“Wait… Who was that guy?”
That was the question I heard the most during and after UNC’s season opener vs. California. While the outcome of the game wasn’t quite what we hoped for, several new faces shined for the Tar Heels, and the fans took notice.
The most discussed newcomers were Brandon Harris and Chazz Surratt. Larry Fedora’s QB circus was almost guaranteed to come up within a minute of speaking to anyone about the game. From what I’ve heard, it seems as though the only person who thinks that the quarterback rotation is a good idea is Fedora himself. Another duo that has been the topic of hot discussion are the two young running backs, Jordon Brown and Michael Carter. Carter, a true freshman, ran for 94 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries… which many fans believe were not enough. Behind the quarterback fiasco, the reason I heard the most often for UNC’s loss was a lack of touches for Carter. Not bad for a guy who just played his first game of college football. Brown accounted for 107 all purpose yards, 47 more than all of last season. Unlike the QB situation, the fans seem to like the split backfield, and I believe that Brown and Carter make for a duo that could cause some problems for ACC defenses in the future. The receiving corps featured an ensemble cast led by Austin Proehl, who hauled in 4 receptions for 55 yards. Proehl has already begun to garner comparisons to Ryan Switzer, and many fans are left wondering if he will be able to live up to expectations. Only time will tell.
The defense, however, was anchored by several familiar names. Andre Smith led the team with 10 tackles and established himself as an early fan favorite with his 73-yard interception return in the third quarter. MJ Stewart, Donnie Miles, and Malik Carney were also players that I heard other students predict as UNC’s possible defensive player of the year. Many fans were worried about the holes in the secondary that allowed for Cal to break off numerous big passing plays.
As the students return to Chapel Hill for the fall semester, there is a certain hopefulness of what great things the next four months may hold. This same hopefulness surrounds the football team. In Saturday’s game vs. Cal, both old and new faces showed that this team has the potential to do great things.