UNC HC Larry Fedora Talks Victory over Duke

The UNC head coach spoke to reporters following his team's 66-31 win on Saturday.

Opening Statement:
“Alright, I’m really proud of our football team today, we came into the Tar Pit and played a good, a really good Duke football team, and our guys played really well. We can be better, I can assure you, we didn’t play a complete game in all three phases, and our guys in the locker room, they know that. They’re excited that we’re 8-1, but they also know that we can be better than we were. So we’re still striving to do that, and hopefully we’ll show that next week.”

When and how did you decide to use the flea flicker on the first offensive play of the game?
“We saw what we wanted in the secondary, so we thought we had a play against them. When we lined down and saw it was there, we went ahead and went with it, and the guys executed it flawlessly. Great throw, and there’s a lot of moving parts there to that play, and the guys executed. So I was proud of them. We were looking for a certain coverage. We knew once we handed the ball to (Elijah) Hood, they were gonna try and stop him, so both safeties—I wouldn’t expect Mack (Hollins) wide open because you just don’t see that, but both of them were running wide open.”

What’s the value of having a player like Elijah Hood on your team?
“The kid’s playing his butt off. He’s done so many things for us. He does a great job—there were a couple of those big plays where they blitzed, and he picked up the blitzer, whether it was the secondary or wherever they came from, he was the guy that picked up the blitz and we hit long touchdowns on them. That’s what you’ve got do against the blitz, you’ve got to make them pay, and so Elijah, he runs the ball hard, guys love blocking for him, and he’s a great kid.”

How was your team able to neutralize Jeremy Cash?
“He can’t be everywhere. He can’t do it all. But he’s a really good player, and he made plays out there on us. There were some times on the perimeter where we didn’t get him blocked up very well. He did a nice job.”

How good was Marquise Williams today?
“He was great today. I’ll start with his leadership, throughout the game he knew that if we took care of the football, then we’d win the football game, he was talking about that throughout the game. He did a great job of leading today, and his passing was pinpoint. I mean he was throwing it really well.”

What helped the receivers get so wide open downfield?
“We’ve got good receivers. And we’ve been running the ball, we’ve been averaging about 210 yards per game, so your safeties are gonna get involved to stop the run, and when you do that, receivers, inside and outside, that can hurt you, and that’s what they did today.”

Did you have the feeling that the big plays would come today?
“We thought we would be able to throw the ball down the field, but you’ve got to connect on them. And that’s what happened; our guys did a really nice job in protection, and Quise was on the money with it today, and so he did a really nice job. And so we’ve got guys, we’ve got length on the outside, we’ve got great quickness on the inside, so we’ve got a lot of weapons in that area.”

On that first play, did you think, this is a good sign this could be our day?
“No, that’s not what I was thinking. I was thinking that we better not have a letdown. When you do something like that, a lot of times guys will let down, so I was actually fired up, kind of mad.”

Did you use your College Football Playoff rankings snub as motivation?
“I never said a word about it to our players, and I never heard one of them even mention it, so that poll that comes out at the end of October or the beginning of November had nothing to do with our goal, so we re-emphasize our goals, talk about them every week so that we stay focused on that. Being in the first poll was never a goal of ours, so it really doesn’t matter one way or the other.”

What was behind the decision to try and score at the end of the first half instead of burning the clock out?
“We still had two timeouts, so we got the ball, there was like 40 seconds on the clock or something. It was like, ‘let’s see what will happen.’ We completed one, and then we went for another one, and didn’t hit it, so we came back, and said “What the heck, let’s see,” because we still had two timeouts, and so for us, it was worth taking a chance.”

How important was that last second touchdown in the first half?
“Every time we score, it’s important, but if you score right before the half, it’s kind of like a dagger in the heart, so that was good for us. And then we came back out and took it for a score, so you do those two things, and you really put the nail in the coffin there.”

Going back to that flea flicker, how early in the week did you game plan that?
“Actually, it’s been in the game plan, we’ve probably had it in the game plan the last three weeks, we had it for the opening play of the Pitt game, actually, and they didn’t give us the coverage we want, and we got out of it. We’ve seen it a few weeks now, and that’s not uncommon for us, we go into a game and we’ve got four or five different gadget plays, and if it’s there, we take it, and if it’s not, we just carry it onto the next week. So we’ve had it for the last couple of weeks, actually, and we haven’t had the right opportunity. I think the key is making sure that you throw them at the right time.”

Duke moved the ball pretty well, are there any concerns defensively?
“That’s definitely a concern, and I’ll tell you there’s not a guy in the locker room on defense that’s very happy right now. We’re 8-1, that’s the thing I’ve got to emphasize to them, but they have a standard they want to hit, and they didn’t hit it, and they know that, and they feel that. We’re 8-1, and the offense covered their back, alright? They’ve covered the offense’s back. The special teams have covered each other’s backs. It’s all about taking care of each other. It doesn’t matter how they do it. We are 8-1. Now the key is to be 9-1.”

Do you believe in the concept of a team peaking?
“We want to peak on Saturday, that’s it. So everything we do in the week, from nutrition to our GPS units to everything that we do is built on building up and peaking on Saturday. We want their bodies at an all-time on Saturday. They don’t have to be on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. But they’ve got to be there on Saturday.”

In terms of the season, do you believe in peaking?
“You want to be playing your best ball in November. You hope your team is better the last game than you were the first game. Our team is continuing to grow. There are going to be some down ticks, but you gotta make sure you bounce back and this team has done that. A word that we use is there is a lot of grit in this team. We like that, we think that is one of the key predictors of success. This team has grit.”

Is a performance like this, scoring 66 points, something you expect every week?
“I don’t know if I expect it. I’ve got pretty high expectations for our offense, I really do, but I’m never happy. We left some out there today. I was the idiot who called the play down there on the fourth down on the goal line. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t realize it was fourth down. That was my mistake. I told every guy on the sideline that was my mistake, I apologized to them. That was stupid. That shouldn’t happen. But yeah, I have high expectations, but we have the potential to be really good.”

Does a win like this change your team’s goals?
“Nope. Doesn’t change our goals. Our goals won’t change throughout the season. We’ll talk about them tomorrow when we get together. We’ll talk about our goals again so everyone understands what they are and that there’s a clear vision of where we’re going, and what we have to do to get there. Because if not, I really do believe if we don’t do that weekly, then they’ll start focusing on all the obstacles out there. And there are a lot of them. And you guys do a great job creating obstacles for us. I want y’all to know that.”

How do you think this win effects the team against Miami?
“Just like every game, there’s gonna be things that we’re gonna take that are positive from this game, there are gonna be things that are negative that we didn’t do well, that are gonna get corrected and that they’re gonna learn from, and more importantly, it’s an in-state rival for us, so for recruiting, it’s really good for us, because we want to dominate the state in recruiting, and to do that, you’ve got to beat the teams in the state. That will probably have more of an impact there than anywhere.”

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