With superstar tailback Giovanni Bernard sidelined against Wake Forest, AJ Blue and Romar Morris took his place in the lineup and combined for 176 yards on 33 combined carries (Blue: 19/106/5.6, Morris: 14/70/5.0).
Head coach Larry Fedora couldn’t have been happier with the duo’s performance. Missing your best player and still coming up with 176 rushing yards and better than five yards per carry on the ground in outstanding. Fedora said before the season that despite having the ultra talented Bernard, both Blue and Morris would see playing time and carries this season for the Tar Heels.
Blue and Morris bring different skill sets to the table. Blue is more of a North-South runner who does his best work between the tackles picking up tough yardage. Morris is a speedster and thrives when he can bounce the ball to the outside and utilize his speed to pick up yardage.
Fedora went with Blue early and often and we didn’t see much of Morris until the second half which surprised me a bit. I like both these RBs but Morris just seems to be more of a threat in my eyes. His speed and elusiveness on the outside give the Tar Heels a homerun threat each and every time he touches the football.
If Bernards injury forces him to miss anymore time, Fedora would be wise to mix the two players up a little more. It’s great to see Blue come alive for UNC this season after the redshirt juniors rough experience thus far in Chapel Hill that has included an ACL injury.
The running back position may just be the most talented and deep positional group on UNCs roster, especially with a healthy Giovanni Bernard. With the wide receiver group being one of the more vulnerable units on the team, I’d like to see Fedora take Bernards versatility to another level. He already has Bernard returning punts and we saw him split Gio out wide on several occasions in the season opener against Elon. Now that Blue and Morris have shown they can get the job done, finding ways to get more than one of these talented backs on the field at once would provide a dangerous look for opposing defenses.
As good as they are, the Heels are at their best when Bernard is in the lineup and getting the bulk of the carries for Carolina. Based on Fedoras comments on Bernards situation after the Wake game, I expect that Gio will play this Saturday against Louisville, but then again, that’s what we all expected against Wake.