Media Credit: DTH File/Larry Baum
North Carolina head coach Butch Davis and his Tar Heels must end the season with three straight wins if they hope to be selected for a bowl.
A common theme from the young Butch Davis-era has been an insistent focus on the game at hand. But senior defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer has a more far-reaching goal in mind as he enters the last few games of his North Carolina career.
Standing at 3-6 with three games left on the regular season schedule, the Tar Heels must win out to reach six wins and become bowl-eligible.
"I think that's on everybody's mind, that's a goal we have to push for," Balmer said. "Anything less would be a slap in the face to me and to my teammates and to the coaching staff."
The Tar Heels have a legitimate shot at reaching the magic number, as remaining opponents N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Duke have a combined record of 10-17 this season.
The Yates learning curve
Redshirt freshman quarterback T.J. Yates exceeded all expectations in his first three games - throwing for 901 yards and nine touchdowns against a mere three interceptions. But the six games after that hot start have brought Yates down to earth to the tune of 1,155 yards and 11 interceptions with only three additional touchdowns.
Part of Yates' struggles can be linked to an inconsistent running game that has placed added pressure on the passing attack at times.
"It stands to reason that there may be just a little shake in confidence," Davis said of his quarterback. "But I think deep down inside, I really think that he's handled it well."
Yates has had to make plenty of adjustments as a starting ACC quarterback seeing his first collegiate action this year. And despite the struggles, he stands alone in UNC freshman history with 2,056 passing yards and 164 completions.
"That's gonna happen - he's a young player, it's his first year and I think he's had a great season," said junior offensive lineman Garrett Reynolds.
"He definitely has the trust of us, and we love him to death."