Q&A with Darian Durant, Part I

<i>Inside Carolina</i> sat down for an exclusive one-on-one interview with UNC's starting quarterback, Darian Durant. This is Part I, stay tuned for the rest of the three-part interview later this week.

How is the thumb?

It is doing pretty good. It still gets a little stiff at times, but overall the rehab went well. A piece of bone was slightly displaced. They went in a reattached the bone to the tendon. They put a couple of pins in it to keep it in place. No further surgery will be necessary.

Talk about the difference between this year and last year this time - the transfer.

I think the biggest difference is we can focus on our primary goal and that is to beat Florida State. Last year, I wasn't around the guys during this time, I couldn't observe what everyone was doing. At the same time, I wasn't working out to my full potential. Now, we're just getting ready for Florida State and I know what I need to work on. I know what the weaknesses are in the offense. So, I really think we can focus on those weaknesses and try to work on eliminating them.

How did your teammates treat you on your return last spring?

It was kind of mixed, there were mixed feelings out there. There were some guys who were glad to see me back, while some other guys had a look on their faces like, "What is he doing here?" For the most part, I think most of the guys really were happy to see me back because they kind of knew that it was tough for me during that time.

You didn't have a great spring game last year. Was part of that nerves from coming back to the team?

I think part of it was me being rusty and part of it was me going out there and trying to show everybody that I deserved to be "the guy." When you are not out there (practicing), you lose a lot of timing. Me being the competitor that I am, I wanted to go out there and have a flawless performance, and I think that led to me stinking up the place (laughing).

You split time with Stephens in fall with the first team. Did that affect your rhythm with the offense?

It was pretty tough. Especially at the receiver position you have different people that have different types of speed and they run routes differently. Being able to throw a route to Sam (Aiken) this play, and then coming back to one of the second or third string guys on the next play, was kind of difficult for me especially from the timing aspect. But all it did was to motivate me to work harder. I felt like I was good enough to be with the first team, so it motivated me to go out there to and play better, give it all I had.

When you went out with your injury in the Virginia game, how hard was it standing on the sidelines?

It was tough because we finally felt we had found what we were looking for offensively. We put up 21 points in the first half, and the defense was playing pretty well. We felt like the season was just halfway done so we felt we could turn it around the second half of the season and get on a winning note.

It was devastating to me. Especially because I felt I had found my rhythm. I was having a pretty good game and then all of a sudden this injury. It was just really devastating.

Last year, it seemed that there were a lot of pre-snap penalties, and bad snap exchanges. What do you think caused that and what are you doing to try and change that for next year?

I think it (the center exchanges) came from inexperience on my part and on Jason Brown's part. We didn't work together much during the spring, obviously, because C.J. (Stephens) was taking the reps. Coming in to fall practice, I still wasn't getting a lot of reps, because C.J. and I were splitting the reps. I really didn't get comfortable with him until the season went on.

I think our mistakes came from youth. We just were not used to each other. With time, it will be routine for us, and that's what we are working on because it is the most important part of every play on offense, the center-quarterback exchange.

Even at this time of year, do you and the receivers work out on your own?

Definitely. We try to get together every Wednesday right now, because Wednesday is the only day we don't lift. After we do a team run in the mornings, we try get together later on that afternoon, run some routes, the defensive backs come out and we do a little seven-on-seven drills. Going into February and March we're going to pick it up and try to do it at least two or three times a week.

Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow ...

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