By Shawn Stinson
October 2, 2013
The vultures are not swarming around Larry Fedora yet.
The key word is yet.
Fedora is in the midst of his second year walking the sideline at Kenan Memorial Stadium and after Saturday’s 24-point loss to East Carolina, one has to wonder how much longer he will be there.
I’m not calling for Fedora to be fired. In fact, I think Fedora is a great fit for Chapel Hill, but for him to stay he needs to get things turned around…and quickly.
After “sharing” the ACC Coastal Division title last fall with Georgia Tech and Miami, there was optimism heading into the season opener with South Carolina. Coaches, players and fans believed UNC could and would be a player on the national scene this year.
Who could blame them because things were expected to be exciting at Kenan.
The Tar Heels were eighth in scoring offense last season, averaging 40.6 points a game. Yes, they were going to miss running back Giovani Bernard, but quarterback Bryn Renner was back under center with plenty of weapons still at his disposal.
Sure the defense wasn’t great, surrendering 25.7 points a contest — 53rd best in the country — but that could be explained away because it was falling back into a prevent early in games because of big leads.
Instead of pulling off the upset against South Carolina and heading into Saturday’s game with Virginia Tech at 4-0, UNC is stumbling into Blacksburg with a 1-3 mark and a two-game losing streak. Toss in a Thursday game at home with No. 14 Miami after the battle with the Hokies and 1-5 is looking more and more like a real possibility.
Some fans believe Fedora is being handcuffed because he was forced to deal with the loss of nine scholarships due to academic fraud and improper benefits which cost Butch Davis his job.
Granted those missing players would have provided more depth across the board and may have been the difference in the loss at Georgia Tech. However, the cupboard wasn’t empty and Fedora has still been able to attract 4-star and 3-star athletes to don the Carolina Blue.
There have been some great in-state high school football players which have made the exodus to schools like Clemson, Georgia and South Carolina but Fedora has done a solid job of keeping some of these players around.
For example, after missing out on top running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall after making the move from Southern Miss to UNC two years ago, Fedora did a better job this spring — inking Durham’s Khris Francis and Greensboro’s T.J. Logan.
Francis or Logan have yet to make the same impact for UNC in their first season as Gurley and Marshall did as freshmen for Georgia last year, but this could change Saturday as Logan may earn his first carries after sitting out the first four games with a knee injury.
Right now, the Tar Heels are 88th in scoring offense (25.3 ppg) and 93rd in scoring defense (32.5 ppg). Not numbers befitting a team which had ACC Championship aspirations in August.
Fedora knows he needs something, anything to create a spark for this team and Logan could fill that void.
Otherwise, Fedora could soon have the fan base turn its back on him.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.