The 2017 football season is just around the corner, and North Carolina offense will look markedly different than it did a year ago. All the main players on offense will be different heading into the upcoming season, so it’s natural to question how successful that unit will look. Here are five of the biggest questions the Tar Heels’ offense will need to answer.
Is Austin Proehl ready to be the guy?
Bug Howard, Mack Hollins, and Ryan Switzer have moved on to the NFL, leaving Proehl as the go-to guy on offense for the Tar Heels at wide receiver. He flashed plenty of promise as a supporting player that could occasionally make a team pay for not respecting him as much as his other receiver teammates.
In 2017, Proehl will need to take his game to the next level in order to succeed with opposing defenses keying in on him. The easiest way for a team to ease in a new quarterback is for his receiving options to step up and make big plays. A lot of that will fall on Proehl this year.
Which running back separates himself?
The running back situation for the Tar Heels is quite muddy at this point of the offseason. Jordon Brown, Stanton Truitt, and Michael Carter are all in the running for touches with each bringing their own strength to the mix.
Carolina (and most teams, to be fair) are best when there is a featured running back instead of a committee approach. There is room for a T.J. Logan next to an Elijah Hood, but one is still the star of the show. One of Brown, Truitt, or Carter will need to be that guy for the Heels this season.
Can Brandon Harris thrive in Larry Fedora’s offense?
The smart money is on Brandon Harris being named UNC’s starting quarterback when all is said and done. He transferred to Carolina to be the starter in Mitch Trubisky’s absence, and nothing indicates that won’t be the case when the season opens on September 2nd.
Fedora’s offense is vastly different than what Harris was accustomed to at LSU, and he’ll need to adapt to the new play style quickly. The offense will need to run through him, and will likely only be as good as Harris can be. Harris excelling in the new scheme can really be the difference between the offense clicking the way we’re used to under Fedora and sputtering to some disappointing finishes.
Can the offensive line stay healthy?
Last year was an abysmal year for health on UNC’s offensive line. Injury after injury forced players out of position regularly, and it did not go smoothly. What could have been a strength turned into a true weakness because of so many moving parts. The line will hopefully have better luck in the health department this year (as things can’t really go worse in that regard) in order to help keep a path open for the running back of choice and protect Harris.
Will UNC be able to lean on the kicking game again?
Having Nick Weiler be so reliable as Carolina’s kicker last season was easy to take for granted. It wasn’t that long ago that the Heels had to routinely pass up field goal opportunities from pretty much any distant because of how awful their kicking game was.
Weiler is gone now, and a new kicker will be forced into action. The likely choice seems to be freshman Noah Ruggles, who will inevitably have his own growing pains as he transitions to the college game. Hopefully he can be a reliable force that Fedora can lean on, even if not to the extent of Weiler’s heroics from exceptional distance.