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Jack Bicknell, Caleb Chandler Preview NC State

Louisville football offensive line coach Jack Bicknell and offensive lineman Caleb Chandler met with the media to discuss their recent win vs. Boston College, as well as their upcoming matchup vs. NC State.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Fueled by a fervent running game and their best defensive performance of the season, Louisville (4-3, 2-2 ACC) was able to snap a two-game losing streak, and capture a home victory against Boston College.

Next up, the Cardinals are heading back on the road to face a reeling NC State, who will be looking to rebound from a loss at Miami that snapped a four-game win streak. Kickoff against the Wolfpack is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. EST.

Prior to their upcoming matchup, offensive line coach Jack Bicknell and offensive lineman Caleb Chandler took time to meet with the media. They discussed the previous game against Boston College, previewed the upcoming game at NC State, and more.

Below is the transcript from their press conference, as well as the videos:

Offensive Line Coach Jack Bicknell

(On the growth of the offensive line since the start of the season)

I think part of it is, we're starting to get the outside zone rolling. That's a funny play, boy. Sometimes it takes a long time to really get a clickin', and when you can, it can be a dangerous play. And it takes everybody. It takes the running backs, takes the tight end, takes the o-line. But I really feel like that's been part of it, to help us with the run game, for sure. Let's face it, we had a couple heartbreaking losses there, two weeks in a row, and you kind of have a choice. Either go backwards and feel sorry for yourself, or you get mad. I think our guys kind of got mad, and kind of have a chip on their shoulder. No way in heck were they going to lose the BC at home, for sure.

(On Caleb Chandler's performance vs. Boston College)

I thought his performance was great. He's probably been our most consistent guy throughout the year. Really, just a guy that is totally bought in. He works extremely hard, working hard in the little details of things. If you ever get a chance to really watch him in that game, you're gonna see him finishing people, playing extremely tough. He really did a great job. Didn't give up any sacks, did a great job in a run game, but more than anything, was just how he finished people. The intensity of which he was playing really stood out to me.

(On what stands out about NC State's defense, even with missing players due to injury)

They got good fighters. Everybody's got a banged up defence right now, banged up team at this point in the season. They're still very, very good. I know they lost number one (Isaiah Moore), a great player, I feel bad for him. But they've got some great players. The thing that they do is, they play a little bit of a different scheme, but they pressure a lot, which kind of puts the pressure on the offense to be able to pick that up, and to be able to keep the quarterback upright, basically. We got a big challenge ahead of us. I know they're number one in total defense in the league. I think they're only giving up like 17 points a game, or whatever it is. I don't really always know the stats. But I know what I can see on film, and they're an excellent defense, and it's gonna be huge challenge for us going down to their place. That's what you live for when you play at this level, and coach at this level, to be able to get in games like this. We're excited for it.

(On the growth of Michael Gonzalez)

He's a great player. For a true freshman to come in and do what he's done is amazing, really. The thing about Mike is, you better tell him the right things, because whatever you tell him, he's gonna go out there and do it exactly like you said it. You really appreciate that as a coach, because - I mean, let's face it, I've been doing this a long time. I don't know much, but I know what I want with the offensive line. He'll go out and do exactly what you tell him, and that's what makes him so good at such a young age. He'll just get better and better. He was banged up, but kind of like I told you guys earlier, I feel like we have seven starters right now. I would put Luke Kandra in the game, and not lose any sleep either. We are pretty deep in that situation. Now, you can get thin in a hurry when you get a couple guys out like we had, but when we're healthy, I feel like we're gonna rotate those seven guys. It keeps them fresh, and it gets us to play harder, I think. A couple times, Renato (Brown) will gonna say "Coach, can I get a series?" He winded or whatever. Yeah, sure. We'll put Mike in at right tackle. Keeping that rotation going keeps them fresh. Let's face it, the d-line is doing that every series, so it's great for the o-line to be able to do that too.

(On the offensive line's effort on the wishbone-style option pass vs. BC)

They did a great job with it. I know Renato did a great job on that one. You can watch him, he really finished his guy, did a great job getting off to the linebacker and sticking with him. But that's just indicative on that one play. As the offensive line, if you really strain and you really fight to finish guys - obviously you need to use precise technique, but the thing that makes a great offensive line, is when they start getting the attitude that we're the bullies out there. That we're gonna go out there, and we're gonna show people what we're all about. I felt like that's what we did against Boston College. They were a good defensive front, too. I watched them on tape, and they had some very, very good players. But I felt like our guys went out there, and really decided that, "You know what, we're going to finish these guys. We're going to play hard and strain." That's kind of what happened on that play, and on some other plays. On the one where Malik (Cunningham) took it down to the goal line, and Trevor Reid had his guy, and they both went flying out of bounds right at the goal line, maybe 25 yards away from the play. There was a lot of that on the film. We already mentioned Caleb doing a lot, but there were other guys that did it. When you start getting an offensive line, you start feeding off of that, and that's when they really can start to become a unit. With the offensive line, there isn't just one guy. Obviously Caleb got a great honor, and we're proud of him, but that's an honor for the whole offensive line. Because all five of those guys have to be playing at a high level to be a good offensive line.

