JP On Improvement, Smith, Wolfolk & Defending Duke

Andrew Jones, Publisher
Tar Heel Illustrated

CHAPEL HILL – UNC defensive coordinator John Papuchis met with the media following Wednesday’s practice at Kenan Stadium to discuss his unit’s improvement in the ODU game and looking ahead at how it might approach Duke’s multi-faceted offense this weekend.

Here is some of what JP had to say:


On if he saw enough improvement in the ODU game to believe the group is now headed in the right direction…

“We made improvements. At the need of our day, one of our things in evaluating as coaches, we should be a better football team week 12 than we were in week 1. And if we’re practicing the way we need to practice and we’re coaching and teaching the way we need to teach we should see improvement. The fact that we got better from week two to week three is obviously something we’re looking for. Obviously, we needed to improve because of the way we played in that second game. So we need to continue to get better and this week needs to be better than last week, and that’s gotta be the truth going forward every week.”


On having a mix of veterans and young guys in the secondary and the trust the staff has on that group dictating how they use the front seven…

“It’s a huge part of it. Going in, there were some guys that we knew a lot and there were some guys that were still figuring it out. I have a much better feel of who can do what at this point. You think you know things coming out of camp, but you don’t always know everything until you see it in live bullets. I think the three games have made a good evaluation, and that can help us make better decisions going forward.”


On having Myles Wolfolk back after missing so much time because of a broken foot…

“It was huge. He got hurt at around Memorial Day and he missed all of summer (workouts) and all of fall camp, so having him back was a huge shot in the arm because coming out of spring football he was our starting nickel. Not having him hurt, but having him back, you saw his impact on the first series of his college career he got an interception. So I was happy for him, he’s worked really hard to get back and you could see that on Saturday.


On the effect on the depth chart in the secondary now that Wolfolk is back…

“Myles still has been full speed for only a week and a half, two weeks, so we’ve got to take things relatively slow with him and see what he can handle going forward because he hasn’t been in a full-game scenario. But, he’s certainly going to play and he’s going to be a factor in that nickel spot.”


On Duke QB Daniel Jones, who had success running and passing versus the Tar Heels last season, and the challenge facing him this weekend…

“I thought he was really good a year ago. I thought he was one of the better quarterbacks we played on the year. He was a true dual threat guy who ran the ball well when he had his opportunities to do it and he also threw the ball well from the pocket. We have a ton of respect for him, and you can see with a year of experience and a full spring and a full fall camp he’s gotten even better and is going to be a big challenge for us. We think really highly of him.”


On that Duke also has multiple running backs and plenty of speed, if this is the most balanced attack they’ve faced to this point…

“No question. It is in terms of multiple guys on the offense being real threats. From a running back perspective, they have two backs probably as good as any we’ll see all year. They’re both really good, they’ve got a good group of receivers and they’ve got a good quarterback, and they also have a really tough, physical offensive line. From a whole overall standpoint, it might be the best team that we’ve seen.”


On how Jonathan Smith has adapted to being the starting middle linebacker…

“We’re continually rotating those guys at backer. John did a really nice job in his first start, he’s going to play again this week. But he’s not the only guy that’s going to play. Duke has averaged close to 100 plays in all of their games, so we’re not going to be able to just play two or three guys throughout the course of the game and feel like we’re going to be where we want to be in the fourth quarter. There’s a lot of guys that are going to play and John will be one of them.”

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