Q&A with Butch Davis, Part III

Butch Davis fielded questions from reporters for over an hour this week at the ACC Kickoff. Read everything the Tar Heel head coach said in InsideCarolina.com's three-part transcription ...

The other day you said you hadn't had a chance to read up about the North Carolina Secretary of State's agent probe. Did you have a comment on that?

I haven't seen the actual thing, but here's what I do know: I was told that there were 37 states that have legislation that has the potential for prosecution for these types of incidents. Florida and Texas and maybe two others went actually further than just having legislation. They actually had penalties and the ability to prosecute if you talk to or engage with any athlete that still has eligibility left, which is different than the other 34 states. I don't even know what our legislation is in North Carolina. I don't know if there is the ability to prosecute, I don't know what are the statutes on the books. I do think that may be a part of the solution, that anybody that does co-op or get kids into any situation like that – maybe they need some jail time. Maybe they need significant fines, maybe they need to lose their licenses, maybe they need to have the inability to represent clients.

Commissioner Swafford said yesterday that the collegiate community had no hammer in regards to agents. Do you think the NFL Players Association really cares enough to sanction some of these agents?

I think the NFL Players Association cares greatly about fraudulent agents that misrepresent, lie and do illegal things. Tank Black and some guys went to prison and there were people who lost millions of dollars through poor financial planning and people who thought that they were supposed to be managing the money and at the end of the day they actually stole the money. There are agents out there that have horrible reputations. Maybe conferences, the coaches and the athletic directors get together and start sharing the information. Just like there's a so-called black list or agents that could potentially lose their license for the NFL Players Association, maybe there needs to be something within the conferences that says, ‘Hey look, these guys are visiting your campus, you need to notify all of your players and their families that these are bad guys.' Maybe that might be one way, one step that institutions could help is that if a guy is a crook on the west coast, we may not know about him until two years later. Then all of a sudden he's here, a guy that's in Texas is here or someone from New York.

What do you have to do on defense to get to the point where you're dominant week in and week out?

We've got to play consistent every single week, create more turnovers, play better as a team, special teams wise and offensively. I don't think that we're good enough or talented enough to win 7-0 every single week on defense.

You came to Chapel Hill about nine years after Dean Smith retired. I was wondering what relationship you had with Coach Smith and how he's affected your program.

Unfortunately, I don't have as close of a relationship as I would've liked because he's not around that much. I've been in a couple of community-related golf tournaments that he has participated in previously and I got a chance to just sit and visit. Certainly wished I knew him better. I wish I had been around while he was still more involved with the basketball program. I would've loved to watch how he orchestrated his practices and things he told players. I've never been fortunate enough to have that kind of situation – I have to learn it through Roy.

Shane Murlarkey – what role do you feel like he could play for you this year and how can he help your depth?

Shane was one of those kids that, last year, came in that was probably totally under the radar. Not very people thought that he was very highly recruited. He had an outstanding year on special teams, he was really one of our best special teams players. We're hoping that we can groom him into becoming a real significant contributor at linebacker. He has outstanding football instincts. He's a gym rat, he has that innate athletic ability to just kind of understand how to play the game. Hopefully he'll be a guy that will work his way into playing a lot more on defense. His father is a great guy and a guy that I have a great deal of respect for.

They've started Phase Two of the stadium renovation …

A lot of dust, a lot of bulldozers. At least four times a day, I tell our guys look out there at that deal. That's why you're going to school to get an education so you don't have to go out there in 104 degrees with a shovel. Those guys are busting their butts working down there and making a lot of progress. They say that by the end of the season there will actually be steel up in the air and concrete layers being poured. It'll be an interesting project to watch over the next 90 days.

How big of a priority is this renovation with you? You obviously pushed this thing, so what makes it so important to you?

I think that anybody that would've been the head coach at North Carolina would've pushed for that. There were some areas in the program that really needed addressing. Most significantly was the academic support area. We have 800 student-athletes that basically have no place for tutoring, study hall, academic support, advising, meeting with tutors and mentors. We needed that facility, having said that, that was a component of it. We also have 27 other sports that have no place to train. This is going to have a weight room and a training facility for all the other sports. Our lacrosse program needed a locker room, so it's going to provide the lacrosse program with a locker room. We desperately needed visitor locker rooms for not only football games but also some of the other sports. The other key ingredient of this entire thing is the potential growth for revenue. How can you maximize the revenue to keep all 28 sports solvent? How do you pay for the scholarships? How do you pay for the coaching salaries? How do you pay for the travel? How do you pay for the uniforms? There's a certain element of some of those sports that just aren't going to generate enough revenue or any revenue. The one way to keep all of those, if you're the athletic director and board of trustees, to keep all those sports solvent to where they can continue to compete for national championships and have scholarships, you have to grow the revenue from a football perspective. Hence the club seating, hence the skyboxes, because those are things that will pay for the project itself but it will also generate revenue for years and years to come. Hopefully we'll start Phase Three and add more premium club seating and a new press box. That press box, desperately - there's a lot of things that could be better just about the press box area that we're currently using.

Did you negotiate these elements when you took the job?

Not at all.

When did you start pushing?

I didn't push it. They told me when I interviewed for the job that they had these plans. They said that this was something that they've been wanting to do for three, four or five years. I said ‘That's great, I'm glad it's happening while I'm here.'

You said earlier you don't expect to suspend Quan for the LSU game…

I didn't say that… Who said that? Somebody asked if I was going to suspend him for the whole year and I said no…

They said for the first game…

My bad, I thought they said for the whole year. Still, we haven't made any decision on that yet.

Is that even in play at this point?

I'm not even thinking about it.

