Coach Larry Fedora and his staff welcome the 2013 Tar Heels to August training camp on Thursday, Aug. 1, as they begin preparations for the Aug. 29 opener in Columbia against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Tar Heels are coming off an 8-4 season in Fedora’s first year at Carolina, and as many Lettermen know from their experiences as players, the second year of a coach’s tenure often leads to big things. Coaches Jim Tatum (13-7 win over sixth-ranked Navy in 1957); Jim Hickey (12-7 win over Notre Dame in 1960); Bill Dooley (22-7 stunner over Florida in 1968); and Dick Crum (1979 opening wins over South Carolina and Pitt) each enjoyed big wins in year two of their tenures.
“The biggest thing is, I know all the players’ names,” Fedora said earlier this week at the ACC Football Kick-Off in Greensboro. “They know us, we know them. They know how high the bar is set in terms of playing smart, fast and physical. Spring ball this year was much more productive than a year ago.”
Lettermen are invited to come see for themselves on Saturday, Aug. 10, as Fedora will host them for a morning scrimmage and lunch afterward. Practice will be held from 8:30 to 10:40 at Navy Field, with lunch in the BlueZone at 11:30. There will be a $10 charge for lunch to cover the cost of the meal.
Invitations and reply forms are in the mail. If you have not gotten your’s or need more information, contact Teresa Vanderford in the UNC Football Office at 919-962-9144 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tar Heels have been picked third in the ACC’s Coastal Division behind Miami and Virginia Tech. Pitt and Syracuse join the ACC this season, and Pitt will play in the Coastal Division.
Carolina will be without the services of three players who have been dogged by injuries their entire careers at Carolina. Linebacker P.J. Clyburn, offensive lineman T.J. Leifheit and receiver Reggie Wilkins will not play football any longer but will remain in school. Fedora says he expects linebacker Darius Lipford to be ready for the opening of camp and receiver T.J. Thorpe to be full speed within two weeks.
An added air of urgency will permeate August preparations as the opener is a big one and a monumental challenge: on the road against South Carolina and its freakishly talented defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney. The Gamecocks were 11-2 last year.
“Clowney is one of the most natural athletes I’ve seen play on the football field,” QB Bryn Renner says. “But I’ve played against guys like Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin and Quinton Coples. I was actually scout team against those guys, so they were hitting me pretty hard my freshman year as a rookie when I was weighing 175 pounds.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play a team like that,” he adds. “I have not had the opportunity to play a top-10 team with the best player in the country. We’re going to see where we stack up. I know it’s been a huge motivation for us in the offseason.”