Capel praises Tomlin: ‘I’m not surprised’

Jeff Capel isn't shy about his love for the Steelers — or his appreciation of Mike Tomlin.

Monday during his press conference at the Petersen Events Center, however, Capel took it to the next level. Asked to share his thoughts on Tomlin's resolve and his ability to rally the injury-riddled Steelers from a 1-4 start all the way to 7-5 and a potential Wild Card berth, Capel opened up:

"Well, I'm not surprised," Capel began. "I guess people, maybe nationally or maybe locally are. But I'm not surprised. I think Mike thrives in these situations. I think he's a really good coach. And really good coaches, you figure out a way."

Capel then identified what that means to be a "really good coach" specifically.

"You have to make adjustments, and I think they've made adjustments, he and his staff," Capel said. "I think Mike has stayed positive, and I think that permeates throughout the culture of their organization and especially their football team. He instills a belief in those guys because of the belief that he has in himself and his system. And so I'm not surprised by it. I'm obviously happy for him, happy for them. But it's not something I'm surprised by."

Ready for the icing on this one?

"I think year in and year out [he's] been one of the best coaches in the NFL, and it's unfortunate that they've had to lose everyone for people to maybe appreciate that," Capel said. "Sometimes you can take really good things for granted."

Right now, Capel faces his own challenges with a young, developing Panthers squad that currently sits at 6-2 and is tied for fourth in the ACC early in this 2019-20 campaign. They're fresh off a win in the Fort Myers Tip-Off tournament championship, and they're seeing major growth of late from freshman standout Justin Champagnie.

But it hasn't been smooth or easy, and Capel's embracing those challenges while keeping his eyes forward along the way.

"I'd like us to not turn the ball over. That's been a problem for us," Capel said. "I'd like us to be able to make some shots. I'd like for us to be stingy defensively. I'd like for us to get easy baskets when we can. And I'd like for us to win. Period. So whatever it takes for us to win, that's what I'd like us to do."

Next up for Capel's Panthers is a showdown at the Pete with a 6-1 Rutgers squad that is making waves of its own.

"I think they're really good in transition," Capel said. "They've been very good defensively. The kid[s] [Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr.] — I have been very impressed with them on tape."

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