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July 10, 2013

Tar Heel Quotables

With the start of fall camp less than a month away, North Carolina's players are enrolled in summer classes in Chapel Hill and working through an intense preseason training regimen to get ready for the start of the 2013 football season.

Tar Heel Illustrated has conducted numerous interviews with UNC players in recent months, and below are some of our favorite quotables from the Tar Heels talking about each other, the offseason, how the team progressed this spring, and their thoughts on the upcoming 2013 season.


Senior running back A.J. Blue on the season opener against South Carolina in Columbia......


"The first game is a big opportunity for us to show the world what type of offense we're going to be, what type of team we're going to be, how we handle adversity. You know, just the things that we want to portray for the rest of the season."


Head coach Larry Fedora on the necessary areas of growth for the Tar Heels during training camp.....


"I know we've got a long ways to go. Up front on both sides of the ball, we've still got to do a much better job. Defensively we've got to stop the run. I mean, we were getting gashed in a lot of different areas (during the spring). Offensively I thought our tempo was very, very average, to say the least. I didn't think there was anything special about it. We've got a long way to go (until the South Carolina game). We made progress. Are we where I want us to be? No."


Sophomore running back Romar Morris on replacing Giovani Bernard.....


"We talk about it every day, the backs. We knew Gio was going to leave at the end of the season. But with A.J. (Blue), he and I have been talking about how we've got to be the next man up, how we've just got to keep grinding and keep grinding. We've got to act like there's no difference from when Gio's here and when Gio's not here."


Sophomore 'Bandit' Shakeel Rashad on moving quickly in practice.....


"We're getting a lot done very fast. I guess that's Coach Fedora's style. He's been saying we're getting off the field earlier, 15-20 minutes earlier because of how fast we're getting everything done. So we're getting a lot done, and we're being really efficient with our time. We're really productive with it as well."


Rashad on working with young UNC linebackers Nathan Staub and Dan Mastromatteo.....


"It's been great. Those are the guys I've been hanging out with the whole time is the linebackers. We're together in the locker room. We're together off the field most of the time. So being in a room with them and doing individuals with them and (spending time) all day with them has really created another sense of brotherhood. The whole team is a brotherhood, but it's even more of a brotherhood within the linebackers."


Junior wide receiver Sean Tapley on Quinshad Davis and Jordan Fieulleteau.....


"Quinshad is just a freak. I tell him just to make plays, and don't worry about what happens. Just go out there and make plays, because you're good, and you should know that. Just go out there and make plays. That's all I tell everybody is to make plays."

"Jordan Fieulleteau, he's a playmaker too. He's got a bright future. I just tell him to keep playing and you've got to get in that playbook. But other than that, he makes plays."


Coach Fedora on handling practices this coming fall with multiple off Saturdays and two Thursday Night games.....


"We've got some unique things with two open weeks, two Thursday Night games. So at least me, I haven't put a lot of thought into how I want to structure practices throughout the entire season. That's kind of abnormal (having multiple off Saturdays). I won't do that until I start really breaking down the season, and how we're going to practice for each game."


Senior safety Tre Boston on the UNC defensive line.....


"Kareem Martin and Tim Jackson on the line are beasts, along with Shawn Underwood. Honestly, I just like our defense right now. You know what I mean? There's so many guys I could point out that are impressing me, and it's just because we're stepping into new roles and everybody has to play their best, because right now we need everybody to stay on the same page."


Senior cornerback Jabari Price on improving his football knowledge during the offseason.....


"The big areas for me personally, I definitely want to work on learning what every position does, not just mine because I feel like if I know what every person does, I feel like I can make myself better in that respect. So I want to know what every position does."


Junior tight end Jack Tabb on where the offense came along most during the offseason........


"I think definitely in the throwing game. We can always move people in the run game, but definitely throwing the ball we've made huge strides. So definitely to the passing game, and that's kudos to the quarterback and all the receivers."


Sophomore offensive tackle Kiaro Holts on junior 'Bandit' Norkeithus Otis.....


"I'd say Norkeithus (impressed me more than anyone else defensively during the spring). He was flying around, hitting. Norkeithus, he's getting better. He was No. 2, and now he moved up to No. 1 (on the depth chart). His pass rush is a lot better. He's quicker off the ball. He's more football-savvy."


Coach Fedora on getting more plays in during the spring of 2013 compared to his first spring at Carolina in 2012......


"We're getting more reps this year than last year. Quite a bit more. And so that's helped us. You get more plays and also coaching-wise, you're able to become more detailed and work on the little things with guys because they're not all sucking air and bent over. They know what to expect, and so they're able to absorb more."


Senior quarterback Bryn Renner on his personal confidence and growth heading into the 2013 season.....


"I think it's through the roof now. I think it's morphed into where I can be a leader, kind of coach guys when they do make a mistake. And that's a big thing about being a quarterback. Last year I don't think I could do that. I think that helps. (I'm) a lot more confident. I think you can say that for the whole offense. Knowing what to do. Knowing where to go with the ball. Knowing what the coaches expect from each other."

"I think we made a couple of changes in the offseason as far as how to go faster, and it paid off being able to watch the film (of games), seeing how we could have pushed the ball (more quickly) in certain situations."

