With a big game against rival N.C. State coming up this week, the North Carolina Tar Heels were somewhat reflective during Larry Fedora's weekly radio show Tuesday night.
Fedora and player guest Bryn Renner took a lot of the broadcast's air time to discuss what it's been like watching some of UNC's younger plays grow and develop this season, especially after a game against Boston College where a lot of those guys were asked to contribute.
One of those players was "Bandit" Mikey Bart who was able to record a sack during the contest.
"Yeah he really did, the team was so fired up for him (Mikey Bart)," Fedora said about the great effort Bart put forth. "He's a hard-working kid, true freshman and he got out there, and playing the defensive line as a true freshman, you're doing some things. It was good to see him have a good game."
Other guys like Ryan Switzer, T.J. Logan and Jonathan Howard were also key contributors in the game with Switzer and Howard both getting into the endzone.
"That's three freshmen that really had an impact on the offense. Three touchdowns between them. Now we've got to get T.J. in the endzone," said Fedora before focusing on Howard in particular. "He's a true freshman. He's tall, long and lanky. He can go up and get the ball and make plays. Again, just like with all those freshmen, every rep they get is a new experience. He's learning from them."
Fedora didn't stop by just talking about the young offensive players. Although those guys have seen more action than some of their younger counterparts on the defensive side, Fedora says that a lot of defensive guys have been improving every day in practice.
"Their getting better. You know, you challenge those guys all the time to make sure their getting something out of their redshirt season, not just playing a role as a scout team player," said Fedora. "So we challenge them all the time, Dajaun Drennon, Greg Webb and Nazair Jones, those three guys are out there every day pushing hard and trying to get better."
After getting the start during the Miami game in front of a national audience, some fans might have been wondered what exactly the role of freshman T.J. Logan is a this point.
Fedora insists that who gets the carries and who doesn't isn't necessarily a reflection of things being done right or wrong, but he did acknowledge the coaching staff is still waiting for a feature back to emerge.
"First of all, that depth chart goes out on Mondays. There are a lot of things that go on throughout the week in practice. I don't know that anybody intended that T.J. was going to be the starter in the game, the previous week he was because of a play selection that we were going to start the game with. From that point, he's had good weeks in practices," said Fedora. "It just happened that he got in the game, I didn't even know that he was the fourth one in. But I know he did a nice job when he was in there and I thought Romar Morris probably played his best game when he was in there running the football. The other two got reps also. We're still rolling guys in right now to find out who wants to catch fire."
Renner stopped by in the middle of the show and has become customary ever since Marquise Williams began getting more snaps in the games, he was asked about how he feels about splitting snaps during his senior season.
"I think it's been great for both of us. The offense has kind of been sparked here in the last two games but me and Marquise, we do a great job during the week of getting those reps and seeing different things," said Renner. "When I'm on the sidelines I can help him and he does vice versa for me. It's really helped us in the last two weeks."
Fedora followed up that comment by giving kudos to Renner on his ability to handle a situation that other quarterbacks might not have handled as well.
"Just the maturity level that he has. He understands why we're doing it. It has nothing to do with the way you play. It's helping the offense. Bryn's all about winning," said Fedora.
Talking more about the development of young players, Renner was asked if it's been difficult to trust such a young offensive line to ensure his standing upright at the end of each game.
While Renner admitted it can sometimes be frustrating, he also elaborated that it's been especially rewarding to see all of his offensive linemen develop this year and mentioned each member of the five member unit specifically by name.
"Yeah, but it's also been great to see them grow. Guys up front, Jon Heck, Landon Turner, Caleb Peterson, playing around veteran guys like James Hurst and Russell Bodine," said Renner. "I remember the first game against South Carolina, they've gotten better every week. You can see it on film. I think Coach Kap and Coach Anderson does a great job of game planning and getting them in the right spots. They've grown up in the last few weeks."
Renner also talked about getting a chemistry developed with his skill position guys, a crucial element in a quarterback's success on the collegiate level.
"I think it was really easy. Ryan came in in January and then "Bug" fit right in. Their picking up quickly to the game of college football. It was a big adjustment for me and I know how that is," said Renner. "I think it's been helpful for them so that I can help them grow in the recent games. But, they're great athletes and they're going to be great Tar Heels for years to come."
Lastly, Fedora gave his thoughts on a rivalry that Tar Heel and Wolfpack fans look forward to every year. In his eyes, the animosity between these two fan bases represents the best parts of college football.
"I think it's going to be a blast. I really do. I think that's what makes college football so great. Your regional rivalries that you have," said Fedora. "The bragging rights, the animosity amongst the fans, all the things that take place. I think that's the fun part about it"
He also said he doesn't believe that the hostile environment will have any real effect on his team.
"We practice every day with noise. It's not something that really even enters our guy's minds. That's kind of the way we plan it. It's not a big deal to them," said Fedora. "We've played in front of hostile crowds. You want to use that to your advantage. There is something about getting out there and playing when people are hollering and cussing and talking about your mom, it makes it more fun."