By Eddy Landreth
North Carolinaâ€™s new high-octane, fast-moving offense may be unsettling to some fans, but it is producing results.
The mechanics are different, so some people find themselves having to adjust and wondering if all is in order.
Quarterback Bryn Renner repeatedly looks toward the sideline as the team rushes back into position play after play. Renner walks along the line of scrimmage, communicating the plays and changed calls as everyone else settles into their places.
Can this possibly be an organized effort? Is this not the very definition of chaos?
Actually, itâ€™s not â€“ there is a great deal of organization in what the Tar Heels do on offense, or else they wouldnâ€™t be able to play without a huddle and move as quickly as they do.
UNC (2-2) will play Idaho (0-4) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Kenan Stadium in the second of three consecutive home games.
As far as the offense goes, letâ€™s face it: This strategy is still new to the team, although the Tar Heels are getting better each week. Carolina played well throughout the second half against Louisville and most of the game in a 27-6 victory against East Carolina on Saturday.
UNC amassed 450 yards of total offense and ran 72 plays, nine more than the Pirates. Carolina is now trying to take the process to an even greater level, shift into a new gear.
Coach Larry Fedora described the pace he wants to see from his offense as â€œfanatical,â€ once again echoing the philosophy of UNC basketball coach Roy Williams.
â€œWeâ€™re still working on tempo every day,â€ Fedora said. â€œWeâ€™re still not there. Weâ€™re asking for a fanatical effort in tempo throughout the game. We still donâ€™t understand what that really is yet. We have a lot of work to do in that area.â€
Renner may not be moving as fast as Fedora wants, but the junior quarterback appears in total command and quite comfortable with the offense. Heâ€™s thrown seven touchdown passes in the last two games.
In UNCâ€™s four games, Renner is 90 of 144 with a completion rate of 62.5 percent. Heâ€™s averaging almost 300 yards per game, and heâ€™s thrown 11 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
â€œItâ€™s the reps that are so important,â€ Fedora said. â€œEvery time a safety moves or rotates down, he gets to see that live. Itâ€™s a learned experience he can continue to work on.
â€œItâ€™s still about managing the game, which is moving the chains and taking care of the football. He did a tremendous job of taking care of the football against East Carolina. We went through 60 minutes of the game and we didnâ€™t turn the ball over. That is a big, big deal right there.â€
Missed assignments and missed tackles hurt Carolina in the previous two games. For the most part, the defense seemed to erase those against the Pirates.
â€œWeâ€™ve been killing ourselves offensively and defensively,â€ senior linebacker Kevin Reddick said. â€œIn other games [before ECU], we werenâ€™t executing, or we were waiting until the second half to turn it up. We kept going all the way through [against the Pirates].
â€œIt was basic stuff, but guys were executing the basic stuff we had planned.â€
Now the Tar Heelsâ€™ goal is to become consistent in their concentration and effort â€“ from start to finish.
â€œThe focus this week will be on us again,â€ Fedora said. â€œIt is still figuring out who we are as a football team. â€¦ Itâ€™s not so much physical as it is mental.
â€œWe are physically in shape. Itâ€™s more about working on our minds and the things you need to do individually as far as your personal plan to prepare for a game.â€
Concentration is the key, and itâ€™s all about building good habits.
â€œWeâ€™ve done a pretty good job in the second half of staying focused and doing the things,â€ Fedora said. â€œWeâ€™ve got to start faster. Iâ€™ve been pleased with how we have come out and played in the third and fourth quarters, whether we were up or whether we were down [on the scoreboard].
â€œWeâ€™ve got to do a better job of starting fast. That is where it has got to happen.â€