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After big debut, Tar Heels ready for next step

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina's players proved they have a good handle on Larry Fedora's schemes in an easy season-opening victory. The Tar Heels will have to accomplish more this week to impress their new coach in their first Atlantic Coast Conference game at Wake Forest.

Fedora said Monday he was pleased with his players' focus and attention to detail in the 62-0 win against FCS opponent Elon. Now, with his players having experience running a slimmed-down game plan, Fedora wants to see them moving faster and accomplishing more.

"We only get 12 (games), right?" Fedora said. "And this is No. 2. It'll all be over with before you know it. Even though we're at the beginning of the season, there's got to be a sense of urgency. This is the next step."

Fedora didn't have much to complain about from the opener, which was the first time the Tar Heels ran his no-huddle spread offense and 4-2-5 defense.

UNC had its best scoring output in 17 years and came within three points of tying the program record. They had three penalties and two turnovers. They had 524 total yards and 14 players catch at least one pass, though all that production came against an overmatched team from a lower division.

The Tar Heels didn't face any real adversity against Elon outside of a minor knee injury to tailback Gio Bernard, who had three touchdowns by the 12-minute mark of the second quarter before leaving before halftime of the blowout.

Fedora said afterward that Bernard could've returned if necessary. On Monday, Bernard said he was held out as a precaution and that he'll be ready for the Demon Deacons (1-0).

Quarterback Bryn Renner, who left the game early in the third with the Tar Heels leading 48-0, said he expects the coaches to add more to the game plan this week for an ACC opponent. And the coaches are already pushing him to direct the offense at a faster tempo.

Fedora's goal is to get about 80 snaps per game, and UNC got 74 even after slowing things down in the third with the game in hand. Still, Renner heard plenty from Fedora and offensive coordinator Blake Anderson for being too slow running a play after officials had spotted the ball.

"In practice we don't move the ball," Renner said. "If we hit a long play, it's going to come right back to the spot, so I kind of just stand there. I got caught looking a couple of times and that got exploited on film from Coach Fedora and from Coach Anderson, so I got an earful. I won't let that happen again.

"It's like fast-break offense. We've got to get up and call the next play. That starts with me. I can't be a spectator. I might as well just buy a ticket."

Coaching demands aside, the Tar Heels know the Elon game gave them a foundation to build on for the rest of the season.

"For me and I know for a lot of guys on the team, we just wanted to run this against somebody else," Bernard said. "We wanted to show everybody what we've been working on. This is the machine we've been trying to build this entire time. ... It was great to get out there and show everybody what we've been doing and now we need to capitalize on that."