CHAPEL HILL – We’re on the eve of one of the biggest Tar Heel football games in recent memory. Yes, the interstate battle against Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina squad commences tomorrow on ESPN at 6 p.m.
And despite very few pundits giving North Carolina much of a chance against the top ten ranked SEC school to the south, senior offensive tackle James Hurst says the Tar Heels are ready to turn some heads on Thursday.
“We understand what’s at stake. We understand how big of an opportunity we have and what kind of stage we are going to be on. It’s increased the excitement level. All the guys are ready for this game, they want to show out on the national stage,” Hurst said.
The bulk of the pressure of stopping the dynamic South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will be put on Hurst’s shoulders, and he says he is prepared for the challenge.
“It’s definitely a lot of film study. I definitely look at him as much as I can. I look on their defense as much as I can, trying to get any tips or anything like that so I can give myself the mental edge,” Hurst said.
On the other end of the experience spectrum, unheralded red shirt freshman Jon Heck will be starting alongside the veteran Hurst on the offensive line. The understandably nervous Heck says he is looking to stay focused and not panic in his first start for the Tar Heels.
And how will young Jon Heck and his Carolina teammates handle the Richter-scale registering noise from the 80,000+ ravenous South Carolina fans packed into Williams-Brice Stadium? Heck says the Tar Heels have a plan in place.
“They blast the music out here at practice. That’s going to be a big factor, especially when we are calling plays at the line. I’m going to have to hold hands with my guard in case I can’t hear the snap count from the center and just stay focused,” Heck said.
Heck says he senses his team is fired up and ready for this statement game. He says Carolina must beat a team of this caliber to prove they belong at the upper echelons of the college game.
“I think the statement we’re trying to make is that we can hang with these top ten teams and that we are one of the best teams in the country,” Heck said.