CHAPEL HILL — Less than one week remains before one of the most anticipated college football openers in Tar Heel recent memory. Head Coach Fedora met with the media on Friday to discuss the state of his team as they get set for their match-up at South Carolina.

Coach Fedora says he believes one of the keys to the game will be his defense’s ability to stop the big, explosive plays. And he says he’s seen a marked improvement in that category in the preseason practices.

“I have seen improvement, and we have worked extensively on tackling in the open field. […] If you don’t make that tackle, it becomes a big play,” Fedora says.

On the offensive side of the ball, Coach Fedora says freshman Ryan Switzer’s versatility opens up the playbook.

“Ryan is unique because he’s played in the backfield, and now he’s learned the slot. He’s a guy you can do multiple things with. He can actually run the ball from the backfield or he can be out at a receiver spot running routes,” Coach Fedora says.

Coach Fedora identified South Carolina’s Heisman hopeful Jadeveon Clowney as the best defensive player he has ever had to game plan against. And that’s high marks coming from him, as Coach Fedora says he has faced the legendary NFL star Brian Urlacher.

South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier has a couple dual threat quarterbacks at his disposal, and Coach Fedora says that makes the Gamecocks offense tricky.

“I don’t think they’re afraid to play either one of them. Both of them can throw the football, and both of them can run. […] That’s always a concern,” Fedora says.

Tar Heel defensive end Kareem Martin was on hand Friday as well, and he says the greater comfort level with the defensive schemes will lead to improvement from last season.

“This year, we’ve had a whole offseason with the playbook. We’ve had a lot of extra film sessions. There is a lot more confidence going around of what to do,” Martin says.

Martin says he is fired up about the upcoming battle of the Carolinas and says his team is ready to shine and show the nation what North Carolina is made of.

“Being able to start on such a big stage is always great. It gets to show the nation what UNC football is all about. We’ve been working really hard knowing we’re going to be on this big stage. We’re going there not to disappoint,” Martin says.