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Heel Tough Blog: Mack Brown Press Conference Quotes and Notes- August 24th


Mack Brown met with the media for the second time in three days on Wednesday to update the status of the team heading into Saturday’s opener to 2022 season. He talked about some of the biggest questions that remain, preparing for a Florida A&M team that had plenty of success last season and has an influx of talent.


Key Quotes

“I thought the decision was handled properly, I thought the timing was right and I am really pleased with the results.”

After saying Monday that the decision was made partly because of pressure from the media, it seems like it is working out well so far. According to Brown, Maye had a good practice on Tuesday but followed that up with a “great” practice yesterday. Jacolby Criswell has had back-to-back great practices since learning he wouldn’t be the started, something that Brown commended him for. He also seemed confident that they made the decision at the right time and that this timetable has allowed them to find the right answer and still be able to have time to build some chemistry between the starter and the rest of the offense before the opener. Hearing this yesterday definitely instilled some confidence in the situation at quarterback heading into Saturday after Monday probably felt some feeling hesitant.

“Noah Burnette has beat out Jonathan Kim for the starting field goal job.”

Brown said that this was a battle that was still ongoing on Monday, but gave Kim the slight edge and on the official depth chart that was released to the media later on that day, it appeared that he had actually won the job. Brown revealed Wednesday that the job has now flipped in favor of sophomore Noah Burnette, who he said has simply been more consistent throughout the offseason. This is one of the first examples of the staff valuing every day of practice as they have been saying and this could be something that we see more of throughout the season at other spots. With the job now officially Burnette’s, the hope is that he can provide some consistency at a position that has had its issues since Nick Weiler left campus.

“He’s a guy that been in the game before and we feel like it will be comforting for our team to let him go out there and him because he has such confidence.”

This quote showed that there is some confidence from Brown in junior running back D.J. Jones who will start on Saturday. Brown really likes the versatility that Jones provides with his ability to catch the football out of the backfield and pass protect and seems like he has taken the step that he needed to after a healthy offseason. The team is expected to use all five running backs in some capacity on Saturday night, but they are hoping that Jones, the most experienced member of the group, can prove to be a steady starter at the top for now.

“We’re playing teams that are playing at the highest level in their program. It’s great for us because we have to figure out who we are really fast.”

The Tar Heels schedule sets up with some games that on paper should win, but as Mack Brown pointed out on Wednesday, each of the first three games is against teams that playing some of the best football in their program’s history. Florida A&M is coming off of back-to-back seasons of nine wins (2019 and 2021 because of the COVID-canceled 2020 season) and their first FCS playoff appearance in 20 years, while Appalachian State continues to be one of the best Group of 5 teams in the FBS year in and year out. Georgia State is also coming off of an eight-win 2021 season, the most that the team has had since making the move to the FBS level. These are still games that the Tar Heels feel like they should win, but they could be more of a challenge than some fans realize.



Key Notes

-Brown mentioned that the competitiveness of this team has not disappeared even with the revelation of the depth chart because of how fluid it is in some areas. He noted that right now, running back, wide receiver and the right side of the offensive line still have questions to be answered as we head towards Saturday.

-In terms of the order in which guys play, Wednesday was the day that everything was sorted out with it being the last day in pads. Brown says that the staff still had to review the film at the time of his press conference, but that no other decision will be made based on Thursday or Friday’s practices.

-On that right side of the offensive line, Brown said there is a trip of guys that are battling it out for reps. He said that the two-man combo of Jonathan Adorno, William Barnes and Spencer Rolland will be the starters on Saturday. He also mentioned that the conflict that Rolland had with his class schedule and practice schedule has been resolved since he talked about it last week.

-Brown confirmed that there will be three team captains this year as opposed to the five that they have arrived since 2019. The goal is to make it tougher to become a captain, making it more of an honor when you receive the honors. The team will have one representative from all three sides of the ball. Corey Gaynor, the transfer from Miami, will be the offensive captain, Cedric Gray, the team’s leader in tackles a year ago, will be the defensive captain and Obi Egbuna, a member of all four special teams units, will be the special teams captain.

-Brown had mentioned earlier this offseason that he would like to have a full two-deep on both sides of the ball, but he says the team is not there just yet. For example, the offensive line right now has eight that can play right now, according to Brown, but he still wants to get that number to ten.

-Brown said that the team is working hard to learn about a Florida A&M team loaded with transfers and will have a lot of new guys in their own respect on Saturday. He said that he is working on finding tape for each one of the transfers as part of the process of learning the roster, including at quarterback where they have a battle of their own.

-The staff is expecting to see a large group of recruits in attendance for Saturday night’s game in Week 0. The group is expected to consist of a majority of the 2023 commits, some of the remaining targets in the 2023 class and the top targets from the 2024 class.

-Brown reiterated that true freshman Malaki Hamrick will have a package in place for him this week on obvious passing downs. He said that he has earned this right based on the sheer amount of fits that he has been causing for the tackles in camp.

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