Takeaways From North Carolina Tar Heels Spring Game


Nov 9, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora reacts in the first quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As the North Carolina Tar Heels wrapped up their spring practice season on Saturday, Tar Heel fans were treated to a 38-17 Carolina victory. Its hard to take too much away from the spring game, because the roster is halved, depth is lacking on both teams and thus the play isn’t as crisp as it is in the fall. With that being said, North Carolina’s coaching staff still has 60 minutes of game tape to analysis and dissect over the summer.

Fans will be most interested to hear about the quarterback battle between Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky. The two QBs posted similar stats on Saturday…

and neither one really asserted themselves as a clear choice for starting quarterback. Its going to take a summer’s worth of evaluations by the coaching staff and most likely a good chunk of fall practice before a starter is named for the Tar Heels.

Other players stepped up on Saturday and asserted themselves into the rotations for the fall. True freshman MJ Stewart, fresh out of Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia, had himself a great game. The cornerback had six tackles, two pass breakups and an interception. Coach Fedora was singing many praises of Stewart after the game and rightfully so.

Two other defensive standouts were Justin Thompson, who had two sacks from the defensive end position, and Sam Smiley, who missed all of last season with injury. Thompson is one of a few players tasked with replacing the production of Kareem Martin, and his spring game performance bodes well for a productive season in the fall. Smiley had 11 tackles and threw his name into the ring of the talents that North Carolina has building up in the secondary.

A couple of final notes from the spring game
– The crowd at the spring game was pretty solid for a Saturday afternoon in April. UNC does a good job of marketing the event and combined the game with a science fest and other UNC sporting events to make the spring football game not just a game, but a day’s work of activities. The pregame autograph session and tailgate in the newly built plaza were also nice.
– I saw Marcus Paige, Kennedy Meeks, Nate Britt and Brice Johnson at the game Saturday. They came up and sat a couple of seats next to me in the endzone, in the shade and away from the crowds. Its good to see the Carolina student-athletes all supporting each other at their various events.
– I would say overall, Marquise Williams had a good day. But his first interception was a really bad throw and decision. If you remember, he was rolling out to his right and threw a pass right into the waiting hands of cornerback MJ Stewart. It was one of Marquise’s worst decisions of the afternoon and unfortunately gave me back flashbacks of the interception that ended the Duke game back in November.
– Elijah Hood looked as good as advertised on Saturday afternoon, despite the fact that he didn’t put up many stats. When he did get the ball, he was explosive and hard to tackle. His first catch and run brought a nice cheer from the Carolina faithful, and it is going to be hard for the coaching staff to keep him off the field this fall. I also noticed he was running with the first team offensive more than I thought he would to start the game. In the first half, Trubisky mostly worked with Charles Brunson and Khris Francis.

Hood’s talent is going to be a great asset next season, but the challenge for the Tar Heel coaching staff is finding a way to use all five running backs effectively.