UNC Football: “Fed Ex” Scheduled to Deliver Sooner Rather than Later


Some people in the UNC community were not over thrilled with new head coach Larry Fedora’s overall record of 33-19 at Southern Miss that included this year’s 13-1 Conference USA Championship.   Coach Fedora is stepping into an entirely different situation at UNC. Although NCAA infractions loom over the Tar Heels the team is in better shape than the team he inherited at Southern Miss.  The Golden Eagles were coming off a 7-6 season and the resignation of long term Coach Bower.  It took Fedora two years to recruit players to fit his style of play and fans saw the dividends this past season.

Spring football is around the corner and when the Tar Heels put the pads on he is going to have some pieces already in place to make his offense a hit the moment the Heels take the field this fall.  Returning QB Bryn Renner has a year of experience and while some may think his transition will be a rocky one to the new offense they should also take note he played in the spread in high school.   Talented back up Marquise Williams will also compete for playing time as will incoming freshman James Summers.   With an experienced quarterback that understands the importance of preparation you can believe the work will be done to make this transition as much as one can hope for.

Add to the mix that Fedora will have an offensive toy in Gio Bernard that most coaches dream of and his production of 1252 yards rushing along with 342 yards receiving as a redshirt freshman has the potential to be an explosive back similar to the ones Oregon has had the past several years.  The high tempo “Fed Ex” offense is going to not only put Bernard in more mismatches on linebackers and safeties, but he will take less big hits than he did out of the pro set.  While running backs Travis Riley, AJ Blue and Romar Morris may see an increase in carries it will be Bernard that Coach Fedora will lean on to help keep the pass rush honest.

The Tar Heel wide outs will be looking to replace senior Dwight Jones and there is talent in the group that needs to emerge.  Erik Highsmith when healthy looks as though he can be a number one receiver, but consistency has troubled the rising senior. Josh Adams came in with high praise from Coach butch Davis, but injuries have slowed the redshirt sophomore.  He has the physical tools and if he is placed in the right situations look for Adams to have a break out year.  The biggest head scratcher in this group is Jheranie Boyd. The rising senior exploded on national TV against LSU in Atlanta, but has not demonstrated that player since.  His blazing speed is impressive, but inconsistant route running and getting pushed around physically has plagued him.  TJ Thorpe is the player to watch next year.  Thorpe showed promise of Brandon Tate like special teams returns, and demonstrated good route running with the explosiveness to separate himself from college defensive backs.  Thorpe will be used in a variety of ways this fall and could become Renner’s go to receiver.

The tight end position is a mystery to me as spring football approaches.  The Tar Heels are talented with Eric Ebron and Jack Tabb, but we will have to wait and see how they will be used.  I can see Ebron lining up in the slot position to place pressure on linebackers to cover him in space which will create more holes for the run and screen game.

With the weapons Coach fedora has at QB and Running back along with an experienced offensive line I expect the offense to come out of the gates firing this fall.  The concerns for the Tar Heels are primarily on the defensive side where they will have to replace Zach Brown, Charles Brown, Quinton Coples, Tydreke Powell, early departure Donte Paige Moss and Captain Matt Merletti.  If the new defensive scheme can help get the Tar Heels off the field on third down, UNC was ranked 95th in the nation at 44.85%, the offense will have more possessions to try and score.  On the same token UNC was 64th in nation converting 40.51% of third downs.  If these two categories show improvement and the Tar Heels have a few lucky breaks the Tar Heels can improve on their 7-6 record from 2011.

The UNC spring game is set for April 14, 2012 at 3:00pm.  This is a great chance for all Tar Heel fans to come out and see how the coaching staff is implementing the new offense, and to see how some the young players are developing before an exciting fall.  After focusing on the cloud of the NCAA investigation for the past two years this Tar Heel fan is excited to see something different.

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