Current Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 02:12:45 -0400
ATLANTA — In the preseason, North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora challenged tight end Eric Ebron to get 12 touchdown receptions this season. After UNC’s 28-10 loss to Georgia Tech, the task is a little less daunting.
Ebron, who came into the game without a touchdown reception this season, broke his scoreless streak late in the first quarter to extend UNC’s early lead, 13-0.
“Eric made a lot of plays for us today,” Fedora said, “and then they started changing up coverage wise what they were doing to kind of take it away from him.
Ebron inked his name in the season’s statistic with a one-handed grab on a 19-yard pass from quarterback Bryn Renner that likely left NFL scouts salivating at his potential.
“I saw that in the air, it’s just either go get it or look like a loser,” Ebron said of Renner’s pass. “So I’d rather go get it.”
Ebron amassed 95 yards on five catches in the first half and was on track for nearly a 200-yard game. But in the second half, Georgia Tech’s defense switched up its coverage and all but shut down the Greensboro native.
The junior only recorded one more catch on the day, a shovel pass from Renner followed by a 13-yard gain in the fourth quarter. But two plays later, Renner once again tried to go to the tight end, only to see his pass tipped and then intercepted by the Yellow Jackets. Ebron finished with a career high 108 yards.
Ebron left the game midway through the second half after taking a hard hit, but returned in the fourth quarter. Two fingers on his right hand were taped up after the game.
“When you catch the ball in the middle, you’re going to get the tar knocked out of you, and it doesn’t bother him,” Fedora said.
Ebron, on the Mackey Award watch list for the nation’s top tight end, knows that his skill set poses a challenge for opposing defenses, and he relishes disrupting the game plan.
“I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that I do cause problems and I am a mismatch nightmare,” he said. “There are some games where I won’t catch a ball and there are some games like today where I’ll have however many catches and however many yards.”
Ebron is one touchdown closer to reaching Fedora’s goal, and though touchdowns have been hard to come by through the first three games of the season, Ebron knows they’ll come.
“It comes with time,” he said. “All we have to do is just be patient and that’s what coach Fedora said, just be patient. And when the time came, I just capitalized on my opportunity… That’s what happened.
“One down, 11 more to go.”