On T.J. Yates’s pass to Erik Highsmith in the end zone against Virginia Tech that was ruled an interception:
“I do believe that if is it clear that both guys had come down and both of them had been wrestling for possession of the ball, they probably would have favored the offense. Erik felt like he had the ball in one hand and the other guy had his hands over his helmet and as he came down, the ball started to come loose from Erik’s hands, but his foot came down. Obviously, I’m partial, so I thought it was a touchdown. I still think it was a touchdown…
“With all of the review systems, there has to be irrefutable evidence and there’s not enough camera angles all of the time. We don’t have the luxury like they do in the National Football League where maybe 12 or 14 cameras cover a football game… The call on the field stands the majority of the time.”
“I think our coaching staff has done an outstanding job. Things have gone very well. We’ve got a pretty significant number of kids that are committed at this time. A lot of them were committed over the summer time and have stayed positive and really believe in the school and everything that it stands for and represents. We’ve been able to add some kids over the last couple of weeks. Clearly, when the season is over with, we’ve probably got another four, five or six scholarships available and we’re going to try to close those out during the month of December or possibly in those first couple of weeks of January. But it’s gone very well.
“I don’t know how many people get to stadium early enough to see all of the players and their families that are standing in the end zone during pregame warm-ups, but we had eight official visits last weekends and out of those eight official visits, we got two commitments. And out of that group of eight, four of them had already been committed, so that made it six of the eight and those six beat up the other two. They were working the other two over really hard.”
Is it harder to motivate a team coming off a big win or off a disappointing loss?
“I discussed this with the football team today. I think one of the biggest tragedies in sports in when you have a team that’s always on an emotional roller coaster. You don’t want football teams that play sky high one week and then they’re down the next week. Then they’re up the next two weeks and then back down. If you’re going to be a great football player and you’re going to be a great team, in any sport, there’s got to be a standard of accepted performance that this is the way we play all of the time.
“Does emotion play a part of it? Absolutely. Do rivalries play a part? All of those things play an emotional part, but if your effort level wanes or if you say, ‘I’m going to give 100 percent in this game but next week I’m only going to give 90,’ as a coaching staff, that would drive you insane. You want to play hard all of the time. You want to execute and play to the best of your ability. Whether you are coming off an emotional win or a tough loss, the most important thing is to put last week’s game behind you and focus on the next game.”
“Fortunately, we’re actually healthier this week as a football team than we were last week. For the first time it what seems like a month, nobody left the game and everybody that played last week is going to get to play again this week. That’s a positive for the first time in a long time.
On defensive coordinator Everett Withers:
“I don’t know how many people are aware of the fact that in college football they give out an award called the Frank Broyles award, and it is annually given to the assistant coach of the year. I love all of my assistant coaches and I think they do a phenomenal job of coaching and recruiting, but I can’t think of one single person in the country that has faced more adversity or challenges every single week to put a game plan together, to inspire kids and to teach them and to get the performances that we’ve gotten than what Everett Withers has done this year for North Carolina… If Everett doesn’t win it, they should never give out that award again.”
On senior linebackers Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter:
“I think that they are unbelievably physically-gifted young men. They had a very difficult transition because neither of them played linebacker in high school, and if you aren’t a great athlete, you can’t make that quick transition that they did during their freshmen year where they blossomed and every week you could see their poise and confidence continue to grow… Both of these guys are fast and athletic and they’re always going to be able to be somebody that can change the outcomes of ball games.”
On N.C. State
“I think an area where N.C. State has definitely improved is defensively. Their front seven is made up of a significant amount of seniors and red-shirt juniors in their fourth year and that’s kind of been their backbone. The secondary is young and talented and they’ve got some speed and athleticism. The defense is probably the biggest difference in their football team from a year ago.”
On the rivalry:
“There’s no way to escape this – this is a big rivalry. Any time that you play State or you play Duke, it’s two teams that have a significant history of playing each other. The close proximity, with the exception of Southern Cal and UCLA being right there in the same city, I don’t know anywhere else where it exists. It’s an ACC game and it’s against a big rival, so it’s a big game and it’s very important… A win over them this weekend is going to mean a lot to us.”
'Butch Davis Live' airs Wednesday evenings on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates.