That was an exciting win. I hope I didn't disappoint a whole lot of people in the room. Our players were very, very excited. Our staff is very excited, and I'm very, very proud of them. They've been believing all year. They've had a tough time at times. But they keep working hard, like I've been telling you.
I bet you a lot of young players today stepped up and made some plays, which is terrific--certainly at the goal line, that was a big play made there. Our offense, I think, did a very nice job against a defense that was ranked very, very high, coming in--lot of speed, lot of scheme. We were able to make a few plays, get some turnovers--which always helps you win football games.
Obviously, the play at the end is really special because we work hard on that. It's round six, 3-3, 2-2 [in the ACC]. It certainly wasn't the Super Bowl, but it was one of the very, very [best] team victories that I've ever been around as a player or a coach. I know our players really deserve a lot of credit here for toughness, the belief in one another, the trust in one another. I really respect the way we have worked.
I'm very appreciative of all the support that our football program has gotten, and it's a tribute our staff and our players working together.
How would you describe your emotions the last 30 seconds? They are in, they are out--what is going on in your mind?
Well, your emotions better be pretty steady if you are going to be a football coach. You have got to take the good with the bad, the bad with the good. That's the way it is. You work hard during the week to get a team ready to play, prepared to win.
And more importantly with this football team, this football program, we are still young and trying to get these guys ready to play against great teams that we play against every single week. And today we won against a very fine football team, and I'm really pleased for our seniors. That's it--I have another hour to enjoy this win, and then it's back to work when I wake up--hope I don't wake up with another scar.
Have you ever seen anything like that where there is the confusion with the officials and then they make a decision how much time should be on the clock, then stop it, put six points on the board, and then they make a decision about how much time should be on the clock?
I've seen a lot of situations occur in football games where there is confusion. Fortunately, they did a good enough job to straighten it out. Now, I'm unhappy there was a clock stoppage and it never started, because I don't think NC State has any time-outs, do they? And the ball is on the one yard-line and the clock is stopped. So, that's kind of disappointing isn't it?
Can you address your defense and the way this game ended because of everything that group has been through over the last two-plus years to hold on to that football game that way?
Let me just say this: I've been saying all year long that this defense is going to get better. Certainly, I'm sure that the statistics will bear me out and say that we weren't very good statistically again, but we are a better defense because we have better players. They are extremely young, and they are learning how to play.
Every game, every practice is a new experience for them. They are going to be really good some day. I'm hoping that we get better each and every week. To come up and make some plays like they did is really exciting for all of us in our football program--all of us on this staff, all of us in that locker room downstairs, to see us come up and make a play like that.
We've been going goal line every single week since the Virginia game. Tommy Richardson, God bless him, reminded me of that when I walked in the locker room. I said, 'You know what--you're right. We made a play on the goal line.' That was huge.
When is the last time you saw Darian [Durant] play this well?
I think Darian played pretty well last week. He played well today. I'm sure there are some things--what I'm really pleased for Darian is he played his fanny off last year against State in Raleigh, and he was able to close out his career with a win. I hope Darian will get better. And I know that he will because he has that king of attitude. He's a great player, he's a great leader, and he's had some struggles, but so have other people on the team this year. To keep working--without struggles sometimes, you never make progress. You have to have a little struggle, and we've had a lot of it.
Madison [Hedgecock] is on of your guys, one of your favorites. Could you talk about his performance tonight?
Unbelievable. You know, I try very hard to get my players placed in all-star games and stuff, and I've been working on that for the last two or three weeks. And he is certainly somebody that comes to mind that I want to-- I was saying the other day that I want to take some clips out and send them away to these East-West Shrine games, Grid Iron Classics. Watch this guy play. Not only is he a prototype fullback. Tonight he got to go out and play tailback.
We've been talking about doing for a couple of weeks. Now we just did it, and [he] made a bunch of big plays for us--really, really proud of him. He's our best special teams player. He, at one time, was our best defensive end, which is amazing, and now he is doing a great job at fullback and got to play some tailback. I think it's remarkable.
When did you make the decision to use him like that?
We have been talking about doing it as a staff for a couple of weeks, and today we made the commitment to do it.
Was there a certain day where you decided to do it?
Third series we were going to put him in there, which is what we did. When we knew we weren't going to play Ronnie, we went ahead and made that decision.
What about Larry's interception?
It's a big turnover. Somebody tips the pass--I'm not sure if it's one of our defensive ends. Melik Brown? Young player, true sophomore playing a bunch of football for us--big, big play, no gain. Probably the biggest play of the game, along with the goal line play.
Was there burned sage on the field?
I'm going to assume that my wife did that. I don't like to assume much, but she is responsible for that. I'm sure she went out on Friday and got that done. I don't have time for that stuff.
My wife is very, very special to me, and she is always there--like a lot of other people.
What do you like best about what your team did tonight?
Hung in there, kept believing, kept trying, never gave up. That's the way they've been. They're very--as I told people on Tuesday, when I'm talking to reporters, they are a very resilient group. Are we the best football team? Are we even an average football team right now? Probably not, but we certainly try hard--and we might get better. We might sur-prise a couple of people.
Did you surprise someone tonight?
I'm certainly not surprised. A lot of folks in this room--I'm sure we did. So, that goes without saying. So we surprised some in this room. Didn't surprise me. Surprised some of my family and surprised a lot of people in the building right here. The people in this building keep believing. That's what's most important. And there are a whole ton of people out there in our Tar Heel nation that believe.
What was the difference between third-down conversions last week and third-down conversions this week?
What was third-down conversion today? I haven't looked at it yet. Do you know? You don't know? I know last week we didn't convert one. If we converted one today, we converted more. We made enough plays against a very good defense. Where was it ranked--#2 in the country? Obviously, we are pretty--we can do some things on offense.
There was a situation in the first half, Jacque [Lewis] got stopped for a one-yard loss and you got called for an illegal formation, and they took the penalty and gave you the extra down. If it had been fourth down, would you have kicked the field goal there or gone for it?
You are giving me a lot of information, and I'm trying to compute it here. I remember the play where they took the foul rather than taking the play, which I was a little surprised at. I can't tell you what we did after that, right off the top of my head right now.
That's when Darian threw the touchdown pass to Holley on the very next play.
That was a big play for us.
Where you a little surprised that they did that?
I was very surprised.