The Tar Heels won a big game on Saturday against the Hurricanes, and Larry Fedora had plenty to say about it.
The defense held it together
The much-maligned defensive unit came together this weekend to hold the lead over the entire second half. It was by far the defense’s best game to this point in the season, and Fedora agreed:
“The defense played their most complete game of the season to this point. Each week we’ve been saying that they is a unit that’s been getting a little bit better and a little bit better and they are making more plays and these guys have confidence. They’re playing well together.”
The only real catastrophic run of the day was Joseph Yearby’s 42-yard run in the fourth quarter. Myles Dorn managed to make the tackle and avoid the easy touchdown, and the defense stopped Miami’s advances from there, ultimately forcing them to kick.
Coastal Division implications
The loss to Virginia Tech put North Carolina in a bad place in the Coastal Division standings. They were knocked all the way down to fourth place and the division was no longer in their hands. Thankfully, things went well against Miami and Syracuse managed to beat Virginia Tech to give the Tar Heels a chance to repeat as Coastal champions. Fedora had plenty to say about the implications:
“We knew one loss probably wasn’t going to be the difference in the conference play. I don’t think our guys thought a whole lot about it. We just knew that we needed to come down to Miami and get a win and whatever happened happened. Seven weeks into the season, I’m pretty pleased with this team and where we sit and the job that they’ve done.”
There’s no point for this team to be scoreboard watching at this stage of the season. They don’t need to worry about what other teams are doing, they just need to keep doing what they do so well. Fedora says that even after this win, they have to focus their attention on next week’s matchup against Virginia, because they still have to beat them too.
The energy was back
Fedora had a lot to say when it came to what UNC showed him on the field. Last week, when the Tar Heels lost in the rain to Virginia Tech, one thing that Fedora did not like was his team’s energy level. His players didn’t seem to want to be out there (who could blame them), and they played with no fire, but this weekend they showed the energy level he has been looking for.
Fedora feels that this energy level has helped get them through a tough stretch of the season and got them two big road wins against Florida State and Miami. That doesn’t mean the hard work doesn’t take its tole on you, though:
“Well you play three ranked opponents in the middle of the season and you’re beat up as a football team, as everybody is at this time of year. Somebody asked me when we’d like to have an off week and I said a week ago. Our team has fought through it. I can’t say enough about the way these guys have persevered. We’ve got a bunch of guys out there playing that aren’t starters. A bunch of them in a lot of different positions. They came through tonight.”
The Tar Heels have to get through Virginia before they can get to their bye week. The team has multiple starters beaten up, which now includes offensive lineman Jon Heck and wide receiver Mack Hollins from this week. The O-line has been especially beat down by injuries this year. Despite the adversity, North Carolina has continued to push through and show the energy that will get them through tough games.
Ryan Switzer the greatest
On a much lighter note, Ryan Switzer broke the school record for career receptions, and someone asked Fedora when he first knew how special his receiver was going to be. I found Fedora’s story to be hilarious:
“Yeah, the first time I saw him on film. The very first time. I remember, the staff was in there and they call me to look at this kid and I thought it was some kind of joke when we were watching the film. Like what is that. You’ve got this little kid just going 65-70 yards every single play. I thought somebody put some kind of joke tape together. It was Ryan Switzer. He’s special, he really is.”
If you think Switzer is the size of a small child now, I can only imagine how tiny he was in high school. That must have been some sight.