Nov. 7, 2006
On having players that are real up beat all the time (referring to Tashard Choice) - "I've had a few."
On what that does for a team - "Doesn't make it dull, that's for sure. There are a lot of people that talk, but Tashard [Choice] says intelligent stuff. There are a lot of guys that run their mouth, talk and say things, but he's relevant and that's what makes him unique to me."
On that turning into a leadership role for Tashard Choice "Yes, but he's been a leader on this football team since he stepped on campus. This did not just happen in the last three months. He's been the same since he's gotten here. It's not like it's anything new. The good thing about this team is that there are more than just two, three or five leaders and not just the captains. There are a lot of people that are trying to lead in certain ways. Tashard just happens to be a vocal leader."
On the limits of how many carries Tashard should have - "I would hope that he would not have to carry it many more times than that (referring to Tashard's 34 carries last Saturday at NC State). I would hope that's it."
On Tashard getting more and more carries - "He gets stronger as he goes. Between him, the line and everybody involved in the running game, we keep wearing them down. After awhile when you are chasing Reggie [Ball] on bootlegs and draws, and running him down sideline to sideline, and north and south, by the end of the game, if they haven't had a steady diet of substitutions, you are wearing down. That's when our guys start getting on them."
On Gary Guyton - "He's in that role of good player who doesn't get much publicity because of the situation. Those other two guys [KaMichael] Hall and Philip [Wheeler] have statistics and they have been around a couple of years starting, so they end up with a lot more notoriety. Gary is doing a great job with his role right now and with what we are asking him to do. He just happens to be the odd man out on nickel situations. That's why he's not getting some of the reps that they're getting and some of the other opportunities on third down. Gary will continue to progress and be a very good player for us this year and next year."
On North Carolina having just one win - "When you look at the personnel, especially looking at guys that have been there forever in Jesse Holley, [Ronnie] McGill. These are good football players that we've seen do it before and all of a sudden it hasn't come together for them. I think if you had taken a poll in preseason that said, `of all these teams who do you think would be 1-8?' Well, I don't believe anybody would have picked Carolina."
On the difficulty of a team playing when their coach is not going to be around the following season - "I give a great deal of credit to North Carolina and the players there, because since the announcement of coach [John] Bunting, they went out and played Wake Forest right down to the wire and played Notre Dame very well. They've played hard the last two weeks. It would have been easy for them to go the other way, probably the easiest thing in the world, and they didn't do that. You need to expect their best game, because they would like nothing better than to knock off a top-20 team this year."
On players getting caught up in UNC's situation - "It's different than the Miami situation, because that was much more national. Right now I don't think our guys are reading about whom their new coach is, or who they think it's going to be. That's not an issue. Where as they read and saw the Miami situation on SportsCenter, I was much more worried about them getting caught up in that, than I am with them getting caught up in this. What I don't want them to do is get caught up in the record of this football team, because it doesn't reflect how good they can be."
On losing two years ago at North Carolina - "There's a bunch of guys on this football team who were on that field two years ago. They will be reminded of that, before the week is over. It can happen to anybody, anywhere, anytime. You better get yourself ready to play."
On the team being focused each and every week - "I believe so, but you have to prove it every week, you can't just talk about it. That's the great thing about the game is you have to prove it week in and week out. You just can't say that you are more mature, or believe you're more mature, you have to go prove you're more mature."
On the quarterback rotation at UNC - "It sounds like [Joe] Dailey is going to play a majority of the time. The freshman [Cam Sexton] has got some talent, but has played like a freshman at times and that happens. I think we'll see Dailey a majority of the game and he made some big throws the other game against Notre Dame. He made some big plays, so we have to make sure that we don't let him make those big plays, like he did against Notre Dame."
On the staff making sure that Tashard became a bigger part of the offense - "No, I don't think so. It just happened. You wanted him to, but it just worked out that the match-ups were better otherwise early, and when Reggie [Ball] got nicked up it forced our hand a little bit, but everybody has been able to adjust, handle it and go."
On the team's lobbying - "They lobbied for the black shoes, and I said, `ok, we'll wear the black shoes as long as you win,' and they kept winning. They then lobbied for the black socks, and I allowed that. I guess that I am getting soft in my old age."
