Playing For Keeps: Competition Heating Up With UNC Spring Game Looming
With the annual Spring Football Game just days away, the battle continues on for myriad starting positions. The pride of running out onto Kenan Stadium as a Carolina football starter this fall is well within reach for many unheralded players.
***Listen to the story***
Head Coach Larry Fedora and staff have fostered a competition-based working environment with a “best man will play” motto adding a sense of urgency to the spring practices.
But Offensive Coordinator Seth Littrell says this heightened sense of competition doesn’t have to damage the camaraderie between teammates.
“Every single day that you come out here, you are going to compete for your job. That’s my philosophy and Coach Fedora’s philosophy. Our players know that. It’s one thing competing on the field, and it’s another thing making sure you’re a tight-knit family and helping each other grow off the field. Just because you’re competing doesn’t mean you can’t be great friends,” Coach Littrell says.
Quarterback Marquise Williams says the bevy of talent in the backfield, from Kris Francis to Elijah Hood, has him pumped up for the potential offensive explosions ahead in 2014.
“All of those guys are going to be helpful. I’ve never been in a backfield where you have all four of those different type backs, but also all of them are great. They’re all still learning, but they’re going to do great things for this football team this year. We’re going to have a real good backfield,” Williams says.
One of the most fascinating duels for a starting position will center around the signal callers, and Coach Fedora says that redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky is progressing along well.
“I think he’s doing a nice job. He picked up where he left off. He’s done a good job studying the game and understands what we’re trying to do. Now it’s just getting as many reps as possible under his belt so that he feels more comfortable back there,” Coach Fedora says.
Trubisky’s rival for the quarterback job, Williams, has been focusing his efforts on improving his leadership qualities in the offseason. He hopes he is lifting the levels of the guys around him.
“You have to come out here with a lot of energy. I got to pick those guys up. If those guys see me pick them up, they’re going to rally around me. That’s the main key, just rallying behind me and doing what I need to do to help these guys come out with some victories this year,” Williams says.
Who’s been getting the most reps with the first team this spring? Coach Fedora says he’s an equal opportunity employer.
“We roll them. One guy gets reps with the ones, and then the next day the other guy starts with the ones. They’re both still getting reps with ones and twos every day,” Coach Fedora says.
Besides the gridiron grind, all sorts of festivities will surround the Spring Game this year including autograph sessions from the players and a live band performance at Bell Tower Park.
But one thing Tar Heel fans can expect when they take their seats inside what will likely be a beautiful sun-bathed Kenan Stadium Saturday is a bunch of hungry Tar Heels fighting for coveted starting spots this fall. It’s a big chance to shine in a game day atmosphere for veterans and rookies alike.