Ryan Sims: Q&A

Inside Carolina's J.B. Cissell caught up with Ryan Sims and had the following conversation:

I think one of the sentiments that I've gotten both from players and coaches is that this team was a little soft when Bunting took over. How has that changed since then?

"We've definitely raised the bar. We worked harder than ever in the spring and the summer, and we've been practicing harder. Right now, the only thing we can do is go out there and hit each other. Each team we play we have to hit them in the mouth and keep coming back for each play."

Coach Bunting said that now he feels like you are a lot more physical than when he first got here.

"Oh yeah. Oh, yeah. There are a lot more blow-up tackles and blow-up hits in practice, even on one another. The offensive linemen are getting down and dirty, running down the field stillblocking people. Now, we go until the echo of the whistle—not just 'til the whistle."

How are you feeling? I know you had to hit the cooler jacket on the sidelines one day in practice. Have you had to do that since then?

"No. That day, I just wasn't drinking fluids like I'm supposed to. It was a stupid mistake on my part. I should have drank a lot more water and gatorade, but I didn't, and I definitely learned from my experience. I've finished every practice since then."

I think it's an understatement to say that Coach Bunting has a different personality than Coach Torbush. Whereas Coach Torbush might sugar coat something, Coach Bunting just comes out and says it.

"Oh, yes! (chuckling) Coach Bunting is a blunt man. He's played before so he knows what it takes to get somebody motivated. He's not going to tell you a lie. He's not going to try to sugar coat it for you. He's going to let you know what the problems are and how to correct them."

What do you and the other players think about that bluntness?

"In the beginning, it was kind of like a rude awakening. Some guys were like, 'Whoa! Did he really say that?' Now, you understand, 'Hey, I messed up,' and he does it in a manner that gets you better. It prepares you for the situation next time."

So you don't think it's a show?

"No, it's definitely not a show. If anything, it makes you respect him more because you know he's going to tell you the truth. He's not going to lie to you. He'll let you know everything."

He was criticized by some of the fans for what he said after Blake Ferguson decided to leave, because they felt like he was attacking Blake.

"I didn't see or hear what he said about it, but from what I talked to him about he's upset. Somebody left the boat. The way he thinks is [Blake] turned his back on everybody on this team so he was just stating what he feels."

Coach Bunting has said that he just wants you guys to start thinking about getting better every play—not to think about Oklahoma. When do you start thinking about Oklahoma?

"It's in our minds now, but we really start concentrating on it next week when game-week comes along—Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. That's when we start gearing up for them and getting prepared for all the different defenses that we're going to use on them—not just on offense."

Coach Bunting is an animated guy. Have you seen an increase in this, as you get closer to the game?

"Definitely. He was outside dancing to some music he was playing the other day at practice. You can tell—everybody is getting a little bit wired. It's getting a little bit closer. We're ready to go."

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