"It was obviously a long time before the first ball game, and then having an open date early in the season… I think I told Woody sometime over the summertime that I hated the idea of having the second date being our open date. As a coach back in March and April, you're saying, ‘Gosh, I would really like for that to be week five or week six, kind of in the middle of the season.' Not anymore. I was thrilled to death that it was this past week because it gave us a chance to settle some things down.
"Our kids have handled a lot of challenges and a lot of adversity with a lot of dignity and class. They worked extremely hard. We're excited about playing and being at home and being in Chapel Hill this week."
Immediately following the LSU game, you said that while North Carolina didn't travel to Atlanta for a moral victory, you were proud of your team –
"I don't feel any different this second than I did immediately after that ball game. I think there was an awful lot to be proud of. I think our players showed a tremendous amount of courage, a lot of guts, a lot of fortitude, a lot of ability to block out some things and come back and play.
"But you cannot compliment anybody without talking about the job that our assistant coaches and our fans did down in Atlanta. They were both outstanding. From the minute that we walked into that Expo Center, and we had to snake our way through the LSU fans and the LSU band, but when we got to the Tar Heel fans, it literally put chills up and down the back of your neck. It was an exciting environment. I was proud of our players when the game was over with.
"It took awhile, and I've got to be honest, there was an awful lot of uncertainty going into that opening kickoff. How are some of these guys going to play? Is this stage going to be too big for them? Is all of the hoopla and being on national television [too much]? And I think after our guys settled down, they realized, ‘Hey, let's just go play, let's get into the fight, let's start playing.' We gained some confidence and as the game went on, we put ourselves in position with the last couple of throws to throw it into the end zone to win that game. It showed an awful lot of character, I thought, on our football team's part."
On inexperienced players being thrust into action:
"You give guys an opportunity and you're positive with them and you coach them and have high expectations for them, you'll be surprised at how pleased they'll make you. We had some true freshmen that went in the game, we had some kids that were sophomores and juniors that hadn't played or hadn't started and those kids got an opportunity to go into the game and I'm going to tell you what – they hustled, they played well, they competed and they won't do anything but get better."
On the bye week:
"People always ask, ‘What do you do during an open date week?' Probably the most productive thing that we could have done last week was spend a significant amount of time just on ourselves. Just trying to work on the things that we didn't do as well as we would have liked to have done against LSU. We spent some time on special teams, we spent some time on some of the big plays that we didn't play as well [and] we worked on some fundamentals. And obviously we started to work on some of the small little things that we felt like would help us against Georgia Tech, but we really didn't spend that much time on them until the end of the week and certainly over the weekend and throughout this week."
On preparing for Georgia Tech:
It's a unique challenge. Defensively, seeing the triple-option offense that Georgia Tech runs – that in and of itself is an entity that you don't see. We'll see it one time a year. And then offensively, we're going to see a 3-4 defense, and we may only see that once or twice throughout the course of a year… We expect to be a much better football team this second game than we were in the first game."
'Butch Davis Live' airs Wednesday evenings on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates.