Howell & Chandler Discuss Offense So Far, UVA & More
CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell and running back Ty Chandler met with the media Tuesday evening to field questions about how things have gone through two games and to look ahead to Virginia, which visits Kenan Stadium on Saturday night.
Here are videos of their Q&A sessions along with the notes and pulled quotes from what they had to say:
Sam Howell, Junior QB
*Now in his third year as a starter, everything about the game has slowed down for Howell, but how much more clearly is he reading defenses in pre-snap situations? This will come in handy Saturday night considering how many different looks the Cavaliers will show him.
“I feel like I can see a lot more,” Howell said. “I think I just have a way better understanding of the game, and how defenses are trying to attack us than I did my first two years. I’ve spent a lot of time in the offseason just trying to expand my knowledge on the defensive side of the ball, and I think it only helps me pre-snap.”
*Carolina runs RPOs (run/pass option) a high percentage of the time. The quarterback will read what the defense is doing and decide whether or not to give the ball to the running back or pull it and look to throw. With Chandler coming to UNC after playing four seasons at Tennessee, what kind of chemistry do they have when executing RPOs?
“Really it’s not as complicated as you think,” Howell replied. “The running backs just kind of do their job, and if I wanna pull it and throw it, that’s my job to initiate that. The running back is just expecting the ball every single play, and if I see an RPO open, and I see the right read I’m looking for, then I’ll pull it and throw it, but the running back has no clue if I’m gonna throw it or give it to him.”
*Howell on sliding when he runs the ball has been a topic since the first game of his freshman season. And it is still something the coaches talking about with him a lot, but he says it’s more about wanting the help the team, though he needs to be smart in those situations.
“I definitely hear about it probably every time I run the ball,” Howell said. “Every time I come to the sideline they’re telling me to slide. It’s just something that’s really not instinctive for me yet, to slide, so it needs to be instinctive. I try to practice it, but you can’t really practice it unless you’re in a game scenario.
“I do think that’s one area where I can really improve is doing a better job protecting myself. I’m just a competitor, I like to run the ball, I don’t like to slide, I feel like I have some type of chance to get an extra yard or two, so I like to do that for my team. It is something I need to work on, protecting myself.”
*Howell’s teammates have had some fun talking about his 62-yard TD run versus Georgia State, but you know he’s heard from a lot of people about it. He is surprised, though, at what most people had to say.
“Honestly I was a little disappointed with how surprised everybody was,” he said. “Everyone acted so surprised, it was a little disappointing because I didn’t run well my first year. I think I ran the ball pretty well last year, and I think I’ve shown a little bit of ability. I was just surprised and a little disappointed at how surprised everyone was that I actually ran a touchdown over five yards.”
*Howell has gotten teammates involved in a couple of sponsor deals he has been involved in through Name, Image, and Likeness. How has he gone about involving some teammates and why does he do it?
“It really comes down to, on our side we try to encourage them to let us get as many teammates in there as possible,” he said. “And then it just comes down to me taking more of a pay cut and dividing the money up more with my teammates that I get involved.”
Ty Chandler, Graduate RB
*Chandler spent the last four years in Tennessee’s offensive system, which is different from UNC’s. Has he found the level of comfort and fit into things now, or is that something he’s still working on?
"I'm feeling a lot more confident, I've been working on little things like footwork every day, just trying to get things down pact,” Chandler said. “Just getting in that film room with those guys watching film. Just trying to dissect the game and get better as we go along. It’s been two games, so I'm feeling even better, feeling more comfortable, I’m looking forward to getting better and getting better as a whole group."
*Carolina’s conventional ground game has not been as productive as some may have expected before the season. Chandler has run the ball 25 times for 124 yards, which is an average of 5.0 yards per attempt. But between the tackles has been a bit of an issue for the Tar Heels. Chandler was asked what he attributes that to but opted to speak more about his effort to improve in that department.
"I put it on myself, I have to go out there and continue to get better,” he said. “I'm confident in this group, this o-line group. I'm with them every day, and they've been working hard. We just gotta go out there and get it done, and I'm confident in that. We're out there working every day to get it right. I am myself, so I'm going to put it on myself to go out there and get better"
*Sam Howell had some company as he raced toward the end zone during his 62-yard touchdown run versus Georgia State on Saturday night. Chandler was one of the other Heels running in the vicinity. What did he think about his QB’s speed as he blazed in for a score?
"Man, he took off, didn't he,” Chandler said, asking rhetorically and smiling. “I was very happy for him; I was running with him down the field. I had to catch up with him a little bit. It was great to see. Great guy, great leader for this team, I'm excited for him and excited to see that."
*Brandon Peay & Noah Stabrowsi contributed to this story