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October 1, 2013North Carolina dropped its second game in a row this past weekend, this time the loss coming to in-state rival ECU 55-31.
The loss stung for a number of reasons and didn't sit well with many fans hoping to see the Tar Heels bounce back strong after an ACC opener loss to Georgia Tech the previous week.
Larry Fedora took to the airwaves Tuesday night for his weekly Larry Fedora Live radio show and made it clear that the Tar Heels are ready to move on, but not before spending a good majority of the show putting the finishing touches on the story that was the Heels loss to ECU.
"One thing is having a routine that you do. Doing it the same way whether you win or lose. It doesn't matter for us, we put it to bed on Sunday before we come out to practice," said Fedora. "We get the things corrected that need to be corrected and then we move on. I've been in it long enough to know that one team can beat you twice if you're not careful."
That statement is the most dangerous thing the Tar Heels face moving forward after being handed a somewhat unexpected loss. UNC is now tasked with taking on a tough Virginia Tech team next week in Blacksburg and will be attempting to get their first ACC victory of the season.
If it makes Tar Heels feel any better, Fedora has apparently consumed himself so much with his team that he was completely caught off guard when host Jones Angell attempted to get his thoughts on the service academies not being able to play this weekend due to the government shut down.
"I'm not sure what you're talking about. When did this happen?" asked Fedora when told of the situation. "They're going back (to work) tomorrow (right)?"
Going into the game there was a lot of talk about the similar styles of offense exhibited by both teams and Fedora touched on how the Pirates up-tempo style was able to affect the Tar Heels defense.
"There were a few times where we were rolling out some of our guys when they went to their quick-snap and caught us not in alignment---not in stances. That was something that we talked about that we've got to get corrected," said Fedora. "Can't switch people out if they don't switch people out. They had us on our heels and that's what you do. That's the thing about the spread offense and what you can do with tempo."
The Tar Heels had nearly 100 yards in penalties and while Fedora acknowledged that those penalties are going too happened throughout a game he did make note that personal fouls are something that cannot happen.
"I've always said that personal fouls are nothing but being selfish. They really are. You lose your head, you do something that you shouldn't do---your team has to be more important to you than that," said Fedora. "We stress it. Our guys, they do something a little bit something extra for personal fouls and hopefully we'll get the idea here pretty soon."
A.J. Blue was a player guest on the show and before he took the podium, Fedora shared with the listening audience that before he got a chance to address the team after the loss, when he walked into the locker room, Blue was in the middle of addressing the team with an impassioned talking-too.
Something else that took place after the game, unbeknownst to Fedora, was a player's only meeting. Fedora gave his thoughts on these types of dealings where the players take control and exclude the coaches.
"I didn't know we had one. If the player's call a meeting, I think it's great," said Fedora. "That's what leadership is. If the leaders on the football team feel they need to talk to everybody, I think it's a great way of doing it and you don't need coaches in there to run it.
"You know, A.J. Blue talked to the team after the game in the locker room. I caught the second half of what he had to say and I thought, heck I really thought 'I don't need to say anything,'" said Fedora. "You know, because he said it all. He did a great job. Obviously A.J.'s one of the leaders on this football team and it means a lot to him. He spoke to the team from his heart and said some things that maybe some guys didn't like what he had to say but he was telling the truth and it was a good thing."
Blue then chimed in to give listeners an inside perspective on what he wanted to convey to the team when speaking to them after such a bitter defeat.
"It was just something on my chest that I felt I had to get it off. I just saw a couple guys, you know, being lackadaisical around the locker room, the hotel and the movies and everything else. Sometimes that stuff can carry over and when it carries over it can bite you in the behind," said Blue.
"That's what it did. I felt like it was my time to speak up. It's easy to hear stuff from the coaches. We played football growing up since we was little, so when you hear that, it's kind of second nature. But, when you hear it from a guy that you're close to and a guy that you hopefully respect, I think it means a lot more."
Tuesday was also the first full practice of the week and Fedora was pleased with the effort his team put forth on the field.
"We had a really good practice today. I was really pleased with everybody. Their attitude, the leadership out there on the field, their effort and everything," said Fedora.
Some have begun questioning whether the 4-2-5 defensive scheme is the right one for UNC, something that's easy and natural to do after some disappointing defensive performances, but Fedora was quick to defend it on the show.
"It's not a complicated scheme. It's not. Plays, schemes, they are what they are. You have to execute the play, you have to execute the scheme," said Fedora. "That's why you practice. When guys understand it and know what's going, they're able to play fast. We didn't play fast and part of the reason the other day, maybe we had too much in. We talked about that as a staff with the first week of just a couple days for the game plan to be installed. We talked about it. We looked at it. We evaluated it and we'll probably cut back a little bit this week."
When UNC takes on Virginia Tech, it will be the third game in five games that the Heels will be on the road. Fedora stated the obvious that the Hokies are one of the premier teams in the ACC and will be a tough opponent, especially on their home turf.
"It's a Frank Beamer football team. I have the utmost respect for Coach Beamer and what he's accomplished there at Virginia Tech, what he's doing and what he's going to continue doing," said Fedora. "Defensively, I'll be surprised if they don't finish up in the top two or three in the country defensively. Bud Foster is the mastermind behind it and always puts a great defense out there. There playing really hard and they're having fun playing the game. When you turn on the film and you watch them play, that's the way you're supposed to play it."