"We are extremely excited about playing in Chapel Hill on a Thursday night in front of the entire country against a great Miami team. And so we are busily preparing for it and really looking forward to this game tomorrow night."
With all of the high-scoring offenses, up-tempo offenses today, is it more difficult to recruit and build a dominant defense right now in college football?
"Well, you know, I think as you look at the landscape across the country, obviously scoring offense has gone up over the past probably five to seven years tremendously.
"So I think what it is, it's changed the way defenses are trying to play; and also, it has changed the type of players that you have to recruit defensively. You're going to probably try to go with more speed and athleticism than just pure size on defense because you get some of these big guys that are put out in space, and they get exploited.
"I think it is more difficult, but I do think that it's -- the game is always evolving, and one side is always a little bit ahead of the other, and eventually the other side catches up and then the other side changes again."
I think Miami has something like 23 plays that have gone 25 yards or more this year. What's the biggest key trying to limit some of those big plays Miami likes to make?
"Well, you've got to stop the run. That's where it starts. You're going to have to stop the run, or they are going to crush you with the run the entire game. And then they are going to take their chances and hit you over the top. And that's what they make a living with is the big plays.
"So we've got to make sure we keep the ball in front of us, but at the same time, you've got to get up there and you're going to have to have safeties involved in the box to be able to stop the run. And so our safeties are going to do a great job with their eyes and their reads and we are going to have to play flawless."
With the buzz that's surrounding the ACC this week, between your game with Miami and the Clemson-Florida State game, can this attention and the attention it's going to draw the rest of the year, should these teams continue to compete well, can it help everyone in the ACC down the road?
"I don't think there's any doubt about it. I said at the beginning of the season that the ACC was in the best shape it's ever been as far as strength from top to bottom and it just going to get better.
"There's no doubt, we've talked about being recognized and getting respect nationally and to do that, you have to do the things that are going on in the ACC right now. And so if we continue to do those things as a conference, then we will earn that respect."
Will North Carolina be able to kind of build on that respect individually? Can you get your recruits, can you get players, people that you are recruiting to say, you can be a part of it, and you can do that here at North Carolina.
"You'd better believe we can. I mean, we have got so much to sell here in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina; all of that positive buzz around the ACC only adds to what we have to offer."
You're expecting Bryn Renner to be ready to go?
"I am. He's had a really good week of practice. He's moved around great. Has not talked much about any pain. He gets treatment every day and he's doing the things that he's supposed to do and he's practicing the way he is; I expect him to get out there and do a great job."
Would you like to get Marquise some snaps or would that just depend on how the game goes?
"No, we plan on -- Marquise will definitely play in the game. I mean, he's going to be part of the game plan in various ways, and so, yeah, we anticipate Marquise playing tomorrow for sure."
With the spotlight so bright on Florida State-Clemson, Miami is the third unbeaten team in the ACC. What makes them an unbeaten team to this point in the season?
"Well, one, you know, they have got a lot of returning starters from last year's team and they had a good, solid team last year. I think they were young on defense. They made quite a few mistakes last year and now these guys have grown up on defense.
"Now, they are not making those mistakes. They are in position to make plays and they are making the plays when the opportunity arises. Offensively, they have improved tremendously in my opinion and the offensive line, and you know, they still got the running back, the quarterback, the receivers that can fly. So what's made them who they are this year I think is just the improvement in the offensive line alone."
Back to the defensive question again, you mentioned about having to recruit different type of players, is there particular positions that are hardest to kind of find the type players that you need to compete against these up-tempo offenses now on defense?
"I think what it has done is enabled some more tweeners to get on the field. That guy, that linebacker that's 6-foot, that's 215-220 pounds is finding a way to get on the field, you know, in your nickel packages, your dime packages, all those kind of things, as teams are spreading you out.
"Where in the past, if a team played just straight pro-style, played in a box, you wanted that guy to be a 6-2, 6-3, 230-240-pound linebacker, so those tweeners had a hard time getting on the field. Now those guys are athletic enough to match up with receivers or tight ends that are flexed out, so that enables them to get on the field."
Fair to say that a lot of folks in and out of the program expected more to the start of the season. From your perspective, what's been the problem? What happened to you guys so far?
"You know, it's a multitude of things. You're right, none of us are satisfied with where we're at and disappointed with where we're at right now. I do think that we are getting better. We just haven't found a way to get over that hump and win the football game lately.
"We've made too many mistakes in really all three phases of the game. You look at the number of penalties we've had, we've had three straight games where we've had a touchdown callback for a penalty. We haven't consistently run the football on offense, and if we are not -- unable to do that, that's going to make it very difficult for us.
"We've got to be able to run the football, to have some success on that side of the ball. And defensively, we've just given up too many big plays at inopportune times."
These things, when you kind of reflected during the bye week and got back to work, that are correctible in time to get back on track?
"They are all correctible, no doubt about it. I mean, they are all correctible, and we still have a lot of season to play. And we are playing with some kids that are growing and learning as they go.
"But yeah, we have got a lot of season to play. I'm far from believing this thing is over with. I mean, we've got a lot of work to do, but really, our focus is just on being 1-0 this week. If we get over the hump and do the things we need to do, then we get ready for the next one.
"But the focus, really, has been more on how we improve and what we need to improve as a football team. It's been disappointing that we have not had a game changing play in our special teams. We've had some called back, but we haven't had any that we have put together and that's been disappointing because of the amount of emphasis that we put on it."
I know it was a small sample, but T.J. Logan did get some touches for you, curious as to how you evaluated him and if he figures to work more into your running back rotation.
"It was great to get him out there in the game and get him some touches and get him back into the flow. I still don't think his legs are completely under him. I don't think he looked totally comfortable running the football or doing anything out there really the other day. The only way that's going to happen is to put him out there.
"I kind of compare watching a guy early in the preseason and watching him in games, and he looked like he was the same speed as everybody else out there and you watch him now in a game, and he looks like he's faster than other guys. And I think that's going to come for T.J. You know, he's still learning and -- he missed six weeks because of that injury. I mean, he wasn't out there for six weeks. Wasn't repping. He's way behind. He's going to catch up quick."