North Carolina running back A.J. Blue said the Tar Heels "definitely" took ECU lightly. ROBERT WILLETT
CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina senior running back A.J. Blue said he sensed that “certain guys knew they weren’t going to give it 100 percent” during the Tar Heels’ game against ECU on Saturday. And the Tar Heels certainly appeared flat during their 55-31 defeat against the Pirates.
After the loss, Blue, who is considered by teammates and coaches as one of the Tar Heels’ leaders, addressed the team in the locker room. Then he shared his frustration with reporters. Blue said UNC entered the game with a sense of complacency, and also said the Tar Heels overlooked the Pirates.
“ECU hasn’t beat us here in a long time, or if ever,” Blue said. “So that kind of carried over to some guys’ minds. That was the mindset of the team, and that hurt us today.”
Indeed, the Pirates hadn’t won at Kenan Stadium since 1975. Even so, ECU put a scare into Virginia Tech earlier this month. That alone should have been enough for UNC take the Pirates seriously.
Evidently not, though. When Blue alluded to complacency, he was asked directly if the Tar Heels were indeed complacent entering the game. His response: “It’s ECU – how you not be going into this game? They’ve never won here.”
That wasn’t accurate given the Pirates’ victory in Chapel Hill in ’75. Still, though, no current UNC player had ever lost to the Pirates before Saturday, and the games hadn’t really been close. UNC had defeated the Pirates by an average of nearly 20 points in each of the past four seasons.
Blue said he “definitely” felt his teammates took ECU lightly.
“Like the key word has been all day – complacency,” Blue said. “I saw it earlier today. Just from the hotel, the bus ride over – the lack of focus. Guys talking about other things. Like I said, it’s ECU. Nobody expects to lose to ECU, especially us. So the complacency was definitely there, the lack of focus was there.”