Sunday practice report

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina followed up its first full contact scrimmage with a Sunday evening workout in just helmets and shoulder pads. After having viewed the tape from Saturday, John Bunting said he was impressed with the Tar Heels' follow up practice and spoke exclusively to <I>Inside Carolina</I> last night.


Was the defense as impressive today as it was during yesterday's scrimmage? "The defense had as good of an outing on Saturday during the first scrimmage since I've been here, including when we had Julius Peppers and Ryan Sims. The alignments on the front seven are extremely good. They're running to the ball extremely good.

"We don't have Julius Peppers or Ryan Sims here, but I was really pleased with the way the guys buzzed around, particularly that front seven.

…and the offense? "All the penalties absolutely handcuffs the offensive coordinator. Darian didn't have a whole lot of snaps, but he'll have a few more [Monday] night when we have a short scrimmage. Then Wednesday night we'll have our last long scrimmage.

"The offensive line just needed to get battle tested. They needed that scrimmage. I thought their assignments were good, their footwork was good, and I think they knew what they were doing most of the time. They just weren't as aggressive as I would like them to be. I want to see that pick up over the next couple of days. This is very important week for us."

From what players could your next big time defensive player emerge? "There are some young players that I think are going to be really great players, particularly those guys on defense that I've talked about so much. The defensive linemen…Isaiah Thomas – when I get him in shape – he's going to be an unbelievable player. Kyndraus Guy is going to be a really fine player. The three linebackers are going to be fine, fine players. Melik Brown is either going to be a linebacker or a defensive end.

"Jonas Seawright is playing his best football at Carolina. He is using his hands and exploding from the hips. He knows what to do. We had zero alignment problems yesterday; that's a record. He was a part of that, the linebackers were a part of that – I'm talking about up front."

"Alden Blizzard and Brian Rackley both played well. Blizzard was a big surprise; he played as good as he's ever played here. And I'm very impressed with Kyndraus Guy. Madison Hedgecock is going to add a lot to our defense. He's going to play all the time. We're going to have at least three defensive ends that rotate and possibly four."

How is Darian Durant's psyche right now? "He has had an awful lot thrown at him. As the dust starts to clear, he'll become a little bit more focused. He had a very good day today. The other day in the scrimmage he had some miscommunication that we've got to get cleaned up. We're not installing a great deal this week; this is clean up."


How do you think your workouts have gone thus far in training camp? "I feel like I've done a lot of things right in practice so far. There are a lot of things technique-wise that I still need to work on. I've gotten a lot stronger in the off-season with Coach [Jeff] Connors and the weightlifting staff, which has helped just a ton."


Why do you think Coach Bunting has been so impressed by yours and the rest of the defense's performance? "I've been grinding real hard. We've got a real talented group this year. The thing that is helping us is we have two seniors and two juniors, and of course, the young guys. The young guys, they're a talented group, too. But I think we have a lot more leadership, especially with Chase [Page], Jocques and Tommy [Davis],and myself."

"It's the leadership from the guys that had that bad experience last year, and don't want it to come back. We want to let people know, ‘Hey, the North Carolina defensive front – we're back.'"


On the personnel focus of the defensive line… "You don't sit around and worry about who you don't have. You need to worry about who you do have. Tackle is the strength of our defense; end is where we need help. I feel a heck of a lot better about our tackle situation than I do about our end situation."

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