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July 20, 2015

Jeff Schoettmer

Marquise Williams


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Jeff Schoettmer. Questions for Jeff, please.

Q. Jeff, can you identify one or two of the major problems with the defense last year in your mind and what Coach Chizik has tried to do to fix that, to make your defense better?
JEFF SCHOETTMER: Yeah, I think a lack of leadership and a lack of communication were two of our big issues. When we got down and we were struggling, we didn't have the proper leadership to pick the team back up. I kind of take responsibility for some of that. I'm the middle linebacker. I got to be the quarterback of the defense. That's one of the things I've worked on throughout this spring and summer is, you know, really developing my leadership skills and helping the young guys. When we give up a 14-play drive, they score a touchdown, you have to bring the moral of the guys back up, get a stop. Communication was a huge issue for us. We had a bunch of missed coverages, blown coverages. That was simply due to a lack of communication. Two guys would be on a different page. I can think of the Clemson game, for example. First play of the game, they threw an 80-yard touchdown because one guy thinks he has the tight end and the other guy thinks he does. Simple stuff like that that we can get corrected. Coach Chizik and his staff have done a great job so far. We changed defensive schemes to the base 4-3. Kind of simpling things down. So far it's been an easy transition for us. We had a great summer and we'll continue into fall camp.

Q. How much have you spent today and yesterday watching golf? Talk about your unique relationship with Jordan.
JEFF SCHOETTMER: Any break I've gotten from the media, I've been watching it on my iPhone. He didn't pull it off. But, hey, winning two-out-of-three majors for the year is not bad. We grew up together, kindergarten through high school. Played sports growing up, football, basketball, baseball. Hung out, did things just like any other normal kids. It's been cool to see his success.

Q. Is there anything you can hang your hat on as a defensive unit, any kind of an identity, like we know we do this well at this point?
JEFF SCHOETTMER: Yeah, I mean, over the course of the spring, communication, that's what got better. That's what really got better. Then tackling. We missed way too many tackles last year. The nature of college football nowadays is to get play-makers in space and try to create mismatches. Poor tackling angles and tracking angles is one thing that Chizik associated with that when he came in. Those are the things he pointed out. Poor tracking angling led to missed tackles. This spring we worked on that. Then we would do tackling techniques. We did a bunch of tackling every day of spring practice. We were very physical all spring, more so than we have been in the past three years. I think that will be huge for us.

Q. Jeff, Boston College last year made a phenomenal jump in the defensive stats. They were down. They jumped 105 spaces. You were second from the bottom last year. Can you make that kind of a jump? Do you feel like Coach Chizik has given you the tools and you have the players back?
JEFF SCHOETTMER: Yeah, definitely. That's one of the good things I've seen. Guys haven't lost confidence. Coming off of a year where we were so bad, it's easy for guys to lose confidence and not believe in one another. But throughout the spring, when coach came in, he instilled that confidence in us. He saw talent in us. We do have a bunch of talent. Now we're just putting it together. We have a bunch of guys returning, seven or eight starters on the defensive side of the ball. A bunch of guys returning that did get snaps last year. So the experience over the year, with the help of coach and his new staff, the way they teach, the way they coach us, I think it's really helped us. Yeah, we expect to make a huge jump.

Q. You said as a middle linebacker you put a lot of it on yourself to turn this team around. What can you say about how vocal you've tried to be and the guys on each side of you to help you out in this new base 4-3?
JEFF SCHOETTMER: I've tried to be as vocal as I can. Marquise will attest to it. Over the spring and summer, I've been one of the guys trying to get the whole team ready. Not necessarily just talking to the defense, but going over the offensive side of the ball as well. I think this 2015 North Carolina football team is led by me and Marquise. I think we're going to have to do a great job of leading the team because we do have a lot of young guys that are going to play. They need to be led. We expect to do that. I think we will.

Q. Jeff, your entire defensive coaching staff from a year ago was replaced. That's quite an indictment of them and what happened. How much was coaching a factor, how much was talent a factor? Have you had some bolstering of the talent to feel like with the coaching influx that things can change significantly?
JEFF SCHOETTMER: Yeah, I mean, last year a multitude of things went wrong. We moved past that. We have a new staff. We're not even worried about what happened last year. We can't change it. It happened. The only way to go up from here is up. The new scheme that we're running, I think it fits our personnel better. One of the things we struggled with a lot last year was stopping the run. I think having seven guys in the box is really going to help us, especially with four traditional down linemen. Last year we played with a bandit, which is basically an outside linebacker playing a defensive end position. I don't think we were fit for that. Having four down linemen, three traditional linebackers, is going to be huge for us.

Q. Jeff, all three schools from the triangle made bowls last year. They're usually known for basketball. What does it mean for you, Duke, NC State to all be on the rise? Talk about the rivalries.
JEFF SCHOETTMER: It's great. Making a bowl game is great, but we want to win the ACC championship. That's our goal. We made a bowl game with six wins. That's not something we're proud of. We're definitely happy we went to a bowl game. But our goal is to win the ACC championship. You don't do that by winning six games, you do that by winning 10-plus games. That's what we're looking forward to and focusing on this fall. But the rivalry between Duke and State is great. It's fun competition with them. Last year we split between Duke and State. So, I mean, we're hoping to beat them both this year.

THE MODERATOR: Jeff, thank you. Marquise Williams takes the podium. Questions, please.

Q. The locker room after the bowl game loss was pretty ugly with a lot of talk about how people didn't care or they were selfish. What have you specifically done this summer to fix those issues that were plaguing you?
MARQUISE WILLIAMS: We have done a lot of things. We have came together, coming out of our comfort zone, getting to know different people. One case, one of the guys was like, I never thought you would hang out with this certain player. It's coming out of my comfort zone, getting everybody to come together, being as a family. You see everybody that win national championships, they love each other as a brotherhood and treat each other like family and they always have each other's back.

Q. From your perspective, how loaded is this offense that you get to operate?
MARQUISE WILLIAMS: We are very loaded with all the returning guys. We just have one missing, that's Jack. Ryan Switzer, Mack Hollins, T.J. Logan, Elijah Hood, with so many weapons on offense, I can't be any happier. I've been smiling all day because I have a great opportunity to come out and make some plays with some big-time names.

Q. Jeff talked about how the defense has to get better. You talk about how loaded your offense is. How tough is it when you have to score every time and how much do you need that defense to get better for the team to get better?
MARQUISE WILLIAMS: It's not just about the defense getting better. That's why I come back to family and brotherhood. If the defense is not playing well, they need the offense to pick 'em up. There's been times in the game that the offense wasn't playing well and the defense came and they picked us up. That comes from family. There can be times we don't even score nothing but 14 and the defense can have maybe five stops. That all ties back in into being family and having each other's back, also going to war for each other.

Q. The ACC has many mobile quarterbacks. I don't think anybody runs more than you. You ran 333 times. You have more weapons. You just said that. Will we see you running it less or is it just too much a part of you that you're going to run the ball some?
MARQUISE WILLIAMS: I'm going to run it less. The thing was, going into the season last year, Run Marquise 50 times a game, however many times it was. A lot of people didn't recognize that. There were times that everything was covered down and I had to take off the run. I'd rather sacrifice my body than go third down and five, getting five, having to punt the ball. A lot of people didn't really recognize that. Sometimes I had to sacrifice to get those five yards. It wasn't coach saying, Hey, this running play is designed for you. Some were, but I also had to make choices for myself.

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