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April 11, 2013Following Wednesday afternoon's spring practice, the 13th of the season for the Tar Heels, head coach Larry Fedora spoke with reporters.
Earlier in the day Wednesday the Tar Heels released the rosters for Saturday's Spring Game, and it appears that the idea is to set up matchups where certain rotations of players can get more familiar with each other in a game surrounding.
"The main thing is we're trying to get some continuity within the units so that we have some guys that are going to try to work together," Fedora said. "For me, instead of just splitting everything up where guys have no continuity, not knowing the guy they've been working next to, we're trying to create a little bit of continuity here for the Spring Game."
Fedora is hopeful that the UNC players will get something fun and enjoyable out of Saturday's conclusion to spring workouts.
While there is one final workout next week to polish up some of the things from the Spring Game, Saturday is essentially the climactic moment of this year's series of seasonal workouts.
"I want these guys to have a good time. They've worked hard for 13 practices now. And I think they need to go out there and play hard and fly around and just have fun. That's the main thing. I'd like to see them turn it loose and play," Fedora said.
After watching the game film of Friday's open scrimmage in Kenan Stadium, Fedora tells us he's pleased with what he saw in terms of energy level and the leadership, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
"By far it was energy. They played with so much more of an energy level this last Friday (than in Charlotte)," Fedora said. "The guys on defense---Tim Jackson, Kareem Martin, and Travis Hughes---they were leading out there on the field and they were talking and they were communicating and they were playing hard."
Defensively, Fedora has seen several guys step up in a big way in recent weeks.
"I would say the guys that I see (who have been stepping up on defense) would be Tim Jackson and Kareem (Martin), who have had some reps up front. I would say Travis Hughes with the linebackers, and Jabari (Price) usually is a guy that talks quite a bit, but he really hasn't been going through the spring, so you lose that with the secondary."
"I'd say at the 'Bandit' position, you've got Shakeel (Rashad), who has gotten some reps there. And (Norkeithus) Otis. Otis has really had a good spring. I would just say overall just watching him throughout spring, he's probably been the most productive guy defensively."
It seems from speaking with Fedora that he sees the UNC defense farther along at this point in time than the Tar Heel offense.
That's largely due to the fact that Carolina is replacing three multi-year starters along the offensive line, and a fourth, James Hurst, as been out of full-contact workouts this spring as he recovers from a shoulder injury.
"We've still got a long ways to go with those guys (the offensive linemen), you know. Getting James back, who has been out in the spring, will help to start getting some continuity in that group. But we've still got a long way to go with that group," Fedora said.
A couple guys have impressed Fedora up front, including Caleb Peterson and John Ferranto, and he also added how impressed he's been with a couple of the January enrollee true freshmen such as Mitch Trubisky and Khris Francis, as well as a walk-on wide receiver.
"I'd say you'd have (Caleb) Peterson that's going at left guard, that has been impressive. (John) Ferranto has really been impressive. No. 1 and No. 10, Trubisky and Francis, I think are guys that have stepped up."
"I'll tell you (another) guy. Dalton Stogner has made a lot of plays and had a lot of opportunities this spring. He's made a lot of plays. And I tell you what. He's earned a lot of respect from a lot of his teammates just through this spring."
There's been a handful of defensive players who have also caught Fedora's eye, including Shakeel Rashad, Nathan Staub, and Jessie Rogers, among others.
"Defensively I would say it would be 'Shak' (Rashad) . I've seen 'Shak' do some really good things," he said. "No. 33, Staub, is another young guy that has done some good things. Jessie Rogers, who had reps in the fall. There's probably a few more that I'm forgetting, but that's a long answer."
Fedora also touched on his recent conversation with Nike officials on designs for Carolina uniforms, not just for Saturday's Spring Game, but the 2013 season and beyond.
"It's fun, really. It's really fun. I enjoy it (getting into discussions about uniforms)," Fedora said.
"I got a chance to work with Nike's design team for a matter of months, going back and forth with some things that we wanted. They came out and spent some time with us walking around campus, and spending time just on campus seeing what it's all about. And so I think they did a really nice job."
Fedora was mum on the exact design of the Spring Game jerseys, but as Tar Heel fans, players, and recruits saw a year ago, it's clear that UNC is going to wear some unique combinations and some eye-catching jerseys and helmets.
"Our players haven't seen it. They'll get the chance to see it on Saturday. So I think they'll be really excited about it," Fedora said. "I think this (Saturday's Spring Game uniform) will be probably a standard one for a couple of years, but we'll probably have some alternatives that we'll mix in."