UNC Fraud Report Released

UNC Aims For Fifth Straight Win In ‘South’s Oldest Rivalry’

The North Carolina football team, 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the ACC, will travel up the road to Charlottesville and take on the Virginia Cavaliers, 4-3 overall and 2-1 in conference, Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in a pivotal Coastal division matchup.

***Listen to the story***

UNC head coach Larry Fedora has a secret weapon. He’s been soliciting help from Carolina basketball skipper Roy Williams in recent weeks to get the Tar Heels back on track.

Coach Williams’ call in to the Larry Fedora Live show last week resulted in a UNC victory, so the two linked up again earlier this week in hopes of a similar result at UVA.

“I wasn’t going to call because I’m not superstitious, but Wanda [wife] thought it would be a good thing since I called last week. Since we won last week, she thought it would be a lot better if I called back. Larrry, great job and congratulations. Let’s do it again this weekend,” Coach Williams says.

Norkeithus Otis flattens a Cavalier in 2013 (Elliott Rubin)

Norkeithus Otis flattens a Cavalier in 2013 (Elliott Rubin)

Carolina has dominated the South’s Oldest Rivalry in recent years, having won four straight with an average margin of victory of 25 points.

But Coach Fedora says the Cavaliers are much better team this year thanks to a stingy defense.

“They’re a much improved football team, I can tell you that. I think they’ve got seven seniors over there on the defense. They’ve got confidence over there and are running hard to the ball,” Coach Fedora says.

UVA senior middle linebacker Mike Coley, in particular, has Coach Fedora concerned.

“They’re good up front. They play hard up front. They rotate about eight guys consistently. The Mike backer, No. 44, is a load. He brings it downhill and is going to test your manhood every time,” Coach Fedora says.

One of the more intriguing matchups will be Cavalier running back Kevin Parks, who’s amassed over 500 yards on the ground this year, up against the UNC rush defense.

UVA's Kevin Parks (Virginiasports.com)

UVA’s Kevin Parks (Virginiasports.com)

The Tar Heels successfully held down the Clemson rushing attack earlier in the season. Junior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer is hoping the defense can rekindle that kind of form Saturday at Scott Stadium.

“They’re talented. They have a good running back in Parks, who is one of the better running backs in the ACC. We’ve got to do a good job of tackling him. They run similar schemes as Notre Dame and Clemson. We feel like we did a good job containing the rush against Clemson. Hopefully, we’re going to use some of the similar calls that we did against them and use it versus Virginia,” Schoettmer says.

As for the UNC running game, the Tar Heels received a welcome boost in that department from T.J. Logan and Romar Morris last weekend.

Junior quarterback and ACC Player of the Week Marquise Williams says a more balanced offense is much harder for teams to defend.

Marquise Williams (UNC Athletics)

Marquise Williams (UNC Athletics)

“That helps out. If you’re one-dimensional, it’s not going to work out too well. People can just line up eight in the box. It’s great that we have a two-dimensional style of football. We can run and pass. We’re doing tremendously well on both sides,” Williams says.

On a larger scale, the 119th meeting on the gridiron between two of the top public universities in the nation could go a long way into determining the ACC Coastal division champion.

But Coach Fedora says he’s not thinking about all that. He’s focused on the task at hand.

“I’m aware that it’s wide open. We’ve just got to take care of our business. I’m more worried about us right now than anything else going on. I know if we keep our head down and keep improving, maybe something good will happen,” Coach Fedora says.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-aims-fifth-straight-win-souths-oldest-rivalry/

Scouting Report: Virginia Coach Mike London

WCHL’s Matt Oakes caught up with UVA head coach Mike London as his team prepares to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels this weekend in Charlottesville. London says the game is a ‘must-win’ ACC Coastal matchup. The two discussed the academic side of student-athletes, the Cavaliers’ leading rusher Kevin Parks and how best to defend UNC QB Marquise Williams.

***Listen to the interview***

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/scouting-report-virginia-coach-mike-london/

Less is More? Paige’s Scoring Burden Lifted

Preseason All-America pick Marcus Paige carried the offensive load for the UNC basketball team last season. But this year, Paige is hoping improved balance will ease his scoring burden.

