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The Daily Tar Heel

Pressure piles on UNC football team after Duke loss and ahead of NC State game

Duke beat UNC in football 33-3 on Saturday evening in Durham.
Duke beat UNC in football 33-3 on Saturday evening in Durham.

Duke’s celebration began immediately as the North Carolina football team’s last-second efforts fell short in Durham on Saturday.

That didn’t sit well with UNC junior cornerback Jabari Price.

“I’ve definitely never been a part of something like that where the students rushed the field,” Price said Monday. “That stuck with me — that’s going to stick with me forever.”

Apparently, none of the Tar Heels took the loss lightly as coach Larry Fedora described Sunday’s film session as a somber event.

“It was a very depressed group when they came in yesterday,” Fedora said. “I didn’t expect it to be any different, and we talked about that.

“You should feel that way, and you should be hurt. If it means something to you, that’s the way its going to be.”

This Saturday’s game with N.C. State is going to mean something to the Tar Heels as well, but first they have to move past the 33-30 heartbreaker at Duke.

Fedora said that decision to move on is made when the players step on the practice field Tuesday because from that point forward, there is no looking back.

Fedora is charged with refocusing his team on a Wolfpack squad that has won the last five meetings between the two schools.

Quarterback Bryn Renner said this game has been on his mind since last year’s game ended.

“The focal point of every season coming into it is this game but as a player you can’t really worry about the outside,” Renner said. “You have to focus on our team and what we have to improve on.”

But keeping the focus internal can be a difficult task. Fedora says he’s reminded almost daily about the Tar Heels’ recent history with N.C. State.

And Price said he never stops hearing about having never beaten the Wolfpack.

“I’ve been getting scrutiny for all three years about losing to them — on Twitter, from everybody,” he said. “So I’m just sick of it. I’m ready to end it now.”

The Tar Heels are just 1-3 in 2012 in games that are decided by five points or less. The battle for the Victory Bell fell into that category, and North Carolina is expecting the match-up with N.C. State to be equally competitive. Three of the last five times the two have met, the margin of victory was less than five.

“Rivalry games, you saw last week, it’s going to come down to one or two plays that really define the game,” Renner said. “One team is going to have the upper hand in making that play, and we need to have it be us more times than it’s not us.”

With another rivalry game set to take place Saturday in Kenan Stadium, Price has a very clear vision for how he’s planning on forgetting the Duke loss.

“I have to get rid of that feeling,” Price said, “and I only know one way and that’s by winning.”

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