Yes and Yes. What's the point in me saying no? It's going to be a very intense game. If you've never been around it, you have no idea of how intense it's going to be.
This season you were so close to being successful, but you were not. How would you address this season?
All I can do is relate to my past experiences. When Bo Rein became the head coach here we had went to four bowls under Lou Holtz and then we had a year that set us back. We'd go to three or four straight bowls after that year. The first year Bobby was at Florida State they were 8-3 and wanted a bigger bowl. I was here and we thought we'd be playing Florida State in the Tangerine Bowl, but they wanted a bigger bowl and was shutout. Then they went to a few bowls and the Orange Bowl, and then then went a year or two without going to a bowl... after playing in the Orange Bowl. Sometimes that can happen.
I'm so excited about the future of this place, and my expectations are not going to change. I can't wait to talk with the boosters in the spring. I can't wait, I really can't. They said I talked long before and now I'll talk even longer.
Here's why I feel good. We have a team that for ten games is leading the country in total defense. The position that helps you win that, they are going to be back and are just scratching the surface. If we can play 80% next year defensively like we did last year we're on the right track.
I read an article where Urban Meyer said to have a great year you have to have luck, the schedule has to be right, good chemistry, and you've got to stay injury-free. Maybe we've got through that.
We said we couldn't get badly injured in the offensive line, and we did it this year. Go back through the statistics when that line was together and see how Jay did. When I look at those and see what he did, I'm excited.
Are you comfortable with the future quarterback situation and do you think Jay has got over the hump?
Yes, really. You go back and do the stats. I'm not going to give it to you. When the line was intact, and T.A. McLendon was healthy. Check what the stats were like. You guys came in here saying he's got over the hump. Then it's bang, bang, bang. Do you think it was about him?
We're going to be a year older and we're going to expect more from everybody.
Thoughts on the kicking game:
If we win the kicking game in every game we play, no matter what, we win. If we really win the kicking game. It's an area that goes unnoticed until someone blocks a punt or run a kickoff back for a touchdown that's kicked six yards deep in the endzone with a 4.7 hangtime.
Why didn't you kick the ball off to Florida State in the second half? If we'd have done that and they run it back for a touchdown we'd be called a bunch of dummies. Kicking the ball off there is like a turnover. That's one less time we have the football. We talked about it, but what kind of message would that send to the offense?
Is there a chance T.A. may go pro after the season?
I don't know. Do you think so? Do you think he'd be smart to go pro?
I'm close to T.A., and we've discussed this many, many times. I've heard it through the grapevine that when people call him he says call coach Amato and then they don't.
I don't think he's ready... to maximize himself. You know what I'm talking about. Why cut yourself short when you have that kind of ability if you can show it to them for a 12-game stretch?
Did Derek Morris practice last week?
No. He's actually scheduled to do some practice today.
The foot is actually better than it was four days before the Florida State game.
How about your staff, people have been pretty hard on Noel Mazzone. Do you have full confidence that everybody should be back after this year?
I hope so. You have to ask them that. You're asking the wrong guy.
Would you want them back?
Absolutely. They are the same people that had 440 yards of total offense against Miami. Absolutely.
They say a quarterback takes the blame for a poor offense. Do coordinators do that too?
I didn't realize he was taking that much [heat]. I read three newspapers every morning, one's a national and two are local. Where is he taking heat? Over the internet? Internet talk? Who are they talking to? Each other? I'm asking because I don't know.
We've got a good staff. It's very knowledgeable.
You'd have to ask them. I'm hoping they all come back because continuity is so important.
What is your biggest concern about this game?
My biggest concern about East Carolina is East Carolina. The fact that they are playing NC State for the first time in five or six years. The fact that it's the last game for their coach, who I really, really like.
They play hard, and they don't quit. It's one of those rivals, and you can forget the records and everything else.
Are you going to evaluate more people this week since you don't have that extra month of practice?
We've got to go out and win a football game. I can imagine coming in here and saying we lost but we played 35 kids to see what they look like. We've got to put our best football players on the field. First and foremost is doing everything possible to win the football game.
Did you watch any of the Clemson-South Carolina fight and did you have any thoughts of it?
How could you not have seen it if you were watching television? Oh yea, there was a fight in the NBA that caused that fight. That's why there were about twenty or something fights on Saturday because they all watched that one.
It's not the way football is suppose to be played, and I know Tommy Bowden and Lou Holtz know that.
Can you imagine with all that was going on and coach Holtz was in there pushing kids around and back to where they were suppose to be. That tells you something about that guy.