Play-Calling Mystery

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – It's finally official – Larry Fedora doesn't want you or North Carolina's opponents to know which defensive coach is calling the plays on game day.

Monday's news, or lack thereof, completes an eight-month journey that began when UNC announced Fedora's coaching staff on Jan. 3. What stood out immediately from the school's initial release is that two former defensive coordinators – Vic Koenning and Dan Disch – were given intriguing titles.

Koenning, previously a coordinator at Clemson and Illinois, is UNC's associate head coach for defense while Disch, who directed Fedora's defense at Southern Miss in 2011, was handed the defensive coordinator label.

The questions about play-calling responsibilities ensued just hours after the release went out. Both Koenning and Disch were bombarded by media members during a late afternoon media gathering.

"It will be a collaborative deal," Disch said at the time. "Everyone asks who will be calling the plays. I'll call the ones that work and the ones that don't work, you can say Vic called them suckers."

Fedora brushed aside those questions during spring practice and told reporters at the ACC Kickoff media event in July that he didn't know how that situation would play out and that he was leaving the decision up to Koenning and Disch since they've worked together in the past (Illinois ‘10).

When asked if the defensive duo had come to a resolution on Aug. 20, Fedora replied: "I'm sure they have – I haven't talked to them about it."

On Monday, roughly 120 hours before the season opener against Elon, Fedora was asked once again about which defensive coach would be making the play-calls this season. His response was honest and forthcoming, while at the same time, devoid of details.

"Listen, I will tell you this for this situation – we have a plan," Fedora said. "It's already established how we're going to do that defensively. It's not something that I want to tell everybody how we're doing it. I would prefer that our opponents have to try to figure out how we're doing what we're doing over there for a variety of reasons.

"I can tell you that all four guys on the defense have as much input to what's being done as I do, so they're all doing it. Now, how it's being spit out and how it's being transferred to the players is a whole ‘nother deal and I would rather not divulge exactly how we're doing that."

Outside linebackers/special teams coordinator David Duggan will be the lone defensive staff member in the coaches' box on game day, joining offensive coordinator Blake Anderson and running backs coach Randy Jordan. Defensive line coach Deke Adams will be on the sidelines along with Disch and Koenning.

Fedora's approach on this matter parallels his decision to withhold injury information, minus the season-ending types, from the public. It's a belief set maximizing every advantage while minimizing every weakness.

Fedora's overall philosophy is based in large part on World War II general George Patton's military strategy, which required his forces to be in a constant state of attack. The first-year head coach's covertness when it comes to injuries and play-calling, however, likely comes from his fondness of Sun Tzu's "Art of War," which teaches to avoid creating opportunities for your enemy.

Every possible edge helps, no matter how small. Fedora intends to put that theory to the test when the 2012 season kicks off on Saturday against Elon.

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