Buck Sanders: Interim head coach Everett Withers came out on the field and challenged the officials after a couple of questionable calls. As a former player, how would that have impacted you in terms of your coach “sticking” up for his team?
Scott Lenahan: Personally, it gets me fired up. I know that the coach is in my corner and he’s not going to take any flak from the officials and lets the refs have a piece of his mind. There’s nothing better when a coach takes his hat or head set off and tries to bury it in the ground. It lets you know that your coach is just as passionate and into this game as you are. Coach Withers has been doing a great job so far this season and I love the fact that he gave the game ball to Coach Davis last week. It shows that Coach Withers respects that this is still Butch’s team whether he’s on the sidelines coaching or not. First class all the way.
Deems May: Everett had the misfortune of having the single worst officiated game I have ever seen in his second game as a head coach. These were not just bad calls on Carolina. At the end of the third quarter we had nine penalties for 94 yards to their one penalty for five yards. The word got out to the officials and they made it close with some horrible calls against Rutgers to even things out. It was a ghastly performance by that Big East crew. A coach getting on the officials is a regular occurrence; it would not have had much of an impact on me. You expect that from your coach.
Quincy Monk: As a player, when your head coach is defending you against questionable calls, it just makes you feel good. It makes you feel that he’s got your back, and no matter what he is going to fight to make sure that the game is being called fairly. As a player, it makes you want to play harder, because you know that your head coach is “ALL IN.”
Mark Paschal: Everett does a great job of voicing his opinions, loudly, when he disagrees with anything that happens during the course of the game, practice or in the meeting room. As a player, when a coach publicly defends your best interest, it reinforces what everyone already knows about Everett, he is a loyal, competitive coach that wants to win and wants the best for his guys.
Buck: The turnovers were perhaps the biggest story of last Saturday’s game, despite the North Carolina win. Some UNC players spoke of a lack of focus. Were the turnovers a random occurrence, or an indication of a larger problem that you’re seeing.
Deems: The turnovers were a huge lack of focus. It probably was some sort of combination of reading the paper too much about the week one performance and Rutgers really being taught to “tackle the ball.” Whatever it was, it is a huge cause for concern going forward, but one that is better to be addressed after a win. Talent is the sole reason a team wins a game when it is minus 5 in the turnover category. That is a product of really good recruiting.
Mark: I see it as poor execution and poor decision making with a dose of lack of focus. I also see it as Rutgers simply making big plays. Turnovers will kill you. Carolina has to be smarter with the football and they have to place a huge emphasis on eliminating turnovers from here on out. If Carolina goes out this week and has zero turnovers, then we can turn the page and chalk it up as a random occurrence.
Scott: Right now we just finished game two of the season. With that in mind, you don’t expect to be as crisp and as polished as you’re going to be late in the season. I can understand some fumbles here and there but you can certainly tell there was a lack of focus at times. I’m positive the coaches will be running strip drills this week and really practicing on keeping the ball high and tight. Although Renner threw three interceptions, I still think he looked really good. He’s going to go through some growing pains and I think that we finally saw that this past Saturday. His debut against JMU was an outstanding performance against an average team. But all in all, Bryn has all the tools and is going to earn us a lot of W’s with him at the helm.
Quincy: When you give the opponent five turnovers, those are games that you’re not supposed to win. The fact that we came out victorious just shows you that this team is resilient. One thing we can take out of having this many turnovers so early in the season, is that Coach Withers and his staff, are going to address this issue in practice, and they are going to work hard to make sure they realize the importance of taking care of the football.
Buck: North Carolina’s attendance at the first two games was poor. The team is 2-0 with long-time rival Virginia coming to town. Will Tar Heel fans show up in greater numbers for this ACC match-up? What is it going to take to get fans to support this team in greater numbers? How does that affect the team when the stadium looks three-quarters full?
Quincy: I think the fact that our team is 2-0 and about to face our first ACC opponent of the season should help in bringing more fans to the games. It is a bit frustrating as a player when you see that the attendance is not at full capacity, but I believe that now that we have a bit of momentum with starting 2-0, we should hopefully see a change in the attendance.
