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UNC football intent on closing strong

Posted November 19, 2012

— North Carolina learned of its postseason ban in March, nearly six months before the season began. With the final game of the regular season less than a week away, the Tar Heels are looking forward rather than playing the “what if” game.

In any other season, the Tar Heels would be in position to play in a reputable bowl game or even a BCS bowl. Until Miami announced its own self-imposed bowl ban, North Carolina would have been in contention to play in the ACC Championship Game against Florida State.
Unfortunately, this season is unlike any other in North Carolina football history. Despite winning enough games to be bowl eligible, there is no opportunity to win the ACC for the first time since 1980. No Chick-Fil-A Bowl. No Belk Bowl. Not even a return trip to Shreveport, La. and the Independence Bowl. The season concludes on Saturday afternoon with the game against lame duck ACC member Maryland.

Based on this, it sounds tempting to just to mail it in. North Carolina already won the biggest game of its season against N.C. State. The team played very well in a bounce back game on national television against Virginia. What more is left for the Tar Heels to play for?

“It’s crucial,” head coach Larry Fedora told reporters on Monday. “Our guys understand, first of all, it’s the opportunity to get number eight and it’s, again, building on the legacy that these seniors want to leave on when a team comes in here to the Tar Pit how hard it is to play. Our guys want to win this football game and if we take care of our business then there is a chance that we will have reached our goal as far as Coastal division champs.”

Fedora: We're excited about this last one Fedora: We're excited about this last one

While the Coastal Division title may be out of reach, Saturday is Senior Day in Kenan Stadium and the team desperately wants to send that group out with a win. Not one senior left the program despite the opportunity to do so without being required to sit out one year elsewhere.

“All of them were being recruited by people outside of the program," Fedora said. "They knew that they could [leave] and we were going to do what we did and we didn’t change anything. We just did what we said we were going to do and they hung in there."

What Fedora and his team did was value each and every game on the schedule. From Elon to Maryland, each game was looked at as a cherished opportunity to show the country what North Carolina football was capable of despite the burden of a postseason ban. While the coaches and team hope to send the seniors out on the right note Saturday, the Tar Heels are preparing the same way they have all season.” North Carolina Logo More UNC Stories

“I don’t approach it any different than any other game we’ve had this year,” Fedora said. “We’re going into this game and we want to win the game. That’s all we want. We want to win the game. We don’t care how we do it. Whether it’s one point or six points or whatever it is. We just want to score one more point than our opponent.”

One of the benefits of a bowl game is the opportunity for 15 extra practices following the regular season. Many teams use the practices not only prepare for the bowl game, but also to evaluate and develop younger players for the future.

North Carolina is not able to use those extra opportunities on the practice field, but Fedora and his staff made sure to cut out some time this fall to observe and evaluate the future of the team. The ‘Heel Bowl’ as well as weekly scrimmages gave the reserves the reps necessary to stand out as well as be coached up by the staff.

The Tar Heels lose four seniors on offense and just three on defense. Even if redshirt sophomore running back Gio Bernard does elect to turn pro, there is no doubt North Carolina returns plenty of talent next season. While the bowl ban may be frustrating right now, it will undoubtedly serve as motivation for a 2013 Tar Heel team that looks to be chock-full of talent as well as desperate to taste postseason success.

“I think the biggest thing is we want to get started on next season sooner than we would regularly,” quarterback Bryn Renner said. “I think that’s going to be good. Probably take a week off and then kind of come back and start hitting the grind again. I think that’s something we’re looking forward to. We’re going to be able to play for the postseason next year and we have a lot of people coming back and I really just looking forward to the chance we have next year.”

13 Comments

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  • duane11 Nov 20, 11:01 p.m.

