UNC quarterback Bryn Renner wasn't satisfied with the Tar Heels' pacing on Saturday. Neither was coach Larry Fedora. PHOTO: Robert Willett
CHAPEL HILL — If you haven’t already, be sure to give the story I wrote for today a quick read. It’s about North Carolina’s offensive tempo during the Tar Heels’ 62-0 victory on Saturday against Elon – and how UNC coaches and players weren’t all that happy with it.
To recap, UNC on Saturday ran 74 plays – about 12 more on average than what the Heels ran last season – and accumulated 524 yards. But even when they ran 43 plays for 336 yards, offensive coordinator Blake Anderson described that as “slow” on Saturday.
As I note in that story linked above, Tar Heels quarterback Bryn Renner said he felt “embarrassed” when he watched Oregon later in the day. The Ducks, in a lopsided victory against Arkansas State, ran more than 90 plays and executed their no-huddle spread with a far faster pace than what UNC mustered on Saturday.
Of course, that’s not all that much of a surprise. This was the first game for the Heels in this new offense, of course.
But if anything, it showed UNC how far it has to.
Larry Fedora and his players reiterated that on Monday. Here’s what Fedora had to say when I asked him what stood out about the offense, good or bad, on Saturday:
“Our tempo was still not close to where we want it to be,” he said. “And hopefully we identified some of the problems there and with some of the calls that needed to be made, or didn’t need to be made. And with Bryn just having a sense of urgency about himself in between plays.”
Was there a number on the play clock at which Fedora wanted the ball snapped?
He said there wasn’t.
“We really don’t talk about a number on the clock,” Fedora said. “Just, we want to go fast. So what is fast? I don’t know. Just go fast. So we really don’t talk about a number … we want to get the ball snapped as quickly as possible.
“So that means, the transition time and the process time between plays, on average you’re going to have – the officials are going to be able to set that ball somewhere between six and eight seconds, from the end of one play to when it’s ready to play.
“And we’ve love to get it snapped at that point. That means we’ve got to get back to the line of scrimmage, in a new formation, have communicated the play and snap count and got it gone.”
The problem on Saturday was there was too much standing around.
“The tempo – I sound like a broken record saying it every week,” Renner said. “But in practice, we don’t move the ball – the ball doesn’t move up. So we kind of stay in a neutral position. As far as if we hit a long play, it’s going to come right back to the spot. So I kind of just stand there.
“So I got caught looking a couple of times, and that got exploited on film from coach Fedora, coach Anderson. And I won’t let that happen again. I kind of let the team down in that regard, of not pushing the tempo. It’s like fast-break offense, you know, we’ve got to get up and call the next play, and that starts with me.
“So I can’t be a spectator – I might as well just buy a ticket.”
I asked Renner if that “buy-a-ticket” line came from Anderson or Fedora while they were chewing out Renner during the film study. Renner said it wasn’t. He came up with it on the fly, and quick. Just like he wants this offense to be.