Letterman's Roundtable

Inside Carolina's weekly 'State of the Heels' discussion with former Tar Heels Scott Lenahan, Deems May and Mark Paschal ...

Granted, it was Miami, but the way UNC played, even as undermanned as they were, made this past Saturday's performance look like a letdown compared to the last four weeks. Before the game, did you get the feeling that North Carolina might struggle the way they did at Miami, or did the way the Tar Heels played take you by surprise?

Deems: I knew it would be a tough task. I even mentioned that I was pessimistic about the game last week in this article (this was with Zack Pianalto and LeCount Fantroy's UVa game injuries). Attrition -- self-inflicted or not -- has taken its toll; not an excuse it's just a fact. Miami was picked ahead of us in the conference before any of the off-field issues/injuries had struck. They are an immensely talented team that when they smell blood in the water they never let up.

I would have liked to see what might have been if Anthony Elzy would've held on to the ball and if the referees would have gotten the fumble call on the kickoff right. But we'll never know. When Searcy went out it was like losing three first teamers. We lost our starting strong safety, punt and kickoff returner. Throw in Ryan Taylor and Mywan Jackson getting injured and it was just too much to overcome. Quan Sturdivant's hamstring must be really bad. We have had 25 scholarship players miss games this year. Nobody in the country would have beaten Miami down there Saturday night with that kind of attrition. Again, fact, not an excuse.

Scott: With the way we've been playing this year I'd be lying to say that I thought the game would have turned out the way it did, but then again that's football. Every week you see teams get beat and many times that can be attributed to one or two big plays that swing the momentum of the game and have a huge impact on the outcome. We spoke earlier in the week that it would be important to get on top of Miami early and we had a chance to do just that after an interception in Miami's territory. If we could have had the touchdown instead of a fumble I think we would have broken Miami's will and it would be a different story.

Mark: Anytime you play a team that has as much talent as Miami does, it makes you a little nervous. They have outstanding athletes all over the field. To be honest I was a little disappointed in the way we played. We had a chance to get up on them 14-0, and I felt like that would have put them out of the game. There was not a whole lot that went right all night. The best thing this team can do is learn from the tape and move on.

This question is not about T.J. Yates's play, but is this weekend the game where you think Bryn Renner might have the opportunity to get in the game for a substantial number of snaps? How important do you think that is – to get the No. 2 guy some exposure to live bullets before he becomes the starter the following year, or to prepare him in case of an injury this year?

Scott: The game against William & Mary is not a throwaway game and we need to approach this weekend as we would against any other team. Having said that, in no way do I think that T.J. should be taken out of the game while the game is in the balances of being either won or loss. Should they put Renner in at the end of the game to get some snaps, sure, it would be great experience to have him see the field but it should be a situational decision on what the score of the game is at the time.

Deems: T.J. is our starter. Renner had every opportunity to win the job in the spring and during camp. If we go into a game thinking this will be the time to get our backups reps we will get a rude-awakening (we hardly have any backups anyway). Ask Virginia Tech when James Madison rolled in. You think they were thinking of getting their back-ups reps? Play your best players every game. Play the schedule one game at a time. Backups or future starters can either play or they can't; a few reps the year before makes no difference.

Mark: I don't have a problem with getting Bryn some work this game - if we are winning and the game is in hand. This week is huge for the starters who struggled against Miami. This game could not have come at a better time for the heels. We need to work on protecting the passer, making explosive plays, sustaining drives, improving on first down, stopping the run, keeping contain, rushing the passer and making plays in the secondary. If we can do that, we should get up on William & Mary and give the backups, at all positions, a chance to get some playing time.

After this weekend some are saying that 2010 is now a "lost" season for North Carolina, in effect that what happens after the season will be the real story of the 2010 football season, in terms of possible NCAA sanctions and, quite frankly, the potential of a coaching change. What can this football team and UNC fans do to alter this narrative?

Mark: No one truly knows what the future holds for our football team, but as a graduate, letterman, and a supporter of all aspects of UNC, I stand firmly behind these players, coaches and the administration. I encourage you all to continue supporting every aspect of UNC as well. Nothing was ever accomplished by throwing in the towel and quitting when things got tough. Without you, the fans, the Rams Club and the supporters of UNC - NOTHING IS POSSIBLE - for any student, for any athlete, for any sport. Continue to stay the course: Go Butch, Go Heels, Go America.

Scott: The story of the 2010 season is being wrote as we speak in the way that this team has been able to claw its way back from a season which people thought was initially "lost" before we even stepped on the field against LSU. You are always going to have naysayers and people who try to find faults in everything we do, but to be a true Carolina fan you're going to support this team whether we win by 100 points or lose by 100 points. No single person can truly predict what lies in the future but as an individual who loves this University and believes in the coaching staff I'd ask one thing of every UNC fan and that is to continue giving unwavering support to our boys, because with everything that has happened this year they most certainly deserve it.

Deems: Who knows what the future will bring? All I know is that if you've been inspired by the effort of this team -- the players will continue to play hard without a doubt -- and the job that the staff has done under these circumstances let your voices be heard. Go to the Support Butch website, chip in on the banner. Buy a t-shirt and wear it. Put a bumper sticker on your car. I can assure everyone out there that the coaches and players appreciate it. They may act like they don't know what is going on, but they do, and the coaches' spouses do. The player's parents do and we former players on here do. Keep it up. All those outside of the Carolina family are really upset about our level of support for our coach. They act incredulous at our support for Butch, but we know why they act this way. They want him gone and for good reason. Look around the ACC and tell me who would you like to have as your coach right now in this tough time? Do you remember the Louisville and Utah games? Do you remember the Clemson game down there four years ago or the Virginia game on Thursday night up there four years ago? How did you feel then? Do you think any of those teams could've held up to LSU with 13 guys out? Do you get excited in the offseason when you see these elite recruits listing us with Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, and Texas? I sure do. Despite everything going on, they are still listing us to this day for one reason and one reason only: Butch Davis. If we lose him we go back to being irrelevant.

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.
Deems May excelled at tight end for UNC and was drafted in 1992, playing eight seasons in the NFL. He's since become a fan favorite for his candid commentary on the Tar Heel Sports Network.
Mark Paschal was a team captain for 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 career up until that point.

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