Inside Carolina

Inside Carolina Staff Chat: UNC's Challenges in Tallahassee

The Inside Carolina staff convened for a new site feature -- a free-for-all chat -- in advance of North Carolina's game at Florida State on Saturday.

Buck Sanders
Okay guys, we're off and running with our first chat, or written podcast if you prefer, and we're going to touch on some topics about the FSU game. First, is it the first team to 60 that wins?

Mike Ingersoll
First to 61

Tommy Ashley
I think so.  Unless turnovers play a big role.

Greg Barnes
Over/under is 69, so I'm going with the first to 40

Buck Sanders
Unless somebody starts playing a lot better defensively, on both teams, I'm taking the over.

Tommy Ashley
I'm not a betting man at all, but I'd bet a paycheck on the over.

Mike Ingersoll
Unfortunately, with Dalvin Cook's performance last week against a decent USF defense, this is one of those games that UNC will have to out-score the other team. That's going to require no 3-and-outs and some points on virtually every possession.

Sacks will affect that in a major way

Sign up for Inside Carolina!
Why join?

Greg Barnes
I think it's relevant that both defensive coordinators have simplified their schemes in recent weeks to allow for more playing and less thinking. My guess is that works in FSU's favor due to the Jimmy's and Joe's factor.

Mike Ingersoll
Yeah, Greg, I'd have to agree with that.

Tommy Ashley
And I think turnovers are huge.  Team w/2+ TOs loses.  Carolina's defense has struggled to produce takeaways.

Buck Sanders
Is this the game where the Trubisky no-interception streak ends? They have six picks in four games.

Mike Ingersoll
However, w/o Derwin James on the back end for FSU, FSU's secondary has looked suspect. Tempo will play a huge factor for UNC, and getting the ball out of Mitch's hands quickly to neutralize the rush.

Well, again, the Derwin James absence may directly affect that.

Tommy Ashley
The INT streak has to end.  I think it ends on a batted ball at the line

Dijana Kunovac
That's a good question, Buck - the Trubisky one. He's been practically perfect since the Georgia game but keep in mind he hasn't really played in a true hostile environment since then either.

Greg Barnes
I agree with Mike. DeMarcus Walker is the best DL prospect UNC has encountered this year. He's incredibly disruptive. He took over the Ole Miss game in the third quarter.

Mike Ingersoll
But remember, this is the most talented, toughest D Mitch will have faced in his career. We'll see how mentally tough he is in this game, because there will be mistakes. The question is whether those mistakes will lead to turnovers or just incompletions.

Greg, good point, and that lends to the sacks issue, which could directly lead to TOs

Dijana Kunovac
You mean to tell me that Georgia defense that just had 45 scored on them wasn't tough?! *Sarcasm font*

Mike Ingersoll
And our OTs have struggled the past few games...opening hips too early, missing on punch, beat on the first step in definite passing situations.

Buck Sanders
Interesting point - do we think Trubisky's performance will drop off before a hostile crowd? That cuts against his “even keel” meme we've heard from Fedora and everyone else.

Greg Barnes
UNC is expecting a lot of man coverage, so that will allow for some deep shots for Trubisky down the field. If his receivers don't win some of those 50-50 balls, an INT could happen. He's said several times his primary concern is taking care of the ball. That VT pick-6 is likely burned into his mind.

Mike Ingersoll
A sold out FSU is an incredible environment...but I'll tell you the same conversation Dekoda Watson had with me a few years ago re: UNC-FSU 2010...I told him that the Chief slamming the spear down at the 50 pre-game got us more jacked up than at any other point that year...he said "you're right, and that's the problem, it gets everyone else so hype that we struggle at home b/c it's old to us at this point."

83k with a tomahawk chop is still daunting though.

Dijana Kunovac
Ah, I completely forgot about the VT game, Greg.

Greg Barnes
Illinois was a better environment than people give it credit for, and the Georgia Dome, especially right before the safety occurred, was the loudest I've heard in person. The atmosphere won't be the issue. FSU's personnel will be.

