CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner referred to tailbacks Ryan Houston and Gio Bernard as “Thunder and Lightning” earlier this week for their bruising and quick styles, respectively.
But the duo came up with their own tongue-in-cheek nickname over the last couple of weeks, as they stood on the sidelines in non-contact orange jerseys: “We’ve called ourselves the ‘Orange Crush team,” Bernard said, laughing.
The moniker officially went away Tuesday, as both were expected to resume contact drills in preparation for Saturday’s season opener against James Madsion. Houston, a redshirt senior who was named the starter on Monday, has been limited all training camp because of offseason shoulder surgery. Bernard, a redshirt freshman, suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left hand on August 13, and was held out of contact drills after that.
Bernard will still wear a small cast on the hand Saturday, but he said it shouldn’t be an issue.
“I feel fine; it’s just a little injury,’’ he said. “I can still catch it, I can still hold the ball in that left hand, there’s just a little cast I’ll be wearing, but it’s nothing too extreme.
Bernard grinned at Renner’s “Thunder and Lightning” tag, but also cautioned not to assume which tailback got which nickname.
“Ryan’s a big back, but he’s also quick – nobody thinks that Ryan has the lightning, but he really does have that lightning,’’ he said. “And I’m a little bit of both, also, so I don’t say that we’re both one dimensional; we’re both able to produce those things.”