COACH FISHER: Very pleased with our team's performance last week at North Carolina State. I thought our defense played extremely well, made a lot of improvements. Offense and defense did a nice job. We're continuing to grow as a team. Some of our younger guys are really learning what preparation means. Hopefully we can do it on a short turnaround this week as we head up to Boston College. They're a well-coached team, tough place to play. We're going to have to bring our A game to play on the road on such a quick turnaround.
Q. What has been the biggest difference between the three-game losing streak and the three-game winning streak?
COACH FISHER: We're executing. We're keeping our poise. I think we got our leader back. Our kids feel very comfortable, can control a lot of things, fix a lot of things. Our kids are gaining confidence. Some of those young guys are learning the power of preparation. It's not just a one-day thing, it's an all-week thing. We're continuing to grow in a lot of little areas.
Q. What is it about E.J. (Manuel) that has had such a dramatic impact?
COACH FISHER: A whole combination. He's a leader. He's a leader off and on the field. He understands our offense. He makes the guys around him better. His physical skills bring a certain level of talent to the field. He's executing right now. He's in a good groove where he's playing well and he's building confidence, they're building confidence in all of our phases.
Q. How does your practice week differ when you're preparing for a midweek game after playing Saturday?
COACH FISHER: It's a lot different. There's not a lot of time to put things in, do a lot of changing. The big thing is you have to have your kids be careful not to physically drain them because of how physical the last game was, the recovery time that's needed. The mental strain of coming off a game, how you quickly have to turn that around, be able to execute. There were quite a few areas that we changed. Sunday was complete walk-through. We ran, but we did no physical contact. Monday was a little tougher than a normal Monday, almost like a Tuesday. Yesterday was more like a Thursday with a little extended thing. We had to be very careful on how we did that.
Q. Does it motivate your team any more when you come off such a good performance?
COACH FISHER: You hope it does. One week doesn't always carry over. We played well last week because we prepared well and practiced well. I felt we practiced well this week on the short week. Hopefully we'll play well again. I don't like for them to feed off of that. You feed off of what you did well, correct what you did wrong each week. It goes bad, you say, What did they feed off of? Each week is different and I think our guys understand that.
Q. You mentioned E.J. being in a groove. What have you noticed that contributed to that groove of late?
COACH FISHER: I think it's just his confidence level. He's understanding what we're trying to do. The guys around him are playing well. He's able to execute. He's seeing things. He's asking the right questions, doing the right things. I think he and I understand what each other want, where we're going. That relationship continues to grow. As he makes plays, his confidence grows.
Q. Coach, in your experience, everybody likes the home-field advantage, is it more of a home field on Thursday night games because of the national exposure, the atmosphere?
COACH FISHER: I think that's part of it. I don't think that hurts it. The other team has to travel a day early. I think it makes a difference because we're traveling today, where they're resting. One team has to travel, one team has to be home. That's just the way it is. It doesn't hurt that it's Thursday night, national TV. Kids get pumped up to play on national TV, no doubt.
Q. Do you like playing Thursday night, even if it has to be on the road?
COACH FISHER: I'm okay with it. We do it. It's part of it. I'd prefer to play on Saturdays. But it doesn't matter. That's what we have to do so we do it.
Q. Will Muschamp, he's in his first year, things aren't going well. What do you imagine the past few weeks must have been like for him?
COACH FISHER: I've been so caught up in myself. Will is a great coach. He'll do a great job. He knows how to fix things. He will. Like I say, I haven't got a chance to see him. He'll bring them around and they'll be a good football team when the year ends, I promise you that. Like any coach, there's ups and downs. He's handled it, he's been there, I think he'll do a good job with it.
Q. Do you feel like you're playing your best football now or do you hope it's still yet to come?
COACH FISHER: I think it's still yet to come. We have a lot of room for improvement. We have a lot of young guys. Lines are starting to grow together hopefully a little bit. We're playing better, but I don't think we're anywhere close to where we need to be and can be.
COACH SPAZIANI: We are 36 hours from our five-day turnaround, and that in itself poses some problems, and it's compounded by the fact that we have a very, very talented and well-coached football team coming in here. With that, we'll open it up for those important questions.
Q. How does your practice week differ when you're preparing for a mid-week game after playing the previous Saturday?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, for us, we usually take Monday off and practice on Sunday so what we did is we altered our Sunday practice a little bit, and tried to do a little more, and practiced on Monday. We had a conflict with some classes, so that was a little bit of a problem and then we went a little bit lighter in gear, that is, Tuesday and then here we are Wednesday ready to go.
