Coach Fedora: Offense Has No Flow

CHAPEL HILL – The 28-20 defeat at Georgia Tech on Saturday saw the UNC offense held scoreless for the entire second half of football. A unit that has long been touted as explosive and dynamic has now been called in to question off the heels of a loss in the ACC opener.

And at Monday’s press conference, a rather blunt Head Coach Larry Fedora says he just doesn’t think his offense is gelling as a group yet.

“We’re not playing as well offensively. We’re just not playing as well. It’s as simple as that. It would be easy if it was just that one thing. […] There’s a lot of things involved with it,” Coach Fedora says.

Coach Fedora says there are numerous factors inhibiting the team’s ability to get in a rhythm during games including relative inexperience and lack of any flow.

“Some of it is the continuity up front and the young guys up front. I think there are a lot of different pieces. We’re not getting into a flow. You got to keep moving the chains to get in a flow offensively,” Coach Fedora says.

Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, Coach Fedora says one of the disappointing trends for the team is the inability to put together a solid complete game of football. He says the mistakes just keep piling up and that Carolina has a long way to go to get where they want to be.

“Whatever we could do to shoot ourselves in the foot and to hurt ourselves, we did. And that has kind of been our Achilles heel this year,” Coach Fedora says.

History seemed to repeat itself against Georgia Tech this year as the UNC defense recorded 21 missed tackles, allowing the Yellow Jackets offense to pick up crucial third down conversions.

Coach Fedora declines to comment on the controversial calls from Saturday’s game, one of which handed the Yellow Jackets a touchdown despite obvious evidence that the ball was fumbled before crossing the goal line.

With East Carolina coming into town next, Coach Fedora says the Pirate defense will be a handful for his team in Kenan Stadium.

“They’re flying around. You’ve got a lot of guys getting multiple hats to the ball. They’ve created some takeaways. I think they’re playing really well,” Coach Fedora says.

Tar Heel fans can come and watch Carolina take on ECU at 12:30 p.m. this Saturday. And WCHL (97.9 FM) will have you covered as always on game day.

We will get things started bright and early at 9 a.m. with Countdown to Kickoff. And tune in to On The Heels after the contest for in-depth post-game coverage and live call ins.

UNC Offense Stalls, GT Comes Back For 28-20 Win

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech scored 21 unanswered points against North Carolina Saturday and extended the 16-year unbeaten streak against the Tar Heels at home, 28-20.

UNC looked to be in clear control opening the contest with a four-yard rushing touchdown in the first two-and-a-half minutes by sophomore tailback Romar Morris, and this, the second score, a 19-yard toss from senior quarterback Bryn Renner to junior tight end Eric Ebron.

***Listen to the Call by Jones Angell on the Tar Heel Sports Network***

Carolina missed the point-after on the first touchdown and took the 13-0 lead into the second quarter.

About four minutes into the second frame, the Yellow Jackets found the endzone on a one-yard run by redshirt senior blocking back David Sims.

Just two minutes later, the Tar Heels answered with a 24-yard pass from Renner to junior wide receiver Sean Tapley.

***Listen to the Call by Jones Angell on the Tar Heel Sports Network***

But that’s where the scoring ended for UNC. Georgia Tech tallied seven more just 30 seconds before halftime and Carolina took the 20-14 lead into the locker room.

The heavens opened at the onset of the second half as a downpour ensued causing sloppy conditions. But it looked as if the home team took the worst of it, fumbling the ball two times in its opening possession of the half. But, the Jackets didn’t lose possession and pinned the Heels inside their 15.

A pair of penalties previewed the struggles Carolina was about to have in the second half as the offense just wasn’t able to click the way it did in the first. UNC saw three three-and-outs in the second half, and the only other series ended in an interception.

In all, Georgia Tech held the ball for nearly 41 minutes compared to Carolina’s 19; Tech outgained Carolina 428-319, including a 324-101 mark on the ground. The Tar Heels did win the passing category, 218-104.

After the game, Head Coach Larry Fedora said he was disappointed with the outcome considering how well his team began.

“Well, we had plenty of opportunities to win the football game, and we didn’t get it done,” Coach Fedora said. “They made more plays than we did and got a few more calls than we did. We just didn’t capitalize when we needed to. We had some momentum going early in the game and throughout that first half, and we just never put the ballgame away.”

