Syracuse defensive lineman Josh Black was among the three players who represented the Orange at the ACC Kickoff event on Thursday. He spoke at the podium on a variety of topics.
Q. You decided to come back. It's felt like maybe to you you've been at Syracuse for a decade. What can you say about this decision, now that the season is so close, why you came back, then maybe a little bit to Airon as well as leaders of this team, why it was so important to take the bad taste from last year and make sure you had something to do with what happens this year?
JOSH BLACK: Right. One of the main reasons I came back is actually to lead this team. I'm not going to get up here and talk to everybody about what happened last year. I put a lot of responsibility for our season last year on myself personally just for not fulfilling the role that I needed to be. I needed to be a leader throughout the entire team.
It's easy to lead only your defensive line or your unit, but I didn't reach out to the entire team. I needed to get everybody involved, and that's where I put a lot of responsibility on myself personally. So that didn't sit right to begin with with myself.
Secondly, I can't go out on a losing season. Just 1-10, those numbers are horrific. You look at that on paper, it like, Oh, man. Just something didn't feel right, didn't sit right with me.
I know personally a lot of the guys felt the same way, too. Felt like last year was not a representative of who we are as a football team. It's part of my job to make sure we get on the right track before I head up out of here.
Q. Fans in the stands, they do make a difference. Exactly why do fans make a difference?
JOSH BLACK: Right. So just feeding off the energy of the fans itself makes a huge difference just based off of adrenaline. Getting ready to run out the tunnel, that's where you get all your energy from. The fans are electric, especially in the dome. Just not having the fans last year was a little bit different. I'm not trying to get up here and make excuses about anything. But it was just the fact that the fans are what we feed off of.
We're known as the Loud House for a reason. That's one of the elements we are carry over there. Without having fans, it was definitely a little bit weird. When you're in the game, when you line up, when you play the first snap of the ball, you kind of push everything aside anyways.
Just from like a pregame type of standpoint, the adrenaline sometimes doesn't feel there, and that's up to you to make that up for yourself.
Q. We've had guys that opted out last season, decided to come back this year, transfers coming in, freshmen that enrolled early. What is the team starting to look like coming out of the spring? What's the dynamic knowing there's returning faces that you know, new guys coming in transfer-wise, then obviously the freshmen?
JOSH BLACK: Yeah, definitely. Right now it feels day and night from spring. Just from our last game at Notre Dame, I feel like we're a mile ahead from where we were starting in the spring.
Like you're talking about the freshmen coming in, this group of freshmen coming in, they're very well-prepared. They're more mature than I was coming in as a freshman. They're able to grasp things a lot quicker, which is really nice to see that they can rely on them if need be.
Just overall I feel like just cohesively as a group, we're miles and miles ahead of where we were last year. Just one of those good feelings. Looking around the locker room, the culture has changed. Everyone has bought in, which is something that we needed and didn't really have last year. It's definitely awesome to see.
Q. You spoke about having fans back in the arena. The Carrier Dome and Syracuse athletics is the heartbeat of that city. Talk about how important you are to the city and the fans.
JOSH BLACK: If anyone knows anything about Syracuse, the only thing we have there is the dome and the mall. Being, like you said, the heartbeat of the city itself, you have to walk around town with your head high. Everyone knows the athletes around town.
It's a good feeling to have that walking around town. Hey, how you guys doing, et cetera, all that stuff. But also puts a lot of responsibility on us to make sure we give back to the fans over the great support they provided us for years.
That's where having a very difficult season last year, I just feel responsible and kind of feel bad for that season. We're not giving back to the fans what they deserve. It's all about them at that point.
We need to get that back on track to make sure they get exactly what they deserve because they support us so well.