Oakes: Presser Points – Seeds of Momentum
“Sometimes thinking too much can destroy your momentum.”
I know what you’re thinking. What’s this guy doing quoting a professional golfer in his column on Tar Heel football? I mean, Tom Watson attended Stanford University after all.
But this quote I scrounged up from a Google search really sums up my thoughts on the Carolina football team following my chance to talk with Head Coach Larry Fedora, cornerback Jabari Price, and quarterback Marquise Williams this week.
As you probably already know by now, UNC is on a three-game winning streak highlighted by a 45-14 thrashing of league rival Virginia on Homecoming last weekend. That disastrous 1-5 start seems like a long lost memory night now. Yes, for now at least, these Tar Heels have found the ingredients for success.
Buoyed by their “1-0 each week” mantra; each and every player, coach, and heck, maybe even ball boy, is saying all the right things with a one-track focus. But you know what I think really did the trick?
Simplification. A few weeks ago, Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning decided to cut back. In order to avoid the ‘paralysis by analysis’ syndrome, he focused on the fundamentals and just playing with intensity and passion.
Well, bravo Coach Vic! It worked. The passion is back. We saw it for the first time in the national spotlight on Zero Dark Thursday against Miami. And although the upset-minded Tar Heels fell short on that electric night, the seeds of momentum were planted.
Senior cornerback Jabari Price may have put it best at Monday’s meeting with the media.
“Normally in the past we played not to mess up. Now we’re playing to make plays, and it’s really starting to show,” Price says.
And what’s more, the Tar Heels are allowing themselves to have fun. Sweet Caroline! They’re loose. Emotions are high. They’re flying around the field like wasps. Gang tackling is back in style. Pumping up the crowd is a go-to option.
And next up? A Saturday showdown at Pittsburgh. This Panther team took down a ranked Notre Dame squad last weekend. The Tar Heels will need to be clicking to escape with a ‘W’.
Senior James Hurst will need to bolster the young offensive line and keep explosive Aaron Donald from wreaking havoc on Marquise. Eric Ebron will need to find a way to break free from the inevitable double coverage he will be greeted to. Tre Boston and Jabari Price will need to contain impressive receiver duo of Tyler Boyd and Devin Stree. The list goes on and on.
But Tar Heels, take a deep breath. Heed Tom Watson’s advice. Don’t think too much. You’ve got it under control. Embrace the momentum.
I think the ‘fun factor’ is huge for this group. And with Williams at the signal caller position and all-star Ebron darting his athletic frame across the field, the passionate energy and joy for the game should continue to ooze out. See the photo to go along with this column. Keep on dancing, Carolina.
So, Tar Heels, don’t burden yourselves with deep thought. Winning is addictive. Channel your inner Nike and just do it!