UNC's Fedora hopes speed kills the opposition
North Carolina coach Larry Fedora remembers watching football when he was young and seeing the success teams had when running the two-minute drill. He asked his father, Herb, why teams didn’t run the two-minute offense all the time. Herb’s response: “You just can’t.”
Now Fedora is trying to prove his father wrong. After setting school records for points and yardage in his first season with the Tar Heels, Fedora said that UNC’s hurry-up, spread offense will be even faster this season.
“From one spring to the next spring I can tell you we were much more efficient,” Fedora said Monday at the Grandover Resort during the ACC Football Kickoff. “We got in a lot more plays, and that’s familiarity – they understand what’s expected from them.”
Fedora said that during last spring, the team would run 12 repetitions during a 10-minute period. This spring, in the same period, it ran between 18-22. Perhaps more importantly, he said the players didn’t even notice.
During his first spring camp, Fedora remembered the offensive lineman sitting there with sweat dripping off of them, saying that they just ran more reps in their first three practices than they ran all of last spring. This year, he said players came by his office after practice and didn’t even mention the tempo.
“So it’s so much easier for them now because the game has actually slowed down for them,” Fedora said.
The familiarity with the system and the tempo should pay dividends during the season.
“Guys aren’t thinking all the time,” Fedora said. “And if you’ve been around as long as I have, guys that are thinking and are having to think about what to do, their feet aren’t moving fast, they don’t look athletic, they don’t look like good football players.
“Now you get to see guys turn it loose and just play football, just be more natural. So you’re seeing their athleticism come out now.”
UNC finished 8-4 last season despite transitioning from the previous pro-style offense to Fedora’s no-huddle spread offense, and adjusting on defense from a 4-3 formation to a 4-2-5. Those results put the Tar Heels in a three-way tie for first in the Coastal Division, though they were prevented from playing in the ACC championship game because of NCAA sanctions.
The postseason ban is over now, and Fedora said the team is eager to win its first conference title since 1980.
“Those kind of things are what get you out of bed in the morning when you have to grind,” Fedora said. “Those kind of things motivate kids. They’re excited about having the opportunity to play for an ACC championship.”
Besides the chance at postseason play, another source of motivation is the season opener, Aug. 29 at South Carolina. The 6 p.m. start on ESPN will be the first game of the college football season, and will likely give the Tar Heels a chance to beat a Top 10 team for the first time since a win over No. 4 Miami in 2004, depending on how the Gamecocks fare in the preseason poll.
“How can it get better than that?” senior quarterback Bryn Renner said. “We kick off college football, all eyes are going to be on us. It’s one of the biggest stages that North Carolina’s ever had, so we’re going to cherish the opportunity and look forward to playing a really good opponent.”