CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Saturday nights on college campuses are spent a number of ways. Some people go out with friends, others study vigorously for midterms, and a few may even elect to catch up on rest.
UNC head coach Larry Fedora spent his Saturday night watching film, eating Chick-fil-A and drinking Red Bull to prepare for Thursday’s primetime game at No. 23 Pitt.
“I went straight into the office, kissed my wife goodbye and my daughters, and went into the staff room and started working immediately,” Fedora told reporters after Monday’s practice.
These are the troubles that come for a football team when it has just four days to prepare for its next game.
“Everything’s got to be sped up, because normally what you do on Sunday, we have to do on Saturday night after our game, and then you come in on Sunday early in the morning, you try to get everything done (that you would normally do) on a Monday,” Fedora said. “Obviously, because of the short period, you can’t do that much.”
For some members of the team, Thursday nights are an opportunity, not a nuisance. Take junior running back T.J. Logan, for example.
Two of Logan’s finest performances as a Tar Heel came under the lights on a Thursday. In 2013, he rushed for a then-career-high 61 yards in his second game at UNC. In 2014, Logan turned in the most impressive performance of his career at Duke, tallying 116 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
“I just feel like Thursday is like a high school game playing on Fridays,” Logan said. “I guess because they’re so close that could be why I just like playing on Thursday. It feels like everybody’s watching, so it just feels real fun.”
Another running back who has recently flourished in the Thursday night spotlight is sophomore Elijah Hood. The Charlotte, N.C. native racked up 138 yards on 13 carries in UNC’s 2015 opener against South Carolina, making himself a household name for Tar Heel fans in the process.
“The spotlight, I mean, I don’t shy away from it, but I just try to play the best I can every time I’m out there on the field,” Hood said. “If I perform a little better in the spotlight, that’s just awesome.”
Those two will be a part of a team that looks to make a major statement in primetime on Thursday night after faltering in its first opportunity.
“They’re probably going be one of the best teams that we’ve played up to this point, so we’ve just got to go out there and give it our all,” Logan said. “I feel like there’s going be a lot of people watching, so people are going see what we’ve been doing and how we’ve actually gotten to 6-1.”
While the players are excited for the big stage, Fedora’s main concern revolves around the health of his team.
“The rest and recovery during a season is very, very important for our players, and on a short week they don’t get much rest and recovery,” Fedora said. “So you’ve got to give them what they need.”
The players had Sunday off before three days of practice, starting on Monday and concluding Wednesday morning before the plane ride to Pittsburgh.