The trademark of the No. 23 North Carolina football team has become the warp-speed no huddle offense of head coach Larry Fedora. With two adept quarterbacks and a plethora of playmakers at UNC’s disposal, the Tar Heels will have plenty of offensive fireworks this fall.
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Former Mr. Football of the state of Ohio, redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky, has embodied the competition-based culture at Carolina since the moment the offseason began in 2014.
Coach Fedora has made it clear that much like the raging quarterback battle; all positions are up for grabs. Trubisky, embroiled in a fight for the starting job with junior Marquise Williams, says he’s impressed with every aspect of the offense.
“The guys up front have really grown a lot since spring. From right to left tackle, all those guys have improved tremendously. As a quarterback, it’s great to see that. With the receivers, we have a lot of weapons on the outside. Of course, we have all the running backs for the dog pound. We’re going to have a special offense this year,” Trubisky says.
With tight end Eric Ebron set to play on Sundays rather than Saturdays this fall, the onus now falls on senior Jack Tabb. But Tabb says he’s excited for the challenge and is embracing the opportunity to impart his knowledge and experiences to the underclassmen.
“I’m just excited to play. That’s all there is to it. It feels good. I’ve been here a long time and been through a couple coaches. I learned a lot over the years. It’s good to be able to teach the young kids how to work to be the best,” Tabb says.
Sophomore wide receiver Ryan Switzer has made it blatantly clear that he aims to top his achievements from his freshman campaign. One of his stated goals is extraordinarily lofty: to win the Heisman Trophy.
But Coach Fedora says he has no problems with Switzer dreaming big. He says he hopes the coaching staff can help all the Tar Heel players live out their dreams.
“I got no problem with that. That’s his dream. That’s one of his goals. He told me that before he came here – one was to be an All American, one was to win the Heisman Trophy. I don’t have a problem with that. Our goal as a staff is to help them reach their dreams and goals, whatever they may be,” Coach Fedora says.
Although Switzer has been lobbying to join forces with running back T.J. Logan on the kickoff return team, Coach Fedora remains undecided on that prospect. But the Carolina skipper is busy preparing for how opponents are set to combat Switzer on punt returns the this fall.
“All their eyes are going to be on him. It’s going to be interesting to see what teams do in those situations when he’s back there. Are they going to punt away from? Rugby punt? Punt it out of bounds? We’ll tinker with some things. We may have two return men back there. We could do a lot of different things. For me, it’s been about trying to figure out what teams will do against us and then have an answer for that,” Coach Fedora says.
As for that widely publicized quarterback duel, Coach Fedora alludes to the fact that Williams has always maintained a slight edge over Trubisky if for nothing else but the experience factor.
“Marquise was ahead of him coming out of spring ball. A lot of that is because he’s been around here and has quite a number of game reps under his belt. He’s won some football games. It’s a little bit more natural for him now. Mitch has to be a lot more conscious to do it,” Coach Fedora says.
Coach Fedora says when Renner went down to injury last year; no one could have known the readiness of Williams.
“He was preparing himself week in and week out. Even though we may not have known the intensity and the effort that he was putting into it, he was doing it internally. When he stepped out there, he knew what he was doing and was ready to go,” Coach Fedora says.
Williams’ dedication to his craft has only been amplified by his competition with Trubisky. And although the two say they remain close friends through it all, there’s no question Trubisky has been preparing, much like Williams a year ago, to marshal the Tar Heel offense on Saturdays.
But no matter the eventual signal caller, the potency of the Carolina weaponry they will be wielding appears undeniable.