CHAPEL HILL– It’s time to suit it up and go play some football.
In what appears to be a pivotal game for the 4-5 Tar Heels and the 5-4 Pittsburgh Panthers, UNC will be hoping to emerge victorious with a huge road win before returning to Chapel Hill to finish out the regular season.
The future is now for Carolina. Of UNC’s 32 touchdowns this season, a remarkable 24 have been scored by either true freshmen or sophomores.
And one of those youthful scores was tacked on by freshman defensive back Dominique Green last Saturday against Virginia. Green says his “pick six” definitely gave him a lot of confidence in himself and his defensive teammates.
“It gave me a lot of confidence. It was a good play, so after seeing that the tight end was going to stop, and I felt like the quarterback was going to squeeze it there so I just tried to bait the quarterback, and he threw it there. […] When he threw it there, I just picked it off and took off,” Green says.
Green says he just sees more focus in the eyes of all the players lately. And now, he says the Tar Heels are focusing on the little stuff that equates to numbers in the win column.
“We’ve always been focused, but it seems like you can see it in the eyes that everyone is more focused. Like I said, everybody being more disciplined, everybody is taking care of their responsibilities, and paying attention to the little stuff. Right now, everybody’s focused every week to be 1-0,” Coach Fedora says.
The defense’s missed assignments have decreased dramatically in the second half of the season, and Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning says he credits a lot of that improvement to the young guys just growing up.
“Probably earlier in the season, we were probably counting missed assignments when guys had technical mistakes more than anything. […] Obviously, as they get more reps in practice and reps in games, they’re going to make less mistakes,” Coach Koenning says.
Freshman T.J. Logan will get the start at running back Saturday. But Head Coach Larry Fedora says the back with the hot hand will get the majority of the carries.
“They all get equal reps in practice right now. It boils down to who is making fewer mistakes and who is making more plays,” Coach Fedora says.
The Tar Heels will no doubt need to make quite a few big plays Saturday to escape Pittsburgh with a road victory and stabilize their season with a .500 record.