Carolina head coach Larry Fedora, linebacker Jeff Schoettmer and quarterback Bryn Renner looked back at Saturday’s loss to Georgia Tech and forward to this weekend’s matchup with East Carolina at Monday’s press conference.
•Continuing a tradition he established in his first season, Fedora brought members of Carolina’s ROTC to the press conference prior to the Tar Heels’ Military Appreciation Day this weekend. Air Force Cadet Sarah Eagle, Army Cadet John Benton and Navy Midshipman First Class Bryan Bailiff joined Fedora in the media room Monday. “We’re really privileged to be able to honor our armed forces,” Fedora said. “It’s a very special day and we’re glad that we’re able to do that again this year, so I know our guys are looking forward to it.”
•Fedora said he thought his defense played well “for about 54 minutes on Saturday.” The Tar Heels did a good job of maintaining their assignments and even getting off blocks to make tackles. Still, Georgia Tech was 9-16 converting third downs. And despite the Tar Heels being in the right place, Fedora counted 21 missed tackles on the afternoon. “There were probably about five of them that would have shut down third down and gotten us off the field. Unfortunately, we didn’t make those tackles.”
•Two crucial video replays went against the Tar Heels on Saturday. Early in the second quarter, Georgia Tech’s David Sims rushed for a touchdown, although he lost the ball near the goal line, and Carolina recovered. The touchdown call on the field was upheld, as officials determined that Sims controlled the ball across the plane of the end zone.
Then, in the fourth quarter, Carolina’s Kareem Martin recovered what appeared to be a Vad Lee fumble. This time, the call on the field was a fumble, though it was reversed upon review. Georgia Tech scored a touchdown two plays later. “I looked at every play,” Fedora said Monday. “You know, I can’t comment on what I thought about those calls.”
•Tight end Eric Ebron continued to receive praise for the best performance of his junior season. On Saturday, he hauled in a team-high six catches for 108 yards and a highlight-reel one-handed touchdown catch. With Jack Tabb suspended for two games (Georgia Tech and East Carolina), Fedora said the team didn’t have the depth to rest Ebron as much as he would have liked. “He’s grown up a lot,” Renner said of his target. “He really stepped us huge for us, and he has that capability. Every game we go in with a game plan in place, and obviously he exploited Georgia Tech, and hopefully he can do that again this Saturday.”
Renner called Ebron’s one-handed grab “phenomenal.” The quarterback said Ebron made a great read on the coverage and then did the work to haul in the football. “ I overthrew the ball a little bit, and he made a great play. I heard it was on SportsCenter, so that’s good for him.”
•Carolina steps out of conference to host in-state rival East Carolina at 12:30 on Saturday. It’s the fifth straight year the Pirates and Tar Heels have played, and the second straight in Kenan Stadium. “We’re looking forward to the Pirates coming to town,” Fedora said. “We know that it will be a very hard-fought game. (East Carolina head coach) Ruffin McNeill always puts a very good product on the field, and those guys will play hard for him.”
Though he’s a Texas native, Fedora understands that some bragging rights may be on the line come Saturday. Monday, you got the feeling he was eager for his team to put last weekend behind them, whomever the opponent. “For me, it’s the next game,” he said. “It’s a game right here in Kenan Stadium in front of the Tar Pit. It’s the next game so that ought to get you juiced up enough.”
“Everyone should be excited, but what we’re more excited about is coming out and having another opportunity to get a win under our belt coming off the Georgia Tech loss,” Schoettmer said.
Through three games last year, Carolina was 1-2 and preparing to play East Carolina. The Tar Heels then reeled off four straight wins. Renner was hopeful the team can pull off a similar turnaround starting Saturday. “Every time you step out, you can get on a roll, and that’s what we’re going to try to do this weekend,” he said.
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