"We are in a bye week at this point, but we actually will be playing at Miami the following Saturday. We're doing a lot of things to try to help ourselves, mostly because many of the games we've played we feel like we've beaten ourselves by missed assignments and making some bad decisions.
"We are playing a lot of football this week. We're not only working on a lot of individual techniques and fundamentals like we did in training camp, but we're also trying to play a lot of live football to help this offense get a little bit more up to par -- and certainly help the defense overcome some of the deficiencies that we've had so far this season."
With all this stuff circulating about your future, how have you been able to maintain your focus?
"I don't pay attention to that. I'm still trying to build upon a lot of the momentum we had coming into this season; get our kids to re-focus, have our staff focused on the right things, so that we can get better. We have eight games left in this season and I think there's a lot of wins out there for us if we can get things back together."
A couple of years ago you went through the same situation -- got a big win over Miami, went through a brutal schedule and then got to a bowl game. Did you feel at that point that you were starting to turn things around?
"Absolutely. And, in many ways we have. Sometimes they don't show in the win-loss column, especially early in the season. Last year we were in almost every game we played. We were one game away from going back to a bowl. This year we're one game behind schedule if you looked at the schedule to begin with. It's just very disappointing the way we lost all three of the games, particularly the blowout at Clemson on Saturday.
"So we're just going to take the high road here and work well with these players -- that have a great deal of character -- and help them get better, get some confidence back and of course that comes with playing well, and usually it's associated with winning."
Have you had any conversations with [UNC AD] Dick [Baddour] this season about the future?
"Dick Baddour and I, we talk frequently during the season, during the offseason and he was asked a question following the game and he answered it. And I think that is sufficed to say."
With this bye week, as a coach, coming off the loss against Clemson and the way that you guys lost, do you like the fact that there's a bye week to correct so many things or does it just let things fester for an extra week?
"I have enough leaders on the team, many of them being seniors -- I say many, we're probably about 12 seniors on this team. They want to win, they want to play well, they want to please the fans, they want to please their coaches. So our focus is totally on the positive things that we can still do with this season by responding this week in the way that we practice. If you practice well, and you do things right, and you play with great energy and intensity, you can gain confidence while you practice. If you don't, then you won't. Yesterday we had a good practice and I expect it be even better today."
Frank Beamer [at Virginia Tech] is using a unique fining system (from the bowl stipend) and a point system – do you use anything similar to that or can you give some specifics on what type of discipline system you use?
"Once again, every once in a while, I get asked questions about other people's programs and I don't normally comment at all, and in this case again I won't. We've got enough problems around here trying to solve."
"As far as the discipline of the team and the discipline on the field … We've had very few off-field problems, and we also have been using for two years now, a type of point system for players in terms of making their academics, or meetings, whether it be a class, or whether it be with a tutor. We also encourage a lot of community service; they get bonus points for things like that, which is good because we get our kids involved with both the Children's Hospital, Volunteers for Youth and the Special Olympics here. So, they can get some bonus points."
"I'm very adamant about making the classes because that's probably the most important thing they can do here so they can graduate. There's a point system with it, and there's a way that they eventually make their way to me, which involves first a position coach, and at one point, if they get a certain number of points they're going to have to deal with their peers, which is our team council."
"This has been effective for us for these last two years. We started the fall with every player above a 2.0 [GPA]. That's, I think, a record here at North Carolina, so we're proud of that. Right now we're just trying to get that discipline out there on the field, so we can make more plays and do the right things to help us win football games."
What are some of the penalties attached to those points – is it running or something like that?
"There might be some extra running after practice; there might be some extra running in the morning. There would also be sessions where they're going to be with their position coach at night -- or late at night -- with their books and with possibly a tutor. So the position coach is responsible -- very responsible -- in many aspects of this, but we also want the team to be included, so therefore we have our team council also alerted to this. And the players are very aware."