Letterman's Roundtable

Inside Carolina's Buck Sanders hosts a collection of former Tar Heels for the weekly 'State of the Heels' football roundtable discussion.

Buck Sanders: Here's the first question for today's roundtable – other than a win, what is it that everybody's looking for when they watch the game one Saturday?

Brian Chacos: What I'm looking to see is domination on the line of scrimmage. I think, obviously, that's where it starts. I think that's what separates the SEC from the rest of the conferences. Everyone is talking about how good our offensive line is - I've been out there a couple of practices already and seeing how well those guys look and the way they move and the way they play. I really want to see them dominate the line of scrimmage. There's some concern about the defensive line.

We've been harping on Dion Guy; hopefully he proves us all wrong and has a terrific game on Saturday. Kareem Martin is another guy I think has a lot of NFL potential. I really want to see him getting after the quarterback. And, obviously, Sly Williams is going to be a tremendous player for us as well, and should really take over the center line of scrimmage as well.

Mark Paschal: Buck, I'm going to look at the level of intensity and see if we play at the level that we're capable of playing. Everybody's been talking about the amount of reps we got in practice, how fast they move, what they do, as far as no huddle offense is concerned on offense; I want to see how the defense flies around. This game is played with a lot of emotion. This game is played like a war. It's going to be the start of the season and I want to see how these guys come out and how they play.

Too many times last year, and the past couple of years, I saw a lack of energy, a lack of effort, a lack of focus, a lack of passion, and that's not the way this game is played. I feel like this guy, Larry Fedora, is the kind of guy that won't accept anything but a 100-miles-an-hour to the football on defense and will play with an up-tempo style on offense to make this an interesting year for everybody involved. But I'd like to see these guys come out and dominate for four quarters. We're playing an inferior opponent with Elon, so we'll see how these guys want to respond, how they react and how they play the game of football on Saturday. I've watched too many football games in the past couple of years with a lack of intensity and that has been really bothersome to me. So, I'm really excited to see how these guys attack the game and attack for four quarters against Elon.

Matt Baker: Paschal, you sound like you're about ready to run through a wall.

Mark Paschal: I'm ready to go, man.

Buck Sanders: I touched on this a little earlier in the week in my column on the site, and Mark made me think of it again just now. Matt, I want to ask you about this – sometimes when you see this style of offense, and I'm talking about the no-huddle, hurry-up offense, it almost looks like they go too fast. They go so fast that it's like running downhill; you lose your legs a little bit. I don't know if you've had that experience watching this kind of offense before, but can you speak to that a little bit? I mean, there's a lot of timing and execution involved in this.

Matt Baker: I absolutely agree. I've been on a number of teams, at all levels, that … typically in the past it was a more traditional offense and tried to transition over to a fast-paced, two-minute-type offense all the time, and my experiences have never been very good – players start to play too fast. They get going too fast; they're not under control and the next thing you know, you've run three series and your defense has been on the field most of the quarter. But, I don't anticipate that to be an issue with this group. They have had the spring to run it; this is what Fedora does; he's coached this same philosophy for a long time. So, I'm confident that it's going to be a smooth transition for these guys.

Buck Sanders: So, Matt, what are you looking for on Saturday, other than a W?

Matt Baker: To be honest, I'm really looking forward to seeing the defense. I have a lot of confidence in Bryn Renner and this offense. I'm not quite as worried about the offense; I'm really interested in seeing what the defense looks like – to see this new scheme and see what kind of athletes we have out there. I like what Mark was saying, they'll set the tone – the defense typically does. It will be interesting to see how they fly around. The type of scheme we're talking about . . . I popped on Inside Carolina today and saw the note on the front page that we still aren't saying who exactly is calling plays and how exactly the scenarios are going to play out in the game, so it will be interesting to see.

Mark Paschal: That's commitment, man, checking up on Inside Carolina when you're down in South America – that's what I'm talking about, the level of commitment of this group – I like to see it.

Buck Sanders: That is very commendable Mr. Baker. I've got a question for Quincy now. It's been my theory, and you can all tell me that I'm nuts if you want to, but on the offensive side of the ball, I think X's and O's are extremely important and how you do things schematically makes a difference. On defense, I think it makes a difference, but I think on defense it's more about the quality of athletes on that side of the ball. Quincy, you can chime in. But, I really think on defense, more so than offense, it more about the Jimmy's and Joe's more so than X's and O's.

