The Key To UNC's Season: An Improved Passing Game

Justin CrawfordCorrespondent IApril 15, 2010

CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 22:  Greg Little #8 of the North Carolina Tar Heels dives past Florida State Seminole defenders for a first quarter touchdown at Kenan Stadium on October 22, 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Okay, let’s state the obvious: the North Carolina offense needs much improvement.

Last season, they ranked 99th in both total offense and passing according to ESPN.

That is horrendous.

The best way for this offense to improve, is for the passing game to make giant strides in the right direction.

Why shouldn’t it? It could not get any worse after all.

A key position for this to happen will be quarterback. There is a good competition for the starting position. Many UNC analysts, including myself, did not believe Renner would be given a chance to be the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season.

He may have proved us wrong in the Spring Game. Butch Davis has even said that Renner is likely to take a few snaps in the LSU game. We may see a gun-fight for the starting spot in the first game. Yates will be given first chance by default, but Renner can play himself into the position if he can get playing time. We will see what happens.

One thing is for sure, the big fat zero posted by Yates team at the Spring Game will not be ignored. He will have to work even harder now to keep his starting spot.

A quarterback competition will be good for the offense and specifically the passing game. If one quarterback is not performing well the other will be given a shot. Hopefully, either Yates or Renner will improve the passing game drastically.

The running game will be similar to last year with Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston taking the majority of the snaps.

A sleeper could be true freshman Giovanni Bernard, an excellent running back. It is becoming more widely believed by the experts that he will see some snaps this year due to the lack of depth at the position.

The running back group will be much better if the defense has to worry about the offense throwing the ball at all. If it is obvious that the passing game will not be going anywhere, opposing teams will pack it in greatly reducing the running game. Dropped balls will do that for you.

The key to getting this offense going is finding an improvement in passing yards and in limiting interceptions.

The wide receiver group is talented yet still young: Joshua Adams, Jheranie Boyd, Erik Highsmith, and Todd Harrelson will all be sophomores. One guy expected to bust-out anytime now is junior Dwight Jones. He is a big, athletic receiver that has yet to reach his potential.

Greg Little, a talented senior, will be the leader of the group with a full year of leading the receivers under his belt. He is now primed for an outstanding year. His leadership will be incalculable.

The young guys must learn how to run a good route over the summer. They have stated that last year they did not know what was going on at times during the games. That is expected of freshman.

It will not be expected of sophomores.

I believe they will take a giant leap forward. Their routes will improve, and they will not drop as many passes.  Hopefully, the Spring Game was not a sign of dropped passes to come.

Many forgot the importance of tight end Zack Pianalto last year. He was a frequent target for Yates before going down with an injury. His return can improve the passing game right away.

If the offensive line, a possible weak link, can give Yates or Renner the time needed then the offense in general will be much improved. If Little and the young receivers can show much improvement then the ACC will need to look out.

The key to the season will be an improved passing game that will greatly improve a struggling offense.

Football season cannot get here soon enough!


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