UNC Football: Grading Larry Fedora Through Five Games


Larry Fedora is 3-2 through his first five games as the head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels.  His team has enjoyed two blow out victories that saw his team score more than 60 points including setting a record 66 for the program against Idaho this past Saturday.  The team also suffered a couple losses against teams they could have defeated if they played up to their potential for four quarters.

Sep 29, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora congratulates his team on a good play against the Idaho Vandals in the first half at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Liz Condo-US PRESSWIRE

It’s safe to say through five games that we have seen two different Tar Heel teams. One that makes a ton of mental mistakes and looks like a 1-AA team on the field. And another that looks flat out dominate on the offensive side of the ball and swarming on defense.

I’ve always lived under the philosophy that you cannot grade or judge a coach based on his teams first year output. After all, installing a new system is difficult, especially at the collegiate level. The Tar Heels are installing completely new systems on both sides of the ball that are polar opposites from what they ran last season. Offensively, the players are not only adjusting to a new system, they are being asked to run that offense as fast as possible, not an easy task.

In the off season, like many following Tar Heel football, I was very optimistic about the upcoming Larry Fedora era in Chapel Hill. After all, he’s charismatic, a great recruiter and he brought with him a philosophy I’m a huge supporter of, the North Carolina Dream Team vision of compiling the best local recruits at UNC.

While I feel it’s unfair to assign a grade to the man with many challenges in front of him coaching a team he didn’t put together with NCAA sanctions against them, well, I’m going to do it anyway. Being a college football head coach isn’t a job that is usually “fair” so away we go.

Things I like
I love Fedoras energy, he always seems to be chugging a Red Bull and going at things full speed. For a depressed program, that’s exactly what is needed in Chapel Hill

Recruiting Philosophy, as stated above, this is the perfect and in my eyes obvious philosophy for the Tar Heels. If they can win the in state battles, the program has the chance of becoming a national contender (over time) if they can’t, they will never get over the hump.

Injury Report Policy, I absolute love and hate this at the same time, but overall I think it’s great for the team. Fedora reveals absolutely nothing to the media about a players condition. He releases the injury report when he has to and it simply lists who’s out. No probable, questionable or doubtful, teams and media alike are left wondering about all that.

Allowing UNC to run up the score. I hate it when teams are criticized for this, score as many points as possible, isn’t that why you play the game? UNC defeated Elon 62-0 and Idaho 66-0 and aside from the boring second half with the game well in hand, I loved every minute of it.

Halftime speeches, I don’t know what he’s saying, but UNC has looked like a different team in the second half of games. More explosive, efficient and fast, whatever Fedora is selling at the half to his players, somebody needs to market it.

Things I don’t like
Use of Giovani Bernard on special teams, I had a post earlier about this, why risk the best player on the team with plenty of other options as a punt returner? Makes zero sense, especially with Bernard who was injured earlier this season.

Under utilizing Romar Morris, Morris does something good every single time he’s put in the game. Even if it’s just blocking punts. Fedora has went with AJ Blue as the #2 running back behind Bernard over Morris. I like Blue, but Morris is much more explosive and needs to see the field, and the ball much more often.

Under utilizing Eric Ebron, I know he’s the teams second leading receiver. But that’s not good enough in my eyes. Far too often, Ebron isn’t involved in the passing game and it’s obvious in my eyes that he isn’t featured enough. As a physical freak of nature and a match up nightmare for defenses, Fedora needs to figure out how to get him more involved.

Early emphasis on offensive speed, I’m not knocking Fedoras philosophy that he wants at least 80 offensive snaps per game.  It’s what has worked for him and I believe in due time, it will work in Chapel Hill.  But it’s too early and I believe it’s a part of the offenses early first half woes this season in certain games.  Slowing it down just a bit and allowing the offense to settle in would be more ideal this season.

Overall Grade: B- Some might think this is too generous, here’s my reasoning.  As I stated above, it’s probably too early to grade Larry Fedora for many reasons.  Sure, the team probably shouldn’t have lost two games this season already and yes, they have had way too many mental mistakes on the field.  But again, it’s too early to be overly critical of that, this is a process that will take time.  Considering those factors I believe the Tar Heels are getting better and will be a much better team under Fedora than they were under the previous regime.  Once this team hits it’s stride, I think we’re looking a pretty good football team this season.  After Fedora has a couple of his own recruiting classes come in, and time to install his systems, that’s when we can really judge.

What is your grade of Larry Fedora so far?