[The first 12 for 12 post was about the Fan Base]
[The second 12 for 12 post was about the Kenan Stadium]
[The second 12 for 12 post was about the Coach Fedora]
While the North Carolina football team is hard at work on their two a days it’s time for me to give you the next chapter of my “12 for 12“, which depicts the dozen persons/things that need to be at their best in order for this season to be a success, no matter what the final record is. In this post I will be focusing on the young man who last year stopped the draught of not having a 1,000 rusher in Chapel Hill… tail back Giovani Bernard. After going fourteen seasons without a 1K rusher the Tar Heels once again had one has the then red shirt freshman ran for 1,253 yards. The tail back also added 362 yards through the air to finish the 2011 campaign with a total of 1,615 yards to go along with 14 touchdowns, all but one through the ground. No player has ever won the Heisman, could Bernard be the first one? I doubt it, but if you want the odds on it, Vegas has him as a 55 to 1 shot.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn1Usr29zDo&w=640&h=360]Well, 2012 has brought a lot of changes for the North Carolina football team as we all know. A new head coach in Larry Fedora to go with a new system, the spread offense, are now installed at Chapel Hill. The question has to be will it be a new Bernard as well, or will we see the same talented young man that ran up and down the gridiron last season. The answer to this question might also be the answer to whether or not the Tar Heels will have a good season.. Some have said that the spread offense could dimish what the sophomore can do for the Tar Heels this season, while others believe that Bernard, who last year had a run of five 100+ yards games in a row, can be even more productive in it.
My thoughts on this is that coach Fedora has seen with his own eyes, both on tape from last season and live in spring ball and now with the pre season, what Giovani Bernard can do when given the ball. There is a reason why the young man was named to the pre season All-ACC Team as well as being on the watch list for the Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards. And simply put it’s because of what he did on the field last year for interim coach Withers Everett. Now, with a coaching staff in place that is sure to be in Chapel Hill for years to come, with a new offense, there should be no reason why the offensive gem of 2011, achieving the third best ever yardage for a freshman in the ACC, is not also shining in 2012. Add to this that the tail back will be running behind an offensive line that has four returning starters and that has trimmed down dramatically since last year and all things point to Bernard having a heck of a season within the new system. The only thing that could derail all of this is that the defense, who is not going to be as good as the previous years, puts the team in a hole where the rushing game can not be used. On the other hand the tail back from Davie, Fl. can catch the ball well, his 45 catches were third on the team in `11, and he will help out in this area as well if need be.However, in my mind, Giovani Bernard will have to do more than just be the leader on the offense, he is going to have to be a leader of the offense and the team. Without a doubt the young man is one of the best returning running backs in the nation, but this season he is also going to have to lead the team off the field, either by talking, or probably more, by example. Bernard is going to have to be the one that his team mates looks for when a first down is needed or when they are on the sideline and some guidance is needed. This team does not have anything to shoot for due to the NCAA sanctions on them, as such they will need to be motivated in any way possible. Getting Bernard to have an even better season production wise could be one of those things, having him be the motivator to do as much as they can as a gelled unit, could truly do wonders for how this squad performs this year. And it would also lay down the foundations of what North Carolina football can be in years to come.
In the end there is one other motivation for both the 5’10″/205 lbs back and his team mates. The media gave him just one vote consideration for pre season ACC Player of the Year. With a new offense that could get him more touches and have less opponents in the box Bernarnd could truly shine in his second year as a starter. The key will be for UNC not to fall too far behind in any game where the rushing attack has to be put aside. If that can be avoided, under coach Fedora Southern Miss averaged more than 205 yards on the ground, and there is no reason that those numbers could not be the same at UNC. As the season reaches closer and closer I have to say I am more and more intrigued with what is going on in the North Carolina football program, and can hardly wait to see it unfold on the field. Of course, for more coverage on the UNC football and/or basketball team make sure to come back often to isportsweb!</strong>