Gio Bernard Q&A

Gio Bernard Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Sophomore running back Gio Bernard spoke to reporters following Tuesday's practice about N.C. State and the intensity of the rivalry.

Last year following the loss to N.C. State you said you didn't feel like guys were ready to play. What is your sense so far this week?
"We're excited. We're fired up. Every intense word you could possibly think of. I think that's what we're feeling. We want to win this game especially coming off a loss against Duke. We want to win. We want to get back on that win streak and it was tough to lose an in-state game this past week and we don't want to do that again. We don't want to lose two in-state games and that's been one of our goals and it's why we want to win this one and kind of get that streak off our backs a little bit so we'll see how it goes."

What is it about N.C. State's defense that makes it so they can seemingly plug in anybody and have success?
"They're a great coached team. I think that's what it comes down to. They're a well-coached team. They're assignment disciplined and that's what it comes down to I think. You can have a lot of players in there. You can have this good of a player or bad of a player, but if they're coached well the sky is the limit for those players and they really are coached well. We're just excited. It's another opportunity to show people what we have."

What are your thoughts on why N.C. State has held North Carolina to minus-four yards rushing over the past two years?
"They're coming at us and we didn't have an answer for them. I think this year we definitely have something for them. They're a great-coached team. We're just excited to play against them. We're excited to have this opportunity again and I think with the new ‘Fedora-era' we want to start off on the right foot and I think with a win against State the sky is the limit for this team and we're excited to have them."

With the new scheme you are running, where is N.C. State vulnerable?
"I wouldn't say it's what they're vulnerable on. I wouldn't say it's what they do. I would say it's a matter of how we execute and I think this comes back to last week against Duke. We just didn't execute well and if you can execute against any team the sky is the limit and I think if we can do that against State we can take the win. It's just a matter of execution. That's what we're working on in practice and that's why we do what we do."

In terms of execution, what went wrong against Duke?
"Just little things. Pre and post-snap penalties, jumping offsides, whatever it may be. Catching the balls. Just the little things. Being able to get the first down on a third and short. Just those small things that we need to accomplish. We just got to pick up those things and we're practicing. That's what we do. That's why we practice and we're excited to have them. We're ready. I don't know what else to say. I'm excited. I know that for sure."

How much can you tell that the UNC community really wants to win this game given the streak and the off the field events of the past couple of years?
"For me I think it's the fact that the whole new ‘Fedora-era' is here and everybody wants to start it off on the right foot and that's what we want to do. For me, I want to start it off on the right foot for coach Fedora and for everybody on this staff and for the community to show that Carolina football is evolving and it's going to be something good. It's going to be something special and I think with a win against them that would definitely help us out big time."

Have you been reminded much about the losing streak?
"Yeah, Coach Fedora talks about it. He told us, but when it comes down to it, it's just a matter of execution and playing football. You can have all this outside stuff that's going on, but once you get on the field none of that matter. It's a matter of just playing the game and executing what you have to do and winning the game."

When you say Coach Fedora talks about the streak, what does he tell you?
"They've won five times in a row so what are you guys going to do now? That kind of stuff… It's not constant. Once we came back on Sunday, once we got the Duke game out of our system he talked about N.C. State a little bit. He told us the facts behind this game, the meaning behind this game and I know he hasn't been here for long, but every one of those players on this team knows about the meaning about this game and he just wanted to stress it that much more and I don't know what else to say about it, but we're all excited to play this game. We want to win this one."

Was there a lot of trash talk between the teams last year? I know the fan bases go at it.
"The fan bases, that's just that, but every game is like that. Some guys are more fired up than the others and some guys are more talkative than the others. It's like Tre Boston. He likes to talk a lot. It doesn't matter what team he's playing against, he's going to talk, but it's just a matter of playing ball. For me, I'm a quiet guy. I don't trash talk, they don't trash talk to me… it's just football."

Can you address your ability to read the linemen and then explode through the hole? How are you so patient?
"I think it was just how life shaped me. I'm just a patient person. Some people like that instant gratification kind of thing. I want it now. Give me money or give me this or give me my gifts now. I've always been a type of guy to be patient about thing and let everything develop and I guess it kind of carried over to my football career and it's definitely helped me out so far and just continue to be patient."

What are you looking for when you get the ball?
"For me, it's all about movement. If a running back can set up his blocks and can move a defense himself I think the sky is the limit for that running back. That's something I stress on myself. That's something I work on each and every single day at practice is being able to make a defensive player do what you kind of want him to do and if a running back can do that the sky is the limit for that guy. There are so many running backs in the NFL that are able to do that and I'm trying to do that."

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