UNC FB 2002 - The Secondary, Part II

Part II of secondary coach Jim Fleming's interview with <i>Inside Carolina</i>

Inside Carolina: You mentioned Coach (Ron) Case being a great coach; he once said that corner back is a easy position to learn, but a difficult position to play. Do you agree with that statement?

Coach Fleming: (Laughing) I agree with that 100 percent. We go though position meetings and those guys are bored to tears because they know what their responsibility is - "I got that guy" - zone or man in deep coverage, they got the guy outside and they got to be able to cover them in a number of different ways. The classroom learning for those guys is important for them to understand where people fit and how they support and, a number of different things, but it's the technique on the field that requires a lot for those corners. They're involved in off man, they're involved in press man, they're in zone coverage, they're in a lot of different kind of tricky situations. That's the balancing act you have, which is to utilize our coaching personnel. I got a great guy working with me, Justin Roberts, so we can split it up and he can work safeties and I can work corners, or vice-versa. The corners are really stressed on the field to be able to get enough technique work in the things we're asking them to do. It's a large amount.

Safeties on the other hand, they've got technique things they have to get good at, but at the same time, there's a lot of mental things that go on with their adjustments and how they adjust to different formations, most of that is on the safeties.

Inside Carolina: Is there a particular person in the secondary that's responsible for setting everybody else, or is that something that's kind of done by the linebacker or . . .?

Coach Fleming: The safeties are responsible to set their side. I like to think you've got two generals back there. We base mostly out of a four-deep look and we'll rotate from there. So, the free safety will be responsible for the corner and the outside backer to his side. The strong safety will be responsible for the corner and the backer to his side. Safeties are responsible for setting the supports for every defense that we run, the support being a run support, but with a run support call, it also dictates what your pass responsibilities are.

Inside Carolina: I sometimes notice on the field, they'll tell a linebacker he's out of position or needs to move.

Coach Fleming: You know those square puzzles where you move a peg around trying to create a picture? That's what it is. There's only a certain number of zones. How you handle those zones is a question of structure. You know you have to have receivers covered down. If a safety knows that he's in a position to go ahead and play that number two receiver that's split to the open side, but he's sitting there dropping down if the linebacker is there, he'll move him in. If the safety is supposed to play deep coverage on that same number two, then the linebacker has got to adjust out to be in a position on cover down. So, they understand the big picture because they're back behind everything and can see it. So they know what the gaps are so at times, they will instruct the linebackers. But, the linebackers, they've got to get themselves lined up as well.

Inside Carolina: You've probably been asked this a dozen times, but because the secondary is kind of the strength of the defense, how does that change what you do defensively on the field during the game?

Coach Fleming: I guess the thing that you look at -- not to tip your hand -- but you're sitting there looking at what you had last year, which was two first-round draft picks up front, whatever Joey (Evans) went, the sixth or seventh round, and you've got three draft picks that on the defense in the front. Then, you had an opportunity to create four-man pressure. If you can go four-man pressure versus anybody, you can stay in a soft zone, you can go ahead and keep everything in front of you. You should be able to go ahead and control most things.

We have to probably hang our corners out a little bit more in man coverages than we have in the past, utilize more pressure schemes, but that's going to be dictated upon the people we play and how we approach each game. But, my whole belief and philosophy, and I think it's shared by Coach Bunting and Hux and the rest of the guys, is that you've got to be able to do it all. You got to be able to play zone. You got to be able to play man a couple of different ways. You got to be able to create confusion for the quarterback both pre-snap and post-snap. And, I think our package has been really well constructed. Hux has done an unbelievable job putting this whole thing together. I feel really confident with our scheme.

Now it's a question of getting our kids playing the scheme, and that's what training camp is about.

Part I of Coach Fleming's interview

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