Listen to Audio (12:51)
“Players of the game… Offensively, Gio Bernard – 16 for 80 yards, four catches for 22 yards, two touchdowns. Kareem Martin was the defensive player of the game – seven tackles, tackle for a loss, three disruptions, a sack and a pass breakup. And special teams [was] T.J. Thorpe – averaged 31 yards on his returns, had five for 155, so obviously he had a good day.
“A couple of injury notes. Devon Ramsay will have surgery tomorrow on the knee. We’re still working through the process of a sixth year, just working on the paperwork. That’s in the very preliminary stages. Norkeithus Otis with the concussion. Obviously we held him out last week and we will evaluate him early this week to see his status for the game on Saturday. Ebele Okakpu has a slight sprain of the ankle, and again, we’ll evaluate him day-to-day as we go.”
UNC hasn’t won its ACC opener in 10 years. Is there a common thread there?
“I don’t know if there’s a common thread. I think we’ve had Georgia Tech for four and we’ve had some others, but our deal is that this is like our season opener. We talk about each week being the opener and this is our [ACC} season opener, so hopefully we get off to a fast start and finish strong.”
On the importance of Saturday’s game against Virginia:
“One of our goals is to win the Coastal division. We feel like we need to win our ACC games and that’s a big issue for us, so it will be part of the emphasis this week.”
Last week you stressed the importance of improving from Week 1 to Week 2. DO you feel like that improvement took place?
“After watching the game, there were some strides made. You have to watch the game. During the game or right after the game, you really don’t know. There were some big plays in the game. Obviously, we continue to protect the quarterback, which I thought we did a good job of. I think we just continue to improve our rush defense, so there were some strides made there. I thought we made some strides in the kicking game. So there were some things that we improved on.“
Listen to Audio (5:54)
On his thoughts on how the offense played against Rutgers:
“I thought we did a lot of good things but we have a lot to improve on. It’s like that every week – you’re not going to play perfect. Especially with this game coming up, we need to get a lot better because UVa is a great opponent, it’s a division game [and] it’s a rivalry, so we’re going to have to play really well this week and just improve. There’s a lot of things we can correct.”
On his first interception:
“We talked about it all week. You can’t float balls over the middle or when safeties are running side-to-side like that. Coach Shoop preached about it all week, but I just made an errant throw and had a mental lapse and that’s unacceptable. We talked about it and me and Jhay Boyd got on the same page, but you can’t turn the ball over.”
Listen to Audio (6:23)
On his improved play this season:
“Coming into training camp, I just wanted to work hard and fight for a starting position and just try to get as much playing time going into the season. I had a good training camp and was able to come out as a starter.”
How much do you attribute your success to being forced to play last year?
“Last year was a really big help coming into this year. [Nothing] is much of a surprise anymore. I know what to expect week-in and week-out going against an opponent. It really helps in film study in just being able to recognize different things.”
Listen to Audio (4:50)
How do you feel the secondary played as a whole against Rutgers?
“I was happy with the way we played on defense. Obviously, we had several missed opportunities for big plays and dropped interceptions and not getting a fumble, but it’s just a matter of capitalizing on the opportunities that present themselves. I keep harping on that, but that’s such a big thing. There’s not many chances when a linebacker or a defensive back gets his hands on a ball and you really have to take advantage of that.”