Players walked away from practice with a sense of optimism, however. Both quarterback Nathan Elliott and tailback Michael Carter spoke about the positive morale in the locker room at the moment.
“These guys have been through a lot this season” Elliott said. “We just keep fighting, and there’s a lot to say about that."
"I’m very happy to be a part of this team and I know that we’re going to bounce back, and we’re going to have a good rest of the season.”
With first-year quarterback Cade Fortin, who started the last game, likely out due to an injury sustained against the Hokies, Elliott's role will be crucial to turning things around. For the team to cut down on the little mistakes, the effort will need to be led by the redshirt junior.
Carter spoke about how adversity this season has brought the team closer together.
“Like Coach (Fedora) probably says all the time, no one believes in us,” Carter said. “Nobody talks about us. At the end of the day, sorry, but it don’t matter what (the press) say. Inside the locker room we’re closer than we’ve ever been, and that’s driving us and eventually we’ll get a win because we care that much and we’re going to play hard for each other.”
The team looked to the positive takeaways after the loss to Virginia Tech, most notably the run game.
“We’ve established a run game, but we haven’t arrived,” offensive coordinator Chris Kapilovic said. “We have to be consistent with it and continue to improve it… but I’ll tell you, Saturday you watch our guys on the perimeter, they really blocked well, and that’s a huge deal in the run game.”
The biggest contributor for the Tar Heels on that offensive end was Carter, who amassed 165 yards on 18 carries, both career highs.
“If Michael didn’t have (165) yards, we’re not even in that situation right there,” Elliott said. “He played an unreal game and I’m looking forward to seeing what he has for the rest of the season.”
In anticipation for the game at Syracuse, players brought up an unusual point about playing in the Carrier Dome: it’s going to be hot.
“I was on the phone with my dad last night,” Carter said. “He said Carrier is an air conditioning company, and the AC is broken there.”
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