‘Seizing Opportunity': Larry Fedora Eyeing Wide Open Coastal Title

By Matt Oakes Posted July 21, 2014 at 8:54 pm

North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora feels the time is right for his Tar Heels to take the next step and win the ACC Coastal division title in year three of his tenure in Chapel Hill.

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“I think it’s wide open. I think that’s why everybody got votes. Anybody could win it. It’s going to be about who plays well down the stretch and takes care of business,” Coach Fedora says.

The media members at the ACC Kickoff preseason event selected Miami to claim UNC’s side of the league, but second-place Duke and fourth-place Carolina each received more first-place votes than the Hurricanes.

The final vote tally highlighted the general consensus circulating around the Grandover Resort that nearly any of the seven teams in the Coastal division could very well find themselves squaring off against heavy favorite Florida State for the ACC title in Charlotte come December.

But although he’s looking to the future, Coach Fedora fondly recalls a special 2013 season.

“That was one of those seasons that you didn’t want it to be over. Our guys were getting better and better every week. It was fun. It was fun coaching them at that point. It was fun because we were young. It was fun that they were enjoying it. You were just watching them grow leaps and bounds every week,” Coach Fedora says.

Coach Fedora will be hoping the Tar Heels can use last season’s surge, in which Carolina reeled off wins in six of its last seven games and comfortably beat Cincinnati to claim the Belk Bowl title, as fuel to get off to a stronger start in 2014.

But if UNC is going to achieve its lofty goals, it will have to do it with only 6 seniors on the roster. By contrast, fellow league member Clemson will have over 20 seniors suiting up.

Coach Fedora says he’s never had so few veterans on a team. As a result, Carolina’s skipper says he expects a potent mixture of fun, excitement and headache in Kenan Stadium this fall.

“It scares the heck out of me. But at the same time, it’s also exciting. You know, because we’re talented. They’re young kids that are talented. Sometimes, you don’t know what they’re going to do and how they’re going to react,” Coach Fedora says.

Larry Fedora addresses the media Monday (Matt Oakes)

Larry Fedora addresses the media Monday (Matt Oakes)

The depth for the Tar Heels is improving across the board. Coach Fedora says that excites him due to the competition factor. Just as returning starter Marquise Williams is having to duke it out with Mitch Trubisky to keep his spot, Coach Fedora says he always wants open competition for starting jobs to be a trademark in his program.

“You don’t get handed a job just because you are the next guy in line. I don’t ever want it to be that way at our place. I want it to be about competition and production. I want our guys to understand that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. If you produce, we’re going to find a way to get you on the field,” Coach Fedora says.

The ratcheted-up competition this year may go hand-in-hand with the urgency Coach Fedora is attaching to this ACC campaign. He says the Tar Heels must take full advantage of a golden opportunity in a Coastal division void of any clear-cut favorites.

“It is an opportunity that we want to take advantage of. If we’re going to continue to grow at the rate we want to grow and get to where we want to be, this is an opportunity we need to seize. We don’t need to let this slip by,” Coach Fedora says.

There’s no doubt about it. Coach Fedora has always maintained he’s out to change the culture at Carolina, doing his best to improve the University’s affinity for football.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that he heartily approves of UNC sophomore Ryan Switzer’s recent letter addressed to Tar Heel Nation that detailed the hard work his teammates are putting in and also encouraged fans to get fired up and fully support the program this fall.

It remains to be seen how packed Kenan Stadium will be for the season opening night game against Liberty Aug. 30, but for Coach Fedora, there’s no ceiling for this year’s squad of Tar Heels.

“How many games could we play possibly – with a semifinal and a final? That’s fifteen. Yeah, so that would be the ceiling,” Coach Fedora says.

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