Defensive Heels Talk First Two Games, UVA & Much More
CHAPEL HILL – Four defensive players for North Carolina met with the media Tuesday evening to discuss their play through the first two games while looking ahead to a big game Saturday night when Virginia heads to Kenan Stadium for a 7:30 PM kickoff.
Below are interviews with Kaimon Rucker, Trey Morrison, Myles Murphy, and Power Echols:
Power Echols, Freshman LB
*A true freshman, Echols played 19 snaps at inside linebacker during the win over Georgia State. How does he think that went getting his first serious taste of college football?
“The experience when I was out there for those 19 snaps was an exciting one for sure,” Echols said. “To be honest with you, once you get on the field, the noise from the fans kind of goes away, and you get zoned in. The best thing I can compare it to is high school, being out there with your guys and playing hard, giving everything you got to help the team win.
"On the interception I just seen the quarterback scramble, he rolled out, and I knew Ra Ra (Dilworth) was going to pursue because he got God-given speed. I saw that he backed off the receiver, and I saw he opened up, and I knew he was looking towards the receiver to throw it because if not, he was going get a sack. So he threw it, and I stepped in between the receiver and the ball and made a play on it.”
*So, when Echols watched the game film, what was more fun seeing himself do: Any of his four tackles or watching his interception?
“I guess the interception just being that the swarm from my teammates afterward, and the love they gave me after the after the interception,” he said, smiling. “We thought I scored, even still when they found out I didn't score, they still mobbed me, so it was fun. I'm just enjoying the guys.”
Myles Murphy, Sophomore DL
*Two games into his sophomore season, how has his game shown improvement, and how much has he seen adding nearly 200 pounds to his squat in the offseason pay off so far?
“That got me real right,” Murphy said. “Playing in the game, getting bursts off the ball, that’s what I improved on a lot. Compared to last year, going for more extended plays, I can play longer. I can go for 30or 40 a game if I want to.”
*It’s still early, and the 42-point win in the second game might make this a challenge to gauge so far, but how does Murphy think the front line has done?
“I think we’ve been playing good, we’ve just been fighting to get more pressure on quarterbacks, so we’re going to try to do that each and every week to get pressure on the quarterbacks, make them throw picks, get sacks,” Murphy said. “That’s our main priority right now.”
Trey Morrison, Senior Safety
*Trey Morrison has seen a lot of football from the vantage point of various positions on defense, so what are his thoughts of Carolina’s improved defensive line so far?
“I’m seeing great things up front,” he said. “The more those guys make plays, the easier it is for us to make plays, and those guys are just making plays every game.”
*Eugene Asante has started three games now at Chazz Surratt’s old spot at inside linebacker, the first being the Orange Bowl last January. So what has Morrison seen from Asante sort of backing up his performance against Texas A&M?
“I think Eugene is playing great,” Morrison said. “Eugene is the type of guy who’s gonna give everything he’s got on the field and I love that about him. He’s very studious of the game, he’s always in the film room trying to get better, and better every week. I think Eugene is going to be a great player.”
*So what has the defense done best and what does it need to work on?
“What we need to work on is our angles on the ball in the secondary, I think we can do better at that, better tackling as well,” Morrison said. “I think our defense is doing great on communication. Last year, I felt like some of our communication stuff wasn’t efficient at times, but I feel like our communication now is just great. Everybody’s getting the call, everybody knows what’s happening, so if everybody knows the call, I feel like we just have a great opportunity for that play.”
Kaimon Rucker, Sophomore OLB
*Rucker can line up in several positions on the field, so he doesn’t see himself as a specialist like some of the other Heels.
"Honestly, it makes me more versatile,” Rucker said. “I feel like as I grow older and as I get more mature as a football player, and if the lord allows me to go professional. It's just going to make me more valuable as a football player. It's not just showing me playing as an edge rusher, but it can also show that I have the capabilities, the strength, and the mindset to play inside, as well as drop back in coverage.
“It makes me more versatile, and I love it. I love how I'm being used, I'm being used in multiple situations, and there ain't no telling how many positions I'm going to be in as the season goes on and how my career goes at UNC."
*Virginia’s offense uses all kinds of looks forcing defenses to be on high alert because the Cavaliers might run something basic our of the looks or not. How disciplined must the Tar Heels be with respect to all of that eye candy?
"For the past couple of years, Virginia's always been like that,” Rucker said. “They've always been lining up in some funky formations. Just as a defense, we just gotta really lock-in. They give us a lot of eye candy. They give us a lot of formations, a lot of different guys in a lot of different places. They got a lot of guys lining up at quarterback, and wide receiver, and tight ends, and all these different scenarios.
“But really we just gotta focus on ourselves as a defense. We gotta playbook, they gotta playbook and we just got to abide by what we were given. As many different looks, they're gonna give us this week, and as many different looks, they've given other different teams.
“We're just doing it like every other team would if they were facing a funky formation type team. We're watching film, we're getting game plans, we are structuring for each scenario. And we just gonna get after it this weekend."