Turnover Woes Highlight Scrimmage

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Wet weather during North Carolina’s first scrimmage of training camp on Saturday aided in producing 10 ball-security miscues for the offense.

“It was sloppy in some areas,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora told reporters on Monday. “We had too many balls on the ground offensively, but then again, on the other side of the ball, the defense created some turnovers, which was a really good thing.”

The double-digit miscues were not isolated to a specific position. The issues spanned from center-quarterback exchanges to interceptions to running back fumbles, according to tailback T.J. Logan. There was even a wide receiver fumble after having the ball punched out.

How much of a factor the weather played is apparently a matter of personal opinion.

“We don’t want to make any excuses, but the balls were kind of wet,” junior wide receiver Quinshad Davis said. “They weren’t changing the balls out. They kept the wet balls in, so that was a big deal. But we’ve just got to be more responsible as an offensive unit. We know we can’t turn the ball over because that can lose games.”

Sophomore wide receiver Mack Hollins wasn’t willing to put the blame on the weather.

“I think it’s laziness,” Hollins said. “Got to hold onto the ball. That’s your job to hold onto the ball. If you get a 50-yard gain and then fumble the ball, it’s a worthless play. We’ve been doing a lot of ball security drills, but guys haven’t taken it seriously enough.

Regardless of the explanation, Logan stressed that the ball security issues are not acceptable.

“Any time you put the ball on the ground, you can definitely lose games,” Logan said. “The real problem is that we weren’t really respecting the ball like we should have been. We watched it on film and we saw that when we’re coming into contact, we need to cover it up with two hands. It’s something that can be fixed, but it’s definitely a big problem.”

The 10 miscues resulted in the offense having to run 10 over-and-backs (sprints across the 53 1/3-yard width of the field) after the scrimmage.

On a positive note, UNC’s offense reeled off several explosive plays in the running game.

“When we got clicking, I feel like we did very well,” Logan said. “The run game seemed very good. The passing game, I don’t know if it was iffy, but I feel like in the next scrimmage we’re going to pick up on that. But I feel like the run game was good and the O-line was creating some great holes.”

Fedora said the scrimmage confirmed what he already knew about his offensive line - that there’s not enough depth. Six underclassmen dot the two-deep without a senior on the list.

Regardless, offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic was relatively pleased with his unit’s production on Saturday.

“I would say it was a just above average performance,” Kapilovic said. “There was great effort. That was really big. There were very few missed assignments, so that was important. We actually had some really big, explosive running plays, which was good to see. We didn’t have many of those this spring and even last fall camp we struggled at times, so that was big.

“Now, the two offensive line, especially, gave up way too many lost yardage plays and sacks. That’s the one thing we do have to correct. Penalties, knock on wood, we were much better. We did have two, but we didn’t have all of the false starts and all of that, so hopefully we’re maturing and improving there.”

Fedora maintained his status quo approach to the quarterback battle between junior Marquise Williams and red-shirt freshman Mitch Trubisky. Standard protocol continued during the scrimmage as the duo alternated series with the ones and twos.

“Marquise is very comfortable with managing and moving the chains and all of the things we’re trying to do offensively,” Fedora said. “And I though Mitch did a nice job of running the offense, also. The nice thing is that there’s not really a change with the rest of the guys depending on who’s back there, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Various Tar Heels confirmed the smooth transition under center during the scrimmage.

“They both were doing their job,” Logan said. “They both can run the ball and that’s what a lot of people don’t understand about Mitch. They both can throw very well… They are definitely interchangeable.”

UNC’s next scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday.

 

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