Jackson, Tar Heels Looking To Move Forward
By Emily Fedewa, GoHeels.com
CHAPEL HILL --- Senior defensive tackle Tim Jackson doesn't like to linger in the past.
And after taking one step forward defensively at Georgia Tech, followed by two big steps back last weekend against East Carolina, the North Carolina football team is looking to start fresh.
"We made our corrections on Sunday, and everybody's giving a little extra effort, and really just putting all our focus on the next matchup against Virginia Tech," Jackson said. "I don't really want to dwell on last weekend because a team will end up beating you twice if you dwell on that."
Head coach Larry Fedora said after the loss that his players lacked the energy, the enthusiasm and the passion that a winning football team needs.
Following Wednesday's practice, though, Fedora had already noticed a marked improvement in the mentality of the team as a whole.
"We've had two really good days of practice," Fedora said. "Today was better than yesterday - as it should be - because the game plan's in, so guys felt a little better about it today, flew around a little bit better and we had some good energy out here today, good competition."
That energy and competition is what Fedora has been seeing all year in practice, but has rarely gotten glimpses of on game day.
Translating improvements in practice onto the field for games is an issue that the Tar Heels know they need to fix, and Jackson said they have to treat each opponent like they're top-10 every week in order to do that.
Jackson and the rest of the team know that if they can't perform with that energy this weekend, their goals of being atop the ACC Coastal Division could be outside their reach.
But they're not willing to give those goals up just yet.
"It's a crucial week, everybody knows that," Jackson said. "We're getting into the thick of ACC play so, the spot we're in we can either lay it down or we can step up and realize that we have a lot of football left. You have to put the past behind you and work every day to get better for the next game."
Working for the next game, no matter where it is or who the opponent is, has always been a big part of Fedora's philosophy, and that hasn't changed despite the team's setback loss last weekend.
"Whether we play at home, on the road, in the Walmart parking lot, it doesn't matter," Fedora said. "For me, and hopefully for this team, it's another game, it's the next opportunity to go out and prove yourself."