***Listen to the story***

The Tar Heels appear to have a stacked lineup of scoring options that includes transformed returning players in Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks and uber-talented freshmen like Joel Berry and Justin Jackson.

And although UNC’s best player remains Paige, ironically, the Tar Heels may end up a better team come March if Paige’s scoring average takes a drop from last season – that would mean other big-time offensive threats have emerged.

A decline in his stat numbers isn’t an issue for the humble Paige. He says he would enjoy not feeling like he has to force the issue with the ball in his hands.

“I feel less pressure. I still think I need to be aggressive and try to create because it helps our team and offense. Coach has been telling me that’s what I should do. I’m going to listen to him. But I feel less pressure to force the issue as much. There will be times that I have to call my own number. But with Brice being a year older and hopefully, getting ready to make a jump in production and Kennedy looking a lot better, we shouldn’t have to have me forcing a lot of the situations,” Paige says.

Photo courtesy of Chapelboro's Todd Melet

Photo courtesy of Chapelboro’s Todd Melet

Head coach Roy Williams has hinted at the possibility of playing multiple point guards at once this season. He’s done it before. His 2002 Kansas team featured a trio of point guards in the lineup and that year, the Jayhawks reached the Final Four.

Paige has heard about that Kansas team on more than a few occasions from Coach Williams. He says he wouldn’t be surprised to see a few “little guys” running around the Smith Center soon.

“I’ve heard that story like a million times. It’s definitely a possibility this year. We’re going to have to find minutes for Joel and Nate. They’re too good to keep off the floor. Obviously, I want to be on the floor too. There’s going to be times we’ll have multiple little guys out there, but I think we can make it work,” Paige says.

Despite Coach Williams’ adamant reminders to his players that Paige is the premier player on the Tar Heel roster; he says Paige has handled it well.

“I know I’ve repeated this at least three times, ‘that is our best player, and don’t everybody forget that.’ And if that’s the case, we should give him more opportunities to do some things. He handles that really well. There’s not a conceited bone or selfish bone in the boy’s body,” Coach Williams says.

But Paige is looking for the supporting cast to move into starring roles this year. Since he’s stepped foot in Chapel Hill, Paige says he’s never been a part of a more balanced team.

Coach Williams addresses Paige (Todd Melet)

Coach Williams addresses Paige (Todd Melet)

“My freshman year we shot a lot of threes with Reggie [Bullock] and P.J. [Hairston]. Last year, we either threw the ball inside or I was creating from the outside. There wasn’t a whole lot of flow and balance in that regard. This year, we have a little bit of everything. I think we’re going to run more, which should help that balance. Guys get running and it opens up the perimeter. I would say this is definitely the most balanced offensive team,” Paige says.

Despite all his accolades and accomplishments, Paige has a glaring hole in his collegiate resume – a Final Four appearance.

“Personally, I have set the goal of at least making it to the Final Four. That’s something I’ve wanted to do since I’ve got here. This team is capable. We have the players and chemistry. We just need to apply what Coach has been teaching us and enforcing in practice,” Paige says.

The ultimate team player, Paige would no doubt gladly accept a drop in his gaudy statistics if it meant the Tar Heels were still dancing in Indianapolis come April.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/less-paige-reduced-pressure-score/

‘O.K. is never Okay': Larry Fedora Wants More from Tar Heels

UNC head football coach Larry Fedora says tasting success last weekend should motivate his 3-4 Tar Heels to want to experience more of it. And that’s a good thing for the Carolina skipper who knows there’s plenty to work on in all three phases of the game.

***Listen to the story***

Despite a four-game losing streak, UNC’s 48-43 win over Georgia Tech puts the Tar Heels right back into the ACC Coastal conversation.

The UNC defense has been playing with more intensity and aggression in recent weeks. But the scoreboard hasn’t got the memo. The Tar Heels have surrendered a combined 117 points in the past three contests.

And although Coach Fedora admits he’s by no means satisfied, he says it’s most important to see continual progress made each Saturday.

“O.K. is never okay. I still expect them to get better. I expect them to be better this week than they were last week. As long as we keep growing, than we’ll be alright,” Coach Fedora says.