"I want to be the game manager. Coach (Blake) Anderson did a great job last year the last five games instilling that in me, and kind of getting out of those 'iffy' balls that are forced in there, and kind of throwing the ball away and living to play another down."


Sophomore safety Darien Rankin on his offseason recovery....


"Right now I'm back in the process of running, doing agility drills. It (the broken right foot) was during winter drills. We were doing little cut drills, and I guess I stepped on it wrong. I'll be back (for training camp). I'm on progress to be fully back running and sprinting (by late summer). "


"The defense as a whole, we're doing real good. As far as just sitting out (during spring practice), I learn other people's positions so I can know what they can do and I can get some kind of feedback. It's good, but then again it's bad, because coming into my freshman year I had to redshirt and I took more mental reps (in my first season at North Carolina back in 2011)."


True freshman running back Khris Francis on his solid play in the Spring Game.....


"I honestly didn't expect it at all, but I'm happy with it, the productivity. I think I did a pretty good job (my first spring at UNC). Just overall I've improved in certain areas."

"The biggest thing is the playbook and they (the other running backs) just really opened their arms to me. It wasn't any kind of awkwardness. They helped me out any chance they could. Just coming up the elevator (after the Spring Game) talking to (A.J.) Blue, he was praising me. I really thank him for that. It really boosts my confidence."


Kareem Martin on the development of junior linebacker Travis Hughes.....


"Travis, he's definitely improved. He knows the defense a lot better than what he did last year. He's always been a great player. It's just the fact of knowing where to be. And I think that after being in year two in this defense, I think it's really going to help him."


Coach Fedora on the UNC offensive line.....


"Throughout the entire spring, it was changing guys around constantly in practices on the offensive line, because you're looking for the best five. You're looking for the best five, first of all. Then when we find those best five, then we lock them into slots and start trying to get some continuity."

"So from this point on, all the way through summer before we ever get to camp, that continuity and that chemistry with that group has got to become special."


A.J. Blue on his relationship with Romar Morris.....


"Yeah, it's always a competition. But there's no hard feelings in-between the competition. There's no hate or anything of that nature. We're really great friends. We hang out. He comes to my house."

"The family here, it becomes more here than your actual family, because we're here every day. We're competing against each other. We're helping each other. We're coaching each other. We actually follow each other. Me and Romar's relationship is going really well."


Senior defensive end Kareem Martin on the Spring scrimmage in Charlotte.....


"It was definitely exciting. I know the fans really love it. It was the second time coming down there (and) the first time playing (the 2012 game was cancelled due to adverse weather)."

"Being able to put a show on---it was about two and a half hours. A lot of people can't get up to Chapel Hill to see us play on the regular, so it was good to bring the show to them."

"We didn't have as much energy as I'd have liked (on the defensive side). But there were some good things. We gave up a lot of big plays, but there's a lot of things we can work on and improve on."


Bryn Renner and Kareem Martin on Carolina's new alternative jerseys.....


"I'm definitely a big fan of the 'All Black.' I think that's going to be a great game when we wear those (Thursday night against Miami October 17). But I'm really pleased to be the first team in school history to wear these uniforms.

"Last year me, Gio (Bernard), and Kareem Martin, we meant with the Nike guys and we had a little hand in it, but mostly it was Coach (Walt) Bell and Coach Fedora."

---Bryn Renner

"I think the best one is the black helmet with the blue top. I like those. We were just amped up during the photoshoot and everything. It was just crazy, and I was excited to put them on."

---Kareem Martin


Romar Morris on true freshman quarterback Mitch Trubisky.....


"Mitch has a great arm. He can fit it into tight places, and he has great accuracy. That's all I know about Mitch."


Coach Fedora on transfer safety Dominique Green.....

"I tell you what---that kid has come a long way for just getting here this spring. He's made some plays for us. You saw him out there (in the Spring Game). He had a pick on fourth down. He caught the ball on about the 5-yard line instead of knocking it down. So he's got things to learn, and he'll learn from those mistakes, but I'll tell you what. Talent-wise, he really came on."


Bryn Renner on the Spring Game.....


"I think we had a lot of fun. Going into it, Coach Fedora said the main objective was to have fun. We had 14 good days of practice, so make it a good 15. And offensively I think we did okay, so-so. We're going to build on this and use is for the summer because we've got a big game (against the Gamecocks)."

"I think you just get in the flow of the game, you know. I think receivers adjust to the ball sometimes, and then I can do a better job of putting 'touch' on it. But I think as the game goes on, we just got better and better."


Renner and Kareem Martin on the play of true freshman running back Khris Francis this past spring.....


"Khris looked great. Standing over there (during the Spring Game), I was like, 'Get him on the Blue team. Get him some reps over there (with the starters). But he looked awesome."

---Bryn Renner

"Khris, he played real well (in the Spring Game). I thought his speed was really good. Coming straight out of high school and jumping into a college program, he really showed me something."

"He had some problems fumbling early in the spring, but he definitely fixed that. He got a lot of yards (in the Spring Game), probably close to a hundred (101 to be exact). That's something we (as a defense) have got to fix, but it's a credit to him."

---Kareem Martin







 

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