Bobby Bowden - Florida State
On the week off and how that's helped the team:
We probably needed it because since the first day of August that we started practicing, we never missed a day. That means every day we were practicing except maybe on Sunday and every other year I've been here, there's always been lightning or rain that drove you off the field and the kids miss a practice and they get rest. So, we probably needed some rest so we gave them two days off, we gave them Monday and Tuesday off. They've got plenty of work in. The thing is, you can't play a Saturday game and a Thursday game. You can, but it's mighty hard to prepare.
On being at the half way point [in the season], discussing the season so far, disappointments and what the team needs to do in the second half:
Disappointed with the losses and yet we've done some good things. We've done something this year that we haven't done before. Our offense against BYU took the ball and scored the first seven times they got the ball. Then against Georgia Tech, we took the ball and scored the first five times we got the ball. But defensively, we've had a hard time stopping the big play. We'll go out there and stop a team, and stop a team, and stop a team and then whoop. So if they ever get that squared away we'll be a pretty good ballclub. Another thing is, nobody's crushed us. We haven't been blown out. We've been right down to the wire with everybody, which maybe with one play less for them or one play more for us, we could be up at the top."
And now you begin the second half and every year and season it seems FSU goes to the North Carolina area for a Thursday night game:
Well, that's true. I think it seems like either NC State or the University of North Carolina. Of course this is North Carolina, their defense is number one in the conference, fifth in the nation and they've got a very solid football team. Butch has done an excellent job up there recruiting.
On FSU and UNC being opposites, FSU is number one in the conference in offense and last in defense, and UNC is number one in defense and last in offense:
That's going to be interesting isn't it? It's going to be interesting. Can their offense improve enough or can our defense improve enough. Whichever one of those happens could determine who wins this game.
On the importance of the next game (not only because it's the next game but to get the second half of the season on a good note):
Well, the way we have approached it, like anybody would, is "hey just forget the past, it's the second half of the season." Let's take them one game at a time.
We used to play North Carolina all the time; every other year we were up there or they were here. Then of course, the way our schedule, the way our conference is regulated, now it's two divisions. They're in the other division therefore we don't play them as often. This is the first time in six or seven years we've played North Carolina.
On being the first time anybody on the team has traveled to Chapel Hill:
That's true and it's a beautiful place to visit. I've always enjoyed playing up there. There's a great atmosphere there for anything really.
On the focus being playing football on a Thursday night, being that it's the first time UNC has hosted a Thursday night game. Talking about the atmosphere and being the only game on that night:
The advantage of a Thursday night game is that the whole nation gets to see you. Our nation is acclimated to watching Thursday night games, just like professional football they're all acclimated to watching Monday night football. So, it's a prestigious game for both of us. Of course the big advantage they've got is it's their home game. We have to spend our ways to going up there, but again once that whistle blows and you make that first contact, throw everything out... it becomes a football game.
On FSU's defensive struggles:
Everette Brown led our team in pass rush last year and of course, he had another year but he decided to go pro. We really have been hurting in that area but again, we just keep working on it, working on it, working on it and see if we can't do better. We've tried everything. We've taken linebackers and moved them to the rush end on both sides. We've blitzed from inside out. We've tried it all. Our big problem is that we haven't been strong enough to get people in enough third and longs. We've got to start forcing people to third and longs. Our biggest breakdown this year is giving up the big plays. Our defense plays as good as they can play, as good as most teams can play, except we've been vulnerable to the big plays.
On getting things turned around:
I think the old expression that Lombardi said, that winning breeds winning and losing breeds losing and once you've lost, you have got to get your kids to have a positive attitude. Of course, if you're winning, you've got to keep that positive attitude. With us, we've been in every ball game. Every game we've been in has come down to the last three or four minutes. If we score, we win. If we don't score, we lose. Or if they score, they're going to beat us or if we stop them, we win. We've lost four of those games that way. Against Miami, we're on the two yard line with a first down but the time caught us and we couldn't get in anything but two plays. Then we missed a touchdown in the end zone that would have won it. That might have changed our whole season if could have won that darn ball game.
Butch Davis - North Carolina
Opening Statement: Obviously it is a bit of a bizarre or unique type of week. For our player purposes it was a Tuesday. We kind of had to talk to the players to reset their biological clocks and really start thinking about it. One of the difficult things in preparation for a Thursday game is the classes do not change. We have had to make an adjustment with our practice schedule for today. Monday being traditionally a day off with our players, but Monday is a big day for labs and late afternoon classes. So we are actually going to practice earlier today to accommodate our players' class schedules. That is the one schematic change we have had to make this week.
One of things watching film for Florida State and preparing, statistically their offense is playing lights out. One of the things our players and coaching staff has noticed, besides the fact he is leading the ACC in passing, is how athletic he really is and the things he can do to escape the pocket. He is very mobile, very athletic and throws extraordinarily well on the run. He is just about as dangerous when he gets out of the pocket and he is able to make plays. He reminds me of some of the preparation we made with Brett Farve when I was with the Dallas Cowboys. You have to stay in coverage and plastered to your guy because you loose your guy in coverage and all of a sudden he is scrambling around and he kind find them deep down the field. They have fast athletic backs and a very quick offensive line.
Defensively they have caught some criticism, but the biggest culprit we see is giving up big plays at some bad times. From a scheme standpoint and athletically I see a very good defense. Their defensive ends on the outside put a lot of pressure on the interior players to perform because they take away an awful lot of the perimeter. They are probably more sophisticated in coverage than they have ever been. So they are going to get pressure on the outside and give you coverage problems.
From a special teams prospective right now they have the number one punt team in the league. Field position is important. So this is going to be a good challenge and a good game. It will be an opportunity for us to make some strides. The three days before this week gave us an opportunity to work on ourselves and hopefully we improved.
On self-scouting his team during the bye week:
All the things that hurt you as a football team, those are pretty self-evident. If you turn the ball over, you really hurt your offense's opportunity to find out what might work. If you're going three-and-out and turning the ball over and not having success, you don't have a chance to go out there and experiment and find a play that works and get the chance to call it again.