QUINCY MONK – Absolutely. First of all, you've got to give it up to Kareem Martin and what he did. I think he was able to finish up with eight tackles and three sacks. He made some key plays for us at the beginning of the quarter, the beginning of the game, and also the beginning of the fourth quarter. It's attributed to him being a senior on the team. You see the other guys actually feed off of that, feed off of his emotions, feed off of his energy.
When things got tough in the fourth quarter – we were letting the lead slip – you saw guys step up. That's what you want. You want guys to make those big plays. Our backs were actually against the wall. They scored 24 unanswered points. You could kind of see the wind go out of our sails, but these guys stepped up. You've got to give them a tremendous amount of credit. You can see how things have changed from the beginning of the year, when the ball doesn't bounce our way and we weren't getting the breaks we needed.
This game, you saw guys step up to the challenge and understand, 'okay, we've let this big lead collapse, but we've still got time to create a big play to turn this game around.' It's contributed to the work and hard effort that this coaching staff has given these guys. These guys are starting to believe so that any time there is any type of adversity, these guys have been through the trenches and are able to come out and make the play. Right now we're on a hot streak. It's good to see it, as an alum.
BUCK – David, you've spent a good amount of time on some special teams during your career, I assume. Those two special teams plays, the two returns by Switzer – he's a special guy.
DAVID BOMAR – He certainly is. And, what's exciting, he's only a freshman. So, hopefully we've got many more years to look forward to his ability to take those punts back for touchdowns, and maybe get some on kickoffs as well. Yeah, those special teams plays changed the whole game. The game is comprised of three phases. And when you win the special teams, it makes it a lot easier on your offense and defense. Those guys that are out there, I'm sure there are a lot of young guys playing on special teams, but Tre Boston ending up having a really key block that sprung Switzer on that last one.
So, it's an all-out team effort. For special teams to be good, you've got to have guys that are going 100 miles per hour and want to be out there, not just going through the motions, but out there to win. When you've got everybody on the same page, great things can happen; that's what we saw twice in this game. It was really unreal. Hats off to the coaches and the guys for being disciplined and not clipping. I think we've seen special teams progress as the year has gone on, like we have in every part of the game, in my opinion. A win in the special teams is a huge plus in the course of the game.
BUCK – Matt, Marquise Williams didn't have his best game on Saturday. He missed a lot of passes; it didn't seem like he ever got in sync. Did you notice anything that might be affecting his play? Some people have even wondered if he took a shot to the ribs and just wasn't able to make the throws. What did you see out of Marquise on Saturday that might have been the cause for some of the problems he was having?
MATT BAKER – I don't think there's any one thing to point to that was the cause for his performance this week. I think I said it a couple of weeks ago what I wanted to see out of him. Going back, I love the dynamic he has with his feet. It is definitely a game-changer for us, opening up the offense and that ability. But, I want to see him be able to make those tough throws, when we need them, to extend drives, to move the ball down the field.
I don't think he's there, quite yet, as a passer. As I've said before, he has a beautiful touch on long balls, but not quite there as a passer. He's not a great thrower yet and he's not a great decision-maker. I think he'll get there; I'm really impressed with what he's done so far, but those are the types of games you're going to see him take his lumps and make some throws like that. He's not quite there, but I've very pleased with his progress. I certainly think it's going to come along for him. It's just one of those things that is going to take some more work in the offseason, some more work on his footwork, and in the film room. That's what I would point to rather than one particular thing this week.
BUCK – Jeb, I thought the offensive line did a fairly good job of actually protecting Marquise. And, I thought they did an adequate job in the running game. This is the third straight game where they've been around 150 yards or better. The offensive line seems to be gelling a little bit, although they've got a true freshman snapping balls and moved Russell Bodine over to left guard. What did you see out of the offensive line and how do you think those changes affected them?
JEB TERRY – One thing, at this point in the season, there are really no true freshmen any more. He's had a lot of practice under his belt and now he's got some game reps under his belt. So, we should have the same expectations we have across the entire front.
Everybody knows you're only as good as your weakest link. So the expectation is for our guys to protect our quarterback, create holes in the running game, and, at the end of the day, is to dominate the opponent and wear them down to win. So, it's a huge benefit that Bodine is still in the mix.
Bodine can still make all his calls from his guard position. That's important to understand. You can let the other stuff sort itself out. But, when you have Bodine, who is clearly the leader, him and Hurst on the left side, it can be a real powerful side for us. So with his support and knowledge of the game, the key is that he can see as he's reading the defenses, the shifting defensive backs and understanding where the pressure is coming from, we still have that asset in mind. The most important part of a center's game is his mind because, again, they direct . . . they're traffic cops up there, and it's imperative for them the see and anticipate what's coming to revert to different Mikes and literally change the blocking schemes, if necessary. Like I said, it's great that Russell is still in the game and can really do that from this guard position as well.
