UNC head coach Butch Davis confirmed Monday morning at his weekly press conference that senior tight end Zack Pianalto is out for the remainder of the regular season with a broken leg.
"He has a fractured fibula and he will be out for the season," Davis said.
"It's really a shame. He is such a terrific kid. There's almost nobody in this program that puts more heart and soul into playing and preparing and practicing and goes out there and plays as hard as he (Pianalto) does."
Through six games, Pianalto was leading the Tar Heels with 30 receptions and 311 receiving yards. He scored one touchdown and recorded his season-long reception of 46 yards Saturday at Virginia.
Pianalto currently ranks fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in receptions per game with five.
"It's certainly a loss for this football team," said Davis. "He's our leading receiver this year---both in yards and receptions---so I think that speaks to how valuable that individual is to this particular offense."
The Tar Heels have been 14-5 with Pianalto in the lineup going back to 2008, but they're 6-7 without him.
UNC will have to try and see what they can get out of seniors Ed Barham and Ryan Taylor while also exploring the possibility of some different offensive formations to account for Pianalto's absence.
"We've got to try to find a way to manufacture catches and yards from somebody else," Davis said. "We'll just try to see who we can add and if we're even going to stay with those kinds of personnel groupings. We may go four wide receivers this week."
Davis wouldn't comment on the remote possibility of Pianalto returning to a possible bowl game in late December or early January.
"I don't know right now. I don't know how long it takes bones to mend," Davis said.