Bunting, Part II

How is Andre' Williams progressing?

"He's doing quite well. Any time you have surgery, you're going to have some up's and down's. He's had a few down's, but mostly he's been very, very up. He's doing quite well. He should be full speed when we start training camp."

Have you given any thought to holding him out this year, or will you expect him to be ready to go?

"I'm expecting him to be full throttle when we go to camp. I will monitor his progress as we get into hitting sessions and monitor his reps and see how he's doing. I'm expecting that there may be a day or two where we reduce his reps."

To what extent has Dexter Reid bought in to what you and the staff are trying to teach him in terms of maturity off the field as much as on, and has he turned the corner in that regard?

"I think Dexter Reid has done a great job this off-season in terms of his maturation and growth as a person in leadership along with our squad. I just spoke with him about two days ago and said that. I congratulated him on the progress he's made, not only as a football player, mostly as a person. He's really come around, and he's going to be a really special player in our program for the next two years."

Can you talk about the defense starting in the back. In your experience, how important is it to have a cornerback like a Michael Waddell who you can put out there and essentially just not worry about him?

"You don't win if you're not good up front, but if you give up a lot of big plays, you're not going to win, either. That's why our secondary is very special this year. I think Michael Waddell can cover anybody in the country. Last year, we flopped him. We put him up against the best receiver, week-in, week-out, and he performed with a great deal of consistency. My expectations of him [this year] are higher, and his expectations of himself are high too. He's having a great summer working out. I think you'll see a stouter defender – a guy that is stronger and, therefore, probably quicker."

How does he fit in with pro corners?

"He's got to continue to grow. I've talked with him about this several times. He needs to put on five to 10 pounds to play at the next level. He's got a great opportunity down the road. We want to have him here for the next two years."

You mention that you want to have him for the next two years. In order for him to be able to use his fourth year of football eligibility, he is required to be on track to graduate this year. Is that the case?

"Yes, he's on track. We anticipate that he will graduate, and he will be back for his last year."

How much is the NFL a factor for him. And even though he's on track, is he a guy like Peppers that could say, "I'm ready!"?

"Once again, he's a 19, 20, 21-year old kid. He might say that. I will work with him on that, if he me to help him with that. I think he'll be ready, eventually. I'm not sure if he'll be ready this year or not. I told him that we'd talk about it when the season is over. I think Michael's going to need another year, but that's just me saying that right now."

Will C.J. Stephens be here through the summer, as well?

"Yes, as far as I know."

What can they do? Can they look at film throughout the summer?

"They can do some things on their own. They are not meeting with Gary [Tranquill]."

About the self-reported violations, when did you become aware and is it just one of those things as a new Division I college head coach that you need to know?

"We certainly made the headlines. It's definitely getting to be football time again, isn't it? Guys are getting fired up.

"We have a staff that is very well schooled in the NCAA rules. We, as a staff, and certainly me being the point man here, are going to do everything we can to both promote football in this state – high school, the University of North Carolina football program. Since I took this job over I have said that repeatedly. I will continue to do everything I can to help the coaches of North Carolina make their programs better. Since I spoke at the Shrine Bowl banquet last year, I've told them that publically, and I will continue to tell them that publically and privately that I want to do everything I can to help them, and that was our commitment.

"If three players of the 400+ that attended these combines, three made a mistake. Therefore, we had inadvertent contact with them, so be it. It's not a very big issue to me."

How soon after that last workout did you become aware?

"We became aware when we got the roster sent into us by the combine people. Harold Robinson is a good friend of mine. He works our camp and does a great job witht the Shrine Bowl. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and his staff. When we through those rosters, we were able to find out that three of these players had actually gone to more than one."

Given that you are breaking in a new place kicker and sort-of a new punt returner – since you were counting on someone else – are you more concerned about special teams this year than last year?

"We don't have Jeff Reed coming back. He was special. He was experienced, strong. Al Evers just told me he is doing a great job down in New Orleans. He's really special. Danny Orner, the transfer from Michigan State, did well this spring, and we are excited about him. And we are excited about the competition that will develop between him and Topher Roberts on the kick-off duties and also our incoming freshman, David Wooldridge, who is really very, very strong."

Do you still feel comfortable with Aiken and Pollack returning kicks?

"I feel good about Jarwarski back there retuning punts. We've got to find a kick-off return guy. I don't feel comfortable with him back there returning kick-off's, so we've got to find out who can do that for us."

During the break you have coming up, are you going to Maine?

"Yes."

Will you go there a little more at ease thanyou went last year?

