On the team's bowl hopes:
"I think that every guy on our football team recognizes the fact that if we want to try to go to a bowl game, certainly it starts with this weekend. And the same was true with Maryland last weekend. They came in here with four wins and they have the same goals and aspirations that we do, and N.C. State's got the same goals and aspirations, so we're all down in that same situation. We've got to take it one game at a time, and certainly it starts this Saturday."
On the coaching staff praising players after mistakes:
"I think that you have to recognize that you cannot waste a moment to try to recognize special effort – guys that are truly trying to do the right things. We're not going to always do everything right – the players aren't [and] the coaches aren't. We're all in this together. We tell the players, ‘We trust you, you've got to trust us' and I want those players to know that we recognize special effort.
"If they're hustling, if they're competing, if they're passionate about what they're trying to do and they're committed about the program, then we're going to always hug them around the neck and pat them on the back. We're going to try to change some things that they're not doing right, but we're going to certainly recognize when they are truly giving great effort."
On why T.J. Yates doesn't set up in the shotgun:
"Any quarterback, if you were going to throw the ball every single time, would love to be in the shotgun. I think that it certainly eliminates a certain element of the rush taking the snap from under center, but the downside to it is that it somewhat limits the type of running game [you can have]. The ability of having play-action pass, unless you're going to become a read-option football team [and] unless you're going to get a quarterback that runs 4.3-4.4-4.5 and you're going to ride and decide like West Virginia, and certainly that's not the style of offense that we're doing.
"We try to get T.J. in the shotgun as often as we possibly can in certain situations, and you some elements of some runs – you have some draws and a couple of things that you can do, but it certainly limits your running attack."
On why the cornerbacks play so far off the line of scrimmage:
"As long as we can keep those sideline [passes] to 3-4-5 yard completions and change the coverages on them and keep them out of the end zone… There will be a day when we'll have a defensive football team that will jump in the face of people and start blitzing and knocking quarterbacks out of ball games and doing some of that stuff, but right now, we're trying to keep them out of the end zone as often as possible."
On the running backs' improvement:
"I think that they absolutely have improved. I think that a lot of times it's not as evident as a lot of people would like for it to be, but there's no question that Johnny White, Anthony Elzy, Ryan Houston and those guys have dramatically gotten better. They've gotten better in their blitz protection, they've gotten better in their understanding of the offense.
"The coordination of the running game – it's been sporadic, we've had brilliant periods of time where we've run the ball very, very well. We just haven't done it as consistently as we would like to do it, and I think sometimes it doesn't all just fall on the shoulders of the running game. Sometimes if you're having success with the passing game, the play-action pass is working [then] they've got to worry about those kinds of things. It all has to be synchronized.
"When we were throwing the ball early in the season, people really didn't have an idea of how to defend us. They had never seen us play last year, there was no tape available, so they were kind of playing us pretty vanilla. So we kind of cherry-picked a lot of people in the secondary because we had some good receivers that could make big plays. Well, all of a sudden, you start to develop an identity and people know who you are…
"It's going to take a while. I think our football team is going to be much better next year, just simply for having spent a season together and this offseason will extraordinarily interesting for all of the running backs."
"Yesterday, unfortunately, one of our young freshman players injured his knee and is going to have surgery. One of the players that we were red-shirting – Linwan Euwell. They're going to do surgery on him, and we pray that he's going to be okay. I talked to his parents, talked to his father this morning. But the guys I think that we're going to count on to try to win the game on Saturday – those guys should be ready to go."
'Butch Davis Live' airs Thursday evenings on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates.