Blake Anderson Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson spoke with reporters following practice.

Are you content with where the playbook is right now or are you still adding plays?
"Never completely finished, I guess you would say. We're trying to continually add a little bit, but we're going to stay patient with what we got. Each week is different, each defense is different so you're just trying to fit what we like, what fits them and try to keep the package small enough where we can execute. It's just kind of a week-to-week process but we're going to stay within what we do and not get too far from that."

What impressed you most about Gio Bernard's performance on Saturday?
"Just how many opportunities they had him in one-on-one situations and how he extended plays. We knew he was a good running back, but to see him extend some plays that really they had him bottled up pretty good, to see him accelerate and separate from some guys, you kind of take that for granted a little bit. There were some opportunities they had him hemmed up pretty good and he was still able to create some plays and extend some plays and really explosive plays to go on top of that. He had a great day obviously."

Now that we're at the midpoint of the season, how would you evaluate where the offense stands?
"I think we're on schedule for where we want to be. We've reduced mistakes. We've reduced penalties in some instances. We had way too many Saturday, but some of them were what you would consider aggressive penalties, some guys playing hard, so we've eliminated the jumps and the things can really hurt you. You're going to have some aggressive penalties when guys are playing hard.

"Mental mistakes have gone down and we got guys that have stepped up that weren't necessarily stepping up in fall camp so I would have to say we're on track. Still got a long way to go. We have not arrived by any means, but we're starting to build confidence to a point where guys are expecting themselves to make places and that gives you a chance to build through the last five or six weeks."

You said you knew Bernard was a good running back, but did you know he was this good when you arrived as a staff?
"I don't know that I did. Yeah, I watched tape on him, but I don't know that I knew that he had some of the moves that he had in him. I didn't know that he maybe had the speed and the burst out in the open field and just how versatile he was to take on linebackers, run in between the tackles, run out in space, catch the ball. I don't know that you really know until you get in a position where they can really actually tackle him. A lot of practice stuff is early whistles and he has a knack for making guys miss and extending a play that should be over. I'm not sure that I really knew exactly how good he was to be honest with you."

Does Bernard alleviate your stress when you call plays?
"It's a great comfort level to know that if they add a guy to the box or if he ends up in a on-on-one situation that he's going to win a lot of those battles. It's definitely a comfort level as a play caller and not just him, but also to know that you got an o-line that is starting to gel and starting to run the ball well. That's a big comfort level too to know that any down and distance is a possibility to run the ball and move the chains. Those guys combined give you a level of comfort that you don't have a lot of places."

Miami has struggled to stop the run this season. Do you enter a game against an opponent like that determined to run on them or is it all about how the game itself progresses?
"We want to establish the run regardless. We always do. We're going to run the ball, but the flow of the game dictates a lot of where you go once you get into the game. We like to be balanced and we have been all year. We were running the ball better Saturday than we anticipated going in so we lent ourselves a little more towards the run, but you go in every week wanting to stay balanced meaning not so much 50-50, but use whatever is working to win. Saturday it was running [and] there have been a couple games we had to throw the ball more...

"I expect they are going to fill some holes and fill some gaps that they've struggled with and we're going to get the very best effort they got so we just got to come in there and play mistake free football and not turn the ball over."

Why have teams had success against Miami running the ball?
"I think Notre Dame has some speed. They were able to get out on the edge. Based off the film I've watched so far it's hard to say to be honest with you. They've got talent. You see skill level. I don't know if they've had confusion or if they're not as deep as they want to be. It's hard to say, but obviously the numbers show that people have moved the ball on them, but if you look at person-by-person you know they got talent. I expect that we go in and it's going to be hard to move the ball and we're going to have to play great to beat them."

Gio has never played in front of his brother and father in college. Do you feel like that will have any impact on him?
"I would think it would make an impact on anybody to some degree, but he's a levelheaded guy. He's experienced. I don't think he lets a whole lot get him too riled up one way or the other. He's always ready to play and in terms of energy level, it's always high, but playing in front of your family, if you haven't had a chance to do that, I would think that would give everybody a little added boost. Whether or not that makes him nervous, I don't know. I hope not, but if it does we'll do our best to help settle him down."

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