CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora said he will be more involved in the team’s play-calling not long after announcing Chris Kapilovic’s promotion to offensive coordinator on Wednesday. The details on how the staff collaboration will come together have yet to be worked out.
“I will tell you I’m going to be more involved in the play-calling than I have been since I’ve been here,” Fedora said on Signing Day. “But we just haven’t gotten that far yet on how we’re going to do all of it.”
For Kapilovic, the move from run game coordinator in 2012-13 to co-offensive coordinator in 2014-15 to offensive coordinator in 2016 is a natural progression due to his knowledge of the offense and the trust he’s built with Fedora.
“I’ve been with Coach for eight years in this offensive system and we’ve grown every year,” said Kapilovic, who has been an offensive line coach since 2001. “I think the big thing in what we do that’s maybe a little unique is that it’s never been one guy that game plans and scripts and calls the plays. We’ve always done it as a group. We’ve game planned as a group, we’ve scripted as a group, and even, to be honest, if you were on our headsets, there were a lot of people making calls during the game.”
Kapilovic confirmed he wanted to stay on the sideline on game day, telling reporters making adjustments with the offensive line was a critical component of the offense’s success. Quarterbacks coach Keith Heckendorf, who has been promoted to passing game coordinator, will remain in the press box. That dynamic, along with Fedora’s increased involvement, allows for and demands collaboration in calling plays.
“Calling the plays is really a smaller amount of what this truly is,” Kapilovic said. “It’s about preparation. It’s about the game plan you put together, the scheme you put together, because once you get to the game, 90 percent of it is already on a game plan sheet for us. This is the situation, this is the play call.”
Kapilovic doesn’t foresee a significant shift from how UNC’s game day operations worked in 2015. It was not uncommon for assistant head coach for offense Seth Littrell, who is now the head coach at North Texas, to check with Kapilovic in between series to get his thoughts on specific run plays to call. Depending on certain checks at the line of the scrimmage, Kapilovic would adjust the call as needed and relay that information back to Littrell in the booth.
He noted the smooth transition to Heckendorf calling plays during the Russell Athletic Bowl in December as an example.
Despite his history as a line coach and run game coordinator, Kapilovic said he does not have an inherent bias toward running the ball and is an equal opportunity employer when it comes to offensive balance. During his three-year stint calling plays at Alabama State University in 2003-05, Kapilovic said the Hornets threw the ball more than they ran it.
“I’m not one of those old-school line coaches that, hey, I just want to hammer it in there,” Kapilovic said. “I’m all about what we do, spreading it out, mixing it up, being able to throw on first down, take shots when we can. I’m all about that.”
As for Fedora taking a larger role in the play-calling, Kapilovic does not anticipate a drastic change in the standard operating procedure.
“He’s always involved,” Kapilovic said. “He’s been involved since Day One in the game planning. On game day, he’s the head coach, so he can ultimately veto any call and say, ‘Hey, I want to do this here.’ So it’s not really any different. I think it’s like anything else. If he feels good about the way things are managed and how the game’s flowing, I think he lets it go. I think if he feels like he has to step in, then he would.”