On the impact of the upcoming game against North Carolina:
"It's always a big week. Any time you have the proximity that these two schools have, it's going to be a game that stays with you throughout the year. Whether it's in the supermarket or the dry cleaners, Duke and Carolina fans always run into each other. It's a big game."
On his outlook for the 2008 season:
"I think if you look at the overall maturity of our football team, we'll have 16 or 17 starters coming back and a third-year quarterback that's been through the battles. Some of the kids who were highly recruited, especially offensive linemen, have had the chance to develop the strength and maturity that it takes to play on the offensive line. We'll also have a young man, Tielor Robinson, back for his sixth year. Going into the season, I had our coaches rank our top-22 football players and Tielor was in the top-two or three in everybody's poll. We've gone from being a bad football team to being a competitive football team most of the time, and you don't just go from bad to winning. You go from bad, to being competitive to winning. We've taken a step to being competitive, and we've got to take the next step to win. A win this Saturday would certainly be a big building block and a springboard going into the offseason."
On the progress the Blue Devils have made this season:
"You look at the teams that we've played and they're certainly a good, explosive bunch of teams that are doing it to a lot of people. Sometimes progress gets lost in that. Have we made the progress that I hoped we'd make? No, but thank goodness we have another opportunity."
On the overall improvement of Duke's athleticism in his tenure as head coach:
"It's very hard because it's a very competitive business. I think it's gotten better, a good bit better, but so has the league. Is it to where we want it to be? Of course not, we've got a lot of work left to do. But is it better than it was? Yes, certainly."
On how the 2007 season has turned out:
"I said last year that this would be our best football team, but the record might not show it. I think that's accurate, but certainly as many games that have come down to the last possession where it's just a couple plays here and there, it's frustrating. What makes it frustrating is those kids who put so much into it. If they haven't committed themselves to going all in, it wouldn't be frustrating, but when you invest yourself physically, mentally and emotionally and don't get what you want at the end of the day, it is frustrating. We can't change what's happened in previous weeks. All we can do is put everything we have into this week and see if we can get that good feeling at the end of the day on Saturday."
On how the Duke-North Carolina rivalry is viewed from a players' perspective:
"It's for bragging rights. It's about all the teams in The Triangle, and you want to go out there and beat those guys." On how two close losses to North Carolina have motivated the team this week:
"It's pushed us to give that extra effort in practice. We've been stressing that all year. You have to play 60 minutes, and of course, going into this game, it's going to be 60 tough minutes. We want to do it between the whistles and try not to get any stupid penalties to hinder us. We want to play hard though the stretch and make sure we stay focused."
On the upcoming rivalry game against North Carolina:
"It's always a big game for us. For a lot of us seniors, we haven't beaten them and this is going to be the last chance for us to go into this rivalry and come out with a win. That adds a little extra incentive. The way this season has gone for us, and them as well I'm sure, you want to finish strong with a win. Being in this community, as close as these two school are, it's going to be one of those games where you're going to hear about it for the next 364 days until you line up and play them again."
On whether last year's 45-44 loss to UNC has given the team any extra motivation this year:
"It's hard to look back at last year and try and find extra motivation, but it just goes to show you that no matter where you are in the season and how your season has gone, it's always going to be a close, hard-fought game between these two schools. You just have to know that you're going to have to go out there and fight for at least 60 minutes, if not longer."
On how the offensive line is planning to keep North Carolina defensive end Hilee Taylor in check:
"It's actually not just the defensive end, because they've got two fantastic defensive tackles as well and guys behind him that are probably just as good. They've got a real great defensive front, so for us up front, it's just going to be communicating and execution, making sure we're where we need to be, blocking who we need to block and that we're talking the whole time before the snap."