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November 12, 2013
Larry Fedora Live: November 12
UNC was able to keep their winning streak alive with a 45-14 victory over Virginia this past Saturday. The win gives the Tar Heels three in a row and keeps their postseason hopes alive for another week.
UNC will face a stern test as they travel north take on their new ACC foe Pittsburgh on their home turf. The Panthers are coming off a huge win against Notre Dame in a nationally televised game.
While the win over Virginia was meaningful for the season, something that happened within the game had a more personal touch to it.
Backup, and now starter, quarterback Marquise Williams had been getting more reps throughout the year before learning earlier in the week that former starter Bryn Renner would need season-ending
That elevated Williams starting position to a permanent role but Williams wasn't ready to let Renner just fade off without a proper send-off. So instead of wearing his normal number 12, Williams asked if he could wear Renner's number 2 and was granted permission, doing the number proud with the victory.
"That was totally his idea. He came to me and said he'd like to do it and I said 'You and Bryn need to talk about it,'" said Fedora. "He did and I thought it was a nice way to honor a guy that he has a tremendous amount of respect for. He wanted to honor him with his play."
Despite splitting snaps, Williams and Renner have developed a unique bond between competitors at the quarterback spot and Fedora let the listening audience know that Williams greatly admires the longtime Tar Heel starter.
"Marquise will be the one to tell you that he gives Bryn the credit for where he is right now. I mean, he's been in that room with him for the last three years," said Fedora. "He's learned a lot from him. He really respects Bryn and appreciates what Bryn's done for him."
Another big moment in the game was when Shakeel Rashad made an unexpected appearance and produced. The ability for Rashad to get back on the field was a total shock to Fedora after it was believed in the preseason that he would be lost for the year.
"When it happened they told Shakeel 'You're probably not going to be able to play this year.' You just have to know him, he was like 'O.K.' He was always just over there doing his thing with the strength coaches and the trainers and I never really thought much about him. Finally the last couple of weeks, we started thinking this kid's got a chance to be back," said Fedora. "He really wanted to play. He could have gotten a redshirt but he said 'I really think I can help us win.' We've got Norkeithus beat up, we've got Lipford beat up so he was able to go in there and make plays for us. He was excited about it."
Another area of pride for UNC this week was their offensive running game. They've had their share of problems getting production in that area, but this week saw the Tar Heels run for over 200 yards and allowed their offense to remain balanced and unpredictable.
"If we could do that every week we'd take it. We do pride ourselves on balance. We want to be able to be effective in both areas," said Fedora. "We feel like nowadays if a team decides that they are going to take away the run and they commit themselves to taking away run they probably can---but they can't take away the pass. We want to be able to do both. That's very important to us."
Fedora has gotten a good look at some of his younger players this season because of the lack of seniority on the team. He acknowledged that UNC's younger players are becoming veterans right before his eyes and is excited about what the future holds.
"It's gotten to the point now where they don't have to think about what they have to do on every play. Now they know. Their able to process it quicker, their able to just play. Now you see what they can do," said Fedora.
Fedora also got a chance to talk about some upcoming 2014 recruits. He was able to take advantage of a new rule that allows him to discuss the status of these players, where he normally wouldn't, and gave a quick analysis of four particular guys that will soon be joining the UNC program.
"When we went up to recruit Mitch (Trubisky) last year, we were watching the team and noticed him making a lot of plays. Once we evaluated him, we decided he's really going to fit into that tight end role."
"He plays both sides of the ball but we're recruiting him as a corner. He's going to come in and be a corner for us. Very skilled athlete. Really can run well. Very intelligent kid. He's fired up about being a Tar Heel."
"The number one offensive lineman in the state. We battled with a lot of schools on. Bentley decided that this was the school for him. It's close to his family out of Charlotte. He was just named the MVP of the Big 22 in the state and that is the first time an offensive lineman has won that award."
"Great kid. Great family there at Charlotte Catholic. Very impressive. We offered him as a sophomore. For him, you know the other night he had four or five touchdowns and 170 something yards, just a ho-hum night for him."
North Carolina's football program has gone through some tough times the last couple seasons and Fedora has played an integral part in making sure that hasn't derailed what he's trying to accomplish in Chapel Hill.
Above all else, he values what's done off the field above what gets accomplished on it.
"I'm really proud of the way our guys have carried themselves and the way they've represented their university. We've said from the beginning that what we want to do is make all the Tar Heel fans proud of our program," said Fedora. "I didn't say we were going to win every game but I do want people when they walk out of the stadium to feel good about their team."