Tar Heels Get Steak & Lobster Dinner
Posted October 14, 2003 5:42 a.m. EDT
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — It has been so long, North Carolina coach John Bunting almost forgot what awaited the Tar Heels following a victory: a steak and lobster dinner.
After an 0-5 start, North Carolina returned from a win over East Carolina to the first "Victory Dinner" of the season Sunday night at Kenan Stadium.
"Man that was terrific," Bunting said Tuesday. "You play football hard and fast and for 60 minutes together because you love the game and to compete. But the reward is the win.
"It's really important for our football team to experience the thrill of victory because they've certainly suffered a great deal with some of the tough losses to some pretty good football teams."
Bunting missed out of celebrating with his team after Saturday's 28-17 win over the Pirates, stopping for a television interview on the field.
He got the reviews later.
"I heard our players were dancing with the band and singing the fight song inside the locker room. That's just great," he said.
"We've been one play away, two plays away, three plays away. Well, now we've made enough plays to win, enough plays to get it done. That's what it's all about. I hope our players understand that ever better now."
The mood is different in Chapel Hill now, one of hope heading into the second half of the season.
"It gives you a sense of purpose," defensive lineman Chase Page said. "I was eager to go to practice and eager to watch film. It's definitely a confidence builder and it will make things a little easier around here for everybody."
However, there is little time to celebrate with a talented Arizona State team coming to town Saturday. The Sun Devils (3-3) lost three in a row before destroying Oregon 59-14 last weekend.
"They're back on track," Bunting said. "They're scary. They're the complete package."
Bunting acknowledged Tuesday that the young Tar Heels remain a work-in-progress and are far from being a total team.
"I have a task at hand to build this program and it's going to take time," he said. "I'm not going to panic, I'll let other people do that for me.
"And I am not going to get too up about a win and not very down about a loss. But when you have five (losses) in a row and you haven't won at home those things start to wear on you a little bit. I'm a human being just like the kids are and sometimes we're fragile. But I've got to count on the leadership of our seniors and Darian Durant. I'm counting on those guys to help me out."
North Carolina has lost a school-record nine straight home games. ... Freshman LB Larry Edwards has led the Tar Heels in tackles the last two weeks and is now listed as the starter. ... The 17 points allowed against East Carolina were the fewest since a 16-10 win over Auburn in the 2001 Peach Bowl.