UNC HEAD COACH JOHN BUNTING
“This was a disappointing loss. We were one score away from hanging with those guys for most of the game. I’m proud of our football team’s effort and I’m proud of the way we played really hard. We need to play smarter, because we really gave a tremendous effort as a staff and as players. But we need to see if we can take it to another level. The effort was there; we played a little better on defense. We left a couple of short fields out there, they had a couple of long drives and a couple of third down plays. We’ve got to find a way to win these games. It’s been two games in a row now where we’ve entered the fourth quarter and been right in the game and didn’t get it done. We’ve got to get better.
“We played our fannies off on special teams. I thought that we played as well or better than they did and that is encouraging. We’ve got some fine athletes out there that show up. We did some good things, but like I said, we’ve got to find a way to win one of these games. Maybe it will be next week. I can’t think of a finer place to do it than over in Raleigh. It will be a very intense week of practice and a very intense football game.
“There are things that we can build on from this game. I’m looking forward to getting back together with my team. I’m going to take and show them all the good things that we did, and work with them on some of the things we still need to get better on.”
On the play of special teams
“It was terrific, but it’s not just one man, though. There’s a whole bunch of guys out there working. I thought we would have an advantage there. We’ve got great speed and athleticism. Most of those are young players out there on special teams giving tremendous effort. But we had a few calls in the kicking game – all on the other side of the field. I don’t understand the call on interfering with the catch of the ball. They told me the hit was simultaneous – the tie goes to the runner. I haven’t seen that too often in my lifetime – ties. Those things hurt us some…the illegal block in the back – that was so far away I couldn’t even see it. That hurt us. That was one of those momentum swings.
“I’m encouraged by the play of our special teams. We’re getting better. James Webster has done a great job and our guys gave a tremendous effort.
“We played extremely well in some cases and not so well in others. We played hard on special teams, and that’s encouraging. Our young players played well on special teams and we had good returns, even though one was brought back on a penalty. We’ve got to take it to another level now. We’ve got to have this kind of effort and maintain it for 60 minutes.
“On special teams it really showed how athletic some of our young players are. I’m going to keep playing those kids. They played with a lot of enthusiasm and effort. They’ll grow from that. I’m certain they had their eyes opened by it a little bit [by the speed of the college game].”
On the play of the defense
“We battled on defense as well as we’ve battled this year. We’re playing a lot of players out there. Everybody had a chance and we’re going to keep shuffling our lineup to see if we can come up with the right fits to stop runs. We played as physical as we have and that is encouraging. Is it good enough to win? Probably not, but if we keep working together and take it to another level this week, maybe we’ll have a chance to get it done.
“It’s a game of inches and a game of fits. Whether you turn the ball outside or back in…just like in passing situations, you’ve got to make decisions when you go after the quarterback and in coverage. We had some breakdowns in both – some of it was physical and some of it was mental. We’ve got to get it coached up, and they’ve got to respond to it.
“In order for us to be effective at all as we continue to get better on defense, we can’t ever give our up a short field [to our opponents]. It’s too hard on our defense, and we’ve got to get better at that.
WISCONSIN HEAD COACH BARRY ALVAREZ
“First of all, I’m pleased with the win. I thought our boys bounced back, particularly on offense. I know there were a lot of questions about Jim (Sorgi) this week and he’s the first one to tell you that he didn’t play well last week. Yet, I think he answered the call today. I thought he was very sharp. Obviously overthrew the interception which hurts you in the red zone just before the half. I mean that was huge. You don’t want to do that. But other than that, I really thought he made some very good throws, had some good reads. That was a good read on that play, he just overthrew it. I can’t say enough about Booker Stanley, our third tailback coming in and the first time he has ever had any extended playing time and he carries the team. We wanted to establish the run and what a tremendous job he did and all that tells you that the offensive line was doing a good job. Defensively, I thought we did a lot of good things, particularly early in the game. They are a hard team to defend at quarterback, as you can all see (Darian Durant) is what he’s advertised as. He’s a very good player and they have some threats on offense and create a lot of problems for you. I’m just sick about how we covered kicks. That’s just beyond me and I’ve never seen anything like that before and we will address it, we’ll get it corrected. That really puts the defense in a tough situation. Probably the best thing we could have done all day was kick it out of bounds and let them spot it on the 35, but I was afraid they would decline the penalty. I don’t know why they declined it that one time, but those are things we can correct. Maybe we can put some starters on there if we have to. It was a good win to get. I think that that team has potential to go on and win some games. There are some good players on that team.”
How much of a shock was it to let them return that opening kickoff?
“It just takes the wind right out of you. You’ve got your team ready. You have worked hard all week. You’re focused. You come out of the locker room ready to go and the guy (North Carolina’s Michael Waddell) goes however far he went untouched. It just takes the wind right out of you.”
On choosing to run more in the second half:
“My linemen were upset with me that we didn’t run the ball on that throw. They wanted to run a power and I thought we were getting good movement. I thought they were really fired up and quite frankly, we were running the ball well. So, when we went into this game, we wanted to establish the run. We wanted to keep our defense off the field and their offense off the field as much as we could. So it wasn’t anything about that throw.”
On your risk-reward equation that Alvarez has with Sorgi’s throwing more:
“I really don’t think about that much Andy. We try to teach them where to throw it and don’t think about picks. You have an opportunity, as we saw last week (against UNLV), to fumble the ball too. You know there’s no guarantee that because you run the ball that you don’t lose it. So I don’t have any problems. We throw the ball pretty well and when Jim is crisp, you saw it today, that would’ve been hard for us today, when it was crunch time and we get two penalties back to back and still overcome that with throws. It’s hard to run draw plays to overcome that. You have got to be able to throw the football and you have got to be able to throw it on first down. When you establish the run, I think we can be more effective on throwing the ball even more, even take more pressure off Jim.”