“Always gaining positive yards on first and second downs is always a big thing,” Renner said. “Obviously we want to gain as many yards as possible, but first and second down, just really taking pride in at least getting half of 10 yards is a big key that we’re going to work on this week.”
The Tar Heels played without Erik Highsmith against the Yellow Jackets after the junior wide receiver sustained an ankle injury.
Withers said Monday that Highsmith, as well as injured cornerback Jabari Price, are questionable for UNC’s matchup with East Carolina on Saturday and will be assessed on a day-to-day basis leading up to the game.
Withers added that kicker Casey Barth, who also missed Saturday’s game in Atlanta because of a thigh injury, probably won’t play against the Pirates.
Without the asset of his four-year starting kicker, Withers stressed the importance of his team scoring touchdowns every chance they had against Ga. Tech.
But with unfruitful drives, the Tar Heels struggled to convert big breaks into points.
In the second quarter of last Saturday’s game, quarterback Tevin Washington threw his first interception of the season. But just two plays later, Renner threw it right back to the other team.
Those issues — what Withers refers to as “missed opportunities for big plays” — are things North Carolina is hoping to avoid in this weekend’s in-state rivalry game.
Last Saturday’s loss proved to the Tar Heels that missed opportunities for big plays can make or break a game. So for Renner, the surefire remedy is just focusing on the small things.
“Self-inflicted wounds (gave us problems) — jumping offsides, not taking care of the ball, just little things,” Renner said. “Coach Withers preaches little things are going to make or break this team … Self inflicted wounds, we can’t have those.”
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