I suppose it was a given considering how many plays Larry Fedora wants to run that QB Bryn Renner would be a prolific passer. That has turned out to be the case though with RB Gio Bernard's emergence as one of the best all-around running backs in the country, it has gone unnoticed. As it stands, heading into the game with Maryland, Renner is within 367 yards of T.J. Yates' single season passing mark. That is a record he could break against Maryland though it would take a career day to do so (Renner needs 367, his career high is 363.). It is also a record that if UNC were bowl eligible would almost certainly fall. Whatever total Renner finishes with on Saturday will be over the course of 12 games whereas Yates was afforded 13 during the 2010 season.
In addition to the season total, Renner is the first QB in Tar Heel football history to throw for over 3000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Prior to Renner taking the starting job in 2011, there had only been one 3000 yard passing season in UNC history, the aforementioned record effort from Yates. Since then Renner has posted two seasons over 3000 yards making it a streak of three straight for UNC. By and large the list of Tar Heel quarterbacks who could be called great passers was neither long nor distinguished. Counting Renner's two seasons, UNC has had a total of 10 passing seasons over 2000 yards with six of those split between Yates and Darian Durant. The history of UNC football has been one focused on a great rushing attack and the passing game was there as needed. The new era of offensive college football has changed that and with Larry Fedora it is about balance meaning you can have both if you have the right personnel.
That is certainly the case right now and Renner has taken full advantage of the new offensive scheme. It was evident early on he was acclimating and even struggling at times. The hit he took in the Wake Forest game may have slowed his progress some but he has certainly hit his stride this month. Renner has three straight games over 300 yards passing and five total for the season. He is also three TD passes short of matching his own school record for touchdown passes. Like the passing yards record, he certainly would break it if UNC were able to go to a bowl.
Given the tempo and even complexity of Larry Fedora's offense, Renner doesn't get enough credit for how well it is being run. Bernard's presence has simplified things but when called on to make throws, Renner often makes them. He has not been mistake-prone, only throwing seven interceptions which is six fewer than 2011 despite throwing 33 more passes. The offensive system is helpful here since Renner can make quick, short passes which are less likely to be picked. Still, Renner's decision making has improved and as he becomes more comfortable with the offense, he appears to be more effective.
So when UNC takes the field against Maryland on Saturday, Bernard will get most of the attention but don't forget Renner who has been factor in the Tar Heels' success this season.