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 – I'm going to start with Matt this week. Matt, a week ago when we were talking, we were wondering about questioning Marquise's arm, decision-making, and accuracy, and wondering what was going wrong. It seems like he showed us what was going on against ODU.

MATT BAKER – Yeah, he played a great football game. He put the ball on the money when he needed to. Just like last week when we said that Marquise has proven that he is a great deep thrower. He has an incredible touch, some of the best touch on a deep ball I've ever seen for a young player. That's where most of his throws came this past week, on post routes and double moves, and he throws a great ball with that.

Like we were talking about last week, I think we're still going to see some growing pains as he learns how to be a quarterback in the tough situations – do the little slides to the left and the right in the pocket and make the tough throws on third down, when everyone knows you're passing. I think he's still going to have some growing pains; he's not quite there as a passer yet. But, if we can get guys open running verticals and double moves all day long, then he's going to put it on the money, I'm sure of that.

BUCK – David, the defense seemed to play pretty well. They had a little bit of a short field situation early in the game. They forced ODU to kick a field goal a time or two. But, overall, I thought the defense played pretty well.

DAVID BOMAR – Yeah, they did. I think that the quarterback that they were playing against was a pretty good one too. As time rolled on, it got a little bit easier for them as the game kind of got a little bit out of hand. Those guys have been playing assignment football. I think they've grown over the past four or five weeks, gotten more comfortable with the scheme, trusting each other, playing their responsibilities and gotten some confidence along the way. So, things are definitely gelling on the defensive side of the ball. I just want to see them continue to come out with good effort. They're going to have some tests this week against Duke and we'll see how they respond because Duke is not going to be ODU. I think there are a lot of good things going on there, but still a lot left to be seen.

BUCK – Quincy, speaking of Duke, it seems like ever since the East Carolina game, Larry Fedora has adopted "I just want to be a 1-0 this weekend." But this game is a big game for North Carolina and for Duke – bigger game, I guess, for Duke because they're playing to win the Coastal Division Championship. North Carolina doesn't have that ability. This is always an intense game and, with so much on the line, it just got that more intense.

QUINCY MONK – Absolutely. For both teams, this is probably going to be the biggest game they've both played in quite some time. You talked about Duke – they've got a lot riding on this game. They're trying to compete and get themselves an ACC Championship game. We're coming off a five-game winning streak, we are trying to regain our Victory Bell because Duke actually beat us last year.

Both teams are coming in with a lot of momentum and a lot of built-up added pressure because this is a big game for both teams. There's a no better feeling than to have a win against a rival opponent, but also have an impact on so many levels. If we beat Duke this weekend, that's going to hurt their chances for going to Charlotte for an ACC Championship game; and, that's going to hurt their chances for getting to a particular bowl game. That's going to increase our chances for getting to a better bowl.

From both standpoints, it is a major, major game for both programs because both teams are playing with a huge amount of energy and a huge amount of momentum going in. I know it's going to be a great game to see. It's also going to be great for both teams because you always want to beat your in-state opponent – especially when it's a Duke team. You've got to give credit to Coach Cutcliffe's staff. He's got those guys playing phenomenal football right now but so has our team. Fedora has got these guys elevated mentally and physically. We're playing a lot of smart football right now.

I'm excited to see how we come out against a team that's going to come out with a lot of confidence. They've beat some good opponents these past few weeks. They're bringing the Bell that they earned last year. I know both teams are going to come out with a lot of energy and a lot of juice. It's all about who plays smart and who plays mistake-free football – that's who is going to win this game.

BUCK – Jeb, I wanted to ask you about Senior Day from your prospective. What is that whole process like? Kind of break it down for our readers.

JEB TERRY – Senior Day is just a great opportunity for all the guys who have put in all their hard work over four or five years to get a little bit of recognition, whether they're the starting quarterback or the backup snapper. It's a chance to get out there, get in front of the fans, and let the fans show their appreciation for all the hard work and determination that those guys have put in over their career. As a player, it's a really nice thing.

Honestly, you try not to think about it. You just try to go out and treat it like a normal game; you don't want to get too emotional one way or the other. But, it's the last time playing in Kenan Stadium for these guys and that means a lot. I know everybody on this roundtable left a lot on that field. We have a deep love for the school and the program and want the best for it. It kind of marks the end of a period in life and you go on to the next phase.

The thing is, this Senior Day, a lot of these guys aren't going to play. Hopefully we'll be in a bowl game; we should be in a good bowl game, hopefully – that would be great. But, this is the last time these guys will play football together and that's an emotional thing when you realize that's coming to an end. Even for those guys going on to the next level, it just marks a huge transition in their careers and in their lives. It was more important to me than walking in graduation, honestly, just because of the amount of time, effort, energy and heart you put into the program. So, it's a real special thing for these guys. I'm looking forward to giving them a standing ovation on Saturday.

BUCK – David, a lot of people talk about, in terms of who is the real rival for North Carolina, and this is rivalry weekend – Auburn plays Alabama; Georgia plays Georgia Tech; so on and so forth. Should this game be the final game of the year? Should it be North Carolina versus Duke for the last game of the year, or should it be, say, North Carolina versus N.C. State for the last game of the season? How do you look at it?

