CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – No. 12 North Carolina has won the coin toss in eight of its 10 games in 2015, and each time Larry Fedora has elected to defer his choice to the second half.
By deferring UNC’s option, the opposing team is allowed to choose whether it kicks or receives to open the game – rarely does a team elect to kick, although the Tar Heels did by mistake against Middle Tennessee in 2013 – and UNC is allowed to choose which end zone its defending.
The latter point is critical in the decision-making process, according to Fedora.
“The only thing I’m really checking is wind,” Fedora told reporters on Monday. “I’m always checking wind. I want to know what the wind is doing. How many miles per hour? How much is it going to be blowing in the first quarter? What’s it going to be blowing in the second quarter? What’s it going to be doing in the third quarter? What’s it going to be in the fourth quarter? I want to know all of that.
“I don’t like surprises. So then, if the wind’s going to be heavy in the second half of the game, is there a storm coming in? And what do I want? Do I want more possessions in the first half, or do I want more possessions in the second half? There are just so many different factors that go into it.”
After assimilating all of that information, Fedora then discusses the options with his coordinators before finalizing the decision. It’s an approach that has not changed during his eight seasons as a head coach.
“I’m pretty consistent in the way I do things. I know it’s boring, but it’s just the way I am.”
It’s hard to argue with the results. In the eight games in which UNC has deferred, the defense has forced a trio of 3-and-outs and allowed 17 points. When receiving the second half kick, the offense has scored 24 points to counter four possessions that netted fewer than 15 yards.
“Our team is preparing for a really good Virginia Tech team. It will be an extremely tough game playing up in Blacksburg, especially with Coach Beamer’s last home game. There will be a tremendous amount of emotion. I’m sure that there will be a lot of former players there to see him in his last game, and so we will definitely have our work cut out for us.”
When you reviewed the game film of the Miami win, was the performance as thorough as you initially thought?
“Yeah, it was. Now, there were plenty of mistakes and plenty of things to clean up. That’s what’s fun about this group is we probably played the most complete game that we have in all three phases. I don’t think we played perfect in all three phases and there were mistakes in each of the three phases, but overall as a team, that was the most complete game that we’ve played to this point. But it was exciting because there’s so much room for improvement. We can be a much better football team and our guys can see it. They’re not looking at the film, going, ‘Oh, wow, we’re really good.’”
Mack Hollins blocked a guy past Ryan Switzer on his punt return for touchdown and then led the blocking pack down the sideline -
“Mack actually ran his guy by Switz about 15 yards. And then Kendrick Singleton and Romar Morris, two seniors that were double-teaming a guy, and they double-teamed him for 22 seconds. They drove him all of the way down the field and he was about on the 5-yard-line. That was the last guy that Switz went by. They were double-teaming him from the snap. A four-second hang time and then all of the time of the running, they were still on him all of the way down here. There were 10 guys on that field, besides Switz… I’ll use that tape of that return as clinic tape. That’s the way I’ll teach other kids in the future of how it has to be done and what we do on that call.”
What are your thoughts on the job Blake Anderson has done at Arkansas State?
“I knew that they would have success. There was no doubt in my mind. Blake’s doing a great job. He was going to be a heck of a head coach. He was prepared and very thorough in everything that he does. He put together a really good staff and took some guys from here, some of the young guys from here. There was no doubt in my mind they were going to have success.”