MATT BAKER – I thought Marquise played a solid game. I think we're jumping a little ahead of ourselves by calling for a quarterback controversy and putting him up as the second coming. I know we've discussed this between us but I think Marquise played a solid game against a solid defense. If that was the stat line for Bryn Renner, I think a lot of people would say that was a poor game. But, for Marquise and his first start, I think that was a very solid game against a pretty good defense as well. I think he's earned the right to get some more snaps and I think he will. If Bryn continues to progress, he will be the starter going forward. But if he continues to struggle and Marquise comes in and plays well, I think we'll go with the quarterback who has the hot hand, but after that performance he certainly deserves to get some more snaps.
BUCK – Okay, Jeb, talk to me about what you thought of Marquise's play.
JEB TERRY – I thought Marquise played very well. From what I saw, he gave us a dynamic threat. Coming out of the back field gives us one more option to keep the ball on the ground. That game was one of the most frustrating things I had to watch because we're in the position of winning again and we shoot ourselves in the foot by penalties and, in my opinion, inopportune playcalling on certain instances.
You look out there and we have this kid, T.J. Logan, who has come back, first game out there, he should have had 20 touches in that game. Obviously, from the minute he steps on the field and touches the ball, he's a dynamic athlete and something that we really haven't had the opportunity to see. So, I felt like the flow of that game was perfect for us to play him and really get his feet wet. We were in the game the whole time and had lots of opportunities. Why in the hell are we running a double reverse on the Virginia Tech 45 at first and ten? It blows my mind wide open. At this day and age, with the speed that we're playing, the defenses with the speed that they have, and looking at our game plan, enough trickeration or the threat of trickeration because, as a defense, the minute they see some play like that, they're like, 'oh man, I've got these guys beat.' If they're trying to run the slot or motion, flip him the ball and flip it back to the receiver, you're licking your chops. We should have just sat there, leveraged the fact that Marquise could throw the ball and was a threat to run it and now, feed T.J. Logan. I could go on for hours about this. But, I'm excited about Marquise's play. I think Bryn Renner is still our starting quarterback but it gets me excited about some of the packages we can hopefully run going forward to take advantage of that athleticism back there.
BUCK – Okay, usually I try to ask questions of the defensive guys about defense, but I want to get Quincy's and David's opinions about the play of Marquise as well. It seems like there's a little bit of difference of opinion between Matt and Jeb. But, go ahead Quincy and give us your opinion.
QUINCY MONK – I thought he played very well. I know Virginia Tech is not where they used to be, but they are still a great defensive team. I think what Marquise was able to do on Saturday was he played with a lot of confidence and poise. That's what you want from a young quarterback, someone who doesn't have as much game tape as Bryn Renner. That kind of performance on the road against, arguably one of the top ten defenses in the country, I think that speaks volumes of what we could potentially have in the future.
I know Bryn's our starter; I know he's our guy. But it is good to see a fresh face that could possibly push Renner. We all know that he hasn't had the type of year we all expected – he's still a great quarterback – but there's something about having a little bit of extra competition to bring out the best in you. So, I'm looking forward for Marquise to definitely have a little bit more touches, but I'm also looking forward to Bryn challenging himself and stepping up and saying, 'well, I know I've got a little bit of competition so I don't want to be out-shined by Marquise.' I'm definitely looking forward to the future. I was there when we had a two-quarterback situation with Ronald Curry and Durant, so it's definitely an option out there if Bryn continues to keep struggling out there.
BUCK – So David, why don't you check in with your opinion as well.
DAVID BOMAR – I thought he did a great job. It didn't seem like he got rattled. He showed up ready to play and had good composure. I thought that we saw some things from him that we wanted to see. He could throw the ball and he could move, move in the pocket and move out of the pocket when he needed to. So, I think that kind of opened up a different dynamic that some folks were looking forward to seeing. And, I think it adds another element to our offense and whether it's Bryn or Marquise, I think it's a good situation for us to have – a seasoned guy that holds a lot of records and another guy that can get out there and do some damage with his feet. It adds a different dynamic that defenses are going to have to prepare for. Therefore, I think it allows us to move the ball. So, whichever way they go, it's nice to know they've got an option that they rely on. I thought that he showed up really well.
