“We had three objectives coming out of spring ball this year. One was that, at the end of spring, hopefully our kids would have an understanding of our base in all three phases of the game. Two would be to learn how to practice the Carolina way, the new way that we want to be able to practice. And three was to identify who our playmakers are going to be. So we felt like we were close to accomplishing those three objectives. We came out of spring without any major injuries, so we were pleased with it.”
In terms of how you were able to put your stamp on the program this spring, in what ways were most successful for you or you were able to get a lot done in that regard?
“All we've done is come in and try to implement a philosophy. Basically, a whole new offense, a whole new defense and a whole new special teams unit. We've worked hard at doing that. We're not anywhere close at this time. But I think our guys have an understanding of what we're trying to get to. How long that will take for us to get there, I don't know.”
In terms of your philosophy, how was that evident in spring, I guess? What did you do to implement that philosophy?
“Well, that's hard to say. When you implement a philosophy, you go about doing things the way you do them. I mean, that's been a style of practice, the way we meet, the way we dress, the way we carry ourselves on campus, the way we carry ourselves around the facility, the way we act, everything.
I guess for us it was just trying to the biggest change was to try to learn how to practice the way we want to practice, and that is with energy and enthusiasm, and excitement each and every day and to do that on a consistent level. Again, that takes some time to get done.”
After going through 15 practices and a spring game and kind of getting to know your personnel and what everybody can do a little bit, going into the fall, what would you say your biggest area of concern is?
“Well, I'd start off with I'm concerned with the offensive line, the depth on the offensive line. I'm concerned with our depth at the receiver position, I'm concerned with depth at the running back position, I'm concerned with depth at the running back position. I'm concerned with the depth at the D line position, the linebacker position, and the secondary position. I'm really concerned with the depth on our football team right now and not having enough at every position. It's something that is expected and we'll have to continue to work on in the future.”
Assuming that depth is a problem all the way around, could you make the assumption that a lot of freshmen are going to get a chance to come in and get a chance to play right away?
“Unfortunately, I think we’re going to have a lot of freshmen that are going to have to come in and compete for jobs. So hopefully these guys are ready to go. But when you're counting on freshmen, that's usually not a good sign.”
You mentioned depth at wide receiver. You have some guys with proven ability. Is this because of the spread formation? The fact that you may use more wide receivers and you need more than maybe last year when they ran two tight ends a lot and that kind of thing?
“Yeah, when you have two tight ends or one receiver on the field or one tight end and two receivers on the field, you don't need that many wide receivers. So we're in a system where we'll be in at least three wide receivers on the field the majority of the time, sometimes four and even five if we can get there, which I don't think we can get there at this point. But, yeah, just the style of the spread offense, we'll need more wide receivers.”
Is that an area where a new guy coming in without experience can contribute right away, or is that one of those positions where in your system you think a guy really needs to red shirt?
“No, there's no position on the field that we designate as a position that needs to red-shirt as a freshman. It depends on if a young man comes in and proves he's better than someone else at that position. We don't care if they're freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors; it doesn't matter. It's about production. Unfortunately, because of lack of depth, you may have to play some kids that aren't ready to play. So I think there are some opportunities for young kids to come in and be able to get on the field.”
How about the flip side on defense, how will this team look defensively to the fans with you now in charge?
“We're going to be a 4 2 5, so we're in a defense where we can be very multiple. We can be a 3 4 or a 4 3, or a 3 3, all with the same personnel on the field. With the way offenses are these days, being able to be multiple on defense is a big plus. So we're able to have five DBs, basically two linebackers and four defensive linemen/a couple hybrid spots. So I think one thing is we'll be multiple. I don't know if you'll be able to see what we're in or where we're coming from or what we're actually doing before the play starts. So that's an advantage for us and makes it tough on quarterback.”
Is your current personnel a good fit for the spread offense you want to run?
“I think if you're going to be a good football coach, what you have to do is mold your philosophy around the talent that you have. So in these practices, one of the most important things we do is try to identify what these kids can do so we can mold the offense, the defense or special teams around them.”
Following up on that last subject, because of the offense that was run before you got there, there are a lot of tight ends in the program, and some pretty good ones in Eric Ebron and Jack Tabb that I can think of offhand. How do you work them in? Do you work them in as wide receivers or H backs how do you utilize guys like that?
“I will say in this system I've had, I think I've had five tight ends go out of this system and play in the NFL. The last two or the one that I had at Oklahoma State was the first tight end taken in the draft. Our tight ends have consistently caught somewhere between 40 to 50 balls a year. So that was one position that I didn't mention that I was concerned about because we do have some depth there. You've got Jack Tabb. You've got Eric Ebron. You've got Sean Fitzpatrick. So we have guys there that we feel pretty good about right now. I think those guys are going to be big factors in what we do this next season.”