Holley-Led Heels Back In Bowl Chase

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Normally there may have been concern North Carolina would take Maryland lightly this week, considering the Tar Heels have faced only ranked opponents over the last month. But UNC has taken pride in avenging some distasteful past defeats this season, and the Terrapins are just the latest to enter its crosshairs.

JESSE HOLLEY - Audio (4:34)
TOMMY DAVIS - Audio (4:50)
JOHN BUNTING - Audio (32:52)

Just like Carolina (4-4, 3-2 ACC), Maryland (4-4, 2-3) needs to win two of its final three contests to become bowl-eligible.

The Tar Heels are out to halt a four-game losing skid to the Terps, and in doing so, give John Bunting his first win against Ralph Friedgen – and this time the Maryland coach and alum has a week to prepare.

"He's an awfully good coach," Bunting said of Friedgen, whose teams demolished UNC by a combined score of 141-28 from 2001-03. "I think he's a dangerous man with extra time."

The teams did not meet last year.

Both Bunting and Friedgen took over the helm at their respective alma maters in 2001.

"I remember that the last time we played Maryland; it was a loss and that is enough motivation," Jesse Holley said. "We're two similar teams record-wise. They need this win for a bowl game and we need this win for a bowl game. They are going to come in pumped up and their coaching staff is going to have those guys prepared and ready. A whole lot is on the line."

Holley is a big reason Carolina is – for the second consecutive season – playing meaningful football games in November. The outspoken junior receiver with the magnetic personality notched a career-best eight catches for 125 yards last Saturday's win over then-No. 19 Boston College. It was his first time Holley had eclipsed 100 yards receiving in his career.

Prior to the game, Holley was named a team co-captain – the first time this year Bunting has bestowed the honor on an underclassman.

"[Holley] has been the thread that has continued to keep this offense and the passing game going," Bunting said.

Holley has at least four catches in four straight games and has 14 receptions in the last two. He leads Carolina this season with 35 grabs for 480 yards and ranks fourth in the ACC in receptions per game (4.38) and fifth in receiving yards per game (60.0).

"Last week we said that Boston College was our biggest game during this four-game season," Holley said. "Now the biggest game is Maryland of our three-game season. We just have to go ahead and take care of business."

If the Tar Heels are to once again prove the league's prognosticators wrong and return to post-season play against one of the nation's top schedules, Holley will need help from the offense, defense and special teams. UNC is coming off its best team performance of the season – in all three phases of the game.

But a bowl game is not being discussed this week in practice.

"Right now we are taking it game by game," Tommy Davis said. "We have Maryland this week. We can't talk about a bowl until we get qualified for one."

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