On Miami's suspensions in key positions affecting their game plan:
No, it doesn't for us, because we know this: Miami has quality depth at every position. If you look at what their recruiting classes have been ranked over the last several years, it's not like they're going to fall off the side of the mountain because they've lost a few guys. They've got quality people and I'm sure they'll be ready to play on Saturday just like we will.
On Duke's preparation process:
What we've got to do is focus on going back to working out our mistakes and the things we can control. We can't control some of the things, so we're not going to worry about them, play the guessing game or anything like that. We're just going to get ourselves ready to play, because this needs to be our best football game of the year.
On last week's game being the worst game for duke defensively:
There were some turnovers and some things, and the game of field position. When we have turned it over in our own territory, especially early, or allowed a kick return early in the football game, we've gotten behind the eight ball early, which has taken us out of our game plan. That happened Saturday. When we haven't done those things early in the football game, like at Wake Forest or Alabama, you can look at the impact that's had towards the end of the football game. We cannot come out and make those types of mistakes and put our defense in those types of situations with either a turnover on offense or special teams early in the football game. That's something we're putting a lot of effort and a lot of focus on this week, just like we have in weeks past. Like I said, those things when they happen, you just get behind and you have to change things. That's not our formula for success. There are not many teams in the country that can come out and lose the game of field position early and fall behind and fight their way back against some of the best teams in America.
On injuries against Florida State:
We lost Deonto McCormick in the first series and then we lost Leon Wright for a while there and then we lost John Talley at halftime, so Williams (WHICH WILLIAMS?) was kind of an emergency corner for us because he is also a nickel, he also plays in dime and he rotates regularly in safety. There are just not enough reps during the course of the week to get a kid ready to do three or four positions. You're lucky if you can give a second team enough reps to be ready to play, because time is so precious. I think that we're going to have Deonto back this week, and its hopeful that we'll have Leon back, because big plays occur on the perimeter and deep and certainly the secondary figures enter into both of those equations.
On John Talley:
He's fine, thank goodness he came back.
On red shirting and changing positions:
That's a good question. At this point in the year, to burn a kid's year right now with guys that we think are going to be really good players, that's not something we're going to do. We're going to make decisions for what is best for the program, not just through this year. As I said numerous times, if you look around the country, Wake Forest being a prime example of programs that have turned, a lot of it is done with large scale red shirting. College Football is a five year game at most institutions. For us, the fifth year seniors have their plan. All of them are playing the best football of their lives, and I don't think that's a coincidence.
On fights occurring after the whistle:
I think, like probably every coach in the country, we all talk about playing the game hard and going after people in the right context: after the ball is snapped before the whistle. At the same time, when the whistle blows the play is over, not putting ourselves in a position for any of those types of situations. It's just unfortunate.
On Center-Quarterback exchange: I'm not going to sit here and blame one person for that. It's certainly things that have been costly that you would not think would be happening at this point in the season. We've had coaches laying on their back looking up at the center quarterback exchange. It's not like we haven't addressed it and worked on it, but at the same time, it showed up again. Its never any one person's fault, and I'll just leave it at that.
On verbal exchanges between players:
We talk to our own players; we don't talk to the opponents. We encourage our own guys, that is what we do.
On Miami being more physically careful next week:
Football is a violent sport. I'm sure they'll be ready to play. They play physical every week and I'm sure this week will not be an exception.
On John Talley's two interceptions:
He has been making big plays for us since he's been here. I think he became the ACC career yardage interception return leader the other day, and we count on John for those types of things and expect him to continue to do that. With his first interception, we were down three scores, and it got us back in the deal. If we could have punched in before halftime, then we're talking about a ten point game at halftime, but between the last play of the first half and the first play of the second half, the game that could have been much closer on the scoreboard kind of separated a little bit.
On Duke's negative yardage:
We were engaged with who we were supposed to be engaged with, but we were getting knocked back a bit. We addressed that with the team this morning, as far as the negative yardage plays. We need to eliminate the TFLs and the sacks so we can stay on schedule offensively and stay in manageable distances. When those things happen you become a lot more predictable offensively. We've got to eliminate those, or certainly diminish them.
