09/21/07 — Murphy feels Butch Davis brought good changes to North Carolina

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Murphy feels Butch Davis brought good changes to North Carolina

By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on September 21, 2007 2:53 PM

CHAPEL HILL -- In the midst of coaching and strategizing on the North Carolina sidelines each Saturday afternoon, you can hear laughter and chatter.

Some of it comes from deep snapper Michael Murphy and placekicker Connor Barth, who usually joke around with each other. But once the two take the field, that jovial behavior takes a back seat to the business at hand.

Murphy does the snapping and Barth boots a successful field goal on most occasions. Once they return to the sidelines, the helmets come off and they continue their kid-like banter.

A red-shirt senior and former Spring Creek standout, Murphy says his interaction with Barth, who is also his roommate, helps him relax on the sidelines.

"With my position, you don't have to be as mentally focused all the time as the others guys do," said Murphy, a walk-on and a three-year-starter. "I like to stay relaxed. I feel like I perform better whenever I'm as relaxed as possible.

"When you get nervous, that's when you tend to mess up."

Barth definitely eases the tension.

"We're pretty much best friends," said Murphy. "We hang out all the time together. We've been together for three years so we've taken that on-the-field relationship and grown together as really good friends."

It has been an eventful five years for Murphy. He has gone through a bowl game, losing seasons and a major coaching change. Butch Davis replacing John Bunting has brought a breath of fresh air to Chapel Hill and Kenan Stadium on Saturday afternoons.

"The atmosphere here has changed a lot," said Murphy. "You can tell a big difference with the attitude here -- it's definitely more positive. We seem more together, more like a family."

Whether the change in attitude will help the Tar Heels (1-2 overall) get back to their winning ways and a bowl game remains to be seen. They've suffered close losses against East Carolina and Virginia, and are just two field goals away from starting the season 3-0.

"That was a tough one," Murphy said after Saturday's 22-20 loss to Virginia. "Every game in this league is going to be tough though. We just have to come out ready to play, but this is how it's going to be."

Murphy has been to just one bowl game since joining North Carolina -- a 37-24 loss to Boston College in the 2004 Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte.

"I enjoyed the bowl game, even though we didn't win," he said. "Just traveling with the guys and hanging out in the locker room is the thing that I'll remember the most."

Murphy will graduate in May with a degree in sports science. He plans to pursue an internship with a team or the NFL Players Association -- unless an NFL team wants him on the field.

"Obviously it's everyone's goal to make it to the next level," said Murphy. "If it happens it happens, but if it doesn't, I'll be fine without it."