UNC-FSU: After Further Review

UNC head football coach John Bunting shares his thoughts and answers questions following review of the game film of the 37-0 loss to FSU.

Opening remarks:

"A lot of people, apparently, today have been saying that [the game] was a little like last year. Of course, my response is, to an extent, I would agree with that, but there are some bright spots. And I'm going to say this one more time about Florida State: they are very, very good.

"I said last year after we played Texas that I did not think they were a #1-type team like some were saying or they might be in a BCS Bowl. I think this team we played last night are on their way to having a remarkable season, if they can stay healthy. They are a very talented group of players. They did a great job executing their game plan.

"On defense, we did not tackle. They attacked our perimeter, and what we discovered today is pretty much what you saw on the field. We had missed tackles by our corners and almost zero productivity out of our defensive ends. We have to find a way to get that changed.

"Offensively, we moved the ball against a good defense at times. We had some drives, at times. We had a few dropped balls. If we can make those catches, maybe we score some points and put a little pressure on Florida State. Obviously, you don't score any points, you put no pressure on them whatsoever. They are free to do what they want, and they are pretty good doing what they are doing.

"Our job, right now, is to evaluate our players, to evaluate what we did on offense, defense, and special teams and then go on and get better. I'm not going to dwell on this game at all. I am [moving] on. They are a really fine football team. We want to be like them some day. We want to get some players like they have. We have some. We just need to get some more."

Last night you said you might have to make some decisions about putting some young players on the defense. With what you said about defensive ends, in particular, is that decision going to come maybe this week? Would it be this early?

"I think now is better than later. My staff and I have had two discussions on that today. I will have a third one with them here tonight, and I will be trying to come up with that decision before we practice on Tuesday."

With the way Ronnie McGill ran last night, has that changed the tailback situation--is Willie the starter, or will that job be open until a decision is reached for Syracuse?

I think Ronnie McGill showed last night that he can be a starting running back for us, so we will approach practice this week with a Ronnie McGill, Willie Parker, Chad Scott rotation. Jacque Lewis, of course, has a role on this team. He's done some great things for us in the past, and he still has one. Last night, he didn't play quite as much as I like to see him play, and Willie didn't carry the ball as much as I like to see him carry the ball, but when McGill did carry the ball he looked good, and I'm excited about his future."

Does falling behind early the way you did prevent you from having the chance to get the running game going because you are down?

"No doubt about it, it hurts you with the running game. You become more one-dimensional, when you get down early like that. Obviously, it's frustrating. I thought 'Tranq' had a tremendous game plan going in, and he didn't get to execute all of it. I think Durant played very well. It is probably the best he has done managing the game for us, which is exciting. It gives us a chance to win a lot of football games this year.

"If we can keep him healthy and he keeps doing what he's doing--he managed the game well and made [only] one or two mistakes. One he got nailed on, which was the interception in the end zone, and the other one he probably would have made a mistake when he got out of the pocket and threw it down the middle of the field. But he played extremely well and threw the ball well, managed the game well; I'm really excited about what Darian Durant did last night."

Does the talk about getting some young guys in include some of those freshman linebackers?

"That certainly has been a topic of discussion. That's the one position where we have some experience now at that position. I'm talking about the Justices, the Longhanys, and the Clay Robersons. Those guys have been doing it a long time. We have some extremely talented, youthful linebackers that will be very good at some point. Two of them played special teams. One started last night--Melik Brown. I think he has a great future here. We haven't reached any conclusions yet, but we are strongly considering getting those guys on the field more."

How would you evaluate newcomers on defense Jonas Seawright and Mahlon Carey last night?

"Jonas did a good job. He will really help us as the season progresses.

"Mahlon Carey, you look at the statistics and what jumps out at you is the two safeties led the team in tackles. Just like last year, you don't want that to happen week in and week out, but Mahlon did make eight or nine tackles. He also made some freshman, rookie type mistakes, and some of them were very simple but really hurt us. We've got to continue to school him up. He's a talented player, and I'm excited about his future, but he has got to continue to learn football so he can be in better positions to make plays."

How would you evaluate what the defensive coaching staff has done with this group, after last night, and do you feel any need to become more involved than you are at this time in designing the defense?

"I'll say this: I couldn't ask for a harder working group of defensive coaches, and I couldn't dream up as much scheme as they've dreamed up and worked on all through the summer. They've done a tremendous job.

"If we are to play younger players, we are going to have to scale back. I've been a player on the number one defense in the NFL and I've been a coach on a number one defense in the NFL twice. One time in Kansas City, when I was the linebacker coach there, we played one front and one coverage over and over and over again because we had four studs up front, three great linebackers, two tremendous corners, and safeties that tackled. That's all we did--one front, one coverage. Then we put Derrick Thomas's hand on the ground on third down, and he sacked quarterbacks and stole the football.

"We're not there, so we are going to have to scheme people at times to try to make things happen. We are not a team that can sit in one front and play one coverage. We've got to do different things in order to be successful. We're going to continue to see where we can go with this defense to see if they can take on more. Or if we play younger players, we are probably going to have to do less."

I can see how FSU's speed can put you on the defensive on defense. Can you anticipate being able to be more aggressive and attacking on defense when you face other teams?

"We went after Florida State a bunch last night. People may not pick up on that. I bet you we blitzed or had some form of a [zone] dog probably more than a third, closer to a half of the time. We went after them last night and got burned on a number of those plays, particularly some run plays.

"With Syracuse coming up, I certainly know from last year that they will present a ton of different formations. We will have to be very, very smart to making adjustments to formations next week."

If you decide to put more younger players in, as a rule, will you be gradually breaking them into game action over a few weeks or will they be in there from day one taking a lot of snaps?

"It will be gradual. I have to look at what can help us this week. I want to win this week against Syracuse; therefore, I have to get the best 11 players out there on every snap to beat Syracuse. Then, I also want to get better as the season progresses. We've got to make our best guestimation on how that happens, and I don't have the magic formula.

"I could look into next year and say, 'Here's my dream defense,' based on the personnel I have right now and then go backward from there: 'OK, what am I playing in game 11, what am I playing in game 10 this year, what am I playing in game nine this year.' It's a guestimation, but I will not sit still, I promise you that. It has been my policy as a coach to give opportunities to play, and we are going to see to it that others get opportunities to play."

Not to harp on the defense, but you mentioned pretty much the same squad that was in there last year. When do you come to a decision where the guys--you recruit them all and expect them to play--but at some point maybe they just can't cut it. Is that a hard decision for a coach to make?

"Not as hard for me as you might think. We didn't recruit all these players that are out there playing. There are a few out there. I know this: I have to get Lionell Greene to play more, I've got to get Mahlon Carey to play better, Chase Page played his best game last night on defense. He's a junior who has played only played one year of defense, but he played very well last night against Florida State's offense.

"There are some guys who I will--what ever the right word is--run out of patience. We are going to go on; we have to move forward. We are going to move forward with this defense in personnel. Then, based on the personnel, the scheme will be dictated by that.

"I would love to play one front and one coverage, but we aren't there yet. I am very pleased with the way our coaching staff has worked and some of the things they've come up with. They are sound, aggressive, and now we just have to get everyone to execute together. If one guy breaks down on blitzes and they find the right hole, it's gone."

Do you have a number of guys who aren't cutting it and may never cut it?

"I don't have a number, but we are going to [have] a new face on our defense before the end of the bye-week?


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