"This is the best football team that we've played this far. They've got just an unbelievably talented running back. Donald Brown is leading the nation with [over] 180 yards per game, and they're leading the country in total rush yards at over 255 yards per game. Randy Edsall, the football coach there, is a guy that I watched his career.
"We actually coached against each other in the Gator Bowl in , and he left immediately after that and went to UConn. He's spent 10 years there and he's built a heck of a football program. They are the defending Big East Conference champs, and they're off to a 5-0 start, so this going to be quite a challenge."
On the defensive tackles:
"We're playing a lot of guys at defensive tackle, trying to keep those guys fresh. I think in the ball game last week we played nine different defensive linemen. I think we played four defensive tackles and five different defensive ends. And we're just trying to keep them fresh, rolling them in there. I think they're getting better each week.
"Each one of them has some unique [traits]. Cam [Thomas] is a big, massive, powerful guy that is really good at stopping the run. Aleric [Mullins] is a quicker, faster guy that does a really good job rushing the passer, and Marvin [Austin] is kind of in between. He does a little bit of both of those.
"We're taking Darrius Massenburg, who started the season at defensive end, and we've moved him to defensive tackle to help with a little bit more of speed and quickness inside because of the emergence of the three freshmen defensive ends. It's allowed us to put those guys outside. We've got a good group of guys to work with and they're getting better every week."
On the progress of the linebackers:
"Well, I think last year starting Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant as true freshmen was a move in the right direction in trying to get faster, more speed and more athleticism on the field at linebacker. Carolina has had some phenomenal linebackers – Brian Simmons was a great player, Brandon Spoon was a great player, and certainly Tommy Thigpen – its had its history of some outstanding linebackers, none better than Lawrence Taylor. But those two kids have started the move for us to try to get faster and more athletic…
"Obviously, we recruited a couple of kids last year that we've got high expectations for, and we're recruiting some kids this year. I really look forward to the day when we've got 9-10-11-12-13 linebackers on scholarship and they're all in the 4.4-4.5 category because not only do your linebackers and the defense play significantly better, but then your pool of players that are available for punt coverage and kickoff coverage dramatically gets better. That's an area that we're obviously struggling a little bit with. But we're trying to address it each week and with each recruiting class."
Scott Trulock, our athletic football trainer, has got [T.J. Yates] on a program. Obviously, he's doing all of the lifting that he would normally do in the weight room, but you need to throw the football. So they've got him sitting – sometimes he does it on the ground, sometimes it does it like sitting on a Gatorade bucket – but it gives him a chance to keep working the muscles that he needs so that he doesn't come back and experience an awful lot of soreness in his shoulder and elbow and arm like he was at the beginning of training camp. And he's making some good progress with it."
Everybody else okay?
"Yes, pretty much so."
On the strength and conditioning program:
"I think that Jeff [Connors] does a great job. The longer that the players are in a program, certainly the benefits start to show up. I think it's one of the reasons that we've stayed as healthy as we have, and I think it's one of the reasons that so many of our players have started to gain some real true lean muscle. I use Zack Pianalto as a great [example] – he ought to be the poster child for the strength and conditioning program, because showing up and playing last year as a true freshman at about 218 pounds, and this year, through all of the hard work and effort over the spring time and in the summer, he was up to about 252 pounds. And he still runs just as fast as he did.
"One of the things that I think Jeff does a great job of is maintaining the strength through the course of the season. If you're not careful and you put your strength and conditioning program into a situation where you just basically do it in the spring time and in the summer, you start to get diminishing returns. And all of a sudden, it's crunch time. It's the last four games of the season, you're in the month of November and you need to win, but your kids have lost 20 or 25 percent of their strength or body weight.
"So we try to weigh the players every two weeks. And then once every three weeks, he tests them in a certain variety to judge [their strength]. Ironically, last year, we actually gained weight and gained strength as the season went along. And we're hoping to do the same thing as this season goes along."
'Butch Davis Live' airs Wednesday evenings on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates.