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 – Guys, I don't even know what to say about the Duke game. It was a crazy game. A lot of things happened in that game --the bizarre play and suspension of Shakeel Rashad, the last-minute drive that North Carolina gave up to lose the game. I'm going to start with Quincy. Why don't you think the defense was able to get that stop there at the end of the game? Was it Duke's intensity? What was going on there?

Quincy Monk - I'm still kind of sick in my head about that game myself. I'm not sure why we weren't able to stop them on that final drive. I know what Coach Cutcliffe did; he had an excellent game plan where he out-executed, flat-out they out-executed where they ran over 200 yards on the rushing game. When the game was on the line, it just seems like they were able to find some holes and creases in the secondary, which created some major holes and, with those long gains, it was just, as a linebacker, you get disgusted by looking at that stuff. I don't know if it was that they came out with more intensity in the final drive than we did, but I just know they were the ones able to make the plays and we couldn't.

Buck Sanders – Brian, I'm going to go to you next. Brian Chacos of the 17-point prediction that North Carolina would beat Duke by. Guys, let's take it easy on Brian and not beat up on him too much, but . . .

Brian Chacos - Yeah, Buck, I've got to eat crow. I'm totally disappointed in the football team. This Carolina team is just so frustrating. You see two good weeks of football – a great win at Miami, and you feel like they're going to go into a rivalry game. Obviously they're not our biggest football rivalry. This week is the game that, if you're going to win one game on the schedule, this game against NC State is it. But, I've got to eat crow. I was a true believer in the team that they'd show up, under the lights at 7:00 in Durham and they literally only showed up for about 10 minutes in the fourth quarter. I was there in Durham; I thought it was a great environment – who would have said that about Wallace Wade? I would have to disagree with Coach Fedora, how he said they didn't think it was an energy issue. I would totally disagree with them, maybe, except for the last quarter.

Buck Sanders —Brian, I tend to agree with you on the whole energy level. I thought that Coach Fedora tried to down-play that. Some of the other players tried to down-play that. But, I think if you watch the game, if you were there or if you rewind it and look at it on your DVR, you can't help but believe Duke brought more energy to the table than North Carolina did.

Scott, I don't know what your take on it is. As Brian said, it was a great environment in Durham; they had a lot of intangibles to play for – a bowl game, beating North Carolina under the lights, at 7:00 prime time. I still don't know exactly what to make of the game, but North Carolina's offense just fell asleep for three quarters. I don't know quite how to explain that.

Scott Lenahan - I'll tell you what, I held my breath there for a while when Gio went down out of bounds because he's the biggest part of our offense. I don't know if that shook him up at some point and maybe he needed to get back in the groove or warm back up. I'm not sure exactly what happened to him. I know he was getting his shoulder looked at. Just from watching, you see Duke, their fans, the people showing up – the stadium was packed – surprisingly, I've never seen that, ever. They were bumping people after plays, like getting In our faces and . . . that's stuff that . . . I mean, we weren't really responding to it, I don't think. But, you see missed tackles, missed opportunities. Finally we show up at the end. The defense, I think the fits were off. Finishing tackles, making fits and just wanting it more, I think Duke, overall, had bigger MO – obviously going to this game, becoming bowl eligible, beating North Carolina. I hate to say it, but Coach Cutcliffe is definitely changing the culture for them. I just wish we could have bowed up and stopped them at the end of the game and had the "W."

Buck Sanders – Mark, I am fascinated to hear your take on this because I think you're going to have some interesting things to say about how North Carolina responded from an intensity standpoint in this game.

Mark Paschal - Buck, I believe everybody has touched on it. There was absolutely a disappointing performance and level of intensity in Durham on Saturday. Everybody has touched on it so I don't feel like I need to harp on it. What I do want to touch on is, nobody wants to be that team that got beat by Duke. Nobody wants to be that group of guys that lost the Victory Bell. I'm sitting there watching them storm over to our sideline and take our Victory Bell and spray-paint it Duke blue. It bothered me to the point where I got so upset I had to walk out of the house and take a lap because it means that much to me, and I'm not even on the team.

It's something everybody on this roundtable will say is that you don't ever want to be that group of guys. I hope that as bad of a situation as it is, I hope that the whole entire team is able to say, ‘you know what, we lost – we lost to Duke. Okay.' I'm embarrassed for the football team. Everything that goes into playing a rival, especially Duke, who doesn't beat us in football, it's time for them to say, ‘okay, I have an opportunity right around the corner to respond and beat State.' The best thing that can happen is for us to play State this week and give these guys an opportunity to redeem themselves. I think they will. I think they'll come out and play with a level of intensity that we lacked in this Duke game.

Buck Sanders – You know, Matt, one of the things that I've mentioned a couple of times on InsideCarolina.com is, from the first half in Miami through three quarters of the Duke game, North Carolina's passing game was just in a coma. I added it up and Bryn Renner was 18-of-35 for 71 yards through five quarters of football. That's just hard to fathom. Do you have any explanation for why North Carolina's passing game was just so inept through those five quarters of football?

Matt Baker ¬- Before I go into that, I want to go back and just . . . on the intensity issue, I really disagree with all of you on that. I will go with Coach Fedora – I think the team came out fired up. We went down, had a decent little drive, we stalled them in the red zone. They get the ball back; I think we picked it off that first series and got a questionable, but probably fair late hit high to the quarterback. Then Duke took it out of us.

I wouldn't say they came out flat with intensity. We got out-played, out-coached and that's why you saw what looked to be our lack of response. They flattened us, our spirit and our intensity. To be all embarrassed, yeah, I'm upset too we lost, but Duke out-played us. It's kind of an insult to the way they played and their game plan against us because they straight-out beat us – they out game-planned us and out-played us. I have to disagree to say that we came out flat and there wasn't intensity. Give Duke credit and put it on us to say that we didn't make the right adjustments to make enough plays to come back and beat them. I think we came out ready to play; I don't think we took it lightly. That's just my stance.

To the passing game, this is a team that when they're out of rhythm, they're way off – it's a rhythm thing. This Fedora offense is all about speed and rhythm. I don't know who exactly to put it on, probably a sum of all parts. But, when the rhythm isn't on, they are way off; it's troubling to see. In the route combos, it's tough to see on TV exactly what they're doing. It would be nice to see the tape the coach and the players look at. What little you can see on TV, a lot of times it seems we have guys running in the same areas, the same zones, maybe in busted routes. But, whatever it is, the rhythm is off.

Buck Sanders – You know, Quincy, I was shocked at how well Duke ran the ball. I've had this discussion with a couple of guys this week about how much the emotion of the game plays into that. Duke had not run the ball well on anybody; nobody had run the ball well on North Carolina. But, in this game, Duke just gashed North Carolina. What did you see, about the game that allowed Duke to run the ball so well on North Carolina?

Quincy Monk - What I saw is that not only did they run up on us, it was like a tempo, they kept us off balance. They had three different backs that were coming in fresh. You saw the intensity on the offensive side where they were able to get to the line quick. On defense, we were kind of trying to get things set up and while we got set up, they were running the play. So, it kept our defense on edge. They were just running plays back-to-back and rotating running backs. I think some of these guys got tired. I don't know why, they just rammed down our throats. It was frustrating; it just kills me because you want to see them just knock somebody's mouth off. You want to be able to create that kind of atmosphere and environment. Some of the guys might have been tired but, you saw big holes, gashes, where nobody was touching the running back until he got about five or six yards – they were getting five or six yards a pop. We've got to knock these guys out and create that sense of urgency. Duke, they had a sense of urgency against us. I'm not sure why they were able to gash us. But I know the tempo of the game and them rotating a lot of their backs, they kept our defense on edge. It seemed like they got a little tired towards the end of the game.

Buck Sanders – I want to talk about the N.C. State game because, as important as the Duke game was and as disappointing as the loss was, this is the game of the year for Carolina. This game coming up against N.C. State, they've had North Carolina's number for five years. Tom O'Brien has never lost a game against UNC. Brian, what does North Carolina have to do to get what I see is a critical win for Larry Fedora and what he's trying to build at North Carolina, this Saturday.

