CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – In addition to learning a new defensive scheme this offseason, North Carolina’s secondary was tasked with learning a brand new set of fundamentals.
UNC head coach Larry Fedora provided insight into that change during his live radio show on Tuesday night at Top of the Hill restaurant.
“First of all, everything that those guys learned on the back end was probably more difficult than anybody, because we totally changed the technique on everything they’re doing,” Fedora said. “So they had to learn all new techniques, all new fundamentals in the spring and I think they’ve really done a good job.”
When host Jones Angell followed up by asking why the secondary had to learn new techniques, Fedora replied: “Because that’s what Gene [Chizik] wanted.”
“It fits what they do defensively,” Fedora continued. “They teach it a certain way and they want it done that way and it was different from the way it was taught before.”
Fedora praised cornerbacks Des Lawrence, M.J. Stewart and Brian Walker for having “really big camps” and highlighted a couple of true freshmen that have stood out.
“Mike Hughes is going to play for us this year, and so is J.K. Britt,” Fedora said. “They’re going to help this football team. They’ve had really good camps.”
The fourth-year UNC head coach added that safeties Sam Smiley and Donnie Miles had been “solid” throughout training camp.
Radio Show Quotes of Note
What can Marquise Williams do to take another step forward this year?
“The biggest challenge that I gave to Marquise this year was to be more consistent in everything he does. Everything. And that I don't want him to play high one day and low the next day, I want him to be just very consistent. It's much easier to lead from that position when you don't get too excited about things and don't get too low about things. He is a very fiery, very competitive guy, and so he has to taper that a little bit so everybody doesn't see that, because I'd really like him to stay pretty level headed throughout the whole thing.”
Offensive coordinator Seth Littrell is now in his second season calling the plays. How big of a deal is that now that he may be just a little more comfortable with the personnel and the coaches around him?
“It makes a world of difference, because he is comfortable with what he does, and what he calls, and how he calls it. If you've really ever heard a play call and what goes into it, and the speed of what we do and how quickly you have to process it, but also for the coordinator how quickly he's got to think, and get the next play out of his mouth and onto the signal guy… We move at warp speed, really, in everything we do.”
Bug Howard seems like a guy who’s had a really good camp for you at the wideout position.
“He really has. 84 has done a great job for us, and not only that, Bug had a great summer. He's a guy who's 6-4, he’s got a 40.5-inch vertical jump. I mean, he can really go. He feels good about himself. He's put in a lot of work in the weight room. He's gotten bigger, he's stronger, all of those things, and when you're that long and you've got some strength about you, you kind of start feeling good about yourself.”
You’ve mentioned J.K. Britt, Mike Hughes and Aaron Crawford as true freshmen that have stood out in camp. Any others who may play this year?
“I’d say there’s probably a good chance that Tommy Hatton is going to play for us. I think there’s a great chance that Ty’Son Williams is going to play for us. I’m probably forgetting somebody else, but those two guys stand out. They’re in the two-deep right now.”
Will Mike Hughes be a part of your return game this year?
“He very well could be. He’s already shown that he can be. We’ve put him back there in both situations. In one of the scrimmages, he returned a punt for a touchdown, so he’s shown that he does a really good job with the ball in his hands.”