I'm excited to get a conference win.
As we look back on the game, Wake Forest is a good football team that's got a lot better. The challenge coming into the game with their rushing defense only giving up 88 yards per game, to be able to get 200 yards on them I think says a lot.
Defensively, they were averaging 200 yards per game rushing, and to hold them to 69 yards... I thought our redzone defense and offense was key to the game.
To not turn the ball over against a team that's made a living on takeaways was very positive. Defensively we had our hands on two balls in the air and on the ground, and we have to come up with those balls obviously, but I thought we protected the ball really well.
On third down we were successful on both sides of the ball, over 50% on offense and 70% on defense. We were very successful on first down... offensively averaging close to 7 yards per first down and defense holding them to three yards on first down. Those things relate with each other.
Special teams wise, A.J. continues to punt the ball well so we can cover it. Kyle Bambard had a very nice game other than the extra point himself with the two field goals and the way he kicked off, i thought his ball placement and hang-time was excellent.
We're excited to play Notre Dame at home... we're playing a football team that has a lot of really good personnel. Offensively they are scoring a ton of points... averaging nearly 40 points per game, 500 yards and probably the best offensive line that we'll see all season. They have a great offensive line. They are tough, big
They do a lot of things offensively. There is a lot of max protection deep shots down the field... the the quarterback-run game... they have weapons on offense. They can score, they score fast, and if they want to make it a deal where they are running the football they have big backs.
It's a really good test defensively going against their offense with Kizer at quarterback.
Defensively, they've got big, big guys inside. They have a really big, thick defensive line and several players that play and rotate at linebacker. No. 17, James, is a really good linebacker who is very versatile. They use him in their blitz packages, he can play in space or the box.
We really don't have a true sense, are they going to be more like early in the year or Syracuse... Syracuse is kind of a special opponent offensively because they are different than most teams. Are they going to play more press coverage like early in the year or soft coverage like they did last week? We'll have to make adjustments during the game because of that.
Offensively, we'll have our plan and have to execute against multiple looks and do a good job of adjusting in case they are different than they have been.
Was Notre Dame football something you admired growing up?
When I was a kid growing up, that's when they were probably in their heyday with Lou Holtz. I grew up in a Catholic community and went to Catholic school so it's a school we looked at. I cheered for Nebraska... when I was growing up that was kind of my team.
Notre Dame was always somebody that was around us and people talked about. I played against them when I was at USC, that was a rivalry game for us. For us to beat anybody regardless of what they used to be, what they are now, how many stars they have, what their preseason rankings are, we have to control what we can control. That's all we'll talk about with our players.
The history of that program has nothing to do with what's going to happen on Saturday. That's what we have to understand and control.
How do you feel about the matchup with their offensive skill and the progress you've made since ECU?
It's a tough matchup regardless of the progress we've made. They have some really good players at receiver and a huge offensive line with two All-Americans... one of the best offensive tackles in college football, if not the best.
We have got better, but we'll have to play our very best football. There is no doubt. He's only been sacked twice, and they throw the ball down the field. Their leading receiver is averaging 21 yards per catch with six touchdowns and he's 6'5. He's a great player.
We have to go up and make plays on the ball, beat blocks one-on-one. Size-wise, the quarterback is like Jacoby Brissett was last year. He's a big kid. He's 6-4, 230 and he's not easy to get down.
They are good on offense. They've played some good teams and still have good statistics. We have to match up and play with good fundamentals.
How will you handle the strong safety position?
Jarius Morehead has played a lot for us this year and I'm glad he's got the reps he has, not just on special teams, but he's been on defense the last two games.
Now that Dexter is back, we'll have to train Dexter to play both spots and see how he comes along. He was looking really good at free safety in camp, but he hasn't played strong safety so we'll.
Hopefully we can get through the half without doing much more than that. We have Tim Glass playing and rotating as well where he can play both spots. Hopefully Jarius will seize the moment and I know Dexter will mentally be able to handle it. With all the stuff Notre Dame does on offense, and they do a lot.
Thoughts on the 50th anniversary... diamond logo...
I'm very honored to be a part of it. Every game is a chance to be a part of history... wearing a uniform that coach Sheridan put together, and he's as well-thought of as any coach that has ever been here on the football staff. For me, to be out there with that uniform from him means a lot.