Brian Chacos - Buck, this is the biggest win, obviously, and the biggest game on our schedule. I think, first of all, he's got to get these guys ready to play, and I think he will. Second of all, and the thing that I was discussing with some other guys, is Gio Bernard has got to have at least 30 touches, at least 30 carries. He had 24 over in Durham. To me, he's the point of the sword; he is our offense. I know you were talking to Matt about some of the issues we're having with throwing the football, but we have to get him more touches. We've played really well at home, and it's something I think we'll continue to do. This is just a game that we have to have. It's a great rivalry game. I know every single one of these guys on the roundtable have ultimate hatred for N.C. State. I do; I can't even express to you the amount of hatred for them, having worked over in Raleigh; having known some N.C. State guys, having played in this game for a long time. Right now, Buck, they own us; there' s no other way about it. Lost five years in a row and it's got to come to a stop and it's got to be this year.

Buck Sanders – Scott, I want you to just follow up on Brian's comments about N.C. State. This is the game for the North Carolina fan base that just sticks in the craw. They're hungry for a win over the Wolfpack. What does North Carolina have to do to get it?

Scott Lenahan - If you look at N.C. State as far as people that have beat them, they score over 30 points. Having said that, scoring points, we need to score points because, just from over the season and other teams scoring against us, I would be extremely surprised if we were to shut down defensively N.C. State's attack. As far as the rivalry goes with N.C. State, I think it kind of plays into the whole Duke, N.C. State rivalry. I know Baker thought the emotion or intensity was high going into Duke. I don't think that was the case. I thought that, sometimes playing Duke, not that you're not hyped, but sometimes they feel like they're your little brother where you don't feel like you need to match their intensity because you're better than them, you have more talent, yada yada yada. I think that if you take that and flip it, it's opposite for N.C. State. Where N.C. State, they've been beating us, we want them, they hold the title belt, and we want it. So, I don't think that intensity should really be a factor going into this game. And, I share the hatred with Chacos; I definitely don't like State one bit – nothing against anyone who went there, but just don't enjoy them.

Buck Sanders – You know, Mark, of all the guys on this roundtable, and I don't doubt that every single one of you, all five of you, have a particular spot in your heart in terms of hatred of N.C. State, but through your Dad, living in Charlotte, as growing up a UNC fan, I suspect that you have a particular warm spot in your heart for beating N.C. State.

Mark Paschal - Yeah, Buck, I sure do. And, it has got to stop this year. I am so ready for us not to sit and have to talk about N.C. State for 12 months out of the year. They've beaten us five consecutive years. What does that say about what we're doing right now? How is it that N.C. State can come in and beat us at home? There are too many things that get me so wound up about N.C. State, but I'm ready for them to be talking about us again – ‘We've got to beat Carolina. Carolina has beaten us the past three or four years in a row; we've got to beat Carolina.' It's time for us to take that away from them. I am so flat out sick and tired of having to listen to N.C. State reporters, people on the street – ‘man, you guys haven't beaten N.C. State five years in a row?' It's got to come to an end; it's got to come to an end this year because, flat out, everybody that's associated with North Carolina and the football program is sick and tired of hearing about it. I'm ready for them to start talking about us again.

Buck Sanders – You know, Matt, I know that you did not grow up in the state of North Carolina, you just were here for your five years at North Carolina. But, speak to this rivalry and what it means to you. I'm confident that it means a lot.

Matt Baker - You don't have to grow up in it to respect this rivalry and hate N.C. State – only takes one football season – I was there for five of them; after one, I already disliked them enough. But, yeah, this is the game. Like Chacos said at the beginning, if you ever just win one game a year, this would be the game you want to win. These are our football rivals and they've had our number. We had Russell Wilson there for a while and, last year, I remember vividly, talk about a game not showing up with intensity – there was zero intensity from the start of that game last year. I thought that was a more embarrassing game I've ever seen North Carolina play in terms of intensity; I don't know where the lack of intensity came from. Yeah, you better get up for this one. If you can't, It's time to go find a different school.

Buck Sanders – Ok guys, that's going to do it for this edition of the roundtable. Appreciate you guys joining me. It's going to be an interesting game this Saturday. When it comes to intensity with a capital "I," you would think that North Carolina would bring it this Saturday.

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