East Carolina compiled a school-record 789 total yards of offense and nearly set a Pirate standard for points when it thumped UNC 70-41 before a stadium record 51,082 fans, eclipsing the previous mark when UNC last traveled to Greenville in 2011.
The Pirate faithful was treated to some serious offensive fireworks throughout as Breon Allen turned a 3rd-and 28 into his second touchdown run with a 44-yard scoring romp to give ECU 28-20 lead with just under four minutes left in the first half.
ECU (3-1) extended its advantage to 35-20 with just eight seconds remaining in the second quarter as standout quarterback Shane Carden collected his third touchdown pass on a 19 yard hookup with Brian Bishop.
The play capped a stunning final 10 minutes of the opening half in which the Pirates turned a one score deficit into a 15-point lead and the Pirates went on to roll up their second straight decisive win over the Tar Heels (2-1) in the non-conference battle.
Carden completed 30 of 48 passes for 438 yards and four touchdowns to just one interception. Allen rolled up 211 yards and a pair of scores as the Pirates shredded the Tar Heels defense in just about every way imaginable.
The Tar Heels kept pace with the Pirates early into the second quarter as Tommy Hibbard faked a punt and instead passed to Eric Albright for a 29 yard score and a 20-14 lead.
East Carolina’s defense did a solid job of shutting down the Tar Heels offense from there, including a three-and-out series led by Mitch Trubisky who replaced Marquise Williams for a spell.
Williams took a pounding with several hard hits by ECU’s defense, but the move to Trubisky seemed to take some steam out of the Tar Heels offense.
Williams and his ‘mates had some early success in what appeared to be a Southern-style shootout, as Ryan Switzer took a pitch and instead of running connected with an uncovered T.J. Thorpe for a 35 yard touchdown strike.
UNC also moved the ball well on two other series in the first half, getting the ball within the 5 yard line twice but settling for a pair of short Nick Weiler field goals.
Zeke Bigger added to the Tar Heels woes early in the second half with an interception and ensuing 35 yard return for a touchdown, boosting his team’s lead to 42-20.
Bigger already had 12 tackles at that point and his pick came just after the Tar Heels had a first down erased as coach Larry Fedora burned a timeout before the play got off.
The Tar Heels gathered themselves to make it 42-27 on a 75-yard, 2:31 drive capped by Romar Morris’ 7 yard scoring dash.
It was all ECU from there, however, as Carden and company kept running and passing through the heart of the Heels defense, which wasn’t existent for much of the contest.
The final stats showed what a massacre the Pirates pulled off, as they had the ball for nearly 10 more minutes than the Tar Heels, piled up 343 rushing yards to 145 for UNC and the victors had a 40-23 advantage in first downs.
UNC will look to bounce back next Saturday when it travels to Clemson.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/ecu-football-shatters-records-70-41-defeat-unc/
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At least outside the locker room, this weekend’s tilt is hard to mention without first referencing the 55-31 runaway victory for the Pirates in Chapel Hill last year.
Coach Fedora says he hasn’t needed to remind his players of what happened on that somber Saturday a season ago.
“I haven’t brought it up once. I don’t plan on it. If they have forgotten that, they’re probably playing the wrong sport,” Coach Fedora says.
With that painful memory still emblazoned in their minds, the Tar Heels are hungry for revenge. But the task won’t be easy.
The Pirates are coming off an impressive 28-21 upset win over the then-No. 17 Virginia Tech Hokies on the road in Blacksburg, VA.
Coach Fedora says he watched every minute of last week’s game and knows the UNC defense will have its hands full against an ECU offense led by senior quarterback Shane Carden.
“We knew they were a good football team. It didn’t surprise me. They were hot, especially in that first half [vs. VT], offensively. Their receivers made some incredible plays. That quarterback [Carden] took some hits. They blitzed him and got after him. He completed them and did a heck of a job,” Coach Fedora says.
On the flip side, ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill, who has a long history coaching against Coach Fedora, says he understands his Pirates will have their work cut out for them trying to keep up with the warp-speed offensive pace of the Tar Heels.
“You got to make routine plays, and you got to be able to play the next play. They’re a tall task for everyone. Not just because of their fast-paced offense, but because they can distribute the ball. Larry [Fedora] is getting his philosophy within the team. He has a quarterback who can run his philosophy and do what he wants. It’s a tall task for any defense. We’re up next, so it’s a tall task for us,” Coach McNeill says.
