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Pitt vs. UNC: North Carolina Coach and Player Quotes




Nov. 16, 2013

Quoting North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora

Opening Statement:

“I’m extremely excited about getting a win here on the road and in the conference. I have to give credit to Paul Chryst and his staff and that team for fighting all the way until the end and making a very difficult game for us. We had a lot of opportunities to put that game away and we didn’t take advantage of it, but I will say that our team kept fighting and kept scratching and clawing, finding a way to win. I’m very proud of their effort. They never stopped playing hard. Even when we lost the momentum there in the second half, we had guys still playing hard and believing it was going to happen.”

On wide receiver Ryan Switzer returning two punts for touchdowns:

“He did something that’s never been done in the history of North Carolina football. He’s returned three punts for a touchdown now, two in this game. He’s a special player. Ryan would probably tell you this too, he’s got 10 guys with him that are making it happen. They are selling out blocking their butts off. They’ve got that spark and they know he can take it the distance every time, so they’re just giving a little bit more each and every time they’re out there.”

On the Tar Heels’ improvements on special teams:

“I think it’s a confidence thing. When you start making those game-changing plays, it tends to snowball, and guys start fighting to make those plays. Who’s going to be the next guy? They start talking about who’s going to do it and who’s going to be the one to knock the ball out. Who’s going to take it the distance? This team has totally bought in to special teams being a major part of what we do. We’ve got guys that are having fun out there on special teams.”


 

 

On the play calls prior to Switzer’s three punt returns for touchdowns this season:

“Every one of them has been different. All three of them have been totally different calls actually. The one against Virginia Tech that got called back 85 yards, that was a different call too. We go into the game with about four or five different calls on punt returns every game and those guys, they believe in it. The only thing they were disappointed about was we didn’t block a punt.”

On what North Carolina saw in the Panthers’ special teams style:

“The strength of what they do in that conventional style is the two gunners on the outside, so we double the two gunners up just to get (Switzer) started. Those two guys did a great job blocking the two gunners, which kept them off. The rest of the guys were setting back in protection. We knew that if we could just get it started, we could get something positive. (Switzer) did the rest.”

On defensive end Kareem Martin’s performance this afternoon:

“I was riding Kareem all game and then I found it he had three-and-a-half sacks. What a game for him. Especially in that first half, he was a difference maker. No doubt about it. He’s a senior that understands we are running out of opportunities and he’s making the most out of every one of them.”

On “riding” Martin throughout the entirety of the game:

“I’m riding most of them all game anyways. I want a sack every play out of him. It’s just who I am. I’m always on (the players) and in the end I look and we’ve done something good, and I’m proud of them. These guys understand me and know how to handle me. Kareem is a senior that has been leading all year and he’s been selected as a captain just about every single week. To do that, it means you’ve got to practice awesome, you’ve got to play awesome and you’ve got to lead the football team. Every week we turn it over and he gets selected again. I’m proud of the way he’s finishing this year.”

On the Tar Heels’ defensive play:

“Seven sacks total. Especially early, we were putting extreme pressure on Savage. Once they settled in they started running the ball a bit more effectively with that (James) Conner kid, and it made it tougher for us to get to the quarterback. Defensively, that fourth-and-one, there it is right there. Those guys, again, they’re finding a way to get it done any way.”

On whether or not the team has had a shift in attitude this season:

“I know it’s going to shock you, but their attitudes really haven’t changed. They got to work on Sunday the same way. They’re never too high after a win and they’re never too low after a loss. They have really done a good job of kind of staying consistent throughout the season. Now what they have done is they continued to believe when things weren’t going well. They continued to be critical of themselves and what they can do to be better. Each one of them made a commitment, and we talk about giving one more inch. Whether it be film study, or in the weight room, or in the classroom, everyone’s finding a way to make it happen and they’re doing whatever it takes. That’s the difference. These guys love each other. They love playing with each other. They really do. It just took some time for us to grow as a team.”

On North Carolina’s efforts at containing Pitt defensive lineman Aaron Donald: 

“That guy, he was all over the place. That guy’s a heck of a football player. He is definitely an All-American. He had the first sack on us when he was matched up in a one-on-one situation. A few times we turned the protection to him to try to help. He plays so hard and it makes it really tough on you. We were very, very aware of where he was in every situation. The guy’s got a bright future ahead of him.”

Quoting punt returner Ryan Switzer

On what he saw on the first return for touchdown:

“After I got past the first wave of guys, I saw a lot of green grass, and I just tried to hit it. Guys picked up some great blocks, and I had a wall of guys that gave me the sideline. So I didn’t get touched.”

On the second punt return for touchdown:

“Yeah, a couple guys had an angle on me going towards the sidelines, so I stopped for a second and let them go past. I knew we were struggling at that point; I saw a cut-back lane to the right of the field and just tried to hit it.”

On how soon he knows whether a punt return will be more than a fair catch:

“Usually, I know right when it comes off the punter’s foot. You try to take a peek at the gunners coming down the field, and luckily for me I was able to take a few back despite the punter doing a good job of trying to keep it away from me.”

 

Quoting quarterback Marquise Williams

On mindset coming into the second half with a lead:

“You have to come into the second half looking at the game like the score is 0-0. A lot of our guys came out on offense looking like the game was over, and we got hurt by some penalties. We got the win though, which is what matters in the end.” 

On Ryan Switzer’s performance:

“Oh, he is just like Wes Welker, man. He is always looking to make a play, and that is why we brought him in. I don’t look at him as a freshman; we have guys who are out here making plays, and he is certainly one of them.”

On the team’s performance in the red zone:

“It is all about execution. We knew that when we were in the red zone we had to get points and not turn the ball over. I just focus on trying to not turn the ball over and punch it in when we can.”

Quoting defensive end Kareem Martin:

On the success of the defense:

“It was an all-around defensive effort. The guys on the back end were covering really well, and there is a great receiving core here at Pitt. They were giving us enough time to get to the quarterback, and it was just a relentless effort by the guys up front.”

On what has changed since the beginning of the season:

“Guys are just playing loose, and they are more familiar with the systems in place. The game plan has been scaled down, and guys are just more comfortable in their positions. It’s not a question of whether I’m going to get taken out if I make a mistake; you just have to go out there and play hard.”