Withers/Davis Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- New defensive coordinator Everett Withers and head coach Butch Davis spoke to the media via teleconference on Monday afternoon.


Opening remarks:
"I want to thank Coach Davis and everybody here at the University of North Carolina. This is a place where I've always wanted to coach, as well as wanting to play here. This is a dream come true for me and my family. I grew up down the road in Charlotte, North Carolina, and to have the opportunity to come to the University of North Carolina and be a part of this staff and what Coach Davis is trying to get done here with the program. I'm just so excited to be a part of it. We're going to try to put together a defense that will play smart, fast and have fun playing."

On the decision to move from the NFL back to college several years ago:
"The chance to get back and deal with young men, not only in sports, but in life settings and teaching them life situations and helping them grow up. You have more of a say in that in college than you do in the NFL. That was always important to me. To not only be a coach, but to be somebody that young men can look up to and be sort of a mentor to them."

On his strengths:
"I've been a secondary coach all of my life, and I really enjoy being back there in the secondary. Overall, I think the ability to communicate and understand what players are seeing on the field and being able to help them through technique issues. I've always thought that one of my strengths was just to be able to help individuals get better as football players. I've always liked to take different guys and try to find ways to make them better, and in turn, make the entire football team better. I really enjoy being around young men, I'm enthusiastic – I want to be around the guys, and I think that's important."

Have you watched any film on the current players, and if so, what are your impressions?
"There's some talent. We've got to work, and like Coach [Davis] said, the fundamentals – we've got to go back to Square One. Work on fundamentals and get better, because obviously, the game is about getting off the blocks, tackling and running to the football. No matter what scheme you put up, that's what the game is about. And that's what we're going to go back to and teach and stress."

Do you have any family still in North Carolina?
"My mother lives in Charlotte. My brother and his wife live in Charlotte. I've got several uncles, aunts, cousins and a ton of family [there]."

You are known for your blitzing, while Davis prefers his pressure to come from the defensive line. How will those two styles mesh?
"I believe that if you can get front four pressure, then that's what you get pressure with. You only blitz because it's out of necessity and as a change up. If you're good enough up front to get the pressure with the front four, then I'm for it. I would rather have more guys in coverage, and that's a secondary coach speaking a little bit… Blitzing is something that you do obviously if you can cover outside at corner, but I would rather get front four pressure and not have to blitz."


Opening remarks:
"In the search for a defensive coordinator, one of the things that was very important was finding somebody that had great presence in the meeting room, [and] the ability to understand total defensive concepts and packages. One of the things that I was very impressed with about Everett was his defensive background. I coached a lot of years against Jeff Fisher – when I was the defensive coordinator in Dallas, Jeff was the coordinator at the Houston Oilers – and knowing that Everett coaching with Jeff got him a tremendous football background and knowledge and part of that background and knowledge encompassed two significant areas.

"One being the 4-3 defense – that that was a defensive package and scheme and concepts that have been a part of defensive packages that I have used just about every place that I've coached. And also, his expertise coaching in the secondary as it relates to a lot of nickel defenses that Tennessee did a great job [in] watching Everett's players play.

"He's been a coordinator before in a couple of different places and I was very impressed with his overall general knowledge of what all 11 guys do. I think he's a great addition. I think the addition, chemistry-wise, to our defensive staff is going to be outstanding. The players are going to love him and his passion, his enthusiasm. He's an outstanding recruiter. He's from North Carolina. So there's a pretty extensive laundry list of things that said this was the right man for the job."

What improvements would you like to see out of your defense this season?
"Last year we played so many young players… I think it starts with a continued development of fundamentals – great tackling and a greater, more meaningful understanding of the scheme that we're trying to run. From a statistical standpoint, one of the things, and Everett and the staff and I talked about this, you really want to get to be very good at stopping the run. If you can't stop the run, you're going to struggle all day long and you're never going to be able to control the line of scrimmage. That certainly is one of the areas where we would love to make significant improvement.

"One of Everett's expertises is coaching the secondary. He's done a great job coaching the secondary everywhere he's been, but the other area that you would like to see is an improvement in third-down defense. The ability to get off the field. And that comes in a variety of ways – better coverage, better pressure on the quarterback, putting the offenses in longer down-and-distance situations. But those two areas are going to be areas that collectively as a staff we're going to spend a significant amount of time trying to get better at."

What changes in the scheme do you foresee for 2008?
"In the case of every season – this year won't be any different from next year or the year after – you're going to always look back at what you did and evaluate what was successful and what wasn't. The things that weren't successful – was it personnel, was it inexperience, can you improve it and get better? And if you can't, then you've got to get rid of it. And I think you have to stay on the cutting edge. That's one of the things that I've challenged all of our coaches on our staff, offensively and defensively, is to always be looking at what's the next new thing coming down the pipe. Whether it's ways to defend a read-option offense, whether it's was to run the football on offense or pressuring quarterbacks. We're all going to try to stay on the cutting edge of everything.

"The guts of the scheme won't change from what we somewhat installed. Everett and I talked about that. Sometimes from a terminology standpoint and from a significant amount of the scheme, it's easier for one person to learn than it is for 45 guys to learn a whole new package and scheme. Everett and I have already talked about the things that we've got, and he's been running those for the last 10 or 15 years in his coaching career. He may have called it something different, but its things that he's very familiar with. So from that standpoint, we'll probably stay somewhat the same, but we're going to evaluate it. He'll bring some new ideas that I'm eager to listen and put on the board and talk about – things that he's going to bring that's going to give us chance to improve as a defense."

Inside Carolina Top Stories