"First of all, we're pleased to get our first win of the season this past week against Middle Tennessee in Kenan Stadium. It was good to get that done at home in front of our crowd. We're going into the open week this week working on the fundamentals, eventually hopefully getting more practices as we prepare for the triple option of Georgia Tech."
Is it fortunate to get the open week to prepare for Georgia Tech with their offense, which is kind of unique? Does having the extra week prove to be an advantage?
"Well, I don't know if it's an advantage, but it's something that we definitely look forward to. I mean, obviously everybody knows their offense is very unique. It's not something you see any other time of the year.
"Any extra time that you get to prepare for it only helps you. I mean, you still got to do the job. It's still very difficult to defend. We know that. Obviously everybody in the country knows that.
But we welcome the extra practices against what they do offensively. Hopefully we can be a better team because of it."
Your defense actually played pretty well against South Carolina. You seemed to control Middle Tennessee until very late in the game.
"We had a lot of guys playing at the end of the game, no doubt about that."
I was going to ask you to give me an evaluation of what you've seen from your defense after the first two weeks.
"I mean, I have seen definite improvement over where we were last year, from where we ended the season last year. No doubt about it. Our guys are playing harder, faster, they're thinking less. You see them being better athletes. You see their athleticism come out because they're not having to think. They understand what we're trying to do.
"But then you stop everything and you try to do some things that you don't normally do or don't normally see in a year. That's what makes it so difficult as you try to prepare for a Georgia Tech offense."
I think last year you scored 50 points against them and lost. You have to avoid that kind of game again, don't you?
"There's no doubt about it. But also you go back and look in that game, but fumbled a kickoff return which gave them the ball in excellent field position. We threw a pick on a screen pass on about our own 25 yard line that gave them the ball on a short field. They returned a pass for a touchdown. We went for a fake punt on our end of the field, didn't get it. We gave them another short field.
"I have to do a better job of making sure we manage that game and put our defense in as many good positions as possible."
Larry, could you talk a little bit about the play of Norkeithus Otis.
"He really fits that hybrid position. A guy that can go get the passer, create quarterback hurries, all the problems there, but also a guy that can drop into coverage and cover guys. You really don't know when he's coming or when he's not.
He really fits that position very well. Then he brings all his energy to the position. I mean, he just plays with his motor hot all the time. That's what we ask for. We want our guys to really play hard. He is really the epitome of what you're asking for when you say, Play hard each and every play like it's your last play. That's what he does. At the end of a practice or the end of a game, he is wore out. That's what you're looking for from your players, is to leave it all out there on the field."
With the way he practiced in the spring and the fall, did you anticipate him being able to take that next step for you guys this year?
"Well, you anticipate it and you hope for it in the worst way because he totally bought in, was doing everything you asked. When I say he practiced hard, it was obvious. He was going at a different speed of other guys when everybody's tired, just because he's making sure he gives everything he has.
You not only want to see him be successful, you really hope he does so that the light comes on in a lot of guys' eyes."
How has Bryn Renner in your eyes played so far in the two games this year?
"My expectations for Bryn are very high now, very high. I would say in the first game, he had a lot to work on. At the same time I knew it was going to be a difficult game for him because they were going to pressure us very good, we were not going to throw the ball down the field to get the ball out of our hands quicker. I think that took away a little bit of what Bryn was capable of doing.
"You go back this week, Bryn was one of our players of the game offensively. He played really well. He threw the ball extremely well down the field and made plays for us.
"Bryn is playing well. There's no doubt about it. The pieces of the puzzle around Bryn are a little different this year. We still have to come together as an offense. I don't think we're hitting on all cylinders yet offensively. We have to become more effective running the football to take some of that pressure off Bryn so he can be who he can be."
How effective is he just as a leader? Is he more of a vocal kind of guy? Quarterback usually has to be.
"He's definitely a vocal guy. I mean, Bryn is very fiery, very competitive. We've worked really hard with him on controlling his emotions during a game. At that position you can't get too high or too low because if you do, it will drive you crazy and drive your teammates crazy throughout the game.
Trying to stay more on an even keel throughout the game is something we wanted him to work on to manage his emotions. I think he's doing a really good job of that."