Letterman's Roundtable

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

On Saturday the Tar Heels came out and appeared to play flat the first half. It was homecoming, and it was William & Mary, but were you disappointed that they didn't come out and play with more intensity from the opening gun?

Deems: Disappointed? Yes. Surprised? No. Actually I'm surprised this hasn't happened a few more times this year. Football is a very emotional game and with the emotional rollercoaster that our team has been on; I find it amazing that we haven't had more games like the first three quarters Saturday. I'm not here to offer excuses for our performance, but one has to look no further than Blacksburg, Va. to see that it doesn't just happen in Chapel Hill. James Madison beat VPI in Blacksburg. W&M plays in the same conference. James Madison is 4-4. W&M was ranked in the Top Five in th FCS coming into our game. VPI was full strength, we obviously weren't. VPI lost and hasn't lost since. We won. You have to come to play every week or you will get beat. We were lucky and made some great plays in the fourth quarter. Once again, very proud of our effort in the fourth quarter, extremely disappointed, but not surprised in our effort the first three quarters.

Scott: With everything that this team has gone through this year at no point will I ever be disappointed in them. Getting ready for a team like William & Mary is not an easy feat and, although we certainly did not play our best football this past Saturday, a win is a win. With games such as this you'll look at the areas you need to work on and practice hard to correct them. But I like to look at what we did well and that was running the ball. Johnny White looks like a man that won't be denied and I don't know about you, but myself being a former offensive lineman, I never get tired or disappointed in watching an offense churn out yards on the ground.

Mark: This game, especially on the college level, is incredibly tough to play at a high level week in and week out. That is why you see so many upsets in college football. Was I disappointed that we didn't play with more intensity from the start? Sure I am. But let's be honest, in two or three weeks, no one will remember the score, no one will remember that we started poorly, no one will remember any of that. The only thing that people will remember is that we won, and that goes for bowl selection people as well. I am just glad we had enough heart and skill to overcome the early deficit.

The Tar Heels got one corner back last week in Kendric Burney, and lost another one in Terry Shankle – we're not sure if Tre Boston or Mywan Jackson will play, or if they do, how effective they can be. At what point do Tar Heel fans become not just concerned about depth, but the lack of continuity in the secondary this entire year?

Scott: It's funny, in the beginning of the year when we had our whole secondary suspended there was the same question yet surprisingly we had young players step in and play some really good football for us. During a football season you're always going to have injuries and you can never predict where they're going to be - the only thing you can do is to try and put the best guys on the field. I think this would be a different story if we had not had Kendric and Deunta Williams back at this point, but we do and they add experience and leadership to a place where we didn't have much for quite a few games. Coach Davis has endured many challenges this year and this is just another one to pile on. Going into this week if we can get Quan Sturdivant back that would be a huge boost for morale and help with some voids we've seen on defense.

Deems: We haven't had continuity anywhere on defense this entire year. We had good continuity on offense until Zack Pianalto went down. The result has been two very poor performances overall the last two weeks. This is the time of the year where everyone has injuries, but most teams have been able to develop continuity on both sides of the ball up until the injuries start to mount.

Continuity makes for easier transitions to the backups when injuries do occur. Unfortunately we haven't been able to experience that. We've had to go up until game time to know who could play, that in itself makes game planning non-existent. It's worse than having injured players that you know are out. Can you imagine going into a big sales presentation and having your star salesman right behind the door ready to present and at five minutes to nine o'clock someone comes in and says, ‘You can't present. We have to go with the new guy who has only been here a month. And he better go win the business!' This has not happened to us for one or two games but for the first seven. Then in game eight, we had more guys in street clothes injured at some positions than were available to play. I don't know a lot, but I do know football. There can't be a worse scenario for any football coach in America than what we have endured for the first eight games.

Mark: The good thing about the corner position is that you can tell a young guy, or whoever, ‘You get that guy, wherever he goes, you got him' and that can eliminate a lot of confusion for them. If they don't have the skillset or experience to do that, you've got issues anyways. I think we have to pull every corner off of special teams - which is terrible for our teams units - but we can not afford any more injuries at this position. Heck, maybe let Johnny White play both ways?

Florida State looks to be the toughest opponent UNC will have faced this year, and they look good on both sides of the ball. Does North Carolina have to play its game of the year in all three phases of the game to win in Tallahassee?

Mark: I have always believed if you win two out of the three phases, you've got a chance; if you win three out of three phases you will win the game. Against a team that is as good as FSU, I believe that it takes a "great" week to win this type of a game. Everyone in our locker room has to eat right, sleep right, get treatment, study film, go to class and work their butt off during practice. If every one of our guys will do that, then we have a darn good chance of being successful on Saturday. You never know what can happen over the course of a game, you never know which way the ball might bounce that day, but I do know if you out-prepare, out-work and out-scheme your opponent all week long, your chance of winning in all three phases is a whole lot higher.

Scott: We've certainly got our work cut out for us this Saturday, no doubt. FSU is big, strong and talented and not only that but playing pretty good football right now. I think we'll undoubtedly have to play some pretty sound football to beat FSU but I truly think we're capable of doing it. This game will be a huge test for us and a great measuring stick to see in which direction the Heels will go the remainder of the season.

Deems: Most college football fans/voters would probably disagree with you, Buck. I believe 10th ranked LSU is a decent team, although our rivals probably think they stink because we almost beat them minus 13 players. I think Auburn would say they're pretty good.

Anyway, that's irrelevant. I don't care about Florida State, Virginia Tech, State or Duke. Don't care anything about them or what we have to do to beat them. I'm just proud of our team, our chancellor, our Board of Trustees, our athletic director, and most of all our fans - everyone out there who has supported our program, everyone who has put an "I Support Butch" t-shirt on their back or bumper sticker on their car, everyone who has defended our coach and our team when the whole world was piling on. It takes a big backbone to stand up when things look very bleak and we couldn't say one single thing in defense of our program per NCAA direction. We had to sit there and take it from everyone around and 98 percent were steadfast and defiant much to the chagrin of all ABC'ers. The more we stay positive and support our program the more hair gets pulled out by those who want Butch gone. A lot of things in life boil down to who wins and who loses. If Butch Davis remains our coach, we win.

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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