Back to the Basics

CHAPEL HILL, NC -- Tuesday afternoon the catch phrase that continued to roll off of UNC head football coach John Bunting's lips when discussing the defense, was "...alignment and assignment."

The Texas Longhorns rolled up 569 yards of total offense this past Saturday night against Bunting's Tar Heels in Kenan Stadium. Carolina managed a total of 343 yards. That's a difference of 226.

Missed tackles, missed assignments, and misalignments accounted for what Bunting described on Sunday as giving Texas 200-plus yards of that total. It's not difficult to see what made the difference in that game. So, with an off-week prior to a home game with Georgia Tech on September 28, it was time for the UNC defense to get back to fundamentals.

"We didn't execute very well," defensive end Will Chapman said of Saturday's game. "When it came time to make a play, we didn't make it. We didn't put ourselves in the position to make it because we lined up wrong. The defensive calls, there was nothing wrong with those. It was the fact that we didn't get lined up where we were supposed to."

A small portion of each practice this week will be devoted to Georgia Tech, but the majority of practice time will resemble a travel back in time to two-a-days, before preparing in earnest for the Yellow Jackets next week.

"We went right back to training camp today," Bunting said. "We went right back into a blitz drill, just like we did in training camp and then followed the practice schedule of training camp. ...

"Alignment and assignment -- knowing the fits on the run and the fits on the passes. That screen pass should never go for 25 yards or whatever it went for at the first of the game. We have four guys there. One guy loses contain, and it's out the gate. We have wasted all the other guys.

"Any time there is a screen pass, there is an outside element, a middle element and an inside pursuit element. The outside element broke down. He came inside the middle element, so we had no chance. It should have been a three-yard gain or less. Instead, it's a 25-yarder, and it gives the guys on the other side all kinds of momentum."

So everyone spent a little extra time on Tuesday afternoon practicing tackling. But, Bunting's pro background dictates that you go all out, up until the time to take the player to the ground. It's what he calls "thud tempo."

"You go 100 miles per hour and get over there and act like you are going to tackle" Bunting said, "and you put your hands and upper body into it. Then you move them out at the last second and get two hands on the hips of the ball carrier. That's how you make tackles."

"You have to practice tackling to be a good tackling team," Chapman explained. "You aren't born a good tackler. You have to learn. Just like anything else, if you don't practice it, you won't be good at it."

With just a few seconds gone in the fourth quarter against Texas, Carolina trailed by only 10 points at 31-21. The mental mistakes become magnified when the score is that close versus a Top-10 team. These are correctable errors, and Bunting says that they must be corrected before the next game.

"After we gave up all those yards and all those points from missed assignments, this is the third game of the season," Chapman said. "There is no excuse to have those [mistakes], so we are going back to the basics."

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