Switzer celebrates (Elliott Rubin)

Switzer celebrates (Elliott Rubin)

The UNC special teams department has lacked the kind of fireworks put on display in 2013 and persistently advertised in the preseason.

Most notably, Carolina’s sophomore sparkplug Ryan Switzer has been bottled up by opposing coverage teams and contributed uncharacteristic mistakes of his own.

Coach Fedora says Switzer needs to stop trying to force the action and let the game come to him.

“I spent a lot of time talking to him [Switzer] this past week about not forcing anything in the punt return game. All we’ve done is try to force things, and we’ve gone backwards. We’ve been very poor in that aspect. I thought he did a good job the other day. […] There’s no reason to force it, just fair catch it and move on to the next one,” Coach Fedora says.

As frustrating as UNC’s No. 127 ranking in points allowed per game may be, Coach Fedora says the defensive intangibles like effort and attitude are unwavering.

“That is the hardest thing. It’s more about attitude and effort. I’m happy to say that we don’t face the triple option again this year. We don’t have to be concerned with it. I still think our attitudes, the way we’re practicing and the belief in what we’re doing is still good,” Coach Fedora says.

Marquise Williams is the centerpiece of the Tar Heel offense that ranks 17th in the nation in scoring. Williams was named an ACC Player of the Week for the second straight time Monday for good reason.

Marquise Williams celebrates with the Tar Pit after the GT win. (Elliott Rubin)

Marquise Williams celebrates with the Tar Pit after the GT win. (Elliott Rubin)

His record-breaking numbers over the weekend deserved that honor, but Coach Fedora says it’s the junior signal caller’s enhanced decision-making abilities that have proved most vital.

“I think he’s [Williams] gotten better and better every week. As you continue to make good decisions and when you don’t make a good decision and make something out of it, you gain confidence. Stay within the offense, take what they give you, and we’ll be okay. When you get outside of that, things happen,” Coach Fedora says.

Winning tends to breed more winning. Coach Fedora says the young Tar Heels’ confidence levels are growing as they figure out what it takes to emerge victorious on game days.

“For their confidence level and their ability to believe in each other and what they’re doing, we were getting to a point where we really needed it [a win]. It was all about finding a way to win the football game. When you find a way to win football games, you start realizing if you don’t screw it up, you got a pretty good chance,” Coach Fedora says.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/ok-never-okay-larry-fedora-wants-tar-heels/

Williams, Tar Heels Cool Under Pressure

When faced with a deficit and little time remaining on the clock, the UNC offense came up big Saturday night, snapping a five-game losing streak to Georgia Tech.

UNC signal caller Marquise Williams’ poise under pressure was paramount.

***Listen to the story***

Despite the torrid pace of the UNC offense, there was an overlaying sense of calm about the Tar Heels as Williams directed the game-winning drive that ended with a T.J. Logan touchdown dive.

UNC head coach Larry Fedora says the team works through the two-minute drill every week. It showed against the Yellow Jackets.

“As he was going out with 3:07 left, he said, ‘We do this every week. It’s not big deal.’ He’s right. We work two-minute every week. We’ve been doing that since the first day that we got here. He’s comfortable with it. If you look at our guys, they aren’t helter-skelter. We go at that pace all the time. It’s very calm for them,” Coach Fedora says.

Marquise Williams (UNC Athletics)

Marquise Williams (UNC Athletics)

At times Saturday night, Williams’ play was beautiful to watch. The junior leader completed 38 of his 47 passes, totaled 390 yards and threw four touchdowns.

During one stretch in the second half, Williams completed 14 consecutive pass attempts, just one shy of the school record.

With 3:07 remaining on the Kenan Stadium clock, Williams thrived. He says his only thoughts concerned “moving the chains”.

“This is when the best quarterbacks perform – under pressure, when you’re down. We had three timeouts and 3:07 left. Don’t force anything and check the ball down. I knew we just had to move the ball down and keep moving the chains. We found ways to keep executing on the offensive side of the football,” Williams says.

Williams has always been known for his explosive dual-threat ability. But the way Coach Fedora was talking about his quarterback following the win over Georgia Tech, it’s his role as a game manager that made the difference.

