Heel Tough Blog: Press Conference Takeaways- July 8th
For the first time in two month, Mack Brown spoke to the media via Zoom on Thursday, touching on a multitude of topics, including NIL and offseason updates with the team. Here is a look at some of the most important things that we took away from this presser earlier this afternoon.
Fall Camp Date is Official
The most notable note from the presser on Thursday was the fact that the Tar Heels will be starting fall camp on August 5th. Coach Brown told reporters that players will report for camp one day earlier on August 4th and that the first three practices will be in shorts only because of some new rules that are in place. The next two, the team will be allowed to be in shells before they shift to fully-padded practice in the sixth one of the fall and it will stay that way up until the final preseason practice before the team makes the trip to Blacksburg for the September 3rd opener. Brown also noted that there are more restrictions with practices and scrimmages for the preseason with the focus being to lessen the amount of contact.
Brown Says Depth, Special Teams and Settling the Offensive Depth Chart Will Be Focuses of Fall
These were three very common themes of Brown’s press conference towards the end of spring and these will be front and center when the team begins fall camp. Brown has talked multiple times this offseason about the fact that the Tar Heels were simply outmatched late in games against Notre Dame and Texas A&M and that competitive depth is the key to solving that and on Thursday he reference the fact that he hopes this fall to add more depth and allow for them to “roll” players primarily in the trenches on both sides of the football without much drop off, something that is critical to being able to compete with those types of teams moving forward. He mentioned that with the special teams unit, he not only wanted to see improvement, something he talked about a lot back in April, he wants to see this become one of the best in college football because special teams success can be a major advantage for a team. He was also adamant, as he was near the end of spring practice, that finding those that stand out at spot like running back and wide receiver is important because the talent is there, but the stand outs are not just yet. He also mentioned that one of the big tasks for the fall will be settling the backup quarterback job now that Drake Maye has had the spring to learn how to practice and be a college football player.
Des Evans Has a Chance to Establish Himself in the Fall
The last question that was asked of Brown on Thursday was about edge rusher Des Evans and his role on the team and he offered up some interesting comments on the second year standout. First and foremost, Brown says that Evans has added some major weight and is now in the 265-270 lbs. range after coming to campus around 235 lbs.. One other interesting thing that he pointed out was that Evans missed a few weeks last summer when he came to Carolina with a non-COVID illness, setting him back even more considering that he was a summer enrollee for the team a year ago. Brown said the main focus for the defensive line in the fall will be to find guys that consistently beat offensive lineman and get to the quarterback who will have to scheme for them. He said that he thinks that Evans has the ability to be one of those guys and that he is someone that they think can build off of what he showed a year ago and be an every down player.
Players are Not a Fan of the 12 Team College Football Playoff
One of the most interesting notes to come out of Thursday’s presser was that the Tar Heel players are not strong proponents of the 12-team College Football Playoff that has been rumored to be coming to college football sometime in the not-too-distant future. Brown said that some of the main concerns that he heard from his players about it involved the fact that they were going to have to play as many as 17 games in a season and that even with the playoff games if a guy is opting out for big money at the NFL level, that player will opt out anyway. Another interesting point that he said a lot of players brought up was the fact that they want the College Football Playoff to be about those who deserve to play for a championship, not just including teams to have more teams involved. Brown said that he hopes that the players will be taken into account before they make such a major expansion.
Month of June Was a Crazy One
When asked if he had ever seen anything like the month that just took place on the recruiting trail, Brown gave a simple answer to that question: no. Brown said there was no down time during that wild month of June with all of the visits, camps and workouts, but he commended his staff for making the adjustments to the chaos. He also said that he felt the staff “got a lot done” during the month, something that can be witnessed by the four commits that the team has landed within the last month, and things are back to being virtual until what they expect to be another wave of visits in the final week of July.
No Scholarship Expansion Means That Conversations Are Being Had
The hope of many around the sport was that with the extra year of eligibility being granted for every player, regardless of class, following last year’s COVID-impacted season, the NCAA would grant some leeway in the form of extra scholarships. Unfortunately, that will not be the case as Brown talked about on Thursday, saying that he and the staff have been told that the number of scholarships will remain at 85. Brown says that has led to a lot of honest discussions with guys this offseason to get a feel of what they may do following the conclusion of the 2021 season as they try to plan accordingly. Brown said that the conversations have included situations anywhere from transferring if they are put in a certain role to leaving early for the NFL Draft if they are seen as a draftable player.