Gio Bernard Q&A

Gio Bernard Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina running back Gio Bernard spoke to reporters about his health, returning punts and fellow tailback Romar Morris following practice on Tuesday.

Were you tentative or rusty on Saturday?
"I guess you could say rusty. It wasn't because of my injury or whatever it may have been. I think taking two games off in football, that's tough. I did it before. I took a whole two years off almost, but kind of getting back in the groove of things is pretty tough in football and I'm starting to do that right now and we're getting back into it and we're excited."

Do you have to take it easy at all in practice?
"No. Nope, nope, nope. 100-percent, full-speed. That's how I do it. I think in every drill I got to stress being fast. I got to do my thing. Can't take it half [way]. Just stress working hard everyday is what I got to do."

Why was it important to be fully 100-percent healthy before you came back and played?
"A lot of times they'll go and play injured and they'll feel the pain and they'll feel like they're hesitant about things and I think at my position at running back you can't be hesitant at all. You got to be able to clear your mind, read what you have in front of yourself and just play football. If you're thinking about an injury, you're thinking about things that shouldn't be thought about and you're not looking at what you got to look at to break the homerun play."

On the potential of Romar Morris and Bernard lining up together in the backfield:
"I just think combining every single running back, not just me and Romar, [but] me, Romar and A.J. [Blue] all in the backfield. We have a two running back package right now. We're really starting to implement that into our offense and it's worked out really good so far. We kind of brought it out last game, but just adding the running backs out there.

"We're a great group of guys, we know each other, we know our tendencies and just to be able to be out there together we both feed off of each other. One guy does this, we know the other guy has our back for whatever, but just being able to get us both out there at the same time I think is the best thing for this offense and really exciting."

Have you worked on anything specifically with you and Morris together in the backfield?
"I wouldn't say so much. I don't want to throw that out there, but we have a couple of things where it's me and Romar. I think just adding the speed on to the field. Coach Fedora stresses being fast and I think adding both of us in there at the same time we can actually do that so we're excited for it."

Are you still working on returning punts in practice?
"Yeah, once here and once there. It's not my biggest focus. I'm trying to get back into shape. Taking two games off is really tough, but I'm still trying to get back into the groove of things and, for me, it wasn't my best performance this past Saturday, but I'm still kind of building. I'm still trying to get better at every aspect of my game and that's also returns, so I'm still trying to get there."

Was there any hesitation to get back involved in returning punts?
"No, not at all. It's football. At any position you can get a scare and punt returner is, for me, I always take it as an opportunity and blessing that I can be out there and punt return. It's something that I enjoy doing. I like doing it. The first game I got a little taste of it and I still want more, but I got to get back into the groove just like I am at running back. I think just working on it every single day I got to get better. Every aspect of my game so I'm excited for it and getting ready."

Do you think a game against Idaho presents an opportunity to pick up where you left off against Elon?
"Some people may think of it like that, but it's another football game for me. It's another game where I can get myself better, I can do some work. I want to be able to be out there. I want to be able to do what I can do. I just want to get out there really. That's the biggest thing I can tell you."

Do you know much about Idaho?
"Yes I know a lot. We've watched film. We've done our research. They're a good team. You can never take an opponent lightly. You see every year those big-time schools losing to those so-called bad teams or whatever. For the most part we just got to go in there and we got to do what we got to do. People said ‘Elon wasn't that good of a team' and obviously we kind of had to do what we had to do. Whatever it takes to put our points on the board, show the fans what we've been working on and we're excited. Against Idaho, against Virginia Tech, against whoever we're playing this season we want to show everybody."

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