With the loss, North Carolina fell to 1-2, 0-1 in the ACC; Georgia Tech improved to 3-0, 2-0 in the ACC.

The Tar Heels return home next week to host the East Carolina Pirates at 12:30 p.m. WCHL’s pregame coverage begins with Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts presented by UNC Health Care live at Ram’s Plaza at 9:00 a.m.

‘Ultimate Measuring Stick': UNC Coaches Ready for Game Time

CHAPEL HILL—The Tar Heels finally get a chance to kick off their ACC slate against the formidable Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech Saturday. And with ample opportunity to prepare these last two weeks, the coaching staff is ready for some live action. Coach Fedora even calls the game the ‘ultimate measuring stick.’

Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning says he tries to instill some fight and toughness in his defense, but in the end, the players have to want it the most.

“You like to take your heart, your knowledge, your focus, and everything you want as a coach and put it in some of them. And you can’t really do that. You can’t want it more than they want it,” Coach Koenning says.

Koenning says Saturday’s contest will come down to a battle of wills. Which team will sacrifice more to get the win? Koenning even quotes some Scripture when characterizing the showdown.

“In the Book of John in the Bible, 8:32, basically says the truth will set you free. On Saturday at twelve, the truth is going to be the truth. Do we want it enough? Are we willing to fly around and get off the ground and put our bodies in there?” Koenning asks.

Koenning says one of the scariest propositions for the Tar Heel defense this weekend will be containing standout Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee. His versatile play running the option and throwing the ball down the field presents major problems.

Head Coach Larry Fedora says despite the thorough and sound preparations made by his team, he can never really predict how his squad will fare on game day. It’s up to the players, after all.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time. I wish I could say that you know, but you never know. You really don’t. You work extremely hard during the week; you prepare them, and give them everything you possibly have. And then it comes down to the last day of a personal plan then,” Coach Fedora says.

For Tar Heel fans, let’s hope those “personal plans” include emerging with a win against a conference rival on Saturday.

UNC Offense Feeling Pressure to Perform

Photo courtesy of Aaron Beard

CHAPEL HILL– We are just two days out from the Tar Heels taking on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. The pressing question in most observers’ minds is how the UNC defense will handle the rare triple option attack.

And UNC Offensive Coordinator Blake Anderson says he can’t help but admire the fundamentally sound scheme that Yellow Jacket Head Coach Paul Johnson employs to confuse teams with superior athletes.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for what they’ve been able to do, the points they’ve scored, and the games they’ve won. Honestly, even when situations sometimes when they’ve been outmatched physically, schematically they play better than the people they play,” Anderson says.

Anderson says his offense will feel a lot of pressure to keep the chains moving in Atlanta on Saturday, especially since the Jackets are famous for grinding out long, time-consuming drives that have opposing teams scratching their heads wondering where the game went to in the fourth quarter.

“You do take notice that they’re going to run the clock and run the ball. It’s going to be a very short game if you’re not careful. You’ll look up, and you will not have had enough drives and enough opportunities,” Anderson says.

The running game for the Tar Heels has left more to be desired thus far this season. Anderson says he hopes that one back will eventually emerge as the dominant rusher, but for now he says it will be a committee effort.

“We’re always looking for a guy to emerge, and any of the three would be great. If it happens, we’ll all be fired up. But if not, we’ll just continue to do what we are doing,” Anderson says.

Senior offensive tackle James Hurst says he admits that the offensive line is not quite where they need to be at this stage of 2013, but he says a lot of that has to do with the extreme youth of the unit.

“We’re not there. It’s tough to say the total potential that you have. […] They’re really young. You don’t really know what kind of potential that you have until you get those guys confident and playing well,” Hurst says.

Hurst says the conference opener will go a long way to deciding who will play for the ACC Championship come December. In effect, Hurst says this game is a must-win.

“You really want to keep your fate in your own hands as far as tiebreakers and all that stuff. If you win them all you don’t have to worry about that. So this our first one, and we got to win it,” Hurst says.

Tar Heels Jacked Up For the Jackets

CHAPEL HILL – The Georgia Tech triple option offense has proven to be Carolina’s undoing in years past, but senior quarterback Bryn Renner says he is encouraged by his team’s progress over the last couple weeks as the Tar Heels get set for the Saturday showdown.