BUCK – Let's turn to the other side of the ball for a minute. I'll start with Quincy on this one. We saw a real debacle against East Carolina. In the past, we saw them play against Georgia Tech and I was very encouraged by what I saw against Georgia Tech. Then, the next week they had a real let down against East Carolina. Against Virginia Tech, they seemed to have recaptured, at least, some of the effort and intensity. What did you think of the defense against Virginia Tech?
QUINCY – I thought our defense played solid. I know you mentioned the East Carolina game, having a chance to play well in the first half at Georgia Tech and then having that let down at East Carolina. I think that was more on emotion – not getting up for a team you should get up for – because mentality-wise they're an in-state team you should beat, but they came up flat.
But, with this game at Virginia Tech, it's definitely a hostile environment, but I really thought they played solid. We still need to correct on missed tackles, poor assignments, missed coverage, and missing assignments. But, I think for a whole, I did like the corrective effort from most of our guys on the squad. I think Kareem Martin made a lot of plays in the back field, which kind of sparked his tenacity and that leads to other guys playing well. So, I'm hoping that that effort we saw this past Saturday is going to carry over to when we play Miami because we can't afford to have another solid week and then follow it up a disappointing let down. I think we need to build on some of the things we took away. I think we did a lot of good things in this game – we corrected some of the mistakes mentally on alignment errors and also poor coverage angles and tackling. But, there's still a lot of work to be done. Hopefully they go back to the drawing board this bye week and understand some of the assignments that they can correct and come out with a lot of tenacity and a lot of aggressive energy when we play Miami next week.
BUCK – David, we've had some conversations about this, but I want your frank opinion of the play of the secondary.
DAVID – I was going to say, I think Quincy is paying a lot more attention to the front seven. I was disappointed, yet again, in our play of the secondary. Quincy mentioned missed tackles and missed assignments -- those were glaring in the secondary. That's all I saw. Those are the big plays that we're giving up against an offense that I don't think is very good. All they had to do, it seemed like, was throw the ball up. I'm just ready for somebody to step up and start making some plays. I don't know where you start. Do you make the defense so vanilla that you've got guys that know exactly what they're doing and let the offense of the opposing team attack a vanilla defense? It might be. It's hard to play defense if you're not lining up and doing what you're supposed to do.
I don't know if it's a thing that we're dealing with youth, but one thing that you can't coach is effort. I'm still waiting to see these guys flying around, knocking helmets off and going until the whistle is blown and even after sometimes – looking for more pass interference penalties because we've got such tight coverage on the receivers it's hard to tell. I think we've got a lot of work to do back there and I'm not sure if the older guys on the team are going to have to make ways for younger guys. At some point, these guys are going to get embarrassed enough to say, 'that's enough' and somebody is going to step up and start making plays. I was disappointed in the defensive secondary. You look at a team like Virginia Tech that has waves of talent that they always seem to have great defenses. I think that's a mentality thing. I think that's guys knowing what they're supposed to do and attacking the football. You can't play defense half way – you've got to be going all out. We made too many mistakes and we weren't battling for the ball. So, I was not as enthused as Quincy was; I still think that we've got some work to do there.
BUCK – I want to turn to Jeb now. I know that North Carolina has been missing some of the players that they had off of the offensive line from last year. But, at the same time, we saw some light, a little bit, in terms of the play of T.J. Logan. I want you to comment on his play against Virginia Tech and what you think he brings to the table.
JEB – I just feel like if you look at him, he gets on the field and you see live legs and eyes for a crease. Let people understand, in offensive line play you've got to let plays develop; you've got to let the blocks develop; and, you also have to set the blockers up. Half the time I could be blocking somebody the way I think I'm supposed to be blocking, the running back might run right into my line of blocking. So, it might look like we didn't block the play correctly, but it just could have been a poor read. Some guys have a feel for that and some guys don't; it can be glaring. When you looked at ... what did T.J. average, like five yards a carry last week, something like that?
BUCK – It was five yards a carry.
JEB – You see, he gets the ball; he finds a hole and gets up field. I just feel, to the naked eye, you see there's a totally different dynamic about him that gets you excited and gets me excited as an offensive line. At the end of the day, the offensive line is not going to be perfect. There are so many moving parts that it's the responsibility of the ball carrier to help them sometimes and to help make them look good. The best ball carriers make their line look great. Look, a perfectly blocked play will get you 3 ½ - 4 yards. Then there's always going to be a guy left open in the box, essentially, unless a wide receiver comes down or you get a crack block or something like that. Logan showed he could make somebody miss and I feel like he showed that spark that can make it happen. I feel like our other backs, right now, one's got some bruising ability, one's got speed, but they don't have the shiftiness and the eye for the opening that T.J. brings to the table. I think, against Miami, you've got to feed him early and feed him often – let him get the feel if a game and really see what he can do. This kid had 47 touchdowns last year, I think, in high school; that is unbelievable. We've got to open them up and let them run on his level.