“He really did a nice job of checking the ball down. He didn’t push the ball into any coverages he shouldn’t have. He did a heck of a job with the way he ran the ball as always and the way he threw it,” Coach Fedora says.

Williams is none short on confidence. He’s made his fair share of mistakes in his Carolina career that began when Bryn Renner went down to injury last season, but Williams says he draws inspiration from a couple NFL greats.

“That’s where the greats perform. You look at Peyton Manning and Tom Brady with the two-minute drive. I want to be something like that one day in my life. I thought, ‘Why can’t I do it?’ I look back at times that I turned the ball over in certain situations, but I have the opportunity to come back and redeem myself,” Williams says.

UNC O-linemen Caleb Peterson and John Ferranto team up with TE Jack Tabb on the strong side. (Elliott Rubin)

UNC O-linemen Caleb Peterson and John Ferranto team up with TE Jack Tabb on the strong side. (Elliott Rubin)

But there’s another factor contributing to Williams’ fine play the past two weeks at Notre Dame, a team that nearly knocked off defending national champion Florida State last week, and at home against the Yellow Jackets.

The young UNC offensive line is coming together. The addition of Jon Heck back into the starting lineup after recovering from injury and the maturation of the rest of the guys up front has led to more time for Williams’ decision-making and opened up wider rushing lanes for UNC’s stable of running backs.

Coach Fedora says he likes the progress he sees from the O-line and in turn, is delighted with the emergence of a running game.

“You’re talking two weeks in a row that we’ve had our starting five back up front with some repetitions under their belt. I think they’re doing a better job and with Marquise being able to run, it’s going to open up some things for the running backs. Those guys ran hard and did a nice job,” Coach Fedora says.

Perhaps Logan going in for the decisive touchdown Saturday night was fitting. It could be a sign of a different Tar Heel squad moving forward into the latter portion of the 2014 schedule, a team armed with an effective rushing attack.

Logan ran with a renewed fighting spirit last weekend, running over Jacket defenders while tallying up 77 yards on 14 carries to lead the Tar Heels on the ground.

Williams says all the hard work put in by the O-line is finally being rewarded.

“It’s been shaky all year. A lot of people were talking about how we couldn’t get a running game. Those guys kept feeling bad about themselves. Now, the offensive line is unbelievable. My hat goes off to them every Saturday. After we finish practice on Sundays, you see some guys out there blocking. I’m so grateful to have those guys. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do out there,” Williams says.

What’s more, despite an unimpressive 3-4 record and 1-2 mark in the ACC, the Tar Heels aren’t completely out of the Coastal race. Williams and company are heading back to the practice fields this week with tangible success to build on, emboldened by the momentum of an ACC victory.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/williams-tar-heels-cool-pressure/

Tar Heels Thwart Yellow Jackets 48-43

The North Carolina football team used T.J. Logan’s game-winning touchdown dive with 11 seconds to play to get past Georgia Tech 48-43 in Kenan Stadium Saturday night and improve to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the ACC.

With the loss, the Yellow Jackets dropped to 5-2 on the season and 2-2 in conference play.

***Listen to the story***

Quarterback Marquise Williams completed 38 of 47 pass attempts for 390 yards and four touchdowns. At one point in the second half, Williams completed 14 consecutive attempts, one shy of the school record.

“We just had to play with confidence as an offense,” Williams says. “We told the defense as soon as they came off, we said, `We got your back.'”

Williams set the UNC record for completions in a game with 38 (previous was 33 by T.J. Yates vs. NC State in 2010). He also set the UNC record for completions in consecutive games with 62. The previous record was 61 by Yates in 2010.

“All night (Marquise) did a really nice job of taking the ball where it was supposed to go,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora says. “He didn’t force it, and he checked down when we needed to. That’s why we moved the chains the way we did.”

The Yellow Jackets struck first with a Zach Laskey 3-yard touchdown to go up 7-0 with 5:47 to go in the first quarter.

The Tar Heels answered right back when Williams threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Bug Howard to tie the contest at 7-7 with 1:14 remaining in the first quarter. Georgia Tech responded with a 27-yard field goal by Harrison Butker to snag back the lead at 10-7 with 10:47 left in the half.

A Williams to Ryan Switzer 68-yard touchdown pass pushed UNC ahead 14-10 with 9:13 to go in the second quarter.

