Larry Fedora on the Attack
By Stuart Barefoot
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Larry Fedora is bringing his up-tempo, attacking style to the UNC program.
The Everett Withers era at North Carolina ended with the Tar Heels losing 41-24 to Missouri in the Independence Bowl to cap off a modest 7-6 season. After an offseason coaching change, the Larry Fedora era is set to start on September 1 when the Tar Heels play Elon in Chapel Hill. The woes for the UNC football program are well documented and widely known, and the Heels would welcome the chance to turn the page on an ugly chapter in school history. The school seems to think Fedora is the guy to lead the way during the crucial 2012 season. With football season rapidly approaching, an introduction to the man heading the Heels is in order.
Fedora most recently spent four years as the head coach at Southern Mississippi, ending his tenure with an impressive 12-2 season in 2011. In four seasons with the Golden Eagles, he racked up an impressive record of 34-19, including a Conference USA championship this past year. As a former offensive coordinator at Florida (2002-2004) and Oklahoma State(2005-2007), his resume is very impressive. He has stated that he plans to use the spread offense at UNC, which has been his strategy virtually his entire career.
Despite harsh NCAA sanctions and coaching turnover, the Tar Heels have not lacked talent the last several seasons, and Fedora has always been known for his ability to do more with less. In his four seasons at Southern Miss, his teams compiled more than 5,000 yards of total offense in every year. They had a particularly impressive 2011 campaign, amassing the aforementioned 12 wins, while also ranking amongst the most talented offenses in the country. Averaging 461.4 yards per game, the Golden Eagles were 17th in the country in total offense and finished 14th in scoring offense at 36.9 points a game. The 2011 team also set a school record by tallying 6,459 yards. Granted they did that work in a fairly weak Conference USA, but it’s still an impressive body of work.
Attempting to learn the new offense has introduced quite the learning curve for the Heels. During the Blue-White spring scrimmage in April, Fedora and offensive coordinator Blake Anderson felt like the offense wasn’t going fast enough, according to the Greensboro News and Record. Still,once UNC is comfortable with Fedora’s style of play, they have the means to wreak havoc on defenses in the ACC. Both Fedora and Anderson have the luxury of returning players such as QB Bryn Renner, RB Giovani Bernard and senior WR Erik Highsmith. For a team that finished 52nd in the country in total offense last year, there is plenty of reason to believe that 2012 has better things in store.
Joining Fedora in Chapel Hill will be many of the members of his coaching staff from Southern Miss. Anderson was also the offensive coordinator under Fedora at Southern Miss, and helped coach one of the nation’s top offenses last fall. Defensive coordinator Don Diesch, tight ends coach Walt Bell and defensive line coach Deke Adams have also made the transition to Chapel Hill.
More important than the new coaches and the faster paced offense is the chance for the program to find redemption off the field. Firing a successful, winning coach like Butch Davis was a risky move on the part of the school, and a coach like Fedora gives them that much needed change. At his press conference in December, Fedora ended by quoting General George Patton. “Instead of waiting to see what might develop, attack constantly, vigorously and viciously. Never let up, never stop, always attack.” Fedora has the same philosophy on both sides of the ball.