BUCK – I'm going to go to Matt now and talk a little bit about where you think the Tar Heels can go from now. They're obviously facing Miami on Zero Dark Thursday; they've got a lot of football left to play. What are the goals now?
MATT – I think the goal now is the same thing – we've got to go one week at a time. The goal is to win the next game ... every game. I know some of our larger goals are probably gone now as a team. So, now it's win every game and get better every game. From a defensive aspect, we touched on that, I think we know there are some deficiencies in talent in some places – the defensive line, the secondary – the talent isn't there that should be. What I'd like to see from them is to play with some more aggressiveness.
I thought they did a little better this week; they were a little more aggressive. From the offensive standpoint, I think it's going to be interesting to see what happens with the quarterback going forward. I don't think there's a controversy right now for the starter, but down the road there could be. I don't think, like Jeb mentioned, when Ronald Curry was the three-year starter and my freshman year at Carolina, no one saw a quarterback controversy coming. They liked the spark that Darian Durant gave against Oklahoma that game and then continued there on for the next few games. By the end of the season he was kind of the go-to guy for the big plays. Both guys are definitely going to get an opportunity and I think we know what the future of this offense ... what the quarterback of this offense and the future is going to look like – it's going to look more like someone like Marquise than Bryn. So, let's see what that does to the play call. I think they'll simplify it a bit and we'll see some more quarterback runs – it could open it up for us.
So, I'm excited to see what we have going forward and the addition of T.J. Logan and get some of these other guys healthy and let's see what we have. Like Jeb said, I'd love to see us get rid of the gimmick. If we're going to get creative, let's get creative with some mismatches and some formations, getting some of these playmakers in position to make plays rather than these double-reverses as we're driving.
BUCK – Quincy, same question: what do you think the guys can play for, for the rest of the year?
QUINCY – Well, it's about pride, especially the seniors. The season didn't start off the way we wanted it to but, there's still a lot of football to be played and a lot of football to get better. So, like Matt mentioned earlier, it's all about taking one game at a time. I want to see these guys correct the mental errors, especially the defense – the poor alignments, poor reads, poor coverage in the secondary. I want them to continue to keep working on that, working on the fundamentals of how to play smart football. From the offense standpoint, like Matt said, we've got some playmakers we need to utilize in formations rather than gimmicks. I like the progression that Ryan Switzer has been making. With him and Ebron, they can do a lot of exciting things over slot and deep routes. Don't forget T.J. Logan in the mix. I want to see us definitely stretch the field out a little bit more on offense, but also give a chance for these playmakers . . . obviously Ebron is one of the top tight ends in the country and there's no linebacker or safety who can cover that guy. I would like to see us really take advantage of his mismatches and that will create openings for other players to make plays on the team. I know we didn't start off the way we wanted to but, there's still a lot of gains that can be made for the remainder of the season and for our team to get better. As long as we're progressing forward and not backwards, that's what I want to see moving forward.
BUCK – Okay David, the final question for this Roundtable. What can the secondary do to get better with the time they have remaining?
DAVID – You've got to have a bit of an attitude on defense. I think it needs to start there. I want to see guys start hitting some people and tackling, bringing people down without the arm tackle. You've got to keep working hard – keep working. Guys have got to learn what they're supposed to do, figure out where they're supposed to line up, who they've got – that takes film room and study time – and they've got to know where to be. They've just got to keep working.
It's fundamentals; you've got to have attitude; you've got to know where to be and have a nose for the ball. Fly to it; don't give up until the whistle is blown. They've got to compete. I don't know if there are guys looking around waiting for somebody else to make the play. I think there's a saying: 'If it's gotta be, it's up to me.' Well, you've got to start taking things into your own hands and start making plays and stop looking for other people. I think if it's not established by now, these younger guys have got an opportunity to step up and make a name for themselves, and they need to start playing like it. There are still wins to be had on the table and they're playing for pride. At some point, the guys that show up and put in the hard work aren't scared to give up their body. They're going to have some good things happen for them and we're going to get better as a defense.