(On when he could sense his guys getting "mad")

I wouldn't say as much, until the game. I said something different during the game. If you really look at that game closely, those guys were playing hard, man. Practice is one tempo, and I think they always come to work. I never had much of a problem with them at practice, but it's a totally different tempo than what happens on Saturday. So a lot of times, you're not gonna notice it. I'm not the big hype guy, and I don't think you'd be able to tell that during the week I guess what I'm saying, but I'll tell you what, on Saturday, I could tell. I could tell that these guys were mad. They've been great all year. Sometimes you get teams where offensive lines are going up and down. Our guys just keep playing. But I felt like as a group, they were really determined and mad, and it just showed how they played on the film.

(On his statement in the preseason that this could be the best college offensive line he's ever coached, and how far off that statement is now)

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They're not far off. Obviously, you get asked a question like that, you're not gonna say, "no, these guys have no chance". I'm very proud of this group, I'll just say it that way. I've had some good offensive lines, but probably from top to bottom, all five guys together as unit, I'd say if it's not the best, it's certainly top two. Because they all care. Like I said, it's such a unique position, because it doesn't matter if one guy is doing good. Four guys can't do good, and one guy does lousy, the whole group is gonna be bad. Again, it's hard to quantify. When I was at BC, I had two first round picks at tackles, but we weren't as good at center or guard. But they are definitely up there. I'm real proud of them. But again, who cares about last week? We got to go prove it every week. These are things in my mind, you kind of talk about at the end of the year, and you say "okay, where are we at?" Right now we're in the thick of the fight, and we're just trying to - I think we are improving, but we need to keep bringing it every week, for sure. 

Offensive Guard Caleb Chandler

(On being named ACC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week)

It means the world. It means a lot. People see my hard work that I put in, to be able to get that award. It just means a lot to me, because I've put in a lot of work this offseason. Trying to get my body right, try to get be able to play with the speed, and play as long as I can, and finish plays like I was doing this past Saturday. It feels amazing.

(On the growth of the offensive line)

The technique and the determination, that was our problem. Like I stated at the beginning of the season that you know, it hurt looking at the film. Just as soon as some of the big plays we could have had and could have created, if we were using our right technique, and having the the determination that we have now. Now, we see guys doing the right technique, doing what coach is asking us to do, and guys are coming off the ball. We're winning the ball on the other side, we're playing on the defensive side, which is great as an offensive line. It's definitely that the technique has improved, and our "want to" has gotten better.

(On watching running backs pick up at least 2-3 yards on each carry)

It's not a better feeling. We want coach to run the ball every play when that's going on. We felt that at Wake Forest, and over the past few weeks as well. We know that this team is on our back, and we just got to keep going out there and being productive for the running back, so they don't get touched. I don't I don't like seeing them get touched, period. So we just have to keep improving each week.

(On if there is one area in particular that they need to improve on, or if it just simply honing in on their craft)

We need to continue honing in on our craft. As you can see that the progressions that we made over week by week, the more we hone in our craft, the better we've been doing. If there's one area that we do need to improve on, I think is completing third and short or second and short downs. We need to start completing those, and converting those downs a lot more than what we've had in the first few weeks of the season. I think we're at our lowest third down rate in a long time, so we definitely need to improve on that, and start converting those 3rd and 1's, 3rd and 2's, to keep the drive going and keep the defense off the field. But definitely honing in on the technique is going to improve that.

(On if feeling "mad" was a good way to describe how they felt against BC)

Yeah, that is a great way to describe it. It hurt coming in this building the last couple of weeks, after the losses that we've had. But we know that we just can't throw in the towel, because there's so much to play for. The ACC is so wide open, and we just know we just got to keep going like this. You got to keep improving week by week, and we've done that. I just feel like this is just the start of it. I feel like we haven't even hit our stride yet, and we just got to keep improving it week-by-week. That's the big focus with this team right now, just take one week at a time, and keep improving. We were definitely mad about it. It wasn't good a feeling being in the building over the last few weeks.

(On Trevion Cooley's fumble, and how he was able to move past it)

It's definitely hard messing up as a freshman anywhere for him. I obviously play a different position from Cooley, so I know - his fumbling is me missing my one-on-one pass protection. So I know that feeling, and it feels like everyone's looking at you, or everyone's like, "oh, freshman". But Cooley has done an amazing job. After he fumbled, we went on the sideline and looked at him, told him we're good, and he said, "oh, I'm good". It happens, and I tell him all the time that players mess up. We're gonna make mistakes, just got to keep going, but Cooley already knew that. I didn't even know Cooley had 100 yards until the end of the game. I knew Cooley was gonna get past that, and he did. He's awesome.

He's very mature to be a freshman. He didn't get down, he didn't let it bother him, he just moved on. We've talked about that next play mentality here, that's our that's our go-to, and he definitely moved on, and continued to have a pretty pretty solid game.

(Photo via Michelle Hutchins/Special to Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

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