CHAPEL HILL --- Following North Carolina's convincing 38-12 victory over Connecticut Saturday night in Kenan Stadium, head coaches Butch Davis and Randy Edsall spoke to reporters. Davis was generally pleased with the way the Tar Heels played to improve to 4-1 on the season, while Edsall gave UNC credit for a largely dominating performance.
UNC head coach Butch Davis:
"We are thrilled to win the game. Certainly a big story in the ballgame was Bruce Carter's performance. It was outstanding. He was terrific as a linebacker. Certainly the blocks set up some great field position that led to one score. Our defense continuing to create turnovers ? Mark Paschal's interceptions, Trimane Goddard's interception, Marvin Austin's interception. I told Marvin in the locker room that they are going to start timing guys with hour glasses after watching that run. That was the longest 7-yard run I've ever seen in my life. It was great pressure by E.J. (Wilson) getting the ball tipped up and Marvin being the right pace at the right time."
"We are happy to have won. We are very pleased with the way in which we were able to run the football tonight. We had a great deal of respect for Connecticut. They are a good football team. They are very well coached, very athletic. It was a challenge. We were concerned with their kickoff and punt return guys and we thought we made some strides and improvements in our special teams today. We covered kicks much better than we did a week ago against Miami. I think that certainly helped us and the ability to run the ball. Shaun Draughn had an outstanding game, popped some big runs. Ryan Houston had some runs and as I have had said, we need all three of these guys. They each bring a dimension."
"I thought Cameron (Sexton) did an outstanding job of just managing the game. There were lots of emotional ups and downs. It was kind of hard offensively to get into a rhythm, because you would score in a couple of plays or the defense would get an interception or block a punt and it was kind of a bizarre game. I thought he managed the game well. He made some good throws. Certainly Hakeem (Nicks) made a phenomenal catch on the sidelines on a third and 20. There's not many guys that can make that catch.
I think the most healthy thing this team is willing to do is to learn to look at themselves in the mirror after each ballgame and say, 'Okay guys, where are we going to get better each week?' I think they've learned a lot of lessons over the last year and a half. If you don't fix things that go wrong the week before, you have a tendency to get exposed the following week.
Thoughts about UNC's punt blocks:
"UConn had a brand new personal protector. We felt like if we could kind of confuse him a bit with some of the alignments we could get some pressure off the edge. And it just worked. There wasn?t anything spectacular by scheme other than guys giving great effort and being at the right edges and getting off the ball. Certainly Bruce (Carter) made some great plays. One of the things we try and impress upon guys is if you are on the punt pressure unit, you never know when the other team might make a mental mistake. Unless you go hard you just never know. Some of the games we have won in the last two years have resulted because of a play on special teams."
Thoughts about the success of the running game:
"I thought our offensive line is getting better. They are playing better as a team. You can't discount what the tight ends did."
"We were really concerned about Donald Brown. This is a great running back. He can score from anywhere on the field. We were really concerned about making sure we didn?t give up big runs because every game you?d see he'd either hit a home run for a touchdown or have a lot of big runs that would flip the field position. The nature of their offense is they are a big-time possession offense. They run the ball so much and so effectively, the passing game with all the shallow bubbles is almost an extended handoff."
Connecticut Head Coach Randy Edsall:
"Disappointing loss, to say the least. I just give North Carolina credit. They're a very talented football team, a very athletic football team---but again, we didn't get the job done. It's pure and simple. We didn't play to our capabilities, and they had something to do with that. We can't turn the ball over and give the short field and give points away on turnovers---which we did on a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, an interception returned for a touchdown, and an interception to put the ball on the plus 15-yard line. We're not going to beat teams like North Carolina if we do that."
"As coaches, we accept responsibility. As players, they accept responsibility, and we'll work really hard to correct the mistakes. Again, that was just way too many penalties, way too many turnovers, way too many mistakes for a UConn football team tonight, and again, I'm responsible and I'll make sure we get it corrected."
Thoughts about UNC's three blocked punts:
"Basically, we just didn't execute the technique that we had. If we just would have taken the steps that we worked on and do what we were supposed to, then I think we would have been fine. We just had some mistakes there and obviously we have to do a better job of getting our point across and we have to do a better job of executing the fundamentals and the technique of the punt game. It was surprising because we haven?t had any problems with it."
Did UNC throw anything different at you to block those punts?
"We always try to give our guys every look that we possibly can. Some people might come and do things, but with our protection, if we just execute our technique and if everybody does what we're supposed to do, nobody should be able to come free up the middle or do anything. Obviously we didn't do a good enough job of expressing that to them again this week. People have to just execute the technique and if we do, we shouldn't have any problems at all with how we work our punt game."