UNC FB 2002 - The Defensive Ends

Coach Webster talks candidly about the state of the defensive end position in Part I of a two part series.

Inside Carolina: You have had these guys a shot amount of time, but as of today, where they stack up, the end positions in terms of depth chart?

Coach Webster: Right now, the only starting end I've got is me. I'm just being honest with you. I'm not pleased. I'm not a happy camper because I expected somebody to really step forward out of the group. And, right now, no one has really stepped forward. Instead, I'm the guy who's going to go out there and make the play.

I feel like I've got some really good players. I think at times they've given a good effort, but I think it's gonna take more. Right now, where we are, we lost Julius Peppers. We lost Joey Evans, but I don't expect any drop off in production from this group. We might not have one guy that makes fifteen tackles, but I think we can get two of them together, one make six and maybe one make nine.

I think right now that we've got guys just sort of sitting back a little bit and not guys trying to take charge. Right now, I'm just not a happy camper with that. I think we need a little more effort. I think guys have got to strain a little more and I think they've got to play a little harder. Now, will we have that by Miami of Ohio? Yes. By the time we come ready to line up against Miami of Ohio, we'll have that. We'll have guys straining and we'll have guys playing hard. But, right now, I think we can do a little better than what we're doing.

Inside Carolina: So, nobody in particular has stood out to you at all so far?

Coach Webster: The only person that's stood out is me. As you can hear my voice is a little hoarse. You can always tell how coaches players are playing, cause if he's hoarse, that means his players are not playing very well because he's doing a lot of hollering. I'm not going to mention anybody right now. I think that I have Isaac Mooring - I have Jermicus Banks - I have Tommy Davis - I have Larry Jessup - I have Brian Rackley, a true freshman - I have Xavier Rainey, a true freshman - I have Alden Blizzard as a true freshman, but I'm not going to single anybody out because I don't think anybody's done anything to deserve to be singled out.

Inside Carolina: Wasn't Rainey going to play linebacker this year?

Coach Webster: No, we started out in freshman camp with him at linebacker and then after freshman camp, the varsity came in and we moved him back to defensive end. So, he's working with me right now.

Inside Carolina: It seemed to me that, from watching what I could of spring practice and the spring game, that Tommy Davis came on towards the end of spring.

Coach Webster: Tommy Davis has made a tremendous amount of improvement. Tommy's come a long way. He was a linebacker and moved from a linebacker to defensive end. He's my fastest defensive end right now. He's probably my most athletic defensive end I have right now. He's one of the strongest, but he doesn't have real good size. So, what I'm trying to teach him is that his game is speed and quickness. He gonna make plays because he's fast and because he quick, not because he's big. And, he still wants to come face up on those big guys instead of trying to run around them. So, once he learns to run around them instead of run over them, he's gonna be a real good football player.

Inside Carolina: You mentioned the guys you had last year, and they were lining up in scrimmages against a very green offensive line. Now the offensive line has a little bit more playing experience than the guys that are scrimmaging against them. Is that born itself in practice that the offensive line maybe playing a little bit more solid than they were this time last year?

Coach Webster: I think the offensive line is playing more solid than last year and that's good for us. That's good for the defense because what that means is that the competition, the players they're going up against are better. And, I can see that. I mean, these guys are much better than what Julius and Joey were going up against and I think that's good. I think they are going to have to get used to that because we are going to play against good offensive people. I welcome the competition in practice. I think it's been great. It has made our guys work harder. The offensive line is a lot more physical and they're a lot more aggressive. So, that means we've got to get more physical and we've got to get more aggressive. And, right now, we're just not there at defensive end.

Inside Carolina: Aside from being a position Coach, you're also the Assistant Head Coach. What's your general impression of the team as a whole so far from what you've seen in practice?

Coach Webster: I think it boils down to how you handle it. I thing that John has done a great job of evaluating the team and handling the team the way they need to be handled - as far a motivating the guys and getting them ready to play and getting on them when he feels he needs to be getting on them.

We've got a lot of guys that will starting for the first time this year. When you have guys that you don't what they are going to do, you can't wait until you get in the game to find out what they're going to do. I don't want to wait until we get down to Florida State with 80,000 people hollering and screaming at you because we beat them last year and they want to really, really get you to find out what you're going to do. I want to find out in practice.

So, practice has been tough and I think when you've got players that haven't played and haven't been on a field, you need to be tough on them because they need to experience it in practice as opposed to experience it in a game. I think the spirit of this football team has been excellent. You can tell that there's a lack of experience. We really haven't had anyone to just step out and say, ‘Hey guys, get on my shoulders and I'll take you.' I don't know that we'll get that on defense. That's why it's important for the defense as a unit to really be hustling and really be running and giving great effort.

Part II of this interview on Monday


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