|Inside Carolina audio is available to IC premium subscribers. To listen, you'll need an updated version of Windows Media Player - click here to download the software.|
"It's a real honor and privilege to be here today. I think both teams have had a great week. The people at the Music City Bowl have just provided an outstanding atmosphere all week long. Our kids have had a great time with all of the functions – the showboat, the hockey game last night, the luncheon today. We've just been treated spectacularly. Our football team has a great deal of respect for Coach Dooley's Tennessee football team. I think that we share an awful lot of things in common. Both teams have gone through some adversity throughout the course of the season, and certainly the leadership and character of both programs have shown up to put us in this situation to be able to play the game tomorrow.
"We have a lot of respect [for them]. When you start watching football, the film itself, and you start preparing for the opponent, you look at the opponent and look at the things that they do. Derek's football team has done what all good football teams do – they get better every single week. And with certainly the four wins at the end of the season, they've got a lot of momentum, they've been playing well. Their quarterback has really played smart; he's sharp. Big-play wide receivers and a very aggressive defense. So I think our kids certainly understand the challenge that faces us tomorrow. We're very happy to be here and our looking forward to the game."
On the value of the bowl game:
"I think it's a great opportunity for both teams. Obviously, you like the idea of being on the big stage. Derek touched on this about playing in the state of Tennessee and having the opportunity to have a lot of fans here, one of the things that excited us about playing in the Music City Bowl is that it is close. A lot of the families of our players were able to make it to the game, and I think that adds to the experience. The crowd being a sell-out crowd is going to provide an unbelievably great atmosphere, so it's a great opportunity for both teams to showcase their programs."
On the team's ability to fight through adversity:
"This football team has been defined by its resiliency and its leadership by the seniors. They've done a remarkable job in maintaining the composure and the maturity of the football team. Every single time that we've asked them – when someone has gotten injured or somebody had to miss a game – somebody on the football team has stepped up. You can't have that kind of consistency without the character of your seniors. They've actually really done a great job behind the scenes, leadership-wise, of encouraging the young kids to be prepared, be ready if there is an opportunity to play, if we need you to play, and they've just been remarkable."
The press release on Anthony Elzy was vague –
"He just didn't fulfill his academic requirements."
Is he still on track to graduate?
"He will this spring, yes."
Is there anybody other than Alan Pelc, Bruce Carter and Elzy that won't be available for the bowl game?
"Those are the only ones."
What about Zack Pianalto and Johnny White?
"Same thing. Neither of those guys are going to be able to play."
On Tennessee's wide receivers:
"They've got a lot of natural speed. They've got a lot of kids that have got play-making ability and they can score from anywhere on the field, so that's obviously a major concern for your defense."
Will you move Zach Brown over to play for Bruce Carter?
"Well, I'll just echo what Butch said about the bowl week, first off. We're excited to be here. The Music City Bowl has just been phenomenal. The hospitality has been great, and it's been a little more special because it's in Nashville, so our players are seeing a lot of family. There are Vol fans everywhere and that's a nice thing to see at a bowl site. We also have a tremendous amount of respect for what North Carolina has done this year, given the adversity that they had. It would be a little bit frightening to see what their team would look like had they not had the adversity they had.
"They've done a remarkable job recruiting size and speed and athleticism across the board, but more than anything, you see phenomenal coaching when you look at all three phases. Very sound, very advanced in a lot of ways, and it's going to be a big challenge for our football team to go against this caliber of a squad. We're excited to be here. This is our fourth different stadium [to play] in the state of Tennessee and we're hoping there's a lot of orange there, but I think none of that matters if your team doesn't come out and play well. I've told our team that home field only helps when your team plays well, so we hope we play our best football game of the year, but we've certainly got a big challenge in front of us."
On UT quarterback Tyler Bray:
"I've been real impressed with the commitment he made really about the middle of the season when he just committed himself to working and preparing better. He needs to do that and he's got a long way to go as a quarterback, but he's got certain things that he does exceptionally well, which has allowed him to function.
"I think as quarterbacks go, at this stage of his game, you never know what the game is going to bring. It could be a game where he's just seeing everything the right way, or it could be one of those games where something isn't right and he's not on throwing the ball… There's so many things that can effect how a quarterback plays, especially a young guy."