The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

UNC football answers questions about offense before season opener

Redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Trubisky speaks at the season opening press conference for UNC football.

Redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Trubisky speaks at the season opening press conference for UNC football.

When North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora arrived in 2012, he tried to provide answers for a middling UNC offense.

Four years later, the focus remains on the offensive side of the ball — but the questions have changed.

On Saturday, redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Trubisky will make his first career start when No. 22 UNC takes on No. 18 Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

“I’m convinced he’s our guy. There’s no question about that,” Fedora said Monday in his first weekly press conference at the Kenan Football Center.

“Coming off the bench in a relief role and being a starter, there is a difference there. There will be a little bit of a learning curve for him in that aspect.”

But Fedora knows that Trubisky — who has taken first-team reps in practice the past two years — is capable of leading the offense to the level Marquise Williams did last season.

Last season, Trubisky went 40-for-47 for six touchdowns in limited playing time. But this season, the Mentor, Ohio native will have ample opportunity to live up to his No. 1 dual-threat quarterback ranking from high school. 

“I don’t really feel like I have anything to prove to anyone else except my teammates," Trubisky said. "They’ve seen me do it in practice, so I just want to play for them on Saturday."

But on Saturday, Trubisky will be without one of his top wideouts for the first half — as senior Mack Hollins fulfills the automatic suspension from his ejection for targeting in the second half of UNC’s 49-38 loss to Baylor in the 2015 Russell Athletic Bowl.

“We’ve been preparing for that this whole camp," Fedora said. "The biggest deal for us is he’s been starting on all four units for special teams. The next receiver will step up, and we’ve got a lot of guys who can play."

As for who will replace Hollins — who led the Tar Heels in receiving yards and touchdowns in 2015 — in the first half, Fedora stayed coy.

But regardless of who steps onto the field, preseason All-ACC running back Elijah Hood seems unconcerned.

“Scheme-wise, I don’t expect much (change)," Hood said. "We’re going to do what we’re going to do. We’ve got guys in behind Mack who know how to run the concepts. We’ll be fine.”

A more pressing concern for UNC lies at right guard, where Landon Turner's departure and John Ferranto's injury leave a gaping hole in the offensive line.

Fedora said it's a two-horse race between redshirt first-year Tommy Hatton and redshirt junior R.J. Prince, both of whom might see time as the season progresses.

But even with uncertainty on the right side of the line, Trubisky expressed confidence in the leadership of redshirt senior left guard Caleb Peterson.

“He’s really taken the offense under his wing and led the rest of the linemen and the rest of the position groups," the quarterback said.

"He’s a lot more vocal and brings a lot more energy. He really takes that leadership role personally.”

Despite the offensive questions heading into the year, Hood and Trubisky both emphasized the importance of beating a ranked team in the season's first game — especially after the Tar Heels opened last season with a 17-13 loss to South Carolina in Charlotte.

But Fedora was quick not to overvalue the season opener, even one as prominent as this year's game.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

“This is the most important game because it’s the next game,” he said. “One game doesn’t make or break the season.”