On Casey Barth setting the school record for career field goals, but wanting to get seven rather than three when in the red zone:
“No doubt about it. Nothing against Casey, because he’s doing what we ask him to do and, you know what, he was ready to go on that last series. He was ready to go. He said if you can get it somewhere around 55, 57 [yards] he said ‘I’ll put it through’ and he felt very comfortable and very confident so you know he feels good about his leg strength right now and so that’s a big plus.”
What is a realistic percentage of touchdowns per red zone opportunities that you aim for?
“I think realistic for this football team should be somewhere in the low 90-percent and we ought to be somewhere in there at 92, 93-percent. I really think we can do that.”
Was there something different coaching at an academy (Air Force) compared to other schools?
“Very much so. Those kids at the Academy, first of all, a lot of people don’t really realize what they have to go through each and every day and then to play football. That football is the highlight of their day. They can’t wait to get down there and get off the ‘hill’ is what they call it there and then you got to make them go back. You got to really make them go back up there each night. It was fun coaching those kids. They’re great kids. Not always the most athletic kids on the field, but if you tell them to run through the wall they’re still the kids who don’t blink. They just go do it.”
On Shakeel Rashad and T.J. Jiles moving into the two-deep on the depth chart:
“Well they really played well in that opening game, handled their responsibilities really well and were productive and so it was more about getting them on the field more and more.
“It’s hard. We went 83 snaps in the game offensively the other night and I was told that may have been the most in a regular season game in the history of North Carolina football. You don’t anticipate 11 guys playing every snap. It’s just not going to happen so those guys, those second team guys, have to be ready. They need to be able to give you 20, 30 and in some cases 40 snaps in a game and so the more we can get them in the game the better off we are. Those two guys, their production has warranted more playing time.”
How do you handle when the opposing team is trying to slow you down via lining up slowly or somebody getting injured repeatedly?
“There’s not a whole lot you can do about it. I asked the official about that during the game and he said, ‘coach, what can we do?’ There’s really nothing you can do. If a guy says he’s hurt and he lies there on the field, well he’s hurt. It happens more and more. It happens more with teams that are no-huddle and with teams that are trying to go up-tempo. I think you see it across the country and it’s something a lot of people complain about, but it’s just part of the game.”
On walk-on linebacker Jeff Schoettmer:
“Jeff’s out of Dallas, Texas and a guy that really wanted to play at Carolina, is a walk-on and is helping us on quite a few of the special teams and is actually playing a little bit at the [middle] linebacker backing up [Kevin] Reddick in that area. He’s getting some playing time and being able to get some reps and being able to rest the starters is a big thing for us.”
Have you been happy with your pass rush so far and, if not, what can you do to try and improve?
“Well I’m never going to be happy with it unless we get a sack every time they drop back, but that’s unrealistic. Our guys are working extremely hard on it. Did we need more pressure the other night? No doubt about it. You go back and watch the film and it was a lot of six, seven and some cases eight man protections. When they’re sliding everybody and keeping the backs in and protecting, you’re going to have a hard time getting to the quarterback. Therefore you got to cover longer in the back end. You got to do a much better job on that end.
“We’ve got to get a better pass rush. We’ve got to orchestrate that whether it be through linebackers or safety blitzes or whatever, but we got to get more pressure on the quarterback. No doubt about it.”
What do you remember from September 11, 2001?
“We were in the offensive staff meeting [at Middle Tennessee State] actually. We were game planning and I was actually scripting and I remember our secretary Jan walked in and said ‘ya’ll got to see this’, because you’re locked up in a room. There’s no TV in there. You’re watching film. We broke out of there and saw what was going on on the TV and it was really hard to kind of believe that it was actually happening in the United States. We stayed in there and watched it on TV a little bit and then it was back to game planning, because that is all we know. We don’t know what else to do and so we went back in there and you were kind of in shock for the rest of the day.”
How does your ideal recruit differ from the pro-style recruit that Carolina has been recruiting in the past?
“What we’ve done is we have profiles for each and every position on our team. Offensively, defensively and on our special teams. What we’re doing is we’ve drawn up and written up a profile on each position and what we’re looking for. Height, weight, characteristics, speed, strength. All the different things you’re looking for and then you’re trying to find guys that fit in that profile and obviously sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you got a guy that’s shorter than what you really wanted, but he’s a player so it still boils down to if a guy makes plays. If he’s productive and he makes plays and you feel like he’s going to be able to that at this level, so you try to project him and go from there and it is not an exact science.”
How has the team responded so far in practice to the first setback of the season?
“We had a good night Sunday night of practice and that was what we talked about. The game is really based on what you do Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That’s what it’s based on. Nobody practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and goes out and plays the game of their life. It doesn’t work that way. The way you practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday have a lot to do with the way you play on Saturday and so we had a really good day today.
“You put in about 80 percent of the game plan on Tuesday and we’ll go back and finish it up tomorrow and hopefully we have a better day tomorrow. The guys have grasped the game plan better tomorrow than they did today, which they should and that’s understandable. Then Thursday it’s polishing it up and Friday you’re walking through. You don’t have much time so the guys have to turn it over and adjust from there.”
“Yeah, a really good football team. When you turn on the film, the thing that jumps out immediately is speed. They can run. I mean defensive linemen that will give a lot of problems off the edge. They’ve got some defensive ends that can get up the field and go. They’ve got a lot of speed in the secondary. The linebackers can run, you’ve got speed on offense. The quarterback can fly. Charlie [Strong] has done a nice job recruiting a lot of talent there in three years.”
How have you settled in and found your niche in this offense?
“It took time, because I went from a spread offense in high school to a pro-style offense so then I had to adjust to that and then I had to readjust back to moving as fast and as high tempo as coach Fedora moves it. It took a little bit of time. I found my way through it through my mistakes really. It took a little time, but I did it.”
Do you think you’ve matured off the field during your time at Carolina?
“Definitely. I had a few incidents outside the lines that really showed a little immaturity, but now I got myself together and now I’m very mature with the help of [tight ends coach Walt] Bell.”
How much more confident are you this season compared to last year?
“Freshman year was a little scary. Coming out in the first game not knowing when you first got here if you’re going to play. I planned on getting redshirted so when coach told me the week before the game that I’d be starting I caught chills. I thought I was ready for it until we walked out into the tunnel and I felt like I was going to fall, because I couldn’t feel anything in my body.
“From last year to this year I feel like I have a lot more confidence. I know how the speed is going to be. I know how physical you need to be. I know how much you need to watch film. That’s the number one thing, watching film. I feel like last year really prepared me for what I really need to do in the future.”
"Larry Fedora Live" will air weekly in the fall on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates, including UNC's flagship station (WCHL 1360AM/97.9FM).