CHAPEL HILL — Coming into the season, North Carolina’s Quinshad Davis was seen as a potential breakout star after coach Larry Fedora said he would have 100 catches this season. The prediction didn’t seem farfetched, not after Davis closed last season by catching 32 balls in three consecutive 100-yard receiving games.
He won’t get to 100 catches this season – he’s at 30 after seven games. But he has made those catches count by picking up plenty of yards afterward, and he has already matched his touchdown total from last season with five.
Davis is averaging 13.8 yards per catch and is rolling into Saturday’s game at N.C. State after averaging 95.3 yards and a touchdown per game against East Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami.
Q: What type of environment are you expecting at Carter-Finley on Saturday?
A: From the guys that have been there before me, they say it’s surreal. That’s a very loud environment and I know it’s going to be crazy.
Q: So you’re not listening to (Eric) Ebron when he said, “It’s not a hostile environment?”
A: I think what he meant was that he won’t let that affect his play. We all know it’s going to be crazy there, but we also know we can’t let that mess us up.
Q: Did you feel any added pressure this season with Fedora saying you would have 100 receptions?
A: Yeah. (He laughs.) He didn’t set the bar too high though, because that’s what I want for myself, too. He might have just reversed it, though, because now Ebron might get the 100 catches, but I’ll take the touchdowns like he got last year. Of course, being one of the leading receivers last season I was going to be looked at to continue that success, but I feel like things are definitely turning around.
Q: How do you feel about your matchups against N.C. State?
A: It’s going to be a good matchup. They’ve got some tall guys, like me, and they like to play a lot of man (coverage). But I’ve got a little experience with number 11 (Juston Burris), after I caught a few balls on him last year. So I’m pretty confident I can go out and do the same again this year.
Q: With that environment you described earlier, how important will it be for you and the team to get the offense going early?
A: We’ve just got to take advantage of our opportunities. When we’re in the red zone, we’ve got to score. Starting quick is huge, because when we get up on the board by 14 or 21, the crowd will settle down and we can just loosen up and play our game.
Q: Following the State game last year, you broke off three straight 100-yard receiving games to end the season. What changed after that game?
A: I just knew I could move the ball. Those catches just boosted my confidence because I knew they meant so much to the team, that’s all it was. Knowing that I could do that against man (coverage) last season really helped me down the stretch, and I’m hoping it’ll do the same again this year.
Q: You’re from South Carolina. How quickly have you learned about this rivalry and how much have you bought into it?
A: I knew about it before coming here, but I’m not going to lie, I don’t know too much. But the one thing I do know is that it’s a big deal for not only the players, but also for the fans. Last year, coach was stressing this game because they had won five in a row and the reaction from the fans was crazy. But if I had to compare it to one game from back home, it would be like Clemson and South Carolina.
Smith: 919-829-8941; Twitter: @RCorySmith