On Campus

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- When a team gets shutout in its home opener 37-0, there's nothing positive to take away from the loss, right? Wrong. Some UNC-CH students left Kenan Stadium with positive thoughts.

Take UNC-CH senior Peter Hart, for instance, "Coach Bunting continues to schedule hard teams at the beginning of the season. Hopefully by the end of the year we'll be a tough team. We've seen the hardest (in Florida State) – we've been broken – which means now we're prepared for anything. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. Hopefully we'll see a parallel to two years ago, when Bunting also scheduled top competition early in the year. Even though we got beat in those first three games – often badly – our team was hardened and at the end of the year we finished up strong."

During the past five days a lot has been written about what went wrong for the Tar Heels in the lopsided loss to the Seminoles, but according senior Jeremy Ingle, some things were going right. "I saw the emergence of a true running back in Ronnie McGill. I saw the emergence of some solid linebackers. Doug Justice forced a fumble; he has a nose for the football. Melik Brown showed a good ability to read plays, especially on those screen plays to the wide receivers. Maybe he was a step behind on some of them but it's progress."

Fellow senior Matt Simmons agreed. "I think McGill looked like the most explosive back we've had on the field in some time. He ran hard, seemed to be tough to bring down and he averaged about four yards a carry against an FSU defense that returned ten starters from last year. He's doing all that as a true freshman; to me, that's impressive."

Sophomore Rocky Horton saw improvement in one of Carolina's more experienced players, "Darian Durant looked a lot more comfortable in the pocket than he did in the past."

Senior Louise Chang was impressed by the effort she saw late in the game, which she attributed to the head coach, "It was apparent to me that even in the fourth quarter the team never gave up. I think their mindset is derived from the discipline and attitude that John Bunting imparts on his players."

Others were impressed by the initial turnout for the game. "The atmosphere for the game was good to start out with; I think it was sold out…. In the student section everyone was standing up, banging on the seats and chanting. The fans were really making a lot of noise," said freshman William Henderson.

Senior John Paschal echoed those sentiments, "When we first got there the whole stadium was really excited and pumped. It's a shame the score couldn't have stayed closer early so that the crowd could have been a factor."

Sophomore Devin Markell noted that although the game was out of reach by the fourth quarter, Kenan Stadium certainly wasn't empty. "I saw some loyal fans who stayed – people who stuck it out and waited through the whole game despite the lopsided score."

In a recent article, Bunting said that he'd told his players to have the attitude "that this year will be 12, and hopefully 13 one-game seasons." Obviously, the first "season" didn't go as well as any Carolina coach, player or fan would have liked. But nonetheless, the team can learn from the loss, and silver-linings have been seen by the students here at Chapel-Hill.

Johnny Buck is a senior in UNC's School of Journalism. The Martinsville, Va. native worked for two years as an anchor/reporter on "SportsXtra," the student-run sports show on Carolina athletics. You can email him at sumpfan@yahoo.com

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