Greensboro, N.C. – Larry Fedora speaks on a number of topics including his faith in the 4-2-5 defense and aggressive special teams.
Fedora believes the 4-2-5 defense is a difference-maker
Faith in the 4-2-5 defense:
“I’ve been a big believer in the 4-2-5 for a while and I’ll say this: we were right on the edge at Southern Miss but we couldn’t get over the hump then we go to the 4-2-5 and we got over the hump. We played Houston and they were no. 6 in the country in the time with that offense, with Case Keenum who is a really good quarterback and he didn’t know where our guys were coming from. I think that was what put it over the top for me.
“What it does is enable us to move from a 3-4 to a 4-3 with the same personnel on the field. It makes it more difficult for an offensive coordinator or a quarterback to figure out what you’re doing. Who is dropping? Who is rushing? What coverage you’re trying to disguise or what you’re getting into so I’m sold on it. I think it definitely puts more speed on the field because you have two hybrid guys in the Bandit and our Ram position which puts more athletes on the field.”
Difference in OL play in the spread vs. pro-style:
“(The UNC OL on the roster) are definitely athletic enough and not only that but they’re big. But if you look at them now they aren’t as big as they were back in the spring. Strength Coach (Lou) Hernandez has carved a little bit of weight off the guys. He’s built up their work capacity because each of them has gotten stronger while losing body fat. I think they’ll be able to do some great things this year.
“I always enjoyed walking off the field with those guys during spring ball because they’re just done. James Hurst was coming off the field and he told me that he had more reps in 7 days of practice than he had in 15 last year and I told him to get used to it because that’s what it’s going to be like. They made progress each and every day and by the end of the spring there was a comfort level there so it takes time.”
On aggressive special teams:
“We definitely take a lot of pride and spend a lot of time on our special teams. We count on them every game to make a ‘game-changing’ play. We want at least one a game. Again, that evolved at Southern Miss where we did some incredible things last year with block punts, returned punts and kickoffs. Surprise onside kicks where we got every single one of them. Fake punts with three from our own end zone and we got all three of those. It was fun to be aggressive and the kids understood that if we call a fake punt he’s not calling it just to ‘see.’ He’s calling it because he believes that we’re going to go get it because if we don’t get it then we’re not going to call it anymore. They took a lot of pride in being one of the best units on the field. It’s a culture change that has to happen.
“We’re going to put our 11 best out there. We expect if you’re a starter on offense or defense then we expect you to start on special teams. If you can’t make the special teams then you probably won’t make the offense or defense.”
On new tweaks to team discipline:
“I don’t know why I banned caps and earrings. That’s just the way that I was raised. People ask what it has to do with football, I don’t know. If you’re going to represent our football team and I’m the leader then you aren’t going to wear a hat in the building and you aren’t going to have an earring in when you’re representing us. That’s old school, maybe it’s stupid but it’s who I am and it’s the way that we’re going to do things.”