Twelve months ago, UNC’s offensive players struggled at times during post-practice interviews to catch their breath while adjusting to head coach Larry Fedora’s frantic pace. The Tar Heels eventually adjusted during the season, but have encountered even more demands of up-tempo play through the first 10 days of spring ball.
After all, there’s a reason UNC’s tag line this season is “Go Faster.”
The coaching staff has instituted some changes across the board to allow for increased tempo, including transition adjustments between plays, according to Anderson.
While Anderson and Fedora only installed about 70 percent of the playbook last season, there’s been no rush to increase the workload.
“We actually took some things out and then we added some things,” Fedora said on Wednesday. “We’re always tweaking things trying to add things we think can help us… Our personnel is different than it was last year, so we’ve taken out a few things that we don’t feel like we’ll be successful with and we’ve added a couple of things we think can enhance the offense.”
Part of the reason is a depleted roster due to graduations as well as a new crop of freshmen enrolling over the summer. Along with playing faster, the emphasis this spring has been increasing reps and thereby building depth.
“We’ve got a lot of new guys that need reps, just base reps, to learn the system,” Anderson said. “… We’re running what we run, so they’re getting a good look at it. They’ll get good looks at it all summer on their own and hopefully by the end of fall camp, some of these new guys will have had enough reps where they can be productive come Game One.”
The key component to UNC’s offense is returning starter Bryn Renner at quarterback. The fifth-year senior struggled early adjusting to the spread look last spring before exploding over the second half of the season. Anderson indicated that Renner started spring ball above where he finished the season, so the staff has added “a few more things” to his plate in terms of decision-making.
It helps that Renner is a quick learner.
“Typically, we’ll make a mistake on the field in practice, we learn from it and he doesn’t make that same mistake again,” Anderson said.
The second-year UNC offensive coordinator also discussed two of his other position groups.
On the running backs: “It’s been a little bit of a carousel. Every day a different guy has a good day. [A.J.] Blue started out really well and then Romar [Morris] picked up the slack. Khris Francis has had a couple of really good practices. It’s going to be by committee. Obviously, it’s going to take all of those guys to fill the holes.”
On the offensive line: “I would say they’ve had the toughest job of anybody in the sense that we don’t let them go through anything slowly. They’re getting a ton of movement up front. So I would say that’s probably been the slowest part.”
Regarding the offensive line, Anderson added that, similar to the running back position, every day a different player steps up and another takes a step back.
“It’s still a work in progress, but there is improvement on a daily basis, which is really all you can ask at this point,” Anderson said.
North Carolina’s offense scored 86 points in its first scrimmage of the spring last Thursday and will look to improve on that performance Friday night at Grimsley High School in Greensboro.