"Like all games, we've got to do a very good job of protecting the football and minimizing penalties and mistakes. We've got to play well on special teams, and if we do those things, it will give us a chance. It will be a very interesting game this Saturday."
On Tom O'Brien:
"The things that I know about Tom are that he's an ethical coach – he recruits ethically and that certainly gives every coach a good beginning point. He's a good disciplinarian. He's a no-nonsense guy. He went through a similar situation at Boston College much like I went [through] at Miami, and handled it obviously, and persevered through a difficult situation. He's a very good football coach."
On the first thing that Davis wanted to accomplish at North Carolina:
"There were several things and some of them were certainly non-football related. The assembly of a great coaching staff was the No. 1 agenda, that if you have great coaches – guys who treat kids the right way that are good football coaches and good recruiters – that certainly gives you a chance to be successful…
"You're always trying to create a culture and an environment for success. A place where the kids love to come over here, there's no fear of failure, that they love to come to the building, that they know that the coaches are going to help them become not only better football players, but better individuals and better students. From the football perspective, certainly to try to identify what kind of talent did you actually truly inherit.
"What positions do they best play [and] try to help those guys understand where their shortcomings are and what they need to do to improve the things that are their strengths to continue to build upon those. And then try to build, trying to lay a foundation – I think every coach that goes in some place, it's a process and you realize that there's probably no shortcuts to get to the top.
"If you try to manufacture any shortcuts, somewhere along the line you're probably going to build something that will probably crumble. We've got to take our time and do it the right way and I think that we inherited so many young and inexperienced players – I never dreamed that you'd only have four seniors starting and playing and contributing on offense and defense and 51 kids that had never played in a college football game before the start of the season… Hopefully somewhere down the line, that will pay some dividends."
On how he feels the program has done in that regard:
"In some respects, I think we're on track. In some areas, I think we're ahead of schedule. In some areas, we've still got some work to do. We've got to increase the speed of this football team, we've got to increase the strength, and I think that now that we understand the players better, this next offseason and next spring practice will be enormously more productive. Last year was just kind of trying to get to know people by their first names, and now we've got a much, much better appreciation of what they need.
"It was probably Football 101 last spring and we didn't make many strides or progress in some areas that would have made these guys better football players, just because we didn't understand how inexperienced and how much football knowledge they needed to [add]. I think the next six months will be twice as productive as last year."
On if he has a good sense of the UNC-NCSU rivalry:
"You do have a good sense of it and it will probably continue to grow as you participate and play in these games. The only other school situation that I can think of that would be parallel to this would be USC and UCLA, where two football programs are in the same city. Basically, that's kind of what State and [UNC] are.
"So the natural proximity of the two schools – it stands to reason that it should be a significant rivalry and it's the reason that most of these kids have played against each other and there's a long history and they're both in the same conference. I think that even adds a little extra element that Florida and Florida State aren't in the same conference, and Miami wasn't in the same conference with Florida State, but it was a state rivalry even not being in the same conference… It stands to reason that it will always be a big rivalry."
On if the atmosphere around the program has been different this week:
"Most of it comes from the fact that we won the ball game. I think that anytime that you win, your players are certainly more upbeat and are a little bit more focused. I think that they recognize that it's another ACC game and it's N.C. State.
But what we're trying to build here is that we're trying to prepare every week as if it's the biggest game of the season. I think it's a real mistake when you try to say, ‘Okay, we're going to really, really work hard this week because it's N.C. State' and two weeks ago it was Virginia, and we're not going to work as hard? That logic makes no sense at all."
N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien on Butch Davis:
"[Davis] has got a lot of great young talent, and that's for sure, especially both on the offensive and defensive line. To start with, he's playing a lot of young kids – two freshman linebackers, a lot of freshmen kids in the secondary, so he's definitely building the program for the future. He's got a freshman quarterback that is progressing. He's gotten better each and every [week]. He has a great personality and he's done a great job coaching wherever he's been, so he knows how to coach them and he's got tremendous personnel.
"I said earlier this week [that] there's not a lot of difference in looking at this defense that he has now and the defense we just played at the University of Miami. And talking to people around the league, comparing some of his skill on offense – they claim that his wide receivers are as good as anybody they've played, and they've played some of the best teams in this conference."