It’s our least favorite week of the college football season. Bye week. The Tar Heels have hit their open date on the calendar one week after taking down arch rival NC State in one of the most emotionally charged games I’ve ever witnessed. Next up is Georgia Tech. This is a team that North Carolina has always fared better against after having an extra week of practice because the triple option attack the Yellow Jackets use is so tough to defend. Even after a big win, we cannot slow down and reflect because there are definitely things that Coach Fedora needs to address with his team.
Here are the three things that North Carolina needs to put the most focus on during their off week heading into the home stretch of the season.
1. Put more pressure on the quarterback.
Last week Mike Glennon watched a movie and read two books in the pocket on the way to a career passing day. The front four absolutely could not get past an offensive line that is no where close to being elite (no offense to the Wolfpack) and Glennon had all the time in the world to run his offense. The only guys that were able to get to Glennon at all were linebacker Kevin Reddick and Eric Ebron who is a tight end. When North Carolina plays Georgia Tech, Reddick will be tasked largely with spying the running backs out of the backfield and as much potential as Ebron may have on defense, I need my man to focus on catching passes for the offense. Do I expect the same type of struggles from the the front four two outings in a row? No I do not. Kareem Martin and Sylvester Williams are both studs and have too much talent for back to back off days. The one different challenge is that things happen a lot quicker in the backfield than they do in NC State’s pro style attack so our boys will need to be a lot quicker off the line after the snap.
2. Don’t give up the long pass.
I’m pretty sure this one is obvious. 80% of Mike Glennon’s touchdown passes a week ago were 30 yards or longer and that under no circumstances can that happen again. Georgia Tech won’t necessarily beat the Heels deep via the pass, but Carolina has a couple more games on the schedule where covering the pass will be a priority. I’ve been impressed with Jabari Price this season and Tim Scott is going to be a star before his time is done in Chapel Hill. However, the corners need more support from the safety position. Darien Rankin is showing some promise amongst his mistake , but is still just a freshman, Gene Robinson is still learning a new position in the defensive scheme, and Tre Boston came to North Carolina as a corner before moving to safety. I want to sympathize with the boys for being in new or newer roles, but guys like Boston and Robinson are too good and too experienced to get beat like that consistently over the course of a game. I don’t doubt the speed or the athletic ability of our boys in the secondary, but I think they really need to do a better job at reading the routs and formations of the opposing offense. I think if Fedora needs to really stress that this week and once it clicks, then we will see a lot more of the secondary that came to play against Miami and not NC State.
3. Hurry up the offense.
Coach Fedora brought the spread option offense to Chapel Hill, NC and for the most part, it has been successful. The Tar Heels are averaging just under 40 points a game in six wins so far this season, but I got to tell you, I think it’s going way to slowly. I don’t claim to be a football genius, but in my limited knowledge, I believe that the no huddle spread option offense is all about going fast fast fast, yet I feel like the offense is taking too much time to call the plays. I’m going to attest the issue to growing pains within the offense and Bryn Renner, to this point, is doing a great job leading this new born system, but I would like to see less audibles at the line of scrimmage and quicker snaps in order to catch the defense off center. This is especially important for the next game against the Yellow Jackets because their offense isn’t built to play from behind. It is crucial for the Heels to score quickly and consistently early on so that they get Georgia Tech out of the game plan and to do that the offense needs to move faster.
I hope North Carolina enjoys their week off. They completely deserve it after their last win, but there are clearly still some issues that need to be fine tuned. I’m confident that Coach Fedora and his staff will be able to effectively address them.