“We’re trying to get back on track this week. It’s another opportunity for us to win on the road. This is a big opportunity for us. Both teams are 2-2 and trying to get that first conference win.
“North Carolina’s football team is very talented. If you look at them offensively, the quarterback, T.J. Yates, has gotten better every year. He only has one interception and over 1,000 yards passing and he’s playing very efficiently.
“As far as their skill, they’re as good as we’ve played. That running back Johnny White is the best back we’ve seen all year. He’s a tough, physical, downhill runner. He changes direction well and finishes well. He’s going to be a handful.
“They like to throw the ball deep. They do an excellent job getting the ball to the tight end. He’s a very good player and we have to know where he is.
“They want to run the football and we have to stop the run. They do a lot of things where they’ll bring an extra guy so you really have to fit it properly. It’ll create some conflicts for you. We have to defend the deep ball. If we can stop the run and make them one-dimensional, that’ll be helpful for us.
“Defensively, they’re big across the front. Quinton Coples makes a lot of plays for them. All those linebackers are NFL-caliber guys and they like to keep them in the game as much as they can. They have plenty of talent on the defense. We have to run the ball effectively. We have to throw and catch better, but the main thing is we have to have ball security.
“We went from 7th in the nation to 51st in turnover margin in one game and that is a recipe for disaster. Even with that, we had a chance to win the game in the 4th quarter.
“We have to continue to do a good job on special teams. Last week’s performance was outstanding. That’s where we have to continue to do a good job. Practice was good last night; there was good focus. We like to have good focus and intensity so that we can go out and play like we know we can.”
On facing adversity
“You just get back up. You show up and you are honest with your players. We know what our problems are. We make sure everyone understands the reality of the situation. The truth of the matter is, we’ve lost two games to two good football teams and we’ve had an opportunity to win both of them.
“Our job is to get it fixed, come together as a family and get better. Life is about adversity but the whole key to it is that when adversity comes, you either get bitter or get better. It’s either a stepping-stone or a stumbling block. How you respond to it, that’s how that matters.
“The hardest thing to do is use it as a stepping-stone. That’s why there are a lot of quitters in the world. I’m not a quitter. I’m a winner. I’ve got players and a staff that’s full of winners. When things don’t go your way, get back to work. We’ve got hope. We had a Miami team that’s very talented. We had six turnovers, gave up three uncontested touchdowns and we still had a chance to win.
“Our guys have shown up. We have to make sure we don’t lose sight of all the good. There’s a lot of football left. I hope we have 10 more games. We still control our own destiny. The main thing is stay together. This team has responded tremendously. “
On the receivers
“The reps will be different this week. We got our eight man rotation down to six, and now it’ll be a heavy four-man rotation. We’re not quitting on anyone; we’re going to need all those guys to win a championship.
“The four guys you’ll see are Nuke Hopkins, Bryce McNeal, Jaron Brown, and Marquan Jones. Those are the core guys right now. The other guys will play some, but the majority will go to those four guys. We’ve hoped that the receiving core would play out by now. Guys earn opportunities. Even where we are right now, nothing’s final. Guys have to go play. We have to create opportunities for certain guys based on what we’ve seen, but guys have to play well.
On play of the defense
“I’m disappointed in the uncontested big plays. That’s what’s cost us in two games. Our players know it and we as coaches know it. We have to get it corrected. It’s not a talent problem. We have to coach better and get it fixed. And we will.
“When you’re playing good teams and you make the simple mistakes that we’ve made, it has certainly cost us. Three plays were completely uncontested. We have to get it fixed.
“We’ve played some incredible defense, overall. There were 60 plays in that game (against Miami) where we played unbelievable defense. It’s four or five plays that are killing us, and it’s busts.
“It’s guys not doing their jobs. It’s mental lapses. You have to look in the mirror and get it fixed.
“Da’Quan Bowers is playing as well as anyone in the country. We played outstanding against Auburn in all but about seven plays. You can’t take those seven plays out though. We have to eliminate those seven plays. There was definitely some confusion on a couple of plays, but that shouldn’t have happened.
On guys playing more
“Mallaciah Goodman needs more time. Nuke Hopkins, Jaron Brown, Bryce McNeal, those guys need more opportunities. There’s no entitlement. Everyone has to perform. If you’re playing poorly, you’re going to get subbed out for someone else. There are some guys that we probably play too much. We probably should take about 10 snaps away from a guy like Dwayne Allen so that he’ll be a little fresher in the end.
On comparison to last year
“We haven’t laid an egg this year. This team hasn’t done that. We just have some self-inflicted wounds. All we have to do is control the things we can control. We don’t have to play perfect, don’t have to be supermen; we just have to do our jobs.
“The playmakers need to perform their roles. We’ve lost two tough games to good teams. We’ve had chances to win. We need to control what we can control. They can draw from the experience of last year where we didn’t get off to a good start and then won the division. The only thing that’s off the table now is winning a national championship.”
On Kyle Parker
“He just played a bad first half, plain and simple. He played outstanding in the second half. He threw the ball on the money, gave us a chance to win. I have no idea where that poor first half performance stems from. He has baseball games where he goes 0-3, then hits 3 home runs the next game. He’s human. He didn’t mope about it, he said “I’m going to play better” and he did in the second half. We put ourselves in position to win in the 4th quarter and Kyle was a big part of that.
On North Carolina suspensions
“We just prepare for what we see on film. The guys they’ve been playing are who you have to prepare for. We prepare for what they do and we have to prepare what we do.
On injuries and offensive line
Mallaciah (Goodman) will be fine. David (Smith) is the only one I don’t know about right now. Mason Cloy is playing outstanding in his place. All those offensive line guys are playing great. Miami was second in the nation in sacks and we played that very well. We only gave up one true sack in the game. I was really pleased with our offensive line.
On Dawson Zimmerman
“He’s a weapon. The punt is one of the best plays in football because you can flip field position. Those guys last week were top of the nation in returns and they didn’t get anything. It starts with a great snap by skinner, and then a great punt.
On Practice versus Game
“This team practices well. We’re only talking about a few guys making some critical mistakes. We’ve just got to do our job, do the things we’re focused on and go out an play on Saturday. That focused intensity is an area we can improve in during practice. We had a couple instances Saturday where they lined up right, but didn’t do their job. It wasn’t an alignment problem that hurt us.
On NC quarterback TJ Yates
“He’s playing efficiently. He’s well coached. He knows that offense inside and out. They’ve done a great job scheming things that he does well and he’s just gotten better.
On Andre Ellington
“He’s just a very talented player. He worked very hard in the off-season and CJ Spiller’s not here anymore, those are the two biggest reasons his production has gone up. He put on some serious muscle in the off-season, understands what we do and he’s just gotten better. He’s as tough as they come. He’s been a really good player. He’s had to really work hard on catching the football. He’s a really good all-around player.