What was the difference in Bryn Renner’s play in the first three quarters compared to the fourth quarter against Duke?
“If I knew that answer it wouldn’t be happening, I promise you. I don’t know, but it wasn’t just Bryn. It was everybody. It was like everybody was waiting around for somebody else to make something happen and once something started happening positive then guys started rolling and we cannot sit around and wait for somebody else to do something.
“We talk about it each week. The success of the team depends on me. I’m not talking about me, I’m talking about each player and each one of them has to make something happen and not look around and wait for somebody else to do it. They’ve got to take it upon themselves to do it and obviously the games that we have started fast we have played well throughout the game and the ones we haven’t we’ve come back, but struggled to finish them.”
You said the players were a sullen group on Sunday, but you were okay with that and not really surprised by that.
“I told them Saturday night after the game I wanted them to wallow in their misery. I wanted them to remember the feeling that they had in their gut at that point and what it was like at the end of that game and never forget it and hopefully we’ll be able to use that.”
Have you seen the guys bounce back since then as you get ready for this weekend?
“Yeah, we put it to bed Sunday night and we talked about that. It’s done and it was about each guy in this room makes a conscience effort or a conscience decision at this point when you come out Tuesday how you’re going to practice and what your frame of mind is going to be. You don’t have to come out there. You make that decision, but if you do come out there come out there with a purpose and that’s what we did today.”
On stopping the fake punt attempt by Duke on the first play of the fourth quarter:
“That’s one of those game-changing plays we talk about in our special teams and you don’t ever look at it that way, but that is a game changing play. If somebody tries to fake a punt on you that’s a big momentum changer to stop the fake punt. Devonte Brown really did a really nice job on the play. They tried to trick him and it didn’t happen and our guys played it well and that kind of got the ball going for us. It was like somebody made a play and we reacted after that.”
On the one-game suspension of Shakeel Rashad:
“It was an accident. I made my statement about how I felt on it and to me it’s gone too far at this point. We’re talking about something that we don’t need to spend anymore time talking about actually. We’re glad that Conner Vernon was not injured on the play. It was an unfortunate thing and they decided to suspend Shak so we’ll move on from it. Shak understands and we’ll go from there.”
What impact did Duke’s own hurry-up offense have on your defense?
“Yeah they did a nice job of it actually and they caught us probably four or five times trying to get set up and I didn’t think we handled it very well to be honest with you. We needed to do a much better job with that. They caught us a couple times as we were changing out personnel and unfortunately we’ve got to do a much better job of handling it.”
There were comments from the players that suggested they overlooked Duke. Do you think that was the case?
“No I didn’t and I haven’t seen any of those comments. I’d love to see them if they’re out there, but I don’t think that was the case. I think our guys prepared the same way we have each and every week and I didn’t get that feeling at all.”
Do you think Marquise Williams could be an effective option in the redzone because of his running ability?
“Yeah I think Marquise obviously adds that aspect to the offense and that is a good point. It is a possibility and it’s things that we’ve talked about as a staff. We have talked about it. I’ll just put it like that. That’s not the first time that I’ve thought about that.”
Why do you think teams are having success on short to medium routes in the middle of the field against you this year?
“Anytime you play a two-deep shell which we base a lot of things out of a two-deep shell, you’re going to be susceptible in the middle of the field. That’s just the way it is. When we play a two-deep shell, the extra guy that gets in the box is going to be our boundary corner the majority of the time and we understand what we’re giving up. That puts a little bit more pressure on the linebacker that’s got to carry the vertical through the middle of the field so that’s where you’re going to be attacked.”
What is the most intense rivalry you have been around in your coaching days?
“That’s a great question. I’m very fortunate, because I grew up in College Station, Texas which is where Texas A&M is and they have a tremendous rivalry with the University of Texas and I wasn’t playing or coaching there, but I grew up in that atmosphere and then whether it was at the University of Florida with Georgia or Florida State or Oklahoma State and Oklahoma and now this, it is a great thing about the game. The passion that the fans have and in some instances you would say the hatred that they have. All of that is what makes college football the greatest game there is. It’s so much fun that everybody cares that much about it and they’re that passionate about it. That’s one of the most exciting things about the game to me.”
N.C. State has dominated the line of scrimmage against North Carolina recently. How do you prevent that from happening this year?
“We've got to challenge our guys up front. There’s no doubt about it. That’s going to be the task. We’ve got to be able to run the ball effectively if we’re going to do what we need to do offensively. We’re not going to get it done being one-dimensional and then on the other side of the ball we got to do the same thing. We have to stop the run and we have to make them one-dimensional. You do that and there’s all kinds of good things that happen. You create more takeaways. There’s just more chances to make good things happen.”
You could have left early for the NFL or transferred without penalty due to the NCAA-imposed sanctions. Why did you elect to stay?
“The same reason why I came to Carolina when coach [Butch] Davis was here and that was to be a part of something new and something special. Coach Fedora coming in we talked over the phone a couple of times and he was talking to me about staying or leaving and I told him there was no question I was coming back, because it was going to be something new. I always want to be part of something new. I just want to be a part of something special. I want to be part of that group that says ‘hey this was the 2012 team who did this or did that.’”
You have been through a lot at Carolina from the fire in your apartment to a coaching change. What have you learned?
“Just to keep on going. Don’t let nothing hold me back even though I’ve been through a lot. I like to tell a lot of the young guys I’ve been through a lot and there is nothing that I haven’t seen so it just keeps me going and along with my daughter being there too. All of that stuff just ties into one thing that keeps my motor going.”
You’ve had some young players next to you at the safety spot in Darien Rankin, Sam Smiley and Kam Jackson. What have you tried to tell them about being a safety?
“That honestly it just comes down to us, but we try to prepare them to do better in the game together. As you said, there are three of them competing for one spot, but it makes the competition a lot better. It makes those guys better faster, but we all watch film at once and we know that anytime any of them go down the next one can step up and we just try to continue to do that, because one day it’s going to be one person’s spot.”
How do you flush the loss last week and look towards N.C. State?
“Kevin came in on Sunday with that pep talk and got a lot of the guys going again, because, again, you can lose two games off of one and we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to make sure this week is it’s own week and that’s what we’re putting into this week.”
"Larry Fedora Live" will air weekly in the fall on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates, including UNC's flagship station (WCHL 1360AM/97.9FM).