UNC Football: Understanding the Moment


Football coaches understand what their team can and cannot better than any fan in the stands partly because they spend countless hours reviewing film and watching these players in practice every day. As someone who has experience coaching football I still find myself every so often criticizing a call or a scheme. However certain moments in a football game have greater importance than any single play, and great coaches seize those moments where most coaches let them pass by. There was a moment in the game where we saw Tom Obrien and Larry Fedora succeed and fail in a decisive sequence of events.

Oct 27, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora reacts after a play is ruled a fumble that is recovered by the Tar Heels in the first quarter at Kenan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Throughout the game Mike Glennon sliced through the North Carolina defense as if he were a hot knife and the UNC secondary was made of butter. There was no down and distance the North Carolina patron crowd felt safe the Tar Heels would convert on third down. Whether it was third and five or third and twenty three the Wolfpack converted as if they were playing Arena style football. Without seven drops Glennon should have accumulated over 600 yards through the air. Reading some message boards this evening, partly for the pleasure of seeing a NC State meltdown after five straight victories over UNC, there seems to be a consistent anger toward Tom Obrien from Wolfpack nation. Deservingly so with over a minute thirty to go Obrien put the handcuffs on equally maligned offensive coordinator Dana Bible.

Mike Glennon had one of the greatest games in the history of this rivalry and NC State football period. Instead of trying to use all three downs to move into field position Obrien called for two running plays on second and third downs to force a punting situation with thirty seconds to go. The Wolfpack who had been aggressive all game appeared satisfied to go to overtime. Tom Obrien called the punt team on, and in that situation they have to keep contain limiting a big run. Fans can scream why do you kick it to Bernard, but for young punters having them kick it out of bounds sounds ideal yet the odds of hitting one off the side of their foot increase.

Prior to the third down; Larry Fedora called Roy Smith over most likely reminding him he needed first to simply catch the punt should UNC hold State on this third down. As NC State lined up for the punt Fedora made a change sending Gio Bernard out to the field. The moments ensuing will be remembered forever in the North Carolina- NC State rivalry. Fedora did something that few coaches recognize.

He knew the moment was bigger than just a punt. Could Roy Smith catch the ensuing punt and give UNC a shot at kicking a field goal or winning in overtime? Of course, but for someone who has not been in such a pressure moment Fedora put the coolest man in the stadium back to receive it. Bernard not only has great play making ability, he has great hands when catching a football. The run after Bernard caught the punt will be remember forever, but the coach having the instincts to capitalize on this key moment is a sample that UNC has a guy who gets it.

Tom Obrien is a great man and a good football coach. However the ceiling has been reached for NC State under Obrien. This was his best team and with a 20-24 record in the ACC I cannot blame NC State fans for wanting a change. As for UNC the table is just being set for Fedora, but Carolina fans enjoyed what was served yesterday with the win over NC State.

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