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September 21, 2011

Everett Withers

MIKE FINN: We now welcome North Carolina's head coach Everett Withers. Just a brief opening statement, then we'll go to questions.
COACH WITHERS: Obviously, first ballgame on the road for us. It's a chance for us to learn a lot more about our football team versus a very, very good opponent.
We've had so far a good week of practice. We've got to continue to progress and get better this week. Different type of offense and defense. We've got a lot of work to do. We have, like I said, a really tough opponent obviously on the road. We'll find out a lot about our football team this week. We're looking forward to getting on the road and finding that out.
MIKE FINN: Questions for coach.

Q. A lot of teams seem to have problems with the way Georgia Tech blocks. Do you have any specific preparations in practice to prepare your guys for them going low?
COACH WITHERS: We played them now, this is my fourth time coming up playing them. A lot of these guys have been here, played them over the last two, three years. I think the more you complain about the cut and the chop blocks, the more you don't get a call on them or your team worries about them.
We haven't made any emphasis on it this week other than, Hey, this is what they do. I think our kids have become so much more familiar with that type of blocking. We work on it in the spring. We work on it during camp.
It's not foreign to our kids anymore. So we hopefully will play good technique and be able to get off some of those blocks and make a play.

Q. What is the best thing to combat that kind of blocking?
COACH WITHERS: Don't get cut, don't let them at your legs (laughter). Play with your hands, play with a good base.

Q. What goes through your head as a defensive guy when you look on paper the ridiculous numbers that Georgia Tech is putting up right now?
COACH WITHERS: Well, you know that they can put up those numbers. You don't really get shocked. I get shocked at the five passes over 50 yards. The run game doesn't shock me. I look at what they're doing. They do what they do. You just try to see who is putting up those yards.
They have three guys that have 200 yards plus rushing, averaging 12.1 a carry, which is an NCAA record. You look at what they're doing on offense.
I don't worry so much about the yards when you play Georgia Tech. You worry about how they're scoring, are they scoring touchdowns or kicking field goals. I really throw out the yards because they're going to get their yards.

Q. I know your rushing defense has been very good. Overall defensively what do you need to do better to keep them out of the end zone?
COACH WITHERS: Well, we can't give up big plays. We have to make them go the long way. If we can make them take bits and pieces, not give up chunks, I think they've scored on the first play the last three games. Somebody gave me that stat, I'm not sure if it's true or not. But you can't give up big plays.
They throw the ball better than they've thrown it since I've been here. You can't give up big plays in the passing game, big chunks in the run game. If you can make them go the long, hard way. At the end of drives if they're kicking field goals instead of kicking extra points, you probably had a successful day.

Q. There's been a building boom in college football the last 10 years. How important are the bricks and mortar facilities to a football program? Outside of wins and losses is there a way to measure the return on the investment?
COACH WITHERS: Well, when you have a program that's playing at this level of football, being able to show kids in recruiting buildings that make them go, Wow, that's important. I also believe it's on your total campus. It's not just your football facility, it's on your total campus. That's happened around here a lot.
The Blue Zone, unbelievable facility. Got to be the best or one of the best academic centers in the country as you look at it. If you can show recruits that, that this is a nice football facility that they just built in your end zone, but also one of the top academic facilities in the country, you have a chance to get a recruit or two out of this thing.
Yeah, I think it's important to the landscape of college football, to keep improving your facilities. Doesn't mean you always have to build another 15,000, 20,000 seats. You just improve what you have already and make it better.

Q. You mentioned the stat about that Tech scored on the first play of the game the first three games. Do you think you'll be any more heightened on that play than you would be normally since they've had such success with it?
COACH WITHERS: I think our kids will be. I think they will be. I don't think you have to mention it. If you're watching tape each day before you go to practice, when you meet, I think those kids see they've scored on the first play.
I won't be. I'll be thinking about obviously that play, then the next play, then the next play, so... It's going to be a long game. It's about possessions. It's going to be a long game.

Q. Does Coach Johnson do anything unique? He's had a long run with dialing up plays that have been working.
COACH WITHERS: I really believe Coach Johnson does a great job with formations early in the game to see how you're going to play his option, how you're going to play his run game, how you're going to roll your secondary, fit the coverage. From there he does what I think is one of the best jobs in college football of adjusting, giving you a different formation to combat what you tried to stop on the other side.
I think he does as good a job of that. He's got great eyes upstairs. We've learned that his eyes upstairs are just as important as what he calls on the field. We really have a lot of respect for how they adjust during the ballgame.
We always think about the next adjustment on our side.

Q. Given what you said about Georgia Tech's passing game, their offense, how confident do you feel in your defense's ability to stop those elements?
COACH WITHERS: You know what, I don't know if you stop this offense. I keep hearing people say 'stop, stop.' I don't know if anybody has ever stopped this offense. It's a matter of limiting points in this offense. That's what we've really tried to focus on this week, is fitting coverage, fitting the run, not giving up big plays for touchdowns, big plays that put you in a hole, and forcing field goals.
It's about possessions and what happens at the end of each possession this week.
I have a lot of confidence that the kids understand our play. This is a team game. This is one of those games it means as much on offense and defense and special teams to do your job this week. It's a team game.
Yes, 'stopping' isn't the word, 'managing' is the word probably.
MIKE FINN: Coach, thanks for being with us. Good luck this weekend and we'll talk to you next week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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