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July 31, 2012Trying to get to know a new offense, defense and coaching staff has literally been a whirlwind experience for the North Carolina football team.
Junior quarterback Bryn Renner said that the Tar Heels embraced the change from the start and have set about trying to do all they could to maximize their learning this summer.
Fifteen spring practices did not provide much time with the system or the coaches. Renner said the players knew they had to start with conditioning after witnessing the physical demands first hand in the spring.
"Everybody went to our strength coach after spring ball and said, 'We need to run more,'" Renner said.
Strength and conditioning coach Lou Hernandez was more than happy to comply.
The result has been a team that is not only getting in better shape to run the fast-paced spread offense, but a more well-drilled club that is better prepared for the beginning summer camp Thursday.
Players report Thursday and begin working out on Friday. Fans will get a chance to see the team on "Meet the Heels" day from 4-6 p.m. at Kenan Stadium on Saturday.
"We all got challenged in the spring," Renner said. "It wasn't the same spring we've been used to. That was great for our team. There is more energy around the team and where we're trying to go.
"It starts with head coach [Larry Fedora]," Renner said. "We walk around the facility, and he's the guy high-fiving and chest-bumping when you're walking by. It circulates through the team."
Renner said the team worked hard to run as many of the plays that the coaching staff had installed in the spring as possible this summer. The staff could not work with the players, but the leaders on the team took control, and Renner said the Tar Heels know much more now than when spring practice ended.
"The day after the spring game ended, we were all motivated to get better," Renner said. "We know we're not nearly where we need to be for Coach Fedora's standards, but everyone has the willingness to get better.
"I'm walking by the film room and seeing guys who I never saw in there before," Renner said. "Guys are doing extra reps in the weight room. The guys are very motivated. This is a clean slate for everybody, me included. It was a jump-start for the program.
"We're trying to prove something to ourselves," Renner said. "We want to have each other's back in the locker room. We want to support each other. I think we're all working for the same goal. When you have that and believe in each other, then we should be all right this season."
Fedora said that he believes his team has genuinely embraced the change and is eager to play football.
Now it is the job of the coaches to ensure the right players get put into the right places, he said.
"That is one of my biggest fears, that we may not have somebody in the right place," Fedora said, "or we may not take full advantage of somebody's skills because we don't know about them.
"That is something we challenge ourselves as coaches all the time, making sure we figure out what each and every young man can do and what they can't do. Then if you're a good football coach, you take your philosophy and you take your offense and defense and mold it around the talent you have.
"Whether they fit it doesn't matter," Fedora said. "It's whether we do a good job of molding the offense and defense around what they can do."
Senior linebacker Kevin Reddick probably said it best as far as how eager this group is.
"I'm very excited, excited to play in this new defense we have," Reddick said. "It's an attacking defense. They've got me coming from everywhere this season. It's going to be fun to see how it turns out. I'm just ready to play."