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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCE


November 12, 2014


Paul Chryst


PAUL CHRYST:  Looking forward to going down to Chapel Hill and playing a very talented North Carolina team of late.  I thought we took advantage of our bye week and have had a good week so far in preparation.  We need to continue that.  And look forward to playing Saturday.

Q.  Obviously, you had an opportunity to get some guys healthy and work on some things in that bye week.  Outside of the health of some of your players, what were some of the areas that you were keying in on before this North Carolina game that wasn't about them but about you, maybe some areas that you wanted to accelerate your team at while you had this week off.
PAUL CHRYST:  I think, when you have the bye week, it's a great time to go back to the fundamentals of the game.  Defensively, spend time on tackling.  Offensively, it's blocking, and it's getting pad level down and going back through with core backs and receivers, timing things up.  Special teams, you're just kind of going back and getting the extra time to work some of the fundamentals that, in the course of the week or in the course of a season, you don't have as much time because you're always preparing for an opponent.  So it's kind of a great chance to just get back to the basics.

Q.¬† When you look at what's to come for you in your next couple matchups here‑‑ obviously, North Carolina, Syracuse, and Miami, two of those on the road‑‑ where is your team at, in your mind right now, with this talent you're about to face?¬† What would you say, as far as assessing your team‑‑ offense, defense, special teams‑‑ where they've kind of grown to and if they're where you feel like you need them to be to have this last three‑game stretch?
PAUL CHRYST:  Certainly looking forward to finishing out the season.  You'd like to be playing the best football that you can in November.  I think that we've had moments offensively, defensively, and special teams where we've done some good things, and yet I think that you're always looking as a coach to be more consistent.  And then I think, putting it all together, games come down to you've got opportunities to make winning plays.  You've got to do that.  You also have to minimize the ones that make it hard to win.
So I've enjoyed this team the way they've approached and worked, and we've just got to continue to grow, and like I said, that margin of error.  Winning and losing is small, and you've got to find ways that you can kind of tilt the scales in your favor.

Q.  I had a chance to talk to T.J. Clemmings this week, and he mentioned how you came to him and asked him to make the move.  It was something previous coaches asked him to do, and he said no.  Why do you think he said yes when you asked him to do it?
PAUL CHRYST:  I don't know for sure.  I think that, from what I do know, he was receptive.  Maybe it's a year more at that playing defense.  So it was, if I'm going to do it, now's the time.
I think that certainly there was a track record, and I think he truly wanted to do what he could to help the team best.  I think it's probably, like a lot of things, the timing was just right for him personally and for our team, I'm guessing.

Q.  What did you see in him that made you want to make that move?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Well, he certainly‑‑ he had the profile that you thought he could be good at it.¬† He's tall.¬† He's athletic.¬† He likes the game.¬† He wasn't afraid to work.¬† There's nothing about the guy that said he couldn't be a significant contributor to your team.¬† So I think we just looked at him, and as you got to know him‑‑ or as I got to know him through that first year, we just saw there's a way that we could get better as a team, and I think could also be good for him personally.

Q.  Is it true that Coach Huber was nice to him for one day in practice and then started treating him like everyone else? 
PAUL CHRYST:¬† That one day, I don't even know if it was a full day.¬† Hubes is going to coach consistently, and he's going to hold him to a high standard. ¬†And I've loved the way that T.J. has responded to that.¬† Wasn't going to necessarily treat him with kid gloves because you wanted his‑‑ you wanted him to have a high bar.
So I think, if you set‑‑ as a coach, you don't know how good someone can be, and so you never want to set a bar that's‑‑ you don't want to have anything that's unattainable, and you certainly want him to feel the progress.¬† But at the same time, I think you want to keep pushing him to truly maximize their potential.¬† I think that's what Hubes, all of our coaches, try to do.
To T.J.'s credit, he kept working at it.  And as he got more comfortable, with knowledge, let some of his physical skills come out a little bit, he started trusting.  He had never played offense until high school, never really started playing football until his junior year in high school and was only on defense.  So everything was new for him, and yet he was a willing soul and dove all in.  I think that was the one thing you appreciated from T.J. was that he didn't just make the move and try it out.  He just didn't just have dipping his toe in the water.  He went all in, and I think he had some success early and realized, you know what, this could fit me, and just kind of kept coming and working at it and growing.
Now I think each game you see him be a little bit more confidence in what he's doing or maybe what a defense is doing across from him.  He's been fun to be around, and it's been fun to see his growth and development.

Q.  What do you see out of UNC's offense going into this week, and what have you done to prepare for the Tar Heels offensively?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Obviously, they're a very productive offense.¬† I think it's a combination of a good scheme, well‑coached offense, and they've got really good players.¬† I think Williams is obviously a very, very good quarterback, and I think that he's a guy that, to me, looks like he's extremely comfortable and confident in his offense, in his own abilities, and I think he knows the weapons around him and knows how to use them.¬† I think they've kind of got what you want.¬† It's a well‑coached‑‑ it's a good scheme, puts a lot of pressure on a defense.¬† Certainly do a great job with the different tempos.¬† Even that aside, I think they've got good players running a good scheme, and it's directed by a really good quarterback.

Q.¬† With Williams, what do you do to kind of‑‑ he can run, he can pass, and also with the pace, how do you kind of coach up your team to deal with those two things, the variety of what Williams brings to the pace of what the Tar Heels can do using the ball.
PAUL CHRYST:¬† You try to certainly make them aware of it.¬† The guys that played last year have a sense of it.¬† But like any, it's an offense that's continued to grow.¬† Williams is one year older, and they're one more year in the offense.¬† That's something that you can practice all you want.¬† You've got to make that adjustment, and you've got to‑‑ in the game, you've got to play it, and that's‑‑ they do a lot of things to present challenges.¬† So you've got to play sound, guys have to do their job and trust that other guys are doing their job.¬† Then when you've got opportunities to tackle, you've got to tackle.¬† When you've got opportunities to make a play, you've got to make a play because I think they're a really good offense.¬†

Q.  What's the biggest thing you need to do differently defensively better than you have the last few weeks as you prepare for this UNC offense you were discussing?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Certainly, we can always get better. ¬†We've been hurt on big plays.¬† So we've got to do that.¬† So much comes from you've got to tackle better.¬† You've got to‑‑ guys have got to play‑‑ play their assignment and trust it, and when guys have opportunities to make plays, we've got to make them because they're not going to give you a lot of those opportunities.¬† The biggest thing is it's team defense.¬† When the play is declared, we've got to get guys, and we've got to be flying to the football.¬† You've got to get guys there.¬† You can't do that too quick.¬† You can't leave your assignment or leave your job responsibility until the play is declared.
They're going to make plays.  They're a talented offense.  The big thing we've got to do is minimize the number of big plays and got to play off each other offensively, special teams, and find a way to win.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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