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 – The news came on Tuesday that Bryn Renner is out for the year – torn labrum and broken scapula. First, on a personal note, I'd like to say how sorry I am to hear that news for Bryn Renner. It is a very sad way to end your senior season; I certainly wish him the best. To go to the other aspects of this injury, first I'm going to go to Matt Baker. Matt, talk about the implications of Renner being out.

MATT BAKER – To echo your comments, I feel sorry for Bryn; I don't know him personally, but he's put in five good years here at North Carolina. He bided his time the first couple years and worked hard. I think he took every advantage of the opportunity. It's unfortunate to have him go out like this, especially at this point in the season – coming down the final stretch of his senior year. I'm sure he was hoping to recover from some hiccups that happened to him early in the season. I think he's taken this dual quarterback thing in stride. So, hats off to Bryn Renner and congratulations on a great career; I'm sorry to see it end this way.

As far as moving forward . . . I know a lot of people have talked about it before . . . now it's time to hand the keys to Marquise. I think it will be more of the same we have seen from Marquise in past games. I think he's played well. My biggest question marks going forward is: can you make the tough throws over the middle in tough situations on third downs? Can you step up, move around in the pocket and complete a pass in a tight window? I think those are still my biggest question marks. I think he's shown incredible running prowess and on his long balls and posts he's shown incredible touch. But, I still have a question mark if he can complete those throws in tough situations. I don't think he'll really miss a beat; I think he's going to do well. So, I'm excited to see it.

BUCK – Jeb, as far as the offensive line goes, I know they've had their struggles this year. I'm looking for any sort of silver lining in this bad news. Do you think a more mobile quarterback like Marquise makes their lives any easier?

JEB TERRY – Not necessarily. You try not to adjust your blocking scheme quarterback to quarterback. At the end of the day your job as an offensive lineman is to win, to beat the opponent across from you, and protect whoever has got the ball. That being said, there is a difference when you're blocking for a pocket passer versus a read-option guy versus someone who's more mobile. So, it comes into effect, but it should not alter our offensive line's game on a down-to-down basis.

The whole scheme might turn a little more fluid to accentuate some of Marquise's finer points, but as an individual player, it shouldn't affect it. One of the benefits of a pocket passer is that you kind of know there the guy is going to be. As an offensive lineman, you can expect he's going to be within a 5x5 pocket behind you. So, actually having a mobile guy can bring a little bit more difficulty because at the end of the day, I might think I'm winning my block and then the quarterback might scramble and my guy might fall off or actually what could be a sack which might not be on the offensive lineman. So, there are positives and negatives in both situations.

I know Bryn is really frustrated with having to end his career this way. Everyone knows that injuries are part of this game. I had them at the college level; I had them at the professional level. You deal with them and you move on and improve when you can. I'm sure he's going to have a great career at the next level. We really wish him all the best and thank him for everything he's done. I'm really proud to welcome him into the Tar Heel Alumni and looking forward to seeing him do big things. That being said, I'm excited about where we can go the rest of the season and let's see what we've got.

BUCK – Quincy, as part of some Tar Heel teams that experienced some injuries, as every team does, what's is like for the team in the locker room when you lose someone that's in a leadership position, a fifth-year-senior guy, someone who certainly most of the team looks up to, if not all the team? What's it like when that guy has to sit and watch on the sidelines and you're still out there playing?

QUINCY MONK – It's definitely very tough. I know Renner has put a lot of time and effort in for this team. He's led our group; I definitely hate that he's ended his senior year at UNC on an injury note. When someone goes down, the next man has to be ready to step up.

When you have a leader like Bryn, who goes down, then these guys are – it's a brotherhood, the Tar Heel family – the guys who came in together, came into training camp. So they've all united, like I said, it's like a brotherhood. When you have a leader like that fall, you've always got somebody ready to step up. There's got to be somebody else, another guy, on the defense, on the offense, who is going to be able to rally the troops and get them mentally prepared for playing without Bryn. It's unfortunate, but injuries are definitely part of the game. When you take the field you know you're only one injury away from being a starter. So, I'm sure it's going to be a huge loss in the locker room because Bryn is definitely a leader. But, I feel like there are guys who are going to step up and accept this challenge because they want to make sure they send him out on a positive note, that we can keep winning and make it to a Bowl game. I think that would be a nice send off for Bryn's career.

BUCK – David, what kind of help can Bryn be on the sidelines? We know he'll be out there; he'll be on the sidelines, probably holding the clipboard, even though he can't play in the game. Given your experience with some quarterbacks who went out with injuries, what sort of help can Renner be on the sideline, even though he's not able to play?

DAVID BOMAR – First, I want to say that I'm sorry to hear that his career had to end that way, just like everybody else. He was a football player and I always enjoyed watching him play; he's a tough competitor. I'm sure that he's going to take all those attributes and continue to do his best to help the team.

What he can do is provide guys support, motivation, and coach them up the best . . . like he has been. He's been a leader. Oscar Davenport and Chris Keldorf were the quarterbacks that I played with when I first got to school at Carolina. Both those guys had trouble with injuries. Those guys turned into coaches and motivators.

It also serves notice, especially to the other seniors, that you don't have forever to play this game all the time. You're really just one play away. So, you've got to be giving it everything you've got while you've got the opportunity to play. I think he's going to have plenty of experience and things that the can do to help the team going forward – they're going to need it, Marquise is going to need it. So, the other leaders on the team are going to need his advice and help to get everybody to where they need to be to finish the season out.

BUCK – Matt, knowing that . . . as Marquise does now . . . it's sort of on his shoulders now, it's a little bit different than being the backup, which you have a lot of experience doing, although he knew he was going to start the Virginia Tech game start to finish, his role since then has been a two-headed system. He's come in and he's played significant snaps. Is his mindset any different now that he knows he's the guy?

