Matt Merletti Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Senior safety Matt Merletti spoke to reporters prior to North Carolina's football practice on Wednesday afternoon.

There's been a lot of changes in the secondary with guys leaving and graduating, and then moving new guys around. How's that affecting the defense so far?
"It's definitely affecting it. It's more affecting the secondary. It's not really affecting the linebackers and defensive line too much, but we're just trying to figure out the right group of guys and the right pairing of guys back there in the secondary and trying to find the best match."

Do you see that affecting or changing your role?
"That's pretty much up to the coaches, to be honest with you. I plan on playing a lot on defense, and still contributing a whole lot on special teams."

How would you compare the hype that surrounded last year's defense and how good they were? How big can you guys be in comparison to that?
"It's kind of up to us how good we want to be, and that just all comes down to us putting the time in as players, because the coaches are definitely investing the time. We also need to put in hours in the film room and studying outside of just practice."

What can you say about the way Charles Brown handled things last year?
"We definitely saw him on scout team working the heck out of the offense, and he was definitely one of the best scout team players. That's just showing how good of a team player he is. He could've easily and understandably not wanted to go as hard, but he definitely put his best effort forward. He did very well."

Do you think Brown can be a lockdown corner this year?
"Absolutely. I think all that work last year, even though he wasn't playing, all of that work is going to pay off."

How good is the defensive line right now?
"I'm really excited about our defensive line, to be honest with you, because last year we obviously had a lot of hype surrounding them. They have a lot to live up to. I'm really excited about them. They're one of the strong points of our whole team."

What do you think of Sylvester Williams?
"So far he's impressing everybody. He's definitely going to help us win some games this year. I'm excited about having him."

Is it good to have Quinton Coples back outside?
"Absolutely. Yes, it's definitely good to have him back out there. We're real excited to see how good he can be at his true position."

Being one of the older guys, you help set the tone. What's the attitude this spring, especially as you go out and get ready for training camp?
"Ultimately, we're just trying to get as good as we can. We're given 15 practices and we're trying to use each of those practices to get as good as we can, and to prepare for next season. This is already preparation for the first game, so we're working real hard, and we're not taking this lightly at all."

Where do you see the areas that you're improving the most?
"The question mark in our defense was our secondary. We grew a lot as a secondary these past [12] practices. I think that's been the biggest thing. I think the secondary has improved the most out of any position on defense. I'm really excited about that. Hopefully we're going toward an ACC Championship. That's our goal."

Who's grown the most?
"Probably Tre Boston. We moved him to safety. He took that like he's been playing safety all along. He's gotten a whole lot better. He's going to be helping us in the secondary this year as well."

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