Renner says despite the Yellow Jacket offense receiving all the hype, their defense still presents some big challenges for the UNC offense.

“I watched the old games, and they are very sound technically. They’re not going to do much to confuse you, but they are going to be very sound fundamentally. You have to execute. You are going to have to make plays to beat them,” Renner says.

Keeping the Carolina defense off the field in Atlanta on Saturday will be key, especially since Renner says the ball controlling Georgia Tech offense has a way of wearing down opposing defenses if given the opportunity.

“Punting the football means you’re probably not going to get it for at least five minutes. You’re going to be off the field. So we are going to have to convert and keep our defense off the field,” Renner says.

Renner says one of his offensive goals is to distribute the ball more frequently to talented receiver Quinshad Davis.

“Him getting involved more is definitely a key. They know who he is now. You know, he’s not a freshman anymore. But we’re going to try and get him the ball as much as possible,” Renner says.

Senior defensive tackle Tim Jackson says the number sixty-eight has been on the minds of the defense for a while now, sixty-eight being the Yellow Jackets’ tally a year ago against the Tar heels. He says he and his teammates are eager to make amends on Saturday.

“It’s definitely something the defense talks about. We’ve talked about it since the day it happened and making sure it doesn’t happen again. […] We all took it personal, and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen this week,” Jackson says.

Personally, Jackson says Georgia Tech is one of only two teams in the ACC he has yet to beat. He says as a senior, he understands this is his final crack at the win.

And that “crack” will come this Saturday at noon.

Coach Fedora: ‘We Got A Chance’

CHAPEL HILL – Tar Heel fans would no doubt like to forget last season’s humiliating 68-50 loss to the Yellow Jackets in Chapel Hill. But Coach Fedora says he is not pinning all the blame for that debacle on the defense.

“Everybody jumped all over the defense, but it was not a one-sided deal. It was not just the defense that gave up problems. Especially with an offense like theirs, that is very productive and difficult to defend, you cannot give them extra possessions, and you can’t give up points in the special teams,” Coach Fedora says.

Coach Fedora says he changed up some things this year in the bye week in order to focus all of Carolina’s time and energy on getting revenge against Georgia Tech.

“We really spent almost all of our time where we didn’t the previous year. We were still trying to learn what we were doing offensively and defensively and spend time on us. This year we spent quite a bit more time on Georgia Tech,” Coach Fedora says.

Cut blocking, so popular with Coach Paul Johnson’s Tech team, is always a controversial topic in college football, but Coach Fedora says he has no issues with the strategy.

“It doesn’t really matter what I think, it is part of the game. It is actually part of the game. In Paul’s offense, they’re able to take advantage of it. We could do it, but with what we do it doesn’t fit as much for us. It is legal and part of the game,” Coach Fedora says.

The Tar Heels haven’t won an away contest against Georgia Tech in sixteen years. Coach Fedora says there is only one formula to reverse that trend, but in general, he doesn’t take too much stock into those kinds of streaks.

“Well the only way to do that is to win, right? I didn’t know it was sixteen years, and now I’m scared,” Coach Fedora jokes. “I don’t put a whole lot of stock in that. We don’t control any of those things that happened the last sixteen years, so I don’t see that plays a part in this year’s team and what we are doing at this time.”

So, how aggressive will the Carolina defense be this weekend in Atlanta against the triple option? Coach Fedora says they must strike that fine balance with contained, disciplined aggression.

“It boils down to being very disciplined. You can still play hard and be disciplined. So if we play hard, and we got a lot of guys running to the football, we got a chance,” Coach Fedora says.

That “chance” will come at high noon on Saturday for the Tar Heels. The game will be broadcast nationwide on ESPN. Pregame coverage on WCHL begins at 9:00 a.m. with Countdown to Kickoff presented by UNC Health Care followed by The Good Sports with Art C. and BobLee at 10:00 a.m. before we send you to Atlanta with the Tar Heel Sports Network at 11:00 a.m.

Tar Heel Defense Gearing Up For Yellow Jackets

CHAPEL HILL – The bulk of the pressure for the Tar Heels in their road game next Saturday against Georgia Tech will fall on the defense.

Associate Head Coach for Defense Vic Koenning knows it. Koenning says the key to the contest will likely come down to third down results, and he says last year, Carolina let the Jackets off the hook on far too many third and long situations.