Tommy Ashley
How does Carolina deal w the crowd?  I think it's the competition not the crowd that will be the determining factor, but Greg, Buck, Mike, what does this offense do to combat the volume?

Mike Ingersoll
Well, Doak Campbell is so wide and tall that the noise tends to leave...can't be sustained...so silent counts weren't really a concern for us down there (granted that was 6 years ago, but still).

And that place will get silent quick if they fall behind at all.

Buck Sanders
Is the Tomahawk chant the most annoying cheer in college football, or the most intimidating? Maybe it is both. Been there a couple of time, and good Lord, I got tired of hearing it. Even watching them on TV it gets old.

Mike Ingersoll
It's either that or anything that happens at State, generally.

Tommy Ashley
I love it actually.

Buck Sanders
Well, Tommy, you're weird.

Greg Barnes
Love me some war chant. Also, my father went to Tennessee, so Rocky Top is the one seared into my ears.

Mike Ingersoll
Seriously, though, the chop got us hyped on the field...we wanted it.

Dijana Kunovac
I live in Atlanta. That is the Braves Tomahawk Chop.

Tommy Ashley
Not the chop per se but the fact that they have 80K in sync.

Greg Barnes
That too, Dijana. Tomahawk chant from April-October, war chant from Sept to Dec in my youth.

Buck Sanders
Maybe we should get back to football. We know that FSU will run on UNC, can Hood and Logan run against FSU? They've given up a lot of long rushing plays, granted, mostly L'Ville and Ole Miss.

Tommy Ashley
Trubisky has to be effective w/ feet.

Mike Ingersoll
We have a porousness issue in up-tempo, and I hate to say, it's usually R.J. Prince that's the offender.

Dijana Kunovac
I think the big question is how is Fedora going to balance the RBs with the WRs. You have to think the WR group kind of had a true coming out party against Pitt, no?

Mike Ingersoll
That will crush the run quickly if DL is getting too much penetration upfield.

Buck Sanders
Is porousness a thing?

Mike Ingersoll
For us it is haha

Greg Barnes
FSU won't sell out to stop the run like Pitt did. UNC can run on most anyone. What does FSU stress taking away?

Mike Ingersoll
Bubble screen to Switzer, first, I'd have to imagine.

Buck Sanders
Dijana, I think that depends on whether Mack Hollins is full go, that has me concerned.

Mike Ingersoll
Serves as an extension of the running game.

Greg Barnes
Mike's right. Pitt clogged the middle, so those bubble screens to Switzer were there all day. That gets the QB & WR into a rhythm, and we saw that play out as the game wore on.

There is a discipline involved with taking the perimeter screens consistently, though.

Mike Ingersoll
FSU will have the athletes to not need a stacked box, and they know that. Plus their safeties play down hill well, so an 8-man box that doesn't start that way will develop quickly at the snap.

Buck Sanders
Greg, is FSU one of those teams that doesn't think they have to take away one aspect of the offense? Do they believe they can just play straight up defensively, without focusing on one phase of the game?

Jason Staples
The Braves got it from Deion, who got it from FSU, Dijana. 

Buck Sanders
Look out people, Seminole in the house.

Dijana Kunovac
Haha of course that is your first point.

Tommy Ashley
I was going to say it started w/ FSU not the Braves but would have shown my age.

Jason Staples
FSU's safeties are a big concern for them coming into this game. Both Derwin James (out) and Trey Marshall (dinged up) are hurt, which has badly affected FSU's defense.

Mike Ingersoll
Good prompt Buck, for them no, but that is when tempo isn't an issue. If UNC can push tempo like they did against Pitt in successive 2-minute drill situations, I think FSU will abandon philosophy, go basic, and Jimmys and Joes are great but fatigue hurts everyone. Just a positive thought.

Tommy Ashley
One thing I'll watch for is how Fedora calls the game on offense.  They tend to go very conservative in big games.

