Georgia Tech? Forget about it; UNC's focus on Virginia

acarter@newsobserver.comNovember 15, 2012 

— Regardless of the outcome, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora never intended to spend much time analyzing his team’s performance against Georgia Tech – not with a game at Virginia just five days later.

It just so happened, though, that Fedora’s scheduling plan might have perfectly fit the Tar Heels’ circumstances. UNC suffered a humiliating 68-50 loss Saturday, but the good news was, the Tar Heels didn’t have to watch it twice. There simply wasn’t enough time, nevermind the desire.

“We weren’t going to watch the film,” Fedora said this week. “That was already (decided) – all this was planned in the summer as far as the way I planned the week. It had nothing to do with whether we won or lost that game. We weren’t going to look at the film. We were moving on to Virginia immediately.”

To plan for his team’s lone short week, which culminates Thursday night when the Tar Heels travel to Virginia, Fedora sought advice from other coaches who had experience with Thursday night games. He then came up with a scheduling plan that looked ahead.

Plenty went wrong for UNC on Saturday, but the Tar Heels haven’t had time to think much about the 588 yards of offense they allowed, or the 68 points, or that they became a dubious part of ACC trivia as the highest-scoring loser in league history.

“It’s huge for us just to move on,” quarterback Bryn Renner said. “I think we’re a mature group, and we kind of flushed it away on Sunday because we didn’t even watch the game film.”

There was some running Sunday. Fedora and his staff had to do something to make clear they weren’t pleased with the performance Saturday.

Beyond that, though, the focus immediately switched forward, toward the improving Cavaliers. Thursday night games are common in the ACC, where many of the league’s coaches have grown accustomed to the challenges – namely short preparation weeks and altered practice schedules.

Fedora was already familiar with those challenges when he arrived at UNC. During his four years at Southern Mississippi, the Golden Eagles played three times on Thursday night, and all of those games ended in defeat.

One of those three losses came at the start of the 2010 season, at South Carolina. The other two came after short weeks.

Before this season, Fedora said he spoke with “a lot of coaches all over the place” to gain a better understanding of how to approach Thursday night games. He said the Tar Heels didn’t spend any time last week, before the Georgia Tech game, preparing for Virginia.

“The biggest thing is to try to figure out how to utilize the time you have,” Fedora said. “Because to me, it doesn’t matter if we rep the heck out of them and then Thursday they’re mentally or physically drained and can’t perform the way they need to. So for us, it’s really mental.”

UNC’s preparations for the Cavaliers began Sunday with film study, running and a light practice. Monday is usually an off day for the Tar Heels, who instead used it this week as their only normal practice day. The team didn’t practice in pads Tuesday, and then traveled Wednesday.

By then, what happened Saturday against the Yellow Jackets was a distant memory for Fedora. He hoped it would be the same for his players.

Carter: 919-829-8944

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