BUCK – Quincy, North Carolina has a game coming up against Old Dominion; it's not a conference game; it's not a major opponent. But, we saw earlier in the year, when the guys played ECU, not that ECU is a bad team or in the same category as Old Dominion, but how does the ECU game help them prepare for this game in terms of realizing that they've got to give 100 percent effort?
QUINCY – The fact that we lost to ECU the way we did, the fact that we came out with no passion in that game and got stomped, I think that's really going to be a motivating factor for Fedora and his staff.
He's not going to let this four-game winning streak, this momentum switch in the season, be derailed by the guys not being focused against Old Dominion. They're not the type of team that we normally face. He's going to definitely have the ECU game, I'm sure, playing throughout the whole practice – throughout the whole week.
He doesn't want these guys to have one ounce of not being confident – not coming out ready to play. I think the fact that we got beat the way we did against ECU is going to help a lot because Old Dominion is definitely going to come in and try to make a name for themselves. They're going to come in with a lot of confidence because they can look at an ECU tape and know that we got beat by ECU. So, their coach is going to be watching that tape as well. Both coaching staffs are going to have some tape to provide their team to help motivate them.
But, I think from our standpoint, we've got so much momentum going on – the way we've been playing the past four weeks, the way we have won games, the way these guys are starting to believe they can win out. That bodes well for us playing Old Dominion this week. I just like our chances throughout the rest of the season because we're playing great ball. I wish we played like this early in the season, but this is some good ball to play as we continue to the final two games of the season and possibly another bowl game. All these guys – these seniors – continue to keep giving these guys a lot of focus, a lot of momentum. But, they're going to definitely use that tape for the ECU game to build on not coming out complacent, not coming without passion. We're going to see a Carolina team ready to play on Saturday.
BUCK – David, when you were playing and facing an opponent like Old Dominion did you ever sense there was any change in how guys went about mentally preparing for the game?
DAVID – Yeah. I think a lot of it has to do with the team that you're on. If you go back in the archives, I think the first game I ever started was against Furman, and we lost that game. So, I don't think they were Old Dominion, but they weren't Florida State either.
I think there's too much riding on the line for these guys to let their guard down. We've got two home games in a row for these guys to come out and show up and earn a bowl game bid and make up for that egg they laid against ECU at home, which had a lot of crowd support. I think they have a lot to be playing for. Again, this is a really good story for the program. Guys have faced a lot of adversity.
If they can win out, I think that it goes so far towards building our program down the road with recruiting, going to a Bowl game, and building some more depth. I think we've got to realize that we've got a fairly young team. So, the more we're playing and getting these victories, I think it will help propel the program over the long run. I don't anticipate any kind of let-up in our guys or the coaching staff for this game – I think there's too much on the line.
BUCK – Although we're maybe jumping the gun a little bit, Matt, assuming that North Carolina prevails over Old Dominion on Saturday, and assuming that Duke prevails over Wake Forest, which I don't think is a given, but they certainly are favored to do that, that sets up a pretty big game to end the season. Can you remember a game with that much on the line between Duke and North Carolina?
MATT – I can't. I can't remember one game that meant that much between the two schools. My senior year we played them the second to the last game of the year and we still had had Virginia Tech to close up the year. Just in order for us to have a shot at a bowl game, we had to beat Duke first. It was a hell of a football game in Kenan Stadium. But going back in my time and what I know of the history of Carolina football, not in my memory do I remember a game that could mean this much. Like you said, Old Dominion first. On David and Quincy's point, after taking our lumps early this year and being humbled, I would be shocked to see anything less than full attention and interest in this game this week. We'll see.
BUCK – Jeb, if I'm not mistaken, you were on a team that lost to Duke at some point during your career, and you went without the Victory Bell for the entire year. What does that Victory Bell mean and what did it mean to lose it?
JEB –- First of all, OId Dominion has won eight games this year. Just wanted to get that out there. If anybody - the fans – anybody doubts that team's ability, then we've got major issues. The fact that we're even talking about the chance of maybe even overlooking this game, it shouldn't even be a topic right now.
We're a 5-5 team fighting like hell to win this thing out. It could be Old Dominion, it could be Alabama, our players should come out ready for that game. That's first and foremost. In regard to Duke, yeah we lost to Duke my senior year. That was just a tough year in general. Still, we hadn't lost to them in like 19 years, or something like that, that was a tough one to stomach. I'll tell you what, I'm actually excited to see a really strong, competitive program down the road. I think it's better for the ACC; I think it's better for our rivalry; I think it brings more excitement to the area. This game is going to be a fantastic experience, assuming we can continue to take care of business like we should against Old Dominion. You've got to take your hats off to the coaching staff up the road, they've been able to do this . . . I'm incredibly impressed with what they've done, just given the history of that program.
It's not a good feeling when you lose the Victory Bell – the guys, of course, know that from last year. So, we're going to fight like hell to get it back. It's important for the fans; it's important for us lettermen; it's important for the players. I'm excited. It's going to be a real meaningful match up on both sides. I'm looking forward to being in the stands.