"[NC] State week ... It is always an exciting week -- we hope we can make it exciting. They are an awfully good football team.
"But I'm going to begin by stating something that you probably already know a little about. Sunday morning we were all very deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Jason Brown's brother Lunsford, who was fatally wounded over in Iraq from what I understand outside of a prison near Baghdad. I spent the day with Jason and his family up there along with Corey Holliday. Today he returned and he wants to get on with his business at hand this week with his second family, Carolina football.
"We are looking forward to having him back with us. He is a great young man. He represents everything that Carolina is all about. He is very, very bright, a great student, great family. It is just tragic. We will have him at practice today and we will be waiting for some of the other details to come in relative to his brother and the other arrangements.
"Quickly going back to last week, once again I think that our football team made some progress last week. That's good. We fought to the very end. It was obvious that we weren't going to cash it in, or there were people asking me at the end of the game why were we still trying to score. That's what we are trying to do. We are trying to score, we are trying to get better on every single play. It is important to us to try and get better on every single play if we can. That is why we called timeouts and that's why I was proud of the defense for hanging in there after the interception to force them to kick a field goal. That's big for us right now. That is important for us right now. And then for us to go down and score at the very end, that's important for us right now. And that is the way it is.
"This is a huge game for us. We are playing a fine team, playing a fine team over in Raleigh. Last time we went over there, we probably had the biggest win for me personally and for maybe us as a program, when we were able to go over there and beat a fine team in Raleigh. Of course we had five guys that went to the NFL. Three guys that start in the NFL on that defense. They have got an outstanding quarterback. They have speed that everybody dreams about. We are going to have to play extremely, extremely well. Much better than we have, in order to slow them down some.
"We have to play a great game on offense, we know that. We've got to score points, particularly when we get in the red zone. When we get in that scoring zone, and it's first and goal on the four, we have got to score points.
"We have had some players that have played well. Jarwarski Pollock's played well. Michael Waddell has done a great job on returns. Dexter Reid leading the ACC in tackling, had his best game of the year up there at Wisconsin. Mahlon Carey played very well, with the exception of a couple of plays. He's coming along, I think the guy is going to be a really great player. Brandon Russell is having his best year here as a senior and he made a big catch down on our sideline on the deep-over route. We are all in this together, we are going to keep playing hard. We are going to keep trying to get better each week. We better be a lot better if we expect to play with N.C. State.
Q: Bobby Blizzard, has he gotten better?
A: "I saw Bobby late Sunday afternoon and he had a smile on his face, which is good. Obviously he was concerned about Jason, but I saw him smile and that's good. It is my understanding today that he will go out on the practice field. He will go out in light equipment. He will put a helmet on for the first time in a long, long time. He will participate in some of the individual drills as we start practice. That will probably be the extent of it and we will see how he feels after that."
Q: Talk a little about N.C. State's talent level under Chuck Amato and their team speed.
A: "Well they do have tremendous team speed. Their skill positions are as good as we have faced. They're as good skill-wise as Florida State's wide receivers. The difference there is that as much as I thought Rix was a very good quarterback, Rivers is as good as I have seen since I have been back in the college game. I said that three years ago, when we played him. I think he's tremendous and a great talent. All he has done is get better and better because he is so experienced and it is obvious that he prepares extremely well for every game. He seldom takes a sack, he doesn't very often get hit. The ball comes out fast, he knows where everyone is. What they have done with formations and shifts and motions, it can really frenzy your defense. It can really stretch your defense in terms of just trying to get your guys lined up and then trying to cover guys that can really run."
Q: With your experience in the pros, do you think Phillip Rivers is an NFL quarterback?
A: "Oh I think so. I really do. I said that two years ago and a couple of my scout buddies stropped me and said I was wrong. But that guy is extremely productive. The Ohio State game, you guys saw it. That was as good as I have ever seen. He was rifling that ball in there. They had no chance."
Q: What has Mahlon Carey done to get better in the past two games?
A: "Well, number one, we are sticking with him. He is a talented kid. He is a great kid, another kid from a great family down in Atlanta, Georgia. He has got speed, he has got size and he is a very good tackler. And I said from day one, when this training camp started, we have got to find safeties who can tackle. They are going to have to do that. We are not going to be able to make them all up front. Where he has gotten better over the past two weeks is that he has studied very hard, he is taking it more seriously."
Q: Are there any changes in the lineup?
A: "Two things come in my mind right away. We believe Lionell Green will start for us at corner and I need to get Chris Hawkins back on the field. Chris Hawkins had a very fine camp until towards the end when he wore down some. He and I have talked about that and I kind of wish I would have put him in there, in the game, to give DJ (Derrick Johnson) a break. Sometimes things start to go bad and sometimes they get better. I am going to stick by players to see if they can get better, but they didn't get better, they got worse. I feel bad for him. He is a heck of a kid, he has done a lot of fine things for us, but more than likely we will start Lionell and DJ will start at nickel, but we are going to get Chris Hawkins ready to play."