UNC Football: Red Zone Riddle


Touchdowns in the Red Zone seems simple but it is an equation that is the difference in this UNC team being 8-0 and 5-3. In all three of its loses this year UNC has had opportunities in the red zone and it has either come away with 3 points or nothing. It has even been a problem in a couple of its wins. ECU and Miami come to mind fairly quickly. Going into the season it was big concern for me as well as there are tons of metrics that show that spread offenses often struggle in the Red Zone. The question is why is UNC struggling so much?

Oct 6, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Sean Tapley (6) cathces a touchdown pass as Virginia Tech Hokies safety Detrick Bonner (8) and safety Michael Cole (2) defend in the third quarter. The Tar Heels defeated the Hokies 48-34 at Kenan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

First and foremost STOP RUNNING THE READ OPTION WITH BRYN RENNER. This is the last possible thing that needs to be in the Red Zone play book if Bryn Renner is under center. It doesn’t cater to ANY of his strengths and shows his one big weakness. If the coaching staff is set on running the read option in the red zone Marquise Williams needs to be in the game. He has proven he can effectively move the ball especially with his wheels. With that said Bryn Renner is and should be the QB but the read option has to go if UNC is going to be successful in the Red Zone.

Second YOU HAVE THE BEST RUNNING BACK IN THE ACC and one of the tops in the nation. When he is picking up 5, 6, 7 yards a carry over and over again don’t put yourself “behind schedule by throwing on first down in the Red Zone. I have all the confidence in the world that if Gio gets the ball three times that the yards gained will add up to 10. Gio has a nose for the end zone so he has to get the ball. WR screens and RB screens haven’t been working. Holding calls and the slow developing nature of the play with 6 or 7 yards to go to the end zone when the opposing defensive is severely condensed has meant the death of more than one UNC drive this year.

Third Romar Morris HAS TO BE IN THE GAME either paired with Gio in the backfield or out in the slot. He has too much speed and too much talent to continually get buried in the Red Zone offensive depth chart (To be buried on the regular depth chart for that matter). In the area where your offense is struggling the most you need your most dynamic players on the field. That means Romar has to be in the game.  Defenses have to account for him and if they have to account for him along with Gio, Erik, and Eric someone is going to find some room in a part of the field where space is at a premium.

Finally Bryn Renner MUST GET BETTER WITH HIS THROWS in the Red Zone. Eric Ebron should ALWAYS be an option on passing plays in the Red Zone. On his throws to the outside Bryn has to be far far more accurate. Too many times and over and over again in the Duke and Wake games he threw the ball so far wide that it was simply uncatchable. Eric and Erik have plenty of talent and if Bryn gives them a chance to catch the ball and they don’t get their helmet ripped off by the defender they will catch it. Bryn has to stick with his gut, not hold the ball too long and make throws that give his talented skill players a change to go up and make a play.

I expect in the next couple of weeks will will see at least one of the things I have mentioned above happen. Obviously I believe they all need to happen for UNC to be truly impressive in the Red Zone. One thing I didn’t mention because I believe it goes
without saying is that PENALTIES IN THE RED ZONE JUST CAN’T CONTINUE TO OCCUR. The bottom line with UNC’s Red Zone troubles is that Heel fans need to see an improvement to 100% buy into this new offense and the Tar Heel football team needs to improve in order to get to 9-3 (which is very possible and though it isn’t eligible for the ACCCG it would also put them in position to win the Coastal Division which was one of the team’s stated goals).