UNC Football: 10 Things We Learned from the Tar Heels' Win vs. Virginia
After getting scorched for 68 points and taking a tough loss to Georgia Tech last week, UNC recovered nicely with a solid thumping of their old rivals, Virginia.
Bryn Renner played a nearly flawless game, and after relinquishing a first quarter TD, the Tar Heels defense dominated the Cavs. Giovanni Bernard had one of his least productive games, but with the passing game clicking on all cylinders, there really was no need for his services.
It's obvious that Fedora's scheme is sinking into this offense and they looked scary tonight. With such a solid game all around, there's plenty of things to take from this blowout and UNC fans should be feeling good heading into their final game against Maryland next weekend.
Bryn Renner Is a Great Fit for Fedora's Offense
The Tar Heels' field general looked like he was playing Xbox tonight as the junior QB played a near perfect game. Brenner was 29-for-36 for 315 passing yards, three TDs and zero interceptions.
The junior gunslinger made great decisions all night and looked extremely comfortable in Fedora's spread attack. He's got a solid arm and clearly has an excellent grasp on the offense he was asked to learn in one offseason.
The scariest part about Renner is he's only a junior. Give this guy another offseason to perfect this new system and he'll put up huge numbers in 2013.
Giovanni Benard Is One of the Best RBs in the Nation
Despite tonight's performance being one of his worst of the season, it's obvious that Bernard is a serious ballplayer. At 5'10", 210 lbs, he's got perfect size and his versatility makes him one of the best running backs in the nation.
The sophomore running back won't hesitate to roam away from the backfield to contribute to the passing game and he always produces between the tackles.
Although he semi-struggled on the ground today, Bernard hauled in a solid four catches for 47 yards and a touchdown.
In the NFL, you have to do it all from the running back position and if Bernard can improve his pass blocking, he could be a valuable asset to a team on Sundays.
Marquise Williams Could Add a Nice Wrinkle to the Offense
You know Larry Fedora loves his spread system and he has managed to groom the less mobile Renner into a solid QB in this offense, but that won't stop him from bringing in the more mobile QB, Marquise Williams, to run the read option.
Williams is an athletic freshman quarterback who could offer a pleasant change of pace to this offense. It definitely had the Cavs on their heels in the beginning of the game and the freshman QB finished with 40 yards rushing on seven carries.
I wouldn't do it often, but 5-10 plays a game for Marquise Williams could give this spread system headed by Renner a nice wrinkle.
Quinshad Jones Is a Beast in the Making
Heading into this game, I expected Quinshad Jones to make a moderate contribution, but he blew the doors off my expectations. The wideout hauled in an ACC record 16 receptions for 178 yards and simply couldn't be covered.
Jones hauled in several short passes but nonetheless averaged 11.1 yards a catch. He looked impossible to cover tonight and gave the Cavs defense headaches like a nagging woman.
Here's the kicker though: Jones is a freshman and still learning his way around Fedora's system. Imagine what this wideout will do as he perfects his craft.
That's some scary stuff, honestly.
This Defense Has Some Fight in Them
Last week this defense was embarrassed by Georgia Tech and relinquished a whopping 68 points to the Yellow Jackets.
With just a few days before having to face UVA, they had to decide whether they were going to pick themselves up or allow their performance to continue faltering.
They definitively made up their mind.
After giving up an early touchdown pass, this Tar Heels defense hunkered down for the rest of the game and even stuffed their rivals on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
Now I understand that this Cavs offense isn't that great, but if you're a UNC fan, you have to be pleased with the way this defense rebounded following such a dismal performance against Georgia Tech.
Fedora's Offense Can Be Scary When Clicking
As this game continued on, it was obvious that the Cavaliers defense had no answer for Fedora's system. Renner only threw seven incompletions all night and everything was working for UNC's offense.
Fedora is famous for his potent offenses, his latest at Southern Mississippi, and he clearly has the potential to bring a high-powered attack to Chapel Hill.
The offense moved the ball at will tonight and it appeared effortless. When they get going and increase their tempo, they're a tough bunch to stop. Expect that to continue as long as Fedora is calling the plays.
Sylvester Williams Is a Monster
Virginia might as well have made Sylvester Williams pay rent considering he lived in their backfield all night long. The senior DT was a complete headache for UVA with nine tackles and sack to boot.
It's impossible to stress the importance of a solid interior lineman that can create problems in the backfield constantly. Williams forced this Cavaliers' offense into tough second and third downs with his disruptive play and probably had the best night out of any Tar Heel defender.
Williams may have helped his draft stock tremendously with his performance tonight. In fact, if I was an NFL scout, I would definitely take interest in the athletic DT.
You Can't Play off These Tar Heels Receivers Too Much
Part of the reason Quinshad Jones managed to haul in 16 catches tonight was because Virginia refused to play close to any of UNC's receivers. On each series, UVA's secondary would come to the line with soft coverage and the Tar Heels ate them up.
If you play soft on these receivers, UNC will nickel and dime you all the way downfield with short passes and quick WR screens.
I understand you can't press each play, but if the offense is just going to dump it off over and over again, you have to try something new, right?
UNC Has a Solid Corps of Receivers
With both Quinshad Jones and Erik Highsmith nearing 6'4", this receiving corps has awesome size. Add a bit of athleticism to that and you have a solid one-two punch out wide.
It's hard for teams to press UNC because their receivers are so physical, but if you play off them they'll just inhale screens passes and rack up yards after the catch all day.
Combine this with UNC's ability to run the ball and you have a pretty dynamic receiving corps.
Larry Fedora Is a Great Fit at UNC
Larry Fedora has won everywhere he's gone and it doesn't look like UNC is going to be any different. The guy's an offensive wiz with plenty of experience as a head coach, and while I liked the hire at first, I love it now.
In just one offseason, Fedora has manged to effectively implement his spread offense and he has great tools at UNC.
Renner looks better and better each week and there are some serious weapons on this team at the wide receiver position. On top of all this, Fedora still has one of the best backs in the nation in Giovanni Bernard, who can do it all with his spread attack.
The Tar Heels have been through some tough times recently, but it's clear that they have found a solid head coach to lead them to the light at the end of the tunnel in Larry Fedora.