Thursday: John Bunting Quotes + Audio

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina held it's last practice of the preseason that was open to the media on Thursday at Navy Field. Read and listen to what the head coach had to say to reporters immediately afterward...

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AUDIO (12:27)

On the pace of practice –

"First day of practice with school…very slow – simple as that..."

Did they pick up the pace?

"Sometimes…very inconsistent."

D.J. Walker was sidelined today - did he have a concussion?

"At the scrimmage the other night, yes."

How long to you expect to be without him?

"I suspect he'll be back by Monday."

Does it usually take a couple of days after school starts for practice to pick up?

"It always does. I'm very thankful we don't start Game Week when school is starting. We get to get this day – and I think it's just going to be a day – out of the way. We'll be back to full speed tomorrow."

If it's not just a day, what's going to happen to the players?

"They're going to be doing a lot of running, a lot of exercise."

Any new developments with the quarterbacks?

"No. ... Both have played well. It's been really exciting the whole camp to watch them practice. Myself and Coach [Frank] Cignetti have talked about it for two consecutive days. I expect we'll talk about it again on Sunday, and see if we have anything more definitive. Otherwise I'm going in looking at them both playing. They've done a heck of a job, and I'm really proud of both of them."

Do you think their playing time will be close to 50-50?

"No way I can describe that right now. I don't know. I really don't know. ... I'll say this, I have pulled out the '01 tape, when the two-headed quarterback won five games in a row. The one that we lost, we didn't have both; we had one quarterback. The streak came to an end when the two-headed quarterback ended. So I'll be watching them. Those tapes are out."

Have you pulled out any tapes of opening games? Will you talk about them?

"No ... not really, because we played really well last year in our opener, we just didn't win it. We didn't finish the game. That's what I'm talking about to our team this year – finishing games. When you're in the game at halftime with 10 teams – which we were – and only come up with five wins, we've got to finish the games. That game in particular, we had a huge missed opportunity last year against Georgia Tech. It's a different team now. This is a different football team, but finishing games is going to be extremely important for us to be successful."

Are they ready?

"No. I need every single second we have left this week. We have two very important practices left. Today's was. I knew we would struggle, and we did. Tomorrow we'll pick it back up, and Saturday we won't scrimmage, but we'll play like it's a game on Saturday – everything from pre-game meal to the entrance on the field. Everything that they're going to do."

Did you go by feel in 2001?

"We weren't that smart, at least I wasn't. [Gary] Tranquill was, but I wasn't. We rotated every two series. I don't see that happening. That was an easy way to do it, and the quarterbacks were very comfortable doing it. I'm not saying we're going to do it. I just don't know right now, and I'm not concerned about it right now. We're getting the most out of both of these kids right now, and it's been a great camp for them. ... I'm going to play the quarterback that I think will help us win the football game."

Who has stepped up to take that third quarterback position?

"Ben Johnson has been our third quarterback all through camp. He's pretty good and very smart - he can manage a game quite well. He's gotten stronger and I'd have no concerns about putting him in the game."

What's the situation at linebacker right now?

"Mapp's been injured again. We're hoping he'll get well soon, I anticipate he will be, but he's missed basically all the training camp and that's scary."

Is there a scenario where you could play Paschal and Worsley together if Mapp's not ready?

"That is a very distinct possibility. Chase Rice has played extremely well, he has played well including the scrimmage the other night."

Are there any freshman other than Hakeem Nicks that you think will play this year?

"There's a great chance Ryan Taylor will play for us. He's shown a tremendous urgency to play special teams; he's a fierce competitor. Other than that, there are three of four guys we're thinking about."

What's the latest update on Mullins?

"Aleric has been cleared by the Clearinghouse to come to North Carolina, go to school, to practice, to train -- but is not allowed to play this year. He'll have three years of eligibility left and if he meets certain academic criteria by that third year, he'll be able to earn another year. ... He's not going to go to prep school, he'll be here and we're excited about that."


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