I thought our guys rebounded and had a great week of practice. Our practice showed up in the performance. I thought we played well in a lot of areas that we didn't the week before, and until late in the game, we had 33 yards rushing on the other side of the ball and held a really good back to under 20 yards. On offense, continued to be efficient in the passing game, 24, 28, and a lot of guys touched it. I think 14 different guys touched the football, and our coverage unit and kickoff both performed very well.
Had a penalty on a punt return for a touchdown that was very disappointing because that was a point of emphasis in the entire game, and we did clean that area up quite a bit. We didn't have a single defensive penalty. But that one was a killer, true freshman making it, so a teachable moment, but hopefully we can continue to improve upon.
Bye week comes at a good time to get a few guys back. Nyheim Hines was injured in a previous game, and we held him, and looks like we'll have him back for this game. He's going to practice on Sunday and should be back full tilt by then.
Aaron Wiltz, who's a reserve offensive lineman, is coming back to the practices now, and he's a guy that we thought last year could be a starter this year. Really excited to gain some depth back on the O-line when he returns to practice tomorrow.
Other than that, just looking forward to getting into the preparation for ACC play when we start that.
How much of this first week is devoted to preparation for Wake Forest, and how much of it is going back to fundamentals or working on more general stuff?
We Sunday talked about that. Today was the first day where we actually started working on Wake. We spent the last three days as a staff self-scouting ourselves, creating write-ups in lockers, video lockers on every player so he could look at what he's done well and what he needs to improve on, and then looking at ourselves schematically, what tendencies do we have, what looks are we consistent in where we need to have some change-ups, and what areas need improvement, and why do they need improvement.
Is it scheme, is it personnel. If it is personnel, what can we do to help that player, or is there someone else that needs to get in the game more.
All those things happened Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and then today we still did some good versus good work where our defense against our offense so we could get good speed against each other, and the last half of practice was starting to teach the Wake game plan.
And the other thing that's kind of off the subject, but your quarterback last year Jacoby Brissett is going to be starting or good chance will be starting for the New England Patriots this week. Have you been in contact with him, and have you talked to him about what's going on up there?
Yeah, I reached out to him as soon as I heard that he was in the game last week and congratulated him on finishing the game with a win and told him that I knew he would seize the moment if they named him the starter, and if looks like they have. I know how Jacoby is. When he gets into that mode he's not going to be real talkative. He responded and I know he's excited. I know he's doing everything he can to go out there and execute the game plan that they're putting together for him.
I know he'll be like he was here. His best games for us were in his biggest games, so I know he'll do well.
You mentioned postgame Saturday that there were some things said about you and the football team after that ECU loss. What do you think that scrutiny has done for this team going forward?
You know, I think what it does, any time you have shared adversity, you can look at it and get down on yourself and get disappointed, or you can use it as motivation and create more unity, and that's what we've chosen to do. I think any time you have adversity, you have an opportunity, and that's how I look at things. I'm trying to take the positive approach, and I understand the business and understand how things work in the media, and they've got to choose what they write.
All I can do is choose how I react, and we're going to react in a positive way and build our program the way we would regardless of what they say.
Jalan comes in here, gets a few touchdowns and he has another later in the game, are we going to see him more going forward?
That was a successful package that we would like to build on. Obviously you've got to get the ball down there to see him more, but it's a package that we're excited about, and he executed it well, and there's a lot of plays that we can run that we haven't shown yet, so we'll just see where it goes.
But it's definitely something that could go. Again, that comes down to how much you get down to those yard lines where it's needed.
I know you just spoke on Jalan McClendon, but what you can say about Ryan Finley and Jalan, how they play off each other, how they're helping each other, and utilizing them to obviously their best attributes moving forward.
Well, the one thing I like is how they treat each other, first of all. They really respect each other. They pull for each other. They're team guys. Jalan could have handled being the second quarterback in a negative way, and he did the opposite. He's actually increased his energy level, and because of that, he's created opportunities for himself to get in the game, and he took advantage of them.
Ryan is playing at a high level. He's operating the offense. He's executing the game plan. He's throwing catchable balls on time, and his completion rate has been outstanding. Two of them together, you know, it helps because those runs Jalan is a little bit better at, and the play actions that come off of them, and it's somewhat of a wildcat, but at the same time, Jalan can operate our offense. So you can't just pack them all in there and think he won't throw because he's got a good arm.
And as far as what you said about Jalan and his attitude, how he reacted to things, he could have gone negative but he didn't. Obviously he has to have the talent, but as a coach what he's showed you and how he handled the plays you put him in, did that ultimately kind of keep him in the back of your mind that you had to find a place for him?
We've always wanted to get him in the game. I mean, I said that from the start, that he's not going to get better if he doesn't get reps in a game. We created a package where if we got down there, we had to put him in because it's what we wanted to do in the red zone. Like I said before, it's something that could grow. I mean, I would love to see him get in there a series or two without being in the red zone, and he's got to manage the offense well enough in practice.
The problem we have for him is Ryan is so efficient right now that you just don't want to go out there and lose what you've got. You know what I mean? The more he can continue to be successful on game day, the more opportunities I think he'll create for himself as the season grows, and if Ryan would have an injury, it's going to make him a better player.
Just out of curiosity, what do you do with your Saturday when you don't have a game to coach?
Well, I'm going to recruit on Friday, and so this Saturday I won't get home until probably 1:00 in the morning or something Friday night. I'll get up and have breakfast with my wife and kids, and then one of my sons has a game, a little league football game I'm going to go to. It'll be the only one I get to see this year. Got to take advantage of that opportunity, and then probably watch some college football when it's over.