Think Christian will practice today?
"We will wait and see how he goes today. If he doesn't go today he will practice tomorrow. He will probably throw some today, and just like it has been every week. He felt pretty good this morning."
Will Jermaine be able to go?
"Yeah Jermaine will not play."
How about Ty Jones?
"He is doing good, banged up, so we will see. He will have to nurse it through."
Will we see Lonnie at running back?
"Yeah Lonnie is going to be back there, and then you got to work Dunham at fullback and do some things back there. Him and Debrale (Smiley), we have got to get those other guys ready to play."
You mentioned teams can only have so many highs during a season. Are you worried about coming off an emotional high of beating Florida?
"No. I have always said one of the toughest things is the way the schedule is for Florida and Florida State, and if you are going into a conference championship game the very next week coming off of a game that is not a conference game, but is so meaningful and then you have to come right back and play another meaningful game the next week I think is very tough. You have to deal with the hand your dealt, and I don't think our kids know because they are so hungry for success and they are proud of what they're doing, confident in what they're doing and where our team is and the way they carries itself I think we will be ready to play. They will be ready to practice and play, because I have said all along that our team has practiced well all year. They have come to work every day, and that is what I like more about this team than anything, it comes to work and it doesn't get too high and doesn't get too low. I think they will be ready to play come Saturday. I feel very confident in that."
Is this the most efficient you have been this season?"Yes, because we were focused. We had the same opportunities the past couple of weeks, but we didn't finish them, but we were focused in this game. We were focused and we executed. When you focus you have detail, when you have detail you have execution, and I thought we were tough. My definition of tough is having the ability to focus no matter the situation, and I think they did it for 60 minutes and stayed into the ball game knowing they had to play well and they did it in run, pass and protection. When guys get to where they are supposed to get to, run good routes, then you see what you can do and we protect the guy standing back there is pretty dog-gone good. We were able to run. I thought we ran the ball effectively. We didn't run up great numbers, but we ran it for short yards, we ran it goal line, we ran in the redzone and we ran it the last four minutes of the ball game. That is when you go to run. The other times you pick and choose, and we were inches from breaking a couple big ones, but when you play good teams that is how it is, but we were able to create plays in the passing game and be efficient in all phases."
What was the main reason the passing game was able to click so much?
"Ran routes the right way. Got to where we belong. You laugh, but that is exactly right. I said it last week. The ball went out of bounds last week to Rodney Smith. He is supposed to go three steps, three steps and then to the corner. He goes two steps and then runs to the sideline. Guess what? Ball is going out of bounds. Bert Reed is supposed to run an eight step flag in the end zone at the end of the route. He runs six steps and goes out. Guess what? The ball is going to be out of bounds, you ran the route to quick. You run a jail break screen, you are supposed to have split at the bottom of the numbers, but instead you're inside the number. You are supposed to go three steps slow and inside and be outside the tackle. Instead you are standing over the guard where there is a rushing guy and the ball is on your back shoulder. You get to where you are supposed to get to he will get you the ball. That is what I have said all along. He will miss a throw or two, even on Taiwan's route last week when he got spun around, it was high, but Taiwan is supposed to run a five step route and he runs a three step route, so when he turns he is inside quicker and he has to hurry, the ball goes high, and he gets banged up. They ran where they were supposed to run, they got the depth where they were supposed to run to, and we protected extremely well. That was the best pass protection game we have had all year, by far. We protected well, indentified blitzes, and got to where we had to go. We were efficient and so we moved the football."
It sounds like you are a little frustrated with the two junior receivers (Reed and Easterling)?
"No, I am not frustrated. It's just what they are, physically. They are slot guys. The big guys are outside. Usually your speed guys are playing slot and the size guys are outside. You can make a case that all the success they (Reed and Easterling) have had here are when they are in the slot. They did some good things outside, but primarily they are slot guys, and that is where their strength is. The quick routes, the option routes, doing all those crossing routes on the inside, getting on a backer, which is their strength. So you are asking them to do things that in positions that wasn't their strength. It wasn't their fault, because they had to wait until the other guys matured so they could go back inside. Now they can play outside, and there are certain things they do well, but primarily you lined them up and said where you are going to play them, you would play them in the slot while the other guys developed outside. I wasn't frustrated with them; it was just part of where I knew we needed to grow. I kept trying to explain that to you guys, but you kept wanting to create other reasons for what is happening and I was trying to tell you that we were an immature football team on offense this year. Because of maturity out wide, of what we had to do and Beau Reliford has really started to immerge as a player too. Now we have that weapon again, because Caz was a very sound player last year you forgot about, because he has developed into a player. Then you had those offensive line issues, because you had guys playing that were not playing. They haven't played, Henry (Orelus) and all those guys were getting one on one protection, and they had to get beat a few times to learn how to block. Henry, Stork, Rhonne and those guys, they have emerged and I am proud of them. I am extremely proud of how they went through and how they have developed. They are getting better, but still have a long way to go, but as we are starting to play with better consistency, now we are starting to throw the ball and with certain teams being so big upfront and they stack the box, you have to create plays in the passing game, and we will continue to run it because we want to have balance. You can bank on that."
