And after putting his team through intense two-a-day practices that began last Saturday, one thing is for certain--Auburn will not be unprepared. "I know our guys are getting tired, but they are excited about going," Tuberville said. "They want to play better than what they have played the last few games. We're getting a lot of effort out of our players, especially the young guys. We are pushing them a little extra."
The Tar Heels (7-5) offer Auburn several different and new challenges and Tuberville said that is what makes a bowl game so enticing. "Bowl games are always fun because you play somebody you don't know much about or have not seen a whole lot," he added. "You don't know much about their players. That's exactly what this game is."
One player the entire nation knows about and Tuberville and his players are equally aware of is Tar Heel defensive end Julius Peppers. The six-foot-six, 285-pounder won the Rotary Lombardi Award which goes to the nation's top lineman and the Chuck Bednarik Award which goes to the nation's top defensive player.
"They have a very physical defense," Tuberville said. "They have a lot of seniors on their team, a lot of experience. It will be a big challenge for our offensive players. We've expressed that in our meetings and looked at a lot of film. They know what they are up against.
"The have obviously one of the top, if not the top player in the country in (Julius) Peppers. He's a linebacker, defensive end that is really a phenomenal athlete." For the season, Peppers had 63 tackles including 19 for a loss and 9.5 sacks.
"They have a very fast defense. They kind of remind me of us. They use multiple schemes and move people around. They try to give you pressure, so it will be a big assignment for an offense that has not really hit on all cylinders the last few games."
Part of the unknown Tuberville mentioned was the two quarterback system the Tar Heels use on offense and the numerous formations they will throw at the Tiger defense. "We've got a tough assignment on defense to stop an offense that you really don't know who is going to play," Tuberville said. "It is kind of like our offense. We have got to prepare for two quarterbacks that have played a lot this year. We've got to prepare for several running backs and they have real good wide receivers. They are also multiple. Any ball game, if you go back and look at what they have done, they have changed it a lot. They have been very unpredictable."
Senior Ronald Curry is listed as the No. 1 quarterback, but redshirt freshman Darian Durant will also see extensive action. Curry is the UNC career-record holder for total yardage with 6,236 and threw for 1,005 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Durant put up better passing numbers completing 63.7 percent of his passes for 1,843 yards and 17 touchdowns.
"It'll be an interesting game," Tuberville said. "It will be a big play game. I think both teams will obiviously do everything they possibly can do to put as many points on the board as they can. Our team is ready to play and are really excited about it."
Tuberville said he was excited to see that more that Auburn fans had already purchased more than 15,000 tickets through AU for the New Year's Eve game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.