North Carolina found a way to beat Florida State with a last-second 54-yard field goal off the foot of kicker Nick Weiler. The victory ended a 22-game winning streak for the Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium, and that fact makes the win even more remarkable than it already is for the Tar Heels.
Larry Fedora spoke after the game and gave us a lot to think about.
Confidence in Their Kicker
If Saturday’s game was any indication, the Tar Heels have confidence in their kicker. Just a few years ago, the team had to hold their breath every time they needed to kick a field goal. Now they have Nick Weiler, and he’s helped to change the program around.
No, but I mean two years ago, you’re right, we struggled. Since that time Nick has been automatic all the way through. He’s got a lot of confidence and he kicks with a chip on his shoulder. He’s not your typical kicker. He’s a guy that works hard in the weight room and he’s one of our guys. Guys love him and he’s a leader on this football team.”
Larry Fedora mentioned that he prepped Weiler after the blocked field goal, telling him that he needed to get past the missed opportunity because there was a chance they would need him later in the game.
When pressed about talking to his kicker before the final kick, Fedora pushed back, saying “there’s nothing to say. He knows what he needs to do. I have great confidence in him.” It’s clear that Weiler is an important member of the team and he has the respect of his coach.
Crediting the Defense
While the UNC defense gave up nearly 600 yards on the day, Fedora had good things to say about his unit. It turns out that North Carolina’s defense did enough in the first half of the game to put the team in a good place.
Especially in that first half. They gave us opportunities. They gave up one drive in the first half. We held them to field goals and they missed field goals, all those kinds of things.
The defense needs to get better, and they know this, but it’s good to see them getting some much-earned credit, especially after the strong showing they had in the second half against Pitt. Now all they have to do is string two good halfs together in one game!
Once again, Mitch Trubisky was fantastic with the ball, but Fedora was quick to point out that it wasn’t all perfect on offense.
We gave up two drives in the first half. We put the ball on the ground down there on the three yard line which is inexcusable. Then we had a third-and-short and a fourth-and-short that we don’t convert on and that can’t happen either. We wasted two drives there. Really we should have been up more than we were.
They obviously scored enough in the first half to get them through the game, but there were a few instances of wasted opportunities. The fumble turnover on the two yard line particularly comes to mind.
A Defining Win
This team has been looking for a program-defining win for the last few seasons, and now they may have finally found it. A reporter knew this when he mentioned that many felt an easy schedule last year made their 11-win season look less impressive. Fedora’s response was right on the mark.
If you go on the road and beat the No.12 team in the country, and I think they had a 22-game home win streak, that’s pretty dang good. I would say that so far the 2016 team has done some good things.
Larry knows how big of a win this was for the team, especially considering it was a road win against a team with an impressive winning streak at home. If anyone was still doubting that North Carolina is a legitimate contender, this game has forced them to pay attention.