CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Larry Fedora was tasked with the difficult job of giving his players a break during UNC’s bye week while also making sure they stayed on track mentally to finish out the remainder of the season.
The best way to do that? Continually drill into the players about the team's goals.
“At this time of the year we’re talking about our goals almost daily – what they are and how close we are to achieving those goals,” Fedora said on his radio show on Tuesday. “There aren’t many teams that can reach their goals at this point.”
Entering November, all of the Tar Heels’ goals set before the season are still in play.
“Our goals are to win the state championship, win the coastal division, win the ACC championship, and win our last game,” Fedora said in August. “That’s it.”
The next four games (against Georgia Tech, Duke, The Citadel and N.C. State) will determine the Tar Heels’ success this season, according to Fedora.
“We know what we have to do in this four-game stretch in November and our season’s going to be based on the month of November,” he said. “Everybody understands what they need to do and they’ve put in a lot of effort.”
So while he gave his players some time off last week, Fedora made sure that they remained focused on the mission throughout.
“It was more about ‘Hey, enjoy yourself and get some rest, but be smart in everything you do, because we need every single guy the rest of the way,’” the fifth-year UNC head coach said.
Friday night on a bye week is one of the busiest recruiting nights of the year for you and your staff, right?
“Everybody was out on the road all over the country, or all over our footprint. We got to see a bunch of kids, a bunch of schools, and made as much hay as we could.”
How did you spend your Saturday off?
“I did everything my wife told me to do… I got some work in, winterized the sprinkler system, and did some things that needed to get done. Then I got a workout in and watched ball games. I watched ball games from about 12 o’clock to midnight. I got to see a bunch of football and it was good.”
Did anything stand out to you from watch all of that football?
“Yeah the thing that stood out to me is that anybody can beat anybody on any given Saturday. You better have your team ready to play and it doesn’t matter who you’re playing.”
Could you name a person or two behind the scenes of Carolina football that really make the program go?
“You start in recruiting for us with Rory Pommerening and Annie Martin and they do such a great job for us, week in and week out, in recruiting. Joe Haydon who is our director of football ops, I mean, everything gets done. He makes sure everything happens…. Everybody knows the guy who runs it all and the guy I work for and that’s James Spurling. There’s not a better Tar Heel out there than James Spurling and the job he does with our facilities.”
With the recent fines of a couple of ACC coaches following comments about officiating,
would you like officials to be available after a game to give an official statement? “(Laughing) I think the officials do a wonderful job and i don’t think we need to change a thing. I think they’re unbelievable, they’re awesome.”
Do you have conversations with juniors who are eligible to potentially enter the NFL draft early?
“I do, I’ve had multiple conversations with guys in the past. Other juniors starting with Gio (Bernard) and Sylvester Williams and Jonathan Cooper, but not until the season's over with. Once the season’s over, we sit down and I gather as much information for them as possible from the committee that the NFL puts together and everything we can get on draft statuses and then we sit down with them and their parents and give them their information and let them know that we’ll support them in whatever they do.”
Do you talk to your guys about the danger of social media and the negativity that comes with it?
“We are constantly educating our guys about social media and really trying to show them how to use it in a positive manner. We’re talking about branding themselves and whatever they put out there is out there forever so we do a lot of educational opportunities for them for social media. I tell that if you want to mess with that stuff then you’ve got to be able to handle the negative part of it, too. I’ll never forget, it was the Sunday after the Georgia game and Mitch (Trubisky) walked in and said ‘you know, it’s not a real good time to search your or my name, Coach.’”
Do you want players to just fall on a fumble or pick up a fumble and run with it?
“It depends on the situation. In (the Miami) situation, all we need to do is get the ball and win the football game so you don’t need to try and scoop it up. Other times in the game we want those guys to try to scoop it and score. It’s the same thing that you have to teach those guys when you’re late in the game and you pick the ball off – we don’t really need you to score we just need you to go down. Give the ball back to the offense… You’re constantly putting the players in practice in those positions to see how they’re reacting.”