Jason Staples
They'd prefer to play their safeties back a bit and let them read run/pass and come downhill against the run once they read it, but their safeties not named Derwin haven't done that very well, so they've started having to bring a safety down into the box more to stop the run.

That should open more opportunities downfield for UNC in this game.

Mike Ingersoll
This is a potential opportunity for our DL, as well. Starting week one, I've been pretty low on FSU's OL.

Dijana Kunovac
Yep - I'm with Tommy. A LOT of predictable bubble screens.

Jason Staples
I do think FSU will focus first on taking Hood away. They'll believe they can cover UNC's WRs with their three CBs.

Mike Ingersoll
Not nearly where I think they should be for that caliber of program.

Greg Barnes
UNC took advantage of Pitt bringing LBs up several times on play-action with that cross between the LBs and safeties.

Jason Staples
They were a very different group last week, Mike. First time they've had the starting 5 they'll likely use the rest of the year. FSU has started four different OL groups through the first four weeks due to injuries.

Mike Ingersoll
That's fair

Jason Staples
FSU's LBs should be quite vulnerable to that, Greg. They've been very slow to read their keys so far this year and have been out of position frequently.

That's part of why I think it's going to be so important for Carolina to run Trubisky a good bit in this game -- that additional stress on the defense is going to be critical for an FSU defense that has not had very good eye discipline at the LBs and safeties.

Tommy Ashley
Will Fedora and staff call the plays to exploit it?  That is 64K question.

Buck Sanders
Another topic - Jason says that FSU's three DBs may be able to handle UNC's receivers - is that true if Trubisky takes yet another step forward? He's been phenomenal.

Mike Ingersoll
WRs still gotta catch.

Jason Staples
I said FSU will likely think their CBs can handle UNC's WRs. I'm not sure they'll be entirely right.

Greg Barnes
The conservative play calling will be something to watch. Fedora talked this week about his reasoning for always deferring, and it's in large part to get a feel of what the defense is doing and not waste the opening drive, for lack of better wording. That factors into the early scripted set of plays.

Jason Staples
Hollins over the top should be a major concern for them (especially w/their top 3 safeties either out or hurt), as he can run away from anyone FSU puts out there.

Buck Sanders
I am the prophet of not deferring. Take the dadgum ball Fedora!

Mike Ingersoll
Well also with the tempo and ability for UNC to score so quickly, they can bookend a halftime with a score going out and a score coming into the second half.

Dijana Kunovac
If Hollins is healthy that is.

Jason Staples
I also think Switzer in the slot is a really tough ask for Marcus Lewis (FSU's “star” DB) one-on-one.

Mike Ingersoll
I've always been a fan of deferring.

Jason Staples
Put me down as in favor of deferring also.

Buck Sanders
Yeah, so you could slack off on the bench, Mike.

Mike Ingersoll
Anyone third that motion?

Greg Barnes
A point Jason made after the Illinois game that's relevant here is that Trubisky missed a lot of throws vs. Georgia that were covered. Easy enough to find Switz and Hollins against lesser opponents, but FSU's CBs will present more of a test than most everyone else on the schedule to date.

Mike Ingersoll
Free Gatorade, Buck. I'm not turning down those savings

Tommy Ashley
Not a fan of starting down 0-7 as has been the case.

Jason Staples
The real mismatch in the passing game could be UNC getting a WR matched up one-on-one with one of FSU's safeties, none of whom cover especially well now that Derwin is out.

That would be a big emphasis of mine this week if I were calling plays for UNC -- find ways to use formation and motion to get Switzer, Proehl, or even Hollins matched up with an FSU safety.

Buck Sanders
Does anyone hold out any hope that UNC can get a few, just a few, defensive stops?

Greg Barnes
I don't have the stats in front of me, but with a porous defense, UNC has found itself down early with the deferring approach. Depends on your team's makeup.

Buck Sanders
FSU is the best offense they've played to date.

