Q&A with Larry Fedora, Part II

GREENSBORO, N.C. --- Larry Fedora fielded questions from reporters for over an hour at the ACC Kickoff. Read everything the Tar Heel head coach said in InsideCarolina.com's multi-part transcription ...

Is a two-quarterback system a viable option this year?

I wouldn’t say that it would be if I didn’t believe both kids could win. But I do believe both kids can win. I believe we can win with both kids. That is a viable option, we’ll have to wait and see. In my years of being an offensive coordinator and head coach, I’ve done it. I’ve done it a lot of different ways. Believe me, I will do whatever it takes to win football games.

Marquise said he felt the system last year might have messed up Bryn’s (Renner) rhythm at some point. Did you ever feel like it was throwing him off?

I don’t know. That’s easy to say now. Who knows? I really couldn’t tell you that. You’d have to ask Bryn. Bryn would be the only one that could really tell you if that was reason why he was thrown off at times. I thought he played pretty well when he did play. So I don’t know if that would be a factor or not.

How do you feel about your defensive line? Looks like it’s the first year in a long time UNC doesn’t have a proven pass rusher up front….

Well, Norkeithus Otis comes back with 7.5 sacks. Norkeithus can rush the passer, he really can. He would be the one that has the most experience doing that. I think Norkeithus will come into his own this year. The guy plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played; he plays with a motor all the time. Anytime you do that you got a chance. Across the entire front, we probably don’t have that name guy that everybody’s talking about. I think that’s great motivation for those kids.

How do you feel about your depth there?

I would say we have some numbers right now. We’ve got some guys that can play. We have quite a few guys that we feel comfortable with in the rotation. Just at Norkeithus’s spot we have Shakeel Rashad right behind him who is another kid that can really play. That’s a position we feel really good about because of that depth.

Sometimes it seemed like Otis’s motor went on a little too long, which led to some penalties. Have you talked to him about that?

As a team we will do much better this year than we did this past season. That is a major point of emphasis for our football team. We’re going to play smart. When we say smart, fast, physical, the smart part comes first. So we’ve got to do a much better job - and we will. We will.

Is there any approach that you take that’s different in coaching leadership knowing that you only have six seniors?

This summer we selected guys on the team – in the past it’s always been seniors – that we select to go through this leadership course throughout the summer. This year we took a different approach, we went by position. Some of the guys in there were freshmen, some were sophomores, some were juniors. It was not only about developing leadership for this year, but also so guys can grow and become leaders earlier. Because we know with only six seniors, some of the leadership is going to have to come from other classes also. Six guys aren’t going get it done. So we really spent some time with those other guys on trying to develop leadership early. …

I don’t have the list in front of me, I know Ryan Switzer was in that group. I think Quinshad Davis, T.J. Thorpe, I’d have to look at the list. We made that decision in the spring and then they go through that course in the summer. How do you feel about your offensive line?

That’s really where all the talk ought to be. That’s going to determine whether we’re going to be successful or not, those five guys. … After spring, we’re not ready. It’s a good thing that we’ve had all summer and we’re going to have all camp. I have complete confidence in coach Kap, and the job that he does up front. He does great things up there. He’ll have five guys ready to go.

We don’t have a senior on our roster in the offensive line. Landon Turner is the oldest guy and most experienced guy we have. After that they’re all freshmen and sophomores. I think out of our 14 or 15 offensive linemen on scholarships, I think we have two juniors, and the rest of them are freshmen and sophomores.

Is there any approach that you take that’s different in coaching leadership knowing that you only have six seniors?

This summer we selected guys on the team – in the past it’s always been seniors – that we select to go through this leadership course throughout the summer. This year we took a different approach, we went by position. Some of the guys in there were freshmen, some were sophomores, some were juniors.

It was not only about developing leadership for this year, but also so guys can grow and become leaders earlier. Because we know with only six seniors, some of the leadership is going to have to come from other classes also. Six guys aren’t going get it done. So we really spent some time with those other guys on trying to develop leadership early. …

I don’t have the list in front of me, I know Ryan Switzer was in that group. I think Quinshad Davis, T.J. Thorpe, I’d have to look at the list. We made that decision in the spring and then they go through that course in the summer.

From a program perspective, is it important to beat Georgia Tech?

They’re in the division, it’s very important. That’s always a difficult game because of the scheme they play on offense. I thought defensively we played them very well last year and then we didn’t play as well on offense as well as we needed to. It is a critical game if you’re going to win the division.

Does Duke’s success put more pressure on your program to win the division this year?

They’re in our league. They’re in our division. I don’t know if it puts more pressure, because I don’t think you can put more pressure than I put on us already. I think we’re on track for the plan, I think we do need to take advantage of the opportunity this year of this thing being wide open. If you want to say pressure, yeah, okay. Yeah, more pressure.

I don’t feel like it’s more pressure. It’s time; we need to get it done. There are pieces of the puzzle that are in place. Would I like for them to be more experienced? Yes. But if we can make the ball bounce our way a couple times, then it could happen.

Commissioner Swofford mentioned four-year scholarships during his talk with the media. What are your thoughts, pros and cons about what those mean for coaches and players?

Whether or not we’ve had four-year scholarships or not, our guys have had four year scholarships. There are only certain ways you can lose a scholarship. I think it’s a good thing, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I don’t know how everybody else does it. I think making sure those players are taken care of, whether they get injured or not, is very important. It’s something we’ve always done. If a guy has a career-ending injury and can’t play his education is still taken care of, I make that commitment to his parents when he makes that commitment to us.

Where do you fall on the early-signing period?

I’m all for it. I’d love for it to be in the summer sometime, before the season ever gets started.

How important is faith in your life and how does become a part of the program or bleed over into your coaching?

It’s extremely important in my life. There’s no doubt about it, I don’t try to hide it. I don’t try to hide it in the program. I really believe that when these players to come to Carolina, my responsibility is to see them grow academically, socially and spiritually. It’s not that I am pushing anything on them, but I am providing an atmosphere that if they want to grow spiritually they can. We have a team chaplain who is with us year round, Mitch Mason, who is with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

He does a great job of being there for young men just as a mentor, as an ear, as a friend. He’s at all the workouts, he has a relationship with all our guys and they can go to his office and talk to him about any problems that they’re having. I think that’s another great thing we provide for our players.

Do you guys pray as a team together?

We do, sometimes, yeah. … We usually do before every game and after every game. It’s mainly about safety. We don’t ask for a win. We ask to keep guys healthy and keep them safe.

Check back tomorrow for Part III ...

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