"Its always fun to go home. We're anxious to go home, to my home and the nation's capital, to see if we can pull off a victory on the road. This football team that I have been coaching has been battling all season. I told you at the beginning that this is going to be twelve one-game seasons. We have not been successful in terms of winning and losing very much. Only one time, but there have been some good things happening. There have been a lot of individual things that have happened that have been very, very good for our football team. I'm sure you guys noticed we did something special rushing last week. It is nice to be the league leader in terms of average per rush. That is all good, but it is not good enough.
"It is nice to see Jeb Terry named offensive lineman of the week in the ACC. The week before we had a freshman (Larry Edwards) who was freshman of the week. So there are certainly some individual performances that are certainly very good on our football team. Darian Durant continues to do very good things for our football team. Dexter Reid continues to play well on defense. Jeb, by the way, the third consecutive year we have been able to place a player in the Senior Bowl. I think that is very good for our football program. I think people notice that. I think recruits notice that we are doing a great job getting our players placed, as we have done with the David Thorntons, Ryan Sims, Sam Aikens, the Zach Hiltons. I am very close to getting Dexter in one or two locations. Hopefully we will be able to get someone else from our football team to an all-star game at the end of the season.
"But it is a different time with the win/loss situation. We have got to get back on track today, preparing. I have been in this situation before as a player. I just happened to look through the past, look through the history, 1977. Philadelphia Eagles, Dick Vermeil's second year. We lost nine games, seven of which we lost by six points or less. We had a defense that was playing well every single week, but we had an offense that struggled. It is vice-versa down here for the most part. We have a bad play on special teams every week, which hurts us. We make a turnover or do something foolish. We are not playing well enough as a team to win. It would be nice to see us get one this week. This is the ninth week, and I would like to see us make progress, I would love to see us get a win.
Q: As you watch the tape, what has happened now with the running game? Where has that progression come from?
A: "I think we have developed a little better of a scheme in that we have used the smaller running backs to block for each other and they are running well. We have also had Bobby Blizzard back, which has helped us. We moved him a little bit into the backfield to block some like we did last year. The offensive line has really come together and played very consistently. They have a lot of pride, which I thought they would have, and they do have, they have all season. They have really gelled. We have to do it again. We should do it again. That group is the most experienced and has the most talent on it of all the units. The running backs are running really hard, each one of them has gotten in there and blocked for each other and ran the ball very well. It is a combination of things I think."
Q: Are you concerned about the returns and what Maryland is able to do with that?
A: "Oh boy, they nailed us last year. If there is one thing that stands out, besides the fact that we got mauled on defense last year by their offensive line, it is their return game. (Steve) Suter did a tremendous job. They really broke the game open last year with a punt return. We had him pinned in and he just made a great play and went about 75 yards or so for a touchdown. It's a very big concern for us. Wooldridge, last week improved our punting average dramatically. He did a great job for us."
Q: The special teams play is good for most of the game, but then have one bad play. Why is that?
A: "It's a breakdown, they breakdown. It is not executing. There might be an effort issue, which I address. You know, sometimes players, especially the ones coming out of high school, young guys, sometimes aren't as focused on how important those one play series' are. The moment you blink is the time that their players make the play."
Q: How do you address the season any differently now that you are not bowl eligible?
A: "Well I will address that, you know I'm going to ask those guys what kind of choices they are going to make now that there is no bowl game looming out there. You have to put yourself in position to be in the bowl hunt and we haven't done that. We have gotten better, which is very important to me. It is very important to the University of North Carolina that we have gotten better. I said before the start of the season that I am not going to put a number on it. Would we love to go to a bowl game? Yeah. But guess what, we are not. We are getting better and there is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel and I don't think it is a train. You know we are going. When we get out on the practice field today, we are excited about playing football. We are going after it, upbeat all the way."
Q: Can you talk about bouncing back from a tough loss last week and then to be down early against Clemson and be able to turn it into a ball game.
A: "Well I think Tommy Bowden remarked about that afterwards and I appreciate his remarks. But, this is a football team that has struggled last year and was out of ball games and really wasn't very competitive. We worked all offseason long on getting competitive and having a great recruiting year. A lot of those things took place. You have to believe in yourself, you have to believe in your teammates and you give yourself an opportunity to win by good preparation, which we have been doing, and playing hard, which we have been doing. We have to continue to do that and if you keep doing that, one of these days you are going to knock down that door. That is what we are trying to get done. We can't afford to sit back. We can't afford to feel sorry for ourselves, can't afford to look to the future. I am not looking to the future, I am looking at this week. I am concentrating on the University of Maryland and trying to beat a really good football team."
Q: How important have the first-year guys been this year?
A: "Oh, I think they have been extremely important. As I said early in the season, we will get better as the season moves along. I think that has shown up. I think that will continue to show up. We will be severely tested this week by a team that has had a lot of success and knows how to win. That is the big thing that we are learning to do, is to win a football game. Finish it off. Finish the ballgame. That is what we worked on all last week. We have got to keep believing that we can do it. That starts with the coaching staff and goes right through to the older players right down to the younger players. The younger players have a harder time because they are young. I think we might be the youngest team every week when we walk on to the field."