UNC Sticking with 4-2-5 in Bowl

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – With defensive coordinator Dan Disch now calling plays, North Carolina’s defense will continue to focus on executing the 4-2-5 scheme in preparation for the team’s Quick Lane Bowl matchup with Rutgers on Dec. 26 in Detroit.

Disch will be taking over the play calling for the recently departed Vic Koenning. With a busy exam schedule for the players and a quick turnaround before the bowl game, Disch hasn’t had a ton of time for reflection.

“It’s been a blur for a few days.” Disch said earlier this week. “But, we knew we had to play better and we understand that it’s a business and you accept that when you take it on. It didn’t turn out the way we all wanted it to, and now Coach [Larry Fedora] asked to see if we can go out there and make something happen.”

Under Koenning’s leadership the UNC defense struggled to find any type of consistency. Youth and inexperience (particularly up front) played a role, but the poor statistical output ultimately spoke for itself.

In 12 regular season games, UNC’s defense ranked last in the ACC in scoring defense (38.9 ppg), total defense (495.7 ypg) and run defense (232.2 ypg). In all of those categories, this unit held the bottom spot by a significant margin.

All season long many have wondered whether the 4-2-5 scheme has been too complex for UNC’s current personnel. While the scheme should be effective in combating the spread offense, at least in theory, it has not fared well against the power running offenses that reside in the ACC’s Coastal Division.

Due to multiple injuries last season, the UNC coaching was forced to get creative with the defensive personnel by drawing up exotic play calls for the team’s Belk Bowl appearance against Cincinnati. The bold gambles paid off as the Bearcats’ offense looked disoriented by the new look defense.

Would more similar changes be in store for this game?

As the defensive play caller at Southern Miss in 2011., Disch ran an even more aggressive version of the 4-2-5. With Rutgers also employing a power rushing attack, many were wondering if Disch would try and integrate his attacking philosophy into this week’s game plan.

According to Disch, trying to do too much in such a short period of time with this group isn’t the right approach.

“We decided with 10 practices we can’t reinvent the wheel.” Disch said. “We’re going to do what the kids know. You tweak a few things to help you each week with what you are going to see, but we’re not going to start from scratch and do different things at this point. There just isn’t enough time.”

Defensive tackle Nazair Jones also talked about how there needs to be a greater focus on executing the responsibilities that are already in place.

“We haven’t put in anything new, we haven’t taken anything out.” Jones said. “We’re still running what we have been. We just have to do our job.”

Disch’s style, however, lends toward more risk-taking, as evidenced by Southern Miss’s NCAA record eight interception returns for touchdown under his direction in 2011.

"He's very energetic,” middle linebacker Jeff Schoettmer said. “He's a little out there, but it's something we need. He's more aggressive."

As such, there is a possibility that UNC’s 4-2-5 could be more assertive and tenacious in the bowl game later this week.

“It is the same playbook,” Schoettmer said. “For each week and for each team we play, we have some different defensive schemes we run to their weaknesses, blitzes and things like that. So we’ll put in some blitzes for Rutgers and hopefully he calls them.”

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