Heels reveal good, bad in scrimmage
The White team faced fourth-and-21 from the Blue’s 42-yard line during North Carolina’s spring game Saturday when freshman quarterback Mitch Trubisky lofted a pass toward the end zone — right into the path of freshman cornerback Dominique Green.
Green had two choices — knock the ball down, giving his offense the ball at the 42, or catch it and try for a big return.
The freshman chose poorly, intercepting the pass but falling down at the 2, losing 40 yards of field position for his team.
Afterwards, Green said he wasn’t sure what down it was and decided that catching the pass was the best option.
“(The interception) felt real good, but then I knew (it was fourth down) when I looked up and saw the coach say, ‘Come here,’” Green said. “It’s a good learning experience.”
Saturday’s spring game at UNC’s Kenan Stadium was filled with good and bad plays — often at the same time, such as when sophomore wide receiver Quinshad Davis made an incredible one-handed catch, only to fumble the ball while attempting a cut in the open field.
Mostly, it was a chance for newcomers such as Green to experience their first high-profile competition and learn on the job, even if it was only a scrimmage against teammates.
“He’s gutsy,” Fedora said of Green. “He’s got some things to learn, ... but I tell you what, talent-wise, he really came on.”
No freshman made a greater first impression that running back Khris Francis, who graduated from Hillside a semester early and enrolled at UNC in January. Facing the starting defense, Francis gained 101 yards on 20 carries, including a 24-yard tone-setting rush on the second play of the game.
“For his first time out there in a game-type atmosphere, I thought he did a good job,” Fedora said. “I thought he hit some holes and exploded in them. There was one time I thought he got stood up, I said something to him and the next time, he’s got his shoulders down and he’s running north-south, which is what he’s got to do.”
Fedora said that his two veteran tailbacks — physical senior A.J. Blue and speedy sophomore Romar Morris — still were the front runners for the starting job, but the competition is open.
“I don’t think anybody has stepped out and said, ‘I’m the guy,’” Fedora said. “We’ve got some work to do there.”
Of course, Saturday being an intrasquad scrimmage, every positive had a corresponding negative. Francis, Blue and Morris had 43 carries for 220 yards, an average of 5.1 yards a run, which meant the defense had trouble filling gaps.
The first-string defense posted nine sacks — including four by defensive end Kareem Martin — which meant the offensive line may not have enough depth.
“I know we’ve got a long way to go,” Fedora said. “Up front on both sides of the ball, we’ve still got to do a much better job. Defensively, we’ve got to stop the run. ... Offensively, our tempo was very, very average to say the least.”
Francis said his biggest concern during the spring was learning the playbook. Next up will be adjusting to the tempo Fedora expects.
“Back in high school, we weren’t fast-paced like this,” Francis said. “We still called in the plays through hand signals, but we took our time.
"This really takes a toll on your body, but I’m trying to get used to it.”