In close games, turnovers usually make the difference. And thus far this season, the UNC defense has created a promising number of turnovers – tied for fifth in the nation in turnovers gained through three weeks.
Coach Fedora says if the trend continues, Carolina’s weaknesses will be more easily overcome.
“One of the things that we spent a lot of time talking about is creating takeaways. That’s what we’ve done. We’ve done a great job of that. We have to continue doing that. When you do that, it makes up for a lot of other problems,” Coach Fedora says.
Saturday’s game is a sell-out. But Coach Fedora says his team should be prepared for the loud environment. The team practices with loud music pumping every day.
“We practice with a lot of loud music all the time. The reason for that is our guys have to be able to think, concentrate and communicate throughout that chaos all the time. Therefore, when we go on the road and in a hostile environment and it’s loud, you hope your guys aren’t going to affected by it as much,” Coach Fedora says.
UNC leads the all-time series with ECU 12-3-1, but the 17th meeting in the rivalry, and the fourth contested in Greenville, promises to be an entertaining matchup.http://chapelboro.com/featured/carolina-braces-east-carolina-collision-pirate-country/
UNC head football coach Larry Fedora is known for his offensive prowess, but the Carolina skipper hasn’t been satisfied with the Tar Heel attack so far in 2014.
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Despite averaging over 400 yards per game and placing among the top 20 in the nation in points scored, Coach Fedora says his offense has a long way to go to meet his lofty expectations.
“We’ve got a long way to go to get to be a really good offense. That’s what our goals are. We expect to be that way. We aren’t even close to the expectation level at this point offensively,” Coach Fedora says.
One of the issues with the offensive production likely comes from the inexperience on the line. Coach Fedora puts it bluntly when asked to rate the play of the linemen, but he says they’ll get better with each game.
“Very average – I don’t know how to say it any nicer than that. I think they understand that. We aren’t where we want to be. We knew it was going to be a work in progress. Every rep that they get is a good experience for them,” Coach Fedora says.
A positive development for the Tar Heels is the return of talented wide receiver T.J. Thorpe. Thorpe was sidelined with an ankle injury the first two games of 2014, but expects to be back running routes for UNC this Saturday.
Coach Fedora says having Thorpe back in the lineup will give the offense a lift.
“Coming out of spring ball, he was probably the most productive and exciting receiver we had. It’s going to be nice to have that boost back when he gets back out there,” Coach Fedora says.
But off the field, Coach Fedora keeps an eye on the T.V. for inspiration. He says he’s not above copying what works for other teams if he thinks it will aid his football team.
“I really can’t remember the last time I watched a game as a fan. If you see something that you like or don’t like, I will steal it in a heartbeat if it’s something that we like and something that will be good for us,” Coach Fedora says.
So what’s the key to UNC becoming more consistent on offense? Coach Fedora says the Tar Heels have to establish a more explosive ground game.
“I still think we have to come together as an offensive line. That is to be expected at this point in the season with the guys that we have. I would say overall, we have to be more consistent running the football. For us to be good the rest of the way, we have to be efficient running the football,” Coach Fedora says.
In order to open up those running lanes, though, the Carolina offensive linemen are going to have to clear them first. That means those young Tar Heels will need to grow up quickly if Coach Fedora’s offense is to transition from a streaky threat to a more reliable, consistent machine.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-offensive-attack-lacking-consistency/
WCHL’s Matt Oakes caught up with Pirate head coach Ruffin McNeill earlier this week. The two discussed the Pirates’ upset victory at Virginia Tech last weekend, Shane Carden’s leadership role on the ECU offense and of course, his team’s in-state showdown with UNC this Saturday afternoon.
***Listen to the interview***http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/scouting-report-chat-ecu-head-coach-ruffin-mcneill/
The No. 25 UNC football team is busy preparing for the in-state showdown at East Carolina Saturday afternoon in Greenville. In particular, the veteran Tar Heels are mentally preparing the underclassmen for the hostility that awaits them in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
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It’s hard to forget the resounding ECU triumph over UNC in Chapel Hill a season ago.
The defense, especially took the loss hard, surrendering 55 points to the Pirate offense in ugly fashion for the fans in attendance at Kenan Stadium.
But senior safety Tim Scott says for his teammates, the slate is clean.
“As players, we already know what happened. There’s no need to keep on talking about it. It’s a new year, new team and new players. We’re just ready to play,” Scott says.
