Letterman's Roundtable

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

North Carolina was more than a touchdown underdog in Tallahassee and pulled off the win. T.J. Yates, with the help of solid protection most of the afternoon and some heady play by the wide receivers, had a career day while breaking the single game passing record for North Carolina. After a rough second quarter, the defense played lights out in the second half. Did you see this coming?

Scott: Could anyone have seen this coming? I don't even think the players saw it coming. I mean certainly they thought, as well as myself, that we could go into Tallahassee and pull out a win but did I see us winning in the fashion in which we won? No.

Going into the game, FSU had been susceptible to the run and when you take into account the recent play of Johnny White, I thought that our key to success was going to be in the running game. Well, we came out passing and on fire. We watched a showcase between T.J. Yates and Dwight Jones, we saw our prolific running back go down with an injury, we saw a defense step up and make plays when we needed it most, but most importantly, we saw a team that we've never seen before. We talk about how football is a team game and what we watched unfold Saturday couldn't have defined that word any better. What an incredible game and an even more incredible performance by our players and coaches.

Deems: We were actually ten-point underdogs. I pointed out in the pre-game show that the blueprint for beating us was out there. Stack the box, play cover two behind it and make T.J. Yates beat you throwing the ball. He had not been comfortable since Zack Pianalto got hurt.

Well, he obviously was very comfortable and Dwight Jones and the rest of our receiving corps stepped up, including the tight ends. Just a great job of play-calling by John Shoop. FSU was very stubborn and kept the box stacked the whole game. They weren't going to allow us to run the ball. FSU made zero adjustments the whole game, so we kept throwing the ball. Defensively, we made incredible adjustments at halftime. Complete shutout in the second half (I don't count the TD after the bad snap). Jabari Price stepped up huge and played lights out in the second half. Kendric Burney stepped up as well after getting beaten badly a few times in the first half. Corners were the keys in the second half - we are so thin there. Just an incredible job making adjustments and executing in the 2nd half by our entire defensive unit.

Mark: Last week I believed we would have a chance to win this football game. Everyone on this team, support staff, coaches and the players deserve a lot of credit for their unwavering commitment to each other and UNC. I could not be more proud of this group of guys. Their resiliency and heart will never be forgotten.

The news about Johnny White's injury hit UNC fans hard. He has improved so much this year, has run hard every down, and frankly bailed UNC out at times almost singlehandedly. As bad as UNC fans feel for White, they are also wondering where the Tar Heels are going to turn now? Shaun Draughn is listed as the starter this week, backed up by Hunter Furr, who came in and gave the Tar Heels some great runs in relief last week. Do you think the Tar Heels will be able to compensate for this loss?

Deems: Johnny White is a warrior. Consummate team guy. It's a shame that his season is over. He's been the face of our team this year. But this isn't something new to this team. It's like the movie "Groundhog Day" every week. We get one or two maybe back and three more go down. It's amazing how this has occurred, but bodies do get worn down throughout the year and more so when you have the attrition we have had. I like Draughn, Anthony Elzy and Furr to step up. They just don't have a choice.

Mark: Tough question, Buck. Johnny White was awesome this year and I honestly do not see how you can fill his shoes. That being said, Shaun is a darn good football player and Hunter Furr showed that he could come in and be productive. I don't think you ever replace a guy like Johnny, and that is not a slight to any other back on our squad. But heck, the way this season has gone, I bet someone will step up and surprise us all.

Scott: I couldn't be more proud of Johnny White and how he blew out of the gate this year and ran like a man possessed, but I must be in the twilight zone or having some case of déjà vu because it's unreal the type of adversity that has hit this team, yet they somehow find a way to rise above it. Losing Johnny White is definitely a big hit, but Shaun Draughn is no slouch and I think that he'll do a great job as the starting running back. I'm a bit biased but I think that our offensive line play has been great and a testament to that was this past game in that it didn't matter who carried the ball, our line will open holes for you to run in.

North Carolina has outscored opponents this season 113-59 in the second half, and 65-26 in the fourth quarter. How do you account for this? Coaching adjustments? Halftime speeches? Strength and conditioning? All three?

Scott: Well, I wouldn't rule out halftime speeches altogether, but certainly the adjustments and conditioning are attributed to the success we've had in the fourth quarter. Coach Connors is a master of his profession and really does a great job preparing and maintaining the players before and throughout the season. The coaching staff we have is incredible and the halftime adjustments are always pivotal at the end of a game. Yet, one thing you didn't mention which I believe is why we've been great late in the game is because this team knows how to win. They believe in themselves and are able to execute and perform when it counts the most.

Deems: I would say two out of three. Leave halftime speeches out of it. Halftime is for making adjustments and never was it more obvious than Saturday in Tallahassee. Defense shut them out in the 2nd half (Withers adjustments) and our offensive line came off the ball on the last drive and opened the holes for Furr. That is attributable to Connors and his staff and our kids' hard work not only in the off-season but maintaining that strength throughout this tough season.

Mark: There are two things that account for winning in the second half - a burning desire from each individual to finish strong and having the strength and conditioning to make your body do what your mind is telling it to do. Jeff Connors is the best in the business and he deserves a heck of a lot of credit for the job he has done with a depleted roster. Coach Davis is one of the best motivators and leaders I have been around and he gets each one of his players to believe in the system, each other, and that they can win every week. With these two at the helm going forward, Carolina will win a lot more games than they will ever lose.

Last year the Tar Heels pulled off a great win in Blacksburg, and now the Hokies, who are playing good football, are coming to Kenan no doubt looking for revenge. The Tar Heels are playing to, among other things, stay relevant in the Coastal Division race. Who has the emotional edge?

Scott: Virginia Tech has been playing good football as of late and will clearly be coming into our home looking for revenge and to solidify them atop the ACC. Although, with coming off such an emotional win ourselves, I certainly think that we have the edge going into this game. I have no doubt that our team is more unified than ever and will come out swinging against the Hokies.

Mark: Got to be the Heels, right? With everything these guys have fought through this year, these seniors will be damned if their team is not ready to play and in a frenzy come 3:30. Chapel Hill and Kenan Stadium will be an atmosphere any Carolina fan would be crazy to miss. See you all on Saturday.

Deems: They've won seven in a row. We've won six out of seven. Their Atlantic Division opponents this year have been Boston College and Wake Forest. We played Clemson and Florida State. Our attrition has been well-documented. They definitely will be coming into Kenan in much better shape physically and depth wise than we will be.

I do not know or care how they will be emotionally. I just know how great the atmosphere will be in Kenan. The Old Well Walk, with all the recruits there and our fans showing their support for this team and our coach. All of the "I Support Butch" shirts that will be worn by our students and fans. I love the way this team is so selfless. How so many volunteered to run down on the last kick at FSU, how Ryan Houston told Coach Davis that he would've run into the game when our running backs went down.

That right there just shows how good we have it with Butch Davis and this staff. Look around the ACC and name one coach that you would rather have coaching this team. As I walked out of FSU's stadium last Saturday night after the team had gotten on the bus, I kept pinching myself; I don't think I've ever been prouder of a football team.

Let's get there early and be loud, they need to get their adrenaline from us.

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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