Doeren takes different rivalry approach than Fedora
Posted May 21, 2013
If the history of football coach hirings and firings at the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University holds, second-year Tar Heel coach Larry Fedora and new Wolfpack hire Dave Doeren will meet six or seven times as representatives at opposite ends of the Triangle.
Exactly how the styles of the two will differ – or perhaps parallel – won’t become completely clear for at least a season or two.
But as Doeren enters his first summer in Raleigh, one thing is obvious. He's approaching the rivalry with the Tar Heels (First meeting: Nov. 2, homecoming in Carter-Finley Stadium) entirely differently than Fedora did in his first season.
Fedora’s “Countdown Calendar” to the Oct. 27, 2012, game in Chapel Hill was a topic of daily conversation within in the fan base and a matter of regular attention by the regional media.
Thanks to Gio Bernard’s 74-yard punt return touchdown with 13 seconds left, Fedora’s first UNC team won that game 43-35 to end a five-season series losing streak and dodged what could have been an instant countdown to humiliation for the coach.
“They've been spending all year getting ready for us … we have to give them some credit,” State's then-head coach Tom O’Brien said.
UNC’s star offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper made an interesting, insightful observation when asked about Fedora’s mood in the locker room after the game.
“Coach Fedora, that’s the least words I’ve ever seen him have,” Cooper said.
Off-season rhetoric – particularly at booster club fundraising events – usually gets forgotten and may not have any impact on what actually unfolds on game day.
But Fedora’s heavy, vocal emphasis on ending the Pack’s win streak left him with precious little wiggle room. With his team on probation and ineligible for bowl participation, the challenge to his players probably improved their focus and certainly their motivation to win the most important game on the 2012 schedule. But in doing so, Fedora put more pressure on himself than the players. It was risky, but it played out in the coach’s favor.
Doeren obviously prefers a broader, more reserved tactic.
While he’s hardly been shy about the significance of beating Carolina, Doeren has a good deal more on his plate in Season One than did Fedora.
For starters, Doeren doesn’t have Bernard at running back, a returning quarterback with Bryn Renner’s experience or two blockers (Cooper and Brennan Williams) with NFL potential. Scoring points could turn out to be a recurring problem.
More than zeroing in on Carolina this summer, Doeren is smart to be more concerned about taking advantage of four September games at Carter-Finley Stadium and improving a defensive unit that gave up an average 400 yards per game in ’12.
Meanwhile, Fedora is talking less about State this offseason. He’s got an offensive line to rebuild and running back committee to appoint.
There’ll be ample time for both men to lock and load come November.
|NCSU COACH||FIRST RESULT||OVERALL VS. UNC|
|Tom O'Brien||31-27 win in 2007||5-1|
|Chuck Amato||38-10 win in 2000||3-4|
|Mike O'Cain||35-14 loss in 1993||0-7|
|Dick Sheridan||35-34 win in 1986||6-1|
|Tom Reed||42-14 loss in 1983||0-3|
|Monte Kiffin||28-8 loss in 1980||0-3|
|Bo Rein||21-13 win in 1976||2-2|
|Lou Holtz||34-33 loss in 1972||2-2|
|Al Michaels||27-7 loss in 1971||0-1|
|Earle Edwards||20-6 loss in 1954||9-8|