This defensive line, do you think it's comparable to what you had at Miami?

I don't know. So many of these guys are on that cutting edge of they haven't done it yet. Donte Moss, Michael McAdoo, those guys we'll find out. This will be kind of the make or break year to find out if some of those young guys are ready. Tydreke Powell, this is his first time to be a starter. He's played behind Cam Thomas and Aleric Mullins, he's kind of been the fourth guy in that rotation. If they all fulfill the potential that they've got, we could be a really, really good defensive line.

How do you determine when and where is the right time to test Bryn Renner?

Maybe the opening kickoff of the first game? I don't know. A lot of it is how comfortable is the kid and what level of confidence does he have and how much do the other team guys believe and trust that he's going to do the right thing?

Would you have to see him in a game situation before you bumped him ahead of T.J.?

Nope. He's going to get a chance against a pretty good defense for 29 days.

How much of TJ's struggles last year – how much of that was throwing to a new receiving corps?

I'm going to give T.J. the benefit of the doubt. If you only knew how difficult it was to play that position and know that at any given moment, there could be a jailbreak in the offensive line. It's hard, because the last thing in the world you want your quarterback to do is worry about protection. … When we evaluate T.J., like all the players, we look at mechanically did he do the right thing? And then, technically did he do the right thing? Did he throw to the right receiver? Did he force a throw? Sometimes quarterbacks feel like ‘I've got to make a play.' I will tell you this, quarterbacks are going to throw interceptions. It's the dumb interceptions, the ones that are totally not a smart decision. Scrambling, running to the right just throwing it completely across your body and letting everyone on defense break on the ball. Those are the ones that there's no forgiveness.

How much did Ryan Houston set himself back by missing the spring? It seems like he was doing real well. Does have a chance to kind of be the main guy even though Shaun [Draughn's] coming back?

He'll be fine. He's had a very good summer. This is probably the lightest, the fastest and the quickest we've seen him since I've been the coach here. He's gone from 268 pounds to, I think the other day he was 239, 240. He's 25 pounds lighter. I think it will make him a little bit quicker and a little more nifty. … I think there is enough playing time for three running backs, I really believe that. Somebody is going to get 25 touches in a ball game, somebody is going to get 15-18 and somebody is going to get 10. However that works to the best of those kids' ability - whether it's short yards, goaline, four-minute offense, start the game, start a possession - really doesn't matter. We've just got to find that third guy.

You have two guys at punter in Grant Schallock and C.J. Feagles. Is Feagles in position to potentially challenge for that position?

Sure he is, yeah. I think that's a definite area that this football team needs to improve on. I think last year we probably asked too much maybe of Grant. Being a first time punter, we would've probably been much better off just allowing him to take away some of the directional kicking. For a first time guy, it was probably too much to ask of Grant. He's worked on it pretty hard during the spring time and during the summer. We'll see if that's still something going into the season that we can do. C.J. comes in with a different skill set than Grant did, because C.J. has the benefit of maybe having the best punting coach on the planet. His dad just finished 22 years in the NFL and multiple Pro Bowls and he really gets it on how to coach him. From a mechanical, fundamental standpoint C.J. is really good.

I think you would agree in the last two games last year that you guys kind of beat yourselves to a certain extent…

Here's what I'll say about Pitt. Pitt's a damn good football team. The kid that they had at running back, I think he broke Tony Dorsett's freshman rushing record. He's pretty good and they were pretty good on defense...

He didn't throw an interception on the goal line…

Did we do some things? Sure we did. Yeah, absolutely we wish we had some of those things to do over. We didn't win the game and down the stretch the same things are true though. All the musical chairs that we played with the offensive line all year long - we never really ever got satisfied and got to the point that we were really comfortable with the five guys that we were playing. It was musical chairs at wide receiver, tight end, offensive line. It's a little bit of a challenge.

What can you address from those losses?

Focus in practice. We talked about that an awful lot. A lot of those things are potentially byproducts of what goes on in practice carries over into ball games. One of the things that we've got to do as a coaching staff, we've been so caught up in trying to get the right guys on the field. Trying to grow the program, we haven't done as much situational football as we need. We need to coach more situational football. More two minute drills, more backed up offensive and defensive situations, more two-minute situations, more red zone things and more third down things. I think our kids will benefit from that. We haven't really had the luxury of being able to spend that much time on a lot of those things because we're trying to get guys to figure out who to block in the offensive line.

Where does Casey (Barth) stand right now? How much more development has he had since last year, especially with leg strength and distance?

It's something that we've worked on an awful lot with our strength and conditioning coaches to try to develop more leg speed and more power. I think Casey has got to be one of the better kickers in college football. I think he's kicked like 93 percent of his field goals inside 45 yards. I'll take that every day of the year for the duration of my coaching career. Kicking the ball from kicking off and kicking it to the end zone and into the end zone, if he can't do it we've got to find somebody else. If he can't do that, we've got two kids on our team, both of which are walk-ons. Trase Jones, he's actually been the holder, was a kicker and he's got a really strong leg and a fast leg, he's just a little inconsistent. And a walk-on by the name of Thomas Moore that kicked for East Chapel Hill High, one of his strengths is that he is a guy that might do it. If we've got to split the duties and responsibilities I'm more than willing to do that.

What do you think Casey's range is on field goals?

I've seen him at 53 yards.

What kind of resiliency have you seen out of Michael McAdoo and Kevin Reddick, as they faced some real adversity with the fire at their apartment?

They have had a great attitude about it. Michael's mom flew into town the day after, they were so meticulously organized about working with the insurance companies. They didn't jump off the deep end. They handled it really, really maturely.

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