"No! I'll be coaching 'em up. I'm sure that every day we'll be doing something on the phone, relative to football. I'm anxious to continue to look at Miami of Ohio and maybe get some peeks at Syracuse, just to take a look at some different things. Now is the time you can do that. Previous to this, I don't have much time to do that. (Sarcastically) My wife will be very to see me bring up some of those tapes, I'm sure."

What do you do that's non-football up there?

"I play some golf. I get more frustrated trying to play golf. I'm going to share some time with my parents who are already there, and my children, who will be there when I get there, along with friends. It's a revolving door up there. There will be a lot of people who come up to visit us. There always have.

"It's very peaceful. I basically wake up in the morning and go out there between two cottages on a lake, eight feet off the water, a mile and a half in on a dirt road that dead-ends right there by our place. I go out there and sit right in the middle of a picnic table and hang out with my dogs and talk with the people as they start waking up and coming outside. We sit there and have some coffee, and we get out there later on in the day and watch the sunset. That's basically what I do."

Do you fish?

"My older brother is the fisher. I measure. My older brother is a big-time fisherman, morning and night – every night he's out."

You rotated quarterbacks last year, but, in camp, Ronald was your guy. How will you do it this year?

"You have to orchestrate that, and you have to organize that. Gary and I have already talked about it. They'll both run with the first unit. Last year, Ronald ran with the first unit all the time. Every one of those quarterbacks got some reps. Matt Baker is going to have to get some reps with the first unit. We'll have to organize that and monitor that. We'll have to be very careful because I want to make sure that every one of those guys gets an equal opportunity."

When will you make a decision, if there is one to be made?

"I think we'll probably go down to the wire. I don't have a timeline on that. That doesn't concern me. I want to have a starting quarterback by the time we get ready to play Miami of Ohio. That's the most important game of the year."

Does that mean you could go until that Monday before making a decision?

"Easily. We easily could."

You've always said that Darian's a gamer. If C.J. is better in practice, will you still give Darian some time in the games? It seemed that he didn't impress you that much in the pre-season, but once he got in games, he performed well.

"Darian impressed me during last year's summer camp."

As a coach, what do you know this year that you didn't know at this time last year?

"I'd say that the need for our staff to get a little break is something that's even more important to me this year. The need for our players to be completely focused when we start training camp is even more important to me now. I want our staff to get a break to get a break and get refreshed, and I want our players to get focuse and get ready to play when we get to training camp. It's extremely important for us to have great camp this year for us to have success."

Will you run training camp like you did last year?

"I have looked over last year's schedule, and it can't work exactly the way we did it last year. There are some factors I have no control over that will factor in. We're only going to be able to be in the dorm for a week, which bothers me. I wish we could be in there longer. I like the players being together. There are things like that which factor in. It's a little different because of the timing of everything. We played earlier last year, so we had a little more time together. Otherwise, it will be about the same."

Are you taking car keys away from the players again this year?

"You bet."

A lot of the magazines are picking Florida State high in the conference. What do you think of that?

"I don't blame them for picking FSU. They have everybody back. They lost a safety and a wideout. That's it, isn't it? They'll be good, and Maryland didn't lose a whole lot. They lost some. They're going to be good. I think the whole ACC will take a step up. Georgia Tech returns all their defense. They lost a great quarterback."

This is the first year of playing 12 games and the last year of having exempt games. Some teams could play as many as 14 games, if they make a bowl. That's almost an NFL schedule. Is that too much?

"In my opinion, it is. That's why I didn't play a 13th game. I think it's too many. I don't want to play a 13th game – certainly not at this stage of our football program. I don't think it's fair. I don't think it's good."

But last year you think it was good to play the 12th game?

"I think it served a purpose. No doubt about it, it helped us to play that 12th game. If they required us to go to 11 games, that wouldn't bother me. It's exciting to play 12, but it wouldn't bother me if they ruled that we'd only play 11 games from now on, but I don't think that's going to be the case. We'll be playing in 12 a lot [a bowl game], isn't that right Dickie?"

How do you feel about your offensive line?

"Certainly inside, guard to guard, I feel really good. I feel very good about Willie McNeill's progress. He has experience, so I feel good there. Skip Seagraves has had a good spring. Hal (Hunter) has done a great job developing him, and I'm anticipating that he's going to have a fine season. He's inexperienced, but I think he'll have a fine season. He's growing in confidence as a result of the hard work he's put in and the way Ha'l's handled his development. I feel pretty good about that. I feel pretty good about the freshmen coming in too. I will be surprised if those players don't get on the field and play. They are young, tough kids that are athletic, and I want to get them on the field. But we'll have to wait and see how training camp goes to see if they, in fact, do."

Are all of the signees qualified?

"Every one except one. He's still trying. We are holding out until the last breath. Everyone except one."

Bunting, Part I


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