Quincy Monk: Yeah, I absolutely agree with you Buck. You always hear that defense wins championships. You've got to have the guys who want to play physical on that side of the ball. Like you said, we've got a lot of athletes, like Reddick and Martin, that can have a phenomenal year, but you've got to have guys who have a desire to really cause pain to an offensive player. I know with Coach Fedora, his intensity, like Mark said earlier, I feel like I'm fired up and ready for the game. Every time I hear a press conference with Fedora, it makes me wish I had eligibility left. So, I'm looking forward to these guys to see how intense they come out on Saturday. I know it's Elon, but I want to see them take their opponent seriously from the opening kickoff.

Buck Sanders: So, Quincy, I guess you're saying that what you're looking for on Saturday is more about the intensity that they play with?

Quincy Monk: Well that is one thing but, also, I looking for this new era. There's been a black cloud, as we all know, about what's been going on in Chapel Hill. I'm just looking forward to this new era with Fedora coming in and guys can just go out there and play football and stop worrying about NCAA sanctions, bowl bans, and things like that. So, I'm actually just looking forward to these guys coming out and putting all that stuff behind them and just go 100 miles an hour on the football field. You know, as a former player, alumni, you get tired of hearing all the media hype about what Carolina is doing wrong. I'm just looking forward to these guys putting that stuff behind them and just go ahead and start this new tradition off right.

Buck Sanders: Well, I don't know if I saved the best for last, I'll probably get some disagreement . . .

Mark Paschal: Oh, come on!

Buck Sanders: I figured I'd get some feedback about that. But, Scott, what are you thinking about Saturday? What is it that you want to see?

Scott Lenahan: I'm excited about the new offense that we have, and really just the culture and what Fedora brings. This will be our first time really getting to see it first hand – how he is on the sidelines calling the game. I think that's something I'm excited about – to see how he calls it. I'm excited to see the no-huddle offense — to see how the offensive linemen react to the game-type situation when it's fast. A lot of different things are going to be thrown at them, and how Bryn Renner handles that too.

It's going to be something. There's going to be a lot more pressure with it being game day. And, the no huddle, that's a lot harder than having a good 30 seconds between plays to catch your breath, and send in new personnel and all that type of stuff. So, I'm excited to see that; definitely excited to see our defense. I think something that I'm looking forward to see is with Gene Robinson being at the Ram. I think that's going to be interesting to watch. I think he's going to be able to make some plays. I'm just excited for football season to finally get back in the swing of things.

Buck Sanders: Listening to you guys, if you can't get psyched up, something is wrong with you. Let's go in reverse order a little bit. What's your prediction for Saturday, Scott? Give it to me. What's your final score?

Scott Lenahan: I'd say a win by three touchdowns.

Buck Sanders: Quincy, how about you?

Quincy Monk: I agree with him. I'm thinking like, 35-14 is the predicted score – probably more. I think we'll score more than 35. But, I think definitely by three touchdowns, at a minimum.

Buck Sanders: Mark, what's your prediction?

Mark Paschal: I like 49-10.

Buck Sanders: Wow Mark, that's a lot of confidence.

Mark Paschal: If we can't score points on Elon, Buck, we've got problems. This is what we do. I thought we throw it 50 times a game and score 70 points. I'm looking forward to seeing them get some points and not leave it to the defense to have to win every dang game up in Chapel Hill.

Buck Sanders: Mark, you probably want me to call you before game time so I can try to get you fired up for the game. Matt, what is your prediction?

Matt Baker: You know what, I'm going to go out there – we're going to put one up in the 50s. I think . …

Buck Sanders: Wow, half a hundred.

Matt Baker: I think it's going to be in the 50s first time out. I'm just going to throw that out there. I'll tell you, I don't know what Elon has offensively, but they won't be close.

Buck Sanders: Now, back to the birthday boy, Mr. Chacos. Brian, what do you think?

Brian Chacos: I think we're going to come out a little awkward in the first quarter, but we're going to open it up. It's going to be 41-7. Elon has got an All-American receiver who's a pretty good player. So, I think he's going to cause some of our young guys a real issue. But, 41-7 is what I've got.

Buck Sanders: Wow, that's a lot of optimism from this group. Thanks guys and we'll chat again next week.


Featured Lettermen in Today's Roundtable

  • Matt Baker quarterbacked the Tar Heels in 2005, while amassing the 7th-highest season passing yardage total in school history. Following his UNC career, he was a member of six different NFL teams.

  • Brian Chacos's UNC career (2001-06) included 35 starts at offensive tackle, a selection to the Lombardi Watch List, and All-ACC Academic honors.

  • 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.

  • 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 captained 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 four-year career up until that point.


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