On the number of sacks on Duke being down:
We're doing a better job protecting. We focus so much on the timing of the throwing game, of getting the ball up and out of there and making quick decisions. I think Thaddeus has gotten better in that regard and we are protecting him better. Conversely our defense has been doing a good job with that for the season. One out of every nine plays the opponents run has been a tackle for a loss or a sack. And usually if you are one in ten, you're in good shape.
On Kickoff Coverage:
When we've kicked the ball in the field of play, other than the squid the other day, I don't think anyone has run it past the twenty two or twenty three this entire year. In that perspective we've been excellent, it's the punt coverage where we fall. There were some substitutions that were made, and we're constantly evaluating things and trying to get more speed and better coverage people. There is a fine line between the protection element, especially against a big block team like Florida State, and what happens when you get held up and you can't get out, and that puts a lot on those two gunners. If they don't win, we've got problems, but to those guys' credit,
On participation in special teams: Probably a pretty good cross-section. Ronnie Drummer was a gunner yesterday. We place a huge importance on special teams with the guys we put out there. You see Chris Davis on a lot of teams as well. It's not like we're not putting out people out there, but at the same time that is a way for some of the younger players to get some experience and guys that can run as we've recruited and increased our team speed to be able to get guys out there, but it goes back to protection and coverage. If you protect, and you don't run outside, then you've got troubles.
On Miami's recent struggles:
They're a good football team that's got great talent, great team speed and they're very aggressive. They do a great job in defense, I think they're second in the league in total defense and they're first in rushing defense, only given up fifty seven yards a game. They play field position, and they have some big play people on offense.
On the offensive performance against Florida State
"We made some big plays throughout the game. Our offensive line blocked well, the receivers caught the ball pretty well and obviously you saw what Ronnie (Drummer) can do for our offense when he's back."
On cutting down on mistakes
"We've just got to cut down on our mistakes. Those have been killing us. It seems like it's been hurting us all year long but once we get our mistakes minimized, we'll be clicking on all cylinders."
On the physicality of football
"You get frustrated all the time in games if someone holds you, someone facemasks and stuff like that. You just have to be able to control yourself so you don't hurt your team. Every play is a battle. It's you versus one guy. There's going to be tension, there's going to be frustration but it's really on you to control yourself."
On Saturday's fight between Miami and Florida International
"I'm sure everyone saw it but we're just worrying about ourselves. We have to get ourselves ready to play and we can't be concerned about another team and what they're going to be doing."
On preparing for Miami:
"Our game plan hasn't changed. As far as their personnel, we'll take a look at the younger guys stepping in there and we'll play the game just like we would if that situation hadn't happened. We're not going to focus on who's gone and who's not. They still have plenty of talented depth and they're still Miami, and we're going to prepare for them like we normally would."
On his four years at Duke:
"Coming here I was sold on turning the program around. Expectations were high; we wanted to be contending for a bowl game every year. As we take it game by game, year by year, that didn't happen and now my senior year we're not where we want to be, however, I feel like it's my job as a team leader and a captain to really keep the guys on boat. Day in and day out we have to practice hard because we still have half a season left. Like I said, we're not where we want to be but we're not going to let that affect the way we play the rest of our games."
On when he feels he became an effective player playing just four years:
"That's a tough question. I feel like I could make plays in the past but that I wasn't really an effective player until this year. Without a doubt I would want another year. Coming in as a freshman, you want to go out on the field immediately and play the ACC teams instead of being the practice guys. Now, I think another year would have been good to get bigger, and I would have this year then next year to also be a really effective player. I wouldn't trade playing with those guys that were here, though. Being on the field with those guys was something great and honestly I probably wouldn't take it back."
On the team's defensive performance versus Florida State:
"We share the blame. It's a team sport. I don't think Florida State was our worst defensive performance. I thought we executed our game plan, however, they did have some plays on us for 20 yards or more. I thought we definitely could have played better and we share that blame with the rest of the team."
On the pressure to win this weekend:
"I don't think who we're playing determines how much pressure we feel. We play every team every week with the same determination. We don't care what other people think or say. We just go out there and have a great, hard week at practice and play big on Saturday."