Marquise Williams (UNC Athletics)

Marquise Williams (UNC Athletics)

Following some solid defensive effort, the Tar Heels struck again. This time, it was much the same. Williams used his legs to get down the field and then polished the scoring drive off with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Switzer to give UNC a 21-10 advantage with 2:51 left in the second quarter.

The Yellow Jackets didn’t waste any time responding. QB Justin Thomas slung a 12-yard touchdown strike to Tony Zenon to close the gap to 21-17 with 1:25 to play in the half.

To open the second half, Georgia Tech took advantage of their first possession and reclaimed the lead at 24-21 thanks to a 65-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to Darren Walker with 12 minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Carolina answered right back with a scoring drive that was capped off by a 13-yard touchdown run by Williams to push the Tar Heels into the lead at 28-24 with 8:13 on the third quarter clock.

The Tar Heels widened the gap yet again with another impressive drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown dive by running back Romar Morris that gave UNC the 35-24 lead with 2:36 to play in the third quarter.

Justin Thomas rallied the Jackets back into contention with a 46-yard scoring pass to Deandre Smelter to close the margin down to 35-31 with 14:50 left in the game.

The key play of the game came on a 4th and 6 at the GT 36-yard line. UNC’s Coach Fedora elected to go for it. It paid off. Williams hooked up with Mack Hollins for a 36-yard touchdown pass to give the home team a 42-31 cushion with 12:34 left to play.

Rameses watches on (Elliott Rubin)

Rameses watches on (Elliott Rubin)

The Yellow Jackets responded with a 14-yard touchdown dash by Zach Laskey. But a huge tackle by UNC defender Des Lawrence put a stop to Georgia Tech’s two-point conversion effort. The Tar Heels held a 42-37 advantage with 8 minutes left in the contest.

A 75-yard reverse by Smelter went to the end zone for a touchdown and gave Georgia Tech a 43-42 edge with 3:07 to play.

On the next possession, UNC bounced back strongly.  Logan took the ball in the end zone for the game-winner with a two-yard scoring dive to earn the Tar Heels the 48-43 win.

Georgia Tech had one final possession deep in its own end, but Thomas’ desperation deep heave fell incomplete and receiver Michael Summers dropped Thomas’ short pass.

Next up for UNC comes a trip up to Charlottesville next Saturday to take on the 4-3 Virginia Cavaliers in another critical ACC Coastal matchup.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-12/

Tar Heels Look To Avoid Habitual Yellow Jacket Sting

The 2-4 North Carolina football team will welcome 5-1 Georgia Tech to Chapel Hill this weekend for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday under the lights at Kenan Stadium. The Tar Heels will be searching for their first ACC win of the season.

***Listen to the story***

Saturday’s game is a classic contrast in styles. It’s the jumpy, up-tempo UNC offense up against the deliberate, ‘lull you to sleep’ triple-option assault of Georgia Tech.

UNC head coach Larry Fedora says there’s pressure to score on every possession against the Yellow Jackets’ style of play that eats up so much clock.

“Georgia Tech does a tremendous job of possessing the ball. They stay ahead of the chains so they’re not in long-yardage situations on third down. They can still get to their entire offense, which is the triple option. Offensively, you go from averaging 14-15 possessions in a game to 9-10,” Coach Fedora says.

Marquise Williams airs one out (UNC Athletics)

Marquise Williams airs one out (UNC Athletics)

Coach Fedora says the Tar Heels have been preparing a little differently in practice this week – without a football.

“We don’t use a ball when we’re running the triple option. That way, the defense doesn’t know who has the ball because there is no ball. On every play, somebody should be wrapping the fullback up, somebody should have the quarterback and somebody should have the pitch. If they’re not, something is wrong,” Coach Fedora says.

UNC senior defensive tackle Ethan Farmer says gap assignments are a priority against the triple option.

“You’re going to have to fit your gap and do your job. You can’t really worry about the guy next to you; just know that he’s going to be able to do his job. Everybody on this defense has a job to do. If we do our job, we’ll be fine on Saturday,” Farmer says.

