We welcome Wake Forest here Saturday. It's our annual Toys For Tots game that we've done here since I got here. When I got here, our warehouses and bank was broken here for Toys For Tots, so we've done a great job here at NC State collecting toys for kids.
The Marines will be here, General Osman will be here to take part in the coin toss, and the last five years we've raised over $200,000 for toys for children at Christmas. That's the setting for this weekend game, and certainly a big game against Wake Forest coming up.
Coming off the UVA game, what's the approach this week in terms of anything you want to fix on offense or improve on offensively heading into this game?
Well, certainly the thing is we've got to get back to fundamentals. It's still, once again, the difference in our season has been four games we've lost, we turned the ball over 19 times, and the last two weeks we've dropped 19 balls. Taking care of the football and doing the things that you have to do fundamentally, we do those things, we're successful, we win. That's the formula and that's what we have to get back to.
I guess no one can say that you didn't tell us last week that Virginia would be ready coming off a bye. Was there anything about their team that surprised you? For instance, they hadn't been able to run the ball very well.
No. I mean, as I said last week, I thought it was a perfect role reversal game, the way it was set up and the way it was going, and a team that has had success like they had a year ago and with their seniors and everything, you could expect that type of football game out of them, and certainly we were concerned coming off a really disappointing, tough loss to our rival North Carolina a week ago.
They controlled the line of scrimmage, and that was the most disturbing part for me, and us as a coaching staff and the football team as they watched it, they controlled the line of scrimmage both offensively and defensively.
When you think of this rivalry and your experience with it, what are some of the biggest memories to you and what does this rivalry mean to you?
Well, certainly within the state of North Carolina, it used to be the Big Four, now it's -- we only get to play the big three, I think, all of us because of the way the structure is set up right now. But probably when they were just up the road here a little bit back in the old days, it might have even more because you would have walked to both schools to play the game.
Certainly it's an important game, we're on the same side of the bracket in the conference which is always important that you play those games, and for us it's a home game.
When you look at this Wake Forest team, what are some things that stand out to you that they do well that you feel like your team really needs to focus on this week?
Well, you know, it's a typical Wake Forest team, a lot of red shirt seniors and juniors, a lot of experience, been in the program for a long time. Certainly the heart and soul of the guys on defense is Whitlock in the middle, No. 50. He's played for a long time, makes a lot of plays, causes a lot of disruption there. They're great run-to-the-football, get-after-you type of guys there, and then certainly (Michael) Campanaro is back, and he and (Tanner) Price, they're on a different wavelength than everybody else. They know where they're going to be and what they're going to do, and Josh Harris does a great job when he gets the ball in his hands of making things happen.
They're very inventive with what they do offensively, and the 3-4 allows them to do a lot of different things on defense.
I noticed in late September you guys really seem to be getting your running game going and it's sputtered since then. Is that a function of the guys you've lost on the offensive line or is there some other reason that it's kind of struggled?
Well, I think it's two-fold. Number one, the offensive line has been makeshift, cut and paste and put things together. We started five offensive lines I think in the first seven games, so I think that's part of it. The second part of it is Mustafa Greene was dismissed from the football team, who was our best running back, and then James Washington suffered an injury early, came back and got hurt at Carolina, only played four of the previous eight games, and he was our most experienced running back.
So I think the experience in the backfield and the changing cast of characters up front has been the reason we haven't had the continuity that we need.
Has that also made it tough on (Mike) Glennon, that he's had -- without the running game to take some pressure off, he's faced more pressure defensively?
Yeah, I think that's a true statement. But he's our best player. We've got to keep the ball in his hands the best we can. But certainly we need to run the football better than we have.
You guys have been one of the most puzzling teams to figure out this year. How frustrating is it from your end not knowing what you're going to get every weekend from your guys?
Well, you know, we've gotten great effort. Didn't seem to have it last week, just -- I don't know, been a lot of hypothesis as to what happened last week, and I haven't accepted any of them because I think you can play well each and every week. I think it still comes back to the fact of what we said. If you don't turn the football over and we don't give up the big play on defense, and that's been the underlying fact when we've lost four football games. When you turn the ball over four times in five wins and you turn it over 19 in four losses, it's pretty apparent what you have to do to be successful.
Considering the expectations that you had for your guys entering this season, how much of a disappointment, I guess, has it been for you?
Well, I've been around long enough to know that everybody -- there's only one team that meets its goals every year, and that's the team that wins the National Championship. That's what you go in, you try to win 14 games, that's what you want to do.
Life is about readjusting and setting different goals as you go along. You only worry about the things you can control. We talked earlier about all the problems we've had with the offensive line and running backs and trying to get a running game to help the offense out some. That's what happens in college football. That's why each week you worry about what you're able to control that week, because you don't know what team you're going to have until the trainer tells you who's going to practice and what you have.
And then you take that product and you do the best you can to try to put yourself in the position to win each and every Saturday, and that's the way it goes.
And then at the end of the year, you're either going to make goals like winning seasons, go to bowl games, those things, or you're not.