Bunting's Tar Heels Regroup

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Perhaps his most impressive coaching attribute, John Bunting has proven he can get his team to put a bad loss behind it especially when aided by a bye week. While it's not much fun to have to chew on an embarrassing 69-14 loss like last Saturday at Louisville, the Tar Heels are focusing this week on getting healthier and better prepared defensively.

After decisive losses at Texas and at Utah in 2001 and 2004, Carolina rebounded with two of its biggest wins in school history – a 41-9 shocker over No. 6 Florida State and a monumental 31-28 upset of fourth-ranked Miami. Both wins re-invigorated seasons that appeared to be heading nowhere fast and ended in the Tar Heels' only two bowl appearances in the new millennium.

UNC has been conducting short practices – about an hour shorter than usual this week and will take this weekend off, before returning on Sunday evening to begin game week preparations for the noon kickoff at Kenan Stadium versus Virginia on Oct. 22.

"We've been doing a little bit of work on Virginia and a little bit of work competitively against each other – the ‘one' offense versus the ‘one' defense and so on – to just keep an edge," Bunting said following Thursday's workout. "We're having some meetings. Basically we're just trying to freshen everybody up – in the their bodies and in their minds – but staying in touch with football."

One of the most surprising comments Bunting made following the loss to the Cardinals was how on as many as 45 percent of their defensive plays, the Tar Heels had players out of position prior to the snap. In scouting Carolina, the Louisville coaches picked up on the tendency and therefore ran several offensive plays on quick counts. Couple that with the fact that quarterback Brian Brohm threw just one bad pass all afternoon – which resulted in a UNC interference penalty – and it was a recipe for failure from the Carolina perspective.

"We need to be a heck of a lot smarter," Bunting said. "The guys who share the responsibility of getting those guys lined up have all been in my office. It's typical of them being very honest and open about their responsibilities not being taken care of. I appreciate that.

"We did a very poor job getting lined up and executing. If you don't do those things, you're going to get smashed by a team like Louisville. They're very, very talented. At times we played relatively well on run defense – we had some tackles for losses – but other times we didn't do well at all."

  • Bunting said wide receiver Jarwarski Pollock, who underwent surgery last Friday to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, was progressing ahead of schedule and reiterated he expects him back for the game against the Cavaliers.

    Bunting also confirmed center Ben Lemming has been scheduled for surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.

    Linebacker Victor Worsely has not practiced this week with a heel injury, but is expected to be back next week. Durell Mapp has taken his place temporarily.

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