football Edit

Midweek Player Interviews, Notes & Quotes

Sophomore LB Jeremiah Gemmel and six other Tar Heels discuss their season, Wake Forest and more Tuesday at UNC.
Sophomore LB Jeremiah Gemmel and six other Tar Heels discuss their season, Wake Forest and more Tuesday at UNC. (Jacob Turner, THI)

CHAPEL HILL – A 2-0 record, an old instate rival, a rare Friday night game and a national television audience are just some of the storylines for North Carolina as the Tar Heels prepare to visit Wake Forest looking to keep their winning ways going.

The Tar Heels and Demon Deacons are still ACC members, but this will be the first of a home-and-home series the schools agreed to play that will not count in the ACC standings. With the league’s expansion to 14 teams and the Heels members of the Coastal Division and Wake in the Atlantic Division, they haven’t played at all since 2015, which was in Chapel Hill, and haven’t met in Winston-Salem since 2012.

The Deacons are also 2-0, so this is a big game for both teams and fan bases. It also pits the Surratt brothers, as Chazz is a linebacker for UNC and Sage a wide receiver for Wake. Surratt and seven other Tar Heels met with the media Tuesday to discuss their season so far as well as this game. Each of the interviews along with the transcribed quotes and notes are below except Surratt’s, as we’re running that separately on the site.

Here are the other seven interviews:

Trey Morrison, Sophomore CB

*A question for Morrison in his part of the presser, how does losing senior CB Patrice Rene for the season that impact Morrison and the rest of the secondary?

“It’s impacted us a lot. To me, Patrice is like a big brother for me moving from nickel to corner mostly. He’s showed me everything and helped me out a lot. It hit me really hard.”

*Even with Rene out for the year, Morrison said he’s still getting reps at nickel, as he’s listed on the depth chart as the primary backup there to D.J. Ford. To Morrison, though, it doesn’t really matter, he just wants to be on the field.

“It’s just wherever (defensive coordinator Jay) Bateman puts me. I just leave it up to Bateman and just go out there and play.”

Brian Anderson, Sophomore Center

*Anderson played the last 26 offensive snaps for the Tar Heels in the season-opening win over South Carolina and the final 52 offensive snaps for UNC in Saturday’s win over Miami. He replaced Nick Polino both times, as Polino had some cramping issues in the first game and suffered a lower extremity injury versus the Hurricanes. He’s out indefinitely, so Anderson is the starting center for the foreseeable future.

He said the snaps he got versus the Gamecocks were really important in getting him ready for the 52 he got against Miami. Every bit of experience helps.

“It helped me a lot. Just having any good preparation that gives you experience in a game is something that’s very crucial to helping you stay calm on the field.”

*Anderson was at center for UNC’s 98-yard and 95-yard touchdown drives against South Carolina and also the game-winning drive versus the Canes. How does being a big part of those important drives help grow his confidence?

“A huge confidence booster. My first drive we went 98 and second drive we went 95, that being my first big primetime game ever playing in, that was a big confidence booster in myself, especially going up against a great d-line like South Carolina had.”

Dyami Brown, Sophomore WR

*Brown hoked up with true freshman QB Sam Howell for a 62-yard touchdown in the win over Miami. Brown was asked to describe Howell’s deep ball.

“He’s been pretty accurate. Timing has been real (good) going through practice, so in the game it comes easy.”

*So how often do they work on downfield passing?

“Pretty much, we work on deep balls before and after practice. I’d say about five minutes before and 20 after.”

Greg Ross, Junior CB

*Ross struggled some a year ago but has been much better and more consistent through two games this season. Why has he been so improved?

“With me just knowing what I went through last year, we just knew going into the offseason I needed to get better, so I took it into the offseason and (going) into the spring. Getting better at technique, going with (assistant) Coach (Dre’) Bly, going with Coach Bateman just seeing what I can work on to get better and have a great season.”

*Ross wore number 8 in 2017, number 35 last season and is now wearing number 10. Three numbers in three seasons is quite unique, so was No. 10 what he always wanted and this was finally his chance, or did switching numbers represent something else to him?

“The funny thing is, when Bateman first came in he saw that I had No. 35 and I had switched two times since I’d been here, he was like, ‘We’ve just got to get you out of that number, man, that’s not too good. That doesn’t look too good.’ Just me, myself, I feel as though I wanted to change my number, but it really wasn’t that big of a deal but they ended up changing my umber to 10 and I’ve accepted it. Whatever number I’ve got to wear I’ve going to wear it.”

That said, he does like how number 10 looks, especially playing corner.

“I feel like I’ve got my swag back a little bit.”

Sam Howell, Freshman QB

*Howell has a reputation for going the extra mile with literally everything he does, including the film room. So, how much time does he actually spend watching film?

“Usually the day after we’ll go and grade the film, but after that it’s all Wake Forest or the next game.”

More specifically?

“After I go through it with (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks) Coach Longo, I definitely go back and look at it on my own. I like to mainly look at the mistakes I made just so I can learn from them so that they don’t happen again. There’s a lot of preparation that I put in as far as film work just to prepare myself for Saturdays.”

Does he keep notes to compartmentalize everything for order and future reference?

“I have it set up in my notebook by game. I have my notes going in what I need to look for and then I put in there the notes after the game on my mistakes, so I have it organized.”

With respect to typical game preparation, how much time exactly does he put in the film room?

“It’s a good amount. It’s probably close to five hours usually (a day). Some is with Coach Longo and some is by myself. When you play this position that what you’ve got to put in.”

Howell splits up where he does the film study between the Kenan Football Center and his dorm room.

Jeremiah Gemmel, Sophomore LB

*Gemmel played 76 snaps versus Miami, so how fresh was he on snap 76?

“With (strength and conditioning) coach (Brian) Hess coming in this offseason, I ain’t gonna say I was feeling great, but I wasn’t cramping (and) I felt like I could play another quarter.”

*Gemmel spoke in August about how much better his body was now than last November, noting how his muscle index was up significantly. Did he see that play out in his favor getting 76 snaps the other night?

“We even saw it in week one. The fourth quarter against South Carolina, I looked out wide and saw some of their receivers leaning over and breathing hard and I’m just looking at our guys and am like, ‘Man, we look fresh. We’re good, we’re ready to go in the fourth quarter.’ Coach Hess has done a great job.”

Javonte Williams, Sophomore RB

*Phil Longo said Monday that Williams realized during his 102-yard rushing performance versus South Carolina in the opener he belongs on that stage playing in the ACC and against Power 5 teams. Does Williams remember a sequence or moment when he realized this was the level he belonged?

“Just with the new staff coming in, from day one Coach Longo was always talking trying to keep my confidence up (and) that I was a really good player, because I feel like that was something I struggled with last year was not being confident in my abilities. Coach Longo and the other staff members let me know I belong, which has helped me a lot, and that’s translated on the field.”

*The Tar Heels are underdogs going into Wake Forest on Friday night and were also favored to lose the first two games but obviously won them. Williams was asked if they enjoy the underdog role?

“I like the underdog role more than coming in hyped. It lets the team know any game we go into we can get beat and I feel like that’s something we understood and that we’re still understanding now. Even in the locker room, even though Wake is not (pause)… I feel like being the underdog is helping us a lot.”

Williams stopped there but a few minutes later clarified what he was trying to say, and that’s Wake doesn’t have the name recognition of South Carolina or Miami, but the Tar Heels are still respecting the Demon Deacons just the same.