E.J. Wilson Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Defensive end E.J. Wilson says the 2007 Tar Heels will be faster and tougher. Inside Carolina's J.B. Cissell talked with the rising sophomore about the first week of spring practice ...

Tell me first of all about offseason conditioning and the emphasis on speed.

Coach Davis came in with a big emphasis on speed. He knew were already strong enough, explosive enough, but from looking at our film he says we aren't as fast as he wants us to be so the major emphasis is on speed, working on explosion, getting our vertical [jumps] up, trying to improve our lateral quickness and horizontal quickness.

How have you seen a difference on the practice field because of that?

From the linemen, they are pulling a lot quicker, making their moves quicker, getting their blocks quicker. On the defense, we are flowing to the ball a lot better. Our pass rush is better. Even the linemen's sets have improved. You can see a big improvement in the whole team. The athleticism at every position has improved.

Tell me about this "Junkyard Dog" mentality, barking, growling, and snarling?

We gathered a little inspiration from the movie "300." There was a scene in there where Leonidas was confronted by people who wanted to join his army. He was asking them what their occupations were. Some were saying 'Potters' or 'Blacksmiths,' so he just yells out 'Spartans! What are your occupations?' and they just bark three times.

We feel like that our job is just to play defensive line, play our technique, keep the linemen off our linebackers, keep our gaps sound. That's all we can do. We can't do anybody else's job but ours.

Who has impressed you on the defensive line?

Kentwan Balmer. He is really stepping up, he's having a big year as a senior. His technique is sound. Anytime the tempo needs to be set, he is the on to set it.

Tell me about the competitiveness between the offensive linemen and the defensive linemen, especially in that Oklahoma Drill.

There is great competitiveness. We love each other like brothers. Between whistles we are enemies. We are going at, going at, but also keeping each other safe. After that we are a tight group. It's like 'Line Pride.' It's like we are one big group. It's not that the offensive and defensive lines are separate. We have to work together and keep each other healthy and make it throughout the year and make each other better.

What is the biggest change fans can expect to see that you see already in the first week?

We are going to be a faster, quicker, tougher, more together Carolina football team.

What makes you say that?

The offseason program helped with our speed, and the toughness, just from today, we are out in the sun. This is the first hot practice we've had. We are putting it together. Guys are nicked up, cramping up, but we are getting fluids in us and going back out to battle. The toughness that some people think we have lacked over the years is here now.

Who has stood out on offense?

Today it was Tony Elzy. Tony Elzy was really going at it today. If you went up to take a shot on him, he was laying a lick first.


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