Q&A with Larry Fedora, Part IV

GREENSBORO, N.C. --- Larry Fedora fielded questions from reporters for over an hour at the ACC Kickoff. Read everything the Tar Heel head coach said in InsideCarolina.com's four-part transcription ...

With so much media focus on Clowney, how is James Hurst handling all this?

James Hurst has heard more about Jadeveon Clowney than all of us put together I assure you. James is a quality player. He will be a leader on our offensive line; I'm close to saying he's a great left tackle. He is one of the most intelligent tackles that I've ever had in 26 years and Coach Kap will tell you the same thing. He has tremendous skills. I think James understands the importance for his future and the way he plays in that first game. He'll be ready to go, I assure you.

What's the biggest difference you've seen between years one and two when you've installed your offense in other places?

Tempo. It's so hard in that first year. The other day some of the guys came by the office and we were sitting there talking, they don't even realize how many more reps we got in the spring. Now you go back to the first spring and they can tell you, because they were dying all the time. I remember coming off the field after one practice and Hurst, Cooper and Bodine were sitting there and sweat is just dripping off of them and they said ‘Coach, we got more reps in these first three practice then we did the entire spring ball last year.' This spring we got more reps than we did last spring and they didn't even notice it. It's so much easier for them now because the game has actually slowed down for them. They can go fast without even knowing they were going fast.

How many reps did you get in the spring?

I can tell you because we'd script. Last year in a 10-minute period we're wanting to get 12 reps. This year we're getting 18 to 22 reps in those 10 minutes, so there's a big difference.

Nick Saban came out recently and said he had some concerns about the spread offense regarding injuries to players. What's your response to that?

First of all I'd need to see some data that tells me that's true. I do think if players are tired there is more chance for them to get injured. Common sense would tell you that if you're playing more plays that's more opportunities for an injury. I don't necessarily think that what we do in a spread or up-tempo creates more injuries. I think Nick is probably talking about what's going to benefit his program, which he should be. And I'm going to talk about what I think should benefit my program. That's his philosophy, I have a different philosophy. I think that if you line up in the ‘I' and you run the iso and you have a fullback running at that linebacker 25 times and they're colliding 25 times in the A-gap, I'm putting them at a greater risk for injury. It's however you feel about it.

What's your philosophy about eating clock toward the end of a game, considering you're usually wanting to go fast?

Depends on the situation in the game. If we need to do it, we'll do it. It's one of the worst things we do is trying to slow our guys down. It drives me crazy because they're having a hard time slowing down. They're standing at the line of scrimmage and they feel like they're up there for an hour and we haven't run a play. That's one of the hardest things with the way we condition them. I don't necessarily mean physically condition them, but mentally condition them, that we're moving all the time. When you try and slow them down it's hard for them. When you tell the quarterback to milk the clock and he's struggling doing that it's because everyone is around like ‘Hey let's go, let's go.' We practice it, but it's still hard to do. You can't practice it enough compared to what we really practice all the time.

What are your thoughts on social media and how it impacts everything you do?

I think it's a tremendous tool in a lot of different ways, but it's also frightening. If they don't understand that they are branding themselves in everything they throw out there, you can look across the country and see the embarrassment that happens a lot of time that happens on Twitter and Facebook. We really spend a lot of time trying to educate our guys. But they're still 18, 19, 20, 21 years old. There's no way in the world I'd tell you what I was doing back then. And we expect them to make good decisions, we expect them to make decisions like they're 40 years old and it's not going to happen. Hopefully we can continue to educate them and they won't make those bad decisions. I was told the other day about this Snapchat. You can put a picture and video and it's out there and then it's gone in like six seconds. Now it's like ‘Hey, I can put something out there and it will be gone and nobody will know it.' First of all, I'm not sure I believe that. Big Brother's got it somewhere up there in the air. That's a scary thought. Now you think, ‘Hey I can throw something out there and six seconds later it's gone so no one is really going to know that it was out there.' That's scary to me. I'm very fortunate that I didn't grow up the way things are now. No telling the mistakes I would've made. The only thing we can do is continue to educate our kids. I don't believe in banning them. I think that's part of the education process, you've got to learn. That stuff's not going away. It's going to be a part of their lives. We've got to do a good job of educating knowing that they're going to make some mistakes. They're going to be disciplined for the mistakes they make. They're going to be held accountable. We're going to learn from them and then we're going to move forward from there. It's a part of becoming a man - making mistakes and then growing from the mistakes you make.

You think there will be any reaction to being picked to finish third in the division?

From our players? Oh, there's going to be some reaction. I'm going to make sure of that. I appreciate y'all doing that?

You think it's too low?

I think we should've been lower. That would've been easier for me.

After the way he came on this spring, is Norkeithus Otis the guy at Bandit now?

If we lined up tomorrow, he would be. He had a great spring. I was very, very pleased with Norkeithus Otis. Talking to our guys, they think Norkeithus is maturing and really coming on as a football player. Again, you hope he's one of those guys that the light come on. If that light comes on for him, he can be a spectacular player because he has all the tools.

Travis Hughes. Has he also come on?

