“Well, we've been able to get back and have a good week of practice so far. I think our kids have focused and are ready for a tough game against Wake. Obviously when you play against a top-ranked team like we did last week, you can't turn it over six times. I really thought our team played well despite the turnovers in the first half. We just couldn't overcome them in the second half. We put our defense out there too many times and gave them too short a field at times to go win a game like that. So hopefully we learned that this week, and we'll be prepared this week for Wake Forest.”
I'm just curious, with all that's gone on there at North Carolina, what is your message to prospects, in particular maybe committed ones that have concerns? I know that the hearing is this weekend. What's your message to those guys?
“Well, our message really, to be honest with you, has been this is a great university, you get a great education, and it's a really good place to come play football. You get to play on a big-time stage. With being able to get an education and play on a big-time stage, especially for kids in this state and surrounding states, this is one of the top places around. That's been our message, is the school sells itself, and that's been the number one message.”
I know that the NCAA hearing is coming up, and I just wonder, I've heard other coaches say that the process, that the length, the duration of the process is frustrating as what actually ends up happening. How much would it help to have an expedited answer as much as possible to your recruiting efforts?
“Well, obviously it would be. It would be great for moving forward, and that's what we all are trying to do is move forward and build and grow and learn from past experiences, so yes, it would be great to have a quick decision and something that we can say definite. You know, that's probably the most frustrating thing is not being able to say 100 percent what's going to happen.”
Could you just talk about the progress maybe you've seen since last year for Tanner Price and Wake Forest. And does it cause any particular problems going against a left-handed quarterback?
“Well, I don't think it causes problems to go against a left-handed quarterback. You have to know where the boot and sprint game is going to go most of the time, and you have to do a great job of keeping Tanner in the pocket because he does such a great job of all schedule plays in the passing game. They do a nice job, a scramble drill with their guys getting to open spots and knowing where he's going to be and the routes they need to convert to. You just see that progression. Coach Grobe and that staff have done a wonderful job of preparing that offense over the last couple years where they've been down. These guys have grown up, a lot of juniors and seniors now and they're more experienced, and you can tell it when you watch it on tape, the entire team.”
You've lost two in a row now. What's been the focus about, okay, let's fix this or that and get back to the winning ways?
“Well, I think the main thing is just taking care of the ball. I think if we take care of the ball, we can be as good as any team in this conference, if we take care of the ball. We have what we think is a good run game and that helps our quarterback in the pass game. If we can keep the ball, we don't have to play as many snaps on defense. It helps our young secondary on defense.
“It's just been a matter of turnovers, not turning it over and giving our defense a chance to make some, and that's been a big emphasis for us.”
Two questions for you: First, talk a little bit about DeAndre Hopkins, what makes him so dangerous. Obviously he had a pretty good day against you guys.
“Well, I think just the talent level. The guy can make plays, just the ability to make plays is -- with the athleticism and being able to make plays, and I think that was the biggest issue in that ballgame.”
And second, this is kind of an odd question, but can you tell me about the pros and cons of having either a dedicated special teams coach or splitting it up amongst the staff?
“Say that one more time now.”
I wonder if you can tell me about the decision that a coach will make as far as putting together a staff, whether to have a coach dedicated solely to special teams or splitting up the responsibilities like it looks like you guys do amongst the staff.
“Well, I don't know if it's a disadvantage one way or the other. We have a special teams coordinator, and that's Allen Mogridge. He's our special teams coordinator, and then we split it up just so we can get other coaches involved in the special teams. It's not that we don't have a special teams guy. We have a special teams guy. But it's just a matter of each guy having a phase and taking care of the specifics in that phase. But Allen runs the entire special teams.”
With Wake Forest's offense it's almost not a matter of if they're going to run trick plays but when it's going to happen. How do you prepare for that? And are there tendencies to kind of tip you off as to when you might expect something like that? Like I said, how do you prepare your kids to be aware and not get burned?
“Well, I mean, it's like anything else; trick plays are a part of football and part of the offense, and if a team is running a specific amount of trick plays, then you have to work those ones that you see on tape and you have to go back in their history and look at the ones that they've run in the past, maybe against you in years past. I think the biggest thing is trying to see if there is a tendency down and distance-wise or field position-wise or after a turnover, those type things, and you tend to work on them in practice and look for pre-snap tips and all those things, just like you do on any other play.”
What are some of the lessons that your defense can take from last week's game against Clemson?
“Well, I think the lessons you take is, one, you don't need to be out there as long as we were out there. We played 80-plus plays last week, way too many plays. That type of offense, if you're out there that much, they're going to score some points. I think it's a lesson for our entire team, not just our defense, is part of the ballgame is you've got to keep your defense off the field. I think the biggest issue is knowing that when you play against talented teams, that they're going to make some plays if you're out there very long. So you've got to be able to stop the run and then focus on taking care of the ball and making people go long ways. So I think it's more of a team deal, offense, defense and kicking game.”
What were some of the more positive things that your team did last week?
“Well, I thought we played fairly well in the first half on defense, you know, and I thought we played -- we started the second half well on defense. We had some -- they had the ball down there in plus territory a couple times, and we got stops or they forced them to kick field goals. I think we take those and build on them.”