On recovering from off-season shoulder surgery:
It's been doing pretty well. The doctors here are great and they had me prepared to start the season on time. I've been working with the trainers all off-season and they had me pretty well-prepared for the season.
On what principles he tries to pass down to the younger players:
Togetherness, communication and not getting down yourself. If you get down on yourself, there's always another play coming up and you have to be ready for it. I try to stress to them, "do the little things," on and off the field. Everything starts with the little things – being to meetings on time, being in class, things like that, those little things that you're expected to do.
On making the switch to morning practices prior to 2006:
I think everybody's adapted pretty well. It's different because you're up early and you've go to go to sleep a little earlier, but I like it because we're done with football at 11 o'clock. Once you get your classes out of the way, the rest of the day you pretty much have to yourself, whereas we used to get up and go to class and then in the middle of the day, we practiced and then had maybe another class after that. It was just kind of a full day, whereas now I feel we have more free time.
On the defense's improvement against Virginia:
It gives everybody a little confidence, a little momentum to build off of knowing that we could be a dominant defense in the ACC. Really, when we look at our work, we all see that we can do it and what it takes to go out there and compete and keep people out of the endzone. We know we can do it and it just gives you something to build off of.
On defending Northwestern's diverse offensive attack:
The defensive backs have to stay deep and honor all of their receivers. The linebackers have to play run first and then help out the DB's on pass routes. The defensive line has to stuff the run and get to the quarterback on the pass. Everybody really has to work to help out another unit. The d-line helps the linebackers, the linebackers help the DB's. It's just about everybody helping each other.
Senior Nick Stefanow
On what he tries to teach the younger players as the veteran member of the tight end group:
"A lot of times it's how to pick up blitzes and how to line up. Little things really. Having Coach [Danny] Pearman around has really helped a lot. Last year we had Coach [Brad] Sherrod and he was from the defensive side of the ball. Coach Sherrod put me in charge of teaching the then-freshmen the small things about the position. But now Coach Pearman has really reduced my role in that way."
On what quarterbacks Thaddeus Lewis and Zack Asack bring to the offense and their similarities and difference:
"They're both playmakers and great guys. Right now Thad is our full-time guy but when Asack's in there we don't miss a step. Right now they have Asack running the ball a little more--- running some quarterback sweeps and things like that. Honestly it doesn't matter who's in there for us. Right now Thad's our guy, and when Zack's in there, he's our guy."
On what went into his decision to return for a fifth season of eligibility and how difficult that decision was:
"At the end of the North Carolina game [in 2006], I couldn't see myself not playing this season. I don't want to say it was a tough decision, but I had to find where my heart was, and my heart's here with this team and playing this season. I'm so happy I did it--- there will be no regret whatsoever and I would encourage everyone to do the same."
On the differences in his academic schedule as a graduate student in the Humanities department:
"Most grad classes here are two-and-a-half hours and meet once a week. I have a lot less class time but the work outside the classroom is much tougher. I've already read three novels and it's the third week of the school year. The academic pressure is off, however. I've already graduated and this is my last season remaining. I'm getting good grades but things like remaining eligible and graduating--- all that pressure's off and I really like that."