The Tar Heels have one of their 2015 goals safely tucked away—the ACC Coastal Division championship. Now one more to go—the unofficial “state championship” borne of the fact the Heels face ACC and in-state rivals Wake Forest, Duke and N.C. State this season.
“This is an in-state rival, it’s one more goal we’re looking forward to trying to achieve,” Fedora said Monday as he looked toward Saturday’s 3:30 kick-off against N.C. State. “We’ve talked about it since day one, it’s been a point of emphasis since we started this year.”
Carolina edged Virginia Tech 30-27 in overtime Saturday in Blacksburg to run its record to 10-1, including wins earlier over Wake Forest and Duke. The Heels have secured a berth in the ACC title game vs. Clemson on Dec. 5, but they don’t want to ruin the run by falling to the Wolfpack, particularly after last year’s 35-7 landslide win by State.
“A lot of teams did some things to us last year, so that won’t be an issue,” Fedora said. “This is a different football team, this is the 2015 football team. They have learned from the things that happened to them last year and improved in every area.”
One of the areas most improved over 2014 and, indeed, as this season has evolved, is the defensive line. Led by tackle Nazair Jones, the unit is stopping the run better and generating more heat on the quarterback.
Fedora routinely in his Sunday afternoon team meeting recognizes players who had superlative efforts the day before. This week he had the entire defensive line stand up.
“They have played so much better,” Fedora said. “Their run fits, pass rush lanes—all the things Coach Scott has been preaching and working on, it’s all coming to fruition. They are probably the most improved position group we’ve had as the season has gone on.”