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April 14, 2012Saturday's spring football may have been just another scrimmage, but the Tar Heels showed enough athleticism and understanding of the new offense to spark hope for a good fall.
"We have 50-percent of our offense in," junior quarterback Bryn Renner said. "We really didn't run that complicated of a system today. We wanted to make sure we got the base things down.
"We did an adequate job, but we can a lot better. We have a long ways to go, just fitting in the playbook. There are lot more things we can be doing."
The coaches awarded 14 points to the White team at the half, but in real terms the Blue team dominated this game 44-7.
Renner showed that not only is he clearly the starting quarterback, but that the more he plays this system the more explosive Carolina's new spread offense will be.
"What he is doing is showing he has a good understanding what we're trying to do," Coach Larry Fedora said. "He's not there yet, but he's made so much progress in a short period of time. I thought he checked the ball down today when he needed to.
"He distributed it where it needed to go. He didn't throw into coverage. All those things are big positives."
Renner went 23-of-28 for 295 yards and two touchdowns. He did not throw an interception.
"He had his best day today, by far," UNC offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Blake Anderson said. "He has all the abilities you need for a guy to play the system. He has the arm strength to throw the ball to any place on the field. That gives you a chance to get everybody involved.
"He's played in some spread systems and thrown the ball in high school. I think he's comfortable with what we're doing. The biggest issue for him and the other quarterbacks is processing what we're doing as fast as we are."
There were others who stood out. Before he took a gash to the head, Giovani Bernard displayed why he is going to thrive in this system. He ran five times for 36 yards.
And redshirt freshman runner Romar Morris showed the speed and explosiveness that made him a prized recruit coming out of high school. He ran nine times for 40 yards and one touchdown. Morris proved he can catch, too.
On one play, Renner faked the run to Morris and then hit him down the middle for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
"He stepped in when Gio didn't come back in and made some really nice plays," Fedora said. "He made some really nice runs. Showed really good vision. Caught the ball on the seam one time for a touchdown. It looked like he picked up the blitz pretty good.
"Romar is getting more consistent. You watch what he did today. He has got some acceleration. He's got some explosiveness. His vision is getting better. And the thing I really like is he catches the ball really well."
Tight end Eric Ebron is another player who stood out on Saturday. He caught five passes for 85 yards.
"When you start talking about recruiting tight ends in this system, he is exactly what you look for," Anderson said. "Physically, he is put together enough he can take a guy on at point of attack.
"He has really good hands. He's got the speed of more of a wideout. I thought he probably showed his best day today as well."
The defense has quite a ways to go, but cornerback Tim Scott did pick off a pass and return it for a touchdown. He came close to making another interception as well.
"Last year as a freshman I was really nervous," Scott said. "I was the youngest on the team and the least experienced. So I had to try to make plays. Now with this defense I need to let the plays come to me."