Scott: Do I think people are still mad about Butch being let go? Yes. Do I think that’s a reason why more people aren’t showing up to the games? Yes. But you know what does make more people come to games? WINS! And so far we’ve been doing just that. The more games we win, the more people will want to show up regardless of how perturbed they are at the way the University handled the coaching situation. I’m sure that there will be more people at the game considering UVa is right next door and we have a healthy rivalry with them. There’s no question that having the stands full gets you more excited as a player but either way you show up to play whether there’s 65 people in the stands or 65,000.
Deems: We have a wounded fan base. The events of late July have taken an incredible toll on the psyche of every true Carolina football fan. Many of us are not out of the anger stage of these late July events and we really don’t know if we will ever truly get over it. There is just an empty feeling right now that many of us are feeling, but not supporting this team isn’t the answer. We need all true Carolina football fans to support this team. On the other hand, I’ve had many, many people of authority and stature at Carolina that have pleaded with me that “what’s done is done, and it’s time to move on.” I politely tell them that, “I will decide when I move on.” And while I’m nowhere close to “moving on,” this isn’t about me or others that feel like I do. It’s about supporting Everett, the coaches and this team right now and we need to fill Kenan and be loud.
Mark: To be honest, it is time to move on here. I love Butch. I think he got a raw deal. It sucked. We are not going to change the decision that was made. We have a team and a coaching staff that needs and deserves the alumni and fans support. There is nothing worse than seeing aluminum on Saturdays. It has an immediate impact on our school, our team, the opposition and recruiting. Let’s not let anything alter the way we support our University or our football team. If we do, then we all lose.
Buck: Rutgers was a tougher opponent than JMU, and this week Virginia, coming off a comeback road win over Indiana, will pose a different set of problems for North Carolina with what looks to be an improved running game and defense. How important is it for this team to get off to a 1-0 start in the ACC?
Scott: Winning your first conference game is huge. Heck, every game is huge, but certainly your first conference game. It really helps give you momentum to carry into conference play and will help further build the confidence of this team. Virginia is no slouch though and for some reason, no matter how bad or good their season is going when we face them, they usually put on a good showing. If we can really focus on the details coming into this game and minimize the penalties and turnovers, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to control the clock and dominate the line of scrimmage.
Quincy: Rutgers gave us a bit of a challenge this week, which is helpful in beginning ACC play. This game against Virginia is very important in helping to jumpstart our goal of winning the ACC Championship. The conference games are the ones that we need to win and Virginia is a good rivalry opponent. We need to continue to take some of the positive and negatives from the first two games, and apply them to this week against Virginia.
Deems: Rutgers exposed some problems that we have to address this week. I’m sure we’ll get a huge dose of blitzes, slants, unbalanced fronts, etc. from UVa -- all of which caused us significant problems up front offensively last week. We did not run the ball well consistently and that needs to be corrected. When you aren’t running the ball well, play-action is ineffective and our QB got flustered some. Add that to five turnovers and we are lucky to be 2-0. We have to be much improved this week to start 1-0 in the ACC.
Mark: The goal each year is to win the ACC and it starts Saturday. Virginia will be a tough test – each conference game always is. We’ve got ball players ‘fellas - big, fast and strong ballplayers - if we can eliminate mistakes the sky is the limit for this team. See y’all Saturday.
Buck: Thanks guys, see you next week.
Scott Lenahan manned the center position in Chapel Hill from 2003-07, overlapping two coaching regimes. Nicknamed 'Tank' for his weight room exploits, he earned the top senior honor on the '07 Tar Heel team.
Deems May excelled at tight end for UNC and was drafted in 1992, playing eight seasons in the NFL. He's since become a fan favorite for his candid commentary on the Tar Heel Sports Network.
Quincy Monk recorded 247 tackles at linebacker during his Tar Heel career from 1998-2001. He was drafted into the NFL and spent three seasons in the professional ranks.
Mark Paschal was a team captain for the Tar Heels in 2008. As a middle linebacker, he led the team in tackles prior to a career-ending injury and didn't miss a game in his career up until that point.