Current Date: Sat, 08 Mar 2014 20:41:23 -0500
For senior cornerback Jabari Price, the turning point in the North Carolina football season came against East Carolina.
The Tar Heels turned in a dismal performance on both ends of the ball en route to a 55-31 rout in Kenan Stadium. Morale was low — Price said it was the toughest thing he’s ever gone through.
He rallied his team, but the Tar Heels didn’t bounce back immediately.
Instead, UNC lost two more games before winning at N.C. State. But Price said that after the ECU loss, he saw a change in his teammates.
“I thought we could run the table from ECU on out, and that was a turning point for the team,” Price said.
“But we ended up coming up short against (Virginia) Tech and Miami unfortunately. But I really, really feel like the way we’re playing right now and building on our mistakes, I feel like we could run the table from here on out.”
After stringing together three wins, UNC travels to Pittsburgh to go for its fourth straight and second consecutive on the road — a feat the team hasn’t achieved since 2010.
Redshirt sophomore Marquise Williams will lead the charge at quarterback, taking over for an injured Bryn Renner. Williams’ presence on the field gives the team another ground weapon to add to its arsenal of running backs.
On the other side of the ball, a much improved Tar Heel defense will face one of the Pittsburgh’s top receivers, Tyler Boyd.
The freshman wide receiver has amassed 729 yards and six touchdowns. But he’s not Pittsburgh’s only offensive threat. Senior wide receiver Devin Street has six touchdowns of his own and averages 95.8 yards per game.
The Tar Heels’ secondary has improved in recent games, and after giving up big plays in early games, coach Larry Fedora said the entire defensive unit is turning things around.
“If you go back to a lot of the big plays we gave up early in the year, a lot of them were missed assignments, not fitting in the gap where you’re supposed to fit,” Fedora said. “We cut those mistakes down and our guys are making plays now.”
UNC will face a Pittsburgh squad that defeated Notre Dame last weekend but lost to Navy two weeks earlier.
His team is riding its first win streak, and Fedora isn’t worried about UNC losing focus in the final games of the season — no matter the strength of the opponent.
“This Pitt team just beat Notre Dame and we’re going on the road, our guys are going to know,” Fedora said. “They’re going to turn the film on, look at the film and they’re going to know.
“What we’ve been doing is focusing on ourselves. Let’s just be 1-0. Let’s give one more inch. Let’s find a way and let’s do whatever it takes. That’s really what we are locked in on, it doesn’t matter who we play each week.”