posted 8 years ago
This past spring, first-year North Carolina defensive coordinator Everett Withers wrote down specific goals for his defense. At the top of the list was leading the nation in pass defense.
For now, the Tar Heels will have to settle for leading the nation with 12 interceptions.
North Carolina's defense has been much more effective creating turnovers this season, but will need more from the secondary heading into Saturday's game against Notre Dame and steadily-improving quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who hasn't thrown an interception in the past two games.
"This will be the biggest test that they've faced in the passing game because the offensive line at Notre Dame does a great job of protection, they do a good job of keeping tight ends and backs in at times, they don't let you overlook the protections and they've got talented wide receivers," North Carolina coach Butch Davis said. " Clausen is throwing the ball very well. They're very knowledgeable in the passing game. So this will be probably the biggest test from a pass perspective that our secondary has faced."
Goddard said the staff's preparation has paid dividends on Saturdays.
"I feel very confident in knowing their tendencies and what they're going to do in a certain situation," he said. "The way coach Withers prepares us, whether we're watching film, or extra film studies or tip sheets, I go out there confident and prepared each week."
Despite their early success, Withers said he is expecting more from his group in the second half of the season. After all, they only rank 58th in the nation in pass defense.
"No. 1 in interceptions doesn't get us No. 1 in pass defense," Withers said. "We've got goals to get. That's what we're shooting for. We've got 'em written down, that's what we want to do."