North Carolina football coach is looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd but he knows the Tar Heels will have to not give up big plays like it did against Clemson if they expect to win.
Q. Just kind of wanted to — obviously
looking at that last game against Clemson and
what happened going to this, what did you
learn the most about your team in that game
that you can bring forward into this match-up?
LARRY FEDORA: Well, we did a lot of
things better, and then we did some things not very
good. I will say that our team fought throughout
the entire game all the way till the end, and we just
didn’t make enough plays. But there were some
very bright spots in the game and we had some
guys that made some really nice plays, and we felt
like we did a really good job of stopping the run,
but we gave up too many mental mistakes and big
plays to win a football game of that caliber.
Q. As you look forward with this team
and you look at your upcoming match-up, I
know you spoke on it a little bit, but what can
you say about what you’re heading into this
week and what your expectations are of your
team and this game against Virginia Tech?
LARRY FEDORA: Well, we’re going to
have to play better, there’s no doubt about it.
Virginia Tech is very well coached. Bud Foster,
starting with their defense, does a tremendous job
of pressuring, getting people to the quarterback,
playing man coverage on the outside and daring
you to beat them, and they’ve done a tremendous
job of that. Having given up many points playing
the game that way, and they’re very confident in
the way they do it.
You know they’re going to be very sound
in everything they do on special teams. There are
not going to be any mistakes there. And
offensively I think they’ve evolved and they’re
throwing the ball much better than they have in the
past. They’ve got some big receivers and tight
ends, and the quarterback is doing a great job for
We’re going to have to play a really good,
complete football game.
Q. I’m curious, they’re a different
football team when they’re able to run the ball
effectively, and obviously with what you guys
do on offense, they’re going to want to possess
the football. What do you see from their run
game, and why were you guys so effective
against it last year?
LARRY FEDORA: You know, I think — I
mean, I’ve always thought they’ve done a good job
of running the football, and we felt like last year we
were going to have to stop the run. We
concentrated our efforts at that point, and we’re
going to have to do the same thing this year.
We’re going to have to stop the run. If we allow
them to be two-dimensional, it will be a very
difficult day for us. They will stay on the field. For
us to get off the field, we have got to stop the run,
and then we’ve got to hold up in the passing game.
Q. And on the other side of the ball,
Kendall Fuller, and they have some very
accomplished guys in that secondary, but
they’ve struggled some in pass defense. What
do you see there that’s been a problem for
LARRY FEDORA: Well, I’d like to know
where was the struggle on pass defense.
Q. Well, they gave up late scores
against Georgia Tech and ECU and ECU threw
for a ton against them.
LARRY FEDORA: Yeah, they threw for a
ton. ECU is going to throw for a ton on a lot of
people. I’ll tell you this, watching them, Virginia
Tech, with as much man, free and zero coverage
that they play, I think their secondary does an
unbelievable job of accomplishing what they
accomplish, because you’re not just bouncing in
and out of it, you’re majoring in it, and I think that
says he’s got complete confidence in those guys
on that back end and what they’re doing.
Q. Are Landon Turner and Jon Heck
healthy again and ready to get back on the field
LARRY FEDORA: They’re both getting
better. That’s the best I can tell you. They’re both
Q. Even though you put up some pretty
good offensive numbers the last couple of
weeks, how much would both of those guys
being in there help your attack?
LARRY FEDORA: Well, it would definitely
help us. I mean, it’s your two most experienced
starters that we have in the offense. We already
had a very young offensive line, and then without
those two guys in there we’ve become much
younger and a whole lot less experienced. Yeah, it
would help us tremendously for the continuity that
we could eventually get going in the offensive line.
Q. My question was about Landon
Turner. You said he was going to play on
Saturday. What would his presence on the
field as well as the leader of the line mean if he
were to come back, especially with the defense
you’re facing Saturday?
LARRY FEDORA: Yeah, if we can get him
back, he still brings some definite leadership up
front, a calming effect for guys when things aren’t
going exactly as expected, and a guy that can
bring those guys together and just keep them
focused and keep them going in the right direction.
Q. I think it’s fair to say based on the
last few games, the secondary is an area of
concern. What have you done this week to
improve the secondary and shore up the
mistakes that were made against Clemson and
just get better on that part of the defense?
LARRY FEDORA: Yeah, well, mental
mistakes are basically a lack of focus. I mean,
that’s what it is. When you have a missed
assignment, unless you have not been taught your
job and don’t know your job, then I would say it’s a
lack of focus, and so we really haven’t changed
what we’ve done practice-wise. It’s not like we’re
not practicing those things. It’s more of
challenging guys to make sure they do their job
and they understand the importance of doing their
job on every snap, both in practice and in games.
Q. And after the two tough losses, how
is the morale in the locker room and how is
practice this week in regards to the kids’
attitudes going forward and heading into
LARRY FEDORA: Morale is fine. Morale
is fine. The locker room is fine. I mean, energy
level, practice is fine. I mean, these guys, you
have to learn how to put things to bed and move
on so that they don’t bite you twice. Our guys have
done a good job of that, and they’re ready to roll.
Q. Talk about playing against Frank
Beamer. What does he mean for this league as
the elder statesman for the league?
LARRY FEDORA: Well, I mean, he’s a
legend. 28 years at the school is — I don’t know if
you’ll ever see that again in this day and age of
college football. I mean, you can’t say enough
great things about Frank Beamer, what he means
to the game of football, what he’s brought to
Blacksburg and to the ACC.
Q. And talk about the new guys. I
know the last couple weeks have been tough.
What do you guys have to do to improve on
LARRY FEDORA: Well, offensively we’re
going to have to — we have to move the chains. I
mean, we’re going to have to stay on the field and
move the chains. To do that we’re going to have to
play — we’re going to have to run the ball
effectively, and I can’t say that probably anybody
but Georgia Tech ran the ball effectively on these
guys, so we’re going to have to do a very good job
of that to be able to move those chains.
Defensively we’re going to have to stop the
run, and we’re going to have to create some
takeaways. That’s going to be huge for us to get
off the field on 3rd downs, and then special teams
we really need to create a game-changing play on