Larry Fedora became the new head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels football program under heavy scrutiny with sanctions against them that included reduced scholarships for three years and a one year bowl ban. With the odds stacked against him he put together a respectable 8-4 record with one of the best overall offensive attacks in the nation. So what should we expect from him and the UNC program in year two of the Fedora era in Chapel Hill?
The biggest reason these Tar Heels didn’t win more games in Fedoras first season was the defense and that won’t change in just one year. With a competent defensive performance the team could have easily won in all four of their losses with the most glaring example being their 68-50 loss against Georgia Tech.
Fedora runs an odd defensive scheme that nobody on his roster had ever ran before and even after a very good 2013 recruiting class won’t be able to turn things around in just one season this type of transition will take a few recruiting classes for Fedora to build continuity on that side of the ball.
Offensively the team losses their biggest star with running back Giovani Bernard entering the NFL Draft along with receiver Erik Highsmith and one of the nations best offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper. Still this team should have a top flight offense again this season with quarterback Bryn Renner returning for his senior season and a ton of talent at the play making positions.
As we all know Fedora’s job upon arriving at Chapel Hill was to bring stability back to a shaken program and eventually make UNC more than just a basketball school and turn the Heels into contenders on the gridiron. The key word being eventually, expect to see improvement in Fedoras second season but nothing dramatic, this will be a process.
Without a star like Bernard that can win a game all by himself (see his huge game winning punt return against NC State) the offense will need to do things more as a unit and that will take some adjustment for the players and the coaching staff. The defense should be more settled as a unit and we should see less confusion in terms of defensive assignments as the returning players will be more familiar with the system they are playing in. Record wise I don’t think we can expect much of an improvement from 2012’s 8-4 campaign. A bowl birth would be a victory for the program, again this is about building the program not about instant gratification.
Fedora has done a tremendous job on the recruiting front with his vision for a North Carolina Dream Team and if he can continue to put together top 20 classes like he has with the 2013 group the future is bright for this program.