Bunting: 'We're moving on'

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The preceding holiday turned out to be a labor of lament for Tar Heel fans, following a 37-0 dismantling at the hands of Florida State on Saturday. Not even UNC's third-year skipper could convert that sow's ear into a silk purse; nor did he try during his weekly press conference on Tuesday at the Kenan Football Center.

"We're finished with Florida State and we're moving on to Syracuse," John Bunting said. "We look forward to a formidable opponent with a great football tradition. They had a down year last year, just like we had a down year.

"I said at the beginning of the season and especially to my football team, that this year will be 12, and hopefully 13 one-game seasons. Don't get too high after a win and don't get too low after a loss. I asked my team to forget about that loss about 17 minutes after I talked with them at midnight following the game."

As would be expected following a disheartening showing, changes were noticeable on the Tar Heels' depth chart for Saturday's 1:36 p.m. kickoff versus the visiting Orangemen. On the defensive line, Isaac Mooring is moving to defensive end and will platoon with Madison Hedgecock, while true freshman Isaiah Thomas will likely get in about 20-25 plays at defensive tackle, Bunting said. Jocques Dumas slipped down to the third team defensive end spot, but could also see time at tackle.

Thomas has gotten his weight down to 311 pounds now, after showing up in Chapel Hill weighing 336.

"I don't know that Puff was expecting [to redshirt]," Bunting said. "As a freshman, you've got so much going on in your life between training camp, school starting, new environment, new teachers and new coaches. I had already met with all of those true freshmen about the possibilities of redshirting or not redshirtiing. I also said that if anyone of them wanted to get their parents involved with the process, I would do that also.

"Isaiah's response to me was, ‘Coach, I'll do whatever is best for the team.'"

Along with the linebackers, the defensive ends' lack of speed was made blatantly obvious by the ease with which the Seminoles' backs exploited the outside alleys. Brian Rackley, who was injured during practice prior to Saturday's game, and Alden Blizzard are very close to seeing significant action as well.

"There was a breakdown in the techniques that they learned this summer, and they didn't go out and execute those techniques versus Florida State," Bunting said of the ends' performance. "We're back to basics with them. We had a short practice yesterday, and one thing I emphasized with them was to take the techniques you learn here out onto the game field."

The Tar Heels played six linebackers in the FSU game and Bunting said a seventh – in the form of Victor Worsley – could also get on the field this Saturday. However, he did stop short of saying that any of the true freshmen would play other than Melik Brown.

In all, 14 newcomers took the field, and Bunting promised even more would this week.

"I think it takes about a half a season for new players to adjust," Bunting said. "The first game is a shock, then in the second game they get better."

One glaring change was Michael Waddell's slip to third on the depth chart behind Chris Hawkins and Lionell Green at one cornerback position. But Bunting downplayed the move, stating that Waddell would play significant minutes.

"Waddell is going to play, and so is Dumas," he said.

Offensively, Bunting expressed his admiration for the offensive line play, calling it the strongest area of the team. He also said he hopes to get Willie Parker more carries this week. Parker, Ronnie McGill and Chad Scott are all listed as co-starters on this week's depth chart.

"They're all going to play," Bunting said. "I want to get Willie Parker more opportunities. It was obvious that Ronnie McGill was productive, so he is certainly going to get the nod most of the time."

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