"Just watching the tape – we spent four or five hours last night and a couple of hours this morning already – and one thing, they are considerably bigger than either of the two teams that we've played. And a little bit dramatically different, although they run some elements of the read-option offense on offense. They spread the field an awful lot and they throw the ball, but they've got a power running attack that neither of the first opponents actually had.
"The running back – No. 37, Pearman – is a big, strong guy and he made a real good reputation for himself last year as a kickoff return guy. And the first impression I had was actually watching special teams tapes yesterday and seeing him as a return guy – you can see him break tackles and he's big and he's strong.
"They use their offensive linemen a lot in pull schemes. They try to get the ball on the perimeter and they try to pound you and they are a big physical offensive line.
"They're sound in the kicking game. Their punter's averaging 46 yards per punt already, and he's kicking the ball very, very well. Their kicker on kickoffs is kicking the ball routinely in the end zone, which I think is a huge part of it. You saw as witnessed by us last week on our kickoff coverage when the ball gets in play, anything can happen. And it's an area that we have certainly got to try to improve on.
"This week will be about us. It will about us trying to get better. Trying to bounce back emotionally and trying to have our football team as well-prepared for Virginia this Saturday as possible."
On the special teams play against East Carolina:
"I think we had as many as six freshmen covering kickoffs. For all the good plays that they made – Jonathan Smith made some good plays, Matt Merletti made some plays – as a group, they've got a lot to learn about containment and lanes and not getting into the feeding frenzy of thinking that everything's going to get kicked into the end zone. That it is going to have action, that there is going to be play.
"The same can be said about the secondary. That you look at them and how young and inexperienced most of those guys are, and hopefully they'll get better and start to understand formations and recognition of route concepts. I think that's probably the biggest thing when you play pass defense is for your underneath coverage guys, whether you're in any of your nickel or dime packages or in your regular packages, is for everybody to understand that they have to do exactly what they 're supposed to do. Don't try to go help somebody else… And those are things that you can get better at."
On the team's improvement through two games:
"I clearly think that we got a little bit better in the running game. I think that we made some strides in that part of it. We may not have had any bigger numbers, but the people we were blocking were significantly better in Week 2 than they were in Week 1. I think the quarterback has continued to make good, wise decisions and I think that that's important. I think that we're trying to get more people involved than just maybe one or two guys in the passing game, as evidenced by the number of people that caught the ball.
"I think our defensive line did a nice job, as far as the running game was concerned. Special teams area – we wanted to try to get Brandon involved and do a better job of giving him opportunities. He's a weapon back there on kickoff returns and punts. He had one good kickoff return out almost to the 50-yard line, and he had a punt return for a touchdown, so we're making some strides. Sometimes they're little bitty strides that sometimes go unnoticed, but hopefully those little strides will lead to big strides."
On Hakeem Nicks' drops against East Carolina:
"One of the toughest things for players is to be able to let things go. You hate to talk about selective amnesia, but if you're going to be a big-time player, you have to have that. Every great player – Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin – they've all dropped a ball before, but you can't let that one continue a pattern throughout the course of that game until you get your focus back…It's very uncharacteristic. I think he had six catches for touchdown and I don't know how many yards, but he could have had 11 catches in the ball game, because not many of those were circus catches."
On if there has been any separation at running back:
"Just a little tiny bit. I think Johnny White certainly – we were impressed with how hard that he ran the other day. He caught the ball well out of the backfield, did a nice job on his protections and I think that he did some nice things. I think that Anthony Elzy did some nice things… we're going to try to see if one of those guys can step up and kind of take the lead."
On North Carolina's rivalry against ECU and UVa:
"My guesstimation so far is that I think Carolina is everybody's rival, it seems like. That's what you hear. How are you going to say that any of those are bigger than N.C. State or any of them are bigger than Duke or Wake – at least in the geographic area… Everybody seems to be in everybody's backyard. I lived in an isolated world. When you live in Miami, it's almost like you're outside the United States. Florida State's a rival, but Florida State's 13 hours away. There's nobody here that's 13 hours away – they're 13 minutes away."
On recovering from the East Carolina loss:
"You don't lose a game and put it in the tank. As you guys saw in that game, we kept fighting [and] we kept working. There was not one moment on that sideline where people were like ‘Dang, we're not going to win this game.' We believed to the very end that we were going to win that game."
On the start of conference play this week against Virginia:
"Whenever you get in ACC play it just adds that extra bonus or an extra feeling that you have to win. Our goal here is to win an ACC Championship and you have to take care of the first ACC game. We would of loved to have last week, but last week is done and this week is Virginia."
On Durell Mapp's performance at linebacker this season:
"I heard that he had 18 tackles or something, he had a great game. Durell is one of those guys that will give it all. He is a senior and he has been here for a while, he knows what he is doing. He is leader and a lot of the younger guys look up to him. We are really happy the way Durell played."
On what you can improve on individually:
"Personally I just try to find one thing to work on everyday, that could go from getting your reads down to speed to anything else. The one thing that I have worked on from Coach Davis is that he wanted me to lose some weight and wanted me to work on my speed. I think that I have at least tried to do that, you know, I'm still the slow white guy that everybody thinks I am."
On improvement from the ECU game:
"You know we have to defend the pass. Virginia loves to run the football we have to be solid in both phases. Coach Pagano comes up with great defensive game play every week and everyone is going to buy in, we are going to be fine."
On T.J. Yates performance early on this season:
"He's done an unbelievable job, I could not be happier with the way he has played. He is such a great kid and he is an awesome guy. He works so hard, he's done an unbelievable job throwing the ball and managing the game, I think that is what Coach Davis and Coach Shoop want him to do."
On the progress of the Tar Heels developing a feature running back:
"I think all the backs with experience are getting better at every aspect of the game, getting more adjusted to college level of football. So I think all the backs are getting better as we go along."
On the improvement in the run game last week:
"I think just experience and you know playing together, we are starting to get more chemistry and getting to know each other a little better."
On Yates as a leader at quarterback:
"He really does not seem like a young guy when he is in the huddle. He's calling plays and he knows what he is talking about and he's helping you out. He seems like an experienced veteran."
On a better individual performance in week two of the season:
"I think I have more confidence out there, being that it was my second game. The first game was just basically getting all of the jitterbugs out. The second game I felt more comfortable out there."
On coming off of the team's first loss of the season:
"The mood is upbeat, we watched the film yesterday from the game. You know we already corrected a lot of the mistakes, a lot of it was just simple things and we are going to build on the things that we did good from the game. We are going to put the loss behind us and move on with the rest of the season."