Teleconference: Amato Discusses EKU Win

Wolfpack head coach Chuck Amato talked with the media today via teleconference and here is a sampler of what he had to say.

Can you talk a little about the decision to start Toney Baker?
It was just something that happened. It was something that was a last minute decision.

How about Jay Davis... what are your thoughts on his performance?
We have been saying all along [that] Jay played a lot better last year than people think and perception has it and everything else, especially earlier in the season when T.A. [McLendon] was healthy and the offensive line was healthy. In the spring and fall, he has been really a leader and his confidence is so high. He made some really outstanding plays yesterday, and we've got to keep him healthy and keep being able to run the football some.

What is the status of Derek Morris and Dwayne Herndon?
I haven't got the official report yet, but it's probably going to be a day-by-day thing.

At one point did you turn your attention to the North Carolina game, and how much do you focus on what happened at the end of last year's game?
The end of what game? That's history, we don't talk about that stuff. That's behind us. That's yesterday's story, and we started working on North Carolina today.

How important is to pace your team to make sure they play the game Saturday instead of Tuesday or Wednesday?
You can be rest assured most college football teams won't play that game Tuesday or Wednesday. Everybody... both teams know what is at stake. Some of these kids played against each other in high school. They've played against each other in college, and they know when it's time to get ready to play. Both teams, I'm sure are going to be sky-high on Saturday when the time counts.

Kalani Heppe got the start at left guard over McKeon. Was that performance?
A little premonition.

How do you analyze the special teams after a couple of games?
I think it has been real good for us. We had bad plays in the first game of the year in the kicking game, but I thought the kicking game was the reason the rout happened.

On the opening kickoff you have a senior linebacker go downfield and have the biggest hit of the game and maybe the biggest hit in that stadium in the last two or three years. A fumble, we we get the ball at the 14 and we score. We blocked a punt and we scored. We ran a punt back... we had good field position when we returned kickoffs.

Our kickoff coverage was outstanding. The deepest position they started was when Deraney kicked them out of the endzone... they started on the 20. The returnable kicks, they all started inside the 20. Deraney, his punting was good, his kickoffs were good, and knock on wood his field goals were good, but we didn't like the fact that we had an extra point blocked.

Was T.A. [McLendon] in the endzone on that last play?
Come on now, we are not going to talk about it. What do you think?

Do you have a favorite moment from this rivalry when you were playing?
Even back in the ancient times when I was playing it was a big game. I can remember coming to school here, and we were on the freshman team. We took a bus over there, and we stood out like sore thumbs... ten kids from up north had blue jeans and sweatshirts and everybody else had ties on.

But, you could feel the intensity in the stadium in that game. There were some outstanding players in it. Ken Willard, Eddie Kessler... two running backs that both played in the NFL. Both teams went to bowls, I think one went to the Gator and one went to the Liberty Bowl. How can it not be a rivalry? We're 20 miles apart.

You said it was a last minute decision to start Toney. What was it that swung that?
Me... it's really not that big of a thing, to be honest with you. I just finally wanted to start him.

Did you see enough good things out of Toney to start him again on Saturday?
Who knows? We'll let you know as the week goes on.

Could you evaluate how Toney played?
Really kind of good. He's being doing this on and off in practices and scrimmages. It's all a matter of time with some of these young running backs, getting comfortable with the terminology and playing well again without the ball. With the ball in their hands they are all really good... especially if they hold on to it.

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