September 3, 2014
CHAPEL HILL - UNC football coach Larry Fedora met with the media following Wednesday's practice as the Tar Heels prepare to host San Diego State on Saturday night.
Fedora said the game plan is in and on Thursday the team "will polish it up."
The Aztecs defeated FCS member Northern Arizona 38-7 in their opener last Saturday while the Tar Heels won 56-29 over Liberty, also from the FCS.
Fedora talked a lot Monday about SDSU's defense and how the offense must be its toes recognizing the Aztecs' camouflaging schemes all night. Fedora has tremendous respect for San Diego State head coach Rocky Long, who also serves as his team's defensive coordinator.
But what about the Aztecs' offense?
San Diego State runs a West Coast offense engineered by coordinator Bob Toledo, once the head coach at UCLA for seven seasons - he took them to the Rose Bowl one year - and for four years the head coach at Tulane when Fedora was at Southern Mississippi. Fedora has a great deal of respect for Toledo, all he's accomplished and his ability to game plan.
"He's really good at it," Fedora said about Toledo. "I ran up against him when he was at Tulane and he did a tremendous job with it. It will make it tough. They do a great job of running the football and passing it down the field."
San Diego State believes it can have some success running against UNC's young defensive front. Do they do anything unique in their approach?
"There's nothing unusual," Fedora said. "They're going to add bodies, they're going to have more tight ends in, they're going to move people, they're going to try to out-number you on a side and in the gaps."
UNC has had its share of invited walk-ons excel over time. Thomas Smith in the 1990s developed into a first-round NFL draft pick, David Thornton got a chance in 2001 and ended up having a heck of a career with the Indianapolis Colts, and on the current team safety Dominique Green, linebacker Jeff Schoettmer and special teams star and wide receiver Mack Hollins are exceling despite not arriving on scholarship.
Both Schoettmer and Hollins scored their first career touchdowns in the opening win over liberty. Green started as a true freshman a year ago and has developed into one of the team's top defensive players.
"I'm not surprised by it," the third-year head coach said. "We've had guys that come in here that are quality players, they come in and they earn the respect of the team, the respect of the coaches, and they play, and they've been doing a great job for us."
Fedora said he's had to rely on bringing in quality invited walk-ons because of the scholarship reductions brought on by the NCAA sanctions.
"Our coaches have had to do a good job of evaluating walk-on talent, also and recruiting guys to come in here and hopefully earn a spot," he said. "And we've had quite a few in the last two years that have come in and contributed to this football team and were able to be put on scholarship because of the limitations that we've had."
On the defensive line, Fedora gave the inexperienced unit a C grade for their performance against Liberty. He expects more and wants more moving forward. San Diego State just may provide more opportunities than the quick-hitting Flames did last weekend.
"We've got to get more production out of those guys," Fedora said. "Now, you have to give the other team credit. They were getting the ball out quick, there wasn't much holding the ball.
"This team will do some of that, but they're going to also throw the ball down the field, so that means they're going to have to hold the ball a little bit, so we're going to have to get some pressure on them."
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