Letterman's Roundtable

Inside Carolina's weekly 'State of the Heels' discussion hosted by Buck Sanders, featuring former Tar Heels Scott Lenahan, Deems May, Quincy Monk and Mark Paschal ...

Buck Sanders: Jabari Price made his return on Saturday, and the Tar Heels appeared to fare much better against a decent passing team (Louisville was averaging 239 yards per game, 55th nationally in passing offense). Coincidence, or did having Price back in the lineup help?

Mark Paschal: Each week the secondary will get challenged and they will continue to get better. I think having Jabari back obviously helps us and makes us a better defensive unit. This group has to continue to grow and get better each week and I believe they will.

Scott Lenahan: I'd say a little bit of both. No doubt having Jabari back considerably helps our defense, but I don't know if the Louiseville offense we saw was all that stellar. They had some really good wide receivers but their quarterback was pretty young and inexperienced. Although with Jabari back I think it will give our coaches more comfort in bringing blitzes, knowing that we have added experience in the secondary and not being afraid to put our corners in one-on-one situation.

Quincy Monk: I think having Jabari definitely helped in the secondary. He was able to add some familiarity to a secondary, that's had its shares of ups and downs within the first part of the season. In addition, we were able to correct some of the breakdowns we've had that have hurt us with giving up big plays.

Deems May: Boston prepared to play safety this year. Price coming back was a huge boost. We need to develop continuity and get guys where we had them planned in the preseason. I look for Price to get better each week as the rust wears off.

Buck: Louisville has been a poor offensive team this season, but UNC's defense couldn't get off the field in the first half. Were expectations too high for this defense? What needs to be done defensively to get better?

Quincy: I don't believe expectations were too high for this defense. We have some tremendous players on defense that can be game changers on the field. I think what we've seen for the first part of the season is that we were giving opposing offenses big yardage on breakdowns in coverage. What we need to continue to do moving forward is to get pressure on quarterbacks, and we must be able to stop the run.

Deems: We came out flat, there is no doubt about that. This is a game that we would've lost in the past. We just had too much speed and it was evident. I knew this game was going to be close, everyone had it chalked up as a win. Teams all over the country experience games when they come out flat, talent has to win out and it did Saturday.

Mark: Louisville really is not that good of a football team. Carolina has talent on defense, no question, but they have to play up to their talent and their potential each week. I feel like we played down to Louisville's level. It felt very lethargic and emotionless all day.

Scott: Low risk, low reward. It seems that's the motto we've been playing by defensively most of the season. I know that we have a great coaching staff and they know the abilities of our personnel better than I do. So who am I to argue? We're 5-1 right now, and as much as I'd love to see us shut out every opponent, our defense gives us a chance to win games. I'd certainly like to see a little more movement and added pressure. I mean, who doesn't love to watch a defense that is racking up a ton of sacks and pressures every game. (I'm sure Quincy and Mark would both agree with me, they're defensive guys.) We have an incredible amount of talent on the defense and it needs to be unleashed at times.

Buck: Miami is up next, coming off a close loss at Virginia Tech. Would you rather play a team coming off a demoralizing close loss, or after a win, close or otherwise?

Deems: It really doesn't matter. You hope that the previous game was physical and the two teams beat each other up pretty good. We have to find a way to play better each week going forward. Our schedule is toughening up. I think Rutgers is a pretty good team, but the rest of the teams we won against aren't very good. We need a quality win and Miami can match us talent-wise.

Scott: With most teams, I think it would be playing them after a win. Reason being because they've usually been reading their press clippings and have a lot more to lose, making them susceptible to being knocked off. In this case, though, Miami has been a team that is notorious for not being particularly resilient. If you get up on them, or if they get down, most of the time they'll just fold up shop and pack it in. Right now they are a little down on their luck, but Miami is loaded with talent and we'll have to bring our ‘A' game with this bunch.

Mark: It never really mattered to me to be honest. Each week in college football there are upsets, there are blowouts and there are close wins and losses. There are 4-5 elite teams, on a national level, this year in my mind – not one of them an ACC team. Everyone is beatable and anyone can have a good day or a bad day. The only thing that each team can do is prepare all week to play well on Saturday. If Miami does not focus all week to play a sound football game, we will beat them. Vice versa.

