Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Did somebody say Bama? Frank Beamer plays horseshoes?
How early did you guys start looking at Alabama film as a coaching staff?
Bryan Stinespring: I'm not going to kid you. We've already taken a look. There's been some breakdowns already. I'm sure on their part, too. Once the game was signed, both schools exchanged film the day after, I think. Most of us understand the significance of this ball game. We certainly understand Alabama and how good they are and what this means for an early game. You want to be as prepared as you possibly can, but again, you're calling at a time of the season where you just come off recruiting, and you're gearing up to start recruiting the next class, and also still going back and still scouting yourself.
What's the state of your offensive line? How do they look going into the spring?
BS: Obviously we've got to replace Ryan Shuman. I think Ryan Shuman without question was our most improved player. That's a tremendous attribute to say about a young man because most of the time you're talking about a guy who's improved from his freshman to sophomore, sophomore to junior, which Ryan did, but really his greatest improvement was from his junior to his senior year and what he put into it. I think we lost our best player, our most consistent player.
We've got a lot of confidence in Beau Warren who had to start some games when Ryan was hurt. When he stepped in and filled that void, we felt very good about it because you've got guys like Blake DeChristopher, Ed Wang, Sergio Render, Jaymes Brooks -- who I thought did a fantastic job in his first start in the Orange Bowl. Those guys returning, with some guys like Nick Becton ... depth already you're talking about and looking for. Will Alvarez was a top prospect coming out of high school, redshirted. We feel like there's a mixture of good experience, guys who played a lot of snaps, and some really promising guys behind them.
We feel like in some regards, we're in good shape going into the spring. There's a couple of depth questions, but there always are. We feel pretty good about it. When you've got four starters coming back who played in the Orange Bowl, and played well for you down the stretch. They went from a Boston College game in Chestnut Hill to four or five weeks later in a championship game. You marveled at how far they had come along. When you've got four of the five back, and the guys that have started some games, it gives you at least an optimistic approach to how good this group can be.
Speaking of the Orange Bowl, you guys win ACC titles like it's nothing ...
BS: Oh this one right here wasn't like it was nothing, (he laughed) this one was a grinder.
Yeah, you're right, but you're making a habit out of it.
BS: It's gone well. We've had success in the Big East conference. We've been able to win some conference championships in the ACC. It's a terrific conference. You go back and look at how it is from top to bottom. Some people ask about the bowl record, with each game the ACC was involved in I think it was a play, a point.
The system and the way that we approach things, from recruiting, to coaching and practice, what the expectations are. They're all understood and you just continuously work towards that. It's a hungry football team. It's a staff that stays very competitive in terms of meeting our goals. We understand what we're trying to accomplish. Our goal is to go to a bowl game. Our goal is to win an ACC championship. And every day that you go to work you continuously work towards that. The fact you've won one, or had a chance to win a Big East championship, or gone to a BCS game, that doesn't calm anything. It only strokes the fire.
That starts with coach Beamer. His competitive mode is as high as I've ever seen. And I've competed against him in everything from golf to racquetball, and horseshoes to understand the competitive mode he has. That carries over to all of us.
But are you guys ready to take the next step? The national title?
BS: I've been here when we played for a national title. I've been in a situation where we've probably been in an opportunity to work our way back into it.
Is it time for that again though?
BS: To have those things happen, to talk about them in March, February ... talking about it in March and February doesn't do any good. It's what we do in March and February, April, May, June and July. When it gets right down to it, you've got to play lights out. You've got to stay as healthy as you can, and every now and then the ball has got to bounce your way. We'll talk about that some other time. The very first thing to do is make sure that when we start in September that we're not just a year older, but we're a year better and we've approached it from that standpoint. Then we'll see how things go. The goal is to win the first one, and get the second one.
BS: I promise you that's what it is. Anything less than that and you're setting yourself up for failure.
That's true, worry about Alabama first.
BS: I'm worried about the spring game.