Behind Enemy Lines: Dijana Kunovac

We caught up with Dijana Kunovac of Inside Carolina to discuss Saturday's game at Kenan Stadium between North Carolina and East Carolina.

Josh Graham: How much can be taken from UNC's, 28-20, loss in Atlanta given the type of offense Georgia Tech runs and the less-than-ideal weather conditions?

Dijana Kunovac: "A loss is a loss - and you can blame the weather, the calls, the environment, whatever you want - but the end result is still the same. I think this game showed the potential of the defense more than anything. They struggled a few times when it came to making tackles which at this point is just absurd to me, but the main thing is that they stuck to their assignments and were ready for them.

Now, if you can just get the technical part of it down I think this defense has a lot of potential. As for the offense, they've been so inconsistent that I'm not really sure what to think. They had these spurts during the GT game and are up 20-7 at one point and then just kind of fizzled out towards the end. They have to show more consistency if they're going to be successful."

JG: How have the Tar Heels filled the void left by three offensive linemen and a feature running back leaving for the NFL?

DK: "I think the running game has definitely suffered some - and you can tell, so I'm not convinced that they have filled the void. Anytime you have 2 guys that are not only starting their first seasons on the o-line but also playing their first seasons on the o-line, there's going to be some growing pains.

You don't just replace a guy like Jonathan Cooper and you definitely don't just replace a guy like Gio Bernard - those are both clearly NFL caliber players. Carolina is going to have to do a better job establishing the running game and so far, no one has emerged as the star running back; but keep in mind, fans still have yet to see freshman T.J. Logan at that RB spot who has been out with an injury so far."

JG: At 1-2, is there already a sense of urgency with this team after just three games?

DK: "I really don't think so. If you look at the rest of their schedule, their two toughest games are out of the way. I do think they're a little frustrated about the rough start but I think it's a little early to start jumping off the train. There are still plenty of games to be played and plenty of teams that UNC will match up better with."

JG: Since this in-state match-up has mostly been one-sided, has that affected the way the Tar Heels and their fans are approaching this game?

DK: "I actually think fans and players both look forward to this game. Although as you said, it does tend to be one sided, playing for the "State Championship" is something all the players constantly talk about and if anything, I think it's a pride thing on their end."

JG: What about this team has impressed you through three games?

DK: "The progression of the defense - and that answer even surprises me. They lost some key players in this defense and really struggled last year even with those guys, so I had somewhat low expectations for the defense as a whole heading into this season.

But three games in, they seem to really be learning from their mistakes. Granted, they're still making mistakes, but they're learning from them and you can tell that with each passing game."

JG: What are some of the keys for UNC to be successful against ECU and its "Air-Raid" offense?

DK: "They have to stick to their assignments and I know that sounds almost too simple but missed assignments were a really big problem with this UNC defense last year and I'm not convinced they still aren't. When one guy strays away from his assignment it really throws everyone else off and that's when teams have scored the most."

JG: There's never seems to be a dull moment wherever Larry Fedora is. On Sep. 7, UNC showed off its new uniforms, an in-stadium DJ and argyle endzones. How has Fedora's proactiveness been received by Tar Heel fans and can we expect to see all of these things again this weekend?

DK: "First of all, I will tell you first hand that yes, there definitely never is a dull moment with Larry Fedora. All the changed and proactiveness have received some mixed signals (you're always going to have a few haters), but for the most part it's been extremely positive.

Fedora and his staff have really brought a lot of new ideas and looks to the football program and after everything this team and University has been through, I feel like it was exactly what they needed. As for the uniforms, painted endzones and all that jazz - the recruits and the players absolutely love it and I think that's the most important part."


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