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Sunday September 26th

Inside UNC football media day

<p>Quinshad Davis, Bug Howard, Damien Washington and Devin Perry posing for the camera.</p>
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Quinshad Davis, Bug Howard, Damien Washington and Devin Perry posing for the camera.

The North Carolina football team held its media day on Wednesday at Kenan Stadium. Players and coaches answered questions about training camp and the upcoming season. 

Here are the highlights: 

North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora

On who will serve as the team's place kicker ... 

"... When you’re talking about place kicking, those guys are still competing. I’ll tell you what, the competition has been going really well. Those guys are doing a great job, they’re doing what we ask them and eventually we’re going to make a decision on who that is, and we have not made that decision, but I’m comfortable that when we get to Sept. 3 (against South Carolina) we’ll have somebody in place and we’ll feel very good about who they are."

On junior receiver and return specialist Ryan Switzer ... 

"... He thinks, ‘OK, I returned five (punts for touchdowns) as a freshman, I’ve got to return seven as a sophomore, then I’ve got to return nine as a junior, and then … No. He was trying to make something special happen every single return and that doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen. Just take the ones they give you.”

On how the team has worked to solve its chemistry issues from the 2014 season ... 

“You won’t know until you’ve got adversity hit you in the face. We won’t really know a whole lot, we’ll think we know things about this football team, but until we’re faced with adversity, we won’t really know. That’s when you find out who you really are. And what is the chemistry of the team and how close are they and do they love each other? Are they willing to do it for the guy next to them, on their left and their right and the guy behind them? That’s when we’ll really find out.”

On the potential growth of the offense ... 

“I promise you, I have not walked into a meeting with the offense and said, ‘Hey, guys, we did a great job last year.’ By any means. You’ve heard me say it before, I thought we were average. A lot of things were written, but I thought we were average. The expectations were a lot higher. Those guys know it, there wasn’t anybody walking around with their chest out thinking they had arrived. They know we have to do much better." 

Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik

On the progression the defense has made to learn the new system since the spring ... 

"... When we came back in fall camp, I feel like there’s a great sense and a great knowledge of the carryover from the spring till now. It’s been pretty evident. We’re still not full throttle in terms of the total installation of everything we’re doing. But that’s kind of a day-by-day process in terms of where we are versus where we need to go. Sometimes we move ahead a little bit and we realize, ‘Hey, we need to go back, clean some things up and make some finer detailed points before we move to the next thing.’ That’s kind of the daily evaluation process, but overall, I’m very pleased with how they came back and the retention rate from the spring."

On how the freshmen on defense are adjusting to the college game ... 

"I’m really proud of those guys. This is a really hard time for freshman coming in, particularly if you didn’t come in January. That’s kind of the way everything is evolving right now. ... The thing I like about our young guys we just signed and came in here new is I love their competitive edge. They will come out there every day and will fight, claw and scratch to try to gain a position. As a coach, when you’re looking at a young guy, if that’s not in place they have no chance to play early. If that is in play and they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty and compete, then the evolution of the defense will come with knowledge of the game and things of that nature. I’m very proud of our young guys, because I don’t think anyone came in here without the intention of getting on the field and playing, and they’re competing like that."

On the process of improving the defense ... 

"... There’s three things that really stand out that we talk about on a daily basis with our guys. No. 1 is the accountability in your own box. It’s the accountability of executing exactly what we’re asking you to do and the way we’re asking you to do it on 70 different opportunities possibly in a game or more. ... The second thing is trying to teach them the big picture of situational football. You play differently at the end of the half or the end of the game based on some circumstances, meaning you’re trying to always cheat as a defensive player. You’re trying to eliminate possibilities of certain things that can happen so we can cheat and play the things we think will happen. ... The third thing for us to really be able to see some dynamic change is we’ve got to be light years above where we were last year in terms of tackling, and we’re not there yet. Some days you see it, and it’s glaring that it looks like we’re working in the right direction. Some days we’re not. So until the consistency of that happens, we can’t totally improve the defense because the game is still blocking and tackling no matter how you slice it."

On instilling confidence in the defense ... 

"... They are great kids. They care. They want to improve. Nobody liked the results of last year any less than they do. Nobody. No coaches, no media, no fans, nobody. They did not like the results either. They care enough to try to work every day to change them. They’ve got to play through the good times and the bad, and it always has to be consistent as we move. I think that’s really the message with them. We’re not playing any Dr. Phil games, right? We’re just trying to get them to play consistent football and understand that’s how we work our way through adverse situations."

Senior quarterback Marquise Williams

On how the team's approach has changed entering this season ... 

“It’s kind of been a different mentality around here. Guys have been busting their butts just to get better. In the offseason, I’ve never seen people come in on Wednesdays — Wednesdays are our off days — and those guys come in just to get extra work in. I told the guys last night in a speech, you are what you say you can do, not what you repeatedly say. If you keep doing something and you repeatedly do it, that’s who you are, but you’re not what you repeatedly say. It hit those guys last night, because we’ve got to come out and be consistent every day. Even when we’re in training camp, and we’re waking up tired and don’t want to go, we have to find a way to get it going. Because you have got to keep doing what you say you’re going to do.”

Senior offensive guard Landon Turner

On the Tar Heels' young offensive lineman ... 

"They’re doing great. A lot of them are learning on the fly. Mentally I’m really impressed with this group because they all came in really and there’s not a lot of mental busts, even from freshmen, which is very impressive at this level. Offensive line as a freshman is really hard to pick up because there’s so many different little nuances and variables. It’s not just technique and physical ability, there’s a lot of mental aspects to it. They’ve pretty much been on point with all their mental development. And now it’s just breaking down their high school habits, and building a good, technical offensive lineman with them."

Senior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer

On the youth on defense ... 

“We have four to six young guys that will play a lot this year for us. They’re mature beyond their years, they came in expecting to play. They’re coming in looking to play right away." 

On training camp ... 

“Every day guys are coming out with energy at practice, which is something we definitely need. Training camp is a grind, it’s hard, it’s tough, it’s not fun, but it’s necessary for every college football team. Not every team can bring that energy.” 

On his leadership role on the defense ...

“I have to be the one that all the guys look at. If I’m being lazy or taking a drill off, then the younger guys see that and think it’s OK, but it’s not. We (seniors) have to be the guys who are over the top bringing energy, even faking it a little bit, just to let the young guys know that’s how you play the game.” 

Listen to sports editors Pat James, Jeremy Vernon, C Jackson Cowart and Logan Ulrich discuss UNC football's 2015 media day below.

sports@dailytarheel.com

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