"Open dates are always a little bit tricky. If you have them too early in the season, you really don't need them, and if they're too late in the season sometimes they break your routine, but I think for our football team, the open date came at the perfect time. We had gone through a stretch with Virginia Tech, Miami and South Carolina – three extraordinarily physical games.
"It gave our football team a chance to kind of heal up – there would have been some guys certainly questionable as to how much they would have been able to play last Saturday. With the youth and inexperience of this football team, it's a situation where you truly don't need to try to break in new guys, particularly against Wake Forest. So the open date helped us to heal up and work on some fundamental things which hopefully will make us a little bit better football team.
"It's a big challenge. Wake Forest has played extraordinarily well – on a five-game winning streak. They are very, very resilient, resourceful and very well coached. They are very opportunistic. Defensively, they've been able to create 10 touchdowns for their football team – non-offensive touchdowns… it will be a real big test for our football team."
On the seniors' role on this team:
"It is an extraordinarily valuable role. Those guys – Durell Mapp, Scott Lenahan and the few seniors that we have – I can't tell you how important they have been from a leadership standpoint, from a role mode standpoint, the way that they prepare, their attitude, the effort that they give and certainly in practice and in games.
"They've done an awesome job as far as recruiting, not only last year's recruiting class, but even kids that are coming in right now, talking about what a great experience going to Carolina has been for them. The academic experience, what it's like to be a part of the University community and I think that they've been an inspiration. There's not a single one of these young football players on this team that doesn't admire and respect the way these guys go about their business."
How will those seniors know their value to the program after they graduate?
"Certainly, several of those guys are going to get opportunities to play at the next level. Having those guys come back will be very, very important, and as I told guys at the University of Miami, as we were going through the probations and the sanctions, we had some kids who made some really tough decisions. They chose to come to Miami at that particular time when it wasn't very popular. [We] were faced with the possibility of losing a bowl game and losing scholarships and stuff, and some of those early recruiting classes only had like 12 and 13 players in them.
"They know that they helped to provide the foundation and I think that certainly with this year's seniors and next year's juniors that are going to be seniors, they will have played an extraordinarily important role in helping lay the foundation for future success. And somehow and in some way, they will be recognized for what they did for this program."
How extensive was the review during the bye week?
"I think it was pretty extensive. You're always looking at your football team. Sometimes you don't have as much time when you've got a game coming up, that you don't reflect back on and kind of benchmark yourself. I mean, we've got goals and objectives every single game, whether it's that you throw for passing yards or more rushing yards, or sacks that you get or sacks that you give up.
"We have benchmarks that we look to see if there's trends. Anytime that you have an open date, it gives you a chance to kind of step back and not have the pressure of trying to put a game plan together and you can kind of look at a little bit bigger of a picture – instead of a one or two week trend, you can go back and look at the first half of the season.
"Are we getting better, and do the numbers really reflect the fact that you are getting better? Or are we struggling? The number of negative plays, the lost yardage run plays, the lost yardage sacks, and are there things that are keeping you from being successful? What's the common denominator? Is it protection issues, is it the way that you're calling the games, offensively and defensively, and for us – I keep saying this – it's an enormous revelation for us because until you start playing games, you don't know with 100 percent certainty what is the capability of each of your individual plays."
On Wake Forest tight end John Tereshinski:
"I think he runs well. I think that's part of it. You see him not only on some of the short and intermediate routes, but they have the ability to get him deeper as part of the second and third-level packages that they're doing. And I think that some of it too may have to do with the growth and maturity of the quarterback. I think that he is pushing the ball a little bit further down the field certainly this year compared to last year."