North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora gave some insight into the development of the UNC football program at the conclusion of its first spring season on his watch Wednesday in the Atlantic Coast Conference's annual post-spring teleconference.
Tar Heel Illustrated provides a full transcription of Coach Fedora's segment:
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COACH FEDORA: I think we had three objectives coming out of spring ball this year. One was at the end of spring, hopefully our kids would have an understanding of our base in all three phases of the game. And then two would be to learn how to practice the Carolina Way, the new way that we want to be able to practice. And three, identify who our playmakers are going to be.
We felt like we were close to accomplishing those three objectives. We came out of the spring without any major injuries, so we were pleased with it.
In terms of how you've put your stamp on the program this spring, what ways were successful for you?
COACH FEDORA: All we've done is come in and try to implement the different philosophy---basically a whole new offense, a whole new defense, and a whole new special teams unit. So we worked hard in doing that, but we're not anywhere close at this time. But I do think our guys have an understanding of what we're trying to get to. Now, how long that will take for us to get there, I don't know.
What did you do this spring to implement your philosophy?
COACH FEDORA: When you implement a philosophy, you go about doing things the way you do them. That's just a style of practice, the way we meet, the way we dress, the way we carry ourselves on campus, the way carry ourselves around the facility, the way we act. Everything.
For us the biggest change was trying to practice the way we want to practice, and that's with energy, enthusiasm, and excitement every day, and to do that at a consistent level. And again, that takes some time to get done.
After going through 15 practices, a spring game and getting to know your personnel a little bit, what would you say your biggest area of concern are?
COACH FEDORA: Well, I'd start off with the offensive line, the depth of the offensive line. I'm concerned with our depth at the receiver position. I'm concerned with depth at the running back position. I'm concerned with depth at the D-line position, the linebacker position, and the secondary positions.
I'm really concerned with depth on our football team and not having enough competition at each and every position. I felt that's expected, and it's something we'll have to continue to work on in the future.
Assuming that depth is a problem all the way around, would you say a lot of freshmen are going to get a chance to come in here and get a chance to play right away?
COACH FEDORA: Unfortunately I think we're going to have a lot of freshman that are going to have to come in and compete for jobs, so hopefully these guys are ready to go, but when you're counting on freshmen, usually that's not a good sign.
At wide receiver you have some guys with proven ability, but is it because of the 'spread' formation, and that you may use more wide receivers, that you maybe need more than they did last year, when they ran two tight ends a lot?
COACH FEDORA: When you've got two tight ends and one wide receiver on the field and one tight end and two wide receivers on the field, you don't need that many wide receivers.
We're in a system where we're going to be at least three wide receivers on the field the majority of the time, and sometimes four and even five if we can get there, which I don't think we can get there at this point. So yeah, just the style of the spread offense, we need more wide receivers.
Is that an area where a new guy coming with that experience (in the spread offense in high school) be able to contribute right away, or is that one of those positions where in your system you feel a guy really needs to redshirt?
COACH FEDORA: There's no position on the field that we designate as a position that needs to redshirt as a freshman. It depends on if a young man comes in and he proves that he's better than someone else at that position. So we don't care if they're freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors, it doesn't matter. It's about production.
Unfortunately, because of a lack of depth, you may have to play some kids that aren't ready to play, and I think there are some opportunities for young guys to come in and be able to get on the field.
How will this team look differently defensively this coming season?
COACH FEDORA: We're in a 3-2-5, We're in a defense where we can be in a 3-4 or a 3-4 or a 3-3, all with the same personnel on the field. So with the way offenses are these days, being able to be multiple on defense is a big plus.
If we're able to have five DBs, basically two linebackers, and four defensive linemen 'slash' a couple of hybrid spots. So I think one thing is we'll be very multiple. I don't know if you'll be able to see what we're at or where we're coming from, or what we're actually doing before the play starts. That's an advantage for us, and it makes it tough on a quarterback.
On offense, do you think the current personnel is a good fit for the offense you're going to run?
COACH FEDORA: If you're going to be a good football coach, I think you what you have to do is you have to mold your philosophy around the talent that you have. And in these practices, one of the most important things we do is try to identify what these kids can do so that we can mold the offense and defense or the special teams around them.
Following up on that last subject, the offense that was run before you got there, there were a lot of tight ends in the program, and some pretty good ones. How do you kind of work them in? Do you work them as wide receivers? H-Backs? What do you do with guys like that?
COACH FEDORA: I will say in this system I think I've had five tight ends go on out of this system and play in the NFL. The one that I had at Oklahoma State was the first tight end taken in the Draft. Our tight ends have consistently caught somewhere between 40 to 50 balls a year.
So that was one position that I didn't mention that I was concerned about, because we do have some depth there. Youve got Jack Tabb. You've got Eric Ebron. You've got Sean Fitzpatrick. So we've got some guys there we feel pretty good about right now, and I think those guys are going to be big factors in what we do this next season.