Tar Heels' record-setting offense ready to roll again
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Mack Hollins looks back at what North Carolina's high-scoring offense did last year and thinks the Tar Heels can do even more.
That would be quite a feat, too, considering the Tar Heels put up totals never seen before in the program's century-plus history
''If you're not getting better then you're getting worse,'' the receiver said Saturday on the team's preseason photo day. ''There's no staying the same. So we all believe - the entire offense and the entire defense believes we'll be better as a team as well as an offense.''
One thing is certain: that no-huddle offense running at go-go-go pace has become the defining characteristic of UNC's teams entering the fifth season under Larry Fedora. And with that unit posting big scoring totals, it provides quite a margin for error for the Tar Heels' defense while putting a lot of pressure on opposing offenses to keep up.
''I believe that this offense has the potential to be better than last year's offense,'' Fedora said. ''But they've still got to do it.''
North Carolina averaged program records of 40.7 points and 486.9 yards last season, while the Tar Heels also set school records with 570 points, 6,817 total yards and a national-best average of 7.28 yards per play. That helped UNC match a program record with 11 wins and play for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
That made it the fourth time in as many seasons that the Tar Heels finished in the top 10 of the program records for total offense per game.
And as good as that unit was, it seemed to take a big step in November coming down the stretch to secure the program's first ACC Coastal Division title. First came a 66-point, 704-yard outing in a rout of rival Duke. A week later, the Tar Heels scored the first 45 points and finished with 487 yards in a 59-21 win against Miami.
They closed the regular season by scoring 35 points in the opening quarter to beat rival North Carolina State on the road, then lost shootouts with then-No. 1 Clemson in the ACC championship game and against Baylor in the Russell Athletic Bowl to end the year.
Hollins called that stretch ''the first time the offense has been run the way it was supposed to be.''
''There were a few games here and there throughout Coach Fedora's tenure, but it's never clicked for a consistent time'' like that before, Hollins said. ''When you win 11 games, you see it's because it's been clicking for so long. That's a result we expect every year if we're doing what we're supposed to be doing.''
That unit returns an elite runner in junior tailback Elijah Hood and an experienced backup in speedy senior T.J. Logan. There are big-play receivers in Hollins, Ryan Switzer and Bug Howard. There's a veteran offensive line.
And while junior Mitch Trubisky is entering his first year as the full-time starting quarterback, he's played well in spot duty.
''Just because the pieces are there doesn't mean it happens,'' Fedora said. ''So they've got a lot of hard work to do to make that happen. And they've got to want it more than I do.''
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