On naming Russell Bodine the offensive player of the week:
“Russell is one of those kids, first of all, he’s the quarterback of that offensive line. He’s got to make all the calls, he’s got to get us in the right protection, he identifies fronts. He pretty much makes sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to do upfront. He had 16 knockdowns this game. That means he put 16 guys on the ground at some point during the game and that’s pretty dang good, because he didn’t play a whole game. He probably played around 50 snaps so he’s getting after people. He’s knocking them on the ground and they’re not making tackles when they’re laying on the ground, so that’s a good thing.”
How many touches would you ideally like Gio Bernard to have in a game?
“That is a good question and we haven’t really set a number for him like a pitch count or anything like that. It’s going to be more about production and what’s happening in the game. I know Gio can touch the ball and handle it 30 or 40 times a game, but that’s probably not a situation that we would put him in. We’re so much more versatile with the way we can put the ball in his hands now as far as instead of just running between the tackles. Who knows? It’ll be dictated by the game itself.”
Did any of the backup players stand out on Saturday?
“Marquise [Williams] did a really nice job when he was out there. He scored a touchdown. You guys got to see [A.J.] Blue put it in the end zone twice and he started just about on every special teams and really did a great job throughout the game.
“I was really impressed with the freshmen that played. I really was. Those guys don’t usually excel the way they excelled in that game, because their eyes are usually as big as saucers when they get out there for the first time, but they really did a nice job.”
Seven freshmen played on Saturday. Do you anticipate any other freshmen playing this season?
“That’s hard to say. A lot of that will depend on what’s going on the rest of the season, how healthy we stay. All those things.”
What did you think about the game day atmosphere on Saturday?
“When we were coming in off the field for pregame there were a lot of kids in the Tar Pit and we were really excited about that and our players jumped up into the stands as we were going back off of the field, because they were really excited about seeing all those people there in the Tar Pit and that’s where it starts. It starts with your students and we get those guys filling that stadium like that it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
What can fans do the help make the atmosphere in Kenan Stadium what you desire it to be?
“I want a butt in every seat. That’s number one and I want them to be there 30 minutes before the game. I want them to be loud and crazy and have fun and support the Heels. That’s all they've got to do.”
Was that one of the hotter games you have ever coached in?
“You’re going to find out that’s another one of our deals. We don’t talk about the weather. That’s part of mental toughness in our opinion. We don’t care whether it’s snowing, sleeting, whether it’s hot, raining or whatever. It doesn’t matter. You've got to go out there and play and the other teams have to play in it too, so what does it matter? It’s something that we work on in camp and we’ll continue to work on it. Why would you worry over something you have no control over? You’re going to go out and you’re going to play. We’re going to practice in it. We’re going to do all those things so what does it matter? Go out there. You only have this opportunity to perform one of the things you love most in life and so go do it.”
You went for it on fourth down three times on Saturday. Are your teams typically aggressive going for it on fourth down?
“We are. Again, it’s all about calculated risk. We felt like going into the game plan that the plays we had selected for fourth down, fourth and short, fourth and medium we felt like the guys could execute. We felt like we knew what they were going to give us and so the game plan dictated it. If they would’ve given us some other kind of front or some other kind of coverage’s that we hadn’t prepared for we may not have done that, but in this situation it was a calculated risk that worked out.”
How much of the playbook did you show on Saturday?
“I’d say 15 percent, maybe, but again, there’s no way we’ll get the whole playbook in this year. It’d be too hard for our players. Each week it’s about what we can do. What this group of kids can do and so it doesn’t matter how good of a play it is if this group can’t execute it or if it’s too much for them to handle right now it’s a waste of time. What we have to do a good job of as coaches is making sure we have things scaled back where they know exactly what they’re doing in every situation that comes up in the game and then we ought to be able to out execute people.”
How does practice change in the regular season versus camp?
“That’s a great question, because we just got off the field a few minutes ago and that was something that we were talking about as a staff in there as we were showering up. You’ve got to remember today was the first day of a new week for them, because last week for the Elon game we actually put the game plan in the Thursday, Friday, Saturday before and had all that time to work on it. Today, 80 percent of the game plan went in for Wake Forest and tomorrow we’ll cut out what we can’t do and Thursday we'll polish it and that’s all there is. That’s it. From week to week you get really two days to work on it and one day to polish it up and you got to go to war. Our practices are all based on that.
“We come in on Sunday night, we watch the game film, we put the game to bed and then we don’t ever talk about that one again and then it’s on to the next one so start focusing on the next one. On Monday the guys are off and that’s when we get most of the game planning done and then we give it to them on Tuesday and you only have so much time and you can only do so much.”
On convincing Jonathan Cooper and Sylvester Williams to stay at North Carolina for their senior seasons:
“These were my first two recruits, because these guys were making a decision on whether or not they were going to come out for the NFL Draft so I met with them each individually and both of these young men decided to stay and finish out their senior year. There’s a lot of Tar Heels out there that ought to be very proud of these two.”
What have you seen from Wake Forest on film?
“It’ll be a normal Jim Grobe coached team. They’re going to be very well coached. They’re going to be very sound. They’re going to be aggressive. They’re going to play hard. They got a really good wide receiver over there on offense that makes a lot of plays for them. The quarterback’s pretty salty so it’s going to come down to us taking care of the football, not giving up big plays on defense and making sure we have a game changing play on special teams.”
What has coach Fedora preached as far as accountability is concerned?
“One is just to be responsible for one another as well as the commitment levels. That was a new thing that he brought to Carolina. He puts your level of commitment up on your locker and if you have somebody that is 'compelled' next to somebody whose commitment level is 'compliant' or 'resilient' or something like that it’s easy for the 'compelled' guy to say, ‘come on you got to get that together.’
“There was one time where there were scouts in the locker room and I was sitting in one of my teammates' locker and the locker read “compliant” and he was like ‘you got to get that together’ and I was like I better get to my locker. That really keeps you accountable as to working hard and really keeping up with the rest of the team.”
After high school you worked in a manufacturing plant before attending junior college and finally making it to Carolina. What did you learn during that process?
“The biggest thing I learned was to never give up. You always want to strive to be better and there were times in my life when I was down and I could’ve told myself I’m just going to give up and just stay where I’m at. Like I said, I had a job at a factory where I was making decent money. Money a lot of people live off of for the rest of their life, but I told myself I wanted more out of life and I wanted to be better than my father. That’s what he did. He worked in a factory his entire life and it just seemed like he never got anywhere in life and I told myself that I wanted to make it further than he did.
“One of the things he did is he was a great football player himself so I just kind of told myself that I wanted to go to college and pursue my dream of playing sports period, because I love basketball first, but I kind of grew into football obviously. The biggest thing I learned from all that is just never give up so when I went to junior college I told myself that I was going to work harder than anybody else. I look at like I was around a lot of high school All-Americans at the time that didn’t qualify to go division-one. So I just told myself I wasn’t supposed to be in that predicament anyways so I just worked hard and prove that I should have been there from the beginning and it kind of all paid off for me.”
"Larry Fedora Live" will air weekly in the fall on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates, including UNC's flagship station (WCHL 1360AM/97.9FM).