For our players, they'll feel it on gameday. I think their focus will be on what they can do during the week.
I'm sure there were some tough Sundays last year for Josh Jones. How happy were you for him?
The last two games he's been one of the players of the game on defense. He's playing fast, he's triggering, he's trusting what he sees. He's making the kind of plays he's capable of making; not that he's perfect, there's a lot of things he knows he can do better and he's working to do better, but he's making a lot of progress.
We're happy for him, and I know he'll continue to work.
Have you heard back from the ACC on the chop block issue and how do you fix the penalty problem?
I've sent all the calls in to them and I'm waiting for a response. I haven't got one yet.
As far as fixing them, it's been talked about. Some of the plays that were real can't happen and all the players understand that. We have to make better choices. Some of the plays happen every play that don't get called and for whatever reason they did. That's the way it goes. Like I told them, we don't make decisions on when they call them, we just know what we can and can't do and we have to make sure we do a great job of handling everything the right way.
Do you think the targeting calls have become like the block/charge call in college basketball where it's tough to differentiate?
The hard part is... I understand why it's there, it's to protect the players and I'm all for that, but there's different forms of these plays. There are those where a guy will literally spear somebody with his head down and it's like he's trying to hurt him. I agree with that ejection and that penalty. On Shawn's play, both players had his head down and both hit each other with their heads. I don't think he was trying to hurt the player at all.
The hard part is there's no variance in the rule. When one is more of a personal, unsportsmanlike hit and the other is a technical thing you can't do because of safety.
That's the teachable moment for our team... Shawn could have hit face-up and he didn't. That's the hard part.
Everyone understands it... you can have that penalty on the last play of the game and you're out for the first half. You can have it on the first play of the second half and you're out for the first half. I guess it is what it is.
Duke beating Notre Dame changes the perception of Notre Dame. On the inside do you need to explain to your guys that those results are independent?
Yes, if you watch college football you'll see every team is beatable. You can go through this team beat this team.
All we know is if we beat ourselves, we can lose to everybody. If we don't beat ourselves, we can beat anybody. That's our focus. Let's put the cleanest version of ourselves on the field, let's execute at the highest level that we can, and play physical football. Let the chips fall, but let's not beat ourselves. I think that's the key of playing anyone on our schedule moving forward.
With the loss to Duke, do you use that as an example that everyone is beatable?
What I pointed to, like I said, all the games. There's a lineage of games this year. Wake beat Duke, Duke beat Notre Dame. Indiana lost to Wake and Indiana beat Michigan State, but Michigan State beat Notre Dame. There's all kinds of games.
All that says to me is if you don't beat yourself and you get into a game with a good team, you can win. Period. I don't think you can say because this team beat that team we can beat that team. We have to earn the right to beat that team. All I know is we won't beat anybody if we beat ourselves. All those are examples of those things.
There's too many good players in college football right now. You have to show up and do your job every week.
With the defense, it seems like you did some different things defensively. It seems you are improving on the defensive side sine ECU. Do you feel that way?
I think we have got better as a team since that game. There were a lot of plays in that game in all three phases that cost us that game.
There are different things we do against every opponent because their offense is different than the last opponent's was. When you back and look at the plays we made versus those we have, people say it's the call.
It's not the call. It's the execution of the call. I don't care what we play run, if we execute it right, it's going to be a good play. Coach Hux called a couple of good blitzes at good times on Saturday and they came free and we executed. There was another one where we came free and didn't make the tackle, and the guy scrambled for 32 yards. That was a great blitz, a great call, but we didn't execute it. The quarterback made a great play, so was that a bad call? No, we didn't do our job. We have to execute and finish the play.
I do think Josh is a good blitzer. Hopefully we can find other ways to use him that way but we'll see. A lot of it depends on what we're defending.
Kelvin Harmon had a coming-out party on Saturday. What does he bring? It seems like the sky is the limit for him.
It could be. As long as he prepares the right way, practices the right way, stays humble, and understands what he has to do, he has great ability.
The last two weeks he practiced well, and he'll tell you he didn't do that before the ECU game. I think he's learned what works and what doesn't, and he has to stay true to that.
A lot of our players understand that their final product will represent the body of work they had that week. With most guys it will be like that, and he's one of them.
He's really, really fun to coach because he shows up with great attitude, he works really hard, and he wants to be coached.