UNC Football Aims to Stay Focused Offensively

As the 6-6 UNC football team prepares for the Quick Lane Bowl against Rutgers, the offense looks to stay focused and establish some type of consistency, with hopes of finishing the season with a winning record for the third time under head coach Larry Fedora.

Offensive coordinator Seth Littrell says inconsistency plagued the offense throughout the year, and was the main reason they never reached the level of potential he believes this group could have achieved.  However, he still sees plenty of reasons for motivation on his side of the ball; recovering from the devastating regular season-ending loss to NC State being the most influential.

While it may be easy to conclude that players would have their eyes set on winter break after a frustrating season capped with a loss in the NC State game, junior offensive guard Landon Turner says that “nobody has cashed in on this season at all, we’re still 100 percent focused, it’s still 2014, so we’ll worry about 2015 when it gets here.”

Quarterback Marquise Williams spear-heads the UNC attack  (ACC.blogs)

Quarterback Marquise Williams spear-heads the UNC attack (ACC.blogs)

Closing the year with a win to rinse out the bad taste left behind from the State game seems to be the dominant theme in the locker room, but there are still other goals to be accomplished for some of the members of the offense.

With a touchdown catch against the Scarlet Knights, junior wide receiver Quinshad Davis would break his tie with Hakeem Nicks atop the school’s list of all-time touchdown receptions, leaving him all alone at the top with 22 for his career.

Also, the game will give promising freshman tailback Elijah Hood a chance to prove that he is fully recovered from the injuries that have cost him the last two months of the season, as well as an opportunity to impress coaches leading into next year’s campaign.

The Quick Lane Bowl will be shown on ESPN at 4:30 P.M. on December 26th from inside the home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, Ford Field.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-football-aims-stay-focused-offensively/

NCAA Finished With AFAM Investigation

CHAPEL HILL – The NCAA tells North Carolina athletic officials that it isn’t considering additional charges connected to academic fraud in the university’s African studies department.

The school on Saturday released two emails from Sept. 26 after a records request.

The first is from UNC senior associate athletic director Vince Ille to NCAA associate director of enforcement Mike Zonder. Ille asked whether he correctly assumed the NCAA wasn’t planning additional investigation or charges of irregularities in the school’s African studies department. Zonder replied that “you are correct in your assessment.”

The NCAA sanctioned UNC for academic misconduct within its football program in March 2012.

The school said that August that the NCAA had reviewed irregularities including no-show classes and unauthorized grade changes in classes with significant athlete enrollments and found no rule violations.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/ncaa-finished-with-afam-investigation/

Tar Heel Football Stars Embrace Bye Week

CHAPEL HILL–The bye week for the Carolina football team may be coming at just the right time. With two completely different caliber opponents to start the season, it can be tough to judge exactly where the Tar Heels stand.

But senior signal caller Bryn Renner says he thinks the run game will benefit from some extra work in the week away from the big stage.

“I think we just need to take more reps. It’s tough to get a fair assessment after two games, but I think we ran the ball pretty well against South Carolina. […] Those guys up front do a great job protecting me,” Renner says.

Renner says nothing beats getting a win at home and wiping that bad feeling out of the stomach from the South Carolina loss heading into the bye week.

Running back Romar Morris, who scored two touchdowns on Saturday, says he thinks the problem with the overall rushing attack has nothing to do with the offensive line. He says the linemen are improving with each practice.

“The offensive line is getting better and better every week. […] The offensive line is looking good,” Morris says.

Morris says he believes the bye week will help the offense to prepare for the tricky schemes that Georgia Tech offers up on defense.

On the other side of the ball, senior safety Tre Boston, who came up with a momentum-changing interception against Middle Tennessee, says he has seen his teammates developing into stronger defenders. Boston says the defense is ready to show off.

“We want to show how good we are. We know how good we are as a defense. And we know how good we are as a secondary. It’s one of those things as a defense we need to show it. We need to show the people what we are capable of,” Boston says.

 

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heel-football-stars-embrace-bye-week/

ACC Combo: James Hurst and Noon Game

GREENSBORO–Tar Heel football fans got a double dose of excitement Monday.

First off, the ACC released its Football Players of the Week and Carolina’s own standout senior James Hurt was named Offensive Lineman of the Week.

Hurst played 80 snaps and totaled a 92 percent grade in Carolina’s 40-20 triumph over Middle Tennessee Saturday. UNC gained 511 total yards of offense and eclipsed 40 points for the sixth time in Coach Larry Fedora’s tenure.

Hurst racked up 12 knockdown blocks and did not allow a single sack or quarterback pressure.

