CHAPEL HILL– The Tar Heel football players are back to the practice grind this week in Chapel Hill. Working hard out on Navy Field, the team is looking wipe the sour taste of defeat out of their mouth in their home opener against Middle Tennessee State this weekend.

Freshman offensive lineman Jon Heck says practices have been wearing him out, but he says he understands that he needs to push through the discomfort to improve his play.

“It’s hot out, but we all have to push ourselves to the breaking point. I felt tired out here, but it’s on me to push myself through that,” Heck says.

Heck says the South Carolina contest was a memorable first game suiting up for the Tar Heels. He says playing against a top team definitely got him acclimated to the type of play required to compete at the highest level.

“It was one of the funnest experiences of my life. That was awesome coming out in that huge stadium against a good team in my first college game. […] I was happy to be out there and to have got some experience against a good defense,” Heck says.

This season is filled with firsts for Heck. And this Saturday will provide his first game in front of the Chapel Hill crowd. Heck says he is excited about the opportunity to get a win in a comfortable home atmosphere.

Talented sophomore receiver T.J. Thorpe says Coach Fedora’s offense is on the verge of clicking on all cylinders. Thorpe says the unit has been focusing on picking up the tempo even further and cleaning up sloppy mistakes.

“Just picking up the tempo. We can always go faster, and that’s usually our advantage. Being able to make more plays and mentally focus in, because after watching the film [on South Carolina] we were only a few plays away from winning the game,” Thorpe says.

Defending home field is something that Thorpe says is a motivating factor for the game in Kenan Stadium on Saturday. And Thorpe says the rowdy Tar Pit helps his team’s chances.

“The Tar Pit is usually pretty loud. We always have that advantage. And just the first home game of the season, getting back home, being comfortable, and being around somewhere in our back yard is something we take pride in,” Thorpe says.