ACC Kickoff: Tommy Richardson w/Audio

HOT SPRINGS, Va. -- UNC senior linebacker Tommy Richardson addressed the media from The Homestead Resort on Sunday. Read and listen to some of what he had to say...

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LISTEN (19:37)

On Matt Baker taking over for Darian Durant:
"It's hard to see a record breaker go away. He broke so many records, we'd like to preserve him some way or keep him around. But Matt's been learning under him for four years. He's got a tremendous arm. I believe it is going to serve him well to have sat behind Durant for so many years. Now expectations are high, but so are his."

Is he cocky? Is that good?
"That's a great thing, especially with all the egos we've got at receiver. He's got to have a bigger ego than them on that field.

How strong is his arm? Is it stronger than Darian's?
"Yes, it's stronger than Darian's – much stronger than Darian's. He throws the deep ball very well. I think it's going to be nice. He's pretty good to me."

Fans are already asking, ‘Can he do the job?' How is he handling it?
"It's rightfully so. We had a great quarterback and our defense wasn't that good. He broke all those records and we still didn't have a whole lot of wins. But it's not all on him. It's a team effort. That's what we tell him all the time: ‘You don't have to do everything.' You've got a whole team."

Considering there is a new quarterback, is there more pressure on the defense?
"I wouldn't say ‘pressure,' because we always believe that we're going to be great every year. But, it's a team effort. We expect our offense to move the ball, and our offense expects us to stop it."

On Tommy Thigpen
"He's a great teacher. He's a little more laid back [than John Gutekunst]. He's ‘hands on' everything. He gets a lot of tutelage from Coach Bunting. It's great to have him for my senior year."

We're you aware of him before?
"Yes. I'm a stats guy. I look around and see all his pictures – All-American. He was a product of the era when we just had great defenses. It's nice to have a guy with credibility."

Do you agree that the defense is going to be ranked less than 100th this year?
"You can't get any worse than 100th. We been working hard. We got six out of the eight returning starters on our team. Now that urgency has set in, you know? It's going to be fun. It's going to be fun to watch."

We're you lucky to win the N.C. State game last year?
"What happened happened. It's going to be fun. It happens in football – the luck of the drop. We're prepared to be lucky. It's where opportunity meets preparation. Even if we lose that game, I think we might have had more incentive to beat Virginia Tech."

Where did you hear that, about opportunity and preparation?
"I read it somewhere."

On the schedule:
"We've got a tough schedule. A lot of people don't have eight Top 25 teams on their schedule. And Duke and N.C. State are going to play us. We might be ranked about the same place this year. We might be picked to finish 11th. It's fun to go out and prove people wrong. America always roots for the underdog anyway."

Are you glad there is going to be a title game this year?
"I love it, because I was always a Florida Gators – as well as a North Carolina – fan growing up. To see the Gators play in the SEC championship game, I was like, I would like that atmosphere – neutral site and fans from everywhere around. There's nothing like that. To say whoever wins this in the champion of our league…that's fun."

Much more still to come from ACC Kickoff…

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