PINEHURST — The second and final day of the 2015 ACC Football Kickoff concluded Tuesday with interviews from the coaches of each ACC school. North Carolina coach Larry Fedora sat for an hour and answered questions ranging from potential NCAA sanctions to practice facility upgrades. Here are the highlights from Fedora and the rest of the league.
- Fedora said after last season he held a team meeting and asked every player to write on the board something they felt was bad or needed improvement. They found one of the biggest problems the team had last year was a lack of leadership and team chemistry, particularly on defense. This offseason, the team has engaged in leadership seminars and other team-building activities like paintball, while older players on the defense like linebackers Jeff Schoettmer and Shakeel Rashad have been challenged to shoulder a larger leadership burden.
- Fedora was asked multiple times about possible NCAA sanctions to the program. Fedora has been heard saying to recruits that the NCAA won’t touch the football program and added on Tuesday that he was positive about how the situation would turn out. Fedora also said he didn’t think the possible sanctions were the biggest factor in recruits’ decision whether or not to attend UNC.
- Hiring Gene Chizik as defensive coordinator has been the biggest storyline for the UNC football program this offseason and rightfully so. Chizik — a two-time national champion as both a coordinator and head coach with Texas and Auburn — was the top choice on Fedora’s list for defensive coordinator after the season. His resume, knowledge and experience have reenergized a Tar Heel defense that looked broken and defeated for much of last season.
- Clemson was picked to finish first in the Atlantic Division ahead of Florida State, with quarterback Deshaun Watson picked as the preseason player of the year. Georgia Tech was picked to top the Coastal Division, while UNC was picked to finish fifth. Quarterback Marquise Williams finished tied for sixth in the voting for preseason player of the year.
- Several graduate transfers are expected to make an impact in the ACC this season. Former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson could help Florida State replace Jameis Winston, while Georgia Tech is adding former Stanford fullback Patrick Skov, who’s older brother Shayne plays in the NFL. The NCAA allows graduate transfers to play immediately without sitting out a year, allowing them more flexibility on where they play.
- “We have six seniors on our whole football team. That’s the fewest since World War II. Seriously, since 1944.” — Dave Clawson, Wake Forest on why players like K.J. Brent and other graduate transfers will be an important part of their team this season.
- “There were a hundred something issues, some of them the same, some of them different, some of them abstract. We talked about every single one of them as a team, and how we felt like they impacted our team, and then we owned them.” Larry Fedora, North Carolina on the things players wrote down as problems during the Tar Heels’ team meeting after last season.
- “He’s the first guy, when a lineman makes a block, running over and jumping on his back. And he has those guys over to his apartment and he bakes for them and he writes them letters.” — Dave Doeren, North Carolina State on quarterback Jacoby Brissett’s relationship with his offensive line.
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