UNC football coach Mack Brown joined Ron Stutts this morning for “Mondays with Mack,” presented by Chapel Hill Tire. Read his entire interview below:
Ladies and gentlemen, we have coach Mack Brown here and Mack, I know that we’ve talked before but I just want to say for the record, just for the radio folks here, I want to publicly welcome you back. We’re glad you’ve returned to Chapel Hill, and we’re so happy that you’re back at Carolina.
Well thank you, Ron. Sally and I are so happy. We thought we would be 10 months ago when we took the job, but you never know for sure, but as we look back, we’ve had a blast.
It’s been so much fun to get to know the people that we didn’t know in Chapel Hill and renew a bunch of old friendships, many of which we’ve kept over the years. But it’s great to be back. We’re excited about Saturday.
You’ve been out of coaching for a few years, analyzing games on TV with ESPN, as we all know. And you’ve said before that you think you’re a better coach now than before. In what way?
Ron, I have more energy back because going 30 straight years as a head coach kind of beats you down a little bit and you don’t even realize it, but you get tired. So I had five years to go look at new ideas and interviewed new young coaches, the coordinators, the head coaches, see the new schemes and things that were different.
I watched a lot of practices in the spring and the fall, so I just felt like I had a lot more information from the outside. It gave me new fresh energy and ideas, and and it really helped me hire a staff in a very short period of time because of the early signing date.
Now, you talked about being worn down just a moment ago, but something else struck me that you said during the preseason that you have a new way of approaching things so you don’t wear your players down before the season even starts. Explain that, if you would.
When we were at Texas, it was so hot and we kept guys out all the time in the sun and they were so tired that when we started games, I thought they were out of shape, but actually they were tired.
These kids are in shape now. They run year-round; they run in the heat; they’re like Olympians with their training; they get very few days off. So, it’s more important for us to make sure that they’re going to be in great condition. Your trainers and your strength coaches assure you of that. But it’s more important for us that they also have fresh legs and fewer guys get hurt when you are fresh.
So we’ve actually been practicing outside to get enough heat, to get acclimated to the heat, And then we go inside for the last 45 minutes or so to get our team periods done. And we feel like it’s really affected.
If you had to pick one thing about the preseason, what are you happy about that you got accomplished?
I’m happy that the guys have given us everything they’ve got. We ask them for effort, they’ve given it to us, we ask them to be on time and to stay out of trouble and do things right and all of the above has happened with us and that’s why I’m excited for them on Saturday.
This isn’t about my past, it’s not about their past anymore. It’s about the now and the now is how we play on Saturday against South Carolina.
Now, everybody’s been talking about the quarterback situation, and you announced earlier that your true freshman Sam Howell has been working with the blue team. Update us on that status. What’s going on at QB?
Sam’s done a good job. He was here this spring, so he came in January. He had an outstanding high school career. We had Cade Fortin here and Jace Ruder, who both played a little bit last year, but they didn’t play in four games so they were redshirted.
So it was unusual. A unique situation, Ron, that we had three guys that were basically freshmen without any experience at quarterback. We named Sam as the starter, Jace Ruder and Cade Fortin were competing for the backup spot. Cade decided to leave, because he wanted to start somewhere else. And you understand that with quarterbacks.
Jace is fighting now to compete and do well, and I’m sure we’re going to need both of these guys because they’re both so young. We’re really more concerned about the third spot now than the second. So, we feel like we’re in good shape, but we’ve got to continue to work on different guys for that third spot just in case we need it.
You know, there’s been so much expectation, so much high expectation about this Carolina football season. So many people are so excited that you’re back. You open up against South Carolina, a tough opponent to start the season with. What concerns you most about that South Carolina game on Saturday? Not so much about Carolina, but what concerns you most about your team going into this game in Charlotte?
I think that the biggest thing, Ron, is our confidence. This team in the past has lost some games in the fourth quarter, and they need some success in the fourth quarter. So, if you could script it, you’d want the game to be really close, you’d want it to come down to the end and we win late and that really helps them moving forward because our schedule is heavy on the top end.
You’ve got Miami next week and in fact we only have 500 tickets left for the Miami game, so that’s great. That’ll be a sell out at home. And then we go to Wake Forest. We’ve got Appalachian State, who’s a great team coming in here and then we play Clemson. So the first five games are really difficult.
Well, one last question for you, coach. What do you need from us as Carolina fans and the Chapel Hill community? What can we do to help you build this North Carolina football program for the long haul? I know you and your people on the staff are taking care of everything on your end. What can we do here on our side?
Ron, it’s a great question and thank you for asking. The thing that we want is, be in the stadium. Support these young guys cause they need support. They need to know that you care about them, win or lose. If they’re going to give us their best, that’s all we can ask. And I’ve told them that when we get through Saturday, I want your best. If your best wasn’t good enough to win, we’ll get ready for Miami.
But I think it’s going to be, if you play your best, and so we need the fans to do the same. Show your support, be positive. When you see a young man out there and talk about Carolina football for him and get in those seats and get in those seats 30 minutes early. So when the kids are leaving the field before the game, after flex, they’ll know that you’re here and cheering for them and we’ll get this thing fixed.
I know that when football players talk about this, they say it’s time to roll around in the grass and hit somebody in a different colored uniform, and you’ve got to be feeling good about the beginning of the season after all this build up to it.
Yes, very definitely. You sit there and watch Miami and Florida last weekend and you try to stay up and watch some Hawaii-Arizona, and it just gets your blood flowing and gets your heart racing. Makes you excited about getting started because the kids are tired of seeing the same schemes. They’re tired of hitting each other, and they’re ready to go compete against somebody else and see if we’re any good.
Well coach, we appreciate you being with us this morning. Good luck on Saturday, and we’ll be following you very closely all season long and certainly look forward to talking to you each week here on Mondays with Mack.
Thanks, Ron. It’s going to be great. Thanks for having me on. And I can’t wait for this game this weekend, but also Miami eight o’clock game at night. The national TV, both of the opening games, and it should be a tremendous atmosphere when we get back here next week.
Everybody get there early and be loud.
Yes sir. 30 minutes early. That’s what we’re asking.