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Game Day: UNC vs. James Madison
Posted Sep 1, 2007
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Butch Davis era officially kicks off against the James Madison Dukes on Saturday night at 6 p.m. (ESPN360).
The Tar Heels have lost seven of their last nine season openers, but hope to reverse that trend in front of a sellout crowd at Kenan Stadium.
This contest marks the first meeting between the two schools, despite having only 215 miles separating the two campuses. And while James Madison plays in the playoff championship division (formerly Div. I-AA), Davis expects the Dukes’ experience and spread offense to present problems for his young squad.
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"I would certainly be disappointed if our team overlooked anybody,” Davis said “This is a football team that is trying to create an identity, trying to create a future for our program. I know our coaches and our players all week have talked about James Madison's talent and how good they are and how well coached they are. Regardless of the opponent each week a high percentage of the success is how you deal with yourself. We're looking for execution. We're looking for things about our football team that have nothing to do with the opponent."
James Madison head coach Mickey Matthews and his staff have been grasping at straws trying to figure out what types of schemes North Carolina will employ on Saturday evening.
“It’s been frustrating because you watch tape of them from last year, and certainly you’re looking at individuals and not schemes, because we have no idea what they’re going to do on either side of the ball or on special teams,” Matthews said. “… But they’re North Carolina – there’re not many guys on our team that they recruited or even talked to, so we know their personnel is good and they’re a very good ACC program. I’m sure Butch has got them going down there and I’m sure they will play pretty hard. It’ll be a tough game for us.”
Matthews is not alone in his uncertainty – Davis is not even sure what to expect when kickoff rolls around.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Davis said. “We haven’t played one single game with these kids to find out exactly how they’re going to play and react under the lights.”
Red-shirt freshman quarterback T.J. Yates will step into the spotlight against the Dukes, with fans anxiously waiting to see how the first-time starter performs in front of 60,000 strong. The Marietta, Ga. native believes his preparation will prevent the pressure from building up in the season opener.
“I’m just trying to stay as focused as possible, and just stick to the film that I’ve been watching,” Yates said. “Just going over my plays as much as possible to have them memorized so that when game time comes around, I won’t have too much to think about and I can just go out and play.”
One thing the Tar Heels do know is that nine months of hitting and tackling each other comes to an end in just a matter of hours.
“We’ve worked as hard as we’ve ever worked this offseason,” junior LB Chase Rice said. “We deserve a big game this Saturday – the fans deserve it… Everything’s been leading up to Saturday, and it’s finally here. I’ve never felt so excited to play a game.”
Butch Davis Radio Show Quotes
Aug 31, 2007
Friday's UNC Links
Aug 31, 2007
ICTV: Davis Hosts Season's First Show
Aug 30, 2007
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