The University of North Carolina football team has begun spring practice in anticipation for their 2014 regular season. Despite the fact that the Tar Heels will not play their first game until August 29th against Liberty, the practice and reps the players take now will be vital once the season begins.
Spring practice will run for the next few weeks, and will end with the annual Blue-White Spring game on Saturday, April 12th in Kenan Stadium at 3pm. Until then, let’s examine three things to look for before the spring game kicks off – starting with the offense.
1. Quarterback Competition?
Marquise Williams will be a redshirt junior for the upcoming 2014 season, and after starting six games for the Tar Heels last year, many thought Williams would be the unquestioned number one quarterback. Williams performed well last season, throwing for over 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns while also rushing for 536 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Despite his on-field success, Williams has not been guaranteed the starting job this season by head coach Larry Fedora. Fedora has said multiple times that every position is up for grabs in the offseason, and he doesn’t seem to be bluffing – meaning the quarterback job could be up for grabs as well.
Redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky was a highly-rated recruit two years ago and would seem to be Williams’ main competition. After redshirting last year, there have been whispers around Chapel Hill that Trubisky could be just as good as a dual-threat quarterback running Fedora’s no-huddle offense as Williams was last season.
Regardless of what ends up happening in August, it will be interesting to see how the two quarterbacks play over the next month, including in the spring game, to see if Trubisky will push Williams for playing time.
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2. Running Back U?
UNC returns three of its’ top running backs from last year’s team with T.J. Logan, Khris Francis and Romar Morris all coming back to Chapel Hill this season. This three-headed running attack rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns a year ago, and that was when Logan and Francis were true freshmen.
With those three running backs – and the addition of the rushing capabilities of the Carolina quarterbacks – the 2014 Tar Heels should have a very balanced and dangerous running attack. Not to mention, the Army’s national high school player of the year is now attending the University of North Carolina and is expected to add even more talented depth to the running back position.
Freshman Elijah Hood was UNC’s biggest catch on the recruiting trail and it would surprise no one if he came in and made an instant impact for the Tar Heels this fall. No matter who ends up manning the quarterback position, as long as they hand the ball off to one of the four talented running backs on Carolina’s roster, the Tar Heels should be in good hands.
Take a look at Elijah Hood commenting on the upcoming UNC football team and how he plans to contribute right away:
3. Replacing Eric Ebron?
Let’s be honest. No one on North Carolina’s roster is capable of replacing what Eric Ebron did on the football field a year ago. The tight end is expected to be a top-15 overall draft pick, the first tight end taken in this year’s NFL Draft, and he was the go-to receiver for the UNC quarterbacks a year ago. Opposing defenses had to game plan for Ebron every week, as he was a player that could truly change the game in favor of Carolina.
Senior Jack Tabb will probably take over the starting tight end position for the Heels, but he only caught seven passes a year ago and is has nowhere near the freak athleticism that Ebron possessed. However, the Tar Heels need to figure out a way to replace Ebron’s team-leading 62 catches for a team-high 973 yards from a year ago, and more than likely it is going to have to be a group effort.
The good news for Carolina fans is that UNC has a plethora of talented wide receivers, including junior Quinshad Davis and sophomore Ryan Switzer, who combined for 80 catches, 1,071 yards and 13 touchdowns a season ago. It will be interesting to see how the passing game looks in the spring and who the new go-to guy, or guys, will be for this upcoming season.
Read more news, rumors, and opinion on our North Carolina team page.