Locked and Loaded

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – There was no tepidness or nervousness for Larry Fedora at his introductory press conference at the Blue Zone on Friday. Instead, the new UNC head football coach attacked the situation with an aggressiveness that is sure to saturate Kenan Stadium on game days.

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"It's going to be exciting," Fedora told reporters, fans and alumni. "You better buckle your seat belts and you better hold on, because it's going to be a wild ride."

There's no doubt that Fedora galvanized the UNC fan base with his high-energy approach. He was confident, if not a little cocky. The product he was selling was the antithesis of what North Carolina football has been over the last five years.

The conservative NFL approach is gone. Welcome to a new era of Carolina football where fans may have to reverse their ingrained course of criticizing the coaching staff for being too cautious.

Fedora made it clear that the days of conservatism on the football field in Chapel Hill are over.

"As a football team, we will always be attacking," Fedora said. "Carolina's style of football will be known as playing smart, playing fast and playing physical."

He even quoted famed General George S. Patton in describing his philosophy: "Instead of waiting to see what might develop, attack constantly, vigorously and viciously. Never let up. Never stop. Always attack."

Fedora‘s rise through the coaching ranks is due in large part to his offensive acumen. As Florida's offensive coordinator in '04, the Gators led the SEC in six different categories – passing offense (271.1), total offense (426.9), 3rd-down conversion percentage (47.8), touchdown passes (29), pass attempts (407) and pass completions (243).

While serving as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator from '05-07, Fedora's final two offenses ranked in the top-10 nationally in rushing and top-20 in total offense, while also scoring more than 30 points per game. Southern Miss has averaged 443.6 yards and 34.8 points per game during his tenure, and he plans to bring that same spread offense to Chapel Hill.

"On offense, we will be one-back, no-huddle, multi-tempo," Fedora said. "We will spread the field horizontally to create vertical seams in the defense. We will put the ball in our playmakers' hands, and when you spread the field like that, you create the opportunity for a lot of explosive plays."

But unlike notable head coach offensive masterminds, such as Mike Leach and Steve Spurrier, Fedora does not call his own plays on the sidelines.

"I am involved in every offensive meeting there is," Fedora said. "In the past, Blake Anderson, my offensive coordinator, has done a tremendous job of calling the plays. What we do is in between series, we go through and we script the next series of plays so that we can talk it over with our players so they know what's coming in this series. So I have input, but I do not call the plays."

Fedora's offensive approach has already piqued the interest of current Tar Heels that will suit up for him next fall.

"I ran the spread in high school and I'm used to that type of offense," sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner said. "I'm ready to dive into the playbook with his [schemes]."

Bob Redman worked for the Florida football program for 10 years (1994-2004) and served as Fedora's offensive quality control assistant during his last three years.

"He's a very intelligent person as far as X's and O's goes," said Redman, who is now the editorial manager for FightingGators.com. "I can't say enough about the guy. He is very meticulous about every play."

But while offense is a critical part of the equation, the other two phases of the game require just as much attention. And it was special teams, not offense, that Fedora mentioned first on Friday.

"On special teams, we will be very aggressive," Fedora said. "You can count on game-changing plays in special teams."

Defensively, Southern Miss improved from a No. 67 national ranking in total defense (366.1 ypg) in Fedora's first year in '08 to No. 31 this season (345.3).

"On defense, we're going to employ multiple fronts, multiple blitzes and multiple coverages," Fedora said. "We are about stopping the run and creating confusion and disrupting a quarterback through blitzes and coverages. Our defenses will be known for flying to the football and knocking the tar out of people."

Fedora's aggressive approach will be intoxicating at first for a fan base in desperate need of positive energy after a draining 18-month stretch, but skeptics will remain about UNC hiring a coach from a non-BCS football program until the results arrive on the field.

Redman, who lists Fedora right behind Oklahoma's Bob Stoops as the top assistants that he worked with during his decade at Florida, believes Fedora will find success in his new job.

"He's taken the normal progression that you have to take," Redman said. "He was in a hard place, and nothing against Southern Miss, but they are a non-BCS program in a small state that had two BCS programs in the state. And he did wonders – by the time he left, he was the best program in the state…

"I really think he can take North Carolina to the top."

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