GREENSBORO, N.C. -- North Carolina’s defense in recent years has been about names. Names like Marvin Austin, Quinton Coples and Zach Brown.
“It’s not about those guys anymore,” said linebacker Kevin Reddick. “It’s more about the Carolina defense.”
As simple as it sounds, that’s a transformation even bigger than the change in scheme under first-year coach Larry Fedora. Everything is new in Chapel Hill, including the attitude of the defense, which returns only five starters. When former players like Austin were on the roster, a line was blurred between the NFL and Carolina football. The lure of the next level was too much for some to ignore, and everyone within the program paid the price for it.
Is egocentric the right word?
“I would use that word,” Reddick said. “I think it was a little bit. A lot of guys liked the hype of the names, being singled out. I think that was a problem at times. Now it’s more of a team I feel like.”
Reddick was very candid in his recent interview session with reporters at ACC media days, and he said in the past, some players would go so far as to miss workouts.
Not this year. Fedora, who has an energetic, engaging personality, can apparently also lay down the law.
“We’ve had guys miss workouts every day or just cats not wanting to come and work out,” Reddick said. “Now we don’t have that anymore. Everybody is there, everyone is one time. Coaches put fear in you, and that’s a good thing when your coaches put fear in you and your players put fear in you, not wanting to miss a workout or whatever because of the consequences. It’s a good thing for the fear, but it’s another good thing that you want to be there, not only do you not want to miss because of consequences, but I know we’re tired of going 7-5, 8-5 -- whatever the records have been."
It was 7-6 last year, and that included an ugly 41-24 loss to Missouri in the Independence Bowl.
“I know they’re tired of that,” Reddick said. “A lot of guys are showing up to workouts and grinding. It looks like a football team. Not saying we didn’t look like a football team. But it’s different. We had a lot of individual name people in previous years. Now, we’re just a team.”