Pigskin Preview Notebook

CARY, N.C. – The 11th Annual Bill Dooley/East Chapter Triangle Pigskin Preview lacked the sharp banter that previous years had provided, yet Larry Fedora was still effective in engaging the record crowd at the RTP Embassy Suites.

The only smack talk on dais came from Duke head coach David Cutcliffe, who twice poked fun at emcee Don Shea for referring to first-year N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren as "Dave Fedora" while auctioning off a Wolfpack helmet.

That's not to say Fedora didn't earn laughs for several other comments during a Q&A session that was less substantive than normal at this event. When asked about his most redeeming quality, Fedora replied: "For me, it's just that I'm calm and relaxed all of the time."

One question to the five head coaches on hand, which included East Carolina's Ruffin McNeill and N.C. Central's Henry Frazier III, was an item on their sports bucket list. Doeren mentioned participating on the TV show, "Wipeout," to which Fedora followed by saying he wanted to win a national championship.

Fedora was unable to answer when asked what actor would play role in a movie about his life, saying that he doesn't know the names of many actors or actresses. McNeill offered Colin Farrell as an appropriate option for the Tar Heel head coach.

North Carolina's helmet was auctioned for $2,500, while the other four helmets each went for $2,000.


News & Notes

* Fedora raised eyebrows at the ACC Kickoff on Monday by stating emphatically that preseason All-ACC tight end Eric Ebron owed him 12 touchdowns this season. Only one tight end – UCLA's Joseph Fauria – had that many touchdowns in 2012.

Fedora didn't back down when asked about those comments following the Pigskin Preview on Thursday.

"He has the ability to do that; he really does," Fedora said. "I think part of that for Eric is just giving him an expectation. You ought to score at least one time every game. To do that, you only need the ball in your hands once. If you catch 12 balls, you ought to be able to get me 12 touchdowns. Well, I know he's going to catch at least 12 balls this year, so I'm going to expect him to get his rear end in the end zone."

* The Triangle Pigskin Preview was just another in a long list of events that Fedora is involved with leading up to the starting of training camp next Thursday.

"This is the part of it, whether you like it or not, it's part of college football," Fedora said. "It's the anticipation. It's the calm before the storm and all of those things. You understand its part of it. We're going to talk about it for a long time and then next Wednesday, I can say, ‘you know what? I'm tired of talking about it. Let's go. Let's strap it on and see what we've got.'"

* Fedora took a strong stance on in-state recruiting during the Q&A session at the luncheon, pushing for all of the in-state schools to put a product on the field that will entice locals kids to stay home.

"This is not a process that's going to happen overnight," Fedora told reporters following the event. "It's going to take some time. It is what it is. Kids are inundated with different leagues and different teams all over the country. With TV the way it is now, you can see anybody play anytime. And so it's a little bit different than it was back in the early 90s. We have a lot of work to do in that area."

The second-year UNC head coach point to relationships with high school coaches, game day atmosphere and success on the field as parts of the equation to keep recruits within North Carolina's borders.

"It's like trying to eat that elephant," Fedora said. "You've got to take one bit at a time and eventually you eat it."

* While Fedora was unwilling to agree that the season opener at South Carolina would define UNC's season, he acknowledged the importance of the nationally-televised contest.

"[A win] would be a big step for our program," Fedora said. "It's a measuring stick as to where we are in Year 2."

* The defensive stats for UNC's defense down the stretch last fall are hard on the eyes. Fedora has reiterated on several occasions his expectation that his defense will be better this fall, but stressed on Thursday that only one statistic truly matters.

"We've got to keep people out of the end zone," Fedora said. "If they do that, we'll be happy… Scoring defense is the only stat for a defense that really matters. I'd love them to get turnovers, I'd love all of those things, but in the end, if you keep people out of the end zone, none of it's going to matter. I've never been beat by a team that didn't score."

 

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