CHAPEL HILL, NC – North Carolina coach Mac Brown met reporters Monday for his first media availability of the week leading up to Saturday’s game in Georgia State.
The Tar Heels netted 2-0 on the season after escaping 63-61 at the Appalachian State over the weekend, a big win featuring quarterback Drake Maye with a 352-yard throw and five touchdowns. The UNC defense ceded 664 yards during the game and 40 points in the fourth quarter alone.
The trip to Atlanta to face Georgia State will be the second game on the road against a Group of Five competitor in as many weeks for Tar Heels. Here are our running notes from what Brown had to say at the Kenan Football Center…
– Star receiver Josh Downs, Caleb Hood and attacking lineman Spencer Rowland (all lower body injuries) will be evaluated throughout the week and their statuses updated on the Saturday before the game. It’s the beginning of the afternoon.
– Mai (offensive), defensive end Desmond Evans (defensive), kicker Noah Burnett (special teams) were UNC players in the game from the App State win. “He was all over the field and did plays,” Brown said of Evans. “This is the best match he’s played by far.” Brown gave a special mention to receiver Kobe Bayzor in attack, and Noah Taylor and Kimon Roker in defence. “This was a great game-winning play,” Brown said, stopping Taylor and Rucker together to drop App State quarterback Chase Brice away from the end zone in an attempt to turn the Mountaineers two-pointed with nine seconds left.
-Brown said it was fun and important for UNC to win on the road, indicating that the Tar Heels have lost seven straight games in away matches. “When you can win a game like that, when you have a lot of mistakes in the fourth quarter, it’s easier to study. You can be more difficult for them when you win.”
– UNC built a 41-21 lead in the App State, ahead of the Mountaineers’ frantic rally. “We had a chance when we were 20 to finish it, but we didn’t,” Brown said. “We have to mature and grow up.” Brown referred to midfielder Cedric Gray who picked Price late in the third quarter and said, “We can’t celebrate with the fans after an objection.”
– Brown said UNC came out of the App State pleased with how their attack moved the ball (567 total yards) and scored nine of 12 possessions. He used “pending” to praise his rushing streak on attack at the end of the first half culminating in May’s touchdown strike to Bryson Nesbitt with one second remaining. “Offensively we feel really good about what we’re doing and where we’re going.” Brown said four false start penalties for the offense were unsatisfactory.
– The UNC settled for two field goals late in the third quarter, then Maye lost a stumble in the Tar Heels early in the fourth quarter as App State abruptly pulled out within 41-35. “That’s when we let them get back into the game, which we can’t do.”
– “Defensively, we have to fix a lot of things. Brown said of the fourth-quarter issues that escalated in the App State… Brown said the App State’s new offensive coordinator, Kevin Barby, had some new wrinkles that made the UNC defense in his wake.
“I’m not sure last year’s team could have won this game,” Brown said, referring to the two game kicks in the side and three two-point conversions (two Unsuccessful attempts by the App State, 1 successful attempt by UNC) occurred against the Mountaineers. “We have a lot of situations that most people don’t have in a year… and we’ve improved a lot in those areas.”
– UNC has 12 penalties during the App State game. Brown said seven of his penalty kicks went against Carolina’s defense, and four of them spanned long distances for the Mountaineers. “Seven ridiculous punishments. That’s too much.”
“I have complete confidence in Jean Chesek,” Brown said. “He’s a great coach and coordinator.” Brown adds that he’s “never seen a game with so many teachable moments”.
“We are the only Power Five to play in Georgia state,” Brown said. “So we’re the biggest game in Appalachian state history last week, and we’re the biggest game in Georgia state history this week.”
Brown referred to Georgia State coach Sean Elliott’s background as a former App State assistant coach for 13 seasons. He was an App State coach when Sean Clark, the current Mountaineers coach, played there. “We’ll see a very similar team this week,” Brown said. “So we understand that our hands are full.”
– That “seems like an excuse” to blame defensive problems and errors on inexperience in some positions, Brown said. “The good thing is we’re both talented and inexperienced, so these kinds of games (in the App State) make them grow up really fast.”
-Brown cited multiple times of UNC defense being fatigued or exhausted late in an App State game, leading to a track encounter during the fourth quarter. “Maybe we should have replaced more, especially in the back end of some players.”
– “We could have lost that match and it would have been devastating,” Brown said. “I couldn’t screw it up any more. We screwed up everything we could have screwed up and we’re still winning the match.” He said UNC defense should wake up in high school and perform better.
Brown said he believed UNC counted 21 explosive plays by the App State crime. “They’re embarrassed, they’re frustrating,” he said of Cesek and Tar Heel’s defensive assistant coaches. “All you can do is take what you have and try to improve it.”
– In another reference to App State’s two-point attempt to stop UNC with nine seconds remaining, Brown said it “really builds confidence in your ability to win” when the match ends at the goal line.
-Brown mentioned that Sundays are dedicated to accountability around the UNC team, a time when the positive and negative plays from the previous day are dissected and discussed and publicly discussed. “That’s fine and that’s not acceptable,” Brown said, referring to reporters by way of clarification.
– Brown highlights a side arms throw that Maye completed to Paysour in the App State, receiver screen Fake Maye passed before firing a touchdown to Nesbit in the closing seconds of the first half. “These are things that not many people can do at his age. … Show the ability to do all the things he has done, but that is practice. You don’t know how it will translate into a game. … There are some special traits that he has. He just has to keep going. keep getting better and better.”
More Brown in defence. “This defense is going to get better. We are playing in a different defense. We have new coaches. … Nobody will give them credit in the second and third quarters, but we will. So we will show them. … They are not stupid kids, they have a tremendous amount of pride” . Brown said UNC defensive back Cameron Kelly played his best for safety. “It was everywhere.”
– “Defensively, we have to fix a lot of things. App State’s fourth-quarter issues…often missed interventions and a lot of penalties.” We just went to finish. We have to do better than that. “
— Freshman Kobe Baysor, who had a career day with eight hits, has to shoot for 92 yards and downs. “The most important thing about Kobe is that it looked like it had been there before.”
– On the recovery of the injured recipient Antoine Green. “He’s running some. He’s out of his slingshot. He’s definitely getting better and he’s got a good look on his face.”