COACH GOLDEN: Clearly we’re excited about the opportunity and challenge we have this week in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As I said earlier in the week, it’s the best team we’re having to face this year thus far on our schedule, and had the best personnel from top to bottom, clearly, of any team that we faced this year. So it’s a great challenge.
Big, physical offensive and defensive line and tight ends, big, physical line of scrimmage operation. Excellent tailback in Bernard, tailback that’s playing really, really well on offense, and two receivers in Highsmith and Jones that can make big plays.
On defense, physical, can run, love their linebacking corps, and we see a lot of guys playing on defense in the front seven. We see all the two deeps, and their punter is doing a great job for them and their kickoff return is the best in the conference. So great challenge for us and great opportunity.
Q. The team you’re playing UNC went through a lot of stuff last year that you’re going through this year with suspensions and off-the-field issues and all of that. Do you look at what happened to them to kind of learn a lesson from it since it’s so recent, and it happened so recently?
COACH GOLDEN: I really don’t because I wasn’t following it closely when it was happening. I just know that what we’re dealing with. Clearly we lost 14 players to NFL camps, so we were going to be young in a lot of places, most particularly on defense. Then we had some suspensions and some unfortunate injuries on top of that.
So we’re dealing with our own issues. We’ve just got to make sure that we improve the team and play better and that everybody understands their role. We’re much further ahead on offense than we are on defense. We’ve got to continue to play well on offense, and play better on defense and special teams.
Q. You’ve lined up five times this year. Lamar Miller’s gained a hundred yards or more every time. Just wondering how is it that he’s able to do that?
COACH GOLDEN: Number one, I think he would be the first to tell you that we have a great offensive line. We have an outstanding offensive line. Our three inside guys Linder, Horn, and Gunn are experienced and bright. We’re not playing as many as we’d like there because Bunche and Seantrel Henderson have been out with injuries. But we’re starting to see those guys a little bit more, and hopefully we’ll have a little more depth.
But Lamar would be the first to tell you it’s the offensive line. Certainly I think Lamar is more patient right now than he has been in the past. He’s taken the four, five, and six-yard runs and ultimately that’s leading to the bigger ones down the stretch in the game.
Q. How would you characterize him as a runner? What are his best assets?
COACH GOLDEN: That’s a great question, because I think when you try to characterize the runner, you’ll discover whether they’re special or not. And I think when usually you try to paint them as either somebody that’s a downhill, one-cut runner, a physical runner, a jitterbug, those types of things, really when you look at it, he’s got long speed. He’s 215 pounds. He can make guys miss and change direction, but he can also lower his pass.
So he’s got a lot of qualities that can make for a really good running back. We’ve got to get him better in the pass protection, and we’ve got to make sure he uses a stiff arm a little bit better so he’s not taking the blows as much as he has been taking them.
So we’re still developing him. He’s a young kid still, and we’re trying to take him to the next level.
Q. Your offense did well against Virginia Tech, but how much of a concern is that UNC defense this week?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, there’s a concern. I know Virginia Tech had some injuries throughout the game on defense, and we’ve been dealing with a similar situation here. I don’t think that seems to be the case in North Carolina. What I see is big, physical, defensive ends, 6’6″, 260, 290, really big inside.
They’re playing basically eight defensive ends and five defensive tackles, so they have depth and they’re strength and they’re playing a lot of linebackers. So that’s the challenge. They’re a big strong physical team and it will a great challenge for our offensive line, our tight ends and certainly our running game.
Q. What do you want to see your pass defense do better this week?
COACH GOLDEN: There are so many things we want to do better. Number one, we can’t go out there and try to make plays. We have to stay within the system, and the plays will occur, because we’re working together and we’re funneling a receiver a certain way to the safety or to an adjacent player and those kinds of things. So clearly we’re not getting as many takeaways as we have been.
We need to bat balls better. We need pass break-ups, interceptions, and we need to see and have vision on the ball to try to slow down a runner who is doing such a great job with his pass efficiency.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports