Fedora turns attention to Tar Heel defense

August 21, 2012 

— North Carolina coach Larry Fedora believes creating turnovers is a matter of the mind more than anything, that “if you believe you’re going to get turnovers on defense, you’re going to get turnovers on defense,” he said after practice earlier this week.

But it also helps to be in position to create turnovers, and Fedora’s team at Southern Miss a season ago often was. The Golden Eagles ranked second in the country – behind only Texas – in passes broken up, with 75.

Southern Miss intercepted 19 of those passes to rank sixth nationally. Emphasizing the importance of forcing turnovers has been a priority as much as anything else throughout Fedora’s first preseason with the Tar Heels.

“That’s something that our coaches are working on every day,” he said. “We talk about it every day. We do drills every day to emphasize turning the ball over, and getting balls taken away on defense.

“And not only that, but scoring on them.”

Southern Miss was good at that this past season, too. Of those 19 interceptions, the Golden Eagles returned eight for touchdowns. That set an NCAA record.

Fedora’s coaching roots are on the offensive side, but he doesn’t mind seeing a defense score – as long as it’s his own.

“I don’t want to just get it, I want to score with it,” he said. “I’d rather score with it on defense than have to go out on offense and do it.”

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