football Edit

Fall Camp Report, Practice 8: Offense (J.J. Jones & Morales)

This is the last day UNC fans can sign up and be Tar Heels INSIDERS for all of August for FREE!
This is the last day UNC fans can sign up and be Tar Heels INSIDERS for all of August for FREE! (THI)

CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina held its eighth practice of fall camp Saturday morning inside Kenan Stadium, this being the Tar Heels’ first scrimmage of the preseason.

Carolina first donned full pads for half of its practice Thursday, but was back in shoulder pads and helmets Friday. Saturday was full-on everything.

Afterward, two offensive Tar Heels met with the media inside the Kenan Football Center to field questions about their personal games, position groups, the team’s mentality, and much more. So below are full videos plus some notes and pulled quotes from what sophomore wide receiver J.J. Jones and senior tight end Kamari Morales had to say:

Note: Tar Heels have four more practices before breaking camp and getting settled for classes, and then practice two more times before classes start August 15.

J.J. Jones


Jones played in one game before UNC’s loss at Notre Dame on Oct. 30, and then he saw action in the rest of the Tar Heels’ contests. Overall, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound native of Myrtle Beach caught four passes for 67 yards with a long of 46 yards. He played 62 offensive snaps, and was targeted six times with passes.

*Among the many things players must adjust to going from high school to college football at the ACC level is the speed and physicality of the game. At wide receiver, part of that is learning how to get separation from defensive backs or whoever is in coverage. This applies to short stuff as well as downfield. Jones says that is an area in which he has made significant progress.

“I’d say the biggest thing for me was mainly working in the offseason on creating separation,” Jones said. “That was the big thing most of the receivers in our room tried to work on throughout last season. But creating separation and being more a technician route-runner is something I really worked on, and I feel like I improved on.”

*Getting separation is often the difference between not catching a pass and grabbing it, and at times it’s the difference between not catching and nabbing the ball before racing for a big gain. Separation can mean inches, and inches are vital for receivers.

“Leverage, reading the defenses,” Jones said. “It’s more a mind game. If you go out there and you understand what the defense is playing, it makes things a whole lot easier.”

*All athletes have that moment, be it in a game or practice, when they realize something that was once quite difficult isn’t any longer. They see their work pay off because they can handle whatever it was that challenged them. Jones had one of those moments with respect to effectively gaining separation.

“I’d probably say the beginning of this fall camp, just understanding it more,” Jones said. “I thought I had a pretty good spring, but there were some things I needed to work on, and over the summer, I was learning about defenses, their coverage, how the safety will roll, (and) things like that.

“So, I feel like this past two weeks has been really good for me in terms of just learning how defenses play me and all of the other receivers.”

*And as a result, he’s playing looser.

“Yeah,” Jones said. “I feel like I’m playing way looser, way faster, and being able to, like (wide receivers) Coach (Lonnie) Galloway always says, ‘If you bring in a 4.3 guy and make things hard for him, they become a 4.8 guy.’ Now, things are easy for me. I can play to my speed, which makes things a whole lot easier.”

Kamari Morales

Kamari Morales took over the tight end position last season, passing by veteran Garrett Walston, as Morales played 412 snaps, more than anyone else in that position group for the Tar Heels. At 6-foot-3, and 245 pounds, Morales will again be a big part of Carolina’s offense.

Last fall, he had 24 receptions for 220 yards and five touchdowns. For his career, Morales has 27 catches for 245 yards and six touchdowns, and has played 619 offensive snaps.

*Offensive coordinator Phil Longo said Friday the tight end position is the only one offensively in which the staff truly knows what it has and can count on. Along with Morales, the room has highly talented sophomore Bryson Nesbit and third-year sophomore John Copenhaver, both of whom can run routes and catch passes. Morales said the group is planning on being a very big part of what the Tar Heels do this season.

“Ultimately, I just want to see production both in the passing game and the running game,” Morales said. “We know we’re a big focal point on the offense. We help make the offense go, whether it’s in the passing game or the running game.

“I think we saw that a little bit last year, and I think we have a lot of guys that can play in the room, so that’s definitely going to help us moving forward.”

*Bryson Nesbit generated a great deal of hype in the spring, especially when he lined up some in the slot position. Morales sees the staff taking advantage of Nesbit’s athletic ability.

“Trying to get a flex-out a whole lot more, trying to go a little more two-tight set,” Morales said. “We’re just trying to get all the athletes on the field at the same time, create matchups.”

*Most UNC fans know about Morales and Nesbit, but Copenhaver is a player to keep an eye on. He got some snaps last season in certain situations, but he could get on the field more this fall.

“John is someone who is hungry,” Morales said. “He has always been hungry since the day he got here. He works hard. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves per se, maybe from the media, but I know within this building he has a lot of respect from his peers and coaches.

"And he continues to get better every day and develop, and I’m very excited to see how he can help us this year as well.”