ACC Kickoff is over and we can now set our sights on fall camp as we step closer to the September 3rd showdown with Georgia in Atlanta. Media Days do their part to create headlines and offer some insight on what to expect heading into the season. Here’s what we learned about Carolina football from ACC Kickoff.
Ryan Switzer is as quote worthy as they come
From the moment I heard he was headed to Charlotte I was confident that we would get some good quotes from Switz. One in particular that ACC fans won’t be fond of his Switz’s praise of Clemson referring to them as an “SEC caliber team.” I get that Clemson has one of the best gameday atmospheres in college football and has been strong in recruiting but they are a charter member of the league. I vehemently disagree with Switz, but it was an honest mistake. Naturally, Switz has often been compared to New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. In response to this, Switzer had this to say, “I don’t know why, by the way. We don’t even look alike.” I won’t say it for him but I commend the guy for wanting to blaze his own path.
The quote that probably turned the most heads was Switzer’s comment on the North Carolina offense, saying that he doesn’t know any team in the country returning the same amount of talent that UNC has coming back on offense. To no one’s surprise, our neighbors down in Clemson didn’t agree. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Clemson is more than likely to have the most explosive offense, in not just the ACC, but in the country. I will say that when looking at what both teams return the only thing that separates the Tigers from the Heels is some guy named DeShaun Watson, who might win the Heisman. Clearly, this is a big advantage, that and officiating on onside kicks but I digress.
Fedora sees the Georgia game as a “measuring stick” for the program
Now, most have tried to downplay the meaning of the Georgia game, which is understandable in terms of being “just” a non-conference game. Losing to Georgia won’t affect Carolina’s ACC Coastal defense and ability to win its first ACC title since 1980. What it would do is hinder any chance of playing in a New Year’s Six bowl if the Tar Heels are able to replicate last season’s success. More importantly, I appreciate the fact that Fedora has recognized this as a building block type of game for his program. A win would likely skyrocket the Tar Heels in the polls and turn the heads of national pundits, along with sending Georgia fans into a bourbon-fueled crisis. Also, the momentum that Carolina has been building in recruiting the Atlanta area would only further benefit with a win versus the states flagship university. Win or lose, this game will write the early narrative on Carolina’s program in 2016.
More creativity with defensive schemes to come
In his Q&A with the press, Fedora spoke about what is to be expected from Gene Chizik’s defense in Year 2. One thing he pointed out was the fact that the defense will be more creative in their schemes as opposed to playing in their based defense like they did 100% of the time last season. Fedora mentioned how this will help prevent the defense from being exposed like they were late in the season against Clemson and Baylor.
Des Lawrence feels snubbed
Des Lawrence has been doing what we all shouldn’t do: take preseason preview magazines to heart. The senior cornerback, despite finishing second-team All-ACC last season, has received no love from the various magazines predicting first-team all-conference teams in the ACC. Lawrence, and defensive backfield mate MJ Stewart --who was also on the ACC defensive second-team—have already vowed to use the slight as motivation heading into the season.
Socks are optional
Last week, at SEC Media Days in Hoover, AL, Florida head coach Jim McElwain made waves about his distaste for socks. Although in a suit, McElwain sported the ‘no-sock’ look. Fedora brought the trend to the Westin in Charlotte, citing that “it was the closest thing to being barefoot” he could get.
Lawrence on the other hand sported some fly socks that got some media attention.
had to get a pic of des lawrence's jesus socks pic.twitter.com/Q86IxjU93Q— martin rickman (@martinrickman) July 21, 2016
Continued high praise for Mitch Trubisky
We’ve talked throughout the summer about managing expectations for Mitch Trubisky, but Fedora wants to hear none of it. He continued to speak volumes about his redshirt junior quarterback, who he says has the team’s full confidence. Fedora went on to suggest that he’s never felt more comfortable about going into a season with a new quarterback than he does his Trubisky, given the signal caller’s experience in the system.
Just 42 days until Georgia.