How did things go today during practice?
“Fourth day. First day in full pads. Our tempo was really good today. We got actually more reps in than we were expecting and still got off the field early. So our tempo was really good. There’s some banging going on out there it was fun. We’re seeing a bunch of guys getting an opportunity to make plays. We’ve got guys that aren’t practicing. We’ve got guys trying to fill spots of the seniors that left. We’ve got some guys that still have to learn a sense of urgency. Every rep is important…every single rep and when we do that we’ll be alright.”
How have Ron West and Keith Gilmore worked into their new roles? Has it been a relatively smooth transition due to their history with Vic Koenning and Dan Disch?
“Obviously they know the defense so that’s made it very easy for them. All four of those guys have worked together. The thing that has probably surprised them the most is just the speed and the tempo of the practice.”
Are you where you thought you would be in the second spring with regard to the team’s tempo?
“Yeah, I really do. I think we’re where we need to be tempo wise. We’re probably getting in as many plays as we ever have in the time frame that we want. So we’re trying to push it even a little bit farther.”
Is there room to play faster on offense?
“Oh yeah, definitely. You keep shaving off seconds. As guys become more aware and it becomes really important to them and it’s in their DNA to go fast in every thing they do, then we’ll get faster.”
Who are some guys who have impressed you so far in spring practice?
“Bryn (Renner) has picked up right where he left off which was very important for us because he really played well the last five games of the season. He’s really stepped up in that leadership role. (A.J.) Blue is really is really doing a nice job along with (Russell) Bodine up front. I can’t say any of the new guys that are stepping up.
"I’ve seen Quinshad (Davis) and (Sean) Tapley make some plays offensively. Defensively, I’ve seen (Shawn) Underwood make some plays. I’ve seen Kareem (Martin) and Travis Hughes is really flying around and feels better about what he’s doing and understands. Tre Boston’s really making plays out there. Then you know '4' and Tim (Scott) have had the opportunity. (Jabari Price) is not going through practice right now.”
Have you switched up the defensive coaching assignments with the new hires?
“West is coaching the inside backers and the Bandit. Then we’ve got it right now with Vic (Koenning) coaching the safeties and the Ram. I think it fits better. The Ram and the Bandit don’t do a whole lot of things together. It’s like coaching two totally different positions in practice.”
Will it be a sole running back to replace Gio Bernard or will it be running back by committee?
“I promise you somebody is going to take his place. Now whether they’ll have the same production, I can’t tell you that. It doesn’t matter if it’s by committee or if it’s one guy. We’ll still be really productive. I would say right now Blue and Romar (Morris) are leading in that group. They’re getting the most reps. I’ve been impressed with Khris Francis and what he’s been able to do.”
What do you typically look for in spring football and what are the main objectives?
“Well, I mean really we’re trying to make sure that we develop as much depth as possible because you know you’re not going to play with 11 guys in all three phases of the game. We’re trying to develop depth with the ones, twos and threes, so they understand they are going to play for us at some point next year. They have to help us win. You go from there and then you just want to make sure when you come out of spring that everybody understands the offense and everybody understands the defense and special teams and what you’re trying to do there. Then when we do that we go into the summer and they can continue to work on that all summer long. Then we should be better when we start fall camp.”
Comments on holes being filled along the offensive line:
“Well, it’s still too early to tell. We’ve still got a long way to go at the guard position on the left side and that right tackle. James Hurst isn’t going through with it right now. It’s frustrating in a way but it’s also exciting because you’ve got new guys who are getting a lot of reps right now. Whether they make a mistake or not is not important. It’s that they’re learning and they’re getting better. Every learned mistake they make we’re going to get better each and every rep.”
On UNC's pro day next Tuesday:
“The six guys that went to the combine, from everything I heard about them, they did a fabulous job. I knew they would perform on the field. I was interested in how they would do in the interviews and all those things. I heard great things about all of them. So I anticipate the seniors who weren’t at the combine to come out and show out Tuesday. It should be a lot of fun for them.”
Do you think it’s easier to get your team focused and ready for the season knowing they will be able to play in the postseason?
“You’ll probably think I’m crazy, but for me, no. I don’t think our guys sit there and say let’s play to go to the postseason. That’s not it. They play the game because they love playing the game and that’s why we had success last year. We won’t change that. The motivating factor is that you put that Carolina blue on and that interlocking N.C. on and that’s the motivating factor. You go out there and you play for pride. You play for you teammates. You play for the university. I think that’s all it takes.”