John Shoop

Louisville More Explosive

UNC and Louisville are very different teams from when they played each other last year. The Cards made offensive staff changes in the middle of last season, and of course we are all familiar with the total overhaul at UNC. Our staff last year thought the Cards were good on defense. With their struggling offense, we shortened the game and won a low scoring contest. Such a low scoring win often does not appeal to fans and media. These wins, however, are often a great chance to focus on some of the best of what football is all about: strategy. The goal is to win the game. Statistics can be misleading and even meaningless if you do not win football games. Strategy can deliver the win even when the stats tell a not-so-explosive story. The Defensive Coordinator for Louisville is Vance Bedford. Vance and I coached together from 1999 through 2003 with the Chicago Bears. He is an aggressive coach and loves to blitz. Last year I spent more time on protections than I did on designing routes to get guys open during our preparations. With that in mind, it seemed to me that the pressures Louisville had were designed to hit our QB but they wouldn’t hold up as well in the run game. Because I didn’t think we were going to have to score 30 points to...

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Close Encounters At Wake Forest

UNC should be pleased with the game against Elon. A convincing win must feel good to the Carolina community amid all the press about academic scandal. However, I’m sure everyone in the Kenan Center realizes the schedule gets tougher.   Wake Forest’s BB&T Stadium is a tough place to play for a couple of reasons. The locker rooms are unusually small. The fans are extremely close to the bench area, which is tiny, too. In 2007, I coached the offense from the field at Wake Forest. I found sideline and halftime adjustments to be more difficult because of the limited space. And Wake is the type of defense that will necessitate adjustments.   Last year, UNC played Wake at home and as we prepared I remember marveling at the volume of their defense. The Deacs are one of those teams that give coordinators headaches with a blitzing 3-4 defense that schematically looks a lot like Dick LeBeau’s Pittsburgh Steelers.   Because of the variety of looks, we went into the game with a small but tight game plan. The primary ingredient in last year’s plan was to give the ball to Gio Bernard. If Gio gets 30 touches in this game, UNC will be tough to beat. Behind a massive and experienced offensive line, UNC should be able to keep the ball from the Deacons.   Wake’s offense goes...

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A Coach's Perspective

Following football in the Triangle will be hard for me this season.  I’m taking a year off from coaching since being fired by UNC.  I won’t be watching many games on TV but will be getting game films weekly to study.  Watching the more sterilized game film copy may ease some of the pain of not coaching a team.    I have some great friends on the Duke and State coaching staffs that I will be able to root for in a way I never have before, and that will be pleasing. Most importantly, there are many fine young men on the Carolina team in whom I have deeply invested feelings.  I hope great things happen for each of them.  In this column, I will provide a coach’s perspective this football season. Since I’m not calling plays for now, I will, for once, look forward to all your comments.     N.C. State v. Tennessee (Friday night)   In 2010, I had the chance to coach in the Chick-fil-A bowl when UNC played LSU.  We were without 14 starters who were suspended but gave the Tigers all they could handle behind T.J. Yates’ memorable performance. It was a very exciting atmosphere, and the State fans are in for a treat.    This is a great match-up between two similar QBs and two accomplished play callers.  Tyler Bray and Mike Glennon...

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