UNC-Pitt: Larry Fedora Postgame

UNC's head coach spoke to reporters following his team's 37-36 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Opening comments:
“Heck of a football game. We knew it was going to take 60 minutes to beat those guys and we used every second to get it done. I guess the thing I’m most proud about with this football team is that there was never a point in the game when anybody got down, no matter what the situation was. Elijah put the ball on the ground on the fourth play of the game. As those guys were coming off the defense was going on and saying ‘We got your back, don’t worry about it.’ That’s the way it was throughout the entire game no matter what happened. I’m really proud of the way this team played. My hats off to Pat (Narduzzi) and that football team. They’re a heck of a football team, they’re going to win a lot of games. We are very fortunate to get this one but I’m very proud of our football team. What a crowd tonight, it was electric out there. The fans were our edge. That was a big key for us.”

That final drive, three fourth down conversions. Ryan (Switzer) had that catch where he went from about 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-5 on that one. What are you thoughts on that?
“Yeah Ryan Switzer’s a player. I don’t know what to tell you, he’s a player. In the game plan this week, from what we saw, he knew he was going to have an opportunity to have a big game. Basically because they’re so run dominant-stopping defensively, they get those backers in there, and the safeties are involved. It was going to have him one-on-one against a safety the majority of the game. We felt like we could take advantage of that and he did. He made some great plays and some clutch plays for us tonight.”

Is it refreshing to have the toughness to win a game like this? I mean you don’t know it until you see it.
“We learned a lot about our football team tonight. We talked about before the game that we had an opportunity to establish the identity of this football team. I can say there’s a lot of grit on this football team, a lot of toughness, and all the intangibles that we need to be successful. Our guys had a great week of preparation and that was the key. They started Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, they prepared to win this football game.”

Did you see similarities to the Georgia Tech game from last year?
“Yeah I guess so. I haven’t thought about any of that. We were down 21 in that game in the first quarter and fought back. There were a lot of really good things that came out of this game, especially the grit it took to get this thing done. That’s a good football team out there. Pat (Narduzzi)'s got a great team and they’re going to win a lot of games, they really are. We had the ball, what, 18 minutes? Anytime you have the ball 18 minutes and win a football game, that’s tough to do.”

You regularly say that you don’t care about time of possession, but what does it do to the team to only have the ball for 30 seconds in the first quarter and how does it change or affect what you guys do?
“At the end of the first quarter we realized that we only had the ball for three plays or four plays. So we knew offensively that we had to keep the defense off the field. It was do what we do, but we didn’t have a chance to get into a rhythm in the first quarter. We got into some sort of rhythm in the second quarter. We came out a little stale in the first part of the second half and then got going again. So there’s still a little bit of inconsistency. I think we’re close to setting a national record for safeties so that’s something that I guess we can be proud of. What are we, two away? We’ll work hard to get that, I guess. I’ve never seen anything like it actually.”

You got two stops at the end when you needed it. Was it just a matter of the defense bowing their neck or was there some kind of adjustment?
“No adjustments. They just bowed their neck, they gutted it up and got it done. They made the plays. They made the tackles; there were no missed tackles on those last couple of series. They’ve got some really good running backs and the way they stretch you with (No.) 10, they do some really good things that makes it difficult for you. Again we made the plays when we had to make them.”

Talk about Bug (Howard) and his game tonight.
“Two heavily contested catches down there in the endzone. I promise there is nobody happier than Lonnie, which is his dad. His dad is on him extremely hard all the time. He’s a great dad and I promise you his family is proud of him. We’re all proud of him. That’s what Bug can do. He can go up, he’s a big bodied guy who can go up, play up against the rim, and make the catch.”

What allowed Mitch (Trubisky) to be so successful and so calm on those fourth down plays late in the game?
“That’s who he is. When good things happen, you don’t see him going crazy. When bad things happen you don’t see anything. He’s pretty even all the way. You don’t really know what his emotions are which is a really ideal situation for a leader. Everybody on the team knows exactly where he’s going to be all the time. He’s just solid as a rock. I don’t think he even doubted that they’d make the plays. There’s one that he would love to have back. It was the 3rd-and-3 where he threw the low ball to Switzer in the flat.”

How often do you replicate the late game situation in practices?
“We start back in camp with two-minute situations. Then every single week there is some type of scenario that we work against the defense at the end of our practice. We do it if we’ve got to kick a field goal, we do it if we’ve got to score seven, we do it when we’ve got to score eight. Every situation we possibly can.”

How has Ryan (Switzer) evolved as a receiver that allowed him to have this kind of performance?
“I think a lot of it is what the defense was doing. They were going to stop the run and they stopped the run. We knew it was going to be difficult to run against but we wanted to do enough in the running game where they had to stay the same. I’m going to bet you that they blitzed probably 80 percent of the time in that game. I don’t know what the numbers are, but I just know from watching it and think about what they were trying to accomplish every series. It was blitz after blitz after corner blitz, crossfires, plugs, they were bringing it all. We saw everything that you could possibly see. So they were going to stop the run and put those secondary guys in a position where they were going to have to make some plays. Fortunately we were able to keep those guys off Mitch long enough so he could make those plays.”

How concerned were you at the end when Elijah (Hood) didn’t get into the end zone? Were you thinking that you were going to be able to get a play off?
“I thought for sure that we were going to get a play off. We had already talked about if we did run it. That’s a run-pass option where the quarterback's got to make the right decision. We had talked about not running it, but (Mitch) handed it off. They ate up as much time as I think they possibly could. There was about 13 seconds left on the clock when we finally got the play off.”

Elijah was struggling to go down there. Were you thinking ‘Go down now’?
“No I was thinking ‘Get in the end zone. Get in the end zone.'”

Austin Proehl had a good game for you. What did you see out of him?
“If you watch our guys, Austin is the best route runner. That guy can run routes. That’s probably a credit to his dad, and the years of experience and growing up as a gym and football rat. He’s got great hands and can make all the catches. He made some crucial catches for us tonight.”

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