    Heels will spank the Terps on the way out of the ACC door. Fedoranoia did destroya a few teams... View More

    — Posted by Dr. Feelgood

    good season by the heels...never understood why people say 'nothing to play for'...when you step on the field, you play to win the game, for the love of sport&competition, and for the love of the game....titles and bowls are rewards, but you should want to win the game, regardless of outside circumstances, because you are a competitor and have pride in what you do...that is exactly how upsets and shockers happen, b/c a group of players have decided to block out the negatives, and take it to the opponent..for levity, it should be noted that the 7 victories by the heels have come against teams with a combined 30-44 record, which will only get worse if they beat the terps

  • Gunnstigator Nov 20, 8:24 a.m.

    Not having a bowl has made each and every game more important to the Heels, and I expect them to make a good showing in their last game against Maryland, of all teams. I feel for the players, taking the punishment for sins they didn't commit, but there are a lot more people responsible for the mess than Starvin' Marvin & company. It is what it is, but I'm happy with what Fedora has done and with the guys on the field.

  • BattlingBishop 5 Nov 20, 5:15 a.m.

    Heels will spank the Terps on the way out of the ACC door. Fedoranoia did destroya a few teams... View More

    — Posted by Dr. Feelgood

    +1 Dr. - all things considered, the Heels have done a very nice job & it's only gonna get better. IMO

  • BattlingBishop 5 Nov 20, 5:04 a.m.

    UNC will roll the Terps

    — Posted by BattlingBishop 5

    Playing 5 QB's this season should seal it for UNC. Battling. Your team did a nice job this... View More

    — Posted by Sauras69

    Duke played better this year. In a 12 game season, I feel like you have to win 8 to call it a good season. Anything after that is icing on the cake, IMO. Cut is doing the best he can under the circumstances. As for VT, Thomas has to do a better job protecting the ball. VT is too good a program to be sporting a 5 - 6 record. They are one of the few teams who can proudly wave the ACC banner in football. FSU, Clemson, & Miami have had their moments...looks like UNC might be on the verge of making the national radar.

    I wouldn't worry about VT too much unless they post a similar record next season. Just a quick glance at the numbers & Thomas is only completing 53.1% of his passes and has 14 picks. He has rushed 137 times for 3.2 ypc; not good. Those are very telling stats...he's not getting it done & that kind of play probably wears on the other players. From what I see, LT is your biggest problem. I know your D has played better in the past but it looks like LT keeps them on the field.

  • Toddler10-21 Nov 20, 4:10 a.m.

    DUDES are playing Maryland. There nose tackle is playing QB. UNC destroyed ELON, and IDAHO. WOW! And lost aganist DUKE. Pretty good season. Ohio State is 11-0. They also had nothing to play for, and made no excuses.

  • Dr. Feelgood Nov 20, 2:00 a.m.

    Heels will spank the Terps on the way out of the ACC door. Fedoranoia did destroya a few teams this year. Very pleased and impressed with the effort and progress this year. Fedora will put people in the seats and UNC football back on the national landscape. So where are all the Haters and Ragers who said this team had nothing to play for, had no reason to show up, would lose "dozens" of players due to the NCAA mess, and that we'd mail it in? Yep, crickets chirping and Tar Heels winning. Rinse, repeat...

  • Sauras69 Nov 19, 9:41 p.m.

    UNC will roll the Terps

    — Posted by BattlingBishop 5

    Playing 5 QB's this season should seal it for UNC. Battling. Your team did a nice job this year. I'm happy for Coach Cut, players, and all fans. If Logan Thomas had his head engaged we would be in the game once again. Woulda, coulda... Beamer better hope that Foster can keep his Bowl streak alive against UVA. Had Paul Johnson not fired Al Groh after the Middle Tenn game, they wouldn't be in this game. That's a pure fact.

  • doneds Nov 19, 8:42 p.m.

    8-4 NOT BAD, Let's close out strong! "Go Heels"

  • BattlingBishop 5 Nov 19, 8:23 p.m.

    UNC will roll the Terps

  • cwilliams843 Nov 19, 7:30 p.m.

    I say give Maryland a good whipping on their way out!!

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