UNC-SMU Locker Room Report

CHAPEL HILL – For the first time in four years the North Carolina Tar Heels are headed to a bowl game after a 19-10 victory over Southern Methodist at Kenan Stadium on Saturday.

With the win, the Tar Heels (7-5) accepted an invitation to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta on New Year's Eve.

Here is what the players had to say about Saturday's win and going to a bowl game.

Head coach John Bunting

On rebounding after giving up the game-tying score

After they scored, we did a great job coming right back down the field. We didn't get a touchdown there, but that was great to respond that way after that quick touchdown to start the second half.

O the results of the season

Obviously we're very proud of this football team, and I'm very proud of my staff. They did a tremendous job of holding this team together for a long, long time, winning five straight, taking the heat when we lost two in a row, but still keeping this team together.

Senior QB Ronald Curry

On the team never quitting

We were 0-3 and always felt like we could win the next one. Then we ran off five straight … and we won the last couple, so the guys stuck together and good things happened.

On SMU

That's a good team. They are a good team and we respect them. Watching film on them … they move around on the defensive side of the ball. As a whole team they played really well.

On last game at Kenan

It was enjoyable. Great fan support. The guys gave it their all and everything worked out."

Freshman QB Darian Durant

On what coach Bunting said at half time with UNC ahead 7-0

We just talked about just finishing. We came out kind of fired up and we got things started but we just didn't seem to finish. Our main goal coming into the second half was to finish.

On winning seven of last nine games to become bowl eligible

I think that says a lot about this team. Coming out 0-3 a lot of people thought that we couldn't make it as far as we did and we knew as a team that if we put everything together we could be successful and that's what happened.

On what turned the season around

I think the win against Florida State did because that just showed us that we could beat anyone in the country. They were highly ranked and I think that was the turning point.

On helping team get to bowl as a freshman

Junior wide receiver Chesley Borders

On his TD reception

He (DB) bit on the play like I was going a short route. And then he bit on it and it was meant to go deep. It was like a fake out where I was meant to go deep. Looking at film they bit on a lot of short routes.

On if knowing what was at stake was a distraction

No. Everybody had one goal in common and that was what brought us together today. Everybody wanted to finish out strong and once we got that goal at halftime we told coach we wanted to play one more game and that is in Atlanta.

Senior center Adam Metts

On the turnaround

A lot of the turnaround in this program was because of the seniors this year. We have a great group of seniors and everybody decided we were just going to start playing some ball and … we gotta keep playing each game one at a time and that's what we did. I couldn't be going out with a better bunch of guys and I love them all to death and we're gonna have a good time in Atlanta.

What was said by the coaches before the game that with a win they were ehaded to the Peach Bowl

Actually they kind of leaked it out that way that if we win we'd be presented with the peach Bowl bid. Not everybody knew but I knew. It was kind of leaked.

On the win being difficult

SMU was a tough team. They played well. They had a good system. It's been a tough season for them but they actually have some goo players on their squad and you have to give them a lot of credit for their effort.

On going from 0-3 to 7-5

It's a lot different. It's a lot more satisfying sitting right now where we are going to the Peach Bowl and then when we were 0-3 all the seniors got together and we had to sit down and talk to each together and figure what we wanted to make out of the season. ‘We had a real tough schedule and what are we gonna do. Are we gonna cave in or are we gonna come out and fight hard, take each game one at a time and hope for some luck?' We got that big win over FSU and that kind of set a lot of momentum for us. And it's a great way to cap a four-year career here going to Atlanta.

Senior defensive tackle Ryan Sims

On celebrating toward the end of the game

We really didn't get the water or Gatorade on coach but we were just out there acting crazy and didn't realize we had a whole other minute left in the game. I'm glad it didn't come back to haunt us.

On the seniors going through so much, especially their sophomore season

This whole four-year period has been a learning experience. I've taken away a lot of things not only in football aspects but in life and I really appreciate that.

I learned a lot. We had some rocky roads, but one thing you learn here at Carolina is that you're fans are going to be there, it's a wonderful school and you never give up. That's the one thing I'll take away from my career here.

Senior wide receiver Kory Bailey

On some of the positive new things this year

I think the Well Walk was a great idea and I think is a tradition that is going to stick around here for a long time and it gives you goose bumps to walk through all those people and know that they are supporting you from your walk to the old well to the fieldhosue and you know they're gonna fill the stands for you. And then after the game That's a special feeling and after the game it was almost surreal just being out there knowing that we finally had done it and finally earned a little bit of respect and made it to a postseason game.

Junior defensive end Julius Peppers

On how he wants to be remembered

More than just me personally on the football field. A role model for children because you really don't have a lot of positive people out there right now. I think that is one of the main things I want people to remember me as is just a great person.

On his career

When I got here – my freshman year – I didn't think it would be that hard, but then once I realized it wasn't going to be a cakewalk I started taking everything more seriously and then I think it just became natural as I got older.

Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He is 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.


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