"Well, depth could be defined as that we've got people lined up in jerseys. There's a difference between depth and guys that have actually participated and played in games. I heard a great comment and it gave me cause to stop and ponder on this, that every year with your football team and players, if you're doing the right things as far as coaching and recruiting and you've got good kids and you're in a good program, sometimes the question is not can a kid do it, it's just when he can do it. When will he be able to do it?
"One of the things that we have really worked hard on the last year is to build some depth in the offensive line. Last year was a difficult situation. We lost Carl Gaskins during training camp, Aaron Stahl chose to go ahead and graduate and not to come back, and then Jonathan Cooper got hurt, Lowell Dyer tears his shoulder up. At best, it was baling wire, band-aids and duck tape keeping that offensive line together.
"But sometimes what becomes a curse can become a blessing, because guys like Travis Bond and Brennan Williams and Cam Holland, they were thrust in either as red-shirt freshmen or true freshmen to play in games last year. It was baptism under fire. But now, all of a sudden, they've been in games. They've played. They've kind of earned their stripes a little bit. Now, the cohesiveness and going into games – there's no question in my mind that we will be, as a football team, we're going to be a better football team every single week that we play because they're going to gain experience.
"It's still Carl Gaskins's first game. It's still James Hurst's first game of the season… I think the best-case scenario, and I've talked to Sam Pittman, our offensive line coach about this, it would be awesome for five guys to start the game, but for us to maybe get three and maybe even a fourth guy to get in the games. Maybe they can play a couple of possessions. The talent level, the experience level, the effort level – there wouldn't be a drop-off."
"Unfortunately, we lost Giovanni Bernard, a freshman running back that came in. I want to say that he had maybe 3-4-5 practices at the most, and we were really excited about his speed, his quickness and some of the dimensions that he could bring to the offense. He's really a good kid. He's now almost three weeks into the surgery to repair the knee that he hurt in practice. The freaky thing about it is that the same thing that happened to Giovanni happened to Matt Merletti a year ago – running on the practice field and not one single person touched him. Just stuck his foot into the ground, made a sharp cut to one side and it was just one of those freaky things… Gio will be back. He'll be up and running and hopefully we'll have him back doing some significant things by springtime."
On Quinton Coples's move to defensive tackle and if his height poses a problem:
"I personally believe that if you can play in the defensive line, given the things that you ask kids to do, I think you can make that transition. I coached Ed "Too Tall" Jones who was 6-foot-10 and he played defensive end. Quinton is clearly not as tall as he is. But we had a similar experiment with a young, raw defensive end during my coaching career with the Dallas Cowboys. We moved a kid to the inside and that was Leon Lett, who was probably 6-foot-7. Leon became just an absolutely phenomenal player, a Pro Bowl player that helped lead the Cowboys to three Super Bowls. So it was not probably by design that he had to go inside, but he's embraced that move and he's working hard to do a really good job in there and I think he's going to do very well."
On James Hurst:
"One of the things that you hope never happens is that you put unrealistic expectations on young kids. I think it's horribly unfair for kids to come in and you say, ‘Gosh, he's the next greatest thing since sliced bread.' He is going to be a really good football player, and he's going to be good early in his career. But like all freshmen, he is a true freshman. He's never played in a college football game. He's going to get into the game this Saturday and he's going to make some really good plays and he's going to maybe make some mistakes and that's going to be okay. We understand that. But I know the more that guys like that play, the better they will be in the long run."
'Butch Davis Live' airs Wednesday evenings on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates.