Letterman's Roundtable

Inside Carolina
Posted Sep 13, 2012

Inside Carolina's Buck Sanders hosts a collection of former Tar Heels for the weekly 'State of the Heels' football roundtable discussion.

Buck Sanders – We don’t want to spend too much time talking about Wake Forest, although that’s going to be unavoidable to some degree. I want to focus more on Louisville, if we can. I think we can start out by talking about how important this game may be in light of what happened last weekend.

Scott Lenahan - I’m really concerned going into Louisville, as far as our secondary is concerned. This past weekend, I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but Wake Forest . . . Campanero ate our lunch. Going in there this week, you know, we’re going to be away again. We going to be playing against a quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, who I think is a pretty good quarterback – he’s athletic; he’s good. I remember watching him from last year and, as far as the stats are concerned, he’s not playing too shabby right now. So that’s one of my main concerns. Going this week into Louisville, how we’re going to handle him and how we’re going to get pressure and throw him off his mark.

Buck Sanders – Scott, you were talking about how the secondary might react, but I’ve always heard that the front end and the back end of the defense have to work together – that those two pieces have to work together. What I saw is no pressure on the front end and no terrific coverage on the back end. I think you’ve got to have both.

Matt Baker - I think last week you’ve got to give Wake Forest credit. I thought they called a good game. The quarterback made a lot of good throws. He got into a rhythm early and played well. I think there was a lot of miscommunication on defense. It seemed like we were trying to run a lot of combo coverages and Wake did a good job at running guys from one zone into another. The linebackers, the corners and the safeties did not trade things off well and they were able to find some open guys. I don’t know if they got too complicated or what it was, but they’ll go back and simplify a little bit and try to make things a little easier for the Louisville game. That’s a good offense; they spread the field out and they’ll play fast like us. So, communication is going to have to get better.

Brian Chacos - I think a lot of it starts up front. I think the pressure wasn’t good enough. I think a lot of it has to do with the lack of depth we have. We have a guy like Kareem Martin, who’s our premier rush end and, you see that guy, he’s on our punt team, which is a scary thought that our best defensive end and one of our best defensive players is also on our punt team, as well as Kevin Reddick. I think Pete Mangum is a terrific guy, but it also factors into the lack of depth that we have. Pete Mangum was matched up on Campanero a lot of the time, and that’s just a nightmare of a matchup for us – and so is Gene Robinson, and it showed – he was wide open. I think Baker touched on it and some of the coverages we had and, it just wasn’t working out for us.

Buck Sanders – I want some of the defensive guys to talk about the defensive side of the ball as well. Let me hear from you, Mark, and then we’ll hear from Quincy.

Mark Paschal - Well, it was a disaster. We gave up way too many points to an offensive team that had a hard time scoring against Liberty. There are a couple of things that really bothered me about this game. First and foremost were the lack of intensity and the lack of effort – almost getting pushed around by a Wake Forest team that has no business pushing us around. From an offensive-defensive standpoint, they took the fight to us. Secondly, I put this sort of more on the defensive coordinator and the defensive back coach more than I put it on the kids. When you’ve got a guy that has caught that many passes in a row, when you’ve got No. 3 running through the zones, wide-ass open play after play after play, it’s time to say, who’s our best cover guy – go cover number No. 3 because that’s not getting the job done and we made no effort to try and change that throughout the game. There was no sense of, ‘okay guys this is starting to be a little bit tighter of a game than we anticipated, let’s go cover No. 1; let’s get after the quarterback; let’s take the fight to them instead of just getting hit in the mouth and being okay with it.’

Buck Sanders – Quincy, comments?

Quincy Monk - What frustrated me was the third down conversions. When I played, we always talked about the third down is the money down. You want to make sure you get off the field on third down. Wake Forest was converting way too many third down conversions, which kind of takes the air out of the defensive side. Lack of pressure on the quarterback was a major factor, but, like Mark said, you’ve got this guy who caught 10, 12 balls, you’ve got to have somebody on the defensive side say, ‘I’m going to take this dude out.’ I mean, you got beat pretty much by one guy. That’s frustrating when you’re the linebacker and you see a guy pretty much break a record on you and you don’t do anything to combat that.

