The Tar Heels ached for a full 24 hours last Friday after their 17-13 season-opening loss to South Carolina in Charlotte. Then by decree from coach Larry Fedora and his staff, it was time to move on.
“You build off the good things and get the bad things corrected,” Fedora said Monday. “I certainly hope we’re a better team this week than we were last week, and I expect that we will be.”
Carolina faces North Carolina A&T at 6 p.m. Saturday in Kenan Stadium. It’s the first time the Tar Heels and Aggies have met in football and the game marks the return of former All-ACC defensive tackle Rod Broadway to Chapel Hill as the A&T coach.
Broadway lettered four years from 1974-77, was first team All-ACC in 1977 and has been in the coaching business for nearly 40 years. He was on Steve Spurrier’s Florida staff when the Gators won the national title in 1996 and then spent two years working as defensive tackles coach for another Tar Heel Letterman, John Bunting, at Carolina 2001-02. Since then, Broadway has found success as head coach at N.C. Central, Grambling State and now A&T. Broadway won Black College National Championships at both NCCU and Grambling and has a 70 percent winning total in 11 years as head coach.
A&T opened its season Saturday night with a resounding 61-7 win over Shaw.
“They were dominant in everything they did, they were picked to win their league again,” Fedora said. “I would imagine they’ll come in here with a lot of confidence, expecting to win a football game. I know Rod’s done a tremendous job over there to turn that program around. He’s very well respected in the coaching profession.”
This year the Aggies were picked to win the MEAC, four years into a resurrection program that Broadway began in 2011, when the Aggies were on probation because of academic progress issues.
“Just getting to the point where we are expected to do well is a great accomplishment by our players and coaches,” Broadway says.
The Tar Heels had every chance to win last week’s clash with the Gamecocks, but three interceptions by QB Marquise Williams and a back-breaking 48-yard run early in the fourth quarter surrendered by the defense were the differences. Nonetheless, the defensive performance was a significant improvement over what Tar Heel fans have seen the last two years.
“I’m not going to say the defensive staff is all fired up about what happened in the game,” Fedora says. “The way they look at it, they gave up a catastrophic play that was the difference in the game. To win, you can’t give up anything catastrophic. But there were a lot of good things that happened, a lot of bright spots for them to build on.”