CHAPEL HILL--- Following UNC's 27-6 victory over in-state rival East Carolina Saturday afternoon in Kenan Stadium, head coaches Larry Fedora of the Tar Heels and Ruffin McNeill of the Pirates spoke with reporters.
UNC HEAD COACH LARRY FEDORA
"We've got a much better taste in our mouth tonight than we have had, so it's been good to get that taste out of our mouth. I thought our guys played well. I would say we played a complete game. We played hard the entire game. You've got to give a lot of props to our defense, the way they played in the second half. Anytime you're going to get seven sacks, you hold somebody to 230 yards of total offense, they did a tremendous job. They kept them out of the end zone the entire day."
On being dominant in the third quarter so far this season.....
"I don't know. It's not the halftime speeches. I'll assure you. But it's guys trying to come out with the same intensity level that we do at the beginning of the game. That's always a struggle for any team, to come out just as intense in the second half as you do in the first half. I think our guys have maybe done a better job of that than we have at the beginning of the game."
"I think you have to give (ECU's defense) credit for some of the things they were doing. They were getting an extra guy down in the box and moving people and bringing a guy quite a bit of the time. But I was really happy to see Gio get back out there, to see him get hits, see him make people miss, see him jump, see him catch the ball, see him get in the end zone."
"That's just going to give him more confidence. This week in practice he felt better the next morning each day after practice than he had the week before. I was really hoping it was going to feel that way. The good thing is just talking to him a few minutes ago, he said he felt fine and felt really good."
On the sacks by the UNC defense, and the play of the secondary.....
"There were some coverage sacks, no doubt about it. Especially when you rush three guys and you still get sacks. That's a heck of a job, first of all by the coverage, then second, for those three guys out front fighting their rear ends off to get to the quarterback. You're getting basically two double-teams and one guy singled up, so that's a tough deal."
"But we had a lot of guys get sacks too. It wasn't just one guy. There were a lot of guys that got their first sacks of the year. When you start getting that, it's kind of like a feeding frenzy for sharks. When there's blood in the water, they start coming from everywhere, and that's a good thing."
ECU HEAD COACH RUFFIN MCNEILL
"It was a tough, disappointing loss for us. I thought we prepared very well as a team and though we were ready to go. And we were. I thought some important things were to come out fast, start fast, sustain it, and finish. We held tight."
"I wish we'd gotten some touchdowns there at the beginning where we had to settle for field goals there in the first half. Going in 10-6 (at halftime), I felt pretty good. We thought it was important to get started in the second half, and we went three-and-out on defense. I thought that was a good start. From that point on, we had some mishaps happen that really set us back a little bit and against a team like that, as talented as they are, you can't have those setbacks."
On Carolina's defensive effort.....
"They did a good job being able to get pressure with four and defend. If you can do that against any offense and leave seven in coverage you're going to be good. I saw them blitz some and get to us a little bit."
On coming out after halftime and giving up the third quarter touchdowns.....
"One thing we've learned traveling and being on the road is that you have to start fast and sustain it. There's not any room for error, especially against a talented team. They did a good job of capitalizing. We had a mental mistake there coming out of the end zone on the return, and they had us backed up in there. Those things start to multiply."
"Little things turn into big things, and against teams as talented as UNC and the teams we face, you can't have those mistakes."