CHAPEL HILL --- Following North Carolina's huge 29-24 victory Saturday afternoon over non-conference foe Notre Dame in Kenan Stadium, Tar Heel head coach Butch Davis and Fighting Irish head coach Charlie Weis spoke to reporters. Both head coaches spoke about the game's climactic final seconds, along with some of the breaks on both sides that helped lead to the final outcome.
UNC Head Coach Butch Davis:
"We are excited and thrilled to have won the game. I don't know if I have ever been involved in a bizarre a football game as what transpired tonight. It was two teams that fought hard and you've got to give Notre Dame an awful lot of credit. I know they hate coming out on the short end. It's two programs scratching and fighting and trying to find a way to reestablish themselves as football programs."
"I thought our football coaches and players did a phenomenal job of persevering through some tough times early in the ballgame. We got it put to us early, especially in the first quarter. They came out in the no huddle offense and an empty formation. They had not really shown much of that with Jimmy Clausen in the last two years. But everybody in this room has watched Tom Brady do that all the time."
"It's a credit to their coaching staff to try and change the tempo and change the pace of the ballgame. They had us reeling. It took a while to scratch some stuff on the sidelines, to tweak some coverages and come up with some things that our kids could actually execute and do."
"I am proud of the way our offense hung in there and had no turnovers. A great deal of success we've had as a football team has come from the standpoint that we have tried to protect the football and take care of it. A 5-0 turnover ratio gives you a great chance to win."
"I've got to take the responsibility for seven of those points, getting greedy again after last week's three blocks (punts). It was probably stupid on my part. As hard as it was for our defense to finally get some stops and then give the ball back and have them drive the ball down. Again, the players bailed me out and got me off the hook today."
"Our kids have got a lot of fight and perseverance. They just keep scratching and finding a way to win. We are fortunate to have won today."
Thoughts about the game's final seconds:
"Based on the previous experiences during the course of the game, I was not severely, overly optimistic about the potential outcome. You had to feel like there were only two true, real scenarios. Both of them should have been good for us. The way I saw the play, you have to credit the Notre Dame receiver. I thought for certainty that the receiver thought the time had expired and I think he was trying to lateral it to any potential teammate that might pick it up and stumble into the end zone. I saw it clearly as a fumble and I think most everybody else did. The flip side was if it was not a fumble then they were going to have run a play and spike the ball, then time expires."
"Despite the x's and o's you need an inspirational play, something good to happen. It (the interception and touchdown) just electrified the whole football team. Kind of got our 'mojo' going again."
Notre Dame Head Coach Charlie Weis:
Thoughts about the fumble at the end of the game:
"Originally, the call on the field was that it was down, so we had the ball inside the 10-yard line with what we thought was three seconds to go, so our intent was to go up and 'clock' it, and give us a play designed for that situation. When they (the officials) went to review, they said that they thought the ball came out before he touched the ground. The guys upstairs don't know about when the whistle is blown, so they're not there---whether the play is blown dead or not blown dead."
"It's a bitter ending, but it is what it is. They called it that way, and that's it. I thought that he had called him down with what I thought was four seconds to go. I thought that he had called him down, but it doesn't really make a difference what I thought."
Thoughts about his Notre Dame team:
"That's a different team (ND) than I've seen in the last year and change. That team today expected to win. They didn't come here hoping to win. They expected to win---and they didn't---and give credit to North Carolina."
"I'm not saying that to be disrespectful, but that team in that locker room today, it was the first time in a long time where I've looked in their faces against a good opponent and it was a team that really feels bad. And the reason they felt really bad is because they're starting to 'get it.' They are starting to get it. This is not the same team that everyone saw at the beginning of the year. This team is starting to get it."
Thoughts about the decision to go for it on fourth-and-seven in the fourth quarter:
"I thought we needed a touchdown. It had nothing to do with the field goal kicker (Brandon Walker). I thought we needed a touchdown. Obviously, I put the kid in before, so it's not about him, but I thought we needed a touchdown because I was concerned that they were getting in that two-tight (ends) formation and pounding us, and I was concerned with them being able to run out the clock. That is the only reason (they went for the first down). It wasn't any disrespect to Brandon."
Thoughts about the game's outcome:
"I can give you all sorts of stats, but really stats are for losers. The big thing is, 'Did you win or did you lose?' and we lost. And that's really the bottom line. I'd like to sit here and say, 'hey, Jimmy (Clausen) threw for almost 400 yards, and there were a bunch of good plays out there.' But at the end of the day, the key thing is we didn't take care of the football. Not taking care of the football ended up costing us."