Beautiful weather and sunny spring skies can only mean one thing- its time for the UNC Spring Football game! North Carolina’s Spring game takes place this Saturday, and to get you ready, Keeping It Heel will have a position by position preview. Check back all week for more previews of other positions and of the game! Today we continue with the running backs.
Who is coming back?
Running back is UNC’s deepest position in 2014. The Tar Heels have four legitimate options at RB, and three of them are returning from last season. TJ Logan ran for over 500 yards in just nine games last season. He came on strong at the end of the year after sitting out the first four games with injury, running for 306 yards in his final three games. A 1000 yard season isn’t out of reach for TJ in 2014.
The two other returning options at running back are Romar Morris and Khris Francis. Morris will be the power or goal line back for next season, while Khris Francis will get his carries here and there while helping out in the passing game.
Who is new?
Elijah Hood was UNC’s most talented recruit of the 2014 class, and he enrolled early this spring to be able to learn the offense quicker. Hood is a big, powerful back at 6-0, 220 pounds. He has looked good in earlier scrimmages this spring in Charlotte and Greensboro. I’m not sure what Coach Fedora plans for Hood as far as playing time goes, however. Next fall, UNC has so many options at running back that it might be the best move to redshirt Hood and let him get an extra year of eligibility. However, Hood enrolled early to vie for playing time next season, and it will be hard to keep that kind of talent off the field next fall.
What areas should be improved this spring?
I want to see all four of UNC’s running backs work on their pass blocking this spring. UNC’s young offensive line will need all the help it can get from RBs next season. While the Tar Heel offense doesn’t feature a lot of traditional drop back passes by the quarterback, UNC still has to be able to pass block at the running back position.
Who wins the positional battle?
Next season, I see the running back rotation working out in this way: TJ Logan is the starter, Romar Morris is the red zone running back, Khris Francis is the third down back, and Elijah Hood is the wildcard. Logan will have the chance to rack up lots of yardage next season, while Romar could run for 10 touchdowns much like AJ Blue did in 2012. As I said earlier, I am still not sure how Elijah fits into the equation. He could end up factoring into the running back position late into the season, like Logan last year, if injuries or poor performance plague the Tar Heel backfield.
What number in particular should I be looking for on Saturday?
Number 34: Elijah Hood
Advance that video to the 2:17 mark, and then cover your eyes as Elijah Hood gets introduced to big time college football. I am really excited to see his power and explosiveness, but watch for if he can handle himself while blocking in the pass game, and running routes in the screen game. Hood is talented, but he has to continue to improve on pass blocking so he doesn’t get blown up in a game like he was in that video above.