TarHeelIllustrated - Brown Discusses The New Slate, Prepping For Camp & More
football Edit

Brown Discusses The New Slate, Prepping For Camp & More

With the ACC announcing its revised football schedule for this season earlier in the week and start of fall camp six days away, North Carolina Coach Mack Brown met with the media Friday afternoon to discuss those things and more.

The UNC coach spoke for 62 minutes, mostly fielding questions. The entire Q&A session is posted above, and below are some nuggets from what he had to say with a few quotes. THI will run more content over the next few days from Brown’s presser in addition to this.

Here are some tidbits from Friday’s presser:

*All of the players that tested positive for COVID-19 are back and participating in the team’s workouts leading up to the official start of fall camp.

*The players started wearing helmets Friday morning, which included NCAA-approved shields covering the full facemask. Most players wear shield in front of their eyes, but now it extends to just below the bottom of the facemasks. Players will either wear helmets or standard masks like everyone else uses. They are, however, allowed to remove their helmets or masks to breath better as long as they are five yards away from anyone else.

They can remove the mask to drink something, but must wash their hands and stand five yards from the student managers and trainers when drinking. Each player has their own water bottle with their names on them.

*Fall camp begins Aug. 6 and will only last several days because classes begin Aug. 10. The team will be in shorts the first two days, shells (shoulder pads and helmets) the next two days and full pads on day five.

*Tony Grimes is expected to report on Sunday, Aug. 2. He will check into his dorm Monday, go through the routine of being admitted and going through the process of the physical stuff before getting on the field with the rest of the team, and eventually will be out there.

*Director of Football Communications and Branding Jeremy Sharp said all of the players that were injured a year ago and expected to be back healthy are and are participating in workouts.

*With Florida State, Syracuse and Notre Dame added to the schedule earlier in the week, UNC’s staff has begun the process of developing game plans for them. Typically, most of a game plan and research on an opponent is done in the offseason, but with the schedule revised as it was this week, they’ve had to five into getting ready for those new opponents. And that they don’t even know when those games will be played further complicates matters and places an importance on getting those plans ready as soon as possible.

*One of the more interesting questions Brown was asked focused on how he plans to move a football team from Chapel Hill to Miami or Boston to play a game. Brown said he asked his bosses the same question.

“We take three flights. We got to Boston, we go to Tallahassee and we go to Miami. So I’m sure now the airlines have worked really, really hard at being safe, I don’t know how many planes that means we’ll take, I don’t know if we have to cut our numbers of players that go… So all of those things are things that medical people will be answering and we’ll start asking those questions when we get there."

*Brown was asked what he likes about his team, and to paraphrase, here’s what he said:

He won’t use the word “great” but said the wide receivers can be “really good.” He also said they should be “really good” at quarterback, running back, the offensive line and the secondary. “I really like what I see in the secondary… I think the secondary can be special,” he said.

In addition, Brown feels good about the linebacker spots but wants to get Khadry Jackson and Eugene Asante some experience. He’s happy with Garrett Walston at tight end but there’s no real experience behind him, so that’s a bit of a concern. “Garrett’s gotta carry that load and Kamari (Morales) has got to come on until the young ones can come.”

Up front defensively, Brown spoke highly of Tomari Fox and Ray Vohasek, noting how well they played last season, plus he touche don Jahlil Taylor, saying he “did some outstanding things.” He also said, “We like Kritsian Varner, you’ve got Xach Gill.

“So, you’ve got enough guys in there that we think we have a chance to be good. We just have to live up to it.”

*Brown then noted the special teams and has been saying since last season ended they need to improve the kicking game. Notably, the punt block and return group.

*Carolina’s coach was asked a recruiting question about what’s left for the class of 2021 and looking ahead at 2022. He said they are recruiting about three prospects right now and looking to sign 20 players for the ’21 class. The staff has already been working the 2022 class, but them possibly not playing this fall and not yet allowed to visit campuses makes it a considerable challenge.

Brown also said he expects their class rankings in the various services will drop once Grimes is factored into 2020 and because of taking just 20 kids as opposed to a fuller class.

*We noted last week that one of the things Brown has spent some time discussing was the message to the team as it gears toward fall camp, and the uncertainty of things made that a bit of a challenge. Now they have a schedule, but don’t know when they’re going to play a game or what the order of their schedule is. Still, he can pitch them on some big-picture goals, which have shifted a bit since there won’t be a Coastal Division this season.

“We’ve tried to talk to them about football constantly to keep it on their minds so they just don’t see TV and hear all the tough things that are going on out there. And we talk to them about those tough things but we also talk to them about football. Our goals now would be changed: to win the opener, win all of the in-state games and get to the conference championship game and win the ACC. And then wherever that takes you, and hopefully that’ll take you to the playoff and win a national championship.”

*Brown is thrilled to have Notre Dame in the league this season. “I think it’s great because it’s a tremendous program, they do it right, they do it with class, they go by the rules, Brian Kelly is a very good friend of mine, and any time you can take a brand like Notre Dame and tie it to your league it helps. And people can say anything they want, any league in America would jump on Notre Dame right now if they wanted to join. So the fact that we’ve got them for a year, good for us.”