Heels ready for Orangemen

As they get ready to travel to Syracuse, head coach John Bunting indicated Thursday afternoon that the Tar Heels are mentally and physically ready for the Orangemen.

The week of practice didn't start out that way, however, with several players banged up and spirits low after the loss to Miami of Ohio.

"We didn't practice well on Tuesday," Bunting said, "I think in part because they were still dwelling a little bit on the previous game and you can't do that. I told them I have been around a lot of coaches that can't get over it; we got to get over it. I said that on Sunday. I let them know that I wasn't very pleased (on Tuesday), obviously; Wednesday was better and today (Thursday) was pretty solid."

Of the players banged up, among them Jacque Lewis, Jawarski Pollock, Chesley Borders, and Tommy Richardson, all will play on Saturday night.

"We are as healthy I think as we've been. (Pollock) practiced today, he may be the only one who might be a little bit limited. I think we are going to have to monitor his reps during the game," Bunting said..

Despite the nine turnovers, the North Carolina offense demonstrated on Saturday that they can move the ball well. Bunting looks for the offense to excel on Saturday night.

"I am expecting (the offense) to go out and score points, move the ball, and keep the defense off the field some," he said.

The North Carolina defense, with a lot of new faces in the line-up, showed Bunting a lot that he liked against Miami of Ohio.

"I (liked) the way they rose to every single occasion," Bunting said. "They have a little motto over there, ‘Put the ball down,' that's exactly what they did. ‘Put the ball down, and wherever it is we're going to go out and play.' I was particularly proud of the defense in that respect. We had that one long drive, but we were able to hold them to no points, at the same time, at that point I think we wore down some. That's half-mental, half-physical."

Bunting knows that Syracuse has some tall, fast, wide receivers that could present match up problems, but believes the Orangemen will present the greatest challenge to the Tar Heel defense on the ground.

"My biggest concern is stopping the running game of Syracuse," he said. "They are a team that is going to force you to move around because they shift a great deal, and they don't want you to be completely set when they're snapping the ball, and then they are going to try to drive it right down your throat."

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