The other news coming out of the ACC is the release of the game times and TV networks for Saturday, Sept. 21.

The Tar Heels will be taking on Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and the pivotal contest will be kicking off at high noon. The game will be broadcast on one of the ESPN networks-ESPN, ESPN2, or ESPNU. The specific network will be selected by Sept. 15.

Another marquee ACC match-up to look out for that week will see the third-ranked Clemson Tigers play at NC State in the Thursday night feature Sept. 19 on ESPN.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/acc-combo-james-hurst-and-noon-game/

Tar Heel Downtown Set To Rock Franklin Street

CHAPEL HILL – The national spotlight will be on the Tar Heel football team for a Thursday night contest against the Miami Hurricanes on October 17th. But the bright lights won’t just be cast on Kenan Stadium.

Tar Heel Downtown will bring the focus to Franklin Street for pregame festivities from 4 to 7 p.m., showcasing the best the Town of Chapel Hill has to offer to a national and worldwide audience.

The event, staged on West Franklin Street from Columbia to Mallette streets and centered at the 140 West Plaza, will hope to showcase the unique college town atmosphere of the University and Chapel Hill community.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt announced the big plans on Monday. He says he is excited to welcome ESPN and the entire country to the streets of downtown Chapel Hill for a “party worthy of that attention.”

“This particular event makes me particularly excited, because this time I am going to be inviting all of my fellow Tar Heel fans from across the region to come out and help us put on a great show for millions of viewers from across the country,” Kleinschmidt says.

Planned and coordinated by the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, UNC Athletics and The Town of Chapel Hill, this fun, free, family-friendly event will be covered by ESPN. A Tar Heel alumnus, John Skipper, runs the leading sports broadcast company.

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham says Tar Heel downtown will be a great opportunity for folks around the country to get a glimpse of the character and cozy atmosphere of Chapel Hill.

“What I really hope that ESPN does is be able to highlight what a wonderful town Chapel Hill is. In all of the surrounding buildings, what we’ve been doing on Franklin Street, I think it is a great way for us to allow a lot of people throughout the country to see what Chapel Hill is all about,” says Cunningham.

Mayor Kleinschmidt says one of the attractive qualities of downtown Chapel Hill is the entrepreneurial mindset of so many business owners, continually branding and re-branding their businesses to offer new and improved services to students, residents and visitors alike.

When asked about the possible crazy atmosphere surrounding the huge national event on Franklin Street, Cunningham and Kleinschmidt offered up some advice.

“We want as many fans to come, but don’t be any worse than you are on Halloween,” Cunningham says.

“That’s setting a pretty low bar,” Kleinschmidt replies. “That means you can come have a good time. We’ll have fun.

At the event, there will be live broadcasting during the Countdown to Kickoff Radio Show on Franklin Street and live performances from Liquid Pleasure, Carolina Cheerleaders, and the Marching Tar Heels.

In addition, bounce houses and face painting will be provided for children while Carolina giveaways will be provided by the Rams Club and Carolina Athletics.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/tar-heel-downtown-set-to-rock-franklin-street/

Coach Fedora: Striving for More

CHAPEL HILL– Carolina football is getting back on track. The Tar Heels posted a 40-20 rebound win over Middle Tennessee State on Saturday in Kenan Stadium, evening their season record at 1-1.

Now entering a bye week, Coach Fedora says there is still plenty for his team to work on, but there were some bright spots displayed out on the field in the home opener.

“No matter what happens, we got to play the game one way. And I thought there were a lot of times today that we were playing the type of ball that we want to play. And then there were other times that we didn’t,” Coach Fedora says.

Coach Fedora says the turnover caused by senior safety Tre Boston on MTSU’s opening drive was a game changing play for the Tar Heels. It rallied the team.

“I think the main thing is we just settled down after the first drive. It was huge getting the turnover down there on the first drive. […] I thought our defense, especially in that first half, played really well,” Coach Fedora says.

Yes, it wasn’t just your imagination. Carolina did kick off to start both halves of football on Saturday. But Coach Fedora jokingly says it was all a part of the game plan for the Blue Raiders.

“That was our strategy going into the game. We felt like if we kicked off twice to them, it would help them out. We wanted to see if we could get more time with the defense on the field,” Coach Fedora quips.

But let there be no mistake, Coach Fedora and his staff demand perfection from their players. Coach Fedora says every play in every game is scrutinized and analyzed for that reason.

“When we go back and look at the film, that’s all we are doing, dissecting each and every play. We don’t just say good play. It’s all eleven guys on the field did they do exactly what we expect them to do with the technique that we teach them,” Coach Fedora says.

