Jim Hawkins/Inside Carolina

UNC's Chris Kapilovic Up Close: Play-Calling Dynamics

The second installment in a four-part interview series with newly promoted UNC offensive coordinator Chris Kapilovic focuses on the game-planning and execution of play-calling.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- With a successful play-calling process already in place, Chris Kapilovic’s move to offensive coordinator will likely be a smooth transition for the North Carolina staff.

After being named offensive coordinator, head coach Larry Fedora said he was going to be “more involved” in the offense. What does that mean to you?

(Fedora) is involved all the time. He’s involved in game planning, and if you were able to listen to us on headsets, and I’ve said this before, it is an interesting dichotomy, because there are a lot of voices, which is not the norm. We all kind of understand our roles and when we need to step up, and Larry as a head coach has always had the opportunity to step up and trump a call, or say, ‘Hey, I need for you to run it here, pass it here, or take a shot,' all of those things.

I can’t give you a clear definition. He’s always going to be involved. So if it is more involved or not I don’t know what that means necessarily - He’s always been involved, so to me, that’s kind of what we do.

Walk us through how play-calling evolves from game prep through game day.

We will script a number of plays at the beginning of a game that we’re going to run, and that has been pretty good to us. From there, after each series, the first thing we do is we’ll talk with our offensive staff, make any adjustments we feel like we need to make, then we will typically break, talk to our kids real quick, and then we’ll get back together.

Barring a quick turnaround, then we’ll decide on a mini quick-script for the next series, ‘Hey, let’s run this series, or take this shot, or we need to set this up.’ So we’re already building our plays before the series even comes about.

How do the plays that are called translate into what fans see on the field?

Then from there, most of our stuff is 'checked.' Most of the checking is from us, but for the quarterback, we can call a play that has three options. He can hand if off, throw a quick screen, or throw it downfield.

A lot of those options are pre-snap, some of those options are post-snap. ‘RPO’s' is a term we use a lot - ‘Run-Pass Options.' The quarterback has the option, and he has been coached on what we are looking for. Whether it is isolating a safety, who is going to be more of a run support guy, or a guy who is going to drop into coverage. If they are going to bring someone into the box, that means they are going to leave themselves vulnerable in coverage. That’s a lot on the quarterback’s shoulders, pre-snap and post-snap.

We don’t necessarily ask him to change the whole play, but we give him options within a play. When you are a team that plays at tempo at times, you need to have plays that has all of those answers. In this offense, the question is ‘What plays can we run at tempo where we have an answer for anything they can do to us.’ That’s the big part of what we do in our game planning. When everyone is on the same page, it works pretty well.

You also have a new quarterback this season. Assuming that guy turns out to be Mitch Trubisky, how will that impact the plays you call?

We kind of learned a lesson from the first game of the season with Marquise, because we went into that game saying we did not want to run him if we did not have to because of Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan, but we discovered that he was more comfortable when he was running early in games.

We decided ‘let’s call some run plays for Marquise early' so there would be some contact in a positive way, rather than him getting hit by someone in the backfield. There was no question he felt much more comfortable once he had a chance to run the ball and be physical in that context. It just seemed to relax him and he’d become much better.

If you compare Trubisky and Williams, Trubisky does a really good job of going through his progressions quickly in the passing game. We’re going to run the ball no matter what, and we took some shots with Williams over the top, but there may be a more high percentage passing game, or early-down passing stuff with Mitch that we feel comfortable with.

Check back tomorrow for Part III: State of the Offensive Line ...


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