"We knew more [about the players this spring], there was less experimentation, less moving players around from offense to defense and different positions, and we were able to semi-address some of the areas with players on an individual basis, that now, this kid needs to work on change-of-direction skills [and] this kid needs to work on back pedaling. You can kind of tailor-make the practice sessions to fit each individual kid's needs, and obviously, try to continue to grow our schemes. There are an awful lot of challenges still with this football program. We're still a long way away from being where we need to be competitive, not only at the ACC level, but certainly on a national level, but I think we're definitely moving in the right direction.
"Some of the issues that we've faced… You never like the fact that the starting quarterback that played 12 games had to undergo shoulder surgery. We would have loved to have seen how much he would have grown and developed having been able to have 12 games of experience from last fall to see how much more he could move the meter during the spring time. If there is a silver lining to that, it allowed Mike Paulus and Cam Sexton, the two back-ups, to get a significant amount of work, considerable more work than they would have gotten had T.J. [Yates] been there. To see if not only could they put themselves in a position to compete for the starting job, but also certainly to enhance the ability to develop a back-up quarterback, which last year we were never forced to use one. But inevitably, you're probably going to need to have a quality, talented back-up quarterback.
"Some other issues – we had 10 players that had some form or fashion of minor injuries or surgeries that kept them out of spring practice. And that certainly didn't help those players advance in their own individual ability and for us to evaluate and try to find out how much of contributor could they be.
"But there were positive things – I think that we're starting to develop a little bit of depth in the offensive line. I think that we're in a situation where we really feel that we've got a competent, good receiving corps where we've got some good depth and some good playmakers there. We're a little bit more solidified at the running back position. We know who the guys are and what they're capabilities are.
"From a defensive standpoint, we've still got some challenges at the linebacker and secondary areas to try to fulfill… One of the things keeping the head coach up at night more than anything else is probably special teams. We didn't play very well in special teams last year, and certainly with the loss of Connor Barth and the snappers and the holders, we've got an awful lot of work in front of us to have a competent battery of special teams players. "
On Kentwan Balmer possibly being a first-round draft pick and how having players selected benefits the program:
"I think it is important. Certainly, a year ago, there were no North Carolina Tar Heels drafted and I'm not sure the previous year prior to that if anyone was drafted, I think maybe only one player. And we stand to have the possibility of maybe as many as four drafted. We're very optimistic and hopeful that Hilee Taylor and Durell Mapp and Connor Barth will join Kentwan over the weekend as being selected. I think one of the things I think it shows the direction and improvement of the program, and what it also does is that it talks about the schemes and the style.
"Every place that I've ever coached, we've always emphasized that we're going to have a pro-style football program, one that's going to showcase kids' talents, that's going to give them an opportunity to play in schemes that if they perform and play the way that we expect them to play, the NFL is certainly going to recognize that.
"And I think that Kentwan is great evidence of that. Prior to this past season … some of the scouting reports didn't even have Kentwan as a free agent, and now all of a sudden, he's got an opportunity to become a first-round draft choice, and I think that's a testament to him – his work ethic, his character [and] the performance he had this year on the field.
"And I think the level of expertise by our coaching staff – I think we've got a coaching staff that can take kids to the next level. Seven of the nine assistant coaches have all either coached in the NFL or played in the NFL, and I think that they are quality coaches that can really tutor guys and give them an opportunity to get to the next level…
"From the discussions that we've had with pro scouts and [general managers] as they've come through here, they've loved the versatility that he fits a 4-3 scheme as well as a 3-4 scheme, and they love the upside on him. That he's just basically starting to scratch the surface that the best of Kentwan Balmer is going to continue to come in the next half-dozen years."
On Vince Jacobs:
"[He] was kind of the third or fourth-team tight end a year ago, and with the performance of Richard Quinn and Zack Pianalto and some of the guys that we had playing there, we felt like he was a good enough athlete that it would be in our best interests to find out if he could potentially play [at defensive end]. So we moved him over to the defensive side of the football, and although we only did it late in the spring, we were very encouraged by what he did. He showed some athleticism, he showed some burst [and] some quickness. It will be very interesting to watch and monitor his growth and development in training camp when we can continue to try to coach him and increase some of the fundamentals and techniques that he's going to need to be able to play there."