“Hell of a game. Hell of a game. Proud of our football team. They’ve done something that’s never been done at the University of North Carolina – win 11 straight. The seniors are leaving a tremendous legacy. The phrase, ‘I’ve got your back,’ throughout the entire game… I think the offense put the ball on the ground a couple of times inside our own 20-yard-line and our defense held them to field goals in both of those situations. That’s the epitome of who this team is. You talk about having each others’ back, they got it.”
How do you explain the first quarter?
“We ran the ball. Our offensive line was dominant up front when we were running the football. I thought our guys on the perimeter did a great job. Then when you get the two backs to the second level, they made people miss and made big plays out of it.”
You lost 35-7 last year and led 35-7 after one quarter today. What does that say about the progress this program has made over the past year?
“Well, I’ve been saying it all year, this team has got a lot of grit. They really do. And that started right after the first game, and then you’ve gotten to see it every game that we’ve gone on the road. This is a special group; they really are. There’s 72 guys in that room that are really tight. They’re really tight. And they do things for each other. They do things for something greater than themselves. That’s what makes it so special.”
A lot of the same players were on the field last year. Anything more than grit play a role?
“I think the staff has done a tremendous job. They’ve done a great job with these kids. And then you’ve got to give all of the credit to these players for believing in each other when the seniors have done a tremendous job leading and realizing what they wanted. They took ownership of the team and they didn’t just say we want to win a Coastal Division championship and be state champs, they did what it took.”
You accomplished both of the goals you set this year. What are the emotions behind that achievement?
“That’s pretty cool. That’s really cool for them because those were the two goals we set back on Jan. 6. Those were the two, and to see all of their hard work pay off throughout the entire year and to reach their goals… That’s my dream, for all of our players and our staff to be able to reach their dreams and goals. If we do that, then things are going to be pretty good for us.”
Does the message change now?
"Well, yeah. We've accomplished both of those. Tomorrow when we come in we need to reset our goals. We'll figure out what those seniors want to do and then we'll set a plan after that."
Will the College Football Playoff be addressed or one of the goals?
"I don't know. It'll be up to them. I don't know that, unless they want to address it, that I will. Because we don't control that. We've done everything we can to this point, and now we've got to play the No. 1 team in the country. If that happens, yeah, I think we'd be very deserving to be in the Playoffs in my mind."