Q. Does that motivate your team now that you're coming off your first conference win of the season?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, you know, does it motivate them? We try to be motivated every week, but certainly our confidence level should be a little bit better, knowing that we have accomplished something, sure.
Q. I wanted to ask you where the running attack came from. I mean, when you look at your numbers going into that Maryland game, you obviously were struggling on the ground and all of a sudden you have a tremendous rushing game. Was that a product of the offensive line?
COACH SPAZIANI: There's never one answer to that, but there are some factors that went into it. No. 1, our offensive line has been getting better. You know, I think I've been quite consistent in saying that we have been, you know, able to hold that group together now for the last -- going on four weeks now, they have practiced and they have been out there every day. So that in itself lends itself to more proficiency and certainly Deuce has gotten a better flow of having to run the ball and what we are expecting of him. That added to it, and then that was two major contributing factors to the performance.
Q. Can you talk about what a test it will be to sustain that against the No. 1 rushing defense in the ACC?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, it will be a different level of intensity over there. And certainly, it will be quite challenging to say the least. They do have quite talented people over there in their front seven and in their back end, also. So it's going to be a big challenge but once again in order for us to win any game, we have to be successful running. Now that's the key word; what is successful? So we are going to have to get some yardage and keep them off balance a little bit.
Q. I don't mean to bug you on this, but I'm doing a feature on Matt Daniels at Duke. I know it's been a while since you've played them, but anything you remember about him? He's in the top three in the conference in tackles and passes defended. Did he make any impression at all?
COACH SPAZIANI: Oh, absolutely, yeah. Certainly with the -- before the game and during our game, we were aware of him and we had to make sure that we understood in our game plan where he was. You take notice to playmakers and he is certainly one of them.
Q. They have got the defense with three safeties and five defensive backs, and they seem to think that he's the key to that with his ability to move around the different safety spots. Is that something that you saw, too?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, once again, it's been a while. And let me say this: His flexibility and his ability to go in certain places certainly lends itself to some problems offensively. You have to account for where he is and then he's in different spots. That also contributes. His athletic ability, but that also contributes to his value on the defense.
Q. You guys are a little thin at running back this week. Are you concerned about that?
COACH SPAZIANI: Yeah, more than a little; a lot. Well, you know, once again, the job description is manage your way through the problems, and you know, there's going to be problems that you can foresee and some you can't foresee. This is something that we are just going to have to manage our way through. We have a couple of plans, we have an A, B and C, and so it poses some problems. It does, yeah.
Q. Do you have somebody that you -- an emergency back in case something happened to Deuce?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, you know, Andre is not out. So that's the first thing. I don't know where you are with that. But that will be a game-time decision and then we have got (Mike) Javorski and we have (Donte) Elliott. You know, we have -- it certainly hurts our efficiency, but there's things we can do and we will just have to decide some different areas.
Q. I know there are a lot of challenges in having a short week, but are there any positives or anything that can help, that can keep the momentum going from your win on Saturday going with the short week, that you can get right back out there?
COACH SPAZIANI: Yeah, there's a lot of stuff in routine that we as coaches love to do and we don't like to break our routine. But sometimes when you do break it in a certain way and lighter practices and then pads off or on day, shorter, there's some energy comes out of that. The players respond to that in a different way, and certainly they won and they are excited. A lot of this game is mental and especially at this time of the year now. So there's a lot of positive stuff that can come out of that and hopefully we can carry it over to tomorrow night.
Q. I just had one question. I wanted to ask you about EJ Manuel, you obviously had that big game against NC State last weekend. Just wanted to know what you've seen from him so far this year and how he's done?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, I've seen a very accomplished football player, very talented. He's a big guy and he can throw and run. He's kind of like Cam Newton in a lot of ways. They don't ask him to do as much running, but certainly if they did, he could do it. They have a little bit different attack, but he's got it all. I don't see many -- I don't see any flaws in him to be honest with you.
Q. There's one thing from that win last week that you could put in a bottle and play that same way the rest of the season, is there one particular thing that was the most encouraging to you?
COACH SPAZIANI: There are a lot of things. I think we have been playing a little bit more with emotion as the season has gone on. This team is young and they were growing. They played with emotion and they were physical. And that is what we need to do as we go through the whole year. As a coach, you like to see that momentum continue in that area; it has, and we certainly need more of it, and again, against a quality opponent like, this you have to be mentally right, that's for sure.