We’re just a few short days away from the Belk Bowl when the Cincinnati Bearcats and North Carolina Tar Heels hit the field. To continue our prep for the game, we’ll take a look at the Tar Heel offense, a unit that has encountered some adversity this season but can still score a boatload of points. On the season, UNC averaged over 32 points per game. They even dropped 80 in three quarters against Old Dominion a month ago that the forced the Monarchs to ask for a shortened fourth quarter due to the humiliation.
Statistically, the Tar Heels are a slightly better passing team than running team but at the end of the day do a lot of things right offensively, racking up 432 yards of offense per game. Overall, North Carolina knows how to get into the endzone and how to get there often.
Let’s break down each position.
Like I mentioned, North Carolina has dealt with some adversity in 2013. Starting quarterback Bryn Renner (#2) was lost for the season due to a shoulder injury against intrastate rival NC State. But the Tar Heel offense never missed a beat with sophomore quarterback Marquise Williams (#12) spelling the battle hardened senior. Despite just a handful of reps to his name, Williams sliced and diced opposing defenses. The key for him is his dual-threat abilities. Williams has passed for over 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns in just half of a season but has also rushed for almost 500 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2013. Cincinnati better keep a spy on this kid.
Marquise Williams has truly been North Carolina’s most dangerous rushing threat but at the actual runningback position, the Tar Heels, like the Bearcats, don’t appear to have one single weapon there. Most of the reps are split fairly evenly between four backs but the two to keep an eye on are freshman T.J. Logan (#8) and senior A.J. Blue (#15). At 6’2″ and 215 lbs, Blue was the every-down ball carrier, utilizing his large size to grind out yards in between the tackles. The 5’10″, 185 lbs Logan compliments him well but seems to have taken most of his reps. Despite being just a freshman, he appears to be North Carolina’s no. 1 runningback heading into the bowl game.
The Tar Heels boast strong receiving threats in Eric Ebron (#85) and Quinshad Davis (#14). Ebron is actually a tight end and works the middle of the field much like Travis Kelce did for Cincinnati last season. He has excellent size at 6’4″, 245 lbs, making him an easy target for Williams to find between the hashmarks. Ebron leads North Carolina with 55 receptions for 895 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wide receiver Quinshad Davis compliments the tight end perfectly on the outside. If Ebron isn’t open over the middle, chances are Davis will be on the outside. His 6’4″, 205 lbs frame also makes him a good target for Marquise Williams and has accounted for 10 receiving touchdowns this season.
North Carolina boasts a large but inexperienced offensive line. All five starting hogmollies for the Tar Heels weigh in at a minimum of 300 lbs. But North Carolina is also starting two freshman here, right tackle John Heck (#71) and left guard Caleb Peterson (#70). On the season this unit is about middle-of-the-pack in protecting the quarterback, allowing 21 sacks this season which ties them for 47th nationally. This is a solid but not outright outstanding unit.