Shrine Bowl: Coach Speak

SPARTANBURG, S.C. --- Inside Carolina talks with members of the Shrine Bowl coaching staff about the performance of the UNC recruits in practice this week ...

Johnny Sowell (Receivers Coach):

On Eric Ebron:
"He brings a lot of energy. He keeps everybody going. But when he's on the field, he's business. And that's one of the things that I recognized through the process is that he's a joker, but when he's on the field he's all about business."

On playing Ebron at wide receiver, as opposed to tight end:
"He has the speed of an ‘X' or a ‘Z' – he can get down the field. And if we need him down blocking, he can do that, as well."

On how North Carolina plans on using Ebron:
"He's going to do a combination. You'll see him down there with his hand down. You'll see him standing up. We want to use all of his abilities."

On T.J. Thorpe:
"T.J. is an athlete. He's another guy that brings the energy. He brings energy and he loves the game. You could tell that – even in the combines you could tell that he wanted to make that Shrine Bowl team. When he got here, he's done nothing but what we've asked of him."

On how Thorpe will be used:
"Right now, T.J. is going to be running the ‘Z' position – pretty much. There will probably be two people in his area a lot. You'll see Ebron and you'll see T.J. together a lot. What we want to try to do is find the match-ups."


Randy Long (Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach)

On Jarrod James
"Jarrod is a really smart kid [with] really good size. As I look now, I see him on the other field over there – we're finished practicing – and he's working on punches on the bag. That's the type of kid he is – he has a great work ethic. He's a very polite kid. He's just an all-around great person."

On how James will be used:
"He's going to be our left tackle and he's going to have a lot of responsibility in pass protection and the run game. This week, I've seen him improve a lot as a player."

On the best part of James' game:
"He obviously has been coached well, but he has so much room for growth. He just grows every day he's out here. He's just like a sponge absorbing everything."


Mickey Lineberger (Defensive Line Coach)

On Shawn Underwood:
"He's a great player. He has a lot of size [and] a lot of speed. For a big man, he runs a 4.7 forty and he can make tackles sideline to sideline. He's very strong, he's very athletic, and he plays hard."

On playing Underwood at nose tackle:
"We've got to have a big strong guy playing nose, that's why we have him there. He's got the body type, and he can get under the center's pads and create some movement upfront for us. He's just ideal for that position."

On Devonte Brown:
"He's big, quick, very intelligent and he works hard, and he's strong...

"Devonte had a little injury [on Monday] so he missed the afternoon practice. I was glad to see him back out here the next practice, because we really missed him when he wasn't here."

On Brown's and Underwood's adjustments playing in the 50 defense:
"I think they played a more forced type defense. We're going to be a more read type defense and we're going to have to try to keep [blockers] off linebackers. Really truly, we're not going to make a lot of tackles. We've got to keep [blockers] off linebackers so the linebackers can fill the gaps and fill the holes.

"It's a new system everybody's learning. We've got to put it in and try to polish it in a week's time. All these kids come from different defenses – we just have to pull them into our style and teach them our techniques. And that's the biggest challenge we have right now – trying to teach them the techniques we need them to use."


Jimmy Fletcher (Defensive Back Coach)

On Brandon Ellerbe:
"I think the first thing is, he has some leadership ability. He played some quarterback at Anson. He's a kid – and him and I have talked about this – he's got to be vocal and he has been.

"He picks up stuff pretty quick, as well. Obviously, he's a good athlete, which makes it really nice."

On playing him at strong safety:
"With watching him at the combines and then we invited him back to the [invitation practice] that we had, just seeing him move around and just seeing his size and then just watching him on tape, I just felt like that would be his best position. I really didn't think corner would be his best position.

"With the looks we're getting, though, sometimes he may end up playing some free. We want him at the strong side, but with some of our calls, sometimes he ends up being the free."


Danny Wilkins (Quarterbacks/Running Backs Coach):

On Travis Riley:
"He's a hardnosed slasher. He hits it quick and has good vision and has a nice forward lean to him – there's always something positive, even when there's not a lot there. And then if you give him a little bit, he makes a lot out of it – he can pop it and accelerate. I've been real pleased with him.

"He had that unfortunate injury at Kannapolis early in the year. So he's been a question mark all season [and] during the selection process on whether or not he could play in this game. And then fortunately for him and us, he got back.

"He's a good blocker. He's a team guy – you can tell that from the get-go. He's going to do everything you ask him to do. He has good hands – can catch the ball out of the backfield."

On Marquise Williams:
"Williams is doing well, as well. I think part of the thing that you get into when you come together in an all-star deal is we're all having to adjust a little and get on the same page with terminology and routes and what you're trying to read. So the timings not there and you hope by the end of the week you've made a lot of progress. I see it getting better every practice.

"Chauncy [Concepcion] this is his system at Providence, so he's well versed on it. But Vad [Lee] and Marquise, they're like me coming out of another system. For a one week deal, you just have to do the best you can."

On the offensive system North Carolina will use:
"We're in a spread offense, obviously. But we have a very talented running back core. We've got quarterbacks that can run. And so obviously, we're going to have a balance – we feel like we're going to be able to run and throw the ball effectively."

On how Riley will be used within the offense:
"We're getting reps on all four ‘backs on everything we have. The way it will play out eventually is there are certain things that we'll try to match the play call to [the running back's] strengths.

"Riley is versatile enough to do it all. He's a blocker, runner, and a pass catcher. So he represents the complete deal. There's a couple [running backs] maybe not as good in certain phases, but they bring a lot to the table in another phase."

On the quarterback rotation:
"We haven't decided, yet. We're still playing with it. We've talked about it and I think all three are going to play back there some. As of [Tuesday], nobody has emerged to where I can say ‘that guy is heads and tails better than the other two.' Each one of them have made some good plays and all of them have had some struggle moments."


Inside Carolina Top Stories