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ACC Teleconference: UNC football coach Larry Fedora

unc logoUNC football coach Larry Fedora talks with reporters on the ACC Teleconference on Wednesday.

OPENING STATEMENT: Yeah, we’re looking forward to another divisional opponent. We’ve got Virginia Tech coming in who Justin Fuente has done a great job with his team, and they are obviously ranked and playing well at this point.

Q. I’m curious, looking over the ACC stats, you guys are second in the conference on your 3rd down conversion and Virginia Tech defensively leads the conference. One, how important will those 3rd downs be, assuming you play Saturday, and two, what is Virginia Tech doing defensively on 3rd down that’s made them so effective?
LARRY FEDORA: Well, 3rd downs are going to be crucial. I mean, that’s the only way you stay on the field is we’ve got to keep moving the chains to be on the field, so they’re definitely going to come up in the game. What Bud and them are doing, he does a great job of getting pressure with four guys. He’s got four guys that pursue the quarterback pretty relentlessly, and he’s been able to put most of the rest of the guys in coverage, and he’s done a really good job with it.

Q. When you face a coach like Coach Foster and you guys have gone against each other before, how much does that play into the game planning, kind of knowing what he knows about you, knowing what you know about him?
LARRY FEDORA: Well, it’s part of the chess match. You’re always thinking about what he knows and what he may be trying to do, and I’m sure he’s doing the same thing with us. I know he’s always done a good job of stopping in the next year anything that we’ve hurt him with the year before. I have the utmost respect for Bud Foster. I think he does as good a job as anybody in the country.

Q. Larry, what is it about Mitch that’s allowed him to play so clean, not only this year but going back to last year when he was kind of in spot duty? What sort of allows him to do that?
LARRY FEDORA: He’s pretty level-headed kid. He understands the offense. He’s pretty comfortable in it, and he just takes the ball where he’s supposed to go with it. I mean, he lets the defense dictate where he goes. He doesn’t try to press it into places that he shouldn’t.

Q. How would you kind of assess what he’s given you so far through a handful of games this year when he’s been full-time?
LARRY FEDORA: Well, we asked him at the beginning of the year to take care of the football, and that’s what he’s done, and as long as he does that, just keeps moving the chains, he’s giving us a chance to win football games. He’s done a tremendous job of that.

Q. You’ve played Virginia Tech four times before since you’ve been in North Carolina; can you talk about how the challenge has changed with Coach Fuente and his offense as opposed to what you’ve faced before?
LARRY FEDORA: Well, Justin does a really good job with the offense. They’re very, very multiple in the things that they do. He’s got a great plan. I think the quarterback is probably a lot like Marquise was last year. He’s a big guy that can run. He can beat you with his arm. And they’ve got good guys, good position guys at every place. He’s opened it up quite a bit, which creates — it just makes you spread the field.

Q. I’m just looking at the ACC stats; they actually rank higher in their scoring offense than scoring defense, and that’s got to be a change as far as what you’ve seen in the past, that maybe they’ve been more productive on offense than on defense.
LARRY FEDORA: Well, they’ve been — I mean, I don’t know that they’re more productive one way or the other. I know that they’re really good on defense. They always have been. And I think that’s probably something that they’ve hung their hat on in the past and played more conservatively offensively, and now he’s opened it up on offense and they’re still playing great defense.

Q. Do you guys do anything in terms of prepping for potential bad weather? Virginia Tech talked about practicing with wet footballs and things like that. Are there any tricks like that you use?
LARRY FEDORA: We used to do that a long time ago, but I haven’t done it in the past probably four or five years. I think we practice enough in the rain, and our guys understand what’s expected. I mean, it’s the wind that you can’t control. That’s the thing that you worry about more than anything. The rain, I don’t think the rain is — we try not to let rain be a factor for us.

Q. And obviously with the weather that’s possibly in the forecast, do you get updates on what may happen with the site of the game, things like that, or do you just prepare the team and wait for updates?
LARRY FEDORA: They’ll give me updates, but really it’s out of my control, so I’m more concerned with getting the team ready to go, and then we’ll do whatever they tell us.

Q. Do you expect to play at home on Saturday?