UNC is confident it can win its final two games and turn the program around. Here’s why.

Despite what others may think, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora “truly believes” this team, and the program can turn things around.

UNC lost another tough game on Saturday, this time to Duke 42-35. It was its sixth consecutive loss of the season, fifth by 10 points or less.

UNC has trended downward in recent years. After an 11-3 season and a trip to the ACC Championship game in 2015, UNC’s win total has declined. UNC finished 8-5 in 2016, 3-9 in 2017, and sits at 1-8 this season.

UNC’s four wins over the last two seasons have come against Pittsburgh twice, Old Dominion and Western Carolina. But despite the program’s recent misfortunes, Fedora and his players remain determined to win out.

When a reporter asked Fedora what he tells fans who have lost hope on the season, Fedora’s voice began to rise

“If they’re fans and they’re supporters, they know to stick with them,” Fedora said. “I shouldn’t have to talk you into it. It’s the Tar Heels. And if you’re a fan of the Tar Heels and you’re a supporter of the Tar Heels, and your blood is blue,” he said as his voice rose, “there is no question about what you do. You keep supporting.

“These guys haven’t given up, so I don’t expect anybody to give up on them.”

Fedora said he’s confident because he sees the work his players put in each day.

“I see how hard these kids work, I see their attitudes, I see their love for each other, I see how much they care,” Fedora said. “If I didn’t see it in their eyes and it didn’t mean as much to them, maybe I can question it, but I can’t because I can see it. I see it every day.”

UNC senior defensive end Malik Carney, who had eight tackles and a forced fumble on Saturday, said the same. When asked why he was confident they could turn it around, Carney said because they work hard every day and don’t quit.

“Guys like Cole Holcomb, Tyler Powell, guys who are giving it 100 percent every time, no matter if they’re beat up or healthy as can be,” Carney said. “With guys like that, with unbelievable effort, who know the scheme like the back of their hand. Why can’t we win?

“That’s why I believe we can win, and there’s a lot of people out there that’s doubting us, as they should. We’re 1-8. But I know I ain’t never going to give up on my team, and my team is never going to give up on us.”

UNC quarterback Nathan Elliott said the team is playing for pride and playing for each other. Elliott, who had 221 passing yards and a touchdown on Saturday, said they have no plans to quit.

“That’s not an option at all,” Elliott said.

Alexander, 919-829-4822; @jonmalexander
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