CLEMSON, S.C. – The North Carolina Tar Heels were a happy bunch after Saturday's 38-3 pummeling of No. 15 Clemson at Death Valley, and happy they should be.
UNC destroyed the Tigers' potent offense and shut down Heisman Trophy candidate Woodrow Dantzler, limiting him to a total of just 116 yards one week after he amassed 517 in a win at N.C. State.
Here is what some of the Heels had to say after the team's fifth straight victory.
Defensive end Julius Peppers
On the team playing a complete game
It was one of our best games if not our best game, even Florida State. Our special teams played well. Our defense and our offense. They played great too. Yeah, it was pretty much a complete game.
On being in position to pick off so many passes for a defensive end (he has three interceptions this year)
I watch a lot of film on a lot of team so I prepare for what's going on. I learn about tendencies and how they throw.
On winning five in a row after starting out 0-3
It means a lot. I am proud of the team. It shows a lot about our character that we're not gonna stop fighting. We have a lot of fighters in there (locker room). Anybody that can come back from 0-3 and win five in a row I have a lot of respect for them and I am proud of all the guys that they have hung in there.
Defensive tackle Ryan Sims
About being from South Carolina and going out of state to UNC and coming back there with a huge victory
It was very fun especially being (Clemson's) homecoming. We knew everybody (fans) were going to be there and we knew it was going to be packed and we took that as a slap in our face. That's a sign of disrespect for them to schedule us on homecoming. We took it personally and took it on the field with us.
How many friends and family members did Sims, who is from Spartanburg, S.C., have in attendance
I had about 30 from the home town. I usually have around six or seven at a home game.
The importance of rushing Dantzler without letting him slip out
It's very important especially with Woody. Because we've seen him make big plays like that when everybody gets up field and he can juke up the middle and make defensive backs miss.
On allowing just 209 yards to the Tigers
That's what we practiced for all week. We didn't think that was going to happen but that's what happens when you play hard and fundamentally sound defense.
On winning five in a row and the character of this team
We knew coming in (tom the season) we had a hard schedule in the beginning. We knew that coming in no matter if we win or lose the games were going to make us a better team. After those three losses we had to regroup and we got our things together and we went out and played hard against Florida State and that helped us make this run.
Linebacker David Thornton
On Peppers and his INT
Clearly, he is a phenomenal player. They have to double team him. Teams have to strategize their offense around him because he is such a threat. You can expect those, kinds of plays from him. I'm not shocked at all.
About winning five straight after the 0-3 start and possibly being in position to get to the Orange Bowl
It's a great feeling. The team now is pretty much on cloud nine. We are working hard, the practices are getting better each week. It's a new team, it's a new day in Carolina football and the guys are really excited about what we are able to do.
On the motivation coming into the game
There was a lot of motivation coming into this game. The fact that they scheduled us for homecoming once again and I feel like they just overlooked Carolina football.
Quarterback Ronald Curry
On the hamstring injury
Tomorrow I am going to go to the hospital and get some X-rays and find out what's really going on.
On imagining if UNC could dismantle Clemson this way
I expected to come in here and win but I didn't, the defense played a heck of a game and I never thought it would be like this. But the defense was great. They had kind of been down the last two games but they picked it up today.
On the play of the offensive line
I think they just get better when everybody was trying to point the finger at them like it was always their fault and they took it as a challenge and they are playing the best out of the whole group. The offensive line is playing the best on the team.
On just 18 pass attempts against Clemson
We were running the ball really well. Sometimes it (a pass) was called and the quarterback ran. I know I ran on three or four passes and Durant ran on a pass. More passes are called but we just don't always get the ball up.
Quarterback Darian Durant
On the two QB situation
I think it is a plus. We always have a fresh quarterback. The defense is getting worn down throughout the game and we keep putting in a fresh quarterback so I think that is an advantage for us.
On coming back home to South Carolina (he is from Florence) and whip Clemson.
It feels good. I had a lot of emotion built up for this game and I am just glad my teammates stepped it up and we got the win.
On playing the tigers on their homecoming
When a team schedules you for homecoming I guess they expect you to be a weak opponent and we took that as an insult and we came out fired up.
Is there a limit to how good the Heels can be
There is no limit. As long as we keep getting better I think we'll be fine. We just can't let these victories get to our heads and just stay mellow and everything will work out for us.
Do they realize what is in their grasp – ACC title and possible Orange Bowl?
We really do. Maryland has some big games coming up but we are really focused on our job. We know if we win out everything else will take care of itself.
Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a nightly radio show on WAAV-AM980 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AJWAAV@aol.com.