- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard had a monster game against Virginia Tech last week, running for a career-high 262 yards. So what does he have in store Saturday against Miami? I checked in with him to find out.
Do you feel like you’re back?
Giovani Bernard: Definitely. You expect the most out of yourself and you expect to do good things. That was the game I expected to do a lot. Against Miami, I expect another great performance. My offensive line had a great performance, they did a great job up front, and all the credit goes to them. They’re the guys in the trenches and working hard for me. I’m appreciative of those guys.
How were you able to average 11.4 yards a carry against Virginia Tech?
GB: My key was just the offensive line. They had an amazing game. They did an amazing job. The entire game, they opened holes, gave Bryn [Renner] passing lanes. A.J. Blue had a great game, too. The line, they did a real good job, and I’m sure they’re going to do a great job this Saturday coming up.
So you are completely healthy?
GB: I feel perfectly fine.
How frustrating was it to sit on the sideline earlier this year?
GB: As a football player ,you know things happen for a reason. I’ve had my fair share of injuries, but this first game, I felt nagging in my knee, and I sat out two games. I came back strong and that’s what I’ve continued to do. I don’t know why it happened. You never know why things happen in life, but it was just a matter of getting better and staying focused.
You said you expected to do a lot against Virginia Tech. Why?
GB: My mentality. I have a lot of support around me and expectations of myself to do great things. It was another opportunity to do it. I hope this Saturday is another opportunity where I can be productive again. Hopefully, it will go well and we’ll get this win and hopefully take this Coastal Division.
Miami just gave up 376 yards rushing to Notre Dame. So does that mean you guys have the potential to put up big yards on Miami?
GB: It’s not so much what they’re doing wrong or what’s opening up. If our offense can click, and we’re on the same page -- the offensive line, receivers, running backs and quarterback -- if we can do that, the sky’s the limit for this team. We always knew that coming into the season we had so many playmaking abilities in this offense. It was just a matter of clicking.
Is everyone feeling comfortable now?
GB: Right now, each and every single game we’re getting smarter, faster and more physical. We’ve set out our goals, and our big goal is to win the Coastal, even though we have the bowl ban. It’s not about that for us. We set a goal and that’s what we hope to achieve.
So how do you stay motivated to win the Coastal knowing you can’t play in the postseason?
GB: We know what we want to achieve. That’s one of the things we want to achieve. OK, we may not be able to play for the ACC championship, but we still have an opportunity to win the Coastal. That’s what we set out to do, and that’s what the season’s revolved around. Whatever happens this Saturday happens. I hope we win. Hopefully, we can put up big numbers, lock in and things will go real well for us.