Jesse "Links" Holley
Is this the most complete game that this team has played this year?
So far, but there are still things we need to work on. We get into the red zone two or three times, we need seven points. Three got the job done today, but we are going to get the job done next week. When we get into the red zone, we've got to make plays and get touchdowns, instead of three's.
Hat's off to Connor [Barth] - I'm hoping he is out of his slump right now. We're glad to have the old Connor back. Hopefully, he can continue to do the things we know he can do.
What about your performance today - were you and Matt just in synch today?
We got in a zone, man. We got in a zone and nothing else mattered. I didn't care what coverage they were in, I didn't care who was draped over me, where the ball was thrown. I just had a sense of urgency and everything that was thrown to me I said to myself, 'I'm going to come down with it.' Before you knew it, we got stuff going. Matt felt comfortable with me, and I felt comfortable with him throwing the ball to me. I got into a zone and I'm super happy.
You have told me in the past that you tell him to look for #9 when you need a first down. Did you do that today?
Of course. I worked that way all week in practice. I tell him, 'Let's move these chains; find #9 'cause I'm getting it through hell or high water. I'm getting the first down.' I'm sure BC the ball was coming on third down. Hats off to our offensive line for giving him time and hats off to the other receivers for running good routes. The running backs ran their right routes, and on third down we had 11 guys doing the right thing.
You told me two weeks ago that you gave yourself the nickname "Links" because you move the chains. Are the other guys calling you Links now?
If they are not they should. But that's just what I want to do. I want to be the guy to make the big plays. Coach Bunting really put the pressure on today making me game captain. That was crazy. I think that's the first time since I've been here that a wide receiver has been named game captain. That was a lot of responsibilities on my shoulder. I just made the best of it.
You really celebrated at the end of the game. Can you talk about how much fun you are having in this your one and only year at quarterback?
Definitely - I'm going out everyday in practice, every Saturday, and giving it everything I have. It feels good. That's what I waited around for; that's why I stayed here - to go out and have fun playing football at Carolina and that's what I'm doing.
To win a game like that was really special, and for it to come down like that - I've got a lot of friends in town this week and one of my high school buddies plays for Boston College, so that one feels good.
Where you and Jesse communicating on a higher plane today?
Yeah, that's what happens. Your big play guy, you try to get him the ball. That's what I was doing today. I was putting them out there for Jesse. Not all of them were great throws, but Jesse was making big-time plays. That helps the offense when you can get big plays like that.
You save a lot of blocks from the offensive linemen and wear and tear on your running backs when you can make big plays like that.
He said that he gave himself the nickname "Links" because he keeps the chains moving. Has he told you that?
(Laughing) Nah, I just heard that one.
(Leaning back in his chair and yelling in Holley's direction) HEY, LINKS!
I like that.
That seemed accurate today, don't you think?
That was very fitting today for Jesse Holley.
You you think there is less pressure on the offense to move the ball because of the progress that the defense has made to the point where you can win two home games in a row against ranked opponents having only scored one offensive touchdown?
I wouldn't say that there is no pressure. You can play a little more comfortable. You can establish more of a running game. You can pound the ball and pass when it's needed when the defense plays as well as they do. You don't need to panic as an offense. A couple of years ago they had to panic and start slinging it.
Now, we are able to do what we have to do on offense. We are about 50/50 pass/run. We work both in and try to keep the defense on their heels. Because the defense plays so well because we are able to do that.
Do you think your performance today helps the team's confidence to know "OK, we've got our kicker back"?
What's been great is that they've always had confidence in me, even when I was missing. They always say, 'Keep up, we have confidence in you.' That's the great thing about having teammates like that on this team. They never doubted me. It just feels awesome to go out there and show them that I still have it.
Did you do anything different in practice this week?
I just really worked hard. I just think it's finally clicking. I've been working hard all week these last two weeks, but it didn't really show until today. Hard work in practice helps you do well in the games.
So you are not doing any new exercises or drills?
Actually, Coach Bunting brought a picture in this week from the Miami game last year and it showed my leg extension and how I finished at the target. That was one thing that really helped me, making sure I finished straight to the target. I did that today and it went right down the middle so it was awesome.
What did it feel like when the first one went through?
It was a relief getting that one back. After that I just built on it. I feel great right now, going into next week against Maryland with a ton of confidence back. That's the main thing, to help the team. All three teams today, special teams, offense, and defense played awesome today, and that's what we have to do to win.
It looked like you were more excited about the third field goal.
The first two were chip shots. It was awesome to get a big one, 44 yards. It felt great right off my foot. Since that went in I was hyped. It felt great to get a good one, a nice solid field goal. That's what I needed for my confidence and I think I got it back now.
What adjustments did the defense make after BC's first scoring drive?
We really didn't make adjustments. We just decided to hit the gaps a little harder. Linebackers are usually taught to stack and fall back on zone, but it was kind of confusing because they were doing zone with a pull, so we decided to hit the gaps harder and clear it up for the safeties to come down and make tackles.
Is this defense gaining more confidence every week. You all have come a long way since the middle of last season?
We are going to continue to get better. We still haven't played the game we want. We want to shut people out. That's the whole thing with defense - we want to shut people out.
That was my fault on the last drive. Trimane [Goddard] could have made a play, but I could have made a play earlier to get the interception and get off the field, maybe even a touchdown. But we have got to continue to play football like we can. We did just enough things wrong where we can get fussed out on Monday, but it is going to feel good getting that fussing after a win.
Tell us how hard this defense played today.
I want to tip my hat to my D-linemen because a lot of times they were taking on - our three-technique and our nose [tackle], Kydraus [Guy], Chase [Page], Shelton Bynum, and all those guys - 600 pounds the whole day to allow the linebackers to run and get over the top. I want to thank them and the coaches for putting us in the proper scheme to win. We are going to continue to get better - the sky is the limit.
Tommy Davis said that this defense wants to be on the field. It hasn't always been like that, has it?
I wouldn't say it wasn't like that, but now we relish the moment. Everybody wants to make plays. Tommy wants to make sacks, the DB's want to make interceptions, I want to make tackles, sacks, interceptions. I had a chance at an interception, but I didn't make it.
It's something that we relish, and it has come down from coaching, Coach Bunting, Coach Sanders, Coach Thigpen getting us revved up to play football every week. Coach Lawing does a great job of getting us revved up in practice. He overdoes it at times, but you have to overdo it in football.