CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina played some of the cleanest football in the nation during its nonconference slate.
The Tar Heels are currently tied for 21st in the country in fewest penalties, drawing just 19 flags for 151 yards through four games. UNC head coach Larry Fedora believes that is no coincidence.
“I think we’ve got a fairly mature football team, one, and we’ve done a lot of things to emphasize it,” Fedora said during his weekly radio show on Tuesday night.
The Tar Heels tied the school record with 99 penalties in 2014. The team is showing more discipline on the field, due in part to the presence of additional eyes at each practice.
“We’ve got ACC officials with us every single day, so they’re around those guys on a daily basis,” Fedora said. “When they make a mistake in practice, those guys are giving them pointers on what they see and what they’re looking for.”
UNC may need that level discipline to get the most out of every possession in Saturday’s game against a Georgia Tech team that will shorten the game by soaking up time of possession.
What was the reason for wide receiver Mack Hollins’ breakout against Delaware?
“One thing I’ll tell you is that he had a great week of practice last week. He looked like his old self again, so he really practiced hard, and it paid off for him. He got in the game and he made big plays like he used to do. So we need to keep that rolling. I think he’s finally feeling 100 percent now, he feels healthy, he feels good and he’s moving, so hopefully we’ll have more of that in the future.”
Who were your coaching staff’s players of the week?
Damien Washington plays on basically every special team we have; he gets reps at receiver behind Quinshad (Davis). He’s invaluable for us, as far as what he does on special teams. He’s very unselfish, it’s not like he has to have the ball in his hands. He does a great job without the ball in his hands. And then you take Dajaun (Drennon), who had probably the best game he’s played (against Delaware). He played really well. And then offensively Kendrick Singleton has been as solid as a guy can be. Week in and week out he does so much for us, it’s behind the scenes that nobody really notices. He’s not the one making all of the catches and all of those things, but he’s the guy at the point of the attack, he’s at the point on the perimeter, he’s making the key blocks that make us go.”
Is it important to get the nonconference schedule out of the way so that it’s now only ACC games left?
“What I wanted to do in these four games is find out a little more about our football team before we got into conference play. Hopefully we were going to be in as many different situations that are going to come up in a season so that we can learn from them and have success doing it. Whether we played as well as we wanted to or not, hopefully we learned a little bit in each of those games win, lose, or draw.”
Did Delaware’s running offense help you prepare for Georgia Tech’s?
“We talked about it as an offense that’s similar in that you could be on that sideline, because they love to go three yards and three yards and three yards. So it could be some elongated drives that you could be sitting there. You know you’re probably going to get nine, maybe 10 drives offensively, so you better make them count. If not, it can be a tough night.”
Has been there any thought of getting the ball in Mike Hughes’ hands?
“Mike would be our next punt returner if something happened with (Ryan Switzer). He also is backing up at the kickoff return with T.J. (Logan), but Mike’s doing a great job. He’s come a long way defensively. I know Charlton (Warren) feels very comfortable putting him in games now, because he understands what he’s doing. He made a really nice play the other day in the end zone. But he’s starting to feel comfortable, and as he grows with us defensively, eventually I do see Mike helping us in a lot of different ways.”
Will North Carolina try to play off the line of scrimmage against Georgia Tech like Duke did?
“I did notice that there were some plays where Duke backed their defensive tackles up off the ball. And actually they stood them up in two-point stances for a couple of plays. I don’t know what the reason was behind it; I don’t think that was the difference in the game. Duke played really well against them the whole game, whether the defensive tackles were on the line of scrimmage or not. They really outplayed them, so if there was anything to get from the game, it was that if you’re more physical than them, you’ve got a chance to win.”