CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina head coach Mack Brown met with reporters for his weekly press conference on Monday morning. Here are our running notes from what Brown said …
* OLB Tyrone Hopper (upper) will not play at Georgia Tech on Saturday. Reminder that Inside Carolina reported this weekend that Hopper’s injury is to the upper body, per a source, and potentially season-ending.
* “Offensively, this was our sixth-most yards ever in our program history. So we’re getting back on track and we’re getting an identity and we’re more of who we want to be. Fifty-nine points two weeks in a row is impressive.”
* Offensive players of the game were Josh Downs and Ty Chandler. Downs was also special teams player of the game. The award went to Kaimon Rucker on defense.
* “Josh Downs played great again. The catch that he made down in the corner of the Blue Zone was a difference maker in the game. But what a catch; not many people can make that catch and hold on to it. He blocked really well and smartly during the game.”
* Good night for Stacy Searels in the development of his offense line against Virginia.
* “Sam’s playing as well as he’s ever played.” Says the team didn’t help him much in Blacksburg.
* Ty Chandler had his best game by far. Takes time to build chemistry with the offense. Says he’s like a freshman coming in.
* Notes that with D.J. Jones being out, that allowed Caleb Hood to get some snaps. Sounds as though Jones took back the backup RB job at the end of the preseason.
* Scored six TDs in seven red zone trips. Howell has thrown a TD in every game that he’s played in his career.
* Praises special teams and jokes that Ben Kiernan is going to have to pay the team back since he didn’t have to punt. Got to be a fan for the night.
* Highlights how effective Jonathan Kim has been on kickoffs.
* On Georgia Tech: “They’ve got 14 players on defense that have either started or played a lot.”
* “After the half I’ve never been prouder of a team. We’re playing a team that nobody in the locker room’s beaten. They’ve got confidence, we don’t. They took total momentum the last five minutes of the half with a 14-point swing. Our body language was not good. The confidence didn’t look good. And the guys were able to pick themselves up, come back out and dominate the second half, which is really, really difficult to do.”
* A surprising amount of praise for the defense. Notes that there were four potential interceptions of which the secondary failed to take advantage.
* Should win the game if you win the rushing battle, kicking game and turnover margin. UNC is improving in all three areas.
* Asked about so many ranked teams losing this season and what has changed. Notes more parity and the impact of the transfer portal. That’s the reason UNC disciplines for loafs, etc. “In our lives we have to create an edge every single day. And it’s the same for football.” Says Georgia Tech did UNC a favor with its game against Clemson. “That ought to wake them up, if nothing else.”
* GT recruiting coordinator Patrick Suddes is one of the best in the country. He worked for Mack at Texas and Mack tried to hire him to UNC, but when he turned Mack down, he offered Billy High.
* Asked about what the defensive stats vs. UVa tells us about how the role of defense has changed in the modern era: “It’s all about winning.” Believes that making teams one-dimensional is key, especially if you’re able to limit a team’s ground game. “21 yards rushing? That’s really good in modern day football.”
* Key to the offensive turnaround has been Sam Howell’s ability to run. “I don’t want a quarterback ever again that can’t run.”
* Says Searels is pleased with how William Barnes and Ed Montilus are coming along.
* On beating UVa and moving past: “The seniors accomplished something they’ve never done and that’s really cool… Forget it. That’s a lifetime memory, not one for Saturday night.”
* OC Phil Longo adds that Ed Montilus played his best game against UVa.