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August 22, 2012

Heels suffer off day

In the broad scheme of Carolina football, UNC first-year coach Larry Fedora is happy with how his team developed during summer camp.

He was not, however, pleased with the way the Tar Heels responded on Wednesday, after taking Tuesday off from practice to attend the first day of classes and get that aspect of their lives in order.

"It wasn't very good," Fedora said. "It wasn't good enough. I can tell you that. It was not anything like the way we practiced during camp. It was a whole different situation out here. We'll have to get that corrected out here today and tonight.

"We'll get out here tomorrow and hopefully get a good practice in," Fedora said. "It was an intensity issue, a focus issue, a lot of issues. We'll get it corrected."

The reason for the drop-off does not matter, Fedora said. All that matters is that UNC gets it straightened out as quickly as possible and regain the focus that led to a successful camp.

"Doesn't matter what the excuse is," Fedora said. "It's just excuses. You've got to come out here every day and approach the field the same way. And you have to get better. You are either going to get better or get worse. You're never going to stay the same.

"I thought our team got much better in camp, from day one to the last day of camp," Fedora said. "We gave them the day off for school yesterday, so they could get their schools clothes laid out and get their first day of school in. I expected to come back out here focused today. We just didn't get that.

"We made a lot of progress in camp," Fedora said emphatically. "I don't want to let today's practice ruin what we did in camp because we really did some nice things in camp."

Fedora and his assists have spent a lot of time with the seniors, making sure they understand this is their team and they have to take charge and guide the whole team to excel on the practice field and in the meeting rooms each day.

"The seniors together, we've spent a lot of times with those guys, and what we want to do on this football team," Fedora said. "If we want to be different, then we have to do some things different than we've been doing them. I'm sure the seniors are fully aware that wasn't good enough and they will get it corrected."

He said that Carolina focused briefly on Elon on Wednesday, in preparation for the season-opener on Sept. 1 at Kenan Stadium at 12:30 p.m.

Today [Aug. 23] the entire practice will be about preparing for the Phoenix.

From the first day he spoke as UNC's new coach, Fedora has emphasized how much special teams mean to him.

While the coaches have not made their final choices on some of the positions, they are closer since sophomore return man T.J. Thorpe was removed from the equation with a foot injury.

"We're working with a lot of guys to see who wants that job," Fedora said of return specialists. "T.J. [Thorpe] will not be doing that for us.

"I would say right now on kickoff return, if we had to go today, it would be [Sean] Tapley and it would be Romar Morris," Fedora said. "If it was a punt return right now, it would probably be [Gio] Bernard. But that may change between now and [Sept. 1]."

The receivers have had mixed reviews throughout this camp, due to several factors, the biggest being illness and injury.

Wednesday, Fedora said that freshman Quinshad Davis, who missed much of camp with an illness, has been progressing since he was cleared and began to practice.

"It's really great to have him," Fedora said. "He's a long, tall athlete who can really catch the ball. He runs routes well. His legs are fresher than everybody else's. But it's really been nice to have him. As it looks right now, Quinshad is going to help us this season.

"We're a long way away from being a polished receiving corps," Fedora said. "Some of that had to do with some of the injuries early on and some guys having to flip to different positions. Hopefully in the next few days we can get that corrected and they will look like a good football team on the 1st."


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