UNC held its annual spring game on Saturday with far less hype than the ESPNU televised version from last year.
First of all, it only went for one hour. I am not sure what spring games at UNC normally run in terms of length. However, the fact it ended after one hour seemed to surprise media members who referenced the game as being "short." Butch Davis did say earlier in the week the game would be more scripted than it was in 2010.
The Heels did give all four quarterbacks a shot at running the offense during the game. To no one's surprise Bryn Renner looked solid. Given he looked really good last year, I am not sure he could have exceeded expectations. Renner went 9-13 for 123 yards and hit Erik Highsmith for a 43 yard TD pass. None of the other QBs did much in the passing game. Braden Hanson was 3-4 for 25 yards. A.J. Blue and Marquise Williams each completed one pass and Williams threw the only INT of the day. Williams did had a 42 rushing TD but he and Blue were better when running the football versus passing it. On the receiving side, Highsmith had 67 yards and a touchdown with 43 yards coming on one play. Dwight Jones had four receptions for 56 yards.The rushing attack was fairly limited in part because Ryan Houston injured his shoulder after two carries for 22 yards. The rushing attack was spread around to Hunter Furr and Travis Riley.
On the defensive side, the defensive line was solid as expected led by Quinton Coples who had five tackles and one sack. JUCO transfer DT Sylvester Williams played well and verified the reports from practice that he was making an impact. The secondary continues to be a source of some concern all the way up the head coach. Charles Brown has not participated in spring practice due the NCAA suspension for taking $87 in improper benefits. Without him UNC is still very inexperienced in the secondary despite having quite a few players thrust into action last season with the entire secondary caught up in the NCAA probe. Of course UNC was going to be staring at a transition in the secondary anyway. UNC was senior laden at the both corner and safety slots. In fact getting Brown back at least gave the Heels a experienced player back they were not planning on. The growing pains in the secondary should not be unexpected and unfortunately could be problematic. In fact if it ends up being one, Everett Withers needs to seriously consider more pressure from the front seven. Yeah, I know, it probably won't happen.
Overall, the spring game did not offer anything exciting or new. The expectations were pretty well met and whatever concerns people had before are pretty much still there. And the NCAA is still out there as the harbinger of death. Hopefully come August, UNC can address any issues and do so without the NCAA hanging a two ton anvil over the program.