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August 3, 2013
The 2013 football season is going to be about exceeding expectations for sophomore wide receiver Quinshad Davis. It's a tall order for the playmaker who last fall as a rookie set the UNC record for both receptions and yards in a season by a freshman - with 61 and 776, respectively.
But Davis is not concerned with beating the height of last season's success, his vision is set on simply being better in every way.
"My goals are always to do better than I did last year, so I just want to improve on what I did last year," he said. "I want to improve on catches, yards and touchdowns."
Some of the numbers that coach Larry Fedora expects from Davis include a on-per-game touchdown minimum of 12 for the season and a lofty 100 catches.
Davis' ideas line up with Fedora's line of thinking. While yardage is important, both coach and player recognize the importance of making the right catches.
Fedora is pushing all of his receivers to make the catches that score, not just ones for gain or first down, and Davis sees the weight too.
"I just want to go out there and lead the team, just make plays for the team whenever we need plays made," he said. "I mean I want to get more yards, but if I don't and I make more plays, like first downs and stuff, that'd be better."
Davis said 100 catches is a realistic goal and with the settled comfort in the offense, he believes the number is a mark he'll certainly be able to meet this season.
"When they were recruiting me, they were like, 'You can get a hundred catches in this offense, you've just got to make plays,' and that's what I come to do," he said. "I believe if me and Bryn (Renner) would've had a better chemistry at the beginning of the year, I could've had more (catches) than I did at the end."
Davis is also confident in the teammates he's working with in his position. Fedora has only said he's felt comfortable claiming to have depth at this point in the season in his running back group, but Davis feels like he's leading a young and capable group too.
"Wide receiver wise, we are great, we are doing pretty good out there," Davis said. "Everybody knows what to do, everybody is running their routes right, only thing is we've got to teach the younger guys how to read defenses, how to watch film, so they're coming along."
One of the most notable guys working in Davis' wide receiver peer group is TJ Thorpe.
Thorpe received honorable mention all conference honors after his freshman season in 2011, leading the ACC in averaging 26.7 yards on kickoff return, but sat out all of last season and spring training this year after breaking his foot in training camp in 2012.
"Me and (Thorpe) do reps together, and he's coming back, he's coming back strong," Davis said. "He's coming back better than I thought he'd be. He's coming back running perfect routes, he's kind of big now, he came back bigger than he was, but he still has his speed so he's going to be good."
Although Thorpe's large and precise return has been somewhat better than Davis expected, Thorpe being better-than-expected isn't particularly surprising to Davis.
"He's about the same speed, but he's making a lot of plays out there," Davis said. "He didn't surprise me because I heard what he could do, I'm just glad I can see (it)."
Davis is also excited about the way the true freshmen have joined the team in their first three days of practice. The grasp that the youngest Tar Heels have quickly grasped on UNC's way of play mimics the quick connection Davis and his teammates have had with the new guys, he sad.
"They came in and we just took hold of 'em. They're listening to us and they're doing everything we say and they're out there balling."
And while Davis has a year of Fedora's high-speed, fast-paced offense experience over the new guys, he also identifies with the newness of camp in a way that allows him to work even better with the true freshmen.
"To tell you the truth, this is my first training camp so I'm going with (the freshmen), cause you know I didn't play until the last week or so of training camp (in 2012)," he said. "So I feel like it's my first training camp and I'm just going along with the freshmen trying to get the hang of things."
But because most of Davis' teammates have the full feel for a Fedora-lead training camp, off- and in-season, this year should produce more successes than last year.
"I feel like we should do better than we did last year cause last year was our first opportunity with the offense and the defense," Davis said. "We have a year under our belt, we know what to do, what to expect, so I think we should do better."