UNC coach Larry Fedora held his weekly news conference Monday morning in preview of Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. home game with Georgia Tech.
UNC coach Larry Fedora wasn't a fan of having the bye week so late in the season.
Here is an abbreviated and edited transcript of his Q&A session with reporters:
We’ve got a big game coming off an open week. Georgia Tech coming into the Tar Pit will be difficult team to defend. We have this week to put in a great game plan and give us the chance to win the football game. So we’re excited about it.
Q: Seems like everyone had the bye week this year to prepare for Georgia Tech.
I haven’t paid any attention to who else has. I typically don’t like an off week this late in the season. I prefer it earlier in the year. You go 13 straight weeks of football, and your guys get a little worn down.
But it came at a good time before Georgia Tech. Gave us a little extra time to prepare for the triple option, which is always nice.
Q: When was the last time you faced the triple option?
Last year against Navy.
It’s assignment and discipline. You have to know your job, do your job and you don’t worry about doing someone else’s job. Sounds easier than it is, I can assure you, because it’s hard to duplicate the speed of the game in practice.
Your scout guys aren’t going to be good at running the triple option offense, and they won’t be nearly as fast doing it. So you get in the game, and there’s usually a period of time early in the game where your defense just has to adjust to the speed of the game.
Q: How similar is this offense to what you faced?
The triple-option offense, whether it’s Paul’s or Air Force or Navy last year – there are obviously different versions of it. But still, you’ve got a dive, a quarterback and a pitch just about every single play. And you really have to be disciplined to handle it.
Q: What’s your philosophy on how to handle bye weeks?
Well, this late in the season – you have to look at it when it comes in your season and what’s happening with your team at that time.
For us, it was about getting some of the guys who have gotten the majority of the snaps rest and getting them healed up. And then going back to the fundamentals. The majority of the work early in the week was done with the younger guys, then as the week went on, we started getting back into game-plan mode for Georgia Tech.
Q: Did it allow you to develop the younger guys at all?
No doubt. That’s something we adjusted this year. On every Sunday and every Thursday, we get about 20 snaps with those young guys at the beginning or end of practice. They’ve gotten about 40 live snaps a week, so we think we’ve made up for that.
Q: Without a bowl game, do you think it’s hard to motivate guys this late in the season?
I really don’t. If anything, now, to me, you’re more motivated because you actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s coming quickly. Then you’ll be right back in winter conditioning, and there’s not a lot of fun to that. You have three more opportunities to have fun. You’d better enjoy and cherish every aspect of it.
Q: How much more important are field position and time of possession against Tech?
Offensively we have to do a great job moving the chains. It’s going to be important that we don’t have short possessions, and we have to take care of the football so we don’t give them extra possessions.
We have to finish when we have the ball. It’s going to be tough on the defense, and we have to keep them off the field as much as possible.
Q: Do you think any of your guys look and say, gosh, we would be right in the mix (for the division title) if not for the sanctions?
No. I sense that our goal is to win the Coastal Division, and we’re still in reach of our goal. I think they know we control our own destiny if we take care of our business.
Q: What’s your take on the findings being released today?
From my understanding, everything that’s being released, the NCAA already had before ruling on our case. So there’s nothing new. There will be things that are new to the public, but there’s nothing we can do about that. That’s just the way it is.
For our football team and for me, we’ve said we’re not looking backwards at what happened, we’re just worried about the future. For us, there’s nothing new NCAA-wise, so we don’t have anything to worry about.
Q: Why hasn’t Gio Bernard’s name been more prominent in the awards discussion?
I think because of when it’s happening during the season, I think that has something to do with it.
I just think I can promise y’all his name will be in all of them next year, I can assure you that.
Q: So you’re thinking he comes back next year?
Right now I am. Why would I think any differently?
Q: How did the offensive line perform without Brennan Williams?
Really you’re talking about Landon (Turner) and Travis (Bond). I thought Travis did a nice job for having to pop out there and play the entirety. He gave up one sack one time, but that’s just because of lack of repetitions. I thought he did a nice job. And Landon did a really nice job throughout the game, so we were really pleased with both of them.
Did both of them play flawless? No. But we didn’t expect them to, also.
Overall, with the offensive line, we ran the ball fairly well, and we took care of the quarterback the majority of the time.
We’ve given up six sacks on the year and thrown the ball a few times. So not bad.