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: I would have never believed that N.C. State would shut out North Carolina like it did last Saturday. How do you account for the offensive production, or the lack thereof rather, against N.C. State? Lack of effort? Intensity? Game plan? What happened to UNC's offense?

Mark Paschal: Three things stood out to me this Saturday. First, how soft we were at the point of attack. We didn't open holes and didn't protect the passer at all. Second, we got behind the chains on first and second down leaving us with a lot of third-and-long's and we didn't convert. Last, our overall game plan left something to be desired - open it up and try and make some plays.

Deems May: I honestly have no idea. I don't think any of us saw this coming after a really well played game offensively against Wake. It just goes to show you that Carolina goes as Bryn Renner goes. He has definitely been hot and cold this year and gimping around pretty badly as well. I just can't understand why we were so poor in the run game. This was a huge disappointment and if we only had moderate success running the ball, you would think that we could've gotten two TD's and won an ugly game.

Quincy Monk: I'm still puzzled in the way we played on Saturday. You would think with all the hype and talk that our team would come out fired up to play NC State. Unfortunately, our play didn't reciprocate how a rivalry should be played. We came out flat, our plays were predictable, and State simply had more passion to play in this game.

Scott Lenahan: With the weapons that we have on offense, we never should have. I wouldn't point at one specific reason as to why our offensive was out of sync all day; it was certainly a culmination of problems. From execution, to lack of focus and certainly some play calling. We have talent but there were lots of busted assignments and it doesn't help to hear the players talk about a lack of focus after the game. Getting psyched up as a player was never hard for me leading up to games against State or Duke. Why? Because we were playing against guys I knew or had run into around town. With all the talk leading up to the game I'm surprised a lack of focus and intensity was a factor. It makes me sick that we haven't beat State since 2006. There are two games all year that as a player you shouldn't need a coach to stress the importance.

Buck: This is a subject of some controversy. Some people see nothing wrong with UNC's defensive players dancing around to music in the fourth quarter down 13-0, saying "Kids will be kids." How did that strike you? Does it bother you as a former player?

Quincy: Sometimes when you have music playing, you can feed off the energy of the music. This allows you to play more freely. However, at the point when we were dancing we were down 13 points so I would have liked to see these guys use that energy from the music to play with more fire. As a former player, I remember when we used to hear music playing during timeout breaks; and it would get us more fired up for the next play. Hopefully we will see this kind of intensity moving forward.

Deems: The first three-and-a-half quarters bothered me a lot more than the dancing. It's just not the smart thing to do when you are down, but our ineffective performance had me feeling a lot worse.

Scott: I didn't see when the defensive players were dancing around so I'm not sure exactly what they were doing. But as a former player, I can tell you that because you are dancing around doesn't mean that you don't care about the game or you're not taking the game seriously. Did I ever dance around myself? No. But only because I didn't want to make the other guys jealous. Seriously, though, considering it was the defensive guys who were actually playing decently well and with intensity, I could only assume that they were trying to pump some energy into the sideline and the offensive unit.

Mark: Obviously the defense was not the issue on Saturday, surrendering 13 points isn't a bad day of work. However, this is the ultimate team game and if you're getting beat by your rival, it should tick you off. I was never a dancer on the football field, some guys get "hyped" up when they dance or whatever, but I personally was never into it. Especially when you are getting beat. It just doesn't project that the game and the outcome really matters to you.

Buck: North Carolina gets its bye week late this year, coming with just two games left in the season. What can the Heels get accomplished during this time off besides getting a little healthier?

Scott: They can re-focus and get ready for a huge Thursday night game. This time off can help give the players not only a physical break but a mental break as well. The season is long and the bye week is great to help re-charge the engines. I hope that we are prepared going into Blacksburg because V-Tech is a hostile environment.

Mark: We need rest. We have to get back to the basics with blocking and tackling. We have to get more physical and play with more passion. Watch more film. We need to figure out who the guys are that want to finish this season 3-0 and figure out who it really is important to.

Quincy: What the Heels can do during this week besides getting healthy, is to install some additional plays. I think opposing teams are keying on our tendencies, and are able to game plan our offense to prevent some of our big plays from occurring. We should definitely use this week to find more creative ways to score on offense and to also add some addition pressure packages for our defense.

Deems: Unless Everett is going to play a lot of the younger players the last two games, I don't think a whole lot can be accomplished during the bye week other than to get healthy. If he goes back and looks at the tape and decides that he is going to sit some guys that played poorly or without intensity, reps will be important. Otherwise, given a shorter bye schedule, getting Renner healthy is the most important thing.

Buck: This year has been a drain on the players, coaches, fans – everyone. There have been a few positives this year, like the play of Gio Bernard. What else from this season gives you a positive vibe about either the rest of this season, or the future of UNC football?

Quincy: Having Gio Bernard become the first 1,000-yard rusher since Jonathan Linton is a tremendous asset. For him to accomplish this in his first year as a starter shows that the future of our offense is very bright. In addition, to Gio I'm excited to see the growth of Renner and I'm looking forward to seeing him build on some of the successes that he's had as a first year quarterback. I am very confident that he will use this first year as a good guideline to build for the future.

Scott: I think we should give some of that credit that Gio is getting to the O-line too. Coach Pitman has done an outstanding job building up the talent and play of our big guys. I'm excited at how great we've become here and that we've finally got a running back in the 1,000-yard club. Although Renner didn't have a great game, I still think he has the tools to be a great quarterback for UNC. He's been up and down the past few games, but if he can regain his composure, which he had beginning the season, he could be a solid quarterback.

Deems: Given what happened to our head coach, at the first sign of serious adversity, two things could happen: we could fold the tents or rally. After the Wake game, I thought we would rally and finish 9-3. But you just can't show up to big games flat and we did against Miami and State. We have too many playmakers offensively to ever get shut out. We have two games left, one on the national stage. I'd like to think I could get a positive vibe for the future if we were to get some underclassmen on both sides of the ball to step up and be leaders. This could come in the locker room, practice field or certainly on game day, but it is desperately needed.

Mark: Ok, we are 6-4 right now, that is better than some of my teams, Scott's teams, Quincy's and Deems' teams. There are some talented players on this squad and guys that want to win. Obviously we all care a whole heck of a lot about Carolina football and we want to win every game each year. Did we go 14-0 this year? No, but it's encouraging that our fan base, alumni and letterman still want us to be successful. People are still supporting Carolina football. There will be brighter days. We will learn a lot about the character of this team in the next two regular season games and during the bowl game.

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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