Phil Longo offers QB update, talks philosophy and why he came to Carolina

Brant Wilkerson-New

Carolina offensive coordinator Phil Longo spoke with the media on Monday, the first time he'd been available since the start of training camp.

Much of the conversation focused on the quarterback battle, but Longo touched on a number of topics during his 12+ minute question and answer session. Here are the highlights:

On whether any of the quarterbacks have separated themselves...

"To be honest with you, I would have hoped, maybe, we were starting to have a little bit of a pecking order but they’re competing their tails off right now. We’ve got a three-man race for the key spot; that’s why you see everybody getting even reps, and I like where we are in Day 10, progress-wise, for all three quarterbacks."

On similarities and differences in Cade Fortin, Sam Howell and Jace Ruder...

"The similarities are obviously how intelligent they are, how they manage it. I think right now, leadership-wise, they’re all on the same page. Cade Fortin is probably our best pure-passer, if you want me to differentiate. Jace Ruder might be the best overall athlete of the three and Sam may be the best combination of the two; maybe not as pure as a passer as Cade or as much of a runner as Jace, but he can do a little of both."

On how a starting quarterback separates himself...

"Of course you want them to execute the offense, you want them to make good decisions, you want them to grip and rip the football quickly … I think our quarterbacks are doing that. This is a very, very intelligent room that I have; I’m very fortunate. All three guys are really bright, they grasp the offense, they understand it, and I think ultimately, the thing that will separate one from the others will be securing the football and it’ll be the leadership piece."

On how quarterbacks are getting enough attention while splitting reps...

"There’s actually a lot of time in camp, we’re not in school right now. We have a lot of meeting time, we have a lot of walkthrough time … all three quarterbacks are different, and you want to address their needs or the issues that they have separately. We’ll meet as a quarterback group, then I’ll meet with each one of them individually, and we’ll address that as if they were the starter."

On what he saw in Saturday's scrimmage...

“In effect, we ran a lot of plays that maybe we weren’t executing as well some others in an attempt to polish them up and make those corrections. We got a lot accomplished in the first scrimmage, and I think the same holds true the three quarterbacks.”

On the perception that his offense will be pass- or run-heavy...

"The words ‘Air Raid’ really refer to our philosophy when we throw it. We want the running game to be as prolific and efficient as the passing game. We are excited about the depth we have in the running back room, we want to keep that depth healthy and we plan on using all the guys we have."


On how his teams at Ole Miss and Sam Houston State were effective in the red zone...

"I think what makes a good team anywhere is talent, and we do have some. From a staff standpoint, we've got to make sure our best talent is touching the football when we get down to the red zone. Scheme is a part of it, physicality is a huge part of it in the red zone, but at the end of the day, you have a much better chance at getting the ball in the end zone if your best players are touching the football."

On why he left Ole Miss to come to Carolina...

"I think on the personal side, the quality of life for your family doesn’t get much better than Chapel Hill and just the state of North Carolina in general. That sounds like rhetoric, but it’s not; that was a huge attraction coming here. The second thing is, the resources here to win have always been here and they’re here now and it’s going to be our job to take those resources to make the most of it.

"The biggest reason, my wife and I flew out here to meet with Mack Brown and Sally Brown and after 48 hours with Mack Brown, you don’t tell that man, ‘No.’ I think if I was really being honest, Mack Brown is the number one reason I came to North Carolina."

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