UNC's Fedora plays it close to the vest at Pigskin Preview

Jul. 24, 2014 @ 04:33 PM

Ever since North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said there would be an open quarterback competition entering the 2014 season, the battle between junior incumbent Marquise Williams and redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky has dominated discussions about the Tar Heels.

Moderator Don Shea did his best to glean some information at the 12th annual Bill Dooley Chapter Pigskin Preview on Thursday, asking Fedora who would start if UNC played tomorrow.

“First of all, we don’t play tomorrow,” Fedora said. “So you won’t get an answer to that one.”

It was a typical response from Fedora, who doesn’t give away information easily. That also means fans shouldn’t expect the back-and-forth between Fedora and his rivals that characterize the relationship one state south between Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.

“I try not to talk in the media,” Fedora said. “I never have. I’ve never been one of those types of people.

“Coach Spurrier is one of the best at it in the world. He does it better than anybody. I feel bad for Dabo because he has to keep up with him, and that’s a hard task.”

Fedora didn’t give or take any shots Thursday while sitting on the dias with Duke coach David Cutcliffe and N.C. State coach Dave Doeren.

“We’re obviously all rivals, we all want to win, we all want to beat each other, but we’re also very cordial and friendly,” Fedora said. “These are very good football coaches that are sitting up on that dias. I know that and respect all of them.”

There was still a lighthearted moment between Cutcliffe and Fedora at the Pigskin Preview. After Shea asked Cutcliffe about going for a third win in a row against UNC, the mic in front of Fedora was knocked over.

“Look, he’s throwing microphones around now,” Cutcliffe joked. “I’ve made him mad.”

For Fedora to beat Duke for the first time (he is 2-0 against N.C. State), he will be relying on the youngest team of his coaching career, which Fedora said was “exciting and scary at the same time.”

Still, there are factors working in UNC’s favor — talented skill position players on both sides of the ball and a third year in Fedora’s system, which should help everyone feel more comfortable.

“Eveybody knows everybody,” Fedora said. “We all know our strengths and weaknesses. Everybody understands expectations.”

As for his quarterbacks, Fedora said in response to Shea’s question that both candidates are capable of winning games and have used the competition as motivation.

“Everybody blew up when I said it’s wide open and they’re going to compete for the job, but Marquise WIlliams welcomed the opportunity — he knew it was going to make him better — and so did Mitch,” Fedora said. “They’ve been pushing each other all offseason. They’ve become better runners, they’ve become better throwers, they’ve become better leaders, and that’s what we want.

“When we get competition like that at every postion on our football team, we’ll be really good. We’ll get to where we want to be.”

By the time Fedora finished his answer, he had dismissed Shea’s premise entirely. UNC starts practice on Aug. 1 and hosts Liberty in the season opener on Aug. 30.

“As far as who’s going to take that first snap, I don’t know that it’s going to matter right now,” Fedora said. “But we’ll make that determination some time before that game on Aug. 30.”

True to form, he didn’t say if he would announce that decision publicly.

Follow UNC beat writer Harold Gutmann on Twitter at @haroldgut.