Wednesday Butch Davis Quotes

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- North Carolina head coach Butch Davis spoke with reporters Wednesday for his weekly ACC teleconference.

Opening remarks:
"This is a huge challenge. Not only does it take on implications from the fact that it's the first ACC game, but Virginia presents a real severe challenge. They're the best football team that we will have played this year. The strength of their team is [their defense]. Their defense is playing extremely well. They're big, they're physical, they're very athletic. Offensively, they've got a running back that really is impressive – he's strong, he's elusive, he can break tackles.

"Last week against Duke they did an excellent job creating some field position and then scoring some points on special teams – had a great punt return. They've got a good football team. [Head coach] Al [Groh's] done a great job building a program there and you can tell the type of talent they've got, so we've got our hands full."

On Johnny White and the running back situation:
"We really felt like Johnny played really well in [the ECU] game. He did a nice job in protection, did a nice job catching the ball out of the backfield [and] running the ball. Again, we're in a situation where no one has really, truly emerged and put a stranglehold on the starting position. But he's the one guy in the spring time that really flashed and did some good stuff, and then he got injured and missed some time there. And then early during training camp [we] spent time trying to decide between the three of them which guy might potentially emerge. Johnny's been very solid and very consistent.

On Buffalo Bills player Kevin Everett's neck injury and how those types of injuries can be avoided:
"We always try to emphasize to our players at the beginning of spring practice through training camp how critical it is to use great fundamentals – to keep your head up, not ducking your head, not inserting your face and head into the middle of piles in the heat of the moment. It was a tragic, unfortunate thing and it sounds as though he's made a dramatic turn for the better. That it looks like there is a real good possibility that Kevin's going to bounce back from that and that it's not going to be as severe as they first thought.

"Clearly, as a coach, you're always concerned about the health and well-being of your players for everything. Not only spinal cord injuries, but face and neck, vertebrae [and] shoulders. It's probably an on-going crusade, to be honest with you, with coaches to try to emphasize to players throughout the course of the year that that's why it's so critically important to train for football. College football is a collision sport, and there is going to be contact. I think that the numbers reflect that there are a lot more injuries in things like soccer, but certainly football gets an enormous reputation for injuries because its brought [to the forefront], but the stronger that a player is, the healthier a player is and the more fundamentally sound, the greater the opportunity to eliminate injuries.

On UNC's young defense:
"Defensively, we're working on a lot of things, obviously. We are such an enormously young defense, particularly in the secondary and with the linebackers. I think it's just cohesiveness and learning that they're all somewhat connected. When one guy has to move, other guys have got to move themselves to areas where that guy just vacated. And some of the growing pains that we're having are certainly a by-product of a new defensive scheme and it's precipitated by how many young guys are playing.

"When you look at even as old and as experienced a veteran as Kendric Williams is, this is his first chance to start, so in essence he is as much as a rookie as Kendric Burney is, or as Deunta Williams is. But I think every week gives those guys opportunities to practice, to gain knowledge, to gain experience playing in games and I think that they will continue to get better throughout the course of the season.

On lack of discipline at times on defense:
"That certainly was evident last week in some of the game where guys in their exuberance either tried to make a play or maybe not be totally focused or locked in to the specific huddle call, and then all of a sudden, the possibility of a play presents itself. I think players have just got to learn. They've got to learn to listen, they've got to learn to focus and they've got to learn to put a bad, negative play behind them and not let that emotionally affect them in the way that they're going to play the next play."

On left tackle Kyle Jolly:
"We're very pleased with the early progress that Kyle has demonstrated. Going through spring practice, we really, truly didn't have an idea who the five starting offensive linemen were going to be. We shuffled a lot of guys around and through perseverance and hard work, Kyle started to emerge as a guy that looked like he might earn the opportunity to be the starting left tackle. He's a big kid that has long arms. He's 6-foot-6, probably 310 pounds and he's kind of the prototype offensive lineman that you're looking for -- he's got good feet [and] I think he's got good work ethic and good practice habits.

"He's a long, long ways from being a finished product, but I think as a young player getting his first opportunity to play, he's tried to make strides. He's very coachable – that's one of the things that [offensive line coach] Sam Pittman really likes about him. He listens, and when he makes a mistake, he tries to learn from it. He tries to correct whatever it was that the mistake was about. He's really working to become a very good offensive lineman.

On Groh not naming his starting quarterback:
"Most coaches don't want to reveal injuries and most coaches don't want to reveal if there's uncertainty about who might start, particularly if there's a dramatic difference in the style and a way that a quarterback [plays]. Obviously, somebody's going to start and somebody's going to play. I would be dramatically surprised if we don't see both of them. You've got to be ready for both quarterbacks. If one emerges and plays 75 percent of the time and the other one is 25 [percent], you still have to prepare for both of them.

"For this young football team, to be honest with you, a lot of our preparations almost every single week for probably the next couple of years is not going to be too awful much about the opponent, it's going to be more about us. We've got so many issues that we're trying to fix and correct and learn and gain some experience, that who the other team plays a lot of times -- we're not far enough along that it will make much difference."

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