“Well, who knows? I wouldn’t tell you on the radio I can promise you. I’m not going any further. I can make something up if you want.”
How much trust are you starting to gain with Bryn Renner? I would think that in this offense you and your quarterback need to be very close.
“No doubt about it. He’s the guy. We’re going to go as far as he takes us and the thing that you see from Bryn if you just kind of watch is how much better he gets week to week and how much more comfortable he feels, because every play is just learned experience. Something is going to happen, some kind of coverage, safeties are going to move a certain way, a linebacker is going to move a certain way and he’s going to get a better feel each time and so the next time it happens he’s going to be able to process it that much quicker. That’s what people talk about when they say the game starts slowing down. When it gets like that for him then he’ll really have fun with it.”
On Darien Rankin’s performance in his first career start:
“He really did a nice job for his first start and I think he maybe had one coverage bust that we gave up a play on, but other than that he played very sound and tackled well, so that’s going to be really nice to have him and Sam [Smiley] to help us at that position.”
On Military Appreciation Day this coming Saturday:
“It’s a great opportunity for us to honor the men and women of this country that serve each and every day. Not only them, but their families that sacrifice. I think every school ought to do it at some time during the season and I’m very glad that we’re able to do this.”
How do you hope to improve your red-zone efficiency moving forward?
“We’re really great in the red-zone on defense. Our defense stepped up every time in the red-zone and held [East Carolina] out to a couple of field goals, but offensively we’re still not clicking on all cylinders. When we get down there in the red-zone that’s when you got to turn the heat up and everybody has got to get hungry to get the ball in the end zone and we failed to do that a few times down there and we got to finish. That’s one of the big points of emphasis this week – finishing. Finish the play, finish the drive, finish the series, finish. We got to make sure that happens this week.”
Obviously you will game plan for Idaho, but is this another week were you will focus largely on your team?
“The focus is still going to be on us and our team and how we prepare and each guys personal plan for the game, so we’ve got a lot of work to do in that area before we really worry about the opposing team, but Idaho brings in some players now.
“They got a quarterback [Dominique Blackman]. He’s 6-foot-5, he’s 260-pounds and he can fling it. He can throw the ball around. He’s got some good receivers. Defensively, they’re playing really good. They got a good defensive end, [Benson Mayowa], who’s really special, so we’re going to have to play really well. It’s all going to be about our energy level and how we play as a team.”
How different is this season with two years of experience under your belt and being healthy?
“Along with that I’m a lot more confident. I’ve seen the games like LSU, I’ve been thrown into the fire, I’ve made mistakes and now that I’ve seen those I can avoid those and make plays. In the past I was kind of playing to refrain from making mistakes and now it’s just playing with my guys. Just making plays and doing what I do best.”
What has been the difference in the defense in the six quarters since halftime of the Louisville game?
“I could say it’s definitely not the speeches [laughter from Fedora and crowd]. It’s not the speeches, but more so everybody being on the same page. We had a lot of miscommunications at Louisville when we were on the road. We had a lot of missed assignments and when we all got on the same page and played the same defense together it showed that no one can move the ball on us. Once we developed that confidence we’ve just kind of been rolling from there.”
Do you feel more comfortable in the new system now?
“Yeah, absolutely. Personally, and I think coach Fedora would agree, I had a rough spring just as far as getting acclimated to the offense and whatnot, but I got a lot of help around me so I think we’re kind of building on it as an offense and just trying to get better every game and every practice and every rep and we’ve been moving forward the last couple of games.”
What is the biggest difference for you now compared to what you were asked to do in the past under the previous scheme?
“It’s actually totally different as far as the tempo we want to play at and where we want to go with the ball and things like that. It’s a lot more fun. I think I could speak for the whole offense. We’re having a blast out there and I think the second half of Louisville we kind of turned it on a little bit and kind of got some confidence and I think that’s what we needed, but definitely, it’s a lot of fun to play in this offense.”
With the reputation of being a gunslinger has it been hard to learn to throw to the check down man?
“Absolutely. I learned it the hard way. Coach Fedora preaches be the game manager, not the gunslinger, so I’ve reversed that role a little bit. I’ve really worked hard as far as finding the check downs, because getting the ball to Gio [Bernard], Romar [Morris] and guys like that, they can do a lot with the ball in their hands. I always say I’m the point guard. I’m just trying to distribute the ball, because we have a lot of good athletes and really if I get them the ball I can kind of stay out of the way.”
"Larry Fedora Live" will air weekly in the fall on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates, including UNC's flagship station (WCHL 1360AM/97.9FM).