North Carolina junior left guard Jonathan Cooper was one of multiple UNC players to speak to the media this past Friday, the first day of Carolina's 2011 training camp.
It looked like you guys were real enthusiastic in the first practice session. What was it like when you got into your position groups working together?
"I think it was just a feeling of excitement. We're all ready to go, and we're kind of anticipating this training camp, and we're all just ready to see what we can do. Hearing all this talk about the potential of the offensive line we just kind of want to see what we can do. We're very excited to go."
Is the attitude any different after you made the coaching transition, or are you guys just as excited going into this season? What's it like for you guys?
"I think it's exactly the same, which is pretty pumped up. Coach Withers has been pushing us. We're moving on. We're moving forward. As a team I feel like we've picked that attitude up, and we're all just trying our best."
How does an Everett Withers led practice contrast with a Butch Davis led practice?
"I think they've been pretty similar for the most part. All high-tempo, trying to get the little things right, and just improve."
Given that Withers was a defensive guy before he was named head coach, how much did you know him?
"I interacted with him in passing. We had a pretty good relationship. I didn't see him every day, but I was pretty familiar with him."
What was your reaction when the decision came about Butch Davis?
"Shocked. I feel like that was my main reaction. Disbelief, but like I said we're moving forward. I was just shocked.
How did you learn about the change, because everybody is off campus or most people are off campus, and as a team leader how do you rally the troops?
"My position coach, Coach (Sam) Pittman, he called me, and he let me know about it. After that Bryn [Renner] and some of the other guys and myself tried to text a few guys, and tell them we can still do it. We just need to hold it together, and work hard, but this can still be our season; the season we want."
What do you know about Everett Withers even though you're on the other side of the ball that maybe people out there don't know that you think will make him a good coach?
"He's very passionate, very, very passionate about coaching. He gets very excited, and one that I like that I've heard from him is that he's going to let the coaches coach. He's going to step back, and kind of let them take the reigns. I kind of like that attitude."
Does the offense have to get him [Withers], since he's been exclusively on defense until now?
"We had a leadership meeting, and one of the defensive players was just saying that we may just have to adjust to his coaching style. He's more of an up front, in your face kind of guy, and other than that I feel like there isn't much difference. We know him pretty well."
Talk about the O-line taking a leadership role as a unit?
"I feel like we've always tried to do that, but now we're kind of getting the respect I feel like we have deserved, but maybe just haven't gotten. So now we're able to lead the team. I feel like we have the potential to let the team lean on us in a time of need. I feel like we're able to lead now."
What do you expect this year?
"Whatever success that was possible is still possible. Our goal is to get past the eight-win hump, and I feel like we have the team, and the coaches and just the mentality to do so."
What do you see in Bryn that you like as a quarterback?
"I love his competitive nature, his drive, his study efforts. I just love his passion for the game."