Senior leader and defensive tackle Ethan Farmer, who is tasked with anchoring a defensive line riddled with inexperience, says he expects a rowdy atmosphere in a few days’ time, but believes the Tar Heels will be up to the challenge.
“It’s a big-time game for us. We know it’s going to be extremely loud with their fans. It’s a good environment for us. We know it’s going to be a rivalry and a tough game. We’re ready for it,” Farmer says.
One of those underclassmen who will get his first taste of a road game environment will be freshman defensive lineman Tyler Powell.
Powell, a 285-pound Virginia native, says he was thrilled to find his name atop the depth chart in week one.
“It felt good to know that all the hard work I put in over training camp and even before I got here, paid off,” Powell says.
UNC head coach Larry Fedora, for one, has been impressed with Powell’s performance. Coach Fedora says he’s confident in Powell’s ability to hold his own up front.
“The first week [vs. Liberty], he graded out the highest of the defensive linemen – that was his first college game. I think the kid is doing a really good job. He is really coming on. You’re talking about a young kid that’s playing in the interior, that’s a tough thing at this level,” Coach Fedora says.
Powell and the rest of the young starters will soak in a new experience Saturday afternoon in Greenville.
Scott says he’s been explaining to the guys what the sold-out stadium at ECU will feel like, but it’s important for the team to take care of what they can control – how they perform.
“We already heard this week that it’s a sold-out game. We told the younger guys to just be ready and don’t let the crowd get to them. It’s going to be a big game, and they’re going to play really good at home. As long as we play our game, we should be fine,” Scott says.
However, there’s only so much Scott and Farmer can tell teammates who have never actually waged battle on the road in an unfriendly venue.
At some point, these Tar Heels have to just jump out there and hear what it’s like to be booed. It’s a scary and unpredictable situation, but sometimes, trial by fire can turn out to be the best learning tool.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/veteran-tar-heels-prepping-unc-youth-saturday/
Game week is back for the Carolina football team. And with a trip down to Greenville to face East Carolina in Pirate country on tap for Saturday, head coach Larry Fedora and the Tar Heels know they will have to be at their best to emerge with a victory and improve to 3-0 on the season.
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The open bye week gave the UNC coaching staff the opportunity to go back to the basics and preach the fundamentals. The Tar Heels were sloppy with penalties, defensive assignments and tackles for large portions of their wins in the opening two contests.
Coach Fedora says he thought his team, loaded with an infusion of freshmen and sophomores, profited greatly from the refresher courses in practice at Navy Field.
“It’s an opportunity for them to get more reps and hopefully, become more comfortable. When it will slow down for them, I don’t know. Last year, it took a while for all those young kids. I don’t know when that will take place for them. But I thought it was good to have the open week at this point. It gave us some time to get back to the fundamentals,” Coach Fedora says.
But the tune-up time is over. Game week is in full swing for the Tar Heels.
The Pirates are coming off an impressive 28-21 upset over the then-No. 17 Virginia Tech Hokies at Blacksburg – a place few opponents walk out of on the right side of the scoreboard.
So with an in-state rivalry contest against an in-form opponent upcoming in a hostile environment, Carolina will no doubt face a stern test. Coach Fedora says the regional matchups featuring ravenous fan bases only add to the excitement.
“When you’re talking about an in-state team, the good part about it is the regional rivalry. The fans love it – both sides. They don’t like the other side,” Coach Fedora says.
Coach Fedora says game weeks like these are what make college football so special.
“That’s good for college football. I think it’s good. It gives your fans something to talk about all year. It’s something to talk about up to the game and after the game. I think it’s a good thing,” Coach Fedora says.
Saturday will offer a chance at some sweet revenge for the Tar Heels. A season ago, Carolina suffered a humiliating 55-31 home loss in Chapel Hill.
Coach Fedora says he doesn’t have to remind his team about last year’s debacle in Kenan Stadium.
“You really don’t have to say anything. These guys don’t forget things like that. I’m sure in a lot of their minds; it will be a factor for them. It will be something that internally motivates them. But then you have other guys who are playing that had nothing to do with the game. It’s a game to them,” Coach Fedora says.
After opening their season in the cozy comforts of home, the schedule turns tough for the Tar Heels, with five of their next seven games coming on the road.
