Just excited to be in rivalry week and play against our rival at their place, a great 104-game rivalry, like you mentioned, just 30 minutes away from each other. Both teams at six wins, fighting to earn their seventh.
Excited for our guys. It's been a good week of practice, and to have Thanksgiving and to be able to celebrate that with each other in such a big game, and have a chance with the bye week to get a couple of guys back from injuries. So look forward to the opportunity.
When you look at this game and knowing the fact that you've already reached enough to be Bowl eligible but still to have this rivalry type game against North Carolina, just what this game means to you on the field and what you talk about kind of around your guys and keeping them focused knowing that you have enough wins to move forward into that extra game.
It's really not a matter of getting them to focus. They've had a great look to them. They came in ready to work every practice, every meeting. They've had good focus and attention. You really don't have to worry about, hey, we got to six, we can relax. I mean, it's rivalry week, 30 minutes apart.
It means a lot for either school in a matchup like this, not just because of the bragging rights and how close you are to each other, but the recruiting. We go against each other on a lot of players, and obviously, because how long this game's gone back, there's a lot of alumni. They're fired up for it, and they look forward to this game year round. I know our players and coaches do as well.
And as far as Coach Fedora, what can you say about what he's done in this rivalry that you have here today? Obviously, goes back into history for a very long time, but for yourself and Coach Fedora in the here and now, what can you say about him? And what's the team you feel like you go up against when Larry is right there calling the shots, calling the plays out there?
He's a great offensive coach. They do a lot of good things offensively. There's a quarterback that's running the system extremely well, good runner, good thrower, has good weapons for them. They play a good tempo, and they're sound on their special teams. He's a good recruiter. In a game like this, I know he'll have his guys ready to play. You saw that last week with Duke.
That's another rivalry game for them, and he had his team ready to play.
Like both teams, we're going to go out there and give each other our best shot.
Coach, last year your quarterback position was in such a state of flux and in change. What has it meant to have a guy like Jacoby Brissett that you just plug in and has played consistently for you all year?
Well, consistency is the key. You can build on things, and you can find growth at the position. They're not going to always play the best games that they can play, but they're going to be able to learn from their mistakes when they're in there every week and start to build continuity within your system and build off the things and not feel like you're having to start over with a new guy in there at times.
He does a lot of things well for us, and you can see throughout the year he's learned how to manage the game better. He's such a great competitor, and he's given us a huge lift, just the way he prepares, manages, and works with the offensive kids on the team. He's a really good leader in that locker room for them.
The other thing was how much he has improved since the first of the season.
Well, he started out statistically really hot, and I think our run game has come on and been a steady force throughout the season for us. I think the biggest improvements you see with Jacoby is just his game management and not feeling like he has to make the most miraculous play on every play knowing that the next play can be a big one. Sometimes the defense does a good job, and you've just got to get us to the next down.
He does a great job of extending plays with his feet. He's done that all year. And just continuing to take care of the football. He's worked really hard these last two weeks on his deep throws and excited about how that's looked in practice the last couple of weeks.
Coach, I did have one question for you. I know that the team is showing marked improvement this year. Are there one or two areas that you would point to that you've been happy with the improvement from a year ago?
Yeah, there's several. Just not beating ourselves as much. We're a plus three turnover margin. We're the top three in the league in least penalized team. We're playing good red zone offense and red zone defense. All four of those areas have allowed us to be a better, more consistent football team.
The games where we have taken care of the ball, we've done extremely well. It's been a huge formula for us.