Coming off a big win over archrival N.C. State this past weekend, it was expected that this Larry Fedora's weekly radio show would be a jovial experience for listeners.
But as the news from earlier in the day that quarterback Bryn Renner's UNC career is likely over as he has season-ending shoulder surgery seeped its way into the broadcast like an infection looking to invade the good vibes of a two-game winning streak, it was clear that Fedora and the team are choosing to stay positive during this difficult time and focus on what Renner has accomplished during his time in Chapel Hill.
"Well it's just unfortunate for him. Especially for a senior and a kid that's done so much for the program. First of all, you hate it for him. You hate it for our team and you hate it for all of Carolina. But, Bryn's done so much," said Fedora. "He's a leader on our football team, he's thrown for over 8,000 yards and he's thrown for over what, 64 touchdown passes? I mean, he's done some incredible things. We talk about all the time with our players that you're only one play away from it all being over with. So you hope you don't take things for granted.
"But you know, we're going to move forward and Marquise Williams is going to step up and lead this football team and we're going to move from there."
Renner's career comes to a close and he will leave UNC as the most accurate passer in UNC history, second all-time in touchdowns and third all-time in total completions. Renner was on the radio show a couple weeks ago and reflected that eventually he would look back on his time and enjoy what he had accomplished.
Unfortunately, that time is now and many of these career marks will not have the chance to be improved upon.
"It's been rough on Bryn. It's been really rough. When the MRI was read, the doctor didn't give him any choice at all. It was 'we're going to have to have surgery and we're going to do it this week and this is it.' So, it's been kind of a shock to him. It really has. He knew it dislocated in the game but he came back in and played," said Fedora. "He felt like he would rehab a little bit, get some strength back to it and be ready to play. He did not know the extent of the injury at that time.
"Team wise, we never mentioned it. We didn't talk about it in meetings, we didn't talk about it at all. But we don't, we don't ever talk about it. We don't talk about it with anybody. Everybody understands that in this game they come and they go and the next guys got to step up. The next guy's got to be prepared. I think Marquise's done a nice job of that."
Some fans might be wondering if this injury to Renner and the shaking up off the depth chart that will have to happen because of it will effect Mitch Trubisky's redshirt.
While Fedora would like to give Trubisky as much time to prepare for being a starter as possible, he understands their might be a situation where that day comes and Trubisky has to answer the bell.
"If duty calls he's ready to go. I can assure you. He came by the other night when he heard about it and he came by the office and said 'Coach, I just want you to know I'm ready,'" said Fedora. "He's got the right attitude about it. They all do. Bryn has done a really good job leading that group. He's been the leader in that room. He's done a good job preparing those kids."
Obviously before the injury, Renner and Williams had been splitting time throughout the game. While that was on one hand to give the offense a change of pace as it had become stagnant, the other part was to get Williams ready to one day lead this team. That time may have come sooner than hoped for but Fedora and the team feel confident with Williams at the helm.
"We're very comfortable with Marquise in the game. I think the team is too. That's the silver lining in him playing up to this point is that the team is very comfortable with him. They have confidence in him. They know he can get the job done and they feel good about it. It's not like everybody's got to rally around a guy that hasn't played and we've all got to play super-human in order to get it done. We're not going to need that. Everybody just needs to do their job and he'll do his and we'll be ok."
UNC left tackle James Hurst stopped by the show as one of the player guests and was able to give an honest take on some of the younger guys that have stepped up for UNC.
Like many other player guests this season, Hurst admits that the younger guys have had their growing pains but like the other veterans on the team, he's enjoyed taking a big brother role with those guys in watching them get better.
"Earlier in the season, they were improving but it was much too slow. You saw that in the wins and losses. I think, and I think a lot of people would agree, that the game is going to go how the offensive line goes," said Hurst. "We had struggles early and we weren't able to do a lot of the things that we were trying to do. But now I think their getting a little more confident and comfortable. I think their able to go in every Saturday and not worry so much about the game plan. They understand things a little more and everything comes a little more natural to them."
Hurst made an interesting comment about the younger players and what it means to beat the Wolfpack in Raleigh, something he doesn't think they fully understand just yet. The comment also gives credence to Fedora's creed to change the atmosphere in Chapel Hill and how bringing in guys that are trying to do that as well can only help.
"It felt great for those guys to beat State at their place, even though they really don't have any idea what that means," said Hurst. "I really know that their looking forward to the end of the season."
For Hurst, being a senior, winning in Raleigh was a huge deal considering the history this class has had with the Wolfpack. Hurst elaborated on just what that victory meant to him and the other veterans on the squad.
"That's one of those you'll never forget. Especially because we started the game this year exactly how we started the game there two years ago. Being about as bad you can be on offense those first two drives," said Hurst. "The difference this year was adversity hit and we didn't blink."
So where does Hurst rank this victory over
his long career?
"It was one of the best victories I've ever been a part of," said Hurst.
The college football season isn't about to slow down for UNC just because their quarterback got hurt or because their coming off a big rivalry win.
The Heels have to host a Virginia squad that doesn't have an impressive team but is dangerous nonetheless to Fedora and the coaching staff.
"If you'll remember, last year they lost six in a row and they went to State for their homecoming and won the game," said Fedora. "They've been in this situation before. It's tough, when you look at them on film, they don't look like a 2-7 football team.
UNC will look to extend their winning streak and continue on the mantra that Fedora has put forth that each week is an opporotunity to go "1-0" as the Tar Heels try to claw their way into a decent bowl game.