Buck Sanders – It’s certainly almost impossible for us to talk about this coming weekend without mentioning the Wake Forest game, but Matt suggested that one fix for several things might be to get simpler. I’m curious to hear from everybody else. Given what we saw this past Saturday against Wake Forest, what fixes do you put in? They can play with more intensity, with a greater sense of urgency, the staff can light a fire under them emotionally, but other than that, what do you do to try to get this fixed?

Mark Paschal - When you’ve got schemes and you’ve got complex defenses, it’s going to take a little bit more effort than just coming in for the allotted NCAA time allotment. It’s coming in on your own time, studying film and being prepared, knowing the coverages’ ins and outs, knowing everything that goes into that game plan. It’s going to take the leaders on that team to say, ‘you know what, it’s not the complex defense that we’re running, this is what Coach is asking us to do; let’s sit in here and learn it – stay in here and learn it until we figure the dang thing out.’ It’s frustrating to me to see a team just kind of look deflated at week two because we’re getting the ball thrown on us a little bit. I think simplifying, maybe doing some stuff with the coverage stuff, maybe that will help. I think we took Wake Forest too lightly. That’s probably on us sitting here at the roundtable and saying we’re going to win 49-10, which that could not have been farther off.

Buck Sanders – Well, in fairness to you guys, I would say you didn’t know that Gio Bernard was going to be out. Should it have made as big of a difference as it did? No. A.J. Blue and Romar Morris both did very well. Both of them got over five yards a carry and, if you can get that out of your running game, you’re doing something right. I’ll be the first to admit that I underestimated what Wake Forest would bring to the table and maybe overestimated, as we were all probably guilty of after watching the Elon game, what UNC was capable of. Let’s hear final thoughts about how this team gets ready for Louisville.

Scott Lenahan - I think that we just need to really forget about the Wake Forest game. Just forget about how we played the whole game in general and just go in with a new attitude and new mindset going into Louisville. Louisville is a good team that’s going to be a heck of a test this weekend. Just briefly looking them up, I think they’re a top 20 in the nation, which that is a good team by any measure. Hopefully we have Gio. A.J. Blue did a great job, but not having him offensively, he’s such a big weapon for us. I think that can have a difference too, as far as blocking and timing and everything like that, offensively can make a difference. Our defense is just going to have to step up this week and bring some blitzes and bring some pressure and make Bridgewater uncomfortable in the pocket.

Brian Chacos - Look, I think everyone has got to just relax a little bit. We’ve got to take a step away from the ledge a little bit. It was a game against Wake Forest we should have won. Moving on the Louisville, though, this is a game with Coach Fedora and Coach Strong being on the same staff under Coach Zook, they’re familiar with each other – it’s going to be a good game. They’re going to be familiar with each other’s tendencies. Obviously Louisville has got some talented players. Bridgewater is a good dual-threat quarterback; he’s one of the top producers right now in the country with yards.

It hurts when you have your most dynamic playmaker on the entire team out and not performing last weekend. Our quarterback was shaky in the first half and never really rebounded after that collision at the goal line. When your quarterback is not 100 percent mentally into the game and not right, that’s going to affect you. I think Bryn is going to bounce back with a great performance at Louisville.

I know Matt can definitely talk about the experiences we all had there back in ’05. The group that I think it all starts with, and I think it always starts with this group – I think it starts with the offensive line. I think our guys did a decent job and a pretty good job on the run game, but they didn’t do a good enough job giving Bryn enough time to throw the ball and look down field. Giving up two sacks to that defensive line is not acceptable. That Wake Forest defensive line is totally inferior to our offensive line and that group. Louisville has got some playmakers on the defensive line. They better buckle up and get ready.

Buck Sanders – Okay, Mark, what’s Dr. Paschal’s prescription for getting better this weekend?

Mark Paschal - Well, Chacos, I think your statement about stepping away from the edge, I think that is a very genuine statement. I think you make a good point – this isn’t the end of the world. But, I think all of us that are sitting at this roundtable have enough invested in this program – in this university – that we want to win.

