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Heel Tough Blog: Mack Brown Press Conference Quotes and Notes- 6/20

Inside Carolina

For the first time since the end of spring practice, Mack Brown spoke to the media to update everything that is going on around the program earlier this week. Here is a look at the most significant quotes and notes from what he had to say.

Key Quotes

“There’s an edge out there about people calling us soft and needing more toughness.”

There is no denying that this is the narrative around the team, especially on the defensive side of the football. The hope was that the return of Gene Chizik would help solve some of those issues, but that simply was not the case a year ago. If the team is ever going to make the leap defensively that we have been asking them to do for the better part of a decade, they need to show people they aren’t soft starting along the defensive front. It wasn’t just the defense, though, that lacked the physicality at the end of the season. The offensive line was pushed around way too often late in the season, which led to the collapse of what was one of the nation’s top offenses for the first ten weeks of the season. In order for this team to take another step forward and finish stronger than they did a year ago the team has to display more physical and mental toughness than they did in the final four games of last season.

“This is the same attitude we had last year with more confidence and more maturity.”

Last preseason, Brown talked repeatedly about the motivation that the team was practicing with after the extremely disappointing 2021 season that was filled with so many expectations. The team had a chip on their shoulder as they tried to prove that was a fluke and early in the season it was evident that was there. Late in the season, though, the pressure started to get to the team and the four straight losses to end the year has clearly left a bad taste in the mouths of these players. Brown says that the chip is back on the shoulder for these guys and that this time it comes with more confidence and maturity. It’s good to see that the team was still able to build some confidence even with how the season concluded and the maturity factor is something that is needed for a team that will face a tougher schedule this season than a year ago.

“The opening part of the schedule will probably be the toughest opening four games that I’ve ever been involved with.”

Fans got irritated with Brown about his comments about the fairness of the schedule that the Tar Heels will face this season and rightfully so. While it was a weak look to come out and criticize the schedule makers the way he did, that doesn’t mean that the Tar Heels schedule isn’t a difficult one. There is no denying that this is the toughest start to a schedule that a team from his second stint has had to face, ranking up there with some of the ones that he faced in his time at Texas and his first stint in Chapel Hill. The team will have to be ready to go right out of the gate and so will the fans. Brown said that they need the fanbase to show up in Charlotte to counteract a South Carolina fanbase that will be cranked up after the way that they finished last season. He also said that the environments for the Appalachian State and Minnesota games will be important, as well, and that fans need to show up and be loud. We will learn a lot about this team in the first four weeks of the season, one that is crucial for this current staff with the crossroads that the program is at right now.

“Having goals is important, but committing to those goals and accomplishing those goals is more important.”

This was one of the more candid remarks from Brown on Tuesday and he could be more right. The last two offseasons have been filled with a lot of different goals which have been met with mixed results. While the overall success of the offense was pretty good, Brown addressed the fact that the team hasn’t run the ball well in each of the last two years despite it being a goal of this staff. Defensively, Brown said that the staff has been saying that they need to stop the run, but they simply haven’t been doing it. These are just a few examples of goals on both sides of the football that haven’t been fulfilled and he believes that in order for the team take the next step, these can just be goals the staff has, but ones they execute. Simply put, it’s time for this program to stop talking and time for them to start doing.

“With NIL and the changes that it’s made in the recruiting landscape, we have to do a better job of evaluating who fits here better than ever before.”

Brown addressed the critics of the team’s 2024 recruiting class, which to this point is not comprised of nearly the level of talent that the previous classes have been. Brown was very complimentary of where the class is right now and defended the evaluation process that the team goes through to find their targets. He said that a prospect goes through twelve different recruiting evaluations from the staff before they are offered and that there are many different standards that they have to meet along the way. The main ones that Brown pointed to were the grades and handling of NIL. He said that each prospect needs to have at least a 3.0 core GPA to be considered by the staff and that they can not be looking to receive inducements from teams before arriving to campus, which is still illegal. He said that the staff has to be selective in who they are willing to take because they want athletes and families that are “wanting to do things the right way”.

“There were a number of them last year that said I was quitting that got fired, so they probably ought to worry more about their jobs than mine.”

Brown made it a point on Tuesday that he is not looking to quit any time soon and that the false narrative on the recruiting trail is more flattering than anything. Age is something that has been used against him since he arrived back on campus and this isn’t the first time that this has been brought up and it won’t be the last. You do have to wonder if this is something that he has been hearing more of this year on the recruiting trail and if that’s why he felt that he needed to address it here. Regardless of why it was brought up, the best solution to quiet this and other questions around him and the program is to win, something he plans on doing a lot more of with him feeling “as good as he has ever felt”.

Key Notes

-Report date for fall camp is August 1st and the first practice will be on August 2nd. The first three practices will be in shorts, the next.  two will be in shells and then the rest will be full contact.

-The Tar Heels will be about as healthy as any team in recent memory heading into fall camp. The only player that will not be a full go on the entire roster will be edge rusher Malaki Hamrick who was declared out for the season with a knee injury back in spring.

-Brown talked about how important it is to play the depth that the team is developing in the last couple of offseason. Two position groups that he pointed to specifically that he wants to see more rotation at are the linebacker and along the offensive line. 

-Brown was really pleased with what he saw from Amare Campbell at linebacker back in and wants to see him take snaps this season. He said that there is no way that the staff can play Cedric Gray and Power Echols the way they did last year again thus year.

-Along the offensive line, Brown pointed to the young trio of Zach Rice, Trevyon Green and Diego Pounds as guys that need to see more reps. He said that they are the future of the unit and need to get the experience. 

-Brown credited this staff for being one of the closest that he has ever been a part of. He said that the past relationships and meshing of styles has been the reason things have gelled so well so far. He was also very complimentary of the impact that both Clyde Christensen and Ted Monachino have had on this team already.

-Every player on the roster is now officially on campus that will be a part of the roster this season. True freshmen Ty Adams, Kaleb Cost, Chris Culliver, Ayden Duncanson, Caleb LaVallee, Jordan Louie, Tre Miller and Joel Starlings all arrived last Monday and Georgia State transfer Antavious Lane came in a day later. Julien Randolph and Rodney Lora were the last to head to campus, as they arrived yesterday due to a later graduation time.

-Brown confirmed that thirteen players from the 2024 class will be on campus this weekend. “We’re going to finish with a lot of momentum and it’s going to be good,” he said. “It’s going to be a big weekend.” Of those thirteen, seven of them are uncommitted and five are 4✮s. 

-When asked about the ACC meetings Brown said the only thing that he took away is that the commissioner is fighting for the teams to get more money. He said there are “a lot of rumors” but he’s only going to worry about what athletic director Bubba Cunningham is telling him.

-Brown said that the focus on NIL, realignment and the transfer portal has taken the attention away from the fundamental things that the sport needs to see changed. He pointed to getting quality control coaches and other assistants more involved on gameday as one of those things that the focus should be on as opposed to the big picture topics.m


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