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 – One thing that I want to talk about is being at Wake Forest, playing in that stadium. I've been there and I was there when Scott was there in '07. We were down by the locker room and, Mark, you were there too. The press corps was standing right by the locker room waiting for the players to come in so that we could interview you guys. I'll tell you I heard some words and phrases from those Wake Forest fans that wasn't what I expected at Wake Forest. What is the atmosphere like there for players?

Scott Lenahan - I don't really remember them - the fans and people. I know that as far as the noise, that wasn't really an issue because it's not a place that's a really rumbling stadium like in Death Valley, in Clemson, where you can't hear anything. As far as Wake Forest and playing there, they are a well-coached team. Jim Grobe has been there for a while and his guys always execute well. You can't make mistakes because they will be well coached and they're not going to make many.

Buck Sanders – Scott, that defensive line, in '07, they gave you guys a tough time. They did some really interesting stuff – and still do - with their defensive line in terms of moving guys around and not knowing where the pressure is coming from. I kind of think, this offensive line at UNC, might be able to handle it.

Scott Lenahan - I remember that. That was awful. They anticipated the snap count, as far as our movement in the backfield, they kind of knew when we were going to snap the ball.

Mark Paschal - I remember that game as clear as day. I think it was a noon kick. There were probably 25,000 or 30,000 people there. The whole thing just seemed dead. Everybody was flat. I think they won the ACC Championship the year before or that year. They were good. Going to Wake Forest, this is an opportunity for this team to make a statement early on in the year that, ok, we just beat Elon 62-0, but okay, we're going to step up and play an ACC opponent and get this thing cranked up and moving in the right direction – going forward. I think 62-0 is great, but let's do it against an ACC opponent on the road and see how we do. Looking back at what we did in '07 and how different of a scheme it was, the different guys that they had as opposed to now – there's a lot of different factors – but, I think it will be very interesting to see how these guys respond after coming out and really jumping on Elon.

There's a lot of different things that account for that, whether it's coaching changes, coaching philosophies, just having guys graduate, they've always been for red-shirting guys and really building on maturity and experience. Right now, just looking at Wake Forest, I don't see them being a huge challenge for us. But, going over there, it's a flat, dead atmosphere and these guys are going to have to find it in themselves to get motivated. They can't feed off the crowd. They can't feed off anything like that because it's not going to be there.

Brian Chacos - Buck, when I played over there in '04, and this is sort of what Jim Grobe's deal is, he has some really good recruiting classes, then it's almost like he takes two or three years and it drops down. When we played them in '04, they had guys like Jon Abatte, who Scott is good friends with, who I think was the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year. They had a running back, Chris Barclay, who was a heck of a running back. They had some talented guys when I was there. But, again, I think to Mark and Scott's point, the environment is not intimidating.

If anything, for a lot of these young players and freshmen, this is a great place to sort of get your feet wet on the road – get in a new environment. A lot of these kids are from North Carolina that will have family and friends in the stands. It is not an intimidating crowd – a great place to get your feet wet. I think we have better personnel than these guys. I think it's going to start up front. I think our offensive line is going to dominate again. Sort of what we showed on defense on Saturday with the attacking sort of mentality, I think we're going to get after them. I think their quarterback is okay, at best. I think we're going to put him in an uncomfortable position and definitely get after him.

Buck Sanders – There's a couple of things working in UNC's favor along those lines – one of those being, the Deacons have got four brand new offensive linemen and it's the second game of the year. Plus, they've got one really one good wide receiver and that's Michael Campanero. Obviously, Elon is not Wake Forest but their receiver Mellette had, what, 130 some catches last year, or something crazy like that? He really got nothing off of UNC. So, I think it's going to be interesting to see how the UNC secondary does against the Campanero and Price combo. Speaking to that point about defense, I wanted to ask Mark, do you think the North Carolina defense was intense enough for you last week? Did they look intense enough for you on defense?

Mark Paschal - They showed flashes of it. The one thing that really stuck out to me, Buck, was that these guys, when they flew around the football, it was, fly to the football, get as many hats on the ball carrier as you can, and then line up and do it again. There was no chest bumping; there was no "look at me" celebrations really, besides the one interception. That's the one thing that I was impressed with. I know that sounds a little strange. It was like, 'okay, we shut them down on this first drive, let's keep going.' There was no, 'look at me, I'm the man,' it's not about me – it was a defensive team attitude. That's what I was excited about because as a guy that showed a lot of emotion on the football field and tried to play the game the right way with the right amount of passion, it's about the 11 guys you're playing with. It's about the other guys. The only reason you're able to make a play is because somebody else on that defensive line was doing their job and giving you a chance to make a play as a linebacker. I think that Fedora is going in the right direction with 'it's not about me; it's not about the individual'; it's not about pumping my chest and doing the dancing and all that stuff. It's about the team effort and lining up and smacking the opponents in the mouth and getting back to the huddle and doing it again. I think that those guys really showed a sense of maturity on the defensive side of the ball that I was most actually excited about.

Buck Sanders – Quincy, what was it that you saw about the defensive side of the ball that you think will translate to this Wake Forest game.

