“We’re extremely excited about getting a win here, on the road in conference. I give credit to Paul Chryst and his staff and that team for fighting all of the way to the end and making it a very difficult game for us. We had a lot of opportunities to put that game away and we just didn’t take advantage of it. But I will say that our team just kept fighting, kept scratching and clawing and finding a way to win. Very proud of their effort. They never stopped playing hard. Even when we lost some momentum there in the second half, we had guys still playing hard and believing it was going to happen.”
What can you say about Ryan Switzer and his effort today?
“He did something that’s never been done in the history of North Carolina football. He’s returned three punts for touchdown now, two in this game. He’s a special player. I think Ryan would probably tell you this, too, he’s got 10 guys out there with him that are making it happen. They are selling out and blocking their butt off because they’ve got that spark, they know that he can take it the distance at any time. They’re just giving a little bit more each and every time they’re out there.”
Have Switzer’s three touchdowns come on the same type of punt plays?
“No, actually every one of them has been different. Every single one of them. All three have been totally different calls. The one against Virginia Tech that got called back – the 85-yarder – that was a different call, too. We go into the game with about four or five different calls on punt return. They believe in it. The only thing they were disappointed about today is that we didn’t block a punt.”
Why did you call that particular punt return at that time?
“The strength of what they do in that conventional style is the two gunners on the outside, so we doubled the two gunners up to just get him started. And those two guys did a great job of blocking the two gunners, which kept them off. The rest of the guys are sitting back in protection and so we knew if we could just get him started, we just wanted to get something positive. And then he did the rest.”
Can you talk about Kareem Martin’s play?
“I was riding Kareem all game and then I find out he had 3.5 sacks. What a game for him, especially in that first half. He was a difference maker, there’s no doubt about it. He’s a senior that understands we are running out of opportunities and he’s making the most of every one of them for himself.”
What specifically were you riding Kareem about?
“I’m riding most of them the whole game anyway. Yeah, I want a sack every play out of him. It’s just who I am. I’m always on them and then at the end I look up and we’ve done something good. These guys understand me, they know how to handle me.”
Martin wasn’t the only defender getting pressure. What was that group as a whole able to do?
“Especially early, we were putting an extreme amount of pressure on Savage. Once they settled in, they started running the ball more effectively with the Conner kid and it made it tougher for us to get to the quarterback. That 4th-and-1, there it is, right there. They make the play, I think it was Otis, he made the tackle. Again, they’re finding a way to get it done.”
When you were recruiting Switzer, did you see this type of potential?
“Yeah, we knew the guy was extremely talented. Very, very quick. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year two years in a row in West Virginia and made a lot of plays. I remember watching his film and thinking, ‘Is this real?’ Some of the things he was doing. I think you’re just now in the last 2-3 games, you’re seeing that confidence into what he can do. It’s not college football anymore. It’s, ‘this is what I do, I’m a college football player. And I make plays.' He’s just hitting his stride now. He’s starting to feel comfortable about everything he does.”