After a season that probably broke records for starts lost to injury, or at least came close to it, Larry Fedora and the Tar Heel football program had to have been hoping for some positive regression to the mean in terms of injury luck. And while I won’t say last season’s bad luck is continuing, I will say that football is a cruel mistress: Much-hyped sophomore running back Michael Carter has suffered a broken wrist in training camp and will be sidelined for 4 to 6 weeks.
Carter, as we’ve documented fairly thoroughly here this offseason, looks to be set for a breakout season, being named to the Doak Walker award watch list, appearing on numerous “players to watch out for” articles, and generating buzz within camp as well. His freshman year was exciting, but inconsistent, and with a year of conditioning and coaching under his belt, the prospect of him being able to put up something resembling his best 2017 games week in and week out has been a tantalizing thought.
It’s not gone completely, of course, as Carter should return after two to three games, four if the staff is extra cautious (UNC’s 4th game is just less than 6 weeks from the day of the injury) and thus be ready to play most of the season. Meanwhile, UNC is fortunate with this injury in that it’s at a position where the loss of one player might not be devastating. Antonio Williams is expected to start and Jordon Brown will get a meaty share of snaps as well. Brown and Carter are similar backs, so it’s not unreasonable to think that Brown will simply absorb most of Carter’s presumed snaps in addition to doing what he was already going to do. Besides the two of them, Johnathan Sutton will handle some goal-line work as he was already planned to. What may change due to this is that a freshman or two might get some playing time in sub packages in an opportunity to take advantage of the new redshirt rule: Javonte Williams and Devon Lawrence have both received rave reviews this offseason and it would not surprise me to see them earn a couple of carries to catch defenses off guard while Carter is sidelined.
It’s awful to hear about any injury, particularly one to as promising a player as Carter. We can only take solace in the facts that it’s not season-ending and that it isn’t the kind of injury that might cause movement issues after recovery. We at Tar Heel Blog wish Carter a quick and complete recovery.