After failing to get a single turnover in back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech and Virginia, North Carolina's defense desperately needed some turnovers Saturday against Georgia Southern not only to help themselves, but also the banged-up UNC offense.
"Our mindset going into this game---we talked about it at the hotel (the night before)---was that we needed to just get turnovers and strip the ball and stuff like that, give the offense opportunities to score," said junior linebacker Bruce Carter after the game. "That was our whole mindset going into this game."
The Tar Heels produced a whopping six turnovers against the Eagles, including a pair of defensive touchdowns by Carter and fellow linebacker Quan Sturdivant, as UNC romped, 42-12.
Sturdivant stripped GSU running back Adam Urbano and raced 49 yards to the end zone for a 21-7 UNC advantage in the second quarter, while Carter returned an interception 41 yards two possessions later to give the Tar Heels a commanding 35-7 edge.
"It was good (to score a touchdown)," said Carter. "I had an opportunity to pick one earlier in the game but I wasn't able to get it. I broke it up, so it was okay. It was just basically all where I was placed at on the field. I was just reading the quarterback, reading our keys and stuff like that."
"I know once Quan got a touchdown I told him I had to get one too," he added. "And then the rest of the linebackers, we just feed off each other and hopefully everybody can get one. Then Zach (Brown) caught a pick, so I had to get something."
"Everybody-Zach, Bruce---everybody did (got involved). Robert Quinn got the sack and fumble to start it off and E.J. (Wilson) recovered, so it was good for the whole defense," said Sturdivant. "I think the couple of early turnovers we had just got everybody excited. (We were) just flying around, trying to make plays. I think that's what it was."
"It (getting turnovers) just adds to our mentality," said Carter. "When we tackle, if one person holds them up the other guy has got to go and strip the ball, so that's basically what we're trying to do. It's very important. It just adds a little fuel to our fire in what we can do. It was all good."
Although Georgia Southern managed a field goal and safety for its other points, the lone GSU touchdown of the game came on some miscommunication from the Tar Heels, as Urbano raced for a long score in the second quarter.
"Somebody just missed a tackle," said Sturdivant about GSU's touchdown. "We had him tackled, but we just missed the tackle. We've just got to go out there and get better next week."
Despite allowing the one touchdown, getting so many turnovers and taking care of business against the Eagles was huge for the Tar Heels as they head into a bye week leading into two huge Thursday Night games against Florida State and Virginia Tech.
"It's real good to get that bad taste out of our mouths with the losing and stuff, but it's just one game. We've got to keep moving on. After (Sunday) this game is going to be behind us, and we've got to focus on Florida State," said Carter. "But that's good for us, and especially for them (the UNC offense). It just gives them confidence knowing what they can do, and they can go out and score. I think they had a lot of good opportunities out there. We've just got to go out there and execute and capitalize on them."
"This win was a help for us to go into our Thursday Night game, so it was a good win for us," he added.