"We are looking forward to our final game here of the 2012 season at Kenan Stadium. It's a bittersweet feeling. One of excitement for our seniors that they are getting to play their last game in front of their home crowd, but also knowing that this is the end of a pretty special team. But we're looking forward to it."
Could you address the three-game explosion by Quinshad Davis? The guy has had a three-game stretch that would constitute a good season for most freshmen. Just wondered what you think of this guy for the last three weeks?
"I think the light's been on for Quinshad the entire season. He's done some nice things for us early in the season, and he continues to get better each and every week. Just so happened that probably they did not worry about him in their defensive game plan and decided they were going to stop Gio in the running game. One thing we have prided ourselves in this offense is being able to do both. We'll just take whatever you give us.
"So Quinshad has responded. He's been in a situation where he's had the opportunity to make some plays, and what he does, is he makes the plays. So he just gets better and better each week. I think the future is extremely bright for him."
It seems like you're not going to blow the lid off of the defense, but he's got great hands. It seems like he's going to make all the tough catches, if not the real long ones?
"Yeah, he really can. He's got great concentration on the ball. He has exceptional hands. He's got really good awareness around himself as far as how to get himself in position to be able to make a catch. He's a big bodied guy, that is just kind of growing into himself. I think he has an opportunity and a chance to be a great receiver in the future."
Maryland obviously has had problems with offense due to the quarterback rotation. But defensively they're one of the top defenses in the country in the ACC. What problems do they specifically present and why?
"I tell you, I think, in looking back on the season, they're going to be the best defense we've played this year. First of all, they've got good players. They've got some really good players that can run ask do a great job. They've really adjusted well to the defensive scheme they're running. It's not as conventional, so it's a little different than what you see normally.
"I think they're probably going to blitz you a little more than half the time. So that adds some problems to it. It makes your margin of error that much smaller. They've been doing a great job this year."
It's got to be tough with their offense not being able to sustain a lot. But I guess offensively and special teams, the one concern you've got to have is Diggs. He's had a pretty remarkable freshmen year. He's kind of their version of Gio Bernard. Can you talk about the problems he presents?
"Sure. I think Mike Locksley has done a great job of finding a lot of different ways to get the ball in his hands, and that is something you want to do when you have a play maker like that, and they're doing that. He's getting it on speed sweeps. He's getting it on reverses. He's getting it out of the back field. He's getting it on screens, on vertical passes, intermediate game, and then he's touching it on punt returns, kickoff returns. So he is their guy. He's their guy that's going to make plays for them. He's just done a tremendous job, especially for a true freshman."
What is the feeling that the team has put up a record - it's been a pretty good record this year at 7-4. But this is their last game. Do you sense anything unusual about that around practice?
"We started off this week talking about that. I talked about it with the team, and we don't want to focus on it being our last game. That's not what we're doing. We're really trying to prepare just like it's the next game. I told them if we continue to do that, when we walk off that field on Saturday, you can hold your head up high. You'll be proud of the way you've played. Then there will be sadness that hits, but you can't focus on that during the week or you end up screwing up your preparation."
Senior Day, a lot of guys playing their last home games. Can you talk about some of the seniors? I know you inherited them and you've had them for one year, but can you talk about some of those guys and what they've given the program? Kevin Reddick, Sylvester Williams, and how big a hole does that leave or how tough is it to replace that kind of group?
"First of all, this group is very special because this group had the opportunity to leave. To a man they all sat in there and said we're going to see this thing through. So it told you a lot about what they're made up of. From Kevin Reddick to Sylvester Williams, to Jonathan Cooper, Mookie, you know, Travis Bond, I can't think of all of them in my head right now. But every one of them made that commitment, and they have done everything we've asked them to from the very beginning, from the very first practice we had with them back in winter. I can't say enough about these guys. I really can't.
"Is it going to be hard to replace them? You bet it is. It's always hard to replace seniors. But when you have your program established the way you want it, your next guys step up and become the special group. I don't know if we're at that point in the program yet just being here one year. But we're trying to build it so when your seniors leave, somebody else steps up and they become the guy."
I know one senior who will not be playing is Casey Barth. How big a loss is that? Not having a guy with his dependability and his range for a game, does it change your thinking in how you play?
"Oh, you bet. It's something that we talk about as a staff very much so how we call a game, offensively, all of those things have to be taken into consideration. It's tough when you lose a guy like Casey. He's got every record here in the book for kickers. So it's extremely tough.
"But Thomas Moore gets the opportunity to step up and show what he's got for the future, so that is the exciting part about it. The other guy we lost for the senior, Brennan Williams. You lose him in the last four games of his senior year.
"So that is the thing you constantly preach as a coach. Your only problem is this one, and that's it. You're one play away from your career being over or your season being over. That's why you've got to play it as if it's your last play."
With Jonathan Cooper being named a finalist for the Outland Trophy, what does that mean for your program?
"Any time you have that type of positive recognition, it's huge for your program. It's just one more time or many more times that people out there are talking about the University of NorthCarolina.
"To have a guy that is a tremendous ambassador for our program like Jonathan Cooper, a guy that's excelled on the field and off the field, it's something we take great pride in. He's exactly what we think a NorthCarolina tar heel football player, student-athlete should be, and we're proud of him."