“I think it’s going to be a very big change,” Quinton Coples said. “ECU does a lot of quick throwing and things of that nature, so I think that’s definitely going to be the biggest adjustment that we have to do.”
Getting after Davis and keeping their hands up is something Coples said the defensive line is focusing on against East Carolina.
But after last week’s loss, the Tar Heels know a little bit about quarterbacks under pressure.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner was sacked seven times by the Yellow Jackets, and the first-year starter threw a pair of interceptions.
Renner said he’s determined to clean up his game in time for Saturday’s matchup.
“I made a lot of mistakes — mental and physical. It’s stuff we can correct,” Renner said.
“I put the team in some bad situations taking those sacks, and the responsibility falls on me just to get the ball out of my hands.”
East Carolina has won just one game this season, but that doesn’t mean the Tar Heels are taking the in-state rivalry lightly.
The Pirates — whose losses this season came at the hands to two ranked opponents — have 70 North Carolina natives on the roster.
Interim coach Everett Withers said he expects the large number of in-state athletes between the two teams to cause emotions to run high on Saturday.
“When you’re the University of North Carolina, you want to beat every school in this state,” Withers said.
“We know it’s a rivalry. We know it’s a tough game. It’s a lot of relationships in this rivalry … And we just got to make sure we handle our business.”
But relationships between the athletes won’t be the only ties on Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday.
The matchup between the Pirates and the Tar Heels marks the fourth time East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill and Withers have met on the football field as part of opposing coaching staffs.
Withers said the two have followed similar career paths and are well-acquainted.
“We’re very good friends,” he said. “Except for on Saturdays.”
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