Tar Heels' struggling defense gets 1 more shot
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) North Carolina's defense was a mess most of the season, giving up chunks of yardage and bunches of points to turn nearly every game into a shootout.
The Tar Heels get a bowl game to salvage something positive for that struggling unit, and they'll do it with a different coach leading the group.
UNC coach Larry Fedora said Monday that assistant Dan Disch will call the Quick Lane Bowl matchup against Rutgers in Detroit now that associate head coach for defense Vic Koenning has left the program.
''We still have to do things we know we can do and things our kids feel comfortable with,'' Fedora said during a news conference previewing the bowl. ''There will be some tweaks and adjustments and some things like that. Whether or not you'll see it from the naked eye, I don't know.''
Koenning had directed the 4-2-5 defense during Fedora's three seasons in Chapel Hill, but the Tar Heels (6-6) ranked among the nation's worst while giving up a program-record 467 points.
The low point was giving up program records of 70 points and 789 yards in a loss at East Carolina in September.
Fedora said he met with Koenning last week and they made a ''mutual decision'' that Koenning wouldn't coach in the bowl and instead would ''pursue some other college jobs and other opportunities out there.''
''I thanked him for everything that he has done for this program,'' Fedora said. ''He's a great man, a great family man, a great guy that cares about kids and does a good job coaching. I wish the best for him in the future.''
Disch has carried the title of defensive coordinator while working under Koenning. Disch, who also coaches cornerbacks, worked as defensive coordinator running a 4-2-5 scheme under Fedora at Southern Mississippi during the 2011 season before joining him at UNC.
''He's very energetic and he's a little out there,'' linebacker Jeff Schoettmer said of Disch. ''But it's something we need. He's more energetic than coach Vic, and he's more aggressive.
''In practice the other day, we did 2-minute drill and I think we blitzed five out of the six plays. So he's really wanting to get after the quarterback. He's got a lot of faith in his DBs just to hold up back there.''
Safety Tim Scott said the players didn't do a good job of playing with energy all season. The only game they did, he said, led to the team's best defensive performance in a win at Duke.
''The coaches can't play,'' Scott said. ''So as players, you just have to make sure that you're riled up for the games. And it has nothing to do with coaching, it's just effort.''
Fedora said he would consider a coach who prefers a 4-3 or 3-4 base scheme when he hires Koenning's permanent replacement, though he didn't have a timeline for that hire.
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