UNC-Duke: John Bunting

DURHAM, NC--An excited UNC Tar Heel head football coach John Bunting addressed the media outside the visitors' locker room, following the Tar Heels' 23-21 victory on a last-second 47-yard field goal by kicker Dan Orner.

Opening Remarks:

I guess I can say I'm still in shock, but it's starting to wear off. That's one heck of a way to finish a football game, and it's unfortunate that somebody has to be as unhappy as they are. But we are very ecstatic about having a win here at the end of the season.

Hat's off to Duke. They are a very improved football team and football program, but I am really, really proud of our kids for hanging in there through and awful lot of tough times today, coming back and playing, the kicker, the quarterback, the defense playing one of its best ball games. They gave up a couple big plays, but they really, really played hard. I'm very proud to have won this last game. I know it's a tough season, but it's great to win the last one, and it makes us feel good going into the off-season.

Did you think the kick was going through when it was in mid-air?

It was hard to see if it was going to make it, but he got all of it. It certainly is a little lower than most of his kicks that I see every single day in practice--but it counts.

During time-outs do you say anything to the kicker?

No. I don't say much at all. As he went out to start the play, before they called time-out, I just said to swing through it. I think that's what happened on the missed extra point--he didn't swing all the way through. Just like a golfer, he has to have the follow-through.

When you saw the arms go up and knew it was good, what were you thinking?

I was numb at that point--totally. I really was. You play this game for a long time, like I did, and you've been coaching for a long time, a lot of things happen during the course of a season. A lot of things can happen during the course of a game. They did today. A lot of things that you'd like to say, "Why do those things happen?" but they do. They happen in football, so the teams that can overcome those things--and I've talked about that a lot this year--overcome adversity and obstacles, and overcome problems are the teams that win a lot. Now, we didn't win a lot this year, but we won the last game and overcame a lot to do it

What did it mean to have Darian out there today?

I think it speaks for itself about how this young man has responded. There were a lot of questions last spring, he comes back this year and is having a great year, and then he has an injury. I think it's a miraculous recovery and a miraculous type of mentality that he has that says, "I want to go out and play--let me help the football team, give me a chance." He practiced all week, still wasn't sure, goes out and plays--21-35 and 262 yards is a big game for a guy who has been out for four weeks. I'm really, really proud of him and proud of the way he has responded all year long.

Could you address the fourth and four play with eight seconds.

We knew were we needed to get to--we needed to get to around the 30 yard line. On the fourth-down play, there was talk about going for the sticks, there was talk about throwing it out, but Gary [Tranquill] came up with a play. He came up with the right play--the right guy throwing the ball to the right guy, Sam Aiken, on the slant play and getting the time-out right away. It was all planned and the plan worked because of great execution. It was a great call by Gary and great execution by the players.

When did you decide to start Darian Durant?

That decision went on all week. We didn't make it until this morning. I sat down at breakfast with Gary and we talked about it. I said, "What do you think?" He said, "Let's go," and I said, "I'm with you." That was made at pre-game meal.

You've had some plays go against you this year and then you've had momentum turn against you for the rest of the game. Today they blocked a punt and scored, yet you recovered from that. Was that a little resiliency that you haven't seen all year?

That's something that should help us in the next year, the next season, in the spring. I plan on spending a lot of time with these guys on Monday and showing them a lot of plays from the past year. Most of it is geared towards momentum swings and either responding or not responding. This is a nice one to finish up with.

Will you now make staff assessments and what do you expect to do?

As I've said in the past, I'm going to evaluate everything we've done this past season, starting with me.

What does it mean to keep the Victory Bell--anything?

It means a LOT. Are you kidding me? I'm going to ring that sucker all night. I'm taking it to my house. (Laughing)


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