"There's a couple of things that go along with punt protection and coverage. We've been pretty good at coverage this year. I think what we call our elephant punt is important for us covering the field. It's helped us this year. What we didn't do good last week is we didn't do good in the shield – the big guys in the back. We didn't get in the right spots and where we needed to be. We fixed that this week. We've worked on that an awful lot this week and hopefully we'll be better at it on Saturday."
On the injury situation:
"We came out pretty good in the game and hopefully we can continue that trend the rest of the year."
On Gio Bernard's ankle injury:
"He's doing fine. He practiced this week. He hasn't had any issues. He's a tough young man and he came back and continued to play. I was proud of him."
On A.J. Blue:
"A.J. gives us so much in our offense. Special teams, offense, everything that he does. He adds another dimension that we don't have when he's out… He can play tailback, he can play fullback, he can line up at quarterback – you can do so many things with him. When he's in the game, you have to account for him wherever he is. That's tough on a defense."
On Zach Brown:
‘Zach is one of those guys, athletically, that looks the way you're supposed to look at linebacker. He runs as fast as any running back on our team. Zach has grown into being a very technique-sound and understanding-the-game-type linebacker. That's why he's making so many plays because he knows exactly where to be. He blitzes well. [Against Wake Forest] he blitzed the quarterback, stripped him and recovered the fumble, all at once. That's just a guy growing up, being mature and learning the position."
Has there been discussion about moving back to a more traditional punt protection formation?
"No. No, we like it. We'll fix it. It gives us excellent coverage. It's our first full year in it. We've really worked through a lot of kinks in it, but we think it gives us the best matchup when we're in the elephant punt."
On Thomas Moore replacing Trase Jones on kickoffs:
"It really wasn't a major switch. We just wanted to be able to kick the ball with a little bit more depth and hang time and be able to let our coverage get down the field. Thomas has done that pretty well the last two or three weeks in practice, so we decided we wanted to use Thomas and he did a really nice job. Now, there are some times when he had some short kicks when we were into the wind, but for the most part, Thomas has done an excellent job for us."
How do you harness the emotions of the players in this type of rivalry game?
"Well, a lot of these kids know each other. They played against each other in high school, so there is that natural competitiveness and rivalry. I think the biggest issue is knowing the mission when you go into the game and knowing what can cost you and cost your team. We try to really emphasize that in practice throughout the year and especially in these kinds of games that one play can make the difference. I think the biggest thing is at the end of the game, have you done everything that you need to do to help your team win the game? And we talk about that all of the time."
On the rivalry with N.C. State:
"We've talked about it being an important game because it's one of the state championship games. We've talked about winning this state. It is what we call the semifinals. It's important for us for a lot of reasons – recruiting, the fact that we are the University of North Carolina – and I think that's important. A guy told me a long time ago, you want to go to a school and you want to coach at a school that has ‘The' in front of it… It is a rivalry. It's good for college football, it's good for college athletics, so why not have it, enjoy it and try to win it."
'Everett Withers Live' airs Wednesday evenings on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates.