As is tradition, Larry Fedora hosted his weekly radio show from Top of the Hill restaurant from Chapel Hill Tuesday night.
With UNC coming off a bye week, the subject matter revolved a little bit around how the coach and staff spent their off-week while also discussing recruiting and the upcoming Saturday noon game in Atlanta against Georgia Tech.
"It was good. We got to see a bunch of games Friday night. We had a bunch of coaches out. So got in late Friday night and did some housework on Saturday," said Fedora. "Then I watched a few games. Then went back to work Sunday morning, early."
Last year's version of the Yellow Jacket-Tar Heel match-up saw a historical amount of points, something both participants would like to live without in this year's game so long as they aren't the ones cutting down on their offensive output.
Fedora says that his team has focused on being disciplined and aware as they head into a much-anticipated showdown with Georgia Tech.
"I think our defensive staff has done a great job putting together a plan and I think our players have bought into the plan. They've worked extremely hard. They have more confidence in what they're doing, they're playing harder and they're playing with confidence," said Fedora. "They're being aggressive. If we can have some discipline with our assignments and run to the football, get off of blocks, we'll be ok on defense."
The key to breaking down the machine that is Georgia Tech's workmanlike triple-option attack is the same as it is for any defense: Dictating the situations the offense is put into.
The Tar Heels will be focusing on getting the Yellow Jackets out of their comfort zone and applying some pressure by forcing them into more passing downs.
"Well you need to put them in as many third and longs as possible. That's the first thing. They don't have that many third and longs because of the style of offense they run. They're going to get three yards, four yards, then they're in third and short," said Fedora. "That's their style of football. If you can keep them behind the chains then you can get them out of their comfort level a little bit and make them throw the ball in certain situations. We had them in situations (like that) last year and we just didn't get them off the field."
Fedora talked about the three phases of football and what role they will have heading into this weekend's game.
"It has not changed with special teams. We need to get some game changing plays on special teams. We haven't done that this year and that is disappointing," said Fedora. "Offensively, it's still going to be taking care of the football. We cannot give them extra possessions. Defensively, it's going to be to defeat blocks, get off blocks, run to the football and tackle well."
Besides getting ready for another regular season game, the Tar Heels got word this week that they have landed their first verbal commitment in the 2016 class from running back Antonio Williams.
While NCAA rules wouldn't allow Fedora to discuss specifics about Williams, anyone with an ear to the ground about the program knows who they were talking about when the subject was brought up by an audience question during the show.
Fedora discussed what it's like living in this current culture where football coaches have to offer kids at an earlier age than ever before.
"It has definitely changed. This summer was the first time we had ever offered a freshman. It's getting to be very difficult. You're getting pressed to make decisions on kids a lot quicker," said Fedora. "Some of these kids are 14 and 15 years old. They have a lot of growing to do before you even get to be a senior in high school. In the same breathe, you say 'Why do you do it?' They bring you a kid, you evaluate a kid, you watch his film and then you say, 'Well he's a freshman, I don't think we can offer this kid this early.'
"Well, he's got eight offers and if we don't offer him now we're going to be out of it already. Then that kid develops into a great player and he's from your home state and everybody is saying 'Why isn't he interested in you?' Well the kids saying 'You all didn't offer me. Somebody else offered me.' It's kind of a double-edged sword. You've got to do a great job of evaluating but that's hard to do when you're talking about 14-year old kids."
Still without naming Williams by name, Fedora said that each evaluation is handled individually and each offer is doled out on a one-by-one basis.
"Well there are a lot of factors involved. We look at them academically. We look at their character. This young man, we had him in our camps and were able to work with him," said Fedora. "His family came to camp. We got to meet the parents. So we felt comfortable with it."
Fedora then switched gears and talked about the task of building a solid network amongst the high school coaches within the state. He emphasized how important it is to allow the coaches to have access to his program as he looks to lock-up big-time in-state talents.
"We spend as much time as we can, as the NCAA rules allow, with the high school coaches. We have our facilities, our practices, everything open to any high school coach that wants to come to practice, use our meeting rooms, and watch our film or anything," said Fedora. "Our coaches do a great job, we have all nine coaches that are split up and have an area in the state of North Carolina. So they do a great job building a relationship with those guys in their areas. Again, that's through the phone and when you're in the area, stopping by as often as possible."
Maybe the most dangerous guy on Georgia Tech's offense, and quite possibly one of the most dangerous in the ACC, is Yellow Jacket's trigger man and Durham native Vad Lee.
Fedora ended the show by giving Lee his due and giving a quick scouting report of the man they'll be facing in Atlanta.
"He's very talented. You know, obviously he
can run. He does a great job running the football. He has great command of the triple-option. He has really picked it up and run with it. Now, against Duke the other night they snapped probably 25 snaps in this gun three-back offense," said Fedora. "That's a new thing that they're doing. He threw for four touchdown passes. So he can throw the ball. He can beat you either way. That makes it much more difficult to defend. He can do both."