"I really think this preseason training camp has been so much more productive than last year's for the simple fact that we know the players better. The ones that are coming back from the '07 team clearly knew what direction we needed to point them in during the offseason. Whether they needed to gain weight or lift weights. They understood the systems so that we could tailor make for them some specific roles. And then with the incoming freshmen, those 15 players, because we were recruited them and were in their homes and watched them play in high school, so we've been able to assimilate them into the program."
On talking to his team about not overlooking McNeese State:
"We try to make none of the games about the opponent, regardless of who it is. Whether it's Notre Dame, N.C. State, Duke or McNeese, it makes no difference. It's really about us. It's about us preparing every week to the best of our ability so that we can go out and perform and play the best that we can in Week 1. Which, clearly, we don't think that will be the best football that we play this year. We expect to get better with each succeeding week."
On the linebackers:
"We expect to start Mark Paschal in the middle and we're going to start Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter – they're going to be the two outside linebackers. All three of those guys got significant playing time last year. This year, the one thing that is extremely apparent is how much more comfortable Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant are. We talked about it a little bit last year and over the summertime, but those guys were a little bit in shell shock. They came in and neither one of them had played linebacker in high school and all of a sudden Chase Rice gets hurt in the first game of the season.
"Bruce told the team in a team meeting a couple of weeks ago that ‘I thought I was just going to stand on the sidelines and eat ice all night long and maybe go in late in the fourth quarter or play some on special teams.' And all of a sudden he was thrust into the limelight. I think what it did was open the eyes of a lot of those younger linebackers that you never know when you're opportunity is going to come along… Chase Rice – we would probably consider him the John Havlicek of the linebacker corps. If anything were to happen, Chase would come in and he's prepared to play the SAM, MIKE and WILL [spots]. He's got a lot of experience, so that gives us four linebackers.
"The young kids, we've been working with those guys this entire month to accelerate their learning curve. And I think where you'll see some of them – if everything goes according to plan – you'll see them hopefully make some contributions on special teams to get their feet wet."
On McNeese State:
"One of the things that our coaching staff and our players have seen after watching film over the last 10 days is the amount of athletes that they have. They are a very fast, athletic team. They've got guys in the secondary and at wide receiver that are listed in their media guide as running 4.3s, 4.4s and 4.2s. They may not be quite that fast, but they are very athletic and they are fast.
"They're an experienced football team. They've got a significant number of starters that are back that have game experience. Their quarterback is 18-3 as a starter, so [take into account] all of those things. And when you break it down and look at their offense, defense and special teams, certainly a team that runs the read option like McNeese does, there's no way that your scout team can simulate the speed in which they can execute that offense… So the adjustment in the first quarter to the speed and tempo of the game is always something that you're very concerned about."
On 2006 Southland Conference Player of the Year Steven Whitehead:
"He does an awful lot for the football team like Santana Moss did for us when I was at the University of Miami. Not a big kid by stature, but electrifyingly fast with the ball in his hands. I'm sure they're going to want to get him some significant touches."
On defensive ends opposite E.J. Wilson:
"The guys that you should look for are guys like Darius Powell and one of the guys that we flipped over from tight end last year in Vince Jacobs. You can take a look at some of the younger guys like Darrius Massenburg, who was injured last year, and take a look at some of the young defensive ends like Quinton Coples and Robert Quinn. All of those guys at some point in time are going to make some significant contributions as we find out who is really, really good against the run and who is good at rushing the passer, and in other certain situations. So you'll probably see as many as five guys play defensive end for us on Saturday.
'Butch Davis Live' airs Wednesday evenings on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates.