No. 17 Tar Heels getting plenty of production from wideouts

Publish date:

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Marquise Williams is completely at ease running No. 17 North Carolina's offense. The reason isn't just his experience as a fifth-year senior, either.

It's the fact that he has so many improved downfield targets to choose from while making his reads.

''Makes it a whole lot easier, man,'' Williams said. ''Just to do that and throw the ball to them guys. And it's no pressure on me.'''

The Tar Heels (8-1, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) can claim a share of the league's Coastal Division title and a trip to the league championship game with a win against Miami as well as a Pittsburgh loss at Duke. And the depth at receiver has been a key reason why the Williams-led offense is rolling entering Saturday's home finale.

UNC has two receivers - juniors Mack Hollins and Ryan Switzer - with at least 500 yards receiving, with fellow junior Bug Howard is next up with 407 yards. Then there's senior Quinshad Davis, who owns the program career record for receptions (186) and touchdown catches (23).

It's a group that gives the Tar Heels plenty of size on the perimeter to make a play in traffic, with Howard, Hollins and Davis all standing at least 6 feet, 4 inches. Switzer, meanwhile, gives the Tar Heels a smaller, shifty receiver who can play in the slot or make big plays downfield.

''I really believe we've got actually more than four,'' UNC coach Larry Fedora said Monday. ''We can throw Austin Proehl out there behind Switz and he can make plays for us. So we've got more guys. The talent's been there, it's just you can only get so many of them on the field.''

The group certainly showed it in last weekend's 66-31 rout of Duke, which ranked in the top 10 nationally of passing, total and scoring defense.

Williams found Switzer wide open off a flea-flicker for an 89-yard touchdown on UNC's first offensive snap. Williams found Hollins for a 74-yard touchdown with 1:30 left in the first half, then connected with Howard on a 49-yard touchdown heave with 1 second left before the break.

Williams threw one more touchdown, finding Davis for a 12-yard score midway through the third quarter before calling it a day with a program-record 494 yards passing.

The group has combined for six 100-yard performances this season, according to STATS. Hollins, who had five catches for 165 yards against Duke, has a team-best three 100-yard games with seven touchdowns and ranks second nationally by averaging 26.3 yards per catch (21 catches for a team-high 553 yards).

Switzer had his second 100-yard game against the Blue Devils, while Howard finished just shy of his second this season with 83 yards.

''Just having that many receivers, as a college quarterback, that's what you want,'' Williams said. ''Anybody that can make plays . and I knew that if I just throw the ball at any one of them, they're going to make plays for me.''


Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at and the AP's college football site at .