Brian Chacos - Absolutely.

Mark Paschal - It just stings so much. It bothers us so much that that’s why we’re all upset. We’re not upset at the kids; we’re not upset at the coaches; we’re not upset about any of that – we just want to win. We just want this program, this team, to be successful. Whatever it takes for this team, this program, this university, to continue to make the right steps to be successful week in and week out, I think that everybody that sits at this roundtable is for that.

These seniors, they only have a certain amount of time left – they’ve got 10 games left – 10 games for some of these guys, the rest of their life. I just hope they take this as a wake-up call and say, ‘you know what guys, this is our season, this is what we have to do to be successful.’

Once they do that, I think all these things kind of take care of themselves. Right now, just from what I saw this past weekend and moving forward to a pretty darn good Louisville team, is that we’ve got talent; we’ve got the right schemes. I like what Coach Fedora is doing on offense. I think it’s really interesting about how they apply pressure to the defense and that they can still maintain that power running game. I like what we do on defense with a lot of the moves, a lot of the shifting, and a lot of the pressure, but we’ve got to do more of it. We’ve got to get better, but I think it comes down to the guys in that locker room taking accountability for their football team, the next 10 games for these seniors. Maybe they’ll be sitting at this roundtable someday, saying, ‘you know what, man, it still hurts when we lose; it still bothers me when we lose; I want us to win.’ I think everybody at this table is on the same page – this game doesn’t last forever. You just really pull for these kids and coaches and everybody that’s involved, and it still hurts.

Buck Sanders – Matt, you already talked a little bit about simplifying a little bit, maybe particularly on the back end of the defense, is that what you see that needs to happen as far as getting better for this Saturday?

Matt Baker - Everyone touched on it – I think the main thing is, how are we going to respond to adversity. I think everyone at this table is frustrated . . . . is really frustrated because I think we saw some of the Carolina of old – the same things we’ve been frustrated with for years. You’re close to the beat of the fans, I’m sure they’re really frustrated. But the same thing we here are frustrated about – we saw a little bit of the old Carolina we’re used to and we were kind of expecting something different. So, we didn’t respond to adversity last week; there was a weather delay; Renner got knocked around; our defense had a rough first half, I thought they responded better in the second half. But, as a team, we didn’t seem to respond to adversity. So, last week we got punched in the mouth – we lost a game we weren’t supposed to lose. So, what are you going to do this week? Are we going to see a new Carolina team that comes out fired up this week and plays with excitement and his ready to go? I hope so.

Buck Sanders – Good stuff. Final thoughts, Quincy?

Quincy Monk – It’s a tough loss, but what they’ve got to do is pick themselves up and move on. We’ve all had tough losses in our career. They can’t dwell on it, or they’ll come back this Saturday and take another loss. So what they’ve got to do is pick up the pieces, watch the tapes, watch for some of the thing that they can correct, and then move forward. I know Coach Fedora will have these guys fired up – a top 25 ranked opponent – this is going to be a great time to build on for the future. Like Matt said, kind of gauge if we’re the same old Tar Heels that stay on the ground, or are we going to be a new Tar Heel and pick ourselves up after a tough loss. These seniors have to get behind the young guys to make sure they study their game tape, making sure they are taking care of responsibility assignment-wise, and go out there and fly around the ball and make plays. If they do that, they should come out successful.

Buck Sanders – All good thoughts guys. There were some heart-felt comments in there and I know this last weekend stung all of you pretty hard. I was really impressed with the sincerity you brought to the table. Talk to you all next week.

Featured Lettermen in Today’s Roundtable

  • Matt Baker quarterbacked the Tar Heels in 2005, while amassing the 7th-highest season passing yardage total in school history. Following his UNC career, he was a member of six different NFL teams.

  • Brian Chacos’s UNC career (2001-06) included 35 starts at offensive tackle, a selection to the Lombardi Watch List, and All-ACC Academic honors.

  • 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.

  • 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 captained 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 four-year career up until that point.

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