UNC-Miami: Larry Fedora Postgame

UNC's head coach spoke to reporters following his team's 20-13 win over No. 16 Miami.

Opening comments:
“It was a heck of a team win today. We talked in the last couple weeks to our team, the offense has been on the field in the last two minutes of a couple games and won and the defensive time was coming and it happened today. We get the big sack and caused fumble which really was the big difference in the game. The overall effort of our guys to come out on the road again against a ranked opponent, a team that’s playing very well and to get a win, I can’t say enough about them.”

Other than that long run by Yearby that Myles Dorn chased down, no catastrophic runs allowed by the defense today.
“No, the defense played their most complete game of the season to this point. Each week we’ve been saying that they is a unit that’s been getting a little bit better and a little bit better and they are making more plays and these guys have confidence. They’re playing well together. We had a few breakdowns on a couple routes with the tight end back in the middle and had that one run, but other than that they played really well.”

The defense has taken some heat and criticism with the way it’s played this season. What does it say about them getting the job done today?
“They don’t listen to all that heat. I think they do a good job of staying focused on what the coaches are telling them, I really do. I know there’s a lot of talk outside but they’ve done a really good job. All that does is fuel their fire. They know they have a chance to be a good defense if they just play sound football and make the ordinary plays they make everyday in practice, and today they did.”

For the defensive front, is that just a matter of gap integrity? Is that what you see so much improvement in?
“No doubt. Our defensive line has gotten better and better every week. I told you last week that they were the only bright point in that game, and then this week they played well again. There were so many times where the running back never got to the linebackers. He didn’t get to the second level. When you’re doing that, you’re going to be okay.”

Jalen (Dalton) had some nice moments today, too. Where is he really improved in the recent weeks?
“He’s just growing up and growing into the position. The guy that’s played defensive end his whole life moves halfway through the season last year to defensive tackle. There’s a lot more things going on in there. I just think he’s growing up in the position.”

Gene (Chizik) talked earlier this week about the secondary not getting any picks and you said they’ve gotten their hands on balls early in the season but not so much as of late. They got their hands on a few today.
“They did a really nice job of being all over the receiver when the ball was thrown. They keep doing that, we’re going to get some. It’s going to happen.”

With the Virginia Tech loss to Syracuse, that puts you back into contention in the Coastal. What are your thoughts on that?
“We knew one loss probably wasn’t going to be the difference in the conference play. I don’t think our guys thought a whole lot about it. We just knew that we needed to come down to Miami and get a win and whatever happened happened. Seven weeks into the season, I’m pretty pleased with this team and where we sit and the job that they’ve done. We’ve got another divisional foe in the team that’s coming up, and we’ve got to do a great job.”

From last week to this, what do you think the message that resonated the most was?
“Energy level was really good throughout the whole game. Now you’ve got to give them credit, too. They’re a good football team so they did some things in the second half that caused problems for us. What we did do is we took care of the football and that was probably the biggest lessons from the week before because if we take care of the football we have a chance, even if you punt it every series. We live and learn. We’re a team that’s learning as we go.”

Some missed opportunities offensively tonight. What do you attribute that to?
“I don’t know. I’ll have to look at the film and see what happened. Yeah, we left some points out there. We could have put the game away down there on the goal line. That was disappointing.”

Was there a conversation to be had with Switzer about possibly hurting him on those punt returns at some point?
“I’ve had that conversation with him. I’ll tell you what I thought he did. Vogel did a great job of putting that thing up there. I bet his hang time was up near five seconds. That’s why every time he made that catch I said, ‘Don’t take that for granted, that’s not a big play.’ That’s a big play to be a guy that can sit there when it’s raining and handle these 45 and 50-yard punts that are hanging five seconds in the air. That’s not an easy thing to do.”

Is there a moment where you sensed things could be different defensively for you guys?
“From the very beginning I thought they were pretty dominant, especially against the run. You go up 20-3 at halftime and they hadn’t really gotten anything. In the last three weeks of practice, and you see the things you emphasize in practice happening in games, I think they’re gaining a lot of confidence.”

Did you address those guys at all right before Miami’s final possession?
“No, not at all. They knew it had to get done. There was gonna come a time where they were going to be on the field in the last two minutes and they’re going to have to get it done. And all that preparation that they’ve done throughout fall camp and each week on Wednesday when we go two-minute. I told them, ‘Your time’s coming, I don’t know when but it’s coming.’ Tonight it came.”

Did you go into the game knowing that Bug (Howard) would be open?
“No. Manny (Diaz) does such a great job changing coverages consistently. It’s hard to get a beat on it. So you don’t know who it is that’s going to be there. That’s why it’s so important that Mitch (Trubisky) was able to decipher coverages and take what they gave us. He did a really nice job of that today. Very seldom I think he threw it into coverage.”

Can you talk about getting two big road wins in the past three weeks?
“Well you play three ranked opponents in the middle of the season and you’re beat up as a football team, as everybody is at this time of year. Somebody asked me when we’d like to have an off week and I said a week ago. Our team has fought through it. I can’t say enough about the way these guys have persevered. We’ve got a bunch of guys out there playing that aren’t starters. A bunch of them in a lot of different positions. They came through tonight.”

What are your thoughts on the results during this stretch?
“I’d rather be 3-0. But we’re 2-1 and I’ll live with it and I’m proud of our guys.”

Ryan (Switzer) didn’t get a ton of yards today but he did break Quinshad (Davis)’s record for career receptions. Was there a point where you realized how special he could be?
“Yeah, the first time I saw him on film. The very first time. I remember, the staff was in there and they call me to look at this kid and I thought it was some kind of joke when we were watching the film. Like what is that. You’ve got this little kid just going 65-70 yards every single play. I thought somebody put some kind of joke tape together. It was Ryan Switzer. He’s special, he really is.”

The defensive line has had it’s share of injuries and things going wrong. Is it kind of poetic to have them end up winning you the game?
“It is. Tray Scott has done a tremendous job with those guys. He pushes them hard, he loves them, and they’re young. We don’t have a senior in the group. You’ve got Drennon who’s played eight plays for us and he was supposed to be a starter at the beginning of the season. He’s done a really good job of bringing those guys all together and getting a lot out of them.”

You mentioned trying to put the game away when it was fourth-and-goal from the one. Was the thinking the make it a three-possession game?
“Yes. i thought about kicking it. I didn’t think it would do us any good to keep it a two -possession game, so that was the idea. I planned on scoring actually.”

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