On the team's different personalities - "It's interesting (referring to coming to practice everyday). You are working with a lot of unique personalities and young men. The thing about that is it keeps you young as a coach. You're around all these different guys with different levels of maturity, different levels of experience and how they're approaching the game. The way Poppy [Laurence] Marius approaches the game and the way Reggie Ball approaches the game are two totally opposite ends of the spectrum. [Joe] Anoai's and Tashard Choice's personalities are opposite. It keeps you on your toes and it makes it fun to go to practice and it's interesting to find different ways to challenge them every week."
22 Tashard Choice, RB
What's your take on being a 10-win or 11-win team? "Well the first thing is that Coach (Chan) Gailey told us that we could be one of the first teams in a long time to have a ten-win regular season so we as players really know that we have that responsibility of being and playing like a championship team, being a team that can win 11 or 12 games. I believe that everything we do from here on out will show that we understand what this season can be and what's at stake. Everything that we've worked for in the winter and the summer can finally pay off."
What is your recovery process after a game where you run 30 or 40 times?> "Actually I was sorer and beat up after the Miami game. I think that game was the most physical game I played in my college career. Right after a game like that I sit in an ice cold tub and just rest and try to get my legs back underneath me and get the soreness out. But I actually feel pretty good this week after this last game."
How long and how often do you sit in the ice water? "Maybe for about 20 minutes for about twice a week leading up to a game. I do it right after the game every week."
Does it have more affect on your body the hits you take inside or the number of carries in a game? "It's just like a hit here and there. It's not necessarily the big hits it's the little hits where somebody might hit you in the thigh or the calf. Its just something that nags you so getting in the cold tub actually shocks your legs and helps you get that soreness out."
Do you do anything else to recover? "No, just go to church and pray about. I just make sure to ask God to help me heal. That's pretty much it."
Can you tell during a game that you're getting into a different level as far as your number of carries? "Well really I couldn't even tell to tell you the truth. Once I came into the fourth quarter, I think I get stronger as the game goes on, and I think in the fourth quarter I wasn't sure how many times I got the ball but my running backs coach said to me `I don't care if you're dog tire, you're going to have to run the ball' and I understood that. The offensive line did a great job and Reggie (Ball) did a good job getting the ball down the field and we were able to run the ball. It was a great team effort, but I really can't tell you that I know how many times I carried the ball. I know when I run the ball a lot in a row, that's when I know I'm getting a lot of carries."
Do you feel that you've gotten stronger as the season has gone on? "That starts with the offensive line. I think Coach (Pat) Nix has really emphasized running the ball put two on Calvin (Johnson), really works hand in hand with the offense. If they put one in the box then it really opens him up and vice versa. If they put two oh him it gives me room in the box to run the ball. I think are whole offense is really clicking, from James (Johnson) to Calvin to Reggie (Ball). Everybody is really working together."
On North Carolina playing with coach who will be fired at the end of the season: "Well I know personally, I know the players probably want to get wins for their coach. They (North Carolina) probably have the utmost respect for their coach. Most players in college have a lot of respect for their coaches even though the media or other people may say the school wants to fire him, the players still respect him. I think they are still playing hard and the game that they played last week against Notre Dame spoke a lot about the character of that team. Going into the game we have to understand that and be ready to play."
Did seeing North Carolina's game vs. Notre Dame cause you to take notice of that team despite their 3-5 record? "Absolutely you can't take any team in the ACC for granted. I think we understood that with NC State. We thought NC State could easily be a 6-2 team and can get a lot of wins. Looking at UNC, we understand that they could win because in some of the ball games they lost they only had a mistake here and there. So we have to go in this game prepared in that way."
On senior leadership and vocal teammates: "Reggie has been one of the guys that talk a lot in the locker room this year. He's real vocal and after we won against NC State he let us know that all our focus would have to go to North Carolina and to understand that we had to go back up to North Carolina and get another win."
What will a Division Title mean for the program? "It would be big time. There is no shying away from any of that because we understand that it is going to be big winning the ACC or having a chance to go to the ACC Championship. It will be big for the university and we understand that and the responsibility that goes with it. We know that things we do both on and off the field is going to be more scrutinized. We understand that and everybody is willing to take that on."
On making improvements from the mediocrity of last season to this season: "It starts with Coach Gailey. He understood that his goals this year was to surpass that. Every coach on the staff was tired of being looked at as an average team. He was tired of everybody thinking we can just get away with only seven wins to get bowl eligible. They wanted to go higher. That really starts with the coaching staff. Then the strength coaches emphasize that during workouts and that we have to go hard every day. With that the players started feeling that. That this was the year that we have to go out and perform and know that we can play with anybody."
