“Well, I guess we answered the question whether these guys would bounce back or not and do it in a short week. Again, I think it says a lot about who the 2012 Tar Heel football team is and who they are and the adversity they’ve overcome this year and the willingness to keep working hard in practice and do everything that we ask. It was a total team effort tonight and they deserved every bit of it.”
How do you explain a 55-point turnaround on defense from last Saturday to tonight?
“I think our defense played exceptional tonight and I think they were hurt by what happened last week and they’ve got a lot of pride. We didn’t do anything special. We just practiced the way we normally practice and only had a couple days to do it. We were only in pads one day and they knew what had to be done. It wasn’t going to be physical at this point in the season. It was going to be mental and I think our defensive staff did a great job getting those guys back.”
It seemed like the goal-line stand late in the third quarter was a game changer.
“I think we had a couple of them didn’t we? A couple of them we stopped them down there and I think after that goal-line stand in the third quarter, the offense went 98 [yards] and scored and that was probably the dagger right there. I got to give it to the defense. I think they held them to 2-of-15 on third downs. They had a pick for a touchdown. They did everything we expected them and asked them to do in this game.”
On Quinshad Davis:
“He had tremendous effort and we got a lot of perimeter screens for him that were there off a blitz and Bryn [Renner] did a nice job with those and recognized it and got the ball out to him and those guys did a great job of blocking in front of him. The kid is going to be a really good football player. He’s not even close to reaching his potential yet.”
It is pretty nice to have a quarterback as precise as Bryn Renner was tonight, isn’t it?
“Yeah it is. The bad thing about it is we only got one game left and he’s probably as confident as he’s been in the offense the last three weeks. He feels very comfortable and we’re just running out of time.”
What did you see this week from the defense that showed you they would bounce back?
“I guess the thing that you saw was that they practiced just like we practice every week, because I was really worried about them mentally, but when you saw the way they bounced around in practice and you saw their attitudes and the look in their eyes, they had no down look. Now Sunday when they came in, yeah they had that look in their eye, but they’re supposed to. They’re supposed to hurt, but it was ‘okay we don’t have time to mess with it. We’ve got two days to get ready. Let’s roll’ and every one of them was like, ‘alright let’s go’ and that’s what they did.”
Was the Tre Boston interception something the defense needed for their confidence?
“I think the team needed something like that. We talk about creating turnovers and that’s what they did. We felt like if they kept throwing it up like the way they were throwing it up – the one touchdown they had before that the guy is just running out of bounds and just throws it back across the middle of the field – nine times out of ten you’re going to pick that ball and they happened to get a touchdown, so that was there’s. From that point on we talked about, ‘hey he’s going to throw up a ball for us’ and then Tre, once he got it, what he did afterwards, that was his. He went and got the end zone.”
How big was the defensive line tonight?
“Huge. If we didn’t win up front and let me tell you – they got a good offensive line. Those guys are big up there. They’re physical. Our defensive line, we knew we had to win up front and that’s what we did today. We had four sacks.”
What have you seen from Quinshad Davis’ development?
“He’s just maturing. He’s what? 18 years old? He gets better each week. He’s brimming with confidence right now. He really feels good about what he’s doing. He expects to make plays now. He learned a lesson last week. He took a screen, got tackled on the one-yard line. I didn’t pat him on the back after that one then he realized, ‘you know what. I got to get in the end-zone.’ He’s getting better each week.”
Did they do anything special to stop Gio Bernard?
“No I don’t think so. They ran a lot of cover-zero blitzes against us. A lot. The checks that we had where we were going to throw the ball out to the outside on some perimeter screens when they were doing that and it paid off for us in a lot of situations. That’s why Quinshad had so many catches and that took the running game out of it, because they were going to outnumber us in the running game. We knew we would throw it if they did that and, again, we’ve always said in this offense we’re going to take what the defense gives us and they were giving us the throws so were going to take them. We don’t care how we win as long as we win.”
How confident were you that the defense would step up and make the goal-line stands?
“How confident was I that they were going to make that goal-line stand? I wouldn’t say I was confident. I would say I was excited that they did do it. You don’t expect goal-line stands like that, especially two in one game. When you get down there on the one-yard line or the two-yard line from an offensive standpoint you’re expecting to get the ball in, so that was huge for our defense. A big shot of confidence for our team just the way the offense was pulling for the defense also. That was big. It was a total team effort. You played well offensively. You played well on defense and then you made a big play in the special teams.”
Did holding them to a field goal after the fumbled punt start the defensive confidence?
“I think so. That was huge right there in my opinion. I think Gio felt a lot better after that too because he was hurting. He was hurting for the team putting the ball on the ground, but I think it gave everybody a lot of confidence.”
You have one game left with this group of seniors who could have gone elsewhere and played. How will you remember this group?
“I’d say a pretty special group the way that the entire university needs to remember them, because they could have left, but they loved this university, they loved their teammates, they wanted to be a part of what’s happening now and I couldn’t be more proud of those kids and that’s why we’ll have a great crowd at Kenan Stadium next week for senior night.”
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