Inside Carolina: What about the team chemistry on defense? Do you see those guys thinking of themselves as a unit now?
Coach Webster: I think that that's very important, what you just mentioned. And, I think that we're getting that now. I think that they realize that there is no superstar, per se. There is no one guy that you can look back and say, ‘Okay, I need we a play and we know that he's gonna make a play.'
What that means is that they got to play together. They know they've got to be like a glove, you know, they've all got to fit. They've all got to be hustling. We can't leave holes in the defense. I think they recognize that. I mean, you've got guys that are fifth-year seniors that are starters that never played before. You got some sophomores that never played. So, there's a good mixture of seniors all the way down to sophomores and freshmen that start on defense. The guy standing in front of the huddle (Doug Justice), he's a red-shirt freshman, he's the guy calling the signal. He's never played a snap. So, we've got a variety from senior down freshman, but they know they all have to play together in order for us to be successful.
Inside Carolina: Some people said that the offense is going to have to carry the defense this year. To what extent do you expect that to happen or do you think the defense is going to be able to hold its own?
Coach Webster: Well, you hit the nail on its head. You said, ‘People are saying.' Nobody around this football team has said that. I don't think there's anybody that feels that the defense is going to be such that the offense is going to have to carry them. We'll carry our own weight. I can assure you of that.
I think our offense is very good. They got the experience back and they've got good people at key positions. We've got a bunch of unknown guys. But, I think our defense will carry their own weight. They'll do what they're supposed to do to hold up their end of it. We may struggle a little bit early because of a lack of experience, but I think that once we get a little experience under our belt and get hit in the face a little bit and got our nose bloody a little bit, we'll be okay.
Inside Carolina: You've got a couple of new faces on the defensive side of the ball this year, Coach Fleming and Coach Huxtable as defensive coordinator how's the chemistry in the defensive staff?
Coach Webster: We had a good staff last year, but I think right now we have a better staff, defensively. I think that the working order of this defensive staff we have right now, the camaraderie that we have on this staff, the ways guys work together, the way we communicate with one another, exchanging information with one another, the way that Dave Huxtable has handled the coaches and the input that he's had and the input he allows us to put in, we're a better defensive staff this year than we were last year.
Inside Carolina: Let's switch gears just a little bit and talk about, you know Coach Bunting has said that some of these true freshmen may have to play on the defensive line this year. Which one of these there guys, is any one of them more ready to go than the other ones at this level?
Coach Webster: Well, at the start, when the freshmen first came in, I had three defensive ends, and one of them I felt like, Lewis Burham, of the three he was probably the best one. Not because he was a better athlete, but because he was able to pick up things a little better. For a freshman, that's one of the big things, one of the big things, other than the lack of strength, is the mental part of it. There's a lot to learn. And, Lewis Burnham, I thought did a good job of learning. But, because of some things that happened, losing some people, we moved him to tight end.
We moved Javier Rainey to defensive end, so now I've got three freshmen and those guys, right now, are struggling mentally - which you would expect as far as concern. So, even though some of them may be physically able to play, which they still need strength, right now in my group I don't see anybody today that would play. Now, injuries can change that real fast. I think yesterday Brian Rackley stepped up a little bit and started doing some positive things. Today, I thought Xavier Rainey stepped up doing some things positive. So, you never know what you have in freshmen and we've still got time to give those guys a chance to see what they can do.
Inside Carolina: What do you expect of the defense by the time you play by Miami of Ohio?
Coach Webster: There's no doubt the defense will be ready. We're eager. Those guys are eager to get there and show and I think that after the first ball game, the second ball game, people will see that there may not any guys out there with stars on their foreheads, may not be any guys out there on the covers of any magazines and everything like that, and we may not have anybody as talented as Julius was, but I think that they all are going to tow the rope. They're going to carry their own weight. I think that when we start playing together, hard, really hustling and really laying it on the line, I think we'll be a good defense.
Inside Carolina: Because they are so inexperienced and there're so many new starters, how important is it for them to really experience success early, in terms of building confidence?
Coach Webster: I think that whether you're experienced or not, you want to experience success early. That always helps because it gives you some positive feedback. But, I think that it's going to be up to us as coaches, because that can work against you too. You can experience some success early and do really good and all of the sudden you think you're pretty good and then you go up against a team that is really good or a better than the team you just played and all of the sudden you find you're not as good as you were.
I think it's going to be up to us that, regardless of how the defense plays early, whether they play really, really good or really, really bad or whatever, it's going to be up to us coaches to keep them on an even keel and keep them focused - ‘Hey guys, you played well, but hey, this is what we did and this is what we can do better. Hey guys, you didn't play as well, this is what we did and this is what we can do better.'
Even when you've got experienced guys, coaching really plays a factor - keeping them motivated, keeping then directed - keeping them focused and making sure their heads are on right and that they are focused on the task at hand. So, I think that regardless of what experience in our first couple of games, we as coaches are going to have to keep that even keel and keep them thinking of a positive attitude.