Jason Staples
That and using the 11-man running game with plenty of Trubisky running the ball would be my emphases.

Difference between 7-7 after taking the ball first and 7-7 after they score on their first drive and then you respond looks the same to me. That's why I prefer deferring. Potential momentum swing coming out of half matters more to me.

Mike Ingersoll
If Francois is insistent on staying in the pocket and our secondary covers, yes. But if Francois has some daylight, then not particularly. But then again, you can create extra possessions through tempo and wear a team down with no rest. If UNC scores in a matter of seconds once or twice late, the offense for FSU will get little to no rest and could end up stopping themselves.

Greg Barnes
Buck, both Fedora and Chizik have harped this week on the emergence of character and will late in the Pitt game. They are desperately working to convince the defense that it's capable of making stops like that more often. Francois is talented, but young, so the opportunity for some stops is there.

Jason Staples
FSU does have its warts on offense though. Still finding itself through the air, and Francois missed some bunnies.

Jason Staples
FSU is deep enough on offense that I doubt they'll have any fatigue issues, Mike. This is a game where fewer possessions likely helps UNC and more possessions tilts things toward FSU.

Mike Ingersoll
An OL with guys only in their second game will pose conditioning issues for those guys.

Jason Staples
Especially now that FSU has found a quality second RB who can give Cook plenty of rest.

Greg Barnes
Defensively, though, I keep going back to the talent discrepancy. UNC needs scheme and players to step up to be successful. FSU just needs players to do their jobs.

Mike Ingersoll
Without tempo, under normal circumstances.

Buck Sanders
Okay guys and girl, we're venturing into eyes glazing over territory - any last thoughts and/or predictions?

Jason Staples
I don't think that'll be a problem at all, Mike. They wore Ole Miss' defense out in a high-possession game and looked fresh, despite not having all their guys healthy at that point.

Dijana Kunovac
Do we have any concern about UNC's LBs heading into this game? Fedora hasn't exactly been high this season on anyone in that group...

Jason Staples
Yes, big concern Dijana.

Greg Barnes
Yet another big stage for UNC and Fedora. Heels don't have to win this one, but need to show they belong against this type of opponent. Those doubts followed them into the ACC Championship Game last season.

Dijana Kunovac
Final thoughts? Good luck in Tallahassee Greg. Last time I was there I accidentally booked a flight a whole month later out of there...

Jason Staples
FSU runs so much outside zone and then uses counter-trey, Power-O, and QB sweep as supplements that it really stresses the edge of the defense in the running game. The DEs and LBs for Carolina need to stay disciplined and fill the proper gaps or FSU's backs will have huge days.

Mike Ingersoll
Tough 3 game stretch coming up, this would be a huge steal and confidence builder going into FSU and winning again against what I think is still one of the best teams in the country.

Tommy Ashley
Big stage.  I think this game looks like many in past.  Late comeback to make it look good at end.  Same ole story. Unless Trubisky goes nuts again and defense recreates 4Q Pitt performance.

Buck Sanders
Tallahassee has an airport?

Jason Staples
My final thoughts: Carolina is the more veteran team and is more consistent on both sides of the ball at this point. By contrast, Good FSU is as good as anyone in the country. Bad FSU has been really bad (WRs running free, can't stop the run, DLs turned loose by the OL). Which FSU team plays in this one will have as much or more say in the outcome as anything UNC does. One hidden factor to watch for: FSU has a freshman punter and has been inconsistent in punt coverage so far this season. Switzer may have some opportunities to make a major difference in that phase of the game-provided UNC can force FSU to punt. 

Greg Barnes
Dijana, it's the worst stop on the ACC travel schedule. Great campus and stadium, but the town is tough to get in and out of.

Buck Sanders
But has some great bars…

Jason Staples
There's good reason I haven't made it back to Tallahassee since spring of 2011. So tough to get in and out of that town, sadly. 

Buck Sanders
Okay, that's a wrap of this time out folks, hope everyone had fun.

null

Inside Carolina Top Stories