Larry Fedora, UNC Focused on NC State

There was little talk of the ACC Championship Game at Monday's press conference.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – With the arrival of rivalry week, and a chance at the rare state championship looming, Larry Fedora had nothing but nice things to say about the N.C. State Wolfpack in his weekly press conference.

“What makes college football and sports so much fun is that you have these rivalries, especially these regional rivalries,” said Fedora on Monday. “The thing about ours is the fans are around each other all the time, constantly year round, and I think it makes it pretty unique and pretty cool.”

Fedora’s Tar Heels are looking to avenge a 35-7 loss to NCSU in Kenan Stadium late last season, but the coach has seen a far different UNC squad in action this year.

“Well, there were a lot of teams that did some things to us last year, so again, I’ll just say this is a different football team,” Fedora said. “This is the 2015 football team. One thing they’ve done is they’ve learned from all of the things that happened to them last year, and they’ve improved in every area.”

North Carolina isn’t the only team to have improved, though, according to Fedora. On offense, he says the Tar Heels are facing an improved Wolfpack.

“You know the quarterback (Jacoby Brissett) is for real, he’s a big guy who can run, he can beat you with his legs, he can beat you with his arm, they’ve added speed to their offense with the Hines kid, he can really go,” said Fedora. “I know they’ve got some injuries at the tailback position, but their offensive line has improved over the last year, and I think they’re a much better football team offensively than they were last year.”

On defense, NCSU has one of the best front lines in the nation, and that starts with the work it does in the trenches.

“Then you look at the defense, and they’re 13th in the country defensively, somewhere in that area, and they’re playing really well, especially up front,” said Fedora. “Those guys put a lot of pressure on you, and they make it tough on you. They’re big, physical guys.”

When given a chance to provide N.C. State some bulletin board material and respond to what Wolfpack coaches and players said after last year’s game, Fedora declined.

“I don’t know how to answer that.”

He did, however, answer a question regarding run-ins with rival fans. Last year, N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren said a UNC fan at the dry cleaners told him he hoped the Wolfpack lost every game, and how that stuck with him.

According to Fedora, his impromptu meetings have been more cordial.

“They may say something, but most of the time it’s in good fun and I have no problem with it, I really don’t,” said Fedora. “I believe you ought to have your team, and you believe in your team, and you’re with them, thick or thin, no matter what’s going on, and that’s the thing. I think that’s pretty cool. I really do.”

Opening Statement:

“We’re looking forward to a game this week. We’ve got a big game against an in-state rival, and one more goal that we are looking forward to trying to achieve this year. It’s been something that we’ve talked about since day one, so it’s been a point of emphasis for us since we started this year.”

Does the way your team handled a Virginia Tech team that tried to beat you on the ground encourage you going into Saturday’s game?

“There’s been quite a few teams in this league that have played us that way. I’m really pleased with the way our guys persevered. I’m pleased with the way that they just showed how much grit they really have. Because you go into a situation like that in Blacksburg where it was—Every person in that stadium that was wearing black, maroon or orange was giving everything they had. Whether they were in the stands, or whether they were on the field, in the box, wherever they were, everybody in that stadium was giving everything they had, because they wanted to send Coach Beamer out the right way, and fortunately for our guys, we were able to overcome the mistakes that were made by us, and also overcome the tremendous effort that they played with.”

Did anything feel different for you when you woke up the past two mornings as Coastal Division champion?

“Nah, not really. We’re not done. I won’t sit back and look back until it’s all over with. I told them earlier in the week: We’ve come too far to only come this far. We still have our blinders on, and our heads down, and continue to be focused on the job at hand. They know what we have to do this week in preparation, and there’s a lot of obstacles out there, and we’re gonna try to stay focused on what’s going on.”

What’s the biggest improvement you’ve seen on this team since the first week?

“There’s so many things, because in week one, you just don’t know where your team’s gonna be and what the chemistry is going to be and all of those things. If you’re asking me a single unit, I would say our D-line has probably improved the most as the season has gone through.”

It’s going to be a noisy atmosphere at Carter-Finley Stadium. What will your team do to address the seven false starts that occurred in a noisy Lane Stadium?

“We’ve got to do a better job. We had seven false starts, I’m not gonna say that all seven of them were because of any noise, but we’ve got to do a better job of that. We never went to a silent count. Never did anybody on the sideline ever say ‘Hey I can’t hear the quarterback,’  that wasn’t the cause of the problem. The main problem with us was movement on the defensive line, and the verbal cues they were using for that movement to get their guys to move, and our guys were listening to that instead of the quarterback’s voice. That was an issue for us.”

Was your postgame dab pre-planned, or was it spur of the moment?

“Spur of the moment. The guys always want you to dance. The players always want you to dance. They’re always trying to get me to do stuff.”

Did you practice it?

“No, no. I didn’t practice it. (Laughs)”

Who taught you the dance?

“They do. They’ll say ‘Hey coach, you know how to dab, don’t you?’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ Then they’ll show you, and ‘Come on, do it, Coach, come on.’”

Is this the highest level of buy-in you’ve gotten from your players?

“Yes. Yes, no doubt. And I think it really comes from the leadership on this football team, because as a coach, and as all coaches, you can say it, and talk it, eat it, sleep it, drink it, all of the time, but until the leaders of the football team make sure that permeates throughout the entire team from top to bottom, you can only do so much. They have done a tremendous job. A tremendous job of making sure everybody understands what we’re trying to do, why we’re doing it, and whether you like it or not, jump in and do it.”

Do you think you’ll use the silent count this weekend?

“I don’t know. Like I said, that wasn’t the problem, because our guys never said that they couldn’t hear the quarterback, I mean that was never an issue. They were getting the calls, and all of those things, so we never felt like that was an issue, but if it is, we practice it every week, so our guys are comfortable doing it either way. There are days where we go through practice that everything’s silent, there are days that we go through that everything’s verbal, so it’s really not an issue for us.”

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