Larry Fedora era off to Good Start
By Stuart Barefoot
Follow us at Twitter.com/SouthernPigskin. Become a fan at the SouthernPigskin.com Facebook Page
North Carolina's new spread attack was efficient in a 62-0 win over Elon.
Giovani Bernard scored the first Carolina points of the season with a 59-yard touchdown on the Tar Heel’s second possession en route to a 62-0 victory over Elon on Saturday. Bernard rushed for 93 yards, caught a touchdown pass and scored on a 70-yard punt return to begin his sophomore campaign. Bryn Renner impressed as well, completing 14 of 21 passes for 236 yards, tossing three touchdowns and 1 interception.
The Tar Heel defense forced four turnovers, recovering two fumbles and intercepting two passes, while only allowing 170 total yards all game. Elon’s offense struggled the entire afternoon. Thomas Wilson completed just 13 of his 27 passes without throwing a touchdown, and had two of his passes picked off.
The Heels took a 14-0 lead into the second quarter after Bernard rushed and caught for touchdowns. When the Heels couldn’t convert on a 3rd and 6, Casey Barth kicked a 21-yard field goal on their first drive of the second quarter to extend the lead to 17-0.
Following an Elon three and out in the ensuing possession, Bernard returned a punt 70 yards for his third touchdown of the half to pile on the lead for the Heels, who now had a 24-0 advantage after the extra point. After another three and out, the Phoenix would punt UNC into good field position. Two plays later, Renner connected with Jheranie Boyd for a 35-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 30-0. UNC would add another field goal and touchdown during the second quarter to take a commanding 41-0 lead into the locker room.
The Phoenix had one of their better possessions to begin the second half. Wilson completed back-to back passes to gain 16 yards before Tracey Coppedge rushed for a short gain of three yards. But Wilson’s inability to complete passes again thwarted Elon’s chances, and after six plays the Phoenix had to pun the ball again.
The Phoenix defense was again baffled by the Tar Heel’s spread offense. From Elon’s 23-yard line, Renner sent a rocket up the middle to Jack Tabb for a 23-yard touchdown pass. After Barth’s point after was good, UNC lead 48-0.
The teams traded fumbles on the next two possessions. With the ball on Elon’s 41, Coppedge lost the ball while rushing through the middle of the UNC defense. Gene Robinson would recover the ball to give the Heels possession. North Carolina suffered a similar fate of their own. Threatening to score with the ball on Elon’s 13, backup QB Marquise Williams' screen pass to A.J Blue was caught then fumbled and ultimately recovered by Jordan Jones in the end zone.
Williams would redeem himself when he rushed for a three-yard touchdown later in the third quarter. Blue would cap off the Tar Heel scoring with a 4-yard rush into the end zone.
The only damper on UNC’s massive scoring day was the fact that Bernard left at the end of the first half and did not return to the sideline the rest of the game. Since Fedora does not discuss injuries, exactly what was ailing Bernard and what his status for next week’s game might be, is unknown right now.
While a 62-0 win over Elon may not be the most accurate way for North Carolina to gauge where they stand, one thing can be said: They were efficient with the football. The Heels completed 20 of their 28 passes, including an 18 yarder from Highsmith to Renner. They also converted two out of three fourth down conversions and six of thirteen on third downs.
For fans wondering if UNC could adapt to the spread offense, the answer for now appears to be “yes.” Obviously, Elon will be one of the easier games the Heels will play all season, however. Next week, Carolina will head west on 1-40 to take on Wake Forest.