CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora joined athletic director Bubba Cunningham on Tuesday in encouraging fan support for Saturday’s home finale against Miami.
UNC’s first sold-out crowd of 2015 witnessed a 66-31 victory over rival Duke over the weekend, prompting a unified push to sell out Kenan Stadium once again on Senior Day.
“We’d love to have it like that every game,” Fedora during his weekly radio show at Top of the Hill, “and there’s no reason why it can’t be.”
Earlier in the day, Cunningham penned an open letter to The Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s student newspaper, and emailed the fan base asking for the “largest and loudest crowd of the season.”
Both Fedora and Cunningham praised the lively student section in the west end zone.
“Our students did an awesome job,” Fedora said. “The Tar Pit was filled and they do a great job, always.”
The atmosphere from the crowd in attendance at Kenan Stadium during North Carolina’s win over 66-31 Duke was the best the football team had seen this year. Home field advantage is a staple of college football, and that’s something the team wants to take advantage of not only on Saturday, but also in the future.
“It was an electric atmosphere throughout, and our guys feed off that,” Fedora said. “They know it’s there, and it means a lot for them.”
Less than 5,000 tickets remain available for Saturday’s 3:30pm kickoff.
Did you take a second to appreciate the atmosphere against Duke?
“No, I didn’t. Come on, I didn’t. You mean during the game?”
Not even afterwards?
“No, after it was over, I was happy. Honestly, before the game was over, I was thinking about ‘what are we going do with Miami?’ That’s just the way my mind works.”
The Tar Heels are 23rd in the newest College Football Playoff ranking. Does that mean anything to you?
“Not really. It’s nice for, I guess, everybody. If you think about it, it doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re doing, or what we’re trying to achieve. I try not to waste my time on other things outside, and I try to make sure our team does the same thing. Just stay focused on the task at hand, and everything will work out fine.”
Mack Hollins was named ACC Receiver of the Week. What do you think of his play?
“Mack can do that. The thing is, Mack is very deceptive. He’s tall, long and lanky, and the DBs don’t realize how fast he is, because he eats up a lot of ground with his big strides. He’s got a very unique way of making himself look slower than the way that he’s moving. He really does. They don’t get to practice against that all the time, like our guys do. So our guys have a better feel for Mack, but you get him out there in the game, and those corners get him for the first time, he can make them look bad sometimes.”
How did Mack Hollins go under the radar in high school?
“I don’t know. You would be surprised, there’s probably, I think the leading receiver at Clemson right now was a walk-on. There’s a lot of schools that have guys that walk on and end up being great players. They don’t develop as early as some, and Mack was probably a late developer. The thing that people don’t realize, if you’ll watch, Mack’s starting on the kickoff team and he’s the first one down there every single time. He’s a starter on the punt return team. He’s a starter on the kickoff return team. He’s on all of them. And you don’t normally find that in guys. Mack understands the importance of it, and that’s the way he made his living, really, to start, and he believes that. He really does a great job with it all.”
What concerned you coming out of the Duke game?
“This defense has set a different standard for what they expect us to play, and they didn’t hit that Saturday. I don’t know if it was because we were ahead, or whatever the reason. It doesn’t matter, we didn’t reach the standard that they’ve set, and we’ve got to do a much better job of that. Offensively, we didn’t run the ball as effectively as we’d like to. And you can say, ‘well, you didn’t really have to.’ Well, yeah, but I still want it done. We’re still looking for that game-changing play on special teams.”
What’s changed in the timing of your defensive backs?
“I’d say the scheme has helped them quite a bit, and I think Charlton Warren has done a great job with our secondary. Challenging those guys to be better on a daily basis. He’s hard on them; he pushes them really hard. But those guys have seen the results of what he’s been teaching them, and I think they’ve responded really well.”
What are your thoughts on the Miami team you’re facing this weekend?
“They’re a really athletic and talented team, and Larry (Scott)’s doing a good job with them, obviously. They’ve won two games since he’s taken over, and it’s not like he’s changing schemes. They haven’t changed their offense, their defense or their special teams; those coordinators are still running them. They probably have evolved a little bit in the way he runs the team. I’m sure it’s different. The kids have responded very well to him.”