'They Had 24 Hours'

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- As far as John Bunting is concerned, the celebration over Saturday's upset ended late Sunday. He emphasized turning the focus to No. 18 Virginia Tech to his players at practice on Monday – and then shared its importance with the media during his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

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He also enacted an involuntary moratorium on all bowl talk amongst his players.

"And I will re-emphasize it," Bunting said. "I'll make the assistant coaches and the team leaders responsible and accountable for that. They had 24 hours. They are focusing on our next opponent."

Bunting even asked the media not to bring up the potential of a twelfth game, but admitted that was out of his control.

Mathematically, Carolina has not been eliminated from a share of an ACC regular season championship or even a BCS Bowl invite. But while many still argue if the Tar Heels' 31-28 win over then fourth-ranked Miami was the most significant in school history, Bunting is on the lookout for anyone in the program that might be the least bit distracted in preparation for the Hokies (6-2 overall, 3-1 ACC).

"They are big and very physical up front with two tight ends and fast receivers. They're very tough," Bunting said of Va. Tech, which has not beaten Carolina since 1928.

UNC (4-4, 3-2) has not won two consecutive games since closing out the 2001 season with victories over Duke, SMU and Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Now the Tar Heels must prove it can be consistent and that the win over the Hurricanes marked a turning point and was not just an aberration.

"I'm real hopeful that our team gets re-focused," Bunting said. "We have not gelled. We're not even close. At times our offense can be very powerful. We've done a good job protecting the quarterback and we've done a pretty good job running the football – most of the time.

"Defensively, we've got a long, long way to go. We've got a lot to learn from the line to the linebackers to the back end."

The Hokies, ranked seventh nationally in total defense, represent Carolina's sixth-ranked opponent this season. No team has in the country has faced more.

"I've been saying all along we'll get better and better when we play tougher competition," Bunting said. "I said it was going to be a great league. The powerhouses – Miami and Florida State – got knocked off the same day. It gives everybody a lot of confidence."

Carolina still has several key players injured, including Ronnie McGill and Hilee Taylor, who Bunting said are not expected to practice this week or play on Saturday. However, the Tar Heels shouldn't be as thin at tailback as they were against Miami, as Jacque Lewis is expected to be a ‘full go' in practice this week, Bunting said. Chad Scott is also dinged up and will practice in a green jersey (no contact) on Tuesday, but is expected to be ready to go by Saturday. Defensive tackle Kyndraus Guy, injured during pre-game drills in his last outing, is also back at full speed.

"I wish we were healthier, but that's where we're at," Bunting said. "I think the group will be in a great frame of mind from here on out. The big deal for us is how we practice and prepare. We're not getting a lot of penalties and that's helping us. That's a big killer in football."

Bunting said there was no change in the status of the three suspended players: Adarius Bowman, Fred Sparkman and Isaiah Thomas.

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