ACC Kickoff: Butch Davis Notebook

GREENSBORO, N.C. – North Carolina head coach Butch Davis sat down with reporters for over an hour on Monday afternoon to discuss all things related to Tar Heel football at the ACC Kickoff at Grandover Resort.

** As expected, Davis opened his media session with the print media by saying that he would not be able to discuss the pending NCAA investigation surrounding his program. The fourth-year UNC head coach did reaffirm, however, that UNC is doing what it can to hurry the review along.

"I think our institution has done absolutely everything that they can from a compliance standpoint," Davis said. "We've cooperated with the NCAA. The feedback we got from them was that the more cooperative, the more help you can provide, the faster that these things move along."

As Inside Carolina previously reported, North Carolina is prohibited from launching its own separate inquiry into this situation. Davis said that UNC has not had dialogue with the NCAA since its representatives left Chapel Hill nearly two weeks ago and that the program is currently playing the waiting game.

"It's not our role," Davis said. "Right now, the ball is certainly in their court. They've done their role. We've done our role. And now you just wait until further notice."

As for conversations with the student-athletes prior to the interviews, Davis said, "The only instruction that we gave the players was ‘Tell the truth.'"

Towards the end of the media session, Davis was asked if the recent developments – the NCAA review and Quan Sturdivant's marijuana charge – could threaten to undo what he has built in Chapel Hill.

"No, I don't think so," he said. "I think they are instances that happen and we will deal with these things. I think we will be a better program because of them."

** Robert Quinn told anybody that would listen on Sunday that his goal for 2010 was to win the Heisman Trophy after posting 27 sacks on the season. On Monday, his head coach pointed to one significant difference in his junior defensive end from spring '09 to spring '10.

"He started to take the approach that he really wanted to dominate every drill," Davis said.

Due to a split squad during the spring game, the coaching staff almost reached the point of telling Quinn to take a knee to avoid an avalanche of sacks.

"[Quinn's] got the potential, over the next two seasons, to be as good as anybody that we've ever coached," Davis said.

** While the coaching staff has concerns with the overall inexperience of the offensive line, Davis had several good things to say about his big boys up front.

Davis said that senior Alan Pelc "probably right now is our best offensive lineman" due to his versatility in being able to play all five positions, while senior right tackle Mike Ingersoll "is probably the most dramatically improved player in the offensive line."

The Mint Hill, N.C. native has increased his upper-body strength during the offseason and currently checks in at a svelte 310 pounds.

Red-shirt sophomore center Jonathan Cooper also drew praise from his head coach.

"I think he can be outstanding," Davis said. "He's got great lateral movement, he's got excellent upper-body strength and he can get to the second level. He's got enough speed so that linebackers just can't run away from him."

A humorous exchange occurred when a reporter asked about T.J. Yates' comments on Sunday about freshman tackle James Hurst holding his own against Robert Quinn during spring practice. Davis interrupted, saying, "It didn't happen. He didn't hold his own. Nobody did."

** Yates is the incumbent starter heading into fall practice next Friday, but Davis seemed more willing on Monday to suggest that a potential quarterback controversy is brewing than he ever has in the past.

"If T.J. Yates is the starting quarterback this season, then he's going to play really good because somebody is pushing him to become an excellent player," Davis replied when asked about Yates' competition under center with red-shirt freshman Bryn Renner.

One contingent of the media – this reporter included – has long believed that Yates would ultimately be the starter against LSU on Sept. 4 due to his vast experience as a three-year starting quarterback at UNC. But Davis indicated that he would not have to see Renner in a game situation before handing him the reins to the offense.

"He's going to get a chance against a pretty good defense for 29 days," Davis said.

But before fans begin thinking that Yates is a lame duck quarterback heading into August, remember that the weight of the offensive failures in '09 doesn't entirely fall on the red-shirt senior's shoulders.

When asked how much it would help Yates to have an increased level of experience at the wide receiver position this fall, Davis said, "A lot."

** Quick Hits:

  • On the potential impact of the 2010 recruiting class for this season: "I think we'll probably have 10 of this year's freshman class that will have some kind of a role on this football team, whether it's playing on special teams or whether it's playing in nickel packages."

    Davis noted that he has been pleased with the progression of the six freshmen that enrolled in January and also named Giovanni Bernard as a player that will be given an opportunity at running back in training camp.

  • Sophomore wide receiver Erik Highsmith has added 25 pounds to his 6-foot-3 frame this offseason.

  • When asked if Ryan Houston will be ready for training camp after missing spring practice due to academics, Davis replied, "Absolutely – no doubt about it."

  • On red-shirt junior left tackle Carl Gaskins (ACL): "Carl is ‘full go.' He's 100 percent."

  • Sophomore running back A.J. Blue (ACL/PCL/MCL) will join his teammates for the start of practice on Aug. 6 in a limited fashion. The Dallas, N.C. native has participated in all OTA events this summer, as well as the offseason conditioning program. The decision as to when he can take and make hits in practice will be looked into on a week-by-week basis.

    Davis indicated that Blue has made "remarkable strides" in his recovery.

    "I don't know that I've seen any kid work any harder on a rehab program than what he's done to try to get himself back healthy," Davis said.

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