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Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Q&A with UNC OC Shoop: Part II

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here's the second half of my interview with UNC offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach John Shoop:

What's the main focus for summer camp going to be for you guys?

 
  Sean Meyers/Icon SMI
  John Shoop knows going from eight wins to 10 is no small task.

JS: The first dozen to 15 practices will be a lot like our spring was. We're going to keep trying to get better at football. It's about us. We're focusing on our offense. Then we're going to start the second half of summer camp looking at our schedule. We spend periods on different teams that appear on our schedule, and we'll start working on Citadel as well.

Things that are really important to our offense are to keep getting great at all the fundamentals and be a physical, physical, running football team. Our defense, it's going to war every single day against those guys. I think we've gotten really good at conflict of assignment, and play-action pass. Guys want to keep sharpening that image. They like the image of 'Hey if you're stopping the run, we've got a tool to use. You stop this, we'll do that.' I think our guys are starting to take pride in knowing what the companion plays are. We want to keep doing that and talking situation football.

How much better do you think the running game could be? It wasn't bad last year, but it seems like it could be better still.

JS: It can be a lot better. Two of the guys we're excited about are our guards. Jonathan Cooper and Alan Pelc can be really strong. We ask our guards to do a lot. They're pulling, doing about every block imaginable. We think these are two guys that can really help. Our tailbacks all know, ball protection, ball security is the most important thing. Our tailbacks can have all the talent in the world, but we have worked and drilled and more than any team I've been a part of, talked about ball security. If we could hang onto the ball, that could be another five or six carries a game. I think our guys have and are going to continue to take a great deal of pride in that. Somebody is going to have to beat us. There's not going to be any charity. That's the attitude we're taking.

I think I'm underestimating you guys. I think you're going to be better. I feel like I'm not giving you guys enough credit because I don't know about the receivers ...

JS: No, no, let's under-promise and over-deliver.

I feel like this is the harder step. Not to take anything away from doubling the amount of wins from four to eight -- that was a huge accomplishment last year. But it seems like it's even harder to go from eight to 10 wins.

JS: Well, there's no doubt that that slope gets a lot steeper, a lot steeper, but we've got a competitive bunch of guys, we really do. We've got some talented guys, but man, we've got some competitive guys I believe will play with some grit. Hopefully that will serve us well.

Endurance goes a lot of different ways. Endurance can be on a play, finishing a play, finishing a game, but endurance is also finishing a season. We need to fight through that last third of the season. We've got to have great endurance in this season, which maybe showed up a little bit last year. That comes from depth and a lot of things, but we've got some guys with some grit and endurance who will fight every game. That's for sure.

You guys are in a tough division, too. Everyone is getting better.

JS: Yeah, what, did we have 10 teams go to a bowl game last year? People were talking about the ACC -- 10 teams went to a bowl game! It was like the NFL. You could win every week, you could lose every week.

Yeah, I think I told you when I was down there this spring, you guys played the most exciting bowl game. It would have been better if you would have won, obviously, but it was a hell of a game.

JS: It was. Butch [Davis] has said it: We're not sitting here saying everything happens for a reason, but you can't grow unless you hit some hard times. There's some substance to the way coach Davis is building this program, and some substance to some of the things we're growing through. I think our guys learned from that game, that's for sure.