Heels Guarding Against Letdown

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--One of the challenges facing the UNC football team this week is putting the Miami victory in the past and concentrating on the task at hand, the Virginia Tech. Hokies.

So far, the season has been a roller coaster ride of sorts, with victories followed by apparent letdowns in one-sided losses. The Virginia loss followed William & Mary, the Georgia Tech win begat the Louisville loss, and the team followed up an edge-of-your-seat victory over NC State with a complete stinker versus Utah.

"We can't be complacent with how we played in those games that we won," said linebacker Doug Justice, voted the team's MVP against Miami. "Coach showed us a pattern that, after the games we won, we lost. He asked why we thought it was that way, and we thought maybe complacency and becoming comfortable.

"We can't become comfortable. We have to practice harder this week to make sure that doesn't happen. We have to come out and play hard and try to get a victory against Virginia Tech, which is a great team."

On Monday, head coach John Bunting met with the captains of the team for dinner, just as he does each week, and one of the points of emphasis was looking at the next game.

"That game is over," senior center Jason Brown said. "It is done with. All of the celebrating is past. We have to stay focused. That is done; you can not live that anymore.

"The praise from that gives us confidence, but we still have to put together a successful game plan this week. The game plan this past week is nowhere close to being the same game plan this week. We have to be just as focused and just as committed, and we have to go out and execute even more than we did last week."

Bunting said that he expects the team to be "absolutely, totally focused," but he won't hesitate to hammer home the importance of thinking only about Virginia Tech.

"I will emphasize it everyday before we start practice, every single day after practice, and probably several times during practice," he said. "I think it's very important."

On the field, during the Miami victory celebration on Saturday night, co-defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders and Justice shared an embrace and Sanders called the performance a "defining moment" in the season. It can be either just another victory before another letdown or it can be a springboard to greater things.

"From here we can either go down or go up," Justice said. "We are choosing to go up. We are choosing to prepare well and play well."


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