JIM GROBE: We felt like we were very fortunate this past weekend to beat a very talented North Carolina team, a team that's very well-coached. The game went right to the wire, and we were fortunate to make enough plays late to get a win. We know the challenge gets even tougher this week going down to Florida State. Playing in Tallahassee is always tough, and of course a top 10 team with a great coaching staff and great players. So we've got our work cut out for us again this week. But very happy to get a win this past weekend with North Carolina.
Q. I just want to start out with Zach Thompson, see how his eye is doing and see if K.J. has been able to have contact, just where they're at in terms of recovering and returning to full speed?
JIM GROBE: I think it looks like everybody is going to go, with probably the shakiest one right now would be Nikita with his ankle. My experience has been with ankles, no matter how slight or how serious, kids are all different, they all heal differently. Of course for him he's pretty active, so he needs to be full speed. I think he's probably the shakiest one right now, but we'll see. I don't know, sometimes overnight -- we had that happen with Terence Davis last week. He had the separated shoulder, and we thought he was hopefully going to be back for Florida State, and almost overnight he felt better and played and made a couple nice catches against North Carolina last week. Kids are all different, but right now we're hopeful for everybody, but probably Nikita is the shakiest one right now.
Q. So Zach's eye examination went well then?
JIM GROBE: It went well. It went well. I think we're going to try to let him do a few things. I think he's pretty much been given the green light. But we're not sure until he gets some activity exactly what's going to happen. If he had any kind of problems with his eye at all we wouldn't take any chances. But we're kind of a day at a time. But I think as far as Saturday, he's kind of been given the green light to go.
Q. What does your defensive line look like without Nikita?
JIM GROBE: Well, I like Tyler Harris. I think he's a true freshman, but he's a big guy, he's very athletic, he's a pretty physical kid. I really like the things that he's doing right now. Some of our other guys that have been very productive, I thought the nice thing was when we didn't have Zach Thompson last week that Hasan Hazime came in and played absolutely great, and now he'll be starting at defensive end. That might give us a chance to move Zach down inside. I think what we've got is -- it's really hard to replace Nikita, but I think the thing we've got is we've got about five guys in that defensive front for those three positions where we've kind of through practice in August rotated those guys around, and most of those guys have played either nose guard or defensive end. I think we've got enough athletes that we can move those guys around. We'd hate to miss Nikita, but I think Tyler Harris will be the guy starting out, but we'll have to roll some of those guys in behind him to try to keep him fresh.
Q. Aside from that match-up which I'm sure a lot of people will be watching your D-line against their offensive line, what do you think are some of the keys to this game?
JIM GROBE: Well, I think big plays. When you look at them, I don't know what we can take away from their first two games because they just dominated so much. But they're averaging about 13 yards a catch, and they're averaging, I think, over seven yards a rush. So they're running the ball and throwing the ball really, really well. What typically happens with us and Florida State, it's the team that limits the big plays that usually comes out on top. So I think that's going to be big for us down there, especially with their crowd and know they're going to be pumped up, and because we got them last year, I know they're motivated to get a little bit of revenge. I think in that environment, a key, especially with a few of the young kids that we're playing, is to try to limit big plays on both sides of the ball.
Q. Two-part question for you. Number one, how have you felt like your offensive line has progressed through the first two games of this year, and second part to that: What have you seen from Florida State's offensive line on film compared to what you saw from them last year?
JIM GROBE: Well, our offensive line is still in flux. I think we're moving guys around. Last week we had to bump Antonio Ford out to tackle, and we took a backup center in Whit Barnes and started him at our left guard position, and then real, real quick, Colin Summers, our right tackle, pulled a calf muscle early in the game and we had to play freshman Dylan Intemann. We're still moving those guys around, and sometimes they'll play different positions. So it's not good right now, but the one thing I will say, I thought we got better last week. I thought we made some pretty good improvements. North Carolina was really talented, and they got after us up front. But we were able to get some hats on people and maybe weren't as physical as we need to be. But I think going forward, I'm encouraged. I think we've got good players. We're just young and inexperienced. We make some mistakes, too many mistakes. But I think going forward we've got a chance to get better. I think in the first two games what we've seen from Florida State is just good stuff in both areas. I think they're physical, I think they do a nice job run blocking. It seems to be a very, very athletic offensive line. And then their pass pro is really good. I think they're protecting E.J. Manuel really well. Physical coming off the ball, running the ball, good pass pro, and I think for a young offensive line, some guys that are first-time starters, they don't seem to make many mistakes. We're impressed in their first two games. We'll have our work cut out for us, I think.
