"Honestly, I think it was just first game jitters at a position that I've never played in a game at," Cooper told reporters on Tuesday. "It took me a while to settle down. I thought after the first mistake or two that I would be ready to settle down, but I don't know – just still that kind of excitement. The guy that lined up across from me, he was a great player but I feel like a lot of the things that I did wrong were self-inflicted. But I'm ready to move on from it."
Cooper returned to his left guard position during UNC's bye week last week, as red-shirt junior Cam Holland assumed the starting center position. Fifth-year senior Alan Pelc worked this offseason at left guard, but he has returned to the right guard spot where he has earned 12 starts during his career. Pelc will likely start his third straight game at a different position on Saturday after having started at center against Pittsburgh in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in December.
Cooper, Pelc and sophomore Travis Bond are expected to rotate at the guard positions, helping to make up for the loss of backup guard Greg Elleby back to the defensive line.
"We think that configuration will work out better for us as an offensive line and for the offense, in general," Holland said.
Cooper indicated that Pelc would likely serve as Holland's backup at center as the coaching staff wants him to reacclimate himself to the guard position.
"If I need to play center, it's easily done," Pelc said. "Well, it's not easy, but I can do it. I can make that move."
Cooper's return to guard after nine months at center has been relatively smooth.
"It's actually coming back fairly quickly," Cooper said. "The switch happened for whatever reason, but I'm happy there -- any way that I can help out the team. It's working out well."