“We’re coming off of an ACC victory here at home and getting ready to go on the road this week to a place we know will be a hostile crowd. It should be a great environment. It should be a lot of fun and looking forward to getting back into a normal routine, which we haven’t had the opportunity to do very often this season. Actually, this is the second week of just a normal routine for our football team and luckily we’ll get to do that the rest of the way.”
What are your takeaways from this past weekend and do you feel it was a performance your team can build on moving forward?
“I think that especially the last two weeks we’ve started to make some progress in some areas. We haven’t arrived but we’re getting better. We’re getting better in a lot of positions and we’re getting better in a lot of situations. With as many young people playing as we’re playing they’re getting better and they’re getting more experience and they’re feeling more comfortable with what we’re doing.
"We want to build off that each week, hopefully the good things that happened this past week as far as taking care of the football. We were much better in the critical situations. Defensively, we really gave up one big play. Still looking for a game changing play in our special teams and we haven’t done that yet. Hopefully that’s going to come through but there were still a lot fewer mental mistakes in all three phases.”
Was the success found in the red zone directly a result of improved execution?
“Yeah it was much better execution. More focus from the guys. We were also I think 50 percent on third downs which was better. Just overall more focus and more energy and more intensity.”
Was the first game between UNC and NCSU all that you thought it would be in terms of the rivalry between the two programs?
“Yeah. Again, I still think that’s what makes college football so great is the rivalries that you have. It’s the fans, the hatred from one or another and just I don’t know. That’s what’s fun about college football. It really is. Just the excitement that rivalries create.”
Is there anything Mack Brown said to you prior to coming to Chapel Hill in terms of the potential possibilities of improvement for the North Carolina football program?
“Yeah, because he did it while he was here. It boils down to you got to do a great job in recruiting and get the players in here. Then you’ve got to coach them up and they’ve got to make plays. It’s nothing more than it is anywhere else. It’s exactly the same. It’s just you’ve got to go get it done. You’ve got to go recruit the kids. You say what are the problems in recruiting well we have our unique problems that other people don’t but they have their own problems. You’ve just got to fight through them. You’ve got to work through them and you’ve got to learn what they are. That’s one big part of it so that you can combat them. Then you’ve got to go from there.”
Have you had more of a reaction to any one single play in your career than the Gio Bernard punt return a season ago?
“Probably not. I would say that that one was probably the biggest one play that I can remember. That was pretty neat. He was a big play guy. I mean he could make big plays any time. Any time he touched the ball he could take it the distance and we just haven’t had anybody show that this year. We haven’t had anybody get that spark or get that going. It’s not just because of that one person. I thought we just overall did a better job of blocking downfield, getting on the perimeter and all those things. We’re still working on trying to get better in those areas.”
Are you disappointed that through seven games this season you still haven’t found a starting running back?
“I don’t know if disappointed is the word but I would have liked to have had one emerge and take over. We haven’t had that and so again we’re still doing it the same way with Randy (Jordan) decides on who is going to start the game sometime Friday or Thursday and then from there we go. That doesn’t mean that that guy is getting all of the plays unless he comes in and he’s tearing it up. If he’s hot then he’ll stay in. if he’s not then somebody else is going to come in and we’ll see. Each guy brings something different to the table and we’re looking for one guy to catch fire eventually.”
How much have you opened up the offense for Marquise Williams as opposed to just running the same situational sets for him in games?
“Well he does still have some specific packages but we’ve opened the offense completely. He now runs any play that we have. We haven’t limited him at all at this time.”
What stands out about N.C. State on film?
“I look at them. They’re playing a lot of young guys just like we are. I think they’re trying to get a feel for where they are. I know that losing their quarterback early on was probably tough for them. They adjusted a little bit of what they were doing offensively. Now they get the quarterback back, which has made it hard on us to try to figure out how they’re going to try to attack us. I really don’t know what they are on offense.
"Defensively, I think they really are good upfront. Those four guys they play upfront are good football players. They really do a nice job. They’re younger in other areas. I would say they’re more basic on defense because I think they’re just playing. They’re letting them play. They have a few blitzes. They don’t bring a lot of blitzes. That’s not what they’re wanting to do but they’re playing good football. Special teams, they’re sound in everything they do. We’re looking for weaknesses and how we’re going to attack them but they’re sound in everything they do.”