CHAPEL HILL– What a turnaround for the Tar Heels and what a difference in mood around the Kenan Football Center. With the Tar Heels now riding a three-game win streak into their Saturday showdown at Pittsburgh, the team seems to be riding their “1-0 each week” mantra right into the postseason.
Can anyone stop this re-energized and motivated Carolina team? If you will remember, just three weeks ago, Coach Fedora’s boys were 1-5 and residing in the basement of the ACC.
Senior cornerback Jabari Price says helping the Tar Heels claw their way back to relevancy was one of the toughest things he’s ever had to go through.
“It probably was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I’ve never been 1-5 in my life. It was actually the first time I actually had to deal with something like that. […] He [Coach Fedora] texted me after the Miami loss, and he was like, he didn’t want to team to get complacent with that losing feeling. That was my biggest fear. Everyone thinking that was the norm, and it’s not,” Price says.
The UNC secondary has only given up one passing touchdown the past couple games-a complete turnaround from the struggles encountered earlier in the season. Price says the increased pressure from the defensive line has really helped free him up to make plays.
“That starts with the pressure up front. The quarterbacks haven’t had as much time as they’ve had in the past. That’s basically cutting out the work for the secondary for me, Tre and Brian Walker. That’s basically just cutting out our work for us and having us make plays. Normally in the past we played not to mess up. Now we’re playing to make plays, and it’s really starting to show,” Price says.
Price says he faced the Pitt quarterback his freshman year when he was under center for Rutgers. Although he understands the passing threat, he says it’s hard to get a feel for what Pitt team they will face this weekend.
“We played against this quarterback my true freshman year. He’s a good passer from what I see. I watched tape on him against Duke, and he tore it up. It’s kind of hard to get a good feel for this team. They come out and beat the bricks off Notre Dame and come out and lost to Navy. It’s kind of hard to get a good feel,” Price says.
Sophomore quarterback Marquise Williams says injured senior Bryn Renner is like his big brother and always gives him sound advice for leading the team.
“That’s like my big brother. I look up to him each day. When things aren’t going well, I know I can call him. If I’m down, I know I can call him. He’s like that big brother figure. […] He’s always going to be there for me,” Williams says.
Williams says he thinks Pitt’s big upset win over Notre Dame Saturday will help Carolina focus on the tough task at hand. Williams says he is relishing the opportunity to go on the road for the showdown.
“They’re going to be pumped and ready to go. That’s a good football team they beat in Notre Dame. We’re going to be ready to go, too. I just can’t wait for the showdown on Saturday,” Williams says.