Quincy Monk - The way they flew around the ball as a team, I was very impressed with that. What I saw from this new scheme was (Sylvester) Williams and (Kareem) Martin getting in the backfield, the linebackers really attacking their lanes, and you saw defensive backs play aggressively. We got one tipped interception, on the other, we played aggressive, and got a pick on a screen play. You like to see the defensive taking initiative and being aggressive. Like Scott mentioned earlier, with these new schemes on both sides of the ball, I think we're going to be able to take advantage of Wake Forest. They've got four new offensive linemen, we've got some veteran guys on the defensive line, also a linebacker corps that can really cause havoc. And, the aggressive tempo, you know, Fedora likes to have a lot of plays, I really think we wear Wake Forest out early, like we did Elon because we kind of took the will out of Elon's heart after the first quarter.

You saw, as they got into the game, the third or fourth quarter, their guys were dog-tired because we were the aggressive ones. We kept putting new rotations in every play. You saw their guys had hands on their hips and leaning down. I think we'll have the same effect against Wake Forest. You know it's an ACC opponent, but they definitely don't have the caliber of candidates with the athletic ability that we have as a whole. So, I'm looking forward to seeing what we build on Elon . . . having a game like Elon builds your confidence. It's a new era, and they're feeling good about themselves. It's something to build on for the next opponent. Fedora is not going to let them slack off. They're going to keep that hunger, that aggressive mentality.

Buck Sanders – One of the things that Mack Brown really emphasized when he was at UNC was winning the state championship. He, in fact, invented the term, I believe. He was concentrating on, and constantly wanting to say, "I beat every other team in the state." And, this year, North Carolina is playing five of them. They're playing Elon, Wake Forest, State, Duke and East Carolina. How important is it? I know that North Carolina doesn't often recruit the same players that Wake Forest does, but in terms of checking that box, in terms of beating in-state opponents, how important is that to what Fedora is trying to build?

Quincy Monk - I'll take this one. I think it's very important because I played under Mack. I was in the last recruiting class. So that meant a lot to me. He actually created awards for every time we beat in-state opponents. We had t-shirts that had a countdown on it with which state school was next. So, as a player, you build up on that because it not only gives you bragging rights, but also helps your recruiting game. I think Fedora has a close relationship with Mack Brown, so that's where he got his philosophy – you win the state championship, you win the state in recruiting. If you win the state in recruiting, there's enough athletes in the state of North Carolina that can produce something really special. We lost a couple of guys this year to Georgia. We saw what (Todd) Gurley did last week in the first game as a true freshman in Georgia. We've got those kinds of athletes here in the state of North Carolina. I think the fact that he's bringing the philosophy back is the right, winning, attitude. As a high school player, you want to go to the school that's known for winning. If we build this kind of mentality, this kind of philosophy, we'll start winning the State in recruiting and we'll start getting those guys that now would rather go to a SEC school. They will rather come to North Carolina because they're doing something special. When Mack left, we were top five in the nation. So, I think the way he's doing things is really the right way to build this program back to where it used to be.

Brian Chacos - I think Bunting placed a strong value in that as well - him being an alumnus and having a strong sense of rivalry with a lot of the schools in-state. One year before the 2004 season, all of us got shirts with that huge outline of the State of North Carolina with a red dot of NC State, a gold dot of Wake Forest, and a royal blue dot of Duke, highlighted and said, "Take it back." We won those three games that year in '04. That was a huge emphasis for Coach Bunting. Coach Fedora, when he came in, he said he wants to put up a huge fence and he wants to put barbed wire on it, saying that he wants top talent to stay in North Carolina. That's an important to him, that's important to the foundation he wants for this university and this program. We've got to keep the top talent in this state because if you can't protect the fertile grounds of North Carolina and all the best players that are here, and lose them to the SEC or other ACC schools, you're going to be in trouble. I think, adding on to Quincy, you got to really take care of the kids you've got in-state; you've got to really protect what's going on here in your backyard, and taking care of schools that are in-state first.

Buck Sanders – Good stuff guys, now it's prediction time; Mark, let's go with you. What's your prediction for Saturday?

Mark Paschal - How about 49-14?

Buck Sanders – Wow. Impressive. That's a bold statement, I think. Quincy, how about you?

Quincy Monk - I like the big gap there, but I'm thinking 35-13.

Buck Sanders – How about you Brian?

Brian Chacos - 31-10.

Buck Sanders – Scott Lenahan. What's your prediction?

Scott Lenahan - I'm going to say, 38-6, and the kicker missed the extra point on the touchdown.

Buck Sanders – Wow. Now that's getting detailed. I don't know if you saw in the Liberty game, he missed a field goal and an extra point. So, I don't know.

Brian Chacos - Buck, can I say that Roy Smith will take one to the house on a punt return?

Buck Sanders – You know, that kid impressed me. On one of his returns, I was up on the press box watching it with Greg Barnes, he caught the ball and he started loping down field. He wasn't going full speed by any chance – he was kind of following his blockers a little bit, and then he caught a second gear and just blew by about four guys.

Mark Paschal - Right. Does is not look like Tre Boston('s approach) on every single punt return? He starts slowly up field, and then he peels it back and blows someone up on every punt return.

Brian Chacos - Look for it this weekend.

Buck Sanders – I think that's a good prediction. I think we'll probably see Quinshad Davis with a few more catches this week. That was a beautiful catch he had against Elon. I think he might get a few more targets thrown his way this week. That's my specialized prediction. Thanks guys.

Featured Lettermen in Today's Roundtable

  • 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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