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Turner's Take: Monday Musings

Turner's Take: Monday Musings

By Turner Walston

Carolina football had the weekend off and so was able to rest up, get healthy, and game plan for the unorthodox offense of Paul Johnson and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Tar Heels will travel to Atlanta for a Saturday noon tilt at Bobby Dodd Stadium. On Monday, Larry Fedora addressed the media ahead of the Tar Heels’ conference opener.

• This is the second straight season, and third in the last four, that Carolina has had a bye week prior to facing the Yellow Jackets. It hasn’t helped; the Tar Heels are winless against Georgia Tech since 2008. Fedora said he changed up the bye week strategy this year. “We spent almost all of our time on Georgia Tech where we didn’t in the previous year,” he said. “We were still trying to learn what we were doing offensively and defensively and spent time on us where this year we spent quite a bit more time just on Georgia Tech.” Carolina has two bye weeks in 2013 (the second Saturday off falls on October 12, ahead of the Thursday night matchup with Miami), and Fedora anticipated that while that week, five games in, will be more about getting healthy and evaluating the season to date, this early break has allowed for more game-planning for the upcoming opponent.

Quarterback Bryn Renner said he liked the break coming after the team had played two games to allow the team to study what they’d put on film so far and also look toward the rest of the season. “We had a good three days, and we benefitted from it,” he said.

• A season ago in Chapel Hill, the Yellow Jackets came away with a 68-50 win in the highest-scoring game in ACC history. After that loss, there were a lot of fingers pointed at the Tar Heel defense, and not without reason. The 68 points were the second-most ever allowed by a Tar Heel team (69 to Louisville in 2005) and the most an ACC opponent had scored on North Carolina. But as a former offensive coordinator, Larry Fedora on Monday pointed to missed opportunities on that side of the ball. He pointed to Bryn Renner’s fumbled on 3rd and 2 at the Tech 19 early in the second quarter. That led to a Georgia Tech touchdown. The Yellow Jackets turned an interception on a screen pass into a field goal midway through the third quarter. Fedora also mentioned Jamal Golden’s touchdown on the second half kickoff as a mistake that didn’t fall solely on the Tar Heel defense. “I know everybody jumped all over the defense, and we’re not sitting here condoning the way the defense played, but it was not a one-sided deal,” he said. “It was not just the defense that created problems for us; it was the entire team.”

• Last year, Georgia Tech was a bit in flux defensively. A month prior to coming to Chapel Hill, defensive coordinator Al Groh was fired. Now, former Duke head coach Ted Roof is in Atlanta and has instilled confidence in the Georgia Tech defenders. “It’s not anything that’s extraordinary or out of the ordinary,” Fedora said of Roof’s installations. “Ted’s got them in position to play. That’s what he’s doing. He blitzes as he feels he needs to, he’s changing his fronts a little bit, he’s multiple in coverages, but what I think what he’s done is he’s settled them down and they’re playing just good solid football. They’re in position and where they’re supposed to be and they’re not out of position and making major mistakes and things like that. He’s put them in position where they can make a play, and they’re making plays.”

“They’re not going to do too much to try to confuse you, but they’re going to be sound fundamentally, and you have to execute,” Renner said. “You’re going to have to make plays to beat them, and I think that’s the one thing Coach Roof does, is he’s technically sound in the way he coaches.”

• Coaches and players alike have raved about the potential of wide receiver Ryan Switzer, but the freshman had a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Middle Tennessee back in the home opener. Renner said it won’t be difficult to build up the playmaker after his mistake. “He has a ton of confidence already,” Renner said. “I just pulled him aside, even during the game and just made sure that he didn’t get too down. Luckily, it was a fortunate part of the game, we were already up, and had the game in hand kind of. It’s not acceptable for him to do that, but he understands that he’s going to be a great player for a long time and he needs to move forward.”

• Though it always seems to be crowded at the top of the Coastal Division, and Georgia Tech is often right in that mix, Fedora said he hasn’t told his team that this game is a ‘must-win.’ “Everybody knows what our goals are at the beginning of the season, and they understand that this is a conference game, and we’re here to win the Coastal Division, and this is part of that. Right now, this affects that goal, so these guys are intelligent enough to know that. I don’t have to beat that in their heads.”

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