The Tar Heels have lost seven of their last nine season openers, but hope to reverse that trend in front of a sellout crowd at Kenan Stadium.
This contest marks the first meeting between the two schools, despite having only 215 miles separating the two campuses. And while James Madison plays in the playoff championship division (formerly Div. I-AA), Davis expects the Dukes' experience and spread offense to present problems for his young squad.
James Madison head coach Mickey Matthews and his staff have been grasping at straws trying to figure out what types of schemes North Carolina will employ on Saturday evening.
"It's been frustrating because you watch tape of them from last year, and certainly you're looking at individuals and not schemes, because we have no idea what they're going to do on either side of the ball or on special teams," Matthews said. "… But they're North Carolina – there're not many guys on our team that they recruited or even talked to, so we know their personnel is good and they're a very good ACC program. I'm sure Butch has got them going down there and I'm sure they will play pretty hard. It'll be a tough game for us."
Matthews is not alone in his uncertainty – Davis is not even sure what to expect when kickoff rolls around.
"To be honest with you, I don't know what we're going to do," Davis said. "We haven't played one single game with these kids to find out exactly how they're going to play and react under the lights."
Red-shirt freshman quarterback T.J. Yates will step into the spotlight against the Dukes, with fans anxiously waiting to see how the first-time starter performs in front of 60,000 strong. The Marietta, Ga. native believes his preparation will prevent the pressure from building up in the season opener.
"I'm just trying to stay as focused as possible, and just stick to the film that I've been watching," Yates said. "Just going over my plays as much as possible to have them memorized so that when game time comes around, I won't have too much to think about and I can just go out and play."
One thing the Tar Heels do know is that nine months of hitting and tackling each other comes to an end in just a matter of hours.
"We've worked as hard as we've ever worked this offseason," junior LB Chase Rice said. "We deserve a big game this Saturday – the fans deserve it… Everything's been leading up to Saturday, and it's finally here. I've never felt so excited to play a game."
Game Day: UNC vs. James Madison
Inside Carolina Top Stories
Fedora's Decision Behind DeferringUNC has deferred after winning the coin toss in 27 straight games.
Inside CarolinaYesterday at 12:20 PM
Hoops Insider: Tony BradleyInside Carolina compiled insider perspectives to create an exclusive player-by-player preview of North Carolina's 2016-17 season.
Inside CarolinaYesterday at 7:13 AM
Recruiting Storylines: UNC vs. FSURevisiting the North Carolina-Florida State recruiting stories that will play a role in Saturday's matchup.
Inside CarolinaYesterday at 5:42 AM
Podcast: Jason & Buck Talk UNC-FSUJason Staples and Buck Sanders join host Tommy Ashley to discuss Carolina's plan of attack against Florida State and Staples provides his unique take on this FSU team.
Inside CarolinaYesterday at 5:39 AM