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson is worried about the dual-threat ability of Carolina junior quarterback Marquise Williams. Williams is one of only eight players in the country leading his team in both passing yards and rushing yards.

Coach Johnson says the Yellow Jacket defense will try to keep Williams constrained inside the pocket.

“You have to be mindful of your rush lanes. Where he really kills you is adlibbing. You have to do a good job of keeping him in the pocket and not letting him kill you on scramble plays,” Coach Johnson says.

A win this weekend would provide a huge confidence boost to the Tar Heels for multiple reasons.

First, UNC needs to put a stop to the immediate bleeding – a four-game losing streak. But perhaps more importantly, the Tar Heels must exorcise their triple option demons.

GT QB Justin Thomas (Sportsonearth.com)

GT QB Justin Thomas (Sportsonearth.com)

UNC has succumbed to Georgia Tech on five straight occasions and dropped 14 of the last 16 contests between the schools. In order to harbor any realistic hopes of winning the ACC Coastal this year and what’s more, in any future seasons, the Tar Heels must prove they can find a way past the Yellow Jackets.

Coach Fedora senses that urgency and says the Tar Heels will need to quickly adapt to the speed at which Georgia Tech runs the triple option. But the problem is he also says it’s impossible to adequately simulate Coach Johnson’s offense with a scout team.

“There’s no way you’re going to show them the speed of the game with the triple option in practice. We don’t run it. You’re not going to get a scout team to run the triple option as quickly and efficiently as they do. It takes some time at the beginning of the game to get acclimated to the speed of it. Hopefully, it doesn’t take too long. You’re only going to have so many possessions,” Coach Fedora says.

A quick start is always important, but against the ball-control running of Georgia Tech, it’s even more vital. An early first half lead reminiscent of the 14-0 margin opened up by the Tar Heels a week ago at Notre Dame, could completely change the complexion of the game Saturday night.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-look-avoid-habitual-yellow-jacket-sting/

Scouting Report: A Chat With GT Coach Paul Johnson

WCHL’s Matt Oakes caught up with Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket head coach Paul Johnson to discuss the state of GT football, the parity in the ACC, the triple-option offense and his matchup with the Tar Heels this weekend in Chapel Hill.

***Listen to the conversation***

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/scouting-report-chat-gt-coach-paul-johnson/

Roy Williams Relishing ‘Molding’ Season, UNC’s Potential

October is Roy Williams’ favorite time of the year. In preseason practice, the UNC basketball head coach says he can spend time truly teaching his players and sculpt a team identity for the season ahead.

***Listen to the story***

In 2012, Coach Williams says his Tar Heels were a broken Kendall Marshall wrist away from a sixth NCAA Tournament championship.

Since then, UNC has been mired in off-the-court issues, most prominently featuring P.J. Hairston. Coach Williams says the last couple years have been tough, but it has reaffirmed his love for the game.

“In 2012, we were a broken wrist away from what I thought was the best team in the country. The last two years, there has been more junk than I would like to deal with. It’s made the job not as much fun. But one thing that it’s done is to confirm what I truly love is being on the court with the kids. The last two years, that’s been my salvation,” Coach Williams says.

The last two seasons, UNC has struggled to put both inside and outside scoring together. But Coach Williams says this year’s bunch of Tar Heels has the potential to be much more balanced.

“I think there’s more balance. We have to play like it. I want the perimeter guys to play really well, and then you have a really good team. We do have some people in there. Now they have to step up and do it,” Coach Williams says.

Paige eyeing the floor (UNC Athletics)

Paige eyeing the floor (UNC Athletics)

Despite the enormous potential and numerous media outlets placing the Tar Heels inside the top 5 of their preseason rankings, Coach Williams stops short of calling this year’s lineup “ideal”. He has another All-Star squad in mind.

“It’s not ideal. If it was ideal, I would have Marcus, Marvin, Tyler, Tyler and John. That would be ideal because we could do everything. This team hasn’t shown yet on the court against other teams that they can do everything. We still don’t have anybody that’s proven they can be an inside scorer,” Coach Williams says.

It remains to be seen who may emerge as that dominant force under the basket. A beefed-up Brice Johnson and a fitter Kennedy Meeks serve as a couple of the prime candidates.

