CHAPEL HILL– The Tar Heel football team capped off 2013 in style with a 39-17 victory against Cincinnati to claim the Belk Bowl championship and with it, a 7-6 winning season.
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But it’s the way Carolina finished down the stretch, pulling itself out of a 1-5 hole by winning six of its final seven contests that paints a pretty picture for the Head Coach Larry Fedora-led future.
Coach Fedora says the bevy of freshmen playmakers emboldens his optimistic outlook on the coming seasons.
“We’re really excited about the future. We’ve got some young kids like Ryan [Switzer] and T.J. [Logan], Mikey Bart, Brian Walker, Desmond Lawrence, Lucas Crowley and Bug Howard. These are all guys that are true freshmen, not counting the redshirt freshmen that played for us this year also. I’m excited about the future. We’re going in the right direction. Recruiting is going extremely well,” Coach Fedora says.
Coach Fedora says every win is critical to the future success of the program, especially in the recruiting department. Bowl championships bring national attention to the Tar Heels.
“Winning is always very important, believe me. Finishing 7-6 was critical. Not only that, for this football team starting 1-5, and nobody thought we would be sitting here today, at least no one outside our locker room. Those kids just kept believing and playing hard, and they got it done,” Coach Fedora says.
The extra emphasis placed on special teams in 2013 paid off in a big way, and the momentum should carry over to 2014. With the superb play of the punt return and coverage units, spearheaded by the record-breaking legs of Ryan Switzer and Tommy Hibbard, the Tar Heels landed right near the top of the ACC in special teams.
Coach Fedora says his players take an immense amount of pride in the third phase of the game.
“I think we gave up one return this year for about 12 or 13 yards, and they were crushed when that happened. We missed a tackle. Let me tell you, these guys take a lot of pride in our special teams,” Coach Fedora says.
Sophomore quarterback Marquise Williams has already set a pretty lofty goal for 2014. And it involves hoisting a crystal ball in a return trip to Charlotte.
“We’re going to have some fun. We’re going to come back and try to get the ACC Championship next year. That’s my goal. I already wrote it down as being one of my goals in the locker room for next year. I’m ready to go,” Williams says.
Coach Fedora isn’t shying away from bold proclamations either. He says the entire state can feel the building excitement around Tar Heel football.
“There’s a tremendous positive buzz around the state of North Carolina about the Tar Heels. Good things are coming in the future,” Coach Fedora says.
Tar Heel fans can mark their calendars now. The 2014 Tar Heel football season kicks off Aug. 30 with a home game against the Liberty Flames.