You sat on the bench for a few minutes after the game. What were you thinking about?
Realizing my career here is over and just thinking about stuff in the past and how we let this game get out of our reach--just a lot of disappointment.
What was it that got the offense so out of sync in the first half?
I don't know what it was. We weren't in a rhythm at all, offensively. We got something going and then we had the fumble. We had a penalty and played out of rhythm, things that lose you games and that's what happened in the first half.
What was halftime like?
We just decided that we had to come out an put forth our best effort and start playing like we are capable of playing. We weren't playing up to our abilities at all that first half, as the statistics show. We wanted to come out and prove a point that we weren't going to lay down.
Do you think the players still have confidence in Coach Bunting?
I'd rather not talk about coaches or anything like that, if you don't mind. I'm just still trying to deal with this loss.
You are a guy who has overcome a lot of adversity. Coaches talk about you being a leader. How did you keep going, and how hard has it been?
How did I keep going through it all? My upbringing, man. I came up here without having everything handed to me. Everything is not all gravy. You aren't going to always get want you want, when you want it, how you want it. Where I'm from, the surroundings, and my mother, to other family members and people I'm around the majority of the time, everybody is a fighter. We don't raise quitters. There is no quit in our blood. For you to quit--I don't even know that word, honestly.
I've been in fights. I've been beat up; I've beat people up. I've been jumped; I've jumped people. It's life. You have to keep fighting. You have to keep fighting. Only warriors survive.
What were you thinking about as you walked off the field for the last time in a Tar Heel uniform?
I was the senior class that lost the [Victory] Bell.
You know this team better than any of us know this team. Can they turn it around?
It's up to the players--the players buying into the coaches. They all want to. Do you want to get better? Do you want to be one of the best, if not the best, at your position, not only on the team, but in the state of North Carolina or in the ACC? It comes down to the individual. I was always taught, what ever you do--good or bad--be the best at what you do. Die trying to be the best at what you do. I think it's all a mentality thing before it's a physical thing or emotional point. Always remember that you are going to get out what you put into something.
What was the locker room like after the game?
Quiet, really quiet--there wasn't anybody saying a word.
What were you thinking as you walked off the field for the last time in a Tar Heel uniform?
It was crazy--I was looking around. This whole week has been weird for me as a senior because, we had Tuesday practice, and I was like, 'This is the last Tuesday practice,' then the last Wednesday practice. Then you get our there and see the crowd and realize this is the last time I'm going to be in this kind of atmosphere.
I guess I was walking off the field, it was weird because I had been thinking of it all week, and it didn't register. All week I was thinking, 'I'm going to finish my career with a win, and I'm going to be happy,' and things like that. End of the game just messed up all of that. It still hasn't registered with me, I don't think, that it's the last time I'm going to be out there.
You see the inner workings on the team. What do you see for the players coming back on this team, in the future?
I think they have a lot to look forward to. They are talented, they work hard, and they have all the potential in the world. If those guys really commit themselves to doing well and find some continuity and unity among each other, they have the potential to be a really good team in the future.
What happened on that flag they called on you that kept their drive going?
I have no idea. I don't know what happened besides the referee throwing the flag and saying it was pass interference.
What were your thoughts as you walked off the field for the last time in a Carolina football uniform?
There were no words to explain it--embarrassment, shame, knowing it was the last game for me. It was pitiful, really.
What do you see in the future for the guys coming back?
We had a lot of young guys, and I think experience plays a big part of this ball game. I think they will have experience and know more what to expect. On top of that, they learned from their mistakes.
What were you thinking as you walked off the field for the last time this season?
I was crushed. Normally, I'm the last person to leave the field every game, but I left the field first. I ran in before everybody. I just couldn't even be out there.
What happened with the offense in the first half?
Honestly, I don't know what was going on with us. We came out flat, but we have no excuses. We should have performed well in the first half like we have done for most of the season. We didn't, and that hurt us today.
Can you put a finger on why it started the way it did with you guys?
I'm not sure. We were very excited before the game, in the locker room before we cam out. We had a speech going before the game started, and we thought we were ready to go out and pound with them, but that didn't happen in the first half.
You are going to be a senior next year. You and the other seniors are going to have to lead this team. Five wins over two years--what are your thoughts going into the off-season?
Well, I can promise you right now that this is going to be my last year here, and I fight hard. I'm not going to let my team go down my last season here. We are going to win a lot more games next year, I can promise you that.
Do you think your teammates believe that as well?
Everyone believes it. We know that we have come a long way this season and gotten better every game. The scores may not reflect how we've improved on defense or offense throughout the season, but we've gotten better every game, just about. That will carry into the off-season and into the spring, the summer, and then on to the season. We are going to get better everyday in the weight room, conditioning, or on the football field. We know that we are going to be ready to play next year.
It's sort of a cliché that it takes 11 guys playing as a team. You can control what you do in the off-season, but what can you do to control what others do in the off-season?
I have to be the number one leader. That's how I'm looking at this off-season. A lot of guys look up to me. I may be one of the smallest guys on the team, but they know my heart, and I'm going to be the number one leader. I'm going to try to get this program turned around with me and the rest of my seniors.
Do you think the team feels confidence in Coach Bunting? So many people on the outside are questioning if he can get it done.
I won't comment on that.
On your touchdown, what happened? It looked like you were scrambling and Darian was scrambling.
Actually, I was just running a little flair route out of the backfield and I saw that the defensive end was on me and no one else was downfield so I just took off hoping he would see me. He saw me so I caught it.
Did you hear a smattering of boos as you went into the locker room at halftime?
Yes, I was very frustrated with that. That upset me a lot because I couldn't believe our fans were booing us. I came in at halftime and gave a little speech and I told them 'We have to go back out in the second half and go to war. We have to come back and win this game.' Basically, I told them we had to give our fans something to cheer for, so that's what we tried to do.
What do you think has to be the biggest difference next year for this team to win more games next year?
Continue to get better up front, and they are, defensively and offensively. We need to continue to get better up front. That helps a lot. I think when we go into the off-season and those big boys get in the weight room and start to get stronger and better conditioned, a lot of things will turn around for us up front, and big things will happen for us next season.
What sort of evaluations are you going to make this off-season?
[Coach Bunting] answered that question for you in there. He said he would evaluate everything, starting with himself. John is running this program.
What do you look for next year? What do you think is a leap forward?
Guys, this isn't my press conference, OK. You just had Coach Bunting's press conference. I look for us to work hard in the off-season. I look for us to get better, and I'm confident that we will. I'm confident of his leadership and his coaching ability. North Carolina football is going to get back. It's going to get back the right way. It's going to get back under John's leadership, and I'm excited about that. I think our fans will stay with us.