Up next for the Tar Heels following the bye week is a date with Georgia Tech and their troubling option offense on the 21st in Atlanta.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/coach-fedora-striving-for-more/

GAME RECAP: UNC 40, MTSU 20

CHAPEL HILL–The Tar Heels home opener against Middle Tennessee State proved to be a celebration of sorts. Kenan Stadium was a festive environment and the Tar Pit was rocking. What a contrast it was from the setback at South Carolina a little over a week ago. This time, it was Carolina evening their record at 1-1 with a resounding 40-20  victory.

But it didn’t start smoothly for the Tar Heels as the Blue Raiders marched the ball right down the throats of UNC on their opening drive. MTSU was on the doorstep of a touchdown when senior safety Tre Boston came up with a huge interception in the end zone to prevent the first points of the game from being scored.

TRE BOSTON_ENDZONE PICK

The momentum continued to build for the Tar Heels after the interception, with Romar Morris capping off the five play scoring drive with a dash into the end zone. However, an aggressive two point conversion try failed for Head Coach Larry Fedora and Carolina went ahead by six points with 6:55 left in the first quarter.

TOUCHDOWN_ROMAR MORRIS RUN

A 59-yard pass connected for quarterback Bryn Renner. Mark McNeill hauled in the long strike to put the Carolina offense back in scoring position. And they didn’t waste the opportunity. Renner pushed the ball across the line to post a 13-0 lead at the close of the first quarter.

In total for the first quarter, Bryn Renner completed all four of his passes for 95 yards and Romar Morris gained 32 yards on the ground for the offense that appeared to be clicking early and often.

The second quarter started slowly for Carolina, unable to find their rhythm moving the football. But the defense sure didn’t crumble. Cornerback Tim Scott picked off one of Logan Kilgore’s passes to give UNC another crack at some points.

Some varied play calling kept the Blue Raider defense off balance as the Tar Heels began to pick their way down the football field with the aid of AJ Blue’s legs and Sean Tapley’s arms.

However, Bryn Renner’s 140 consecutive pass attempts without an interception came to a close when the Blue Raiders snagged a misfired throw to take over with almost nine minutes left in the half.

Once again, bandit defender Norkeithus Otis was all over the field, seemingly in on every tackle for Carolina. And UNC forced a three and out for the Blur Raiders.

A forty three yard reception by Tapley put Carolina back on the MTSU side of the field. The crowd was roaring for the Tar Heel offensive explosion that continued when Renner found Tabb for a thirty yard gain. And Romar Morris hammered in the touchdown to post a 20-0 lead for Carolina.

More good pressure was put on Logan Kilgore by Otis and company on the UNC defense to force yet another punt for the Blue Raiders.

In the waning seconds of the first half, Carolina began another assault on the end zone, but the pass in the corner to Quinshad Davis landed just barely out of bounds. But kicker Thomas Moore tacked on a field goal from 39 yards out to give Carolina a 23-0 halftime lead.

At the half, Carolina had outgained MTSU 326 to 99 yards of offense. Renner went 11 for 14 on his pass attempts and totaled 219 yards through the air while running back Morris tallied 43 yards off the ground.

The Blue Raiders started the second half with a lot of fight despite the large deficit, polishing off an impressive drive with a 22-yard touchdown run by Jordan Park. The score was cut to 23-7.

The next Tar Heel offensive series was uneventful, resulting in a punt scenario to hand the ball back to the Blue Raiders with a lot of confidence growing.

In a pivotal part of the game, the dynamic MTSU offense began to slash through the UNC defense once again, gaining confidence and momentum with each and every play. Missed tackles added to the Tar Heel woes.

But the third interception of the day bailed out Carolina once again. Darien Rankin earned his fourth career interception at just the right moment for UNC.

Would the Tar Heels reclaim the momentum and reassert their authority on the contest? UNC began to keep the ball on the ground, riding Blue and Morris to grind out yardage up the middle on a smaller defensive line for MTSU.

The drive ended with another Thomas Moore field goal that went through the uprights from 35 yards out to give UNC a nineteen point lead at 26-7 with 3:06 left in the third quarter.

Kilgore continued to find some holes in the UNC secondary on the ensuing drive as the Blue Raiders quickly moved out across the 50-yard line. But the Tar Heel defense answered the bell, highlighted by a Kareem Martin sack that handed the balls back to Renner and the offense to try and get something going.

It was Carolina’s offense that would open proceedings in the final quarter with a third down play. And a punt was a result-marking the third three and out of the second half for a sputtering Tar Heel offense.

