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September 24, 2012
Whole new gear
The sight of the new Carolina offense throws some fans off kilter.
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 spots.
Can this possibly be an organized effort? Is this not the very definition of chaos?
No, actually it is not. There is a great deal of organization in what the Tar Heels do on offense, or else they could not play without a huddle and move as quickly as they do.
UNC (2-2) will play Idaho (0-4) at 3:30 p.m. at Kenan Stadium in the second of a three consecutive home games.
As far as the offense goes, let's face it: This 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, ran 72 plays, nine more than the Pirates, and Carolina is now trying to take the process to an even greater level, make that a new gear.
Fanatical is the description of the pace Coach Larry Fedora used for what he wants to see from his offense, once again echoing the philosophy of UNC basketball coach Roy Williams.
"We're still working on tempo every day," Fedora said. "We're still not there. We're asking for a fanatical effort in tempo throughout the game. We still don't understand what that really is yet. We have a lot of work to do in that area."
Renner may not be moving as fast as Fedora wants, but the junior quarterback appears in total command and quite comfortable with offense. He's thrown seven touchdown passes in the last two games.
In four games UNC has played, Renner is 90-of-144 with a completion rate of 62.5 percent. He's averaging almost 300 yards per game (297.8), and he's thrown 11 touchdowns to three interceptions.
"It's the reps that are so important," Fedora said. "Every time a safety moves or rotates down, he gets to see that live. It's a learned experience he can continue to work on.
"It'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 didn't turn the ball over. That is a big, big deal right there."
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.
"We've been killing ourselves offensively and defensively," senior linebacker Kevin Reddick said. "In other games [before ECU], we weren't executing, or we were waiting until the second half to turn it up. We kept going all the way through [against the Pirates].
"It was basic stuff, but guys were executing the basic stuff we had planned."
Now the Tar Heels' goal is to become consistent in their concentration and effort -- from start to finish.
"The focus this week will be on us again," Fedora said. "It is still figuring out who we are as a football team. It's not so much physical as it is mental.
"We are physically in shape. It'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."
Concentration is the key, and it's all about building good habits.
"We've done a pretty good job in the second half of staying focused and doing the things," Fedora said. "We've got to start faster. I'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].
"We've got to do a better job of starting fast. That is where it has got to happen."