of his responsibilities up there. But he's at home right now, yeah.

Q. On an unrelated but somewhat related topics, Cam Phillips, do you have any update on his injury, and will he be resting during this open date, or what's your plan with Cam?

JUSTIN FUENTE: Well, we'll get Cam back out there as quickly as we can. You know, I think he's progressing nicely, and we'll kind of just take it day by day.

Q. Is he going through any workouts this week?

JUSTIN FUENTE: Well, none of our guys worked out yesterday. None of our guys that play a lot. It was mostly our younger players. Basically yesterday we worked out everybody that's not -- guys that are playing limited snaps or not playing much at all. Those guys that have played a tremendous amount of snaps for the first six games yesterday did not work out yesterday, and then today we'll see how he feels and see how it goes.

Q. I'm working on a story about the young crop of coaches in the AAC right now, and with your background in the American, I'm wondering what you think makes the conference so good at fostering kind of young talent and really be a proving ground for young head coaches.

JUSTIN FUENTE: I don't know, I think there's a lot of good programs in there, first of all, that have access to some good athletes. The locations are located in and around some really hot places for high school football talent. I think they've got some administrators that are doing their best with their limited means to make football important and give those coaches as many things as they can give them. I know when we were at Memphis, we knew we didn't have an unlimited budget, but we also knew we had an administration that was going to do whatever they could do to try and help us out, and I think that feeling is mutual for many of those schools in that league. I think there's a bunch of administrators that are really trying to do as much as they can to help the football programs out, and thus that has attracted some really good young coaches that are winning at a high level.

Q. In an off week which comes right in the middle of the season, is this the kind of thing where you're looking to fine tune a lot of things, or are there some specifics that you're honing in on?

JUSTIN FUENTE: Well, we do have some scheme-specific things that we'll look at, some things that have given us problems through the first six games that we'll try and duplicate and work on. We've got some -- a developmental side of it. We have a tremendous amount of young players that are playing for the first time that need those reps, that are contributing but maybe not contributing in a major role that we feel like we'll need them down the stretch, and then we have another group of guys that have played a tremendous amount of reps through the first six weeks, and we want to keep them sharp and also get them healthy. So I think there's several objectives as we go through this off week.

Q. Anything in particular that's troubling you that you look at, hey, we want to fix that and fix it right now?

JUSTIN FUENTE: Well, yeah, but I don't know that I'm really willing to share with everybody all the things that are bothering us.

Q. Fair enough.

JUSTIN FUENTE: But yeah, there are some specific things that I will say that we have talked about in all three areas of the game that we're going to do our best to replicate and see if we can't come up with some good answers to those situations.

Q. Just after watching tape of the BC game, how would you evaluate the younger receivers after Cam went out and the fact that they had to [step up]?

JUSTIN FUENTE: Well, I was pleased with the result. Sean obviously had a big game, and Eric had four really -- Eric Kumah had four really big catches on 3rd downs for conversions. I think we played a couple more of those young guys that are kind of the focal point of our development this week. You know, we've got several guys that have been out at an already-thin wide receiver position, so continuing to develop those guys I think is going to be really, really important, but I will say this: I do like the way they responded to their opportunities in the Boston College game.