CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -Greg Little knows people are paying attention to North Carolina's football program again. The running back is eager to give them something to watch.
``We're going to go out and kill the ant with a sledgehammer,'' Little said Monday. ``That's what we're going to try to do. We're going to go out and win big. There's a lot of eyes on us right and that's why we have that mentality about the ant and the sledgehammer. We're just going to try to obliterate teams.''
After years in which simply winning games was enough of a challenge, the Tar Heels have even higher hopes for themselves after they were tabbed as a darkhorse to sneak into contention in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division.
Now, as North Carolina started game-week preparations for its opener against McNeese State, they know it's time to begin backing up that preseason buzz.
``We expect these players to play at a higher level and to perform and execute at a higher level,'' coach Butch Davis said.
Davis knows his team still has plenty of work to do after last year's 4-8 finish included six losses in games decided by a touchdown or less. The numerous freshmen who played last year are sophomores now, and the second-year coach hopes those players have made enough strides over the past year to justify high preseason expectations.
North Carolina was picked to finish second behind rebuilding Virginia Tech in the up-for-grabs Coastal Division.
``I think everyone is anxious to get the year started,'' Davis said. ``You can only go so many days practicing against yourself before you start to find out if you're actually making any progress as a football team.''
Those high hopes could ultimately flicker out if the Tar Heels don't get off to a fast start against a schedule that includes Rutgers in Week 2 and a showdown with the Hokies on Sept. 28 in Chapel Hill. A victory in that early-season game seemingly would give North Carolina the inside track in the division race.
Then again, a flop against the Cowboys of the championship subdivision could drop the Tar Heels back to also-ran status and threaten to derail the season before it really gets going.
``You want to play well. It's the first game,'' Davis said. ``Clearly you want to start well, you want to play well, you want to win the game. I think it's very important.''

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