"Obviously we are very disappointed with the outcome of the game today. I thought two teams battled their hearts out today and we did not make enough plays to win the game.
“I told our players in the locker room that there are some things that are the measure of a man – how you compete, how you play, the level of intensity you play with. I think from an effort standpoint and from a competitive standpoint, there’s no way that I could be disappointed with the way our kids played.
“There things, obviously, I wish we could have done better. A punt return for a touchdown is almost always a back-breaker and something that is extraordinarily difficult to overcome. When your defense is playing well and you’re forcing them to punt and you forcing them to go a long way and you give up a touchdown on a long punt return. It is certainly a tribute to them.
“The other disappointing thing is the inability when you get in the red zone to punch it in the end zone [and] to stall and have to settle for field goals. As much as it is good for Casey [Barth] to make them – and he made a great kick today, I think it was a 49-yard – but the ones that you get inside the 20 you really need to knock them in and score touchdowns. Instead of keeping the game reachable, you really have a chance of changing the outcome of the game.
“I thought our kids played hard. State played well enough to win and they deserved to win today."
On the State touchdown challenged in the end zone:
"I've got the worst seat of anybody. You have to rely on the press box [or] you’ve got to take a look on the jumbotron. There is no way that I could tell. After I take a look at the films, there will be all kind of discussions [about] who tipped it first, was the guy out of bounds, should it be a dead ball? I was more disappointed in the play previously that should have been intentional grounding. [If that was called] that play would of never happens.
What have you been most impressed with on this year's seniors?
"I think their maturity and their poise when faced with an awful lot of adversity and challenges.
“When you start building a program four years ago, these 17 seniors and couple that will be coming back, played a huge role in changing the culture and expectations of this football program. They fought their hearts out for three consecutive seasons to make this team bowl eligible.
“It is still not a finished product; there is a lot of work to do to be where this team wants to be. I will tell you that these seniors they have made football relevant at North Carolina again just because when you look back on the history on this football program the last three or four years – wins against Miami, wins against Notre Dame, wins against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. There’s evidence that we’re definitely moving in the right direction, there’s also evidence that we’ve got to continue to build before we get to where we want to be.”
On T.J. Yates’ play:
“You almost can’t say enough about the poise that he showed. And I know it was frustrating for him today. He got hit a lot more – they blitzed him and hit him. Obviously, he had a significant enough day to almost put us in the position to win the game.”
On Yates getting hit so much:
“They brought a lot of pressure. They brought a lot of five-, six-, and seven-man blitzes. At times, we made some mental mistakes and didn’t pick them up… You’ve got to give them credit – they’ve got guys that can rush the passer. They have two outside linebackers that I think are very good and certainly Nate Irving – they added him into a lot of their blitz packages.”
On losing to NC State four consecutive games:
“It’s something that we’re not very happy about.”
On the game:
“This one was pretty tough. We did a lot of good things on offense. They were bringing so much pressure that the screens were working for us. I’m not sure how many yards Anthony Elzy had, but it was probably close to a million.”
On getting sacked seven times:
“They ran a lot of stuff that they didn’t show on film. They did a lot of odd stuff, three down linemen, and they were kind of minnows in a bucket running around everywhere. We had five or six man protection instead of seven most of the game. It hurt us a little bit, but it also helped us a lot with the screen game.”
On the red zone offense:
“One of the things that we knew we had to do was convert in the red zone because this is a team that can put up a lot of points, and we didn’t do that at all. I wish I had the answer right now, but I do not. But it is something we need to work on.”
On the rivalry with NC State:
“That’s what hurts the worst, I never got the better of them. They are a good football team. You have to give them credit. They have done a good job the last couple of years doing what they need to do to beat us. We definitely left some things out there on the field today, and that’s the most disappointing.”
On Spencer’s touchdown reception:
“I was the one that deflected it. When I reached up, I saw his hands trying to close on it, and I just knocked it away from him. When I looked up, I saw a different color gloves [and] I just knocked it away from him. I thought it was incomplete, because the receiver who I was fighting with I fell on top of him [and] when him and I were getting up off the ground I heard the crowd’s reaction.”
On team’s accomplishments:
“We were Coach Davis’ first class and they were coming off of a losing season, and my freshman year we had another losing season. But we were able to put together back-to-back winning seasons so that felt good, because we felt like coming in and making a difference.”
On what defines this senior class:
“Our senior class overcame so much adversity. With half of our senior class being under investigation and being able to bounce back and play as hard as we did, it’s good to go out like that.”
On the game:
“This one hurt emotionally. We really put a lot of emphasis into this game and it didn’t turn out the way we wanted. We’re pretty devastated right now.”
The emotional swing of the punt return touchdown:
“It’s very frustrating. But it’s football. It’s a very unpredictable game – you never know what’s going to happen. In that case, [the punt return] was something we didn’t expect to happen. It’s just something you’ve got to learn to deal with [and] learn to cope with.”
On settling for field goals in the red zone:
“That’s always tough. That’s always tough. We always talk about when we get inside the red zone we need points. We’re thankful for those field goals, but we understand [we need touchdowns].”
On his last home game:
“Definitely not the way I wanted to go out but it was definitely good being out there having fun with the boys for the last time, and I’ve got to thank my 17 seniors, our underclassmen, coaching staff and everybody who supported us…my family, everybody back home, Tar Heel fans and you can’t thank them enough. But we’ve got two games left and let’s have fun with them.”
On Spencer’s touchdown reception:
“That’s the story of our season so far. We just had a little bad luck, and Russell [Wilson] made a great play. A tipped ball that goes into a receiver’s hands isn’t going to happen much and you just have to give them credit for executing that lucky play.”
On his two goal line plays:
“That was the first time I felt like myself. It was good to be back making plays. That second one, I probably should have picked it. It was good finally feeling fast and making a play for my team and hopefully it will carry on for the next two games.”