More trouble for Carolina continued when Ryan Switzer fumbled and the Blue Raiders picked it up and returned it for a touchdown to narrow the gap with the score sitting at 26-13 with 12:54 to play in the game.

That last fumble must have angered the Tar Heels a bit, because they responded emphatically with a powerful attack on the next drive. The eighteen yard touchdown throw from Renner to Quinshad Davis was a beauty, and set the score at 33-13 to let the Tar Heel faithful breathe easy.

MTSU gave one last ditch effort to get back in the game, making their way down to the red zone before being shut down by UNC on fourth down to turn the ball over.

In the final few minutes, Marquise Williams got some snaps under center for Carolina. He picked up UNC’s 25th first down of the day as the Tar Heels kept the clock running. Williams threw a touchdown to up the score to 40-13.

TOUCHDOWN_DOC

MTSU added their own response in the form of a successful touchdown pass to make the final score an even 40-20 line in favor of Carolina.

http://chapelboro.com/news/game-recap/

Tar Heels Trounce MTSU in Home Opener

CHAPEL HILL–The Tar Heels home opener against Middle Tennessee State proved to be a celebration of sorts. Kenan Stadium was a festive environment and the Tar Pit was rocking. What a contrast it was from the setback at South Carolina a little over a week ago. This time, it was Carolina evening their record at 1-1 with a resounding 40-20  victory.

But it didn’t start smoothly for the Tar Heels as the Blue Raiders marched the ball right down the throats of UNC on their opening drive. MTSU was on the doorstep of a touchdown when senior safety Tre Boston came up with a huge interception in the end zone to prevent the first points of the game from being scored.

TRE BOSTON_ENDZONE PICK

The momentum continued to build for the Tar Heels after the interception, with Romar Morris capping off the five play scoring drive with a dash into the end zone. However, an aggressive two point conversion try failed for Head Coach Larry Fedora and Carolina went ahead by six points with 6:55 left in the first quarter.

TOUCHDOWN_ROMAR MORRIS RUN

A 59-yard pass connected for quarterback Bryn Renner. Mark McNeill hauled in the long strike to put the Carolina offense back in scoring position. And they didn’t waste the opportunity. Renner pushed the ball across the line to post a 13-0 lead at the close of the first quarter.

In total for the first quarter, Bryn Renner completed all four of his passes for 95 yards and Romar Morris gained 32 yards on the ground for the offense that appeared to be clicking early and often.

The second quarter started slowly for Carolina, unable to find their rhythm moving the football. But the defense sure didn’t crumble. Cornerback Tim Scott picked off one of Logan Kilgore’s passes to give UNC another crack at some points.

Some varied play calling kept the Blue Raider defense off balance as the Tar Heels began to pick their way down the football field with the aid of AJ Blue’s legs and Sean Tapley’s arms.

However, Bryn Renner’s 140 consecutive pass attempts without an interception came to a close when the Blue Raiders snagged a misfired throw to take over with almost nine minutes left in the half.

Once again, bandit defender Norkeithus Otis was all over the field, seemingly in on every tackle for Carolina. And UNC forced a three and out for the Blur Raiders.

A forty three yard reception by Tapley put Carolina back on the MTSU side of the field. The crowd was roaring for the Tar Heel offensive explosion that continued when Renner found Tabb for a thirty yard gain. And Romar Morris hammered in the touchdown to post a 20-0 lead for Carolina.

More good pressure was put on Logan Kilgore by Otis and company on the UNC defense to force yet another punt for the Blue Raiders.

In the waning seconds of the first half, Carolina began another assault on the end zone, but the pass in the corner to Quinshad Davis landed just barely out of bounds. But kicker Thomas Moore tacked on a field goal from 39 yards out to give Carolina a 23-0 halftime lead.

At the half, Carolina had outgained MTSU 326 to 99 yards of offense. Renner went 11 for 14 on his pass attempts and totaled 219 yards through the air while running back Morris tallied 43 yards off the ground.

The Blue Raiders started the second half with a lot of fight despite the large deficit, polishing off an impressive drive with a 22-yard touchdown run by Jordan Park. The score was cut to 23-7.

The next Tar Heel offensive series was uneventful, resulting in a punt scenario to hand the ball back to the Blue Raiders with a lot of confidence growing.

In a pivotal part of the game, the dynamic MTSU offense began to slash through the UNC defense once again, gaining confidence and momentum with each and every play. Missed tackles added to the Tar Heel woes.

But the third interception of the day bailed out Carolina once again. Darien Rankin earned his fourth career interception at just the right moment for UNC.

Would the Tar Heels reclaim the momentum and reassert their authority on the contest? UNC began to keep the ball on the ground, riding Blue and Morris to grind out yardage up the middle on a smaller defensive line for MTSU.

