You’ve talked a lot about Gio Bernard, but you have another back in Romar Morris, who has a lot of pure speed. What kind of player is Romar?
He’s big enough, I assure you right now he’s big enough. I’ll take speed every day. Somebody can’t catch you, they can’t hit you. That doesn’t bother me, I don’t worry about the height of a running back. More importantly, I want to know how tough he is. I want to know how physical he is. He’s going to get hit and he’s going to take a beating. Is he just a perimeter runner or is he a guy that break through the tackles and isn’t scared to do it? And Romar is that kind of kid.
When people say ‘he’s got track speed,’ the first you think is, ‘Well he may not be real physical, he may not be real tough,’ because he’s a track guy.’ But, that’s not the way Romar is.
The incoming freshman class stuck with North Carolina through the transition. What does that say about your staff?
I’ve got a great staff; I’m very fortunate and blessed to have these guys. Six of them came with me from Southern Miss, I was able to hire Vic Koenning, Gunter Brewer who I worked with before and Randy Jordan who played here. We’ve got a great staff that’s not going to be out worked.
They’re going to work extremely hard in recruiting because they know how important that is to our success. They’re good people, they care about kids. You can see that in them, it doesn’t take long and it’s not fake. A kid will be the first one to figure it out… they can see that they truly care about them as people and not just football players. They do a great job of building relationships with kids and they did that in a short period of time.
Considering the success your staff has had with a handful of big commitments this month, how important do you think momentum is in recruiting?
I think momentum is big in a football game and momentum’s big in recruiting. Momentum’s big in everything. Whatever you’re trying to achieve, if you can get some momentum going then usually good things are going to happen.
What about Russell Bodine taking over at center?
Russell had a good spring. He’s that old school kind of offensive lineman. I like the way he plays, he’s got a nasty attitude. He’s an old school kind of guy… likes to hunt and fish. He doesn’t mind scrapping with you, those are the kind of guys that I really like. I’m looking forward to seeing how Russell progresses over the season.
What’s your philosophy on non-conference scheduling?
It doesn’t matter this year, it is what it is. Circumstances surrounding that are what they are. Especially now that strength of schedule is going to be a factor in the national championship race, I think, yeah, that’s something that you have to take into consideration and you want to make sure you do the best job you can.
The thing that’s tough about it is everybody’s trying to do the same thing. So, securing those spots is extremely tough.
?What should we expect to see out of the Bandit and Ram positions this year?
The Bandit is a defensive end/linebacker, so you may see him in a three-point stance and drop or you may see him in a two-point stance and come. Or he may be moving around. That position depends on his skills and what he can do. If all he can do is rush, then he’s just going to be a rusher. That’s why finding the right guy for that position is important.
Same thing at the other spot. He’s got to be stout enough to play in the box but he also has to be able to cover man-to-man on an inside receiver. That’s a pretty skilled guy too. That’s a ‘tweener linebacker/safety kind of guy. Again, that guy has to be able to come blitz but also be able to cover man-to-man. Those are probably the things that are a little bit different forthe position.
Do you have players to fit that type of need?
That’s something that we’re still bouncing around each and every day. That will actually determine what we do with those positions. If a guy can’t blitz, then why blitz him? So we wouldn’t blitz with that position. If the Bandit can’t drop and can’t cover, why put him in that situation? We’re still trying to determine that right now.
Who makes the decision whether your bandit is going to blitz or drop back?
Dan Disch and Vic Koenning are the ones who make that call, whether or not they’re going to bring that guy or drop him. Some of it depends on the formation their facing and the style of offense. A lot of it will depend on the game plan that week. Ultimately, again, they have to know whether the kid can do it or not. If they can’t, there’s no reason to put him there.
What’s your philosophy with true freshmen redshirting?
I believe in going out, evaluating and finding the best talent we can possibly find. If that young man can come in and compete for a spot and he makes the offense or the defense or the special teams better than someone else, he plays.
For special teams do you prefer specific players or do you just put the best out there?
We’re going to put our 11 best out there. If you’re a starter on offense or defense, we expect you to play on special teams. If you can’t start on special teams, then you probably can’t start on our offense or our defense.
In the spring, it seemed like the offensive linemen were having the most trouble adjusting to the speed of things – would you agree?
Yep, always will. They have every time I’ve implemented this offense. You would think… you don’t have to run back to a huddle and you don’t have to run back up to the line of scrimmage anymore. Eighty plays, that’s well over a 1,000 yards that you save. There’s just something about going back there and holding hands and mentally relaxing until the quarterback gives you the play.
Then you kind of mosey up to the line of scrimmage and ‘Ok, now I‘ve got to think. Now I‘ve got to lock in.’ Well, now you’re down in your stance and you’re locked in because we’re in attack mode all the time. Not being able to rest mentally is the toughest part about it first.
Then when they conquer that, then they’ve got to conquer the physical part of it.
Have you seen trends to the moment when it does click?
I don’t know that you say ‘The light went on for that unit.’ You see it for kids. Eventually, they all pick it up. You’ll notice it when you’re moving offensively and the defensive linemen are over there… bent over. That’s when these guys on this side start realizing, ‘This stuff is pretty good. We can wear these guys down.’
As the only new coach in the ACC this year, have you had a ‘Welcome to the ACC moment’?
Every day has been… people have been welcoming me every day. Probably not the way you’re talking about it, that’ll come during the season. But it’s been a great situation so far. I’m loved right now because we’re undefeated.
What do you think about the criticism of taking Drew Davis as a preferred walk-on?
Was there criticism?
There was criticism.
Really, wow. I didn’t know that. I’m sorry there was criticism. I don’t know why there would be criticism. To me it was no big deal. We have 10 or 12 walk-ons that are coming into the program this year and he happens to be one of them. He’s going to be a quarterback. I don’t look at it any differently than any of the other guys coming in. We went through the same process, the same things. I don’t know what to say, I didn’t know there was criticism. Who were they criticizing?
They were criticizing the overall decision.
Those are opinions. I don’t know why – he is a kid, a kid that wanted to play ball at the University of North Carolina, that was his dream. So he’s going to get to.
With your wide receiver depth, how do you maximize that potential?
That’s a tough thing. We have to be smart about how we handle them. We have to have enough legs to be able get through practices. We have to have enough legs to get through camp. Then, you can’t be so worn out at the end of camp that you can’t be at full speed each and every Saturday. We’ve got to juggle that whole thing during camp.