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September 18, 2013

Spreading the Wealth

Something looks a little different when watching UNC on the field this season---something just feels different as the Tar Heels prepare to head to Georgia Tech for Saturday's huge ACC Coastal Division game in Atlanta.

When one watches this team so far this season, one might get a sense of this team having a more balanced attack than last year.

Last week against Middle Tennessee State, the offense seemed to get back in rhythm for the most part and back to its high scoring offense, as they put up 40 points against the Blue Raiders last weekend after scoring just 10 points in the season opener against South Carolina.

Take a look at some early stats of the Tar Heel offense this fall, and one can see that the ball is being spread around more this year than in the first year under Larry Fedora.

Rushing Statistics

Romar Morris : 25 carries, 115 yards, 2 TD
A.J. Blue: 18 carries, 85 yards
Khris Francis: 10 carries, 42 yards
Marquise Williams: 3 carries, 12 yards

Receiving Statistics

Mark McNeil: 5 receptions, 99 yards (had only 71 total yards last season)
Sean Tapley: 6 receptions, 94 yards
Eric Ebron: 7 receptions, 92 yards
Quinshad Davis: 6 receptions, 57 yards, 2 TD
Jack Tabb: 3 receptions, 50 yards
Bug Howard: 3 receptions, 47 yards, 1 TD
Ryan Switzer: 6 receptions, 29 yards
Romar Morris: 4 receptions, 23 yards
A.J. Blue: 4 receptions, 20 yards
Kendrick Singleton: 1 receptions, 20 yards
T.J. Thorpe: 5 receptions, 17 yards

Looking at the stats so far this season, it seems that there is a little different philosophy this year.

Last year, with studs like Giovani Bernard and experienced playmakers like Erik Highsmith, it made sense to stick with certain personnel.

But this year, getting all the play makers involved and sharing the ball around the field, to whoever it may be, seems to be more of a priority. And it just might be something that could give UNC an edge on Saturday in Bobby Dodd Stadium.

When taking a glance at the running back position, the Tar Heels last year revolved mostly around Bernard of course, but now, Romar Morris has been the starting back, with A.J. Blue and Khris Francis providing a solid back field for the Tar Heels.

A glimpse of what could be for the future was on display last week, as each running back had 10 carries for 40-plus yards.

As a team, UNC combined for 134 yards on 41 carries.

The running backs will be depended on to move the offense this coming weekend against a team that certainly knows how to run against the Tar Heels themselves in Georgia Tech.

The one certain thing that hasn't changed from last year is at quarterback for UNC, with Bryn Renner leading the way again.

But Renner is averaging only 6.9 yards so far this year per attempt (compared to eight yards plus per pass the last two years).

Having 10 or more receivers with catches early in the season, Renner clearly has many more options this fall, as well as multiple fresh running backs on the field to move the ball.

It worked for the most part against Middle Tennessee, and could be a true positive down the road in getting all these receivers playing time and giving them a reps on Saturdays.

It shows that Renner has been developing relationships with his receiving corps, putting trust in them that they can make plays for the Tar Heels when the ball comes their way.

Of course, it is only the beginning of the season and certainly things could and will change with this offense, as they gel together and become a cohesive offensive attack on the field.

But this year's team may just do it a little different than last year's team; whether it is due to understanding the offense more, or simply executing better.

Either way, the Tar Heels will be looking to continue their improvement on the offensive side of the ball this week against the Yellow Jackets, knowing that they're likely going to have to out-score Georgia Tech as opposed to a low-scoring defensive struggle.

If the Heels can provide that balanced attack---becoming an even more well-rounded attack on the field and not just having two or three big time play makers---it certainly can be a resume for success for this year and for the future.


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