How important is it, with so many guys coming back, to win a game like this and play for the ACC title?
"It's huge. To understand the environment, and not just how to play in it, but how to prepare for it. The expectations, the mindset, and the way you look at things, the ability to understand you have the ability to play at this level. The expectation level, the confidence level, which is the key to help them grow in these situations. To understand and expect to be in these situations. Not hope to be, but expect to be, that is the motivation you have all offseason, and then you set the standard for them so when the new guys come in all they do is watch the older guys. Then you grow and start to develop a program. Right now we are still a team. We have to keep developing the program, and that takes a little bit more time. We are a team right now, and that is a good team and I am proud of our team, but a program sustains it for a period of time and they have people ahead of them to learn from. That takes a couple more years as they keep going on. We have to keep developing the program in where we are going, and I think this is what allows them to do, and allows us to do.
How big was the play Ochuko Jenijie made on special teams to prevent that fake punt?
"Jenijie and Justin Bright both recognized that play and making that play on that fake punt was critical. The other big play in that game to me, was Mike Harris interception, because now they go back to a two score game, we are in the redzone and they have the ball coming back in the second half to get it to a one score game and then you are back in a dog fight. Those two plays, in my opinion, were critical in that football game. Jenijie, what his role as a teammate, a team leader, as a team player, I have the upmost respect for Ochuko Jenijie. I think he is a complete person, and I think in 5, 10, 15 years you will look back and say look what that guy is doing. It will not shock me one bit how successful he will be as a person. For what he stands for and what he does, and that to me he signifies the unselfishness we went into this year with and the various sacrifices that the coaches have asked them to do and whatever the role is. That play was huge in that ball game."
Can you talk about Rodney Hudson and how good he has been?
"Phenomenal. I will tell you he is different because he is not the huge guy that mauls you. He is a quick guy that is athletic, but he does have power and speed. The thing about Rodney Hudson is that he loves football. He loves everything about football. He loves the toughness issue, the practice issue, the weight lifting issues, and the studying film issue. He is the guy that stands there when Coach Trickett says hey someone get over there of defense. He is an All American and does everything in the world. He is first guy that to pick up the bag, run on the other side and hold it there for the second team guy to block him. How many guys do you know that does that? Especially a senior and All American. He will run over there and Trickett will yell get out of there, and get someone else get in there. He doesn't do it for show. We are working. That kid's work ethic is, I talk about Christian all the time, but his work ethic is unbelievable. McMahon has a great work ethic too, but boy Rodney Hudson is just one of those guys that come around every so often that's just very rare. He is a pure football player and loves every aspect of it."
Can you talk about Brandon Jenkins and Xavier Rhodes being possible All Conference players this year?
"Brandon, he has played great football. He has been very dynamic. He has given us a pass rusher and gives us a threat off of the edge, and good thing is he has a couple of more years left and he is emerging. He is a great player, great person and a hard worker."
Xavier Rhodes, that would not shock me one bit. I have said this all along, the size, the size and the ability to play physical guys, the little guys, can tackle, he is as complete a corner as you will be around when you talk about all facets. I think his future is endless. I think he is big-time.
I say this all time, but Rivals only sees so many of them, Rivals can only find so many of them. They are right on most of them, and they do a good job, but you have to understand how players fit schemes and what they do and the ability to evaluate players. You make mistakes too, I am not saying that. You always brag about the good ones, we all brag about the good ones, and you miss some too, but they were guys we felt very comfortable about that we loved. Xavier came to camp, I knew about him because he came from Dwayne Bowe's old high school and so I liked him a long time ago. I remember when I watched Brandon, and it was fortunate. We knew he was a player. We watched him play basketball. Brandon is not a 4.5 guy, but what he is a great balanced, body control athlete. Great explosion, good core balance, plays with power, leverage, and has quickness and understands the game and instincts. You can see that when you watch him play basketball. Both of them (Jenkins and Rhodes) are very intelligent.Well it was because I think the size gains he made with Vic and those guys in the weight room really helped him. He went from about 232 to 253 at the beginning of the year. He was able to get faster and stronger as he did it, so he put on 21 pounds and now he is able to play with more power, leverage and size on the edge which is what he needed, so from that aspect, yes.