“You watch our game last year, we had him like 12 third downs, and they were able to convert nine, and that’s the difference in the game. You get them behind schedule, and you get them in a down where they are throwing the ball, you need to be successful,” Coach Koenning says.

Standout defender Darius Lipford recorded seven tackles and a sack against Middle Tennessee last weekend, but he says the game strategy completely changes when facing Georgia Tech’s triple option.

“The main thing that we can stress for the guys is alignment assignment. Make sure you know your job and that you execute your job. This is really one of the offenses if you try and make a play, it will cost you,” Lipford says.

And maybe Lipford has a competitive advantage for this style of offense. Lipford says he learned a thing or two about defending the option back in his high school days.

“I’m just excited to make a play for the most part, coming out and trying to shut down their offense the best we can. My high school ran it, so I practiced against it a lot. And we ran a similar defense, so I feel like I can bring some things to the table to help us execute,” Lipford says.

Senior defensive end Kareem Martin says the team recognizes the extreme importance of pulling out the win in the ACC opener if they hope to be playing in the conference title game in December.

“Guys are really excited to start ACC play, especially with a team who will probably be towards the top of the league at the end of it. So we know how important it really is for us to go in there and have a good game,” Martin says. “We’ll hear about this game at the end of the year.”

At the end of the day, Coach Koenning says he is making it simple for his defense in preparation for Georgia Tech’s offense.

“You got to win. You just got to win. Guys got to get off blocks. Guys got to make tackles in space. It’s not rocket science in that respect,” Coach Koenning says.

Kickoff for Carolina-Georgia Tech is set for noon on Saturday, Sept. 21 in Atlanta. The game will be televised by one of the ESPN network stations to be announced soon. WCHL will get you fired up for the contest starting bright and early at 9 a.m. with Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts presented by UNC Health Care.

Coach Fedora: Defending the Triple Option and Changing The Culture

CHAPEL HILL – It may be Friday the 13th, but there is no nonsense from Tar Heel Football Head Coach Larry Fedora as his team takes advantage of the bye week to prepare for their huge ACC opener against the tricky triple option attack of Georgia Tech. 

“We’ve come just a couple days of our guys working on the triple option. The defense is starting to get the game plan. Offensively, putting in a game plan of what we know about Georgia Tech at this time, which isn’t a whole lot,” Fedora says. “You’re basically making decisions based off one game.”

Coach Fedora served as offensive coordinator at OklahomaState from 2005-2007. Despite all the recent accusations of players getting paid at that program, Coach Fedora says he never saw anything suspicious during his time with the Cowboys.

“There was no doubt in my mind and every guy on that staff that it was clear from that administration and Mike Gundy [the head coach] that your were going to do things right there,” Fedora says.

“Changing the culture” at Carolina has always been a main focus for Coach Fedora. He says he was impressed with the student section, or the Tar Pit, against Middle Tennessee.

“If you looked at that Tar Pit, our student section did an awesome job. They were awesome. They were there early. They had a great time. They are the thing our team feeds off of. We’re still in the process of changing the culture,” Coach Fedora says.

So how will the Tar Heels defend against the frustrating Georgia Tech option offense? After all, Yellow Jacket Head Coach Paul Johnson’s team put up a demoralizing 68 points on Carolina in Chapel Hill a year ago. Coach Fedora says the key to success against that offense is all about discipline.

“You got to be very disciplined. Somebody has to have the dive, somebody’s got to have the quarterback, and somebody’s got to have the pitch every play. And then Paul’s going to a great job of scheming you with different formations and unbalanced looks,” Coach Fedora says.

Peering ahead to the Thursday night pregame festivities coming to Franklin Street for the Miami game on Oct. 17, Coach Fedora says he hopes Tar Heel Downtown becomes a yearly tradition for the community.

“I think it’s a great thing that the University and the community are coming together to make it a great night. Everybody hangs out on Franklin Street and has a great time. I think it’s a great idea, and I hope it’s something that catches on and we do in the future,” Fedora says.

Kickoff for Carolina-Georgia Tech is set for noon on Sat., Sept. 21 in Atlanta. The game will be televised by one of the ESPN networks to be announced soon. And WCHL will get you fired up for the contest starting bright and early at 9 a.m. with Countdown to Kickoff presented by UNC Health Care.