Q. How well do you remember when Chris Thompson went down there last year, and I know he was on the field and he was hospitalized actually there for a night with two broken vertebrae, and he's back, and I'm wondering what recall you have on that.
JIM GROBE: Well, it was scary. When I saw the hit, I knew it was a pretty good hit. Sometimes you just get caught funny. It's not -- some of the things you don't see. I didn't know that he had a problem with his vertebra until after the game, and then I heard that he had some problems. But when he first got hit, I thought it was a good, solid hit, but it wasn't something that I thought would be real, real serious at the time, and then he had some problems on the field. We went from not a lot of concern to being pretty scary. I knew when they went ahead and took him back to Tallahassee that he was probably going to be okay. I think, like you said, I think they maybe kept him overnight, but I did not realize that it was that serious until that next morning, and then when I called to check on him, they said they had already released him and he was on his way to Greensboro to fly back. Just a blessing that he wasn't hurt more seriously, but I've got to tell you, he's playing great right now, and I'm glad he's back. I'm glad he's healthy and back. But he's going to give us some problems Saturday I'm afraid.
Q. You mentioned improvements. How do you explain the -- what did you do better from having a tough time against Liberty to beating North Carolina last week?
JIM GROBE: Well, I think we were just kind of a work in progress. I think the first game, there are a lot of mistakes, a lot of jitters in the first game, and some mistakes. I thought Liberty's kids played great. Every time I talk about all the mistakes we made, it seems like I'm not giving Liberty credit, and I don't mean to do that. I think their kids played really tough, aggressive football with us. But I think just kind of typical things that happen when you're working on fundamentals and game plans and those type things. The first game is always a little bit shaky, and I think we made -- you talk about the improvements from first to second game being pretty big usually, and it was for us, there's no question.
Q. You had Notre Dame at your place last year, I believe. With Notre Dame joining and playing five ACC football teams a year, what does that bring an ACC football team? What does having Notre Dame in your stadium, how much of a plus is that? Is it worth the ACC bringing them in if they're not going to be a full-fledged football member?
JIM GROBE: All I can tell you is that I think it brings a lot of respect to our conference to have Notre Dame affiliated. Our game last year with them was probably the most exciting environment and fun night that we've had playing football. Now, the problem is they're good, and we had a chance late to tie it and go overtime. We didn't get the job done. So that was tough in the locker room after the game. But the excitement and the experience of having Notre Dame come to town was fantastic.
Q. You guys have won four of your last six against Florida State and won down there and that's a tough place to do that. Why have you guys been such a thorn in those guys' sides?
JIM GROBE: You know, I can't explain it. I can only say that every year teams -- you match up better some years than others with all the teams on your schedule. Sometimes it just matches up that the things they're doing, you play better against than maybe with some other teams. And I think a couple times we played them, their quarterback situation was unsettled, which it's not right now. They really weren't sure who their guy was. A couple times we played them, we had pretty good football teams, especially defensively a couple of those times. And then I think we've got a lot of Florida kids on our team, and I think those kids tend to really get pumped up. So I think there are just some teams that you match up with a little better once in a while and some teams that you're a little more motivated to play against. I think with the number of kids that we have on our roster from Florida we've been able to get pretty excited to play the 'Noles.
Q. Has it been tougher to scout for them this year because of the two teams they've played or have you seen enough on film from those guys, even though the competition hasn't really been at a high level that you can pretty much get an idea what to expect?
JIM GROBE: You know, what we've got to go on probably more than anything else is last year. Last year E.J. was hurt and came in right at the end of the second quarter and then played the third and fourth quarters against us. Early the Trickett kid was a little bit inexperienced and we had a little bit more success early in the game and then we hung on and just were very fortunate to win at the end. We're kind of going more off last year and some of the other teams that they've played. They've shown great ability, and I think I mentioned a while ago, I think they're averaging over 13 yards per catch and over seven yards per rush. Talent wise you know they're very, very talented. But I don't think you can take a lot from their first two games as far as what we expect this Saturday. I think we're kind of looking at our game and some of the other teams that they've played because a lot of those kids are back this year that were playing for them last year.
via The ACC/ Fastscripts ASAP Sports