The drive ended with another Thomas Moore field goal that went through the uprights from 35 yards out to give UNC a nineteen point lead at 26-7 with 3:06 left in the third quarter.

Kilgore continued to find some holes in the UNC secondary on the ensuing drive as the Blue Raiders quickly moved out across the 50-yard line. But the Tar Heel defense answered the bell, highlighted by a Kareem Martin sack that handed the balls back to Renner and the offense to try and get something going.

It was Carolina’s offense that would open proceedings in the final quarter with a third down play. And a punt was a result-marking the third three and out of the second half for a sputtering Tar Heel offense.

More trouble for Carolina continued when Ryan Switzer fumbled and the Blue Raiders picked it up and returned it for a touchdown to narrow the gap with the score sitting at 26-13 with 12:54 to play in the game.

That last fumble must have angered the Tar Heels a bit, because they responded emphatically with a powerful attack on the next drive. The eighteen yard touchdown throw from Renner to Quinshad Davis was a beauty, and set the score at 33-13 to let the Tar Heel faithful breathe easy.

MTSU gave one last ditch effort to get back in the game, making their way down to the red zone before being shut down by UNC on fourth down to turn the ball over.

In the final few minutes, Marquise Williams got some snaps under center for Carolina. He picked up UNC’s 25th first down of the day as the Tar Heels kept the clock running. Williams threw a touchdown to up the score to 40-13.

TOUCHDOWN_DOC

MTSU added their own response in the form of a successful touchdown pass to make the final score an even 40-20 line in favor of Carolina.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-trounce-mtsu-in-home-opener/

Practice Makes Perfect for Heck, Thorpe

CHAPEL HILL– The Tar Heel football players are back to the practice grind this week in Chapel Hill. Working hard out on Navy Field, the team is looking wipe the sour taste of defeat out of their mouth in their home opener against Middle Tennessee State this weekend.

Freshman offensive lineman Jon Heck says practices have been wearing him out, but he says he understands that he needs to push through the discomfort to improve his play.

“It’s hot out, but we all have to push ourselves to the breaking point. I felt tired out here, but it’s on me to push myself through that,” Heck says.

Heck says the South Carolina contest was a memorable first game suiting up for the Tar Heels. He says playing against a top team definitely got him acclimated to the type of play required to compete at the highest level.

“It was one of the funnest experiences of my life. That was awesome coming out in that huge stadium against a good team in my first college game. […] I was happy to be out there and to have got some experience against a good defense,” Heck says.

This season is filled with firsts for Heck. And this Saturday will provide his first game in front of the Chapel Hill crowd. Heck says he is excited about the opportunity to get a win in a comfortable home atmosphere.

Talented sophomore receiver T.J. Thorpe says Coach Fedora’s offense is on the verge of clicking on all cylinders. Thorpe says the unit has been focusing on picking up the tempo even further and cleaning up sloppy mistakes.

“Just picking up the tempo. We can always go faster, and that’s usually our advantage. Being able to make more plays and mentally focus in, because after watching the film [on South Carolina] we were only a few plays away from winning the game,” Thorpe says.

Defending home field is something that Thorpe says is a motivating factor for the game in Kenan Stadium on Saturday. And Thorpe says the rowdy Tar Pit helps his team’s chances.

“The Tar Pit is usually pretty loud. We always have that advantage. And just the first home game of the season, getting back home, being comfortable, and being around somewhere in our back yard is something we take pride in,” Thorpe says.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/practice-makes-perfect-for-heck-thorpe/

Warrant Shows UNC’s Little Got $20K Payoff

HILLSBOROUGH– Former Tar Heel football star Greg Little allegedly received a $20,000 payoff from a Georgia-based sports agent in 2010.

***Listen to the full interview with OC DA Jim Woodall***

Jim Woodall-on-air 2

An agent with the Secretary of State’s office said Little had told investigators that Terry Watson from the Watson Sports Agency gave him a monthly cash allowance of $2,200 in addition to travel expenses and other payments.

Little is now with the Cleveland Browns and although the NCAA investigation is closed, officials are reviewing the situation to see whether charges can be filed.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall told us he is considering criminal charges under the state’s Uniform Athletes Agents Act. By law, agents must register with the Secretary of State’s office, and the law’s purpose is to protect athletes from sports agents who would offer gifts to get them to sign contracts.

It is a Class I felony to violate the law, meaning a maximum prison sentence of 15 months, and violations also could carry civil penalties of up to $25,000.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/warrant-shows-uncs-little-got-20k-payoff/