Deems & Mark: State of the Heels

Inside Carolina's Buck Sanders condcuts a roundtable discussion each week with former Tar Heels Deems May and Mark Paschal. In the Week 2 edition, the group evaluates the opener and looks ahead at what to expect moving forward.

Buck Sanders: The competition level gets kicked up a notch this Saturday at Connecticut. On the defensive side, is it safe to say the defense is going to get more pressure on quarterbacks this season? Robert Quinn looks like an absolute beast coming off the edge, and Michael McAdoo has made a lot of progress since last year.

Mark Paschal: The defensive line has more than enough talent and depth to be successful each week. However, Carolina will pick up some extra sacks this season with the speed of the linebackers. I wouldn't be surprised to see Bruce (Carter) and Zach (Brown) more involved in the pass rush scheme, maybe even lining Bruce up at DE on 3rd and long. That being said, I had the opportunity to get to know Robert Quinn really well last year, we had lockers next to each other, and I will tell you - that kid has got what it takes to be special. Smart, tough, strong and fast. It's going to be a fun year to watch No. 42.

Deems May: Robert Quinn stuck out the most to me defensively Saturday. Although the game was just a competitive scrimmage for the Tar Heel defense, you could not hide Quinn's speed and pursuit to the ball. Overall, the UNC defense was awesome Saturday and the speed that they have is very impressive. I like the fact that the Tar Heels essentially had a scrimmage Saturday, but Carolina will have a good road test this week and an even tougher test the following week against ECU. These three games should really tell us a lot about North Carolina and I like the way the schedule progresses.

Buck Sanders: The offensive line was a big concern going into this game. I'd give them at least a B+ this past Saturday against the Citadel, giving up only one sack and helping UNC to a plus-200 yard rushing day. Considering the competition level, are you encouraged by what you've seen so far?

Deems May: It's too early to tell how effective the offensive line is going to be. I was a little discouraged early in the game, but I like the way they seemed to get better as the game progressed. I'm still concerned about depth, but the next two weeks will give us a better feel for what UNC has there. Anytime you have 200 yards rushing, regardless of the competition, you have to be excited.

Mark Paschal: Encouraged? Yes. They had a good showing against the Citadel, and I'll echo what Deems said; whenever you rush for more than 200 yards, that is a pretty strong day. This offensive line is still a major concern for me though. I want to see them physically dominate the line of scrimmage, open big holes and protect the passer. They played fairly well against an average 1AA school last Saturday, but this week is going to be a big challenge and should be a good indication of how they are progressing. I have been very hard on the offensive line so far, but only because I think they will be the main reason for UNC's success, or lack thereof.

Buck Sanders: My biggest concern offensively this week is how the receivers will respond after a half dozen or so drops last week, and this will be their first road test. The players and coaches seemed genuinely surprised by the number of dropped passes last week. Do you think this was a temporary glitch or will it be a season-long problem?

Mark Paschal: This is merely a lack of experience. I don't expect this to continue to be a problem. However, I am not saying to expect to have the kind of production that UNC had last year out of the big three (Hakeem Nicks, Brooks Foster, Brandon Tate). Right now I don't even know who the Tar Heels' go-to guy is. Week Two is a big game on the road, and someone has to step up and be the man at wide receiver.

Deems May: I certainly hope that this was just ‘first game jitters' for Josh Adams. Johnny White had a big drop, as did Greg Little. The bright side is White and Little came back with big TD catches and Adams had a big catch on 4th down. That was very encouraging as you look to see how players respond to adversity and I thought all of our receivers responded well. UNC will not have the luxury of being able to drop passes the rest of the season so I know that problem will be addressed this week. All of the guys have good hands; it's just a matter of concentration.

Buck Sanders: It is encouraging that White, Little, and Adams all came back to make plays after drops. They say a team improves the most from Game One to Game Two. What areas do you think we'll see improve the most this Saturday?

Deems May: I certainly hope UNC improves at catching the ball. They had too many drops Saturday. I think they'll make better decisions on the punt return team with regard to catching the ball, deciding when to fair catch, and not letting the ball hit the ground.

I would like to see UNC get the ball to the tight ends more. Pianalto made a big catch early and was quiet the rest of the game. I hope that T.J. spreads the ball around a little bit more and the coaches expand A.J. Blue's role a bit. Perhaps the offense can incorporate some play-action in the package when Blue takes snaps.

Overall, the Tar Heels played well Saturday. I was very impressed with their discipline in terms of the few penalties they had and with the exception of the missed extra point. They had no substitution problems, nor any delay of game or false starts penalties, etc. These are things that normally plague teams in season openers. This is a credit to Coach Davis and his staff for their preseason preparation and I look for big improvements in all phases this week and as the season progresses.

Mark Paschal: I think UNC will improve on throwing and catching the football with better consistency. I also think the punt team will play better. Coach Davis does a great job preparing his teams for road games, and special teams will be an emphasis this week. Like the old saying: ‘You win three out of three phases, you win every time, you win two out of three you win most of the time, but when you win one out of three or less, better luck next time.'

Buck Sanders: Thanks guys, look forward to catching up with you after the Connecticut game.

Deems May excelled at tight end for UNC and was drafted in 1992, playing eight seasons in the NFL. He's since become a fan favorite for his candid commentary on the Tar Heel Sports Network.
Mark Paschal was a team captain for the Tar Heels in 2008. As a middle linebacker, he led the team in tackles prior to a career-ending injury and didn't miss a game in his career up until that point. He's the host of the Inside Carolina Call-In postgame radio show.


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