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September 17, 2012

Fedora looks ahead to Pirates

In his Monday press conference in the fifth floor media room of the Kenan Football Center, UNC head coach Larry Fedora spoke about the Tar Heels coming off Saturday's tough loss at Louisville, and heading into Saturday's in-state rivalry game at home against East Carolina.

On the difference between the two halves of Saturday's loss to Louisville.....

"I thought the game was no different on film. It was a tale of two halves. It was atrocious in the first half and we played really well in the second half. So if we can maybe put two of those together, we can have some success."

"I stressed both of them (each half). We talked about, went through specifically what happened in the first half and what the problems were and showed what we can do in the second half. So hopefully you learn from those things."

On building from the second half of Saturday's loss.....

"Each game is a separate entity, but hopefully you do build off of it. Hopefully you learn something from it and you grow from it and you become better from it. But it is going to be a different entity. There will be different adversity that comes in the next game, but it still boils down to how you handle it."

On the team's inconsistency in its last two games.....

"It has been (inconsistent), and that's been tough trying to figure it out what it is and what buttons to push and what the reasons are, because it's been different in every situation."

On the recent play of Romar Morris.....

"I think Romar has done very well in each of the games. Every time we've put him on the field he's done well. So I think Romar will be probably more involved in the game plan as we go."

"I don't want to let him (Morris) go (off the punt block team), but it depends on what the special teams coordinator says. But I'd like to keep him over there with me as much as possible."

On the emergence of linebacker Tommy Heffernan into the UNC starting lineup.....

"Tommy moved in there and did a great job, was one of the few bright spots that we had defensively. He played really well, probably the best game he's ever played. I don't know if he's ever played that extensively, but he played really well for us, especially moving into that role the way he did this week."

On the progress of Giovani Bernard.....

"Not that I know of (he hasn't had any setbacks). I'm always hopeful. I don't know if I'm ever realistic. I think it could be anytime (when he returns)."

On East Carolina.....

"What is this, Ruffin (McNeill's) third year? I think the kids finally understand exactly what he's doing. We have some knowledge because we've played them for the last couple of years and so you see a big improvement each year with Ruffin's team."

"I think he's finally getting some guys over there defensively that feels comfortable with what he's trying to do. They understand the scheme. He's got them playing hard. They're going to come in our stadium and they're going to play hard no matter what. They're still throwing the ball all over the park on offense and they've shown that they can score some points."

On keeping ECU on future Tar Heel schedules.....

"I hadn't put a while lot of thought into it, because it's probably above my pay grade whether it will or not, but I don't see any reason why not. I mean, they're in the state and a good football team, so why not?"

Explaining some of the defensive issues in the first half against Louisville....

"I think defensively I think it was something like 18 missed assignments in the first half and two in the second half. And then when you went back and looked to see what you called different in the first half and what you called different in the second half to see if that was the problem, that wasn't the case. It was basically the same calls that were made defensively in the second half."

"So you have to attribute some of that to just an intensity level and an energy level and the missed assignments. If you don't play with the right amount of energy and enthusiasm and excitement and play the game the way it's supposed to be played somebody is going to make a mistake and something is going to happen, and then the next play somebody else is going to make a mistake and it just snowballs and that's what was happening."

"It wasn't one guy that made all the mistakes. It was just this guy, this guy, this guy, this guy, this guy. It just started happening all over the field, so you start losing confidence in what you're doing. You start losing confidence in the guy standing next to you and then it's not a good situation."

"It was the same schemes in the second half and there were only two mistakes. I mean, they didn't all of a sudden get smarter at halftime."

On the center-quarterback exchange issues.....

"It's the centers job to get the quarterback the ball and do it each and every play. Everybody overlooks him until he makes mistakes, but that guy is the most important guy. If we don't get the ball it doesn't matter. Nothing else matters. You can have the best players in the world on your team."

"If you can't get the ball to the quarterback it's not going to matter. So it boils down to he's just got to make sure he gets the snap first before he doesn't anything else and I guess he, like a lot of guys, got flustered and it and, again, whatever could go wrong went wrong."

On the impact of the two big special teams plays in the second half.....

"First of all, they (Louisville) never punted in the first half, so it's hard to block a punt (when the other team doesn't punt)."

"We talk about each week that's big in special teams, is to create a game-changing play. We're looking for one game-changing play and we actually made two. That was huge for us. And that gave us an opportunity to win the football game with those two plays."

"It was something we had seen in their punt formation that we thought we could get Romar loose through there. The kid made an unbelievable effort to block that punt. He's got a 310-pound offensive lineman blocking him at the second level, and he's still able to concentrate and get his hand over the foot of the punter. So he just did a tremendous job."

"Norkeithus (Otis) came down on the kickoff team and got a big hit on a guy and separated him from the ball, and so that was huge. So those two plays allowed us to win the football game as bad as we had played."

On the lack of intensity in the first half against Louisville.....

"That was extremely frustrating. I was hoping I was going to live through the first half. That was definitely going through my head at some points there."

On the ability of the UNC offense to score points in a hurry....

"For us we're kind of in a two-minute mode all the time if you think about it, so really when we get in that area (trailing late in a game) it's not a big deal to us. Our kids don't look at it any different, because it's just what we do and so there's a comfort level. And that's a good thing, because you can watch some teams who get in to a two-minute situation and it's almost like panic, but with our guys you don't notice anything different."

"It's just the same as it is all the time. So I don't think there's a panic level. I think everybody understands what we're trying to do. The communication is good and that whole second half we played that way."

On doing some things differently this week coming off back-to-back losses.....

"Yeah we'll do some things differently in practice and I'd like to say, I wish I could tell you we're going to coach harder, but if I told you that, I don't really think we can. I think our coaches have been coaching hard each and every day and if not, we'd be cheating the team if we all of a sudden now decided we're going to coach hard."

"So I don't think it works that way. I think our guys have been coaching extremely hard. I've just got to do a better job making sure the guys are prepared to play when we kick it off."

On the significance of the UNC-East Carolina matchup.....

"I know this. It's the next opportunity for us, which makes it big enough, especially with what we've gone through the last couple of weeks. But on top of that, you've got an in-state opponent who is coming into our stadium and wants to knock us off. So that's all you need. That's all you need. You know they're going to come in and play their best and play hard. It's a big game."

On having familiarity with East Carolina from Southern Miss days......

"I think there's a little bit of comfort level that you know what they're going to do. But on the same page, they're going to have that comfort level also. They're going to know what they're going to do."

On ECU's Ruffin McNeill.....

"I've known him even before he was the head coach there. I've known him for a while. He was on the defensive staff when I was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. I knew Ruffin back then."

On spending time with outgoing UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp.....

"Yeah as much time as you possibly can. Obviously during the season I don't get to spend much time with him. He was on our flight with us and I spent some time talking with him and Patti the other night."



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