'They Got Our Bell!'

UNC head football coach John Bunting still isn't talking about a bowl game--going so far as to refer to it as "the B-word"--but one B-word he isn't shying away from is "bell," as in the Victory Bell.

"That bell was over at Carolina for a long, long time," Bunting said. "Last year, in the first half, we came out and laid an egg in the first half. I will never forget that game--I will NEVER, EVER forget that game for the rest of my life."

But the Victory Bell is conspicuously absent this week in practice. Normally, a change of periods is signaled by an air horn, but the week before the Duke game the signal has been the ringing of the bell for the past 13 seasons.

There are "around 20" photos of the Victory Bell all over the Kenan Football Center. If that wasn't enough, there is a still image of the Victory Bell in Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium surrounded by the Duke football team on the video board in the east end zone in Kenan Stadium as a reminder--up day and night all week.

"That makes me upset," senior fullback Madison Hedgecock said. "Thirteen years having that bell and then it leaving here--that's a long time. We've been thinking about it all year, all off-season… That's our pride. It got taken away from us last year. We have to try to get it back this year."

"That symbolizes disrespect," center Jason Brown said. "Even in that picture, you see that the bell hasn't even changed colors yet. It looks like they are at a basketball game, and they want everybody to know, 'Yeah, it's freshly coming from Carolina back over to Duke.' If that doesn't strike a fuse to get the flame going, nothing else will, especially if you know what the tradition of owning this bell is all about."

The Hendersonville senior has blocked the memories of the game from his mind, choosing instead to save room for the good memories, but the aftermath of the loss still stands out.

"I remember the feeling in the locker room and knowing that you are going to remember that feeling for the rest of your life," he said, "when you have all of your teammates together and you have to look each other in the eyes knowing you have to come back in the off-season and make some changes, do something different. To reap something you've never had before, you have to sow something you've never sown. You have to take it to that next level. What are you going to do?

"At that moment, all we thought about was this bad feeling. We are going to remember it, but what are we going to do now? Where do we go from here, and how do we compose ourselves as a team?"

The Duke offense was on the field for more than 21 minutes in the first half, out-gaining Carolina in yardage, 283-39, on the way to a 23-0 halftime lead, eventually winning 30-22.

"I remember a lot of mistakes, a lot of missed assignments, a lot of missed tackles and things like that," senior defensive tackle Jonas Seawright said.

"I just remember us doing everything in our power to give Duke the game," senior quarterback Darian Durant said. "We didn't execute one play good. It was a total debacle."

Unlike Brown, Durant didn't want to forget. As a normal course of business, the coaches review each week's game tape with the team. As the last game of the season, and no bowl game, the coaches never showed the Duke tape to the team. But Durant sought it out.

"I watched it because I wanted to see what I needed to do better, not just against Duke but coming into the next year--also how I prepared myself that week for the game. Everybody thought it was going to be a walk-over, like those guys weren't going to come over here and play us tough. We know that now. They have played everybody tough this year."

At 2-8 overall (1-6 ACC), Duke doesn't appear to be the most imposing opponent on the schedule. Could it be possible that the Tar Heels take the Blue Devils lightly?

"No!" said Hedgecock. "They got our bell! How do you take somebody lightly that's got our bell?"

And should the Tar Heels win the game and reclaim possession of the Victory Bell, Seawright knows what he plans to do.

"I'm going to ring it if we win--trust me," he said. "I'm going to be one of the first ones, if not THE first one over there ringing it."

"Coach" Page

UNC senior defensive tackle Chase Page has fully recovered from a preseason injury in which he got his pinky finger caught in an offensive lineman's jersey and ripped loose connective tissue in his hand, but he isn't practicing with the team. However, he is still playing an important role. He has traveled with the team on road trips and was present in Winston-Salem at the Wake Forest game.

"Brad Lawing was out recruiting Friday night," Bunting said, "so when we were done with our movies and done with our brief Friday meeting, I had Chase get in front of the defensive line and give a little pep talk. He was with us there on the sideline. I think he's doing great. I know he's chomping at the bit. It's amazing we lost him so early, and we've done as well without him. He can be a really great player."

"He pulls individual guys to the side and has those heart-to-heart talks with them," Brown said, "not one of those outrageous, 'Hey, let's get ampped up! Let's get going' [talks] but one of those meaningful things. He is still playing a large leadership role on this team. Nobody can look into Chase's eyes and not tell how much he wants to be out there with us."

Injury Report

  • Jacque Lewis suffered a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot against Wake Forest. He underwent successful surgery this week, with a screw inserted, and full recovery will take 8-12 weeks.

  • Scott Brumett and Roger Heinz missed practice on Tuesday due to illness

  • Jarwarski Pollock, Tommy Davis, and Hilee Taylor all have recovered from their respective injuries and participated in full contact on Tuesday.

  • Cory Powell was in limited action on Tuesday.

  • Brian Chacos did not participate in practice on Tuesday but is expected back on Wednesday.

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