CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Larry Fedora kicked his feet up on his desk and leaned back Wednesday. He sounded as serene as he looked. The third-year North Carolina coach is currently judging a quarterback derby, but he doesn’t seem too concerned about when the public learns the starter's identity. He has an offensive line that learned some harsh lessons last year and came out stronger because of it. He has a freshman tailback who squatted 605 pounds this summer and could probably have done more. He has a receiver/return man who seems to be organizing his own Heisman Trophy campaign -- and who may have a point.
And let’s face it. If you had a six-pack like that at age 51, you would be pretty confident, too.
North Carolina is the trendy pick in the ACC Coastal Division this fall for several reasons. First, Fedora is choosing between a pair of quarterbacks whose skill sets allow him to run the full version of the offense he ran as the coordinator at Oklahoma State and the head coach at Southern Miss. We know what fourth-year junior Marquise Williams can do. He led the Tar Heels to a 4-2 record as a starter last season in relief of the injured Bryn Renner. The wild card is redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky, a Mentor, Ohio, native who will try to overcome Williams’ significant experience advantage. Second, the quarterback who wins the job will have his field position set by Ryan Switzer, who will return punts and line up at slot receiver. Switzer, a sophomore from Charleston, W.Va., was one of the nation’s most electrifying players as a freshman, returning five punts for touchdowns in the team's final five games. Third, North Carolina plays only one of the beasts of the Atlantic Division. The Tar Heels don’t get defending national champ Florida State, but they do visit Clemson on Sept. 27. (The Tigers will be coming off a game in Tallahassee the previous week.)
Fedora and company still must overcome defending division champ Duke, Miami and Virginia Tech to win the division, but they have the raw materials. Fedora sat down for a podcast interview and spoke at length about his team’s 2013 moment of truth, Switzer’s brashness and the six-pack that is the envy of the ACC.
Give it a listen …