Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

North Carolina Tar Heels

Jeremiah Gemmel

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jeremiah.

Q. Your defense obviously got better as the year went along, especially in the bowl game. Still when you finished you were dead last in the red zone. You're the leader of the defense. What do you have to do to force more field goals or get turnovers in the red zone this year?

JEREMIAH GEMMEL: I think it's having fresher bodies on the defensive line. I mean, the guys can play up front, they can play 70, 80 snaps, but you don't want a Ray Vohasek or Myles Murphy playing 70, 80 snaps a game.

And coming from last season to this season, I think that's where we made a huge jump, not just on the D-line, but everywhere on the defense. We're going to be able to roll guys with the second team every other series if we really need to. I think that's going to help in the red zone and early on the drive.

Q. You were named team captain last year. That seems like a great honor and a great responsibility.

JEREMIAH GEMMEL: Absolutely. Coming from the coaches and coming from the players, I worked my butt off to see them look at me and look at me as a captain, I take full pride in that.

Q. On the other side of things, looking at Sam in practice, what he's able to do, we know from the outside looking in what people say about his game, the expectations. What can you say about what you've seen?

JEREMIAH GEMMEL: I can just say, I mean, Sam is a workaholic. He's getting everybody on the offensive side better, but also on the defensive side. When we're doing POPs, you're not going to find many people who can dot or thread the needle in practice like Sam Howell.

Some of the guys get frustrated, like when he gets a ball or hits a good ball on 'em. I just pull like a young corner or nickel to the sideline, not every ball is going to be placed perfectly like that. The balls you're seeing from Sam Howell in practice, not every quarterback in the ACC can throw like that.

Him helping us in practice, Saturdays, Friday night, whatever, when you're going against Sam Howell in practice, that's going to get you ready for your games on Saturday.

Q. Considering that last year at this time we weren't even sure if there was going to be a season, let alone how it was going to go, how much different is it preparing for this season compared to where you were at this time last year?

JEREMIAH GEMMEL: Just having a lot more time with the team. Obviously we didn't have spring ball last year. We're actually going into a camp this summer. We're actually going into a fall camp, staying in a hotel for two weeks, we're going hard for two weeks.

Last year we said we had camp, but we weren't just sitting around, but I'm saying we weren't in a camp. I feel like staying in a hotel brings the team closer together right before rolling into a season.

I got able to learn a lot more about players, like watching them through spring. I didn't take as many snaps in the spring because I'm trying to save my legs a little bit more. I think I learned more about the defensive guys on the side because I can learn what a guy is doing while I'm in there with him. It's totally different when you're standing back on the sideline and you can watch all 11 guys playing.

Q. Obviously you're the quarterback on the defense. Talk about your defensive backs and who you've seen that stood out to you?

JEREMIAH GEMMEL: I mean, Tony Grimes, Storm Duck, Kyler McMichael, Dae-Dea Hollins, Obi Egbuna. That's a good problem to have in our corner room that I don't think we've had ever since I've been here. We got corners that we can rotate all around the field.

That's something big in our defense. I mean, we leave our corners on the island a lot. When they're running on go balls, they come back tired, it's so easy for Storm Duck or Kyler McMichael to pop in there and give you 100%. There's no level drop.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
110514-2-1001 2021-07-22 21:57:00 GMT

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