UNC-JMU: Larry Fedora Postgame

Larry Fedora spoke with reporters following UNC's 56-28 win over James Madison.

Opening comments:
“First thing is I want to give credit to Mike Houston and his football team. They came in here and battled and did a heck of a job. No matter what people say, they’re a really good football team and they’re going to win a lot of football games. They battled and they played extremely well throughout the entire game in almost every phase. We’re fortunate and happy to get the win. It probably wasn’t the way we drew it up or wanted it but winning’s hard these days. You can look across the country and see FCS teams that have beaten FBS teams so we’re happy to get the win. We’ve got a lot of things to correct, starting with penalties. We’ll get to those right off the bat tomorrow. I’ll get those addressed tonight or in the morning and make sure that’s addressed because that’s unacceptable. We can do things within the game and screw up but we’re not going to screw up after the whistle. We’ll get that corrected.”

What do you think about how Mitch Trubisky ran the offense?
“He, just like I’ve said each week, is getting better and better and more comfortable and more comfortable. As you see him get more comfortable you’re seeing Mitch Trubisky come out. You’re seeing the guy who can do all the things we think he can do. I’m really pleased with the way he played, he’s really taking care of the ball well and if you notice during the game he didn’t really put a ball into coverage. Obviously he’s got some things to clean up, but he did a heck of a job.”

How important was it that you got some of those long balls today, especially to get some mojo?
“Well that’s always good. When you hit big plays that gets the offense going and gets them excited and gets them rolling. Going into the game, they play quarters coverage, they play their safeties about eight yards deep, and they fit the run really well, so they’re going to stop the run. That was their plan. That’s what they were going to do defensively. We said all week ‘If they’re going to play their safeties like that, we’re going to hit some big plays over the top and when we have those opportunities we’ve got to hit them.' Mitch put the ball on the money each time, threw the ball really well and I thought those guys responded well.”

Was the success JMU saw offensively a sign that you needed to adjust defensively?
“No, I don’t think so. I think it was all mental. Now I haven’t sat here and looked at all the film, but we just needed a mental adjustment, an attitude adjustment. There was too much negative energy after the first drive, which was disappointing. You know Des (Lawrence) and Dominique (Green) were trying to be positive, but we had too many negative things going on.”

Is that something you enter the game with or is that a result of playing?
“I think when you get into games where everybody on the outside thinks you should win in a certain way and those things don’t go like that during the game, then you get frustrated. They didn’t handle the frustration very well, penalties. It’s not acceptable.”

They scored on the first three possessions. Seven of the last eight possessions they did not score. How did you get that situation straightened out?
“We just started playing better defense. That was it. We started making some plays. They first play I remember is Dominique Ross. When was that? Second quarter? I think that was the first defensive play I remember. So that’s not a good thing when the first defensive play you remember is in the second quarter. But that got some positive vibes going. You can’t play that way, though. You’ve got to be positive all the time, it doesn’t matter what happens on the last play, you’ve got to look forward to the next one and put that last one behind you. You can’t let a play beat you twice.”

Was it a difficult week for you getting some of the stuff off the field not to carry over to the game?
“I mean I would like to think it didn’t. We had a lot of things, a lot of distractions through the week, but that’s like the game of life. You’ve still got a job to do, you’ve got to do it and you can’t let things bother you from the outside. I think our guys have handled the situation fairly well, but they’re young, they’re kids, and they’ll grow from it and hopefully be better men from it.”

Were you more disappointed in how the defense played earlier or encouraged by how they played after that?
“That’s a great question. I don’t know the answer, but I’m happy we won. I’m happy we won.”

How did the mentality and consistency of the receivers help Mitch Trubisky?
“When you’re playing quarterback and you get the receivers behind them and they make the plays you get this mojo and you feel like you can make any play. Mitch was throwing the ball really well, the offensive line gave him great protection today, there weren’t many times where I felt somebody was in his face or he was being pressured. Hats off to all of those guys. That means the running backs did a great job in protection and then Mitch took the ball where it’s supposed to go. When those receivers make plays, he gains more confidence in them, and I tell the (receivers) all the time ‘If you want the ball, you’ve got to make plays for him. If you make plays, guess what, he’s going to find you.'”

What’s the situation on the defensive line, especially with the defensive end spot? How many guys do you have left?
“I don’t know. I really don’t know right now. I might sign you up. Get you coming off that edge on the quick side. I’m hoping you’re quick. I don’t really know what the answer is because I don’t know what’s the deal with Strowbridge. No matter what, we’re going to line somebody up who’s ready to go. It’s getting thin there, and that’s always a worry.”

Did you ever feel the defensive frustration bleeding into the offense at all?
“Every time the defense comes off, the offense is saying ‘Hey guys, don’t worry we’ve got you.’ That’s what we’ve got to have on both sides of the ball. I can promise y’all there is a time coming where the offense is going to struggle and the defense is going to have to carry them. That’s the way the game works. Then there’s going to be times where offense and defense will both struggle and special teams will have to carry them. If you’re a really good football team, you do that; you take care of each other. Nobody hits on all cylinders all the time. I promise you there’s half a football team in there right now that is really disappointed. No matter that I tell them, ‘Hey we won a football game and we’ll grow and learn.’ There’s a lot of guys in there right now that are disappointed in how they played. Tomorrow we’ve got to come back and learn from it because we’ve got Pitt coming in here, and they’re a really good football team. Our goals start coming into play now. We’ve got to get it corrected and we’ve got to play better.”

Did you design that stop-motion play that Switzer ran on that punt return?
“I did not design that, even though I was in charge of the punt return. I was not happy about that actually, because he puts himself in jeopardy when he does that, unneeded, because none of our guys know that. They’re all pulling off their blocks. Now if he had taken for a touchdown then I’d have said that I designed it, but I don’t want him doing things like that. He doesn’t need to take those kinds of risks.”

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