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This is a hectic time, from recruiting to breaking down the current roster, isn't it?
"It is. Obviously, it's going to take some time to really get to know what those guys are the best at, watching film at some point. Right now, recruiting is obviously the biggest part of our day-to-day, but that's what spring will be for – try to introduce them to the core of what we do. See how good we are at some things, see where we have some deficiencies and try to mold it to what our strengths are."
Have you had a chance to evaluate Bryn Renner and see how he might fit into your system?
"Not a lot. I watched the bowl game. It seems like we caught North Carolina in a couple of cross-games and thought he did a great job being efficient, but other that that, it's hard to tell. It's too early. There's too many other things to do. What I've really been excited about is just his personality and his willingness to learn really quickly. He's already in [the film room] watching install tapes and learning the offense. He's coming in on crutches trying to learn more. You want a guy that's willing, and it's not just him; there have been others. All of the guys. I've had a great response – phone calls back, questions. Guys eager and excited about getting into what we're going to do. It's fun to play. We're not boring to watch and we're not boring to be a part of. It's fun for kids to get involved in, so you very rarely have to ask them more than once. They want to get involved."
With the emphasis now on recruiting and with little time to focus on the current roster, how do you balance out that process of needing to know what holes to fill on Signing Day?
"To some degree, obviously, I think they had done a good job in getting the foundation of a class together and we're going to continue to recruit those guys and try to get them here. They're North Carolina guys. This is where they want to be. [The previous staff] had evaluated well. We'll try to take the few spots we still have open and hopefully, just over the little bit of time that we have, find a few needs that we can address.
"Obviously, we'll probably use a few more wideouts than they've used in the past, so that will be – we're going to need to find a wideout. We're always going to take a tailback. We run the ball. We need a tailback. We want to find a great tailback to go with the ones we've got because they're going to graduate at some point. So it doesn't change a lot. I think we'll be more specific in the spring and in next year's class than we'll be right now. It's kind of divide and conquer and just go after players that we feel like can help in any way and then be more specific as we know more about the team in the future."
North Carolina's last four coaches have all been defensive-oriented and basically hired an offensive coordinator and got out of the way. Coach Fedora is clearly not that way. How does your relationship work with him having input into the offense?
"It's good and bad. It's good and bad – he'll tell you and I'll be honest with you. He's a great source of information. At the end of the day, I know it starts and stops with me. We've got to score. If we don't score, it's my job to get it done. It's my fault if it doesn't happen. But to have a guy that's had the experience that he's had for all of those years and to be able to draw from that… He steps in from time-to-time, he helps to watch film and make suggestions, good and bad, but at the end of the day, he puts it on my shoulders. And we've got a great staff. So to me, he's just a great resource for me to pull from. I can always close the door and say, ‘What do you think about this? Was I right or wrong here?'
"The thing I've been pleased with is that he doesn't second-guess you. You've got to call things from your gut, you've got to know the system, which I do, and you've got to believe in what you call. "Any way you go, somebody's going to disagree with it, but if I can walk to his office and say, ‘What do you think?' - he'll say, ‘You did what your gut told you; we practiced it, it's good.' Then you feel like you've got the right situation going. And that's really what he's allowed me to do over the last four years."
Tight ends coach Walt Bell doesn't have a lot of experience, but you and Coach Fedora felt comfortable enough to bring him along. What stands out about his abilities?
"Well, I've known Walt since college. He played for me at Middle Tennessee. He's played quarterback, he's played receiver, he's played in the defensive secondary. He's worked on both sides of the ball. He knows this system as good or better than anybody in this building, and that's me and Larry included. He is a football coach and a really good one.
"To me, you look around college football and you look around the NFL and there are a lot of young coaches that are doing a great job. We have no doubts about his ability to recruit, his ability to coach and know what we're doing and being successful. So really, he's family to me and he works as hard or harder than anybody that we're going to have. To me, he's an asset. I don't even think about what his age is. I just know he's going to do a good job and he's going to be a solid coach here.
Do you adjust your offensive scheme to the talent that you have around you? You've had running quarterbacks, but Bryn Renner isn't a running quarterback.
"If you've looked over the last 10-12 years at what we've done, we've had guys that could run and guys that couldn't and we've been productive in both situations. We're going to do what our team does the best. We've always wanted to start with running the ball. If that means a quarterback that can run, great. If he's not a great runner, we're going to use other guys to do it.
"So a big part of my job is using what we've got available to us and doing the best we can with those. And then we'll mold through recruiting as years go, but if you've got a guy that knows the game, that's a good manager of the game and that has a passion for the game, then you're going to use him and them make the other guys do the hard work. Make them do the heavy lifting."