DAVID – I guess it depends on the age of the person that you're talking to when you ask that. I think some of the guys, our seniors may say Duke, but I think our generation it would have to be N.C. State. Nothing against Duke, but I think a lot of that rivalry, too, people mention Duke it has to do with basketball. For me, when I was playing, it was always about N.C. State. That can be discussed any of a number of different ways. If it were up to me, it would be N.C. State, but we've got Duke. It's nice to have two rivalries. Maybe we ought to switch them up every year – who knows. But, I think that when you get on the field, there's just as much nastiness from the Duke players as there is from the N.C. State guys. Our guys have got to buckle their chinstraps because Duke is going to be hell bent on putting us in the ground. Regardless, it's a game we have to win and these guys ought to be pumped up about playing it. But, if it were up to me, it would be the Wolfpack.

BUCK – David talked about how nasty this game is. Matt, the Wall Street Journal did an article a couple of years ago and said that the North Carolina- Duke game was the second nastiest rivalry game in college football, second only to Auburn and Georgia. They came to that conclusion based on the "behavior-related penalties" committed by both teams. It seems like these two teams get really chippy with each other. Is some sort of intensity going on there? Some sort of underlying animosity that brings that out for both teams?

MATT – Yeah. I didn't see that article. But that's funny because my memory of the year I started at North Carolina – as we discussed it last week – it was the second to the last game for us. We had to win the game to stay bowl eligible – Duke was not bowl eligible and had no chance to be – before we went on to Virginia Tech.

That was a nasty football game. I remember a quarterback sneak as I tried to jump over the pile. Whoever the linebacker was for Duke literally grabbed me by the helmet and tried to rip my head off, whisking my helmet around. I think I scored a touchdown anyway, but he was still penalized 15 yards. Luckily, a couple of my buddies on the offensive line saw it and took care of it. But it was a nasty football game, so it's funny to hear that some people have recognized that.

I think it's more so from the Duke side. You asked David that question. For me, my time at North Carolina and kind of how I feel today, I'd love to play N.C. State for the last game of the year. To me, the Duke rivalry is a big basketball thing for me. I have a hatred for N.C. State and not quite the same for Duke. But, yeah, I think they set the chippy tone. Obviously, I think North Carolina is not going to back down. At least from my experience, that article is dead on; it does get nasty. I guess at the end of the day, I would prefer to play N.C. State last. But we've got Duke on the schedule this year and it's a big game for both parties. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

BUCK – Yeah, it's going to work out this year because it turns out to be a big game. Quincy, give me your thoughts on those two things – Which game would you rather see if you're going to have a game on a weekend that's rivalry weekend and who would it be – N.C. State or Duke? And, is that a really nasty game? Is it as nasty as apparently the penalties indicate that it is and, quite often, how it looks on television?

QUINCY – I'm like most of the guys here – when we played, N.C. State was our rival; we really didn't consider Duke, as far a football, to be a rivalry. So, if it was my choice, I think scheduling N.C. State as the last game would be my choice – just because of the fact that they are more of a competitive team on the football field and are always jacked up when they play us.

I think, from our standpoint, is that we've had our most struggles with N.C. State rather than Duke. Duke is making a change now. But, my choice would be N.C. State for the last game.

As for the chippiness, I can definitely agree. When I played and we played Duke – I don't know what it is – I'm not sure if it is just that they go to Duke. On the field, even though they were kind of average players – they weren't really that good – they just kept talking trash on the football field. They were doing cheap cut blocks. I'm not sure where that stemmed from. I don't think coaches coach that way. I think that mentally that they just feel entitled because they're Duke and think they're better than North Carolina. I think that's where the chippiness comes from – we've got something to prove. I think that's the mentality for a lot of these players. It's funny that this article came out. I do remember the times where I'd think, why are these guys talking so much junk out here? But some of these guys just feel like they're better than they really are and they've got to have different techniques by being chippy to make sure they kind of get an edge on the other player. I definitely understand where the article is coming from; I saw it when I was playing. I think it's very true because these guys feel like they've got something to prove against us on the football field.

BUCK – Jeb, I want to give you the last word on this roundtable. Answer those same two questions I asked Quincy – Who would you want on rivalry weekend? And, is this game really as nasty as its reputation?

JEB – Well, rivalry weekend, I would say, is N.C. State. To me, when I was playing here, I felt like Duke was definitely considered a rival, but I didn't feel there's animosity held between the two programs. However, there is between us and the Wolfpack. There's a lot of trash talk between the fans and a lot of trash talk between the programs. I just feel like the N.C. State game is the way I see our core football rival.

As for Duke, I'm the only offensive lineman on this roundtable right now, so every game is pretty intense and pretty chippy. In my history of playing Duke, I don't think it was any nastier than any other game we played as an offensive line. Every game is intense on its own merit. I never got the sense that Duke was any chippier or nastier than any other of the games that I played. That just might be the standard offensive lineman in the trenches mentality, I guess, because . . .

BUCK – Because you're always nasty?

JEB – Yeah, essentially (laughing). You always try to dominate the person across the line from you. You try to intimidate them no matter what kind of helmet he's wearing. You try to make them not want to get back up after you've knocked them down. That's the mentality I had when I played. That's just my feelings.

I will say one thing, I think it's great that Duke is highly competitive and doing very well. I think it's great for our competition here in the Triangle. I think it's great for the lifeblood of the program and the fan base. I'm just incredibly excited we're going to have a huge game against them. I lost to them my senior year, so that still sticks in my gut a little bit. So it's great to see a big, meaningful game against them. Kudos to them for doing it. Nine-and-two is nothing to snub your nose at. I'm just glad we're back and we've got a chance to go to a good bowl game. There's a lot on the line for this game.

So, let the cards fall where they may.

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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