"One of the first recruiting visits that I ever made was to [Burlington, N.C.] Cummings High School. And whenever I was at Cummings, I got to know to know Jay Perdue, their offensive coordinator, real well. The first conversation we had, he said to me, ‘Hey, you've got this guy on your team named Brandon Tate, and he's pretty doggone good.' I said, ‘Well, I'm not so sure, he didn't have so many catches,' and he said, ‘He's good – trust me.'
"So I called in from Jay's office right there to our graduate assistant and I said, ‘I want a tape of every touch he's had, whether it's a kickoff return, a punt return, because I had watched all of the offensive plays, but I hadn't watched special teams. We made a touch tape of every ball that he had touched and I kind of felt his electricity a little bit more and we decided as a staff that we were going to be creative and get this guy the ball. And we've got to keep doing that in more ways than we are, because we can do an even better job of that."
On what Tate needs to improve on:
"I think -- knock on wood – that he catches the ball pretty well. For a guy that's moving that fast, getting in and out of breaks like he can, sometimes they have some drops. I do think that Brandon's the first one to say that he's left some yards out on the field. He's made some spectacular plays, so he's set the bar pretty high. We expect him to catch that ball in the end zone this past weekend, and he expects that as well."
On Brooks Foster:
"Brooks has been fantastic, and he started fast – I think the third play of the [season] he went 65 [yards] for a touchdown. He's a fabulous athlete. He's gives us a lot of flexibility, because he's also a super smart player… He didn't play last week because of an injury, [but] he's been practicing this week and he's coming along. We expect to work him into our rotation.
"With our three wide receivers, when we roll with Brandon, Brooks and Hakeem [Nicks], we feel strong about these guys and Brooks, just like Brandon, is the type of guy that we have to find ways to get the ball to him. We've done it on screens, we've done it on handoffs and sometimes its just a short pass and let this guy do the bulk of the work, because he's certainly do that for us some this year."
On Bryon Bishop:
"[Bishop] is working his tail off. We're real fond of the progress that he's made. I think he's getting better and better every single week…. It may not happen for him this year, but we're anxious to get him into spring and see where we go."
On how much Davis' two-day absence hurts the team:
"That's a good question. Coach Davis' presence in anything -- whether it's a meeting, whether it's practice or just in the building – is strong and its valued. I do think this, though – that Coach Davis has set a very, very high standard in terms of practice, in terms of organization and how we meet. That standard was met yesterday and it will be met today, with the players as well. There's no substitute for Coach Davis. Nobody can stand up in front of the team and motivate the way he can. There's no substitute for that.
"But, in some ways, its tremendous motivation for our players and for our coaches to be able to meet the standards that he has set even when he's not here, and I think that speaks volumes of Coach Davis… And I promise you this, he's watching this film, and if they're not met, some people are going to have to answer for it. We're working our tails off to meet those standards and his expectations."
On T.J. adapting to top defenses like Virginia Tech and Miami:
"It's not just those two defenses. It started with Virginia, then it went to South Florida, then it went to Virginia Tech and then it went to Miami, who by the way, was the No. 1 defense in the ACC when we played them. And now, lo and behold, we get the No. 1 pass defense in the country. It's like playing in the NFL again. Every single week, you are facing a grind and it's really hard….
"I think one of the things that young quarterbacks can do, and we saw it a little bit at South Florida, is trying to make something out of nothing. South Carolina really plays a great brand of defense. My hats off to Coach Nix and their defensive staff. They play a great brand. They're aggressive and they're all over the place.
"And it's like you're playing a basketball team that's in a full court press for 40 minutes. Some guys will come out at the end of that game, and say, ‘Well, we just had a bad shooting night.' Well, it seems like everybody has a bad shooting night then, against a team that pressures you like they do. A lot of quarterbacks have bad passing nights, and it just so happens that they're all against the University of South Carolina."