Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Interview with UNC's John Shoop (Part 2)

CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina offensive coordinator John Shoop answered questions from three news organizations on Tuesday about the loss of quarterback T.J. Yates, and how back-ups Mike Paulus and Camerson Sexton will respond. Here is Part Two of the interview:

Q: How do you get a quarterback who hasn’t been in the regular rotation mentally prepared for what he’s going to face on Saturday?

A: Hopefully, we try to get these guys mentally prepared every week. Whether you (are) one, two, three — and we emphasize — you should be preparing like you’re starting. And we try to emphasize, 2 1/2 quarters into it, you might be in the game. So we try to make everybody, in meetings or on the practice field, leave your comfort zone, that’s for sure. ... And there’s no way to re-create that, whether you’re in a meeting room or on the practice field. There’s something to be said for the experiences you have on the field, and hopefully the time Mike (Paulus) did have, he’ll learn from that as well, and we’ll move forward. But we do our best for every quarterback that sits in the meeting room or every quarterback that takes a rep in practice, to leave their comfort zone. There’s nothing easy in our practice, that’s for sure.

Q: How much does your playbook change, if at all, with T.J. out?

A: We have the same players on the rest of the squad and we still have to get the ball in the hands of people that can score some points for us. We need more production at the tailback spot running the ball, we know that. And I don’t think it changes that much. Obviously, we’ll try to accentuate things that guys do well, but these guys fit what we were doing, both of them do. And I don’t think there will be anything out of the ordinary.

Q: How did they respond to the opportunity?

A: They’re competitive guys, and they’re both anxious for a chance to play. The quarterback position might be different than any other position in football, because we spend an inordinate amount of time together. We probably meet longer than anyone else. We’ve got feelings invested in one another. And you’ve got to take a few moments to grieve at little bit. I was hurt, T.J. was hurt, and I think all the guys were hurt. But at the same time, we’re playing this week, and T.J. is the first one in the meeting room, getting these guys going, and he’s been watching film with them. It’s a fact of life in a football season; it keeps going.

Q: Last year, because of T.J.’s inexperience, you wanted to be on the sideline to look him in the eye. Do you think you’ll move back to the sideline this weekend?

A: I don’t want to. I think I’m better in the press box and I don’t want to. It’s not my plan to, but we’re all allowed to change our minds, and we’ll see by the end of the week.

Q: Will you use T.J. as a coach on the sideline; can he be a help?

A: He’ll be a tremendous help. I think it’s important to remember that coaches coach and player’s play, but it takes a village to make this work. When T.J.’s been out there playing, Cam’s had on the headset; we all watch the same tape, we all sit in the same meetings. And someone sees something, I always say, ‘Don’t tell me on Sunday. If you see it, tell me.’ We have a pretty good rapport, if T.J. sees something and he can help, he’ll help. And I do think all of our guys know, there’s also some nuances to that – when to step in, when to step back and let a guy figure it out for himself. They all kind of get that, but T.J. is going to be a great resource for these guys and me, no doubt.

Q: What do you think of Miami’s defense?

A: Well, they have a new defensive coordinator. ... These guys can be, on third down this year, as complicated as anybody. This is going to be a real challenge. I think this could be as good a defense as we’ve faced since I’ve been here, no doubt – as talented and well-coached. They’re on top of it. And we really have to work our tails off to meet this challenge, and everybody thinks we can.

-- Robbi Pickeral