Mack Brown has stated his intent for the 2023 season to have a more focused rushing attack. Last year, following the departure of Ty Chandler and the offseason injury to British Brooks, the offense went up and down the depth chart looking for a replacement candidate. None grabbed the starting job with both hands until Elijah Green at the end of the season.
In 2022, five backs—Elijah Green, Caleb Hood, Omarion Hampton, George Pettaway, and D.J. Jones—saw snaps out of the backfield. Mack Brown has stated that he wants a 2+1 scenario in the backfield next season. This hints towards a desire to have an established starter, back-up, and perhaps a change of pace back to take a majority of the snaps.
Based on the 2023 Spring Game last Saturday, Elijah Green still has a hold of the starting job with British Brooks the likely deputy. It’s hard to take away any hard lessons from the Spring Game, as the backs ran against a “Thud” defense (hitting, but not tackling to the ground), but the pecking order is telling.
Brooks had a stellar end to 2021, averaging 95 ypg in the last three games of the season. If his knee is healthy, he deserves a chance to show his progress. Omarion Hampton and Caleb Hood have shown a strong power running game, but Hampton had issues coughing up the ball and Hood cannot stay healthy.
George Pettaway has a unique skillset among the current running backs, with his shorter height and quick burst making him more of a quick-twitch escape artist. He did not play in the Spring Game due to a sprained ankle, but he would be the ideal third back and punt returner.
Look for some movement in the transfer portal in the running backs room now that the Spring Game is over and Mack Brown and his staff have had time to give feedback to the players. Don’t forget that four-star recruit Jordan Louie will join the team in the summer (he did not enroll in time to participate in the Spring Game).
Who do you think will start the season in the 2+1 rotation? Who will give the Heels the best chance at winning? Let us know in the comments!