As the UNC football team continues to watch its season fall into a downward spiral entering this week’s huge home game against No. 22 Notre Dame, head coach Larry Fedora remains focused on trying to salvage something out of this year.
With the large number of obstacles that have presented themselves already during the team’s 1-4 start in 2017, it would be tough to blame Fedora for turning an eye towards next year.
It wasn’t exactly his plan to have 13 players—including a number of key starters—lost for the season. What he did know, was that there would be a lot of inexperienced players thrust into key roles.
Mixing those issues together, however, has created a perfect storm for this season’s Tar Heels—one that doesn’t exactly have an obvious solution.
From the outside, it seems like focusing on the long-term development of freshman quarterback Chazz Surratt should be at the top of the to-do list.
There’s a huge chance he will be the man to lead UNC’s offense this year and the next three—all while the Tar Heels continue to land big-time recruits to play alongside him.
Fedora, though, sees that as something that will come with time.
“I’m not thinking about down the road with him,” Fedora told reporters at his weekly press conference. “All I’m doing is trying to make sure we have a plan in place that he can execute for this week. That’s it.
“I’m not looking at long-term development,” the coach added. “Long-term development will come over the long haul, over all the banked reps and the things that happen in a game.”
Surratt and the UNC offense put forth the third-lowest scoring output during Fedora’s six-year tenure during last week’s blowout loss at Georgia Tech.
Those types of games are certainly learning experiences that Surratt will remember for the rest of his career.
What those games don’t do, is provide fans with hope that the Tar Heels can get things together down the stretch—especially against a team like Notre Dame which has steamrolled its opponents in all four of its wins, and lost by just one point against No. 5 Georgia.
The rash of injuries and inexperienced players forced into significant playing time, has put Fedora into a position where he has no choice but to simplify his game plans.
Without the talent or the schemes, winning becomes that much more difficult for UNC.
The one thing Fedora is trying to keep the Tar Heels from doing, however, is laying down without a fight.
“When you start changing out a lot of personnel and you’ve got multiple issues that you have to deal with, you start paring it down,” Fedora said. “And then you start thinking we don’t have enough.
“But it doesn’t matter,” he continued. “If you don’t execute what you have, you’re not going to have success anyway.”
Cover photo via John Bazemore (Associated Press)