Wake Forest (3-3, 1-3 ACC) has had two weeks to recover from injuries and regroup after a string of off the field incidents before it hits the road for a date with Virginia (2-5, 0-3 ACC) in Charlottesville Saturday, Oct. 20.
The Demon Deacons have lost eight of the last 10 games against the Cavaliers, but won the last meeting, a 28-17 decision at BB&T Field in 2008.
How have these last couple of weeks helped you guys? "I think the open date's been good to us. We would have had a bunch of guys not play Saturday. Had we not had an open date I don't think Colin Summers could have played, I don't think Whit Barnes would have played, Scott Betros would not have played and possibly a couple of others, but it looks like we'll have those guys by Saturday, so that's a good thing for us."
How's the team dealing with the distractions that you've had? "I'll let you know about 4:00 in Charlottesville on Saturday. All I can go by is how we've practiced, and last night we had a really good practice. Kids looked like they were glad to be back together after a little time off this weekend, flew around, had a lot of enthusiasm, and seemed to enjoy practice. I was really pleased with how they worked last night, so if that's any indication we're bouncing back."
What did you and Ron [Wellman] see, what was thinking in releasing that letter to the public? "Well, I think more than anything just to kind of clear the air a little bit. There's so many things I can't talk about. What I can talk about is our goals for our kids. Basically we get so caught up in football sometimes that we lose the big picture, and the big picture really is in 10-15 years from now these guys are good husbands, good fathers, good citizens. That's when you know if you've really been a good coach."
"We focus so many times on a game when in reality it's how we're helping these guys shape their future, so I just thought it was important to let people know we don't take any decisions we make lightly, that we understand how that affects kids and families and in our estimation in what we're trying to do is help not just those kids, but our football team realize that they're more important than the game."
What have you seen from Virginia on tape? "I think they look to you about like we've been used to seeing Virginia. They've got big guys up front, big offensive line, big tight ends, good defensive front, really good defensive ends, big defensive ends, a very physical football team, very talented I think."
"Mike London's playing a lot of young kids. I think they got a bunch of freshmen and redshirt freshmen plugged in, and they got a bunch of old guys playing for them too, but I think they're trying to work in a lot of young players right now, but very talented. Go position [to] position and you like what you see."
Do you still get nostalgic or sentimental at all about going back to Virginia? "Not a bit, not a bit, not a bit. It's a different Virginia from when I played there. I played in the old Scott Stadium, and it only had 20,000 seats. We didn't have any of that stuff that they got in there right now, so it's a much different environment for me, but I loved going to the University of Virginia."
"It was a blessing for me to get a chance to go there, loved the people, still do. I wish it was a recreation trip, going back to sight see, but for us it's just going to play football and get out, business trip."
You've had a couple of weeks to prepare for Virginia, maybe some time for guys to heal up a little bit. How helpful has that been for you guys? "I think that's been real helpful. It gave us a chance to get our head around the two back-to-back losses we took from Maryland and Duke, and just the time to recover from those games and to recover mentally, gave us more time to prepare for Virginia, which is a much-needed win. And also gave us time for kids that were not able to play in the Maryland game to come back due to suspension or injuries. We'll have a full roster this time. It just gives us a better chance."
Being an older player who has been through the program when you see your teammates make bad choices like they have how do you feel about that? Does it hurt you at all? "It definitely does, because you're teammates. You look at them, especially being an old guy you look at them as your brothers, your younger brothers and you always want what's best for them."
"Some things happen and you just got to step up for them and be there for them. You got to be responsible and be there for them. That's the definition of what it means being a team player, just being a great teammate."
Going on from that though how do you make sure guys are doing the right things? "Honestly you just whenever you get a chance to talk to them see how life is going, or sometimes we all hang out and go to a movie or go out to eat, guys night out or something, just little things like that. You can't really babysit anybody."
With all that's sort of happened in the past couple of weeks with your teammates getting in trouble does that hurt you at all when something like that happens? "We're passed it. We've been working hard as a team, putting all of the negative things behind us. We're just focusing on beating UVA. It's passed us."
You're at the halfway point right now. Still a lot can be accomplished. What's the attitude of the team right now? "Like Coach [Tim] Duffie said, 'It can go two ways from here. We can six, we can three. It depends on the attitude of the team. If we come week in and week out, and give the fans what we know we're capable of doing, come out and play real hard and finish games I feel like we can be successful, but if we let the team morale go down with our heads down when we lose close games and things like that it can go downhill, so we're just trying to keep the team morale up and just stay positive and keep the energy going, because we've had two great weeks of practice."