What were some of the differences this season? "I think it was how the coaches emphasized all the little things, like in ball drills, fumbles, turnovers. It was all the little things and if one thing was wrong we would redo the whole play. It may not be a big time, but it's the little things, the hustle that saves ball games. That is the thing that's helping us win games, just the little things."
Do you see a difference in Coach Gailey this year? "First of all, I think Coach Gailey is getting real cool. He's getting real hip to the team. He's letting us wear black sox now. He knows that everybody likes that and everybody really likes Coach Gailey. Coach Gailey has really opened up. He's really showing his leadership in other ways besides just calling plays. He looks over every aspect of the game. He is a student of the game and loves the game of football. I think his leadership, besides just calling plays, has been key. I think he's opened up to his players more. We know that we can go talk to him and we feel like we're a unit. We all know that he's our leader and we all back him up a 100%. I think everyone understands his role and we don't question anything he says or does."
Who lobbied for those black socks? "I actually talk to Coach Gailey a lot about uniforms and what we can wear. I talk to him all the time about different things. I think he's really just having a great time. I think he loves the game of football and he loves to win. I think he's just trying new things that the players like and he likes it also."
If you could design a uniform, what would it look like? "If I could design a uniform, we would wear blue jerseys or wear all white. That's what we like. We try to get Coach Gailey to squeeze one of those two uniforms in, let us wear all white one time or the blue throw-back jersey because we really like those. You know the last time they won a National Championship, they had blue jerseys, but the last time they wore all white I think they got beat pretty bad so I think the doesn't like that at all. I think the blue jerseys have a better chance."
68 Mansfield Wrotto, Tackle
On potential ACC Title: "It's a great feeling so far. We have two more games left in the ACC and even though people are saying these are two easy games, we still have to be focused for them. At this point, we are thinking about the ACC Title. We don't know who will play in the ACC title, but it's a great feeling after having three seasons finishing seven and five. After losing last season in the Emerald Bowl to Utah, we came together as a team and as a coaching group. We told each other that this is our year. We as seniors and the rest of the team needed to focus to achieve what we want. Our ultimate goal is to win the ACC Championship and go to a BCS game."
On losing to Utah last season in Emerald Bowl: "I think personally we came into that game thinking that it was only Utah and they had lost to Wyoming and we had beaten No. 3 Miami. We did come into that game thinking we were far better than them. It was a waking point, a harsh reality and a waking point. After the game we saw the faces of those seniors and it was the last game of some of their careers. Personally, I didn't want that to happen to me or Reggie or any of the seniors. So we came together and focused on what we need to do to better this team."
How much has Coach Gailey changed as a coach now that he's not calling plays? "So far it's been a great thing for the team. Now Coach Gailey is just supervising all the aspects of the game and the team. Every time I look on the sideline at the line of scrimmage, he's always there watching the O-line always watching the entire offense seeing what we're doing. He's always there and always contributing to the team in a very positive way."
On Tashard Choice's success running the ball: "The last couple of games, he's been doing extremely well. He's been doing very very good and we've had good offensive progression the last couple of weeks. I think he's brought the entire O-line and the offense together. He's one of the top leaders on our offense. He gives great effort every game, every single time."
Is Tashard predictable? "No. He is not predictable. I think that's one of the things that I like about him. One minute he's focused and serious, but by the time we're out on that practice field he's laughing, jumping around, joking. I think that's one of the reasons the whole team, especially the O-line, gets up for practice every single day. Tashard keeps everybody up and is always up. The happier we are, the more uplifted we are, the harder we practice and Tashard does that for us."
58 Gary Guyton, LB
What makes you guys successful on defense? "Each week John Tenuta gives us a menu sheet an on that menu sheet it says `if they get in the red zone, hold them to three points'. As we take the field we remind each other to hold them to three points. We know its going to be much tougher to beat us if we only give up three points in the red zone. When we get close to the end zone, we remind each other of that and it motivates us."
Is that the only thing on the menu sheet? "No, there's a whole bunch of stuff on there, like communicating, knowing personnel, win first down, play fast, play physical. So those are the basic things we communicate to each other out there."
On North Carolina's coaching situation this week: "Well I can imagine not having a coach, you might feel a little down as a team. But you still have to play as a team. Coaches can come and go every year, so you have to look at your team and be a family. It may be hard but you to uplift your team and be there for each other and do the best that you can for that season."
Tashard Choice has run for 100 yards or more in four of the last five games.