Fedora On Going Under Center, The Last Series, 5-17 & More
CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora met with the media Monday for his weekly press conference at the Kenan Football Center to answer questions about the Tar Heels’ loss at Syracuse, the things that have gone well of late, the struggles with not winning, losing 17 of the last 22 contests and more.
Here are a few outtakes from what Fedora discussed:
(this is a longer read than usual, but there’s some really interesting stuff in here)
*True freshman wide receiver Antoine Greene was having a breakout day of sorts Saturday, but he suffered a serious ankle injury and is out for the season. In fact, Fedora acknowledged the injury Monday and that Greene is indeed out for the season. As for the injury, it bothers the coach every time one of his players gets hurt, especially to the degree of Greene’s.
“I hate it any time anybody goes down,” Fedora said. “You feel for the kid because of the amount of work he’s put in (and) you also feel for the team, because he’s been a contributor. Also, our guys understand it’s part of the game and that somebody’s going to have to step up and make some plays.”
*When Patrice Rene intercepted a Syracuse pass giving UNC the ball at the Orange’s 39-yard-line with 54 seconds left and the game tied, UNC was in excellent shape to win if it could score points. Any points.
What happened, however, was that the staff called two passing plays to start the possession, the second a long pass by Nathan Elliott intended for a well-covered Anthony Ratliff-Williams putting the Heels in a third-and-10 situation. Elliott then ran the ball up the middle and was stopped for a 1-yard loss, and on fourth-and-11, Elliott threw another incomplete pass. Syracuse took over on downs with 2 seconds left.
Placekicker Freeman Jones had converted two kicks in the game to that point but had also missed a pair, including one from 50 yards out. Fedora said the thinking there was to go for the win, which is why the staff called those plays.
“Score and win the game was my thought process,” Fedora said. “We didn’t get much out of that series and we didn’t get close enough in my opinion where I felt comfortable kicking a field goal at that time.
“On third down, if we’d picked up two or three more yards, to me it would have been realistic.”
The staff wasn’t thinking get 10 yards or so and kick a field goal.
“We were trying to score to win, it wasn’t just ‘hey, lets kick a field goal,’” the coach said. “It was lets move the ball, lets move the chains like we’re going to do in every situation.”
*Nathan Elliott was under center three times in the first half Saturday on short yardage situations and on all three occasions UNC ran the ball and got first downs. UNC went under center on its last offensive play a week earlier versus Virginia Tech, as well. Previously, the Heels rarely went under center, and a year ago Fedora replied, when asked why they didn’t do it in a short-yardage situation versus Miami, “That’s not who we are.”
So Monday, he was asked about going under those three times in the first half and if it’s because of Nathan Elliott’s skills or a tweaking of his philosophy.
“Any of our quarterbacks can go under center, it’s not really just a skill set for Nathan,” Fedora said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a tweak in my philosophy, I’d say it’s a game plan. We see something there we feel like we can take advantage of… It’s no a tweak in my philosophy, I don’t know how many times I’ve gone under center.”
But, three times in a half is rare, and he had said in the past it’s not who they are.
“We had a lot of short yardage situations in that game, also,” Fedora said. “That was kind of the plan in our short yardage (plan).”
*If you were to split up UNC’s last 44 games in half the Tar Heels’ record would look like this: 18-4 going into a Thursday night game at Duke two years ago but 5-17 since. Fedora was asked Monday what the number one reason for the dramatic difference in results:
“Taking care of the football,” Fedora replied.