ACC: Keith Gilmore

Q&A: North Carolina DE Kareem Martin

November, 1, 2013
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As he approaches what is possibly the final month of his North Carolina career, Kareem Martin is not thinking about his long-term future. The defensive end is focused on extending his season with the Tar Heels. He hopes to build off his two-sack performance from last Saturday's victory over Boston College and help UNC make a late run to a bowl game, something the Tar Heels were unable to do last year.

ESPN.com caught up with Martin this week to chat about his season as the 2-5 Tar Heels get ready to head to rival NC State.

Obviously it wasn't the easiest month for you guys going into this past weekend against Boston College, but to see everything come together and channel all of your frustrations into that game and come up away with the win you guys did, what kind of payoff was that for you guys?

Kareem Martin: It was a big payoff, because we had been working hard playing every game. To finally get the win against Boston College, it really just shows how much hard work pays off and hopefully we can take that momentum once we take the field again.

[+] EnlargeKareem Martin
Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY SportsThe North Carolina-NC State rivalry has Kareem Martin's full attention this week.
What's been working for you specifically? You've had sacks in three straight games now. Do you feel different? Are you seeing things differently?

KM: A little bit of everything. More film study and just getting back to fundamentals. During the season, a lot of times, you lose a lot of your techniques that you work on in training camp because you're not working on them as much as you were in camp. I tried to focus on that and get my technique back, just tried to get that back and just extra film study.

What's the NC State rivalry mean to you?

KM: It means a lot. Last year it was a really great feeling being able to get a win against them, and every time we play them we know they're giving their best shot; they're getting our best. No matter what's going on in that season, I feel like those games mean so much around the Triangle and around the state and that everybody wants to play on our schedule.

This is probably the most stability you've had from a staff standpoint in your time here. How much easier has that made it on you?

KM: It helps out a whole lot. I had time to learn the full defense, seeing the things I can do and the players and skills we have that comes with the staff being in its second year with the defense. I know a lot more than what I did last year and I know what freedoms and what risks I should take. Having [defensive line] coach [Keith] Gilmore come in this year, he's really just developing my game and teaching different things to elevate my game.

I know fans and media can look ahead at the schedule and see things maybe start to open up for you guys. It was a very front-loaded schedule. From your perspective, how do you approach this final month? You obviously want to go bowling and have a thin margin of error, but do you look ahead at the opponents and say, If we can win four of these next five or whatever it may be, we're going to be where we want to be at the end of the year?

KM: You can't look ahead. Once you start looking ahead, that's when the team that week can beat you. What we talk about is being 1-0 every week, and our focus is going against NC State. By doing that, playing the game that's on our schedule, it'll keep guys focused and not looking at: 'Who do we play two weeks from now? That looks like a game we can win.' But once you focus on this one game, that's when everything else will fall into place.

Has it kind of dawned on you yet that these are going to be your final games in a North Carolina uniform? What are your overall thoughts as you see your name pop up on all these different draft boards and what not?

KM: Yeah, I'm definitely starting to feel it. Luckily the back-half of our schedule has a lot of home games, so we're coming back here and playing at home a lot, so that's definitely a positive. And hopefully we'll get a bowl game and a great season so I can end my UNC career here on a positive note. As far as the draft boards and things like that, I can't look ahead to that because that's not the goal right now. The goal is to win every week and continue to perform, and if I continue the way I have been, everything will fall into place.

UNC hires Ron West, tweaks staff

February, 14, 2013
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North Carolina coach Larry Fedora has hired Ron West as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, the school announced on Thursday. West, who coached previously with Fedora at Baylor and with defensive coaches Vic Koenning and Dan Disch at Illinois, comes to Chapel Hill after a year at Arizona State where he served as the Sun Devils’ co-defensive coordinator.

“Ron is familiar with our staff and he brings a great deal of success and experience from his previous coaching stops,” Fedora said in a prepared statement. “He’s an excellent teacher of defensive fundamentals who gets the most out of his players. His knowledge of the ACC and ability to recruit in this area of the country will help our program.”

Fedora also named Randy Jordan as the special teams coordinator and changed responsibilities among Carolina’s defensive assistants.

Koenning, who also worked with West at Clemson (2005-08), will continue in his role as UNC’s associate head coach for defense, but will now coach the safeties. Disch continues as the defensive coordinator and will coach cornerbacks. Keith Gilmore was hired last week as the defensive line coach. All four defensive coaches have worked together at some point in their careers.

A 1979 Clemson graduate, West was an assistant coach for 10 seasons (1999-2008) with the Tigers where he worked with Koenning from 2005-08. Clemson won 76 games and played in nine bowl games during his tenure.

To see the full release, click here.

UNC hires defensive line coach

February, 5, 2013
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Keith Gilmore, who spent the past four seasons at Illinois, has been hired as North Carolina’s defensive line coach, the school announced Tuesday.

Gilmore has ties with current UNC defensive coaches Vic Koenning and Dan Disch. Gilmore and Koenning worked together during Koenning’s two seasons as the Illini defensive coordinator in 2010-11. Gilmore and Disch were on the Illinois defensive staff in 2009 and 2010.

“Keith is a knowledgeable defensive line coach who brings a wealth of experience at the collegiate level to Chapel Hill,” coach Larry Fedora said in a prepared statement. “He has previous experience with our defensive coaches and I believe he is a great fit for us. He does an exceptional job of building relationships and getting the most out of his players.”

You can read the full release here.

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