Quincy: Miami is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Virginia Tech, which can either be a good thing or a bad thing for the Heels. Sometimes when you come off a demoralizing close loss, a team can come out flat the next week. I think we should be prepared to take on a Miami team who's going to have a bit of a chip on their shoulders because of the way they lost on Saturday. Personally I would rather play a team that comes off of a close emotional win, because they tend to come out flat during the next game, and you can really take advantage of a team who comes out flat.

Buck: This team is 5-1 and getting ready to head into the real meat of its schedule. Do you think the team has prepared itself through the first six games to make a strong stretch run, or have opponents exposed weaknesses in the UNC team that will be exploited in ACC play?

Mark: I honestly believe we get to nine-plus wins this year. The ACC is pretty weak right now. Miami we should win, tough road test at Clemson the following week, Wake at home should be a ‘W,' we should beat State, VT on Thursday night in Blacksburg will be tough, but we have won there before on a Thursday night and I don't think they are all that great and finally Duke should be a win.

Scott: I can tell you one thing; people are definitely going to be testing our secondary all year long. Our offense has continued to improve over the season but struggled to get in somewhat of a rhythm this past Saturday. With the schedule that we're looking at, we're going to need our defense to bend but not break. I have confidence in our offense to get the job done and score points; we just can't have the defense showing up playing lackadaisical like they did against Louiseville.

Deems: Fans have the luxury of comparing stats all week long. Who is good, who isn't, how many yards someone is giving up, etc. Bottom line is we are 5-1 when all is said and done. I sometimes really don't think people understand what has happened to this team. Their head coach was abruptly fired eight days before the season started! (After repeatedly being told that he was going to be their coach.) Unprecedented, to say the least. Unless you've been on a football team, it's hard to explain the camaraderie and chemistry that develops and is vital to success. To have your leader taken away eight days before the season starts makes one feel a sense of betrayal - let's not let this sequence of events escape us. Everett has this team 5-1 and it could've gone downhill quickly in the second half at Georgia Tech. Great job by this staff to hold this team together in an unfathomable scenario.

Quincy: I think the first six games have definitely prepared us for the second half of the season. We have been faced with a tremendous amount of adversity this season, and this team continues to be resilient and showcase a desire to win. We have corrected some of the mistakes we have made during the first part of the season and it's a true testament in how our team is being coached. I'm sure we will continue to get better as the weeks go by.

Buck: We've touched on attendance before, but the number of people in Kenan this past Saturday to watch a 4-1 team was as low, from a visual perspective, as it was when Tar Heel fans were watching 3-9 teams. Noon kickoffs are tough, but what can UNC do through marketing or some other means to increase attendance?

Scott: One thing that Coach Davis was incredible at was creating hype -- doing the small things that made a huge difference, like fireworks in the stadium, creating a student section that can help get the whole crowd involved. Right now lacking his presence has made a big impact. Also, with our program being in limbo concerning who the next coach will be and the future of this program has made some fans standoffish. I think what we have right now at Carolina is something special, and I implore everyone who is a Carolina fan to embrace our team and support our boys in blue.

Deems: Marketing? There isn't a PR/marketing firm in the world that would touch this. Eighteen months ago we had 30,000 at a spring game on ESPN. I don't think I've ever been more excited about anything that had to do with Carolina Football than how I felt that day in Kenan. I don't really know what the future holds, but I do know that this team needs us at the games. It's so hard to play in front of a half-empty, dead home crowd. I hope we don't have to tarp the upper deck.

Mark: Yeah, it was not a pretty sight last Saturday. I honestly do not have the answer for a way to get people to come out. I have a feeling that this Saturday we will have our best crowd yet.

Quincy: I think it's a bit frustrating to see the empty seats in Kenan, not only for our current team, but also for future recruits who are thinking about attending UNC. When you see other teams in the ACC, who consistently sell out there stadiums it can be a little disappointing to not have the fan support as other teams have. As a former player, it surely would be nice to have a packed house supporting our young players who are representing the University. Noon kickoffs are tough, but that's not an excuse!

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.
Quincy Monk recorded 247 tackles at linebacker during his Tar Heel career from 1998-2001. He was drafted into the NFL and spent three seasons in the professional ranks.
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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