As Coach Fedora always says, UNC will be taking it one step at time, just trying to go 1-0 each week. But given last year, if Carolina is somehow able to go 1-0 at the end of play on Saturday in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, it may feel more like two wins for the price of one.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/coach-fedora-relishing-unc-ecu-rivalry-chance-revenge/
The No. 25 North Carolina football team won’t have to game plan for an opponent on Saturday, but the Tar Heels have been working hard nonetheless in their bye week. For some players, that means a chance to get back fully fit, while for others it provides the opportunity to hone their skills.
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Junior wide receiver T.J. Thorpe has been sidelined with a left ankle injury so far this season, but Thorpe says he’s taking it all in stride and knows his return to competition is not all under his control.
“At this point, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s out of my hands. I’m a big person of faith. It’s God’s will. If He wants me to continue to play, I’m going to play. If not, I’ll know it,” Thorpe says.
But with the bye week aiding the healing of his ankle, Thorpe is harboring hopes of lining up with the Tar Heel offense next weekend at East Carolina.
“I don’t know what Coach Fedora has to say, but for me personally, I have every intention of playing against ECU. I told the staff that it’s my goal. Hopefully, that will be attainable,” Thorpe says.
Despite the obvious frustration of not being able to help his team with his athletic prowess on the field, Thorpe has been contributing in other ways.
Thorpe was credited by multiple players after the San Diego State win for his encouraging words on the sidelines and for rallying the team to lift its level when trailing to the Aztecs. Head coach Larry Fedora, for one, certainly took notice.
“If you watch film, watch T.J. Thorpe and those guys on that sideline, they sweated through everything they had. They were energetic and pumped up on that sideline. They were doing everything they could possibly do to help their teammates. I’m really proud of the way they responded and what they did throughout the game,” Coach Fedora says.
One of the sliver linings resulting from Thorpe’s injury may be the emergence of sophomore receiver Mack Hollins, who has carded a touchdown in each of the first two games in 2014.
Coach Fedora says Hollins is now an integral component of the UNC offense.
“The guy can make plays for us all the time. He’s really come on. He understands everything, so we can put him in a lot of different places to help us out. Mack is going to help us all year,” Coach Fedora says.
Sophomore center Lucas Crowley says the open week has allowed his teammates to perfect their responsibilities and become a more cohesive unit.
“These two weeks is going to help. It gives us an extra seven days to be able to go over the film and look at what each guy is doing – what blitz they are going to do and what they show. It will help out a lot,” Crowley says.
Crowley says the most growth on the UNC offensive line has come from a leadership standpoint. He says everybody now recognizes the vital role they play.
“Leadership is starting to come along. In the beginning at camp, everybody’s looking at Landon [Turner], because he’s the most experienced guy. But now, everybody is starting to realize that we can’t just rely on Landon. Landon’s even telling us that sometimes he needs us. Everybody’s stepping up,” Crowley says.
The Tar Heels certainly know they’ll need to step up when they hit the road to face the ECU Pirates next weekend.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-making-bye-week/
UNC’s Office of Student Affairs has concluded its investigation into the incident that took place on August 4 at the Aloft Hotel on East 54 – and the matter is now in the hands of the student-led Honor Court.
The incident in question involved the UNC football team. Yahoo Sports first reported that walk-on redshirt freshman wide receiver Jackson Boyer claimed he’d been assaulted by several teammates, leaving him with a concussion. Accounts of the incident have varied – it’s been described as a hazing incident and as a fight over a girl, involving anywhere from two to 16 players. But head football coach Larry Fedora did suspend four players for the team’s first game of the season, for unspecified violations of team rules.
UNC’s Department of Public Safety confirmed this week that they did receive a report of an aggravated assault at the Aloft Hotel. DPS chief Jeff McCracken passed the information along to Chapel Hill Police, but a Chapel Hill PD spokesperson said they did not act on it because there was not enough information in the report.
The Office of Student Affairs undertook its own investigation, though, which wrapped up earlier this week. UNC released a statement which read in part:
“The Office of Student Affairs has completed its investigation. On Wednesday (Sept. 10), the Dean of Students and the Office of Student Conduct provided the results of that investigation to the Student Attorney General as the next step in the student-led Honor System. The Student Attorney General receives reports of possible student behavior violations and independently determines whether to file disciplinary charges.
“Because of the University’s commitment to protect the privacy rights of students and to protect the integrity of the ongoing process, the University will offer no additional comment at this time.”
WCHL will continue to follow this story as it develops.
UNC football has started its season on a well-fought 2-0 run, and head coach Larry Fedora spent part of his 53rd birthday Wednesday noting Carolina’s offensive efficiency as a factor to the Tar Heels’ success.
