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October 31, 2012

Larry Fedora

COACH FEDORA:  Our football team is welcoming this open week, and a much‑needed open week after 13 straight weeks of practices.  So it will enable us to get some guys healed up and also work on some fundamentals that we need to improve on.  So hopefully we'll be a better team coming out of this open week.

Q.  In your estimation, what is it that makes Eric Ebron so tough for defenses to cover?
COACH FEDORA:  Well, one, he has great speed for a guy that's 245 pounds.  He can run routes like a wide receiver.  He not only uses the defensive back's leverage, but he understands how to break the leverage down and take advantage of it.  Then he's a big bodied guy that knows how to use his body.  So he's definitely a weapon for us all over the field.

Q.  Just to follow up, it seems like there's been a lot of big moments and then a couple of moments where I don't know if concentration is an issue or consistency.  What is the next step to him getting even better?
COACH FEDORA:  Well, I think he's still a young player.  You've got to improve each and every day.  So what we need Eric to do is become more consistent.  He's got the ability, and we put a lot on his plate this last week.  He was also playing defense, he's involved in our special teams and he was playing offense.
So I knew going into the game that he was probably going to have some problems offensively because we're asking him to do so much, and it did.  He had a couple of drop passes that he doesn't normally have.  This week of fundamental work will really be good for him.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about the two‑point conversion Saturday.  Is that something you call from the sidelines before the kick?
COACH FEDORA:  Which one?

Q.  Both of them.
COACH FEDORA:  No, the second one was a bottle snap.  It's something that you work on every week.  Didn't handle the snap correctly.  We have a designed play if that happens.  Our guys executed that play, but the first one was cold, yes.

Q.  Was it something you saw on film and you felt like you could exploit?
COACH FEDORA:  We just felt the way they had aligned to the look we had given, we'd be able to take advantage of something.  So if you notice we lined up the first time, and that was basically to get a feel for what they were going to try to do against it.  Once we saw what we wanted, we could take advantage of it.

Q.  Although your guys can't go to Charlotte for the championship game, how important would it be for them to finish first in your division which you could certainly do?
COACH FEDORA:  Well, first of all, we've never done it here so that was our number one goal going into the season was to win the Coastal division.  Whether or not we're recognized or not, I mean, it's still about our football team and what we and what our goals are and what we can accomplish.  So we can't worry about what happened outside.  It has nothing to do with this football team right now.  So that was a goal.
It's something that's still very, very important to us.  It is a thing that our guys are taking a tremendous amount of pride in right now.

Q.  I'm curious with the off week how you handle that?  How many days do you give them off?  Do you work them a little harder this week in the middle of the week knowing you have another week to get ready?
COACH FEDORA:  Yeah, a lot of it depends on when your open week falls in your season and what's going on.  This is late in the season for us.  13 weeks straight of practices since August 2nd.  For me, we worked Sunday night with normal practice, and we came back and worked out on Monday which we don't ever do, because we weren't game planning on Monday.
So we've got some fundamental work and conditioning.  But more work with our seconds and our other guys who are red shirting, to get some good work with them.  Then Tuesday more of a practice, and still concentrating on our twos and our other guys.  We had about an hour scrimmage for our guys that are not playing.
Today we'll dedicate the entire day to Georgia Tech to get a jump there.  And then they'll have Thursday and Friday and I say that, but they're going to lift and get some conditioning in on Thursday, and they'll be off Friday and Saturday.  Then we'll come back and go to work on Sunday.
It's about for me at this point in the season, with these guys and the way it is about getting guys healed up that need to get healed up that we're going to need down the stretch.  It was also continuing to develop the depth that we have in the season.  Because a lot of those guys have played for us.  They played for us and they've done well.  So we need them to keep coming on.

Q.  How big an advantage is it to have an extra week with Georgia Tech and their offense is a little different?
COACH FEDORA:  Yeah, no doubt.  If you asked every coach they would all like to have an extra week for Georgia Tech's offense.  It's definitely difficult to try to get ready for and defend in two days on a Tuesday/Wednesday or two days and a week.  So hopefully these extra days will help us a little bit.

Q.  I'm sure you've discussed this at length with the media down there.  But over the course of your career, how much have you used a primary ball carrier as a punt returner?  Obviously, great success with Bernard this year doing that.
COACH FEDORA:  Actually this is the first time.  Never in the past have I had a guy that had those same kind of skills.  So that was a nice thing that Gio was able to bring to the table.  But I've never actually had that opportunity in the past.
There were some circumstances around Gio getting into that position during camp.  He showed that‑‑ my thought process, never did he say I'm a punt returner.  It was just when we had a situation with T.J. Thorpe and Reggie Wilkins, from there it became, okay, if I've got to put the ball in somebody's hands out in open field, who do I want it in?  And said, okay, can you catch punts?  Then we went from there.

Q.  You don't see that a lot through college football.  Do you think there is any reluctance to put your main ball carrier in that role because of the injuries that occur on special teams?
COACH FEDORA:  That guy takes a lot of hits, usually, in a season.  But if you look at Gio and what's happened this year, he's only played 370‑something snaps and 34 of those have been on special teams.  So he's had 340 offensive snaps, and Gio is a kind of runner.  Gio is able to evade most of those blows.
So is there a concern?  Maybe.  From me, special teams is just as important as anything else we do.  That's our philosophy here.  So it was never really a concern about injuries for me, no.

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