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October 10, 2012

Jim Grobe

JIM GROBE:  We do need an open date.  It'll be good not to play this weekend.  We're a little banged up and need to get some kids healthy.  We've had a couple really tough weeks back to back, games that we had a chance late and didn't get it done.  A little bit for us recovering physically but also trying to get our spirits up a little bit.

Q.  Obviously T.D. stepped up and played well for you guys.  I know you were hoping to get someone to step up.  Give me your thoughts on the way Terence has stepped up since then and I guess your overall take on the wide receivers right now.
JIM GROBE:  Well, Terence played really well Saturday, and we needed him to do that.  We tried to plug him in kind of into Camp's role a little bit and intentionally tried to get him the football a little bit more.  Maybe didn't get it to him enough.
But this is his last year, and I felt really bad for him early season because he's had both of his shoulders separated, and he's really not been able to practice a lot.  Last week was the first full really week of practice that he got where he really felt good, and it showed Saturday.  So hopefully going forward he'll continue to improve and help us.

Q.  Do you still feel like that's an area where you feel you need to see some guys step up because it was pretty much him shouldering the brunt like Camp has?
JIM GROBE:  Yeah, I think so.  Brandon Terry made a couple nice catches.  I was disappointed, Sherman Ragland was hurt during the week last week and didn't have a very good week of practice and then dropped a couple balls early in the game and couldn't play anymore.  I think he's got a hip flexor that's been giving him problems.  So that was disappointing.
You know, really need to have more than one guy.  I think with Terence we feel like we've got a kid that's a good player that can help us.  We probably need to get Brandon Terry more involved, and I think certainly our hope is that Sherman Ragland will start to come on because we think he's got some special ability, but like I said, he was banged up most of last week and didn't play most of the game on Saturday after the first quarter, I think.
So yeah, it would be really, really important for us to have somebody in that group start playing a little better.

Q.  I know you've had one of the great kickers in ACC history a few years ago, Sam Swank, and I was just reading about the game Saturday, and obviously the fact their freshman guy kicked two long ones was a big difference in the game.  Can you talk about that placekicking and where you are with that?  I know you guys missed a couple against Duke that might have made an impact.  Just talk about the importance of a placekicker and what you're getting from that position.
JIM GROBE:  Well, it's critical, really.  You know, the situation we had this past Saturday against Maryland we had two very makeable field goals, had the wind at our back, the distance was no problem at all, and pushed one right and pulled one left.  The first one we didn't hit very good, the second one we hit really good but just didn't get it through.  As you said, they made a couple, and that was really the difference.  We lost 19‑14, and of course you make a couple field goals it's easy to figure out what the final is.
I think it's a little tougher than people think, though.  It's not‑‑ kicking is kind of streaky.  Kickers, when they're confident, they tend to make them.  When they're younger there's maybe not as much pressure.  I think sometimes when you get older you know there's a little more expectation on you.  So I think it's a tough job.  I don't think it's easy.  But certainly we need to kick field goals better.
I think for us we've always been a team that's tried to take people four quarters.  We had Sam Swank, we won a bunch of games on field goals, and we need to get back to that, and so far we haven't done a good job kicking field goals.  But it's a huge part of the game, especially when you're going to be in tight games most of the time.

Q.  Do you have to change the way you coach because of the field goal kicking?  I know Penn State this past week, one of the key things of the game was they just decided they weren't going to kick field goals, and several times passed up field goal opportunities to gamble on 4th down.  Does it reach a point where you start coaching that way?
JIM GROBE:  Well, I think it can, and we've done that some off and on in my career.  I think a big part of it is how good is the defense you're going against and how big a gamble is it.  I think if you're doing really well offensively, you're moving the ball well, you may feel like you've got a better chance of keeping the sticks moving and making a 1st down or scoring a touchdown than you do kicking a field goal.  But if your offense has not been real productive and you're going against a really good defense, you've got to try to get points when you can.
I think most people at this level have the ability to kick field goals.  It's not that your kicker doesn't have the ability to make field goals; it's just a matter of whether they're confident enough to make them on a consistent basis.  And so that's the problem you've got as a coach.  If you know you've got three points sitting out there if you make a good snap and hold and kick and your chances are not very good to get a 1st down, I think you've got to kick the ball.  But I think if your offense is rolling and you feel like the defense you're going against is not as much of a challenge, then I think you may be better off just going for it than taking a chance and missing the field goal if you haven't been very consistent.

Q.  At the end of the game, Tanner just didn't have time to get passes off.  Where is the offensive line at this point in the season, and is that something that‑‑ obviously you need significant improvement there for the second half.
JIM GROBE:  Yeah, we've got issues, there's no question.  We went into the season feeling like we'd have five pretty good guys up front.  Thought if we could keep guys healthy we would be actually pretty good, even better than competitive.  But right away, second practice, Steven Chase tears his ACL, and then in the game Saturday early in the game, Antonio Ford broke his leg, and he's our best offensive lineman not counting Garrick Williams.  Our center is playing pretty good, our senior center is playing pretty good, and we thought he would.  But the other four, Steven Chase and Antonio Ford are arguably our two best offensive linemen.
Steven is coming back now trying to play with that ACL, and really for a guy with an ACL is hanging in there pretty good.  But losing Antonio was a problem, and mainly because we had kind of repped five guys all week and really hoped to keep those five on the field, and so as soon as Antonio goes down, now we're putting in, kind of moving guys around, putting young guys back out there again.
Problem with Antonio, he won't be in this season.  We're hopeful that‑‑ or back this season.  We're hopeful that Steven Chase will continue to come on.  I've never had a kid play with an ACL up front, but I think as the year goes on, I think he'll help us there.  But we've got problems.  We have got depth problems and we've got some young guys playing.  We've got one guy, Whit Barnes, that we're really playing out of position.  He's a center and we've got him playing guard.
I think we'll try to over the next week and a half try to get our best five guys in there and hopefully they can give us the lion's share if not all the snaps when we go up to Virginia.

Q.  Nikita had his best game in a long time.  Has that sort of been what you've been expecting from him this fall?  I know he's had the injuries, but looks like he's back to his normal self.
JIM GROBE:  Yeah, absolutely.  You know, he had a little bit of a tweaked hamstring in August and really didn't start the season real well, and about halfway into the North Carolina game had a high ankle sprain, actually tore a ligament in his ankle and showed some toughness to me, came back against Duke and showed me some grit and kind of determination that you expect out of him.
But he was just okay; didn't shoot the lights out.  But Saturday he looked like the old Nikita Whitlock.  He made a bunch of bonus points and had some tackles for loss and a sack and stuff like that.  You know, that's what we had hoped to have gotten in the first six games.  We only got it in last Saturday's game, but hopefully going forward we can get more production out of him.  We really need him, and I think he looked like the old Nikita to me, which is exciting for us.

Q.  And how helpful was that to be able to move guys like Hasan and Tyler back to their more natural positions at defensive end?
JIM GROBE:  Well, I think it helps our defense and certainly helps them.  I think both of those kids are defensive ends, and we've been moving both of them actually inside to the nose guard position with Nikita being gone.  I think we would hopefully keep Nikita healthy the rest of the year and he'll get the lion's share of the snaps.  The good thing is going forward that both of those kids have a little bit of experience down inside, so if Nikita needed a break or if he were to get banged up a little bit we can still slide either one of those guys down inside and be okay.
I think going forward if we can keep Nikita healthy, it's going to be not only good for Tyler and Hasan but good for our defense.

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