MATT – It shouldn't be. We saw what he did in the Virginia Tech game. For a first start, I thought he played pretty well there. Going forward it will kind of mirror that and it will take the same preparation as that. I don't think it should change any. He may put that pressure on himself. But, I think it's really good to have that Virginia Tech game under his belt.

I don't see any change in his preparation – at least there shouldn't be. I think in the dual quarterback system that we've been running, I think he's looked like, at least the games that I watched, that he's been prepared, like he's into the system and taking every day like he was the starter, which is what every good back-up quarterback has to do. So, I don't think there will be any changes. I think he'll continue to prepare in the same way.

BUCK – Okay guys, before we finish up, I do want to touch on Virginia a little bit and your experiences with the Cavaliers. I know that it was a long stretch of time when the Tar Heels didn't win in Charlottesville; they've won two in a row there now. But, there's still that border war that exists between North Carolina and Virginia. Jeb, tell me a little bit about your experiences with Virginia and how you view that program.

JEB TERRY – Virginia, I kind of always respected them from top to bottom, from their school to their athletic program, to their grad school. They've always been, I feel like, a well-respected university as a whole and bring a lot to the table, from the whole picture standpoint.

Now, talking about a football basis, I played against them quite a bit. Matt and I were part of that team that was up 21-0 at halftime, and we ended up losing that game. Darian (Durant) went down – it was one of the toughest losses, literally, that I ever stomached. We had quite a few when I was here. But, I'll tell you what, it's a great program.

I'll never forget when I was being recruited and I watched Carolina play when Patrick Kerney was still there and the big safety that was there – David you were playing when I was at that visit – it was a tough game. I've always had a great amount of respect and think that they were a good, clean, respectable program. It's a good rivalry for us to have and we should be amped up.

One thing that I want to mention, we really haven't congratulated the team on a hell of a win this past weekend. I just wanted to point that out. The guys played with a lot of heart, played with a lot of vigor and I'm really proud of the way the Heels represented on the field. I'm looking forward to carrying that over this weekend. I think our guys can see the opportunities ahead of them. So, they should take Virginia . . . prepare like they're the best team in the country . . . they're coming here and hungry for a win and they're going to want to take it to us.

BUCK – Quincy, sort of the same question. What were your experiences like with Virginia, and how do you view the game on Saturday?

QUINCY – I second what Jeb was talking about, as far as the university as a whole. I look at them as very similar to Chapel Hill, where they've got a great academic program and a good foundation on the athletic side. As a whole, they are a great university. Now, my time playing against Virginia were always tough battles.

You've got these guys who come from that Tidewater area, part of Virginia area, so a lot of guys we were recruiting came from those same areas. From the guys on our team, some of these guys knew these guys in high school so there was a lot of trash talking on the field. But, from their standpoint, they've always played us tough. I think they do look at Chapel Hill and Carolina as more of a similar . . . more like a rivalry because recruiting that is taking place in the same neighborhood as Virginia trying to take Carolina guys and we're trying to take Virginia guys, so you've got the recruiting aspect.

You've got the long history of both programs playing each other, so you've got a well-rounded, long-enduring history of both teams playing competitively against each other. You've also got guys who just want to be able to say, "I beat Virginia." Like you said, I believe there was a stint there where you couldn't win up there. I think right now we've got that mentally out of our head that we cannot win at Virginia In Charlottesville.

I think right now we've got to continue to build on what we've done the past few years. They are still going to be a good program that's going to challenge us; it's going to be Homecoming. Any time you put a team on your Homecoming Day, that's kind of like a disrespectful thing. So, they're going to come out looking to challenge us and they're looking to try and get a win on our Homecoming.

What I want our guys to do, after coming off a big victory against N.C. State, I don't want to see the hangover effect, where we got a big win against a rival, but don't come out with passion or a lot of energy. I want these guys to build on what we did last Saturday and really come out and challenge themselves to continue to grow and finish this season off on a positive note and potentially get to a good bowl game. So, that's what I want to see from these guys – build on what we've done the past two games, but also understand that there's a lot of work to be done, but always continue to grow as a football team.

BUCK – David, to build on Quincy's point, the fact that North Carolina had a big win in Raleigh last weekend, is there any danger of any hangover? I would think the fact that the news of Renner's injury kind of took that out of the equation . . . and the focus would more or less be about being prepared with Marquise and the defense for Saturday against Virginia. North Carolina still has a lot on the line.

DAVID – That's exactly right; they've still got a potential bowl game to be playing for and the seniors want to go out on a winning note; there's still a lot left to play for. We had a great game last week. I'm really excited to get the win. I thought the guys played great. I was glad to see them step up to the plate after a tough Boston College win. Every game takes on a new life and the guys are going to have to take it one game at a time going forward.

All of the dice are on the table and they've got to prepare for this game and buckle their chin straps. I think Virginia is going to be tough. They're going to be coming down here looking to get a win too. I don't think the Tar Heels are going to have any let-up in them; I think they've got too much to be playing for. I think they're kind of getting on a roll. I think they'll be excited about whooping up on the ‘Hoos when they get down here.

Featured Lettermen

  • Matt Baker quarterbacked the Tar Heels in 2005, while amassing the 9th-highest season passing yardage total in school history. Following his UNC career, he was a member of six different NFL teams.

  • David Bomar walked on at UNC, ultimately earning a scholarship and a starting safety spot as a junior. He was named National Defensive Player of the Week in 1999 after recording 19 tackles vs NCSU, including the game-winner at the one-foot line.

  • 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.

  • Jeb Terry was a three-year starter on the offensive line, earning Second Team All-ACC honors in 2003. He was a fifth round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay and played four seasons with the Buccaneers.

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