“Tough loss today. Bottom line is we didn’t make enough ordinary plays that we usually make to win a football game. We just didn’t get it done, and on both sides of the ball there were a lot of ordinary plays that we make every day that we just didn’t make today. You can’t put yourself behind the eight-ball that way and continue to make those mistakes throughout the day and think you’re going to overcome them.”
The two wildcat plays inside the 10-yard line, what was the thinking behind that?
“The one on third down was a play we had prepared for on third-and-short and we turned a guy loose on the backside and he made the play. Fourth down was a play that we had worked all week and was going to be a play that we used on a 4th down situation in short yardage and we didn’t execute it. I don’t know what else to tell you.”
How tough is it to go down big and then drive down to within one possession and then fall short? Especially for guys that are playing their last game here?
“I hate it for these seniors. I mean I hate it for this football team, but I especially hate it for these seniors because of what they mean to this program and what they’ve done for the culture here at Carolina. I can’t say enough about what these guys have done. If you remember back when they were coming out of high school it was pretty dark around this place, but they believed and came in here and built something. Yeah, it was tough today, to fight back and get back into it and to come up short. We had opportunities to do it and just didn’t get it done.”
That’s the second onside kick you’ve recovered this season that’s been overturned by review. What was the explanation this time?
“Bottom line we didn’t hit a good ball. You can’t block before the ball goes 10 yards. The guys that are blocking, they can’t set their weight and watch to see if the ball's going 10 yards, they’ve just got to go and trust that the ball’s going to get there on time. It was there, it couldn't have been a better situation for us.”
How big is that? That’s a momentum shift and then they get the momentum right back.
“Yeah, that’s why we ran it. We knew that we were going to get the momentum coming out of the second half. We felt good about it, it was there, again it was just a simple, ordinary thing that we didn't execute."
How do you explain the slow start?
"I don't know how to explain it. That was disappointing, especially, again - I keep harping on it - because it was ordinary plays that we need to make. We dropped too many plays that puts us off the field on third down that are just base -- we didn't have to do anything superhuman today, we just needed to execute and play football and we didn't do that."
That sequence in the third quarter with the wildcat is going to catch a lot of attention, criticism. You have any concerns about overthinking things in situations like that?
"No, and I'm not worried about the criticism either. I don't really care what everybody thinks out there about the calls. We called what we worked, we do it every week. When it works, everybody loves it. When they don't, they criticize it. That's just the way the world works."
Two years ago N.C. State came in here on Senior Day and it was a similar first half. Do you draw any correlation?
"No, it's a totally different team. The 2014 and 2016 teams are totally different. Nothing even close about them."
With that scrum in the first half with both teams on the field, how much did you think frustration played a part in that after such a slow start?
"I don't know what it was. I didn't even see what caused the whole thing. But we've got to have more composure than that. Whatever happened, can't happen. We've got to be smarter than that - we've got to play smart."
About six weeks you talked about how the team was getting better and better. Since then, has the team improved?
"I can't honestly tell you that they have. Defensively, I thought we had done some good things, especially in the second half in the last four to five games. Offensively, I really can't tell you that we've gotten better. Two weeks before this we scored 27 points and today 21 points. I wouldn't think that's getting better - not with what we expect from the offense."