But it has been made clear by Coach Williams, as if it needed to be crystallized any further, that Marcus Paige is the best player on the floor.

Paige, a preseason All-America pick, will be hoping to have more offensive support in his junior campaign. Coach Williams says he wishes he had a full roster of Marcus Paiges to play.

“He’s a complete basketball player. He’s our best shooter, probably the best driver and best defender. If I had five of them at the same size, we would be really good,” Coach Williams says.

Brice Johnson fights through double team (Todd Melet)

Brice Johnson fights through a double team (Todd Melet)

For now, Coach Williams is embracing the preseason – an opportunity to develop and mold his Tar Heels into the Final Four team they all say they want to be.

“I love this time period – the teaching, trying to mold the guys. Trying to mold a team is trying to get everybody aimed at one objective and make sacrifices for the common goal. That’s a big challenge. Getting everybody to make sacrifices towards a common goal is one of my thrills,” Coach Williams says.

UNC opens Smith Center action Oct. 24 with a 7:30 p.m. exhibition game against Fayetteville State.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/roy-williams-relishing-molding-season/

UNC Football Turning the Corner À La 2013?

UNC football head coach Larry Fedora is comparing the Tar Heels’ tough 50-43 loss at Notre Dame on Saturday to last season’s 27-23 defeat to Miami in Chapel Hill.

The parallels are plentiful, but will UNC back it up with another dramatic turnaround?

***Listen to the story***

“There were many bright spots. There were some things that we were able to take from this game [at Notre Dame] and hopefully, we’ll be able to grow on and be a better football team because of it,” Coach Fedora says.

The energy was up. The Tar Heel defenders were flying to the ball and playing with aggression. Marquise Williams and the offense were clicking on all cylinders.

Was Saturday the beginning of a transformation reminiscent of the Miami game on Zero Dark Thursday in Kenan Stadium a year ago?

The similarities are eerie.

Both games were played in mid-October. UNC was largely written off heading into both contests, following sluggish starts to the seasons. The Tar Heels were facing an undefeated and top-ten team on both occasions. And to top it all off, the underdog Tar Heels carried a surprising lead into the fourth quarter only to suffer a painful loss both years.

In 2013, following the Miami defeat, UNC stood at 1-5. But the Tar Heels were a new team afterwards, rallying to win six of their next seven games to finish with a 7-6 record and a Belk Bowl victory.

The precedent is there, but can UNC find that detour road map and navigate through to a bowl game yet again?

Marquise Williams (UNC Athletics)

Marquise Williams (UNC Athletics)

Coach Fedora is confident that if Carolina is able to clean up its own act, the Tar Heels can match up competitively with anyone.

“I think our football team came out of that understanding that if we take care of ourselves, we can play with anybody. But again, for us, it’s about ‘us’. Every team that’s defeated us, you give them the credit, and they’ve done a great job. But we just have to take care of us. If we take care of ‘us’, we give ourselves a chance to win against anybody,” Coach Fedora says.

Coach Fedora is hoping his Tar Heels can draw inspiration from what they were able to accomplish post-Miami in 2013 and apply it to 2014.

“I would say this Notre Dame game was a lot like Miami last year. We learned a lot of lessons in that game and started playing much better. Hopefully, we’ll do the same thing this year,” Coach Fedora says.

If the 2-4 Tar Heels are to embark on a similar recovery effort this season, they’ll have to start the process by overcoming the triple-option attack of Georgia Tech.

Coach Fedora says there is no good way to replicate what Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson does with his offense with a scout team in practice.

But Coach Fedora says the team is looking forward to returning home and taking on the Yellow Jackets.

Yellow Jacket offense (Joe Hamilton)

Yellow Jacket offense (Joe Hamilton)

“We’re excited about coming home and playing in front of our home fans again. We’re taking on a very good Georgia Tech team that totally makes you stop what you’re doing on defense and change to prepare for the triple-option attack,” Coach Fedora says.

It will be a tough hurdle to clear Saturday. UNC has dropped 14 out of its last 16 matchups with Georgia Tech, including losses in the last five meetings.

But maybe a narrow miss against a top-10 opponent will again prove to be the necessary fodder for another successful Tar Heel turnaround.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-football-turning-corner-la-2013/