UNC's head coach John Bunting expresses a simple goal for what he wants to see at Maryland this weekend: "I want to see significant progress from game one to game two. Significant progress."
He apparently has not been reading the papers. Doesn't he know that unless they win on Saturday, the Tar Heels are doomed to a losing season, and Bunting's first season will be labeled a failure?
The conventional wisdom is that Saturday's game at Maryland is a "must win" for North Carolina. The experts have surveyed UNC's schedule and have pronounced that unless the Tar Heels can prevail in College Park this weekend, Tar Heel fans can begin muttering the comforting words of the faithful, "Wait until next year."
After all, the Tar Heels must travel next week to Texas. A loss at Maryland would mean a 0-3 start for the Heels. Right? Florida State is an automatic "L," isn't it? Then the Heels have Clemson, Georgia Tech, and NC State on the road. And victories in home games versus Virginia and East Carolina promise could be problematic. That makes this a make-or-break game. Right coach?
"Not really, if you are talking about wins and losses. I want to win every game. I think we have a chance to win every single game we play," Coach Bunting replies. Bunting is careful to pronounce the last five words of that sentence slowly and distinctly. With emphasis.
Where specifically does he want to see progress? "Especially offensively. On defense, we have to get better. Our defense missed close to 20 tackles – way too many."
Can "significant progress" come without a win?
"Yeah. No doubt about it. But I prefer to win," said Bunting and then added in his best deadpan form," I know you might not believe that, but I would prefer to win."
Coach Bunting does not think that the second half performance against Oklahoma will make the team overconfident against Maryland. "I think the team gained some confidence by playing Oklahoma tough in the second half, but there is no way they should be at all complacent about the way they practice or the way they prepare for this game. It will be a battle."
Coach Bunting and new Maryland head coach Ralph Freidgen crossed paths when Bunting was with the Kansas City Chiefs and Freidgen was with the San Diego Chargers. After watching tape of Freidgen's Georgia Tech offenses, Bunting said, "He is better than he used to be, and he used to be tough. He used to be very, very difficult to prepare for."
Andre' Williams was held out of practice with a bruised shoulder. He is questionable for the Maryland game.
Kicker Jeff Reed practiced yesterday and today. Whether or not he will resume his role on Saturday is still under consideration by the staff.
Billy-Dee Greenwood practiced in a non-contact jersey. Defonte' Coleman will likely start, but Greenwood will see spot duty.