UNC football coach Mack Brown joined Ron Stutts this morning for “Mondays with Mack,” presented by Chapel Hill Tire. Read his entire interview below:
Coach, congratulations. What a win on Saturday. My heart hasn’t stopped beating hard since then.
Ron, it was unbelievable. We had a chance to put it away with a couple of minutes left and we fumble at the [three-yard line] and then they drive the length of the field. We have three penalties on that drive and they overcome a couple of fourth downs.
The best thing is our guys found a way to win and that’s something we didn’t do at Virginia Tech. We’re learning how to win. I really think Javonte Williams — when he fumbled the ball at the three — he fumbled it because he was trying too hard, he was just diving to get in the end zone and we’ve got to protect the ball better.
I think that one thing that we talked about yesterday with the team, let’s just be us. You don’t have to try too hard. And we have, because when you do, you may mess it up.
Well, I think everybody knew how important this game was. Were you confident before the game started that your team would bounce back from that tough setback at Virginia Tech?
I wasn’t on Sunday and Monday cause they were just pretty devastated with losing in six overtimes and they were tired, worn out after because it was the longest game that they played.
But as the week continued, I watched them grow with confidence. They’re in great shape, our strength and conditioning staff’s done a tremendous job with them. So I felt like by game time that yes, we’d win the game and I obviously felt like it on that last drive that we’re going to put the game away gonna win by ten probably at that point.
I even felt like we’d win after they recovered the fumble and our defense had played so well, I was really surprised that drove the ball down as far as they did. What a great stop by our defense to win the game.
Some people are comparing Chazz Surratt’s interception at the goal line to Malcolm Butler’s in the Super Bowl and after looking at it on tape now, and I know you’ve had the opportunity to see it, how spectacular was that whole thing?
Well, it was fantastic. Chazz is just playing so well and he’s so smart and that’s where the quarterback play comes in. I think — and I’ve never seen this before — but before the play call, I told them to be ready for the fade because I thought that’s what you would do.
There was only 18 seconds left and no timeouts and Jay Bateman, our defensive coordinator, said that, you know what, I think they’re gonna do the jump pass.
It was kind of weird. We had about four guys sitting there waiting for it. And I’ve never seen a defensive coordinator called the right play before. So a credit to Jay Bateman to put those kids in the right position.
Well Chazz of course talked about how Coach Bateman warned him to look out for the pop pass and and Coach Cutcliffe said they hadn’t used it since 2017. How exactly do you think he knew about that?
I don’t have any idea. I think it would have been a really good call because there’s only 18 seconds left and they’ve got no time timeouts. So you would think if you run the ball and we stopped them, they might not get another play off if you’re getting up slowly.
So they had to throw a to make sure that they had enough time to kick a field goal. Even if we’d stopped him, we’d already been stopped in the run. We stopped them on the goal line stand.
So you felt like it had to be some quarterback movement with a pass outside. It had to be the pop pass or it had to be a fade. It had to be something like that to ensure that they had enough time to kick field goal to go to overtime.
Well, Carolina on offense struggled a bit at times on Saturday and it probably had a lot to do with bad field position. It seemed like we were always getting the ball deep in our own territory. Was that a big part of it?
It really was. That Duke punter is maybe the best I’d ever seen. He averaged in the 50 yards. They were so high and we thought that we could get some punt returns because of the height and the length of his punt, but they covered it well too. So I think give credit to the Duke punter.
We had the long pass to Beau Corrales that got us off the goal line. And we also had the 40 yard run by Javonte Williams. And those are the only two things that change field position cause we were backed up the whole game.
Well, we talked a lot about Chaz Surratt and certainly we should, but I gotta ask how about Noah Ruggles stepping up after having a tough week?
Ron, it’s a great message for all of us. He misses the field goal at Virginia Tech that can put the game away. We take him out, benching him basically and put Jonathan Kim in his place.
He doesn’t pout, he keeps working, he competes and then we come back and he’s in a position to help us win the game and he does just that, kicking them straight through.
So a good message for all of us. Don’t pout when you’re down and pick your head back up. Go back to work. You never know when you’re going to get your opportunity again. And his came fast.
Well, we all saw the celebration of the field, Carolina getting the Victory Bell back and all that kind of thing. And can you describe for us what the celebration was like in the Carolina locker room?
It’s one of the more fun things in sports, to be in the locker room with kids that have accomplished a really important goal for them.
These kids have not had the Victory Bell for awhile. I think only five guys on our team that were traveling raised their hand the other day when I said, “How many guys have rung in the victory bell?”, which is a real credit to Duke.
So it was really, really special. They’ve gotten so, Ron, when they make me dance a little but, which is not pretty. I’ve told them that if me dancing is gonna help you win, I’ll bet. I don’t want to dance, I’m not good at it, but if it helps you out there, so only after wins, but they they had a great time.
This team, the seniors have had a really rough couple of years and I’m so proud of them.
Oh my gosh, our fans, it’s been unbelievable, right? Our fans have been a huge different difference in every game. And I’m just loving the atmosphere at home.
I’m loving the way our crowds, our students embrace this team. The team’s loving it and to hear the entire 50 something thousand sing the fight song at the end of the game, watch the tower being lit in the stadium was really magical.
Well Mack, you sound a little hoarse this morning. I guess that comes from a lot of yelling, huh?
I was yelling a lot, especially on that last drive, so I bet.
Also Ron, another stat that Jeremy Sharpe, our director of communications, gave us yesterday. We have had more close games in our seven really tight ones than any team in college football since 1936. So it’s been amazing.
Well, I know you weren’t thinking about this on Saturday, but congratulations also on becoming Carolina’s all the time winningest head coach.
Thank you, Ron. Number one for the university, it’s a great honor for me and that I appreciate that. But what it does more than anything else for me is that puts us in a position where I can go back and thank all the players, all the coaches and all the staff that were involved in those, those 70 something wins.
I’ve had so many of those guys that that played for us, text me and call me in and, and say congratulations over the last couple of days. So it’s been really special to catch up with them. But it also puts the attention back on those guys where it should be.
Coach, you mentioned the students and the fans at Kenan Stadium and they have indeed been great. You got to final message for them before the sold-out game on Saturday night against Virginia?
I do, bring your A-game. We’re going to need it. Virginia is one of the best teams we’ll play this year. They’re really, really good.
They’re disappointed coming off a loss at Louisville, so they’ll be ready to play. We’re both tied for the lead and the Coastal, so come early get in those seats 30 minutes before it.
That’ll be a beautiful night, a cool nights and let’s have the best atmosphere on Saturday night we’ve ever had in that stadium.