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November 8, 2017

Dino Babers

Greensboro, North Carolina

DINO BABERS: Well, first of all, we're looking forward to playing Wake Forest. They're a fine, fine football team. Coach does a fantastic job down there. Obviously you saw the effort they put into the Notre Dame game, and their offense and their defense is playing extremely well. The amount of points they scored against Notre Dame was the most Notre Dame has given up all year, and we know that contest is going to be extremely, extremely difficult here on Saturday.

I thought the effort at Florida State was really, really good. It was unfortunate we came in on the short end of the stick, but that's a really fine coached football team with outstanding football players, and they deserved to win the game.

Q. To take a look at the team this season in your second season with the squad, what have they taught you this year because a lot of these losses have been a lot closer than they were last year. It's come down to fourth quarter, one possession at times, just what you've taken away from this year's team moving forward.
DINO BABERS: Well, I just think being consistent and being persistent. There just comes a time when you have close losses, you have close losses, and then all of a sudden the dam breaks and instead of losing the close ones you win the close ones, and then instead of winning a close one, all of a sudden you start winning some by some very, very large margins. Last year we were getting beat very convincingly. This year I would like to think that we've been in every single football game, and hopefully we don't have to wait until next year before we get on top of that and start winning some close ones.

Q. Eric Dungey, obviously his importance to this team goes without saying, but to look at what he did in Florida State, to have the ankle taped up, speaking with you on the sideline, going back into the game, just about your decision to put him in there and just what he did to spark this team to come back in and be that leader that he's been.
DINO BABERS: First of all, at Syracuse University, that decision is not mine. That's our medical people. They make all those decisions. They merely tell me whether he can or cannot go, and they gave him the green light. Eric was all for it, and the only thing I wanted to make sure was that he stayed within himself and if he -- like he could protect himself, let me know and we'll try to win the game a different way. He's a competitor. He's a battler. Obviously he is the straw that stirs the drink for us, and the way he competed in that situation, I didn't know if I'd have him for one series or two series, in the first half and not in the second half, and there he was at the end of the game driving us down to get us in field position for the winning field goal. I think he's a heck of a competitor, and I think that people around the conference are starting to recognize that.

Q. How much does a bowl bid mean for the program as you try to develop the program and getting that -- not just the additional attention of a bowl game or that carrot at the end but the extra practice time and all of that stuff?
DINO BABERS: Well, I think all that stuff is really important. Obviously last year we were one win away from being bowl eligible, even though we would not have gotten to .500 because our APR score was so extremely high and based off of how many really football teams that had qualified last year, and I think that any time that you can get a team that hasn't been bowling in a while in a bowl game, those extra practices, the motivation that it gives the young men on the team, and the nudge or the extra boost that you get in recruiting is going to always help that program to either establish itself or reestablish itself as one of the better programs coming around.

Right now we're selling a dream, and when you get that first bowl bid, you get to talk about a reality.

Q. And I assume if you had an opportunity at five wins to take a bowl bid, you would be doing that again this year?
DINO BABERS: I don't know how it looks with how many teams have qualified and stuff like that, but that would definitely be something that we would look forward to, yes, sir.

Q. You're one of a few second-year coaches in the ACC of the can you talk about the progress you feel like you've made since you've been there, and are you where you thought you'd be at this time?
DINO BABERS: Well, when you're in the ACC, and especially when you're in the ACC Atlantic, you're really not sure of your progress until you start playing the games. It's such a competitive league, both sides of it. The coaching is really, really undervalued, and the chess games that are going on -- even last week with Florida State, the moves that are being made between the coaches in between the plays, the time-outs, everything, is top-notch, and it really sharpens your skill. As they say in the book, as iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another. When you go through the ACC Atlantic it sharpens your coaching skill, and you may not be able to win every game, but it's definitely making you better any time you go into a contest.

Q. Do you feel like you've made lots of progress, though? You've done a lot of things, changing diets, the way the guys work out and things like that.
DINO BABERS: We're doing things to change the culture, but I think the biggest thing, especially with the millenials, is seeing the results, and until we have something that we can grab on to, a piece of fruit, some low-hanging fruit and say here it is, we do this because we can achieve this right here, I think we're still on a journey until we can reach that point.

Q. You've played Miami; I assume you think they're pretty far along, but he had a good base to start with?
DINO BABERS: Yes, I would concur with that statement.

Q. How would you assess the run defense of late?
DINO BABERS: You know, Wake Forest's run defense is really, really good. I think some of the numbers, you look at the numbers that Notre Dame put up and the numbers that Georgia Tech put up, I think you need to take those numbers out of it, and when you take those numbers out of it, which you'll see as a team that Boston College had trouble running the football on, that obviously Florida State had some trouble running the football on, I mean, these guys are good against the run, and they're going to stop the run, there's no doubt about it. I just think that when you play Georgia Tech and the way Notre Dame is running the football this year, I just think that those two games kind of blow their numbers a little bit out of whack.

Q. How would you assess your own run defense this year?
DINO BABERS: I think we're really good at stopping the run. Obviously we gave up, I think, 155 to the tailback or to Florida State in the first half, and then I think we came back and got it down to about 55 for that kid in the second half. But I think that we're good in the run. I think we can hold our own.

Q. Just talk about the last three games against the elite teams in the ACC with Clemson, Florida State and Miami. Where is your program after playing those three games against those elite programs?
DINO BABERS: We're a couple of touchdowns short. Yeah, those guys are really good, and they've been good for a long period of time. You know, everybody is chasing those historical teams, so to speak. But you know, we're getting better. We're not there yet. We've got a lot of work to do, and obviously those guys are going to continue to get better, so if you start to settle and you think you've arrived, you're going to end up short and way out of the race. We think that we're getting better but we're not good enough and we need to continue to strive to make ourselves where we can be competitive and maybe sometimes start winning some of those close games against some of those opponents.

Q. And talk about your backup quarterback; I know Dungey last week got injured in the first couple series against Florida State. What's it like having a good backup quarterback knowing he knows the offense and you can put him in any time and he's ready to go?
DINO BABERS: You know, it's always an advantage to have an experienced backup. That always makes that transition a little bit easier. But the key thing is you'd much rather play with your starter. There's a reason why one guy starts and there's a reason why another guy is a backup. Zach has backed up Dungey for maybe the last three to four years, and he's done a really good job at it, but we would like to have our guy underneath the center more so than our backup.

Q. With Coleman back now, can you touch on what he brings and in what ways he helps the D-line, specifically Kendall?
DINO BABERS: Right now Kendall is not 100 percent right now. He's out there doing his best, and he did a decent job at Florida State for his first time out. He needs to get back into conditioning a little bit. His conditioning bothered him in that game, and that's to be expected when you've been out for a long period of time.

But Kendall's leadership is what's so outstanding, and any time you have him on a trip, any time you have him in the locker room, any time you have him in a group, that group is going to be more attuned, be more responsible for doing things right and not doing things wrong. I think the best thing he does right now, he gives us more depth at his position, which has allowed other guys to play fresh and give more effort.

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