Tag:Larry Fedora Hired
Posted on: December 19, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Independence Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

MISSOURI WILL WIN IF: They can limit turnovers on offense and prevent the big play on defense. Sophomore quarterback James Franklin's performance in the regular season finale against Kansas showed both the best and worst of Missouri's offense sans Henry Josey (knee). The worst came early in the game, with Franklin tossing three interceptions in the first 18 minutes of play and the Tigers' offense only producing one scoring drive - which resulted in a field goal. The best came in the second half, with Franklin wearing down the Kansas defense and taking advantage of their weaknesses by creating big plays on the way to a 24-10 win.

North Carolina is much stronger than Kansas, and three first half interceptions may not be something the Tigers can expect to bounce back from in the Independence Bowl. As long as Franklin is smart with the ball and avoids turnovers, he can keep taking his shots through the air and on the ground until he eventually hits the big play. Defensively the Tigers are much better than their numbers suggest, especially when you consider the competition. Still, even the best defense can be broken down by someone like North Carolina wide receivers Dwight Jones, Erik Highsmith, or Jheranie Boyd. Running back Gio Bernard will likely see a heavy load on the ground as well, and the Tigers must keep the shifty freshman from breaking outside and hitting the sidelines.

NORTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF: The front seven can contain and pressure Missouri quarterback James Franklin. Ever since Henry Josey's season-ending knee injury, much of Missouri's offense has been based around Franklin creating plays. Luckily for the Tigers the sophomore signal caller not only can extend the play with his legs, but take off and make defenders miss in the open field. In the first game without Josey - the Big 12's leading rusher at the time of his injury - Franklin rushed for a career high 152 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries while still adding 172 yards and two touchdowns through the air. North Carolina's front seven is filled with NFL-caliber talent. However, there have been several games this season where it seems the defensive line and linebackers have not lived up to that NFL-caliber hype. With the nationally televised bowl game, it would be in the best interest of these pro prospects to delver their best performance of the season in this game. If Quinton Coples, Tydreke Powell, Zach Brown, and the rest of the front seven are able to contain and frustrate James Franklin, they will benefit their own draft stock and give the Tar Heels a much better chance to win their second-straight bowl game. A win-win scenario for the NFL-hopefuls.

X-FACTOR: Who Wants It More? Missouri certainly enters the game with a momentum advantage, winning four of their final five games while North Carolina lost four of their last six. Missouri picked up the invite after being over by the bowls with a Big 12 tie-in, not a surprise considering the Tigers' upcoming departure for the SEC. It will be the last game for interim head coach Everett Withers, who has already confirmed he's not staying with the Tar Heels "in any capacity" under new head coach Larry Fedora. So with Missouri in between conferences and North Carolina in between coaches, the team that can find the motivation for the moment will have an advantage on Dec. 26 in Shreveport.

That kind of advantage will likely be necessary in a bowl game that has been decided by seven points or less five of the last six years, with Georgia's 44-20 win against Texas A&M in 2009 being the only exception. Regardless of the expectations heading into the game, that matchup has always been close in recent years. Maybe it is the mystic atmosphere of Shreveport, or Independence Stadium - where the game has been played every year since the bowl's creation in 1976 - but advantages in X's and O's seem to matter much less in this game. For either team to get win No. 8 in 2011, they will need an extra dose of "Want" on Dec. 26.

Check out all the latest updates on Missouri and North Carolina right up until kickoff at the Independence Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 2:46 pm
 

Larry Fedora introduced at North Carolina

Posted by Chip Patterson


While the news has been official for a few days now, North Carolina was proud to tie up their loose ends and announce former Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora as their next football coach.

On Friday morning the Board of Trustees approved a seven-year deal with Fedora earning more than $1.7 million annually, with more bonuses for division or conference championships as well as high graduation rates. With the specifics settled, Fedora was officially introduced to the media in a press conference on Friday afternoon.

"Today is the first day in a new era of UNC football," Fedora said as he took the podium for the first time. "It's going to be exciting. You better buckle your seat belts and hold on, because it's going to be a wild ride"

The last two seasons have already been a wild ride for North Carolina football, under the cloud of an NCAA investigation into the football program that began in the Summer of 2010.

Fedora steps into the position with a two-year probation and scholarship reductions already self-imposed by the school, and possibly more sanctions coming from the NCAA in the coming weeks. The scandal, especially the dismissal of head coach Butch Davis just days before the opening of training camp for the 2011 season, has divided the North Carolina football fan base over the last few months. The idea of unifying the North Carolina fans was mentioned by Chancellor Holden Thorp, new athletic director Bubba Cunningham, and driven home by Fedora himself. He described the "UNC brand" as being recognized nationwide, and needed the support of "everyone who bleeds Carolina blue" to build a successful program.

Fedora was fiery and energetic throughout his first meeting with the North Carolina media. While he has no experience recruiting in the area, he pointed to his wife as an example of what kind of recruiter he is - even using the expression "I out-kicked my coverage" The off-field troubles and discontent within the fan base resulted in some disappointing attendance during the 2011 season, and Fedora offered a message for the fans.

"We need our students and fans to make game day an unbelievable experience in Chapel Hill," Fedora exclaimed. "We need you to pack Kenan Stadium, we need to be here early, and we need you to stay late. You need to understand, if you get up to get a drink - you just missed a Tar Heel touchdown."

Fedora's arrival brings arguably the most dramatic on-field change to North Carolina football in more than a decade. The former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator plans to make North Carolina's offense a no-huddle, single back spread. He said he plans to sit in on every offensive meeting, and joked that the plays that work will be the ones that he had called. Defensively, he plans to use multiple looks as well as disguised blitzes and coverages. Fedora promised the fans a unit that will be known for "flying to the ball" and "knocking the tar out of people."

He acknowledged the adversity the team has overcome already, and credited interim head coach Everett Withers for leading North Carolina to their fourth consecutive bowl appearance. No decisions have been made regarding Fedora's staff, but he indicated that both members of his staff at Southern Miss and currently in Chapel Hill will be considered.

Fedora also plans to coach the Golden Eagles in the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24, his final game with the Conference USA Champions.

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