"Obviously, this is a big challenge for our team. It's an exciting opportunity. It's the first Thursday night game in Chapel Hill, although the team has played on Thursday night several other times, but it's always been on the road… Our football team is still trying to grow offensively, trying to improve and get better for the second half of this season and for the challenge that we face with Florida State, which is a terrific football program. They've had great success. Bobby Bowden is a terrific coach.
"Christian Ponder – it speaks for itself that he's the No. 1 passer in the ACC. He's got an array of gifted talented weapons around him – fast running backs and play-making wide receivers. He's a special young man. He's very athletic and can extend plays. He's one of those guys that can create a lot of things just because of his arm and the throws that he can make. They're still very fast and athletic on defense, so this will be a good test for us to find out if we can continue to make strides this season that we would like to make."
Why is Florida such a recruiting hotbed?
"I think Florida is clearly one of the six or eight states in the United States that has great high school football. In part, for one, because they have spring practice which I think is an extraordinarily important aspect in building football programs. And the population gives them tremendous access to young athletes. High school sports are still extraordinarily important in the state of Florida, to not only play football, but to play baseball, basketball and run track.
"I think that all of those things certainly help them produce and I think not only ACC schools, but just about every conference in the country prudently tries to recruit in the state of Florida. It's not as easy to get players out of there as it was 10 or 15 years ago because of the South Florida, Central Florida, FAU and FIU. There are a lot more options for kids to stay home. But I think there are still enough athletes there to entice them to play at real quality schools."
Where does the improvement need to come from offensively?
"We've got to have some consistency. The inconsistent consistencies have been the shortcomings this season. In the games that we've won and the games that we've played well, we've had that offensively. We've been able to sustain drives and sustain possessions. When we haven't played well, it's come as the result of several three-and-out type of possessions and not giving our offense any type of momentum.
"There are a lot of reasons for that, but hopefully six games into the season we can start to gain some momentum and gain some consistency and continuity with the young players that we have. We've played with an awful lot of young and inexperienced players… So we've had our challenges, but we need to make some progress and if we can have some success certainly in early downs and not put ourselves in situations… No one likes to play offense when its 3rd-down-and-long. It makes it extraordinarily difficult, so hopefully on first and second down, we'll have more success."
FSU has given up 30 plays of 20 yards or more. Is that an opportunity for your offense?
"Mickey Andrews is a very good defensive football coach. I'm sure those kinds of things, just like the struggles that we've gone because of youth and inexperience on offense, that's kind of the situation that they've gone through a little bit defensively, playing some young guys in the secondary.
"As the season goes along, you would expect that they're going to coach kids through some of those issues… They've already had performances where the showed up and annihilated BYU, which is a very talented and very good football team. They've got evidence on film of how talented and how good that they can play."