Fans and critics alike have wondered just how the offense will balance field time for UNC’s numerous tailbacks, and in the ACC’s weekly teleconference, Fedora defined the offensive running game as a “work in progress”.
While Fedora still did not name a lead running back, he instead mentioned a variety of tailbacks is ideal for Carolina’s quick offense.
“Well I’ve always felt like since we’ve been doing this since ’99 – since I’ve been running this offense – I’ve always felt like you needed at least two, preferably three running backs that you can use throughout a game. That’s if all of those stay healthy,” Fedora said. “Just because of the pace of play, the recovery time that they need and to be able to keep them fresh throughout the entire game I’ve always felt it would be two to at least three.”
Coach Fedora also spoke highly of former walk-on receiver Mack Hollins, who turned a reception by quarterback Marquise Williams into a 33 yard touchdown Saturday against the San Diego Aztecs.
“We knew he had a tremendous will to be good, he had great athleticism,” Fedora said. “And then we get him in spring ball where you’re focusing more on what he can do as a wide receiver and he obviously picked it up very well and has obviously done a great job with it and we knew at that time that he was going to be a factor for us as a receiver.”
Hollins was offered a full scholarship in the spring, and has taken on a key role in the offense which has suffered a blow without the energy and speed of injured receiver TJ Thorpe.
Thorpe recently suffered his third left foot injury in two years, but Fedora assured Thorpe is recovering steadily and that he is already back in practice in preparation to rejoin the Heels for his junior season.
Fedora and the Heels are enjoying a bye week but this is surely no vacation. Fedora assures the team’s time will be spent preparing for the trip to Greenville to face the East Carolina Pirates on September 20 at 3:30 p.m. and avenge the 2013 55-31 loss in Chapel Hill.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/fedora-talks-offense-acc-teleconference/
UNC head football coach Larry Fedora is glad his Tar Heels are 2-0, but knows there’s a need for improvement with a tough schedule looming after the bye week. For now, the Carolina skipper is preaching fundamentals on the practice field in the hope that the talented Tar Heels can crack their untapped potential.
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Missed tackles and blown assignments plagued the Carolina defense Saturday night against San Diego State.
In lieu of the erratic play, Coach Fedora says the team will be spending some extra time shoring up the basics this week.
“That [sloppiness] concerns you, it always does. We’ll have to go back to the fundamentals this week. When I say that, it does not mean that we haven’t been practicing fundamentals, it just means that we have to go back and really work hard on the fundamentals,” Coach Fedora says.
Despite the sloppiness, Coach Fedora says he’s most pleased with the fighting spirit he’s observed in his team two weeks into the young season.
“We made enough plays to win the game. Our guys made the plays when we had to make the plays. I give our team credit for how they persevered throughout the game. They were positive and had great energy on the sideline. There were a lot of guys that were frustrated, but they fought and fought until we got it done,” Coach Fedora says.
The Tar Heels rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half against the Aztecs and trailed Liberty in the opening week of play before turning it on in the third quarter.
Junior starting quarterback Marquise Williams leads UNC in rushing yards up to this point in the season. But with a talented stable of running backs that includes sophomore T.J. Logan and freshman Elijah Hood, Coach Fedora says that needs to change.
“Anytime we can run the football, we are going to be a better football team. We weren’t having success in that first half [vs. SDSU] running the football,” Coach Fedora says.
Slow first half starts, especially by the offense, have become an issue for this UNC squad, but Coach Fedora says he’d rather the guys play their best brand of football in the latter stages of the game than the other way around.
“That’s not concerning for me. I think that’s a great thing. We played our best ball when we were down. I would much rather have it that way than the other way. There are going to be some times when we are going to be in that situation, and I know how this team is going to respond. We’ll get better on the front end. We’ll get better,” Coach Fedora says.
There isn’t a more opportune time to get better than in the bye week. With no opponent to worry about this Saturday, the Tar Heels are afforded the chance to focus on themselves.
“We’re not where we want to be right now. But we’re 2-0. We’re going into an open week. We can get some guys healed up and continue to get better in all three phases. We haven’t even got close to our potential,” Coach Fedora says.
Not close. Not yet. But an open week spent addressing core issues and weaknesses may do wonders for a UNC team that has scraped its way to a 2-0 mark, but has slid down to No. 25 in the most recent coaches’ poll and dropped out altogether of the AP rankings.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/coach-fedora-unc-going-back-fundamentals-bye-week/