I think so. Again, it was just different guys learn at different rates. Travis just had more problems learning at the position. I think he feels more comfortable, I know this spring there were times he turned it loose and you can watch him, that guy has a bunch of talent. He can run, he's one of those water moccasin kind of guys. He is quick, he can knock the crap out of you and he gets up and he didn't even know he really hit you hard. He brings the wood every time he lays a lick. Sometimes it gets him into trouble, because he's always trying to knock you out. He's always trying to get that big hit. In open space, that's hard to do.

What's the No. 1 thing new schools are going to have to contend with when they join the ACC?

The toughest thing, for me it was a little bit of the same last year, you really don't know the other teams. There are so many little intricate things that you don't know about them, that there's a learning curve there. Obviously, a guy like Frank Beamer he knows it inside and out. Nobody is going to know it better than he does. For anybody coming into it new, there are a lot of a little things about each and every team that you have to learn. It's not something they're going to be able to just talk to somebody and they're going to give them advice and that's going to do it. There's just a process you have to go through, there's a learning curve and they're going to have to go through it.

Is speed the one thing that sets the ACC apart from the Big East?

I've never been in the Big East so I don't know that. I know West Virginia was in there, they could run. I think there's plenty of speed in the ACC, yes. … You've got to have speed to win in college football these days. No doubt about it, I don't care what league you're in.

You mentioned Lipford earlier; do you see him at Bandit or at linebacker?

He's been learning the Bandit position. Obviously, he's got the skills to go over to defensive end. He's one of the most gifted guys on our football team. I can tell you physically, he's over a 400-pound bencher, they say he cleans over 375, squats over 500 pounds, he was close to 11 feet in the broad jump from my understanding, he's like a 38-inch vertical. He's freakish when you talk about testing. He can run, he can hit, right now he's starting out at Bandit and we'll where he goes from there.

Do you have the kind of athletes you need for the hybrid positions yet or are they still kind of force fed?

Maybe a little bit force fed, but I think guys are adjusting to it. I don't know if we have that ideal guy, but that's hard to tell until a guy becomes comfortable with what we're asking him to do. This spring, Norkeithus Otis was a different guy than he was in the fall. He felt more comfortable and you saw the athleticism come out. He looks like a real player then.

When did you start extrapolating the idea that the two-minute drill could be run the entire game?

I asked my dad when I was a kid, ‘Why don't they do that all the time?' My dad was a barber, still is, full of wisdom and said ‘You just can't.' That was his answer. I played in a small college and we threw the ball around a little bit more than everybody else was doing at that time and we had success. The more I saw, as you spread people out it created problems. My philosophy kept evolving, so in 1999 when I got my opportunity it was like ‘OK, I'm either going to put up or shut up and see if it works.' I think it worked.

Do you feel for Miami? What the coach is going through with their NCAA situation?

I feel for Al (Golden), he's kind of going through the same situation that I was going through. First of all, he had nothing to do with anything that happened there. But he has to deal with it. So, yeah, I feel for Al. Al and I have talked about that at times. I told him I'd be more than willing to talk to him about it anytime he wants. He hasn't asked for my advice, doesn't need to, he's a great football coach and I'm sure he'll be fine.

What does Pitt coming into the Coastal Division mean for your program in terms of recruiting?

We've talked about expanding the state of Pennsylvania and how we recruit the state of Pennsylvania obviously because our footprint will have grown. Just like those guys coming in and learning about the intricacies of the league, we've got a lot to learn about Pitt, we've got a lot to learn about Syracuse and the only way you're going to learn that is through playing them.

Do you wish you played Florida State more often?

That is one of the negative things about your conference growing so large. Every league out there is running into that problem, there's not much you can do about it. Even if you change up the divisions, that's still going to happen. You have to have a scheduling process, there's no way to change that.

What do you know about these new teams?

I know tradition, that's what you really know about them. I don't know a lot about the individual teams, I know about Pitt's tradition, I know about the tradition of Syracuse. Two very successful programs in the past. It will be more about breaking them down and learning about this team and learning what this team brings to the table. We've still got a long way to go in doing that process.

What have your defensive players learned after playing Georgia Tech that's helped them?

I think a big part of it is that they were embarrassed. We've got to do a much better job, not only just with our scheme, but our attitude about playing Georgia Tech and that style of offense. It's a very difficult offense to play against it, there's no doubt about it, and you only got a short time to prepare for it. Anybody that's run the triple option or tried to defend it … it's difficult. You better have your option responsibilities down… that's why teams run it. Because you get three days to prepare for it and you don't see it any other time of the year. Hopefully we'll be better prepared than we were last year.

What's the role of guys like Justin Thomason and Jessie Rogers – how are they fitting in behind Tim Jackson?

They're young guys that played a little bit last year. Undersized last year coming in as freshmen. Each of those guys have put on weight. Jesse and Justin have moved inside and they're getting bigger and they're going to help us inside. They're going to have to play for us. We're going to continue to take guys like that and grow them, develop them, and hopefully move them down inside. So they'll be more athletic.

There's not really one style of offense in the ACC…

No. But you know what there's no one set offense in any of the leagues. When you say spread, your spread is different from my spread; his spread is different than my spread. People use that term a lot because that's good in recruiting. It used to be that pro-style was the thing for recruiting. Now kids know it doesn't matter what offense you play in, if you can play you got a chance to go to the league.

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