UNC Spring Football: John Bunting

CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina football coach John Bunting met with the media after the Tar Heels' annual spring scrimmage at Kenan Stadium on Saturday.

Overall Bunting was pleased with his team's performance, but he clearly understand, and stated, the Tar Heels have a long way to go before they are a consistently competitive team.

Here is what Bunting had to say after the White team defeated the Blue team, 21-10.

Opening remarks

I'm very, very pleased with spring, I'm really pleased with this game. And I really appreciate the fans - boy we had a ton of fans out there today. Boy it was great today, what a beautiful day. I think our kids competed well, played very, very hard. Our defense played a little better than I thought they would. I'm we glad we did the format that we did. It's a little unusual for me not to have the controlled scrimmage and throw in situations in there. But, we went ahead and kept with what our whole spring objective was – to become a more competitive team. That was to have the one versus the one, the two versus the two, to have all the kicking game live, take a little bit of a risk. But we got out of this thing healthy as we did all spring.

On being more competitive starting with the defense

It starts with the whole team. Spirit, our focus, our focus as being tougher and more competitive. For us to be good as a football team we have to play substantially better on defense than we did this past year. We weren't very good – we were at the bottom of the statistics, and we didn't stop the run, we weren't very good on third down, so we have a long, long ways to go. That's perfection of the obvious. We have to get better on defense to be more competitive next year. But, the whole team, as a hole needs to be more.

On who in the front seven of the defense stood out most today and all spring

I was very pleased with the play of Jeff Longhany, Melik Brown made a lot of plays today as he did all spring. Cedric Holt had an outstanding spring and had a couple of interceptions today. Of course, Dexter Reid, it goes without saying what a fine player he is. But I'm happy with the play of Tommy Richardson and Mahlon Carey and Michael Harris at the strong safety position. Up front we have to still keep working. Brian Rackley came on, I think Madison Hedgecock is going to help us a great deal. I am very anxious to see how Chase Page and Jonas Seawright played today on tape. It's hard to see on ground level, especially when we play so many players.

On the improvement of Tommy Davis

Tommy Davis is a quick and very explosive athlete. He can play the game.

On Ronnie McGill

He's going to be a fine player. He has a great attitude, he loves to play football and he always has a smile on his face. He likes to practice and he likes to play. He's fun to be around.

On the crowd support

What a great crowd. It looked like a very large crowd. I'm not going to guess, but it looked like around 10,000 people. It was really exciting to see them. I met with some Foundation folks this morning and they were excited. A lot of people are excited about his football program and what we are doing.

On the quarterbacks

Our quarterbacks have played well this spring. Darian (Durant) is just going to get better each time he steps on the field. If he maintains the attitude he has he will get better each time he steps on the field. And we need him to get better, we need all of the intangibles from Darian Durant. C.J. Stephens is better. Mat Baker showed some good signs today, but Matt's going to continue to improve. Those three guys we are counting on next year, and it's going to be very competitive when we get to summer camp. Darian Durant's a proven commodity – I have high expectations of Darian Durant.

On the morale of school regarding the man who hired him (athletic director Dick Baddour) and the support (Bunting) being here today

I'm just going to say this about that, this university stands for dignity and class. And everybody that I've been around since I've been back has handled everything with this football program as dignified and in a classy way as can be done. And I'm really thrilled with all of the support we have gotten campus-wide. And I'm hopeful it will continue, we still have to maintain a bit of patience because we are still a young team and we're overcoming a couple of recruiting classes that were not up to par with the kind of players we want to have in here. And we'll get that done. We are getting that done.

On being the head coach at UNC

I can't even put in words how honored I am to be the head coach at my alma mater, and how much it means to me, means to my family, and means so much to this staff. There's a lot of passion for our football program and we're going to work to get it done.

On if McGill is in the mix at tailback

We brought him in here to be a part of that mix. It's tough, but it's a good problem to have because Willie Parker's playing his best, Jacque Lewis is playing his best. Chad Scott's a very good football player. You have to understand too – you need three guys that are ready to go in there and play. But they all have something to contribute. But I am as excited about Ronnie McGill as I am the other runners.

On being concerned about the linebackers

I've seen improvement, but I'm still concerned. I'm very concerned with the front seven. They've got to continue to get better. We're not good enough yet.

On how much better the front seven can be than last season

I know they can be better. You are somewhat limited by the talent you have. But these guys are working real hard. They are going to be much, much more experienced, and that helps a great deal. A guy that's made a lot of progress is a guy like Jeff Longhany. A guy that's made a lot of progress in a short period of time is Melik Brown. I cannot wait for the other linebackers to get in here. These guys coming in from New Jersey, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C., and Larry Edwards from Florida – I can't wait to get those guys in here.

Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.

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