CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina’s offense showed off its new look Saturday in its first spring game under Larry Fedora, complete with impressive performances from quarterback Bryn Renner and tailback Romar Morris.
Morris, a redshirt freshman, scored three touchdowns in the first half of the intrasquad scrimmage to provide the biggest highlight. Renner, meanwhile, looked comfortable running the no-huddle scheme that Fedora brought with him from Southern Mississippi and finished with 295 yards on 23-for-28 passing with two scores.
Beyond the statistics, it was the final chance for Fedora and his staff to see how much the players have processed in their 15 spring practices and where they’ll pick up for preseason camp this summer.
“Yeah, I’ll never feel good,” Fedora said when asked his feelings on how much the team accomplished during spring. “We made progress. I’ll put it like that.”
The staff spent much of the spring workouts focused on teaching the players how to work at an up-tempo pace, which will be the foundation of everything Fedora’s team does this fall and in coming years. The goal, offensive coordinator Blake Anderson had said, was to be ready for the snap as soon as the official sets the ball after a play.
At times, the Tar Heels did just that, quickly lining up after a play and snapping the ball within 10 seconds or so of the official spotting the ball.
The offenses started off bumpy, with the Blue and White squads combining for three false-start and three illegal-formation penalties in the first four possessions.
But once things settled down, Renner and Morris – who earned extra reps when starter Giovani Bernard left after suffering a cut to the back of his head – took charge for Blue in the 44-21 win against White.
“I think the more reps we get in this offense, the better we’re going to be,” Renner said. “Luckily, we have the summer to as a unit work on the things we need to work on.”
Renner’s first scoring pass was a short toss on the left side to Morris, who sprinted through the defense for a 17-yard touchdown. Morris ran for an eight-yard score on the next possession, then caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Renner later in the half for his third score.
“It felt great,” Morris said. “Once it started rolling, it felt like practice again, just like we was running on air. There was great movement, great motion, the offense was just rolling.”
Tim Scott added a 35-yard yard interception return for a score that gave Blue a 34-7 halftime lead.
“For me, it was awful slow out there and sluggish in between the plays,” Fedora said. “We’ve still got a ways to go in understanding the tempo. But it’s not hard to see the stress you can put on the defense when you start moving the chains a few times and you’ve got tempo going.”