CHAPEL HILL — After setting numerous program records in 2015, the North Carolina football offense could be even better this season.
Much better, according to North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, who felt like the Tar Heels left too many points on the field last season, despite finishing ninth nationally in scoring average at 40.7 points.
“You realize how many points we left on the table last year?" Fedora asked. "There was a bunch. When we went back and broke it down for all the players, and sat down and watched it, they can tell you. We can be a heck of a lot better than we were — a heck of a lot better.
“They know that, and this group hasn’t done anything yet, this offense hasn’t done a dang thing yet, so we’ve got a long way to go with it.”
After putting up video-game numbers last season, the Tar Heels don’t think Fedora is nitpicking.
“Most definitely, it bugs me a lot,” wide receiver Bug Howard said. “We left points in the South Carolina game, we lost that game. Baylor, the ACC game, we left a lot of points out there.”
Fedora isn’t wrong.
UNC ranked No. 18 nationally by converting 64 of 72 trips inside the 20-yard line into scores. But the Tar Heels occasionally had problems maximizing those possessions, scoring 48 touchdowns (66 percent), ranking No. 26 nationally.
The biggest culprit in keeping points off the board for the Tar Heels last season was suffering a devastating turnover at the worst moment. UNC threw interceptions seven times on drives into the opponents' end.
The Tar Heels twice fumbled away scoring opportunities inside opponents’ 35-yard lines. Four times, UNC was unable to get in the end zone with possession inside the opponents’ 10.
Offensive coordinator Chris Kapilovic, who is also the offensive line coach, said fixing those mistakes is the top priority.
The Tar Heels ranked No. 51 nationally with 19 turnovers but were aided by a defense that created 26 of its own.
“In my mind, we had too many turnovers,” he said. “We can’t turn the ball over. Our No. 1 rule on offense is 100 percent ball security. If we don’t turn the ball over, we’re going to have a chance to win every game, and they know that and understand that, so that’s a huge focus for us.”
The other focus is spending extra time on the details that can make a punt into a first down or turn a field goal into a touchdown.
“This year, we’re more focused on the little things,” Howard said. “We let a few things go last season; maybe a missed assignment here, maybe not enough depth on a route here, maybe not slipping a DB. Just little things we need to start paying attention to more and start executing the play better.”
Meanwhile, Fedora knows he’s in pursuit of something that isn’t possible on a football field, but another step toward it could mean for another historic season for the Tar Heels.
“It’s frustrating for me, to know you’re leaving things out there,” Fedora said. “I’m looking for perfection every snap, and so you’re obviously not going to have perfection on many snaps, so that’s a very frustrating process for me that I’ve had to learn to live with, and it’s difficult.
“You’re always striving for perfection on every single play and every play is designed, that if you do everything you can do and you do it perfect, you have an opportunity to score.”