“Wow, what a game. It was like two different games in the first half and the second half. I’m proud of the way these guys fought back in the second half [and] came back out there and fought, scratched, crawled their way to a victory. I’m proud, again, of these seniors and what they mean to this football team. And to be Coastal Division Champs – and that’s the way we’ll look at it – we’re very proud of this football team.”
On winning the season finale:
“That was our No. 1 goal this year was to be Coastal Division Champs. And this senior class, they lead this team to a Coastal Division Championship. I can’t say enough about what they’ve done for this program and this university. It means everything to us. It gives us a lot of momentum going into the off-season and into recruiting and into next year.”
What were the keys to the second half defensively?
“Just energy. We didn’t change anything with adjustments. All we talked about at half time was just playing with some energy.
“You saw it even in the first half when we made plays; there was no excitement out there. And you cannot play the game that way – especially on defense. You cannot play without energy and excitement, because guys feed off of each other. Somebody would make a play and there wasn’t anybody jumping on him and taping hats and creating the excitement that we want. But we did get that in the second half.”
Where you surprised by that lack of excitement?
“[It was] very surprising. But when you’re coaching 18-, 19-, 20-, 21-year olds, I guess nothing really should surprise me. There’s no reason why. We didn’t do anything different. I can’t blame it on Thanksgiving. I can’t blame it on Senior Night. It was ‘Hey, we just didn’t.’”
Adversity of touchdowns at the end of the first half, start of the second:
“We gave them a touchdown with 15, 13 seconds on the clock and we come out and they return the opening kickoff. That’ll put most teams away. They didn’t blink. They didn’t worry about it. They kept playing. That’s something to be said about this group. We talked to the seniors last night about not just in the game of football, but in the game of life you’re going to have adversity. Life is full of adversity and it’s how you react to it, what you do to overcome it. That determines what kind of man you are. I’m confident that these guys have learned lessons this year and understand how to overcome it.”
Frustration on not going to ACC Championship game:
“It’s no more or no less, because we dealt with it on the day we were told. We never looked back. It wasn’t like we were going to get there and then be disappointed. It was what it is. We found that out back in April and we talked about it as a team and everybody got to express their disappointment and anger at the time. After that it was like ‘Ok, here’s the plan. Here’s what we’re going to do.’ And we haven’t talked about it since.”
“I’m very proud of them. I can’t say enough about these 17 seniors about what they mean to this program, this team, this university, this entire Tar Heel nation, because they persevered. These guys have made major contributions to this football team all year. We’ll miss their leadership. The exciting thing about it is there will be a whole new group of guys who will step up and they’ll fall into those roles because it becomes their team tonight.”
On the future:
“I think it definitely shows that we’re headed in the right direction. I think we’re created a lot of excitement in the program, in the state, I think in the surrounding area. I think people understand that the Tar Heels are for real and we’re going to be back and we’re going to be something that’s going to have to be reckon with.”
On Ramsay playing on the first goal line play:
“He was out there, but I don’t know if he was the primary based on what they did coverage wise. But he was involved in the play as far as he could get the ball and score a touchdown. That would have been great for him [and] a great end to his story, but it just didn’t work out. But just him being out there was a great thing.”
The win’s effect on the returning players:
“It gives you a lot of momentum going into the offseason and it gets guys hungry, because now you sit around at this point and you start talking about ‘What if?’ You know? That’s what happens as a football player. Tomorrow, they’ll be talking amongst each other and the day after and for all the winter workouts they’ll be talking about ‘What if? What if we’d have done this? What if we’d have done that?’ And that was one of the challenges at the beginning of the season – let’s not have any ‘What ifs.’ But unfortunately we do and those will be things that we learn from.”
What will you do since you won’t be preparing for a bowl game?
“For us, that means we can [spend] 25 hours a day on recruiting and not splitting your time between a bowl game and recruiting. We’ll be recruiting hard from this point on starting tomorrow.”
On upcoming talks with Giovani about going pro or returning to UNC:
“I’ll visit with him tomorrow at 9 am. He doesn’t know that yet though. I’ll talk to him about the process. We’ll gather as much information as we can to help him and his family make a good, educated decision. It’s their decision. All I want to do is provide as much information as possible so they can make a good, educated decision.”
On the defensive progress:
“I’m not satisfied with the progress we’ve made anywhere, actually – offense, defense, or special teams. I never will be. I won’t next year, the year after that, or the year after that – unless we will a national championship. We made progress. Did we make enough? No. Are we going to get better? Yes, we’re going to get better. Is the system too hard for them? No. It’s not too hard. It still boils down to: knowing what you’re job is, doing your job, and doing it harder than the guy across from you.”