When asked which school he dislikes more – Duke or N.C. State – North Carolina running back T.J. Logan smiles.
“Both of them,” he said with a chuckle.
Logan doesn’t seem interested in placing one school above the other. He said for N.C. State, a lot of players on each team have played with or against each other before college.
“It’s kind of like a hometown rivalry when you get out there,” Logan said. “A lot of trash talking.”
But there’s one thing for certain that he and the other seniors have discussed: They don’t want to lose to both Duke and N.C. State in the same season.
UNC (8-3, 5-2 ACC) and N.C. State (5-6, 2-5) square off Friday at noon on ESPN. Two weeks ago, Duke upset UNC 28-27, a game also played on national television.
That loss put the Tar Heels two games behind Virginia Tech in the ACC Coastal Division, making it a lot harder for UNC to make it back to the ACC title game. The Hokies (8-3, 5-2) own the tie breaker because of a win against the Tar Heels last month.
UNC players felt the guilt after Virginia Tech lost to Georgia Tech two weeks ago. If they had taken care of business against Duke, they’d be in position Friday to play their way into the ACC title game for the second straight year. Now they have to win Friday and need Virginia Tech to lose to Virginia on Saturday.
But the likeliness of that happening seems pretty low. Virginia (2-9, 1-6) is dead last in the ACC.
“We could have been sitting pretty as Coastal Champs already, but we tripped at the finish line and didn’t take care of business,” UNC junior defensive tackle Nazair Jones said. “(Duke) came in ready to play and we didn’t get the job done. So if Virginia Tech goes on to win, there will be multiple reasons why we won’t be in Orlando.”
Friday’s game will be the last home game for the seniors on the team.
Senior defensive end Mikey Bart said he’s noticed the shift in culture change since his freshman season. He gave credit to his coach, Larry Fedora.
“Those guys when I was a freshman, most of them were the Butch Davis guys,” Bart said. “They approached football a lot different than the way we do, for whatever reason. Once we started getting Fedora’s recruiting class in, hard workers, people wanting to get better and make a difference, it really changed.”
Senior wide receiver Ryan Switzer agreed.
“It’s done a 180,” Switzer said of the program. “Coach Fedora, piece by piece, he’s got his people where he wants them. He’s got the right guys here. He’s got talent. He knew what he was doing and he’s got this program headed into the right direction.”
A little bump
While a reporter was interviewing Switzer, quarterback Mitch Trubisky bumped into him from behind, and kept walking. He looked back at Switzer, smiled and said, “Watch out, bro.”
Switzer looked at him but proceeded answering the reporter’s question.
When asked about it, Switzer, who is listed as 5-10, 185 pounds, looked back again at Trubisky walking away.
“That’s my little brother, Mitch. He’s a little guy,” Switzer said, with a smile, about the 6-3, 220-pound junior. “He likes to assert his power.”
A lost bet
When Jones came to practice Tuesday, his head was freshly shaved.
Jones said he and sophomore defensive tackle Aaron Crawford had a bet going throughout the season. Jones bet that Crawford wouldn’t get a sack this season, and the loser would have to shave their head.
“He just so happened to get a sack the very last play of the Citadel game, which is a triple-option team, which they might have passed the ball, six times the whole game,” Jones said. “The percentages were pointed my way, but he did a great job of getting a sack and my hair is gone.”
Jones said he likes his new hair, or lack thereof, and has received some compliments, but he admitted his head was a little cold.
Jones, a junior with one year left of eligibility after this season, also said he has not thought about his future after this season. He said, though, he will sit down will his mom and decide whether he wants to go to the next level.
N.C. State at UNC
When: Noon Friday
Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill