“We're obviously in a bye week and working to try to get better. Our focus has been on ourselves and where we can get better in each and every phase of the game from special teams [to] offensively and defensively. Trying to cut out some mistakes that we've been making and getting better as a football team.”
Some of the issues you guys have been having on the offensive line and defensively, those are positions where typically it takes a little longer for guys to develop, what impact do you think the fact that the sort of turmoil since you took over, the interim staff and the kind of issues with recruiting there is having, because it strikes me from the outside there should be some red-shirt freshmen and sophomores who would be contributing to those positions who aren't necessarily. Is there an impact there?
“I'm sure there's definitely an impact, but it's not something that we really dwell on because we have the players that we have, and these are our guys. It's not going to change. What we're trying to do each and every day is just improve with the guys that we have.
“You're right, it does take a little bit longer on the offensive line to build some of that continuity when you insert new guys, along with communication and just knowing what the guy next to you is going to do in the heat of the battle or when you have to process something very quickly. And so I'm sure that that has played a part for us, but it is what it is, and we've got to find a way to overcome it.”
Are you using this extra time before the Miami game to tweak anything or do anything differently on defense?
“Actually we're tweaking things in all three phases, but yes, we're using this week. This week for us is about how do we improve as a football team. It doesn't matter who we're playing next week, it's about how do we improve, because until we straighten out the problems that we have within, we're going to continue to struggle. So we're working diligently on trying to get those things straightened out. “
How did you evaluate the performance of Marquise Williams last week, and how important in his development was him being able to get out there and play like that?
“Well, it's very important. I mean, obviously every rep that you get in a live situation, meaningful rep, is very important to any player, whatever position, but especially at the quarterback position. I think he will just get better from that in the future.
“You know, I would say Marquise, I was pleased with the way he managed the game, probably would have liked a few things to turn out differently than they did, but overall I don't think he was flustered. I think he handled the situation very well. You know, I mean, how would I grade him? It would be a B-, C+ type of situation.”
Is there ever a point in the season where you and your staff start looking at guys like him and TJ Logan and Khris Francis and maybe some of the guys in the secondary and say these are going to be our guys here in the future, we need to start getting them out there now?
“Well, we won't all we're concerned with is getting better as a football team and winning the next game, the game, which is for us next Thursday night. So it's whoever can contribute, whoever can help us win the football game, that's who's going to play.
“I'm not looking one year down the road, three years down the road or for the future. I'm looking right now, and it's about getting this team on track because there's still a lot of season to play. There's a lot that we can still accomplish, and it starts we can't worry about what we can accomplish. All we've got to worry about is just getting better and trying to be 1-0.“
How important is this game in terms of demonstrating the atmosphere, the culture, everything at North Carolina to a nationwide audience?
“It is. It's a very, very unique and tremendous opportunity for us to showcase not only the Tar Heels but our stadium, our game day atmosphere, Chapel Hill, the community, everyone involved. I mean, Thursday nights have become huge in college football, I mean, because everybody is watching, and it's just a great opportunity for us to showcase what we have and who we are and what we're trying to build here.”
To me it looks like your schedule is kind of front loaded with most of the toughest games. Do you think this season is still salvageable at 1-4 in terms of accomplishing bowl season and things like that?
“No doubt in my mind. No doubt in my mind, yes. There is no doubt in my mind it is, and it starts today, or yesterday, or whenever you want it started. It starts now. It's just about us getting better.
“You don't focus on an entire season, and I don't know that it's it was front loaded as much as for me, we have only had one regular week but no really routine, and we won't get into a routine until after the Miami game when we start playing on normal Saturdays with no open weeks and all those things. Just not being able to be in that routine I definitely feel like has an effect on our football team.”
I know that you and Miami have each played Georgia Tech this season, and from watching film on Miami this season, what has impressed you in particular about the Hurricanes?
“Well, they've obviously got great talent offensively. I would say the biggest improvement in my opinion has come on that offensive line and what they've done on the offensive line. Those guys have grown up and are playing really well. They've had the great speed. They had it last year at running back and at the wide receivers, and the Morris kid can throw the ball down the field. He's very accurate getting it down the field.
“Defensively it's a lot of the same kids as last year. They're just growing up. They played when they were young, and they're all growing up, and they're becoming they're maturing into the players that I'm sure Al thought they were going to be, and so they're playing really well together.”
Have you had a chance to look at your tape on the Jack Tabb ejection, and what did you see, your version of that play?
“My version of the play was that Jack made a Jack was retaliating to something that happened on the play, which you can't do. Jack made a bad personal decision, and you have to be able to keep your poise in a situation like that, and he didn't do that, and therefore he was punished by the rule. That's really all there is to it.”
This is the second suspension now for him in the last four games. Does it concern you that maybe he isn't as disciplined and having those kind of situations?
“Sure, yeah, I'm concerned. I'm concerned about all the young men we have and the decisions they make. That's something that I worry about every day because they're 18, 19, 20, 21 year old kids that I can't be around 24 hours a day. So yeah, I do worry about them and I do worry about Jack. He's made a couple of bad decisions here, but I can assure you this: It doesn't change the way I think about Jack or the fact that I love Jack, and Jack is one of my guys, and I'm going to continue to teach Jack and coach him, and if he makes bad decisions, he's going to face the consequences of those decisions like a man. He's going to learn from them and hopefully he won't make those same mistakes again.”