On Aleric Mullins' decision to forgo his senior season in 2010:
"Aleric needs three hours to graduate this spring. In a similar situation as Richard Quinn, he just felt like with the completion of his degree, he just felt like it was time to announce that he was going to go ahead and finish his career here and make himself available for any potential post-collegiate football that he might be available to.''
Has becoming bowl-eligible taken pressure off this team?
"I don't know. The pressure to win, I think, is because kids love to play and they want to win. And I would be surprised if this football team doesn't come back to work tomorrow prepared to get ready to play. As we've tried to build this program, it's all based on looking at the other team and realizing what the challenges are and how difficult the challenges are each week and what's the game plan and what's going to give us the best chance to win. And I think that these kids are learning steps and they're learning lessons every week that we play and I think that will certainly be one of them."
On Kendric Burney's development:
I think the more any kid plays and they get in that comfortable role of feeling confident in that they know their assignments, you can really see a lot of their personality. As a football player, he's grown a great deal. The very first year it was a battle back-and-forth between the baseball career and the football career and where does he fit? He was so young and so inexperienced and basically had no fundamentals at what he was trying to do.
"But you could tell that he was a very, very gifted athlete. The more effort and energy that he's put into it and the focus of his work over the last two years, he reaps the benefits because he has real play-making instincts. He just has a really good gift of diagnosing routes and realizing where the threats are and making plays on the ball. He's got outstanding hands and the plays that he made this weekend – it's kind of like the Hakeem Nicks' thing. You see it somewhat infrequently during the season, but we see it a lot in practice."
On freshman defensive back Mywan Jackson seeing offensive snaps against Miami:
"Obviously with the injury to Shaun [Draughn] and the other injuries at running back, we were looking for athletes that had played some. Mywan had played in the secondary some, he had played some special teams, so we weren't in jeopardy of burning a red-shirt year late in the season. We were just looking for an athlete that could go in and find something that he could do to maybe give us a little bit of a play. He came in and did a nice job on that one particular play.
"He's still playing in the secondary; he's still a backup corner and he plays backup in the nickel packages, but one of the things that you hope you do as a football staff is recruit guys that are good athletes. If you recruit kids that are good athletes – as in the case of a Deunta Williams – he may come in here as one of the premier wide receivers and the next year he may be Freshman All-American as a free safety. If you recruit good athletes, you'll be able to find places where they've got the ability to help you when injuries occur."
On the program's doubters after the FSU loss:
"After the Florida State game, a lot of people were pretty much saying that Carolina football was done and to get ready for next year. But I remember saying as a captain of this team that I would never let any of my teammates just give up. Everybody has stepped up to a new level… We love the fact that we're playing good football right now and hopefully we can carry it over into the next month."
What have the last two days been like for you?
"It's been crazy because people that you don't normally talk to will call you and try to get in good with you, but it's been fun. I'm not the type to brag and boast and stuff like that, but it's definitely been a good feeling to have had one of the best games of my career. The things that have been popping up have definitely been good. But I know we've still got a lot of work to do and I know my teammates need me to get focused."
What's your role within this offense? What's the big play potential for you?
"A big play for me might be anywhere from 18-20-22-25 yards. That's probably the max. And you never know – it just depends on any given week and what the defense tends to give the tight ends and the offense in general."
Are most of your routes basically serve as part of the running game?
"You could say that. In a sense, sometimes I'm T.J.'s check down, as far as if we have a play-action pass called and T.J.'s got to check Greg [Little] on a deep post or check his over route. If none of those are there, I might just leak behind the defensive line and he can throw it to me for four or five-yards and hopefully I can turn up field and get a first down."
Any urge to say "I told you so" to some of this team's early-season doubters?
"You know, I don't want to get into that stuff. There are a lot of naysayers out there that kind of got onto us when we started off bad, but it's good just as a team to come out of that hole."
What's been the difference these past three weeks?
"Just it all coming together for us – our whole total game plan, as far as defense [and] offense goes. Getting back healthy with the offensive line has helped out our running game tremendously. Obviously with our defense playing the way it is, creating turnovers and turning those turnovers into touchdowns, is putting less pressure off the offense to put points on the board."