Opening statement -
I'll begin by addressing yesterday's news that Butch Davis is the next head coach here at Carolina. I've met or spoken with Butch on a few occasions, and that is the extent of our relationship. I certainly wish him well here, and I'll do whatever I can to help him if he'd like that help. There are several pieces of our program that are on solid footing, including our team's academic performance, our current recruiting class and the fact that we redshirted almost this entire class. I think he'll be inheriting some good things. He's got some work to do, and I wish him well. Other than that, I want to discuss NC State and answer questions related to this week's game and our football team.
On where he's seen the biggest improvement in the last three games -
Well, I see improvement, but we still have the same problem - inconsistency. We haven't played well together as a team the whole year - not one game where the whole team played together. That's why we're at where we're at. That's what this game is all about. Playing as a team. Working together. One phase will play well; the other phase doesn't. All three phases need to be in sync to have success, and we haven't had success because we have never been able to do that.
On NC State -
I feel their pain. They have, recently, some of the same problems. I think their defense has played very well. Their offense has played well at times. They've made some big plays at times. The way they controlled that football last week versus Clemson, particularly in the first half, was absolutely very impressive. They've got a couple good runners. I think their quarterback has done a fine job coming in mid-way and taking over. Mistakes are what hurt you in any game, and, occasionally, they'll break down. We've seen a lot of that on our end, last week being no exception - with great protection and receivers open and us not finding the connection.
Defensively, they're always good despite the changes on the back of the jerseys. They play hard. They're in your face. They're aggressive. They've had a break or two not go their way. They've lost several close games, which we can relate to here some. They're playing hard, they're playing physical and they're in the games each week until the end, which I can relate to some last year - matter of fact a lot last year - and a little bit this year. You want to come out on the winning side of those things. Lately, they've not been able to do it. This game now between us is a great rivalry game, and it's not hard to get your players ready to play emotionally. Hopefully, they play smart and together and for 60 minutes.
On what this game means to him -
I take every game very, very personally. But the NC State-North Carolina rivalry is special. It's unique.
On if he has any special emotions about this being his last home game -
Not really. Each day I come to work or each day I leave work I know that there's a limit to how much this will continue. When you deal with finality in things, you begin to deal with them. I've dealt with that a while ago.
On watching players he recruited play their final home games -
Well, that will be difficult, and it always is. These are pretty much one of my first full classes - this class. They are some special kids in this class, and I certainly never envisioned that we'd be here talking like this. But it's still something that's extremely important to me that they have some success this season. They deserve it in some ways, and of course, you always have to go out and earn it. I'm hopeful that they will play their best games here at home in front of their people, in front of their fans, and have some success. That would give me great pleasure.
On if Larry Edwards is full-strength -
He will practice limited today. He did some things last evening. This is a different injury than he had, so we're going to watch how he practices today, see how he gets around, and then see what he's like tomorrow. We're thinking this is more like a bruise than a sprain, so hopefully, as the week progresses, he'll get better.
On NC State's running game -
They come in the Clemson game and they just are running the ball. Out of multiple personnel groups, tight formations, spread formations. [Toney] Baker who we all know is a great back. A couple plays to Andre Brown. They absolutely dominated that first half running the football. A lot of third-and-shorts - just what you want. So they did a tremendous job beginning that game, and then Clemson managed somehow to get back some control of it themselves.... They are a team that has been so close so many times. Those things just start to really gnaw at you as a player and as a coach. But this week will be a different story.