Monday PC Interviews

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Inside Carolina's Monday press conference coverage includes quotes and audio from head coach Everett Withers, Bryn Renner, Matt Merletti and Kareem Martin.

Listen to Audio (17:01)

Opening comments:
"I thought we had a good end of our training camp. I think we were right on schedule. Obviously, everybody on our team is looking forward to hitting somebody else besides each other, so we're excited about that and looking forward to the first ball game this Saturday.

"Two other announcements. We did name three permanent captains for the season. They are Cam Holland, our senior center, Casey Barth, obviously for special teams and Kevin Reddick as our defensive captain. So we do have three captains that will help lead our football team, and along with the leadership committee, will help govern this football team.

"The other item is [that] we will name Ryan Houston as our starting tailback for the ball game on Saturday. I'm sure that's one of your questions so you can scratch that off your list."

On the decision to start Houston:
"We just felt like going into the first ball game with his experience playing in games, we'd like to consider ourselves as having three tailbacks to start the game. One guy just has to take the first snap. But we like to consider Ryan and Gio [Bernard] and A.J. [Blue] as guys that are going to play a lot at tailback for us."

On the practice status of Houston and Bernard:
"We'll take the orange jersey off both of those guys this week."

Given what these players have gone through over the past month, do they look sharp to you?
"I said this a few weeks back, but I think we've had some practice at it for the last 13 months. I've been really pleased. We had practice yesterday and I felt like it was as sharp a practice as we've had. I think these guys are just ready to prove a lot this year."

On how much Todd Harrelson can help the secondary:
"Todd will be able to help us in some of the things. We won't be as complicated in past years anyway. I think we're more talented in the secondary than we've been athletically. It's just a matter of giving Todd a few things to do and let him do it. His athleticism will take over. He was an all-state defensive back in high school. If you watched him out there in practice, you wouldn't know that he wasn't a defensive back. So that's the thing I look at. I look at a guy out there at practice and I go, ‘He looks like he's a corner.' I think once he gets a few more days under his belt, he'll be fine."

Listen to Audio (9:31)

Are you nervous about your first start against James Madison?
"I think it's more anticipation. I'm think I'm just ready – ready for Saturday to come. But I know we need to have a good week of practice and take it one practice at a time. Yesterday I think we started off with good meetings and a walkthrough, but I definitely think we're getting prepared for Saturday and we're focused."

On Ryan Houston:
"I think he's one of the biggest factors we can have for this year, having his presence back there. He's played in big-time games, which helps me out, because I'm a new starter, and I'm really going to lean on him sometimes – just give him the ball on a third-and-3, and know he's going to get 6 [yards], just because he's so powerful. The work he's … put in for this season, I'm just excited to see the great showing he's going to have on Saturday and the whole rest of the year."

Listen to Audio (5:11)

On the young secondary taking the field on Saturday:
"It's always interesting to see how it translates from the practice field to the game field. It's been hard going against Bryn and everything, but we've all done a good job with it, especially the young guys. They've come along very quick, just as quick as Tre [Boston] and Jabari [Price] did last year, so that's fun to see."

On the difficulty of Todd Harrelson's move from wide receiver to cornerback:
"When I was a freshman, I came in as a running back. I tried that first for about a week and then I switched to cornerback. My head was spinning when I moved to cornerback. So I'm very impressed with how Todd handled that. He's obviously more mature – he's a red-shirt junior this year – so he's handled it well and hasn't missed a beat."

Listen to Audio (2:04)

Will there be a lot of nerves on display this Saturday?
"It's the first game, so nerves will probably be there a little bit. We just opened the Blue Zone, so there will be more fans in the stadium. But after kickoff, hopefully the nerves will be gone."

Does this team feel like it has something to prove?
"There's a lot of doubt in the program, maybe out there in the fans, but we know we have the talent to compete at a high level. Coach Withers is a great coach and he's stepped in and done a great job. We know we have the talent to be a successful team this year."

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