Senior players were quick to point out how Brown is bringing a fresh feeling to the team, and how they've already seen the results of his influence.
"I think the biggest change right now would just be an overall energy boost that's been going on throughout the team," redshirt senior offensive lineman Charlie Heck said. "The players are excited to go out to practice, people are running around, making plays, celebrating in practice. It's really fun right now."
The turf and practice facility are new, just like the sleeping pods, couches and pool table now adorning the players' lounge, all requests from the team that Brown made happen. It hammers home to players that Brown, as Heck points out, is a coach who "gets things done."
The biggest change going forward for the team is the new offensive system Brown wants to implement. He's publicly stated a desire to copy elements of the Oklahoma offense, although the former University of Texas coach doesn't like the term "air raid."
"What I want is a team that can throw the ball as well as anyone in the country," Brown said. "The air raid offenses have been doing that. I watched it for 16 years at Texas with Mike Leach and with Kliff Kingsbury. The thing that was missing with them, in my estimation, was the power running game."
The Tar Heels will still be a pass-heavy team, as they were under former head coach Larry Fedora, but will also emphasize a power running game with backs like Michael Carter.
"You don't want to think of this as just we're spreading the ball out, we're passing," Heck said. "We're doing a lot of the same things that successful programs do, and we're running the ball."
The biggest question for UNC entering the fall is the same one that faced the team all last season — which quarterback will step up as a consistent starter? Especially now, with an offense so dependent on strong quarterback play.
Last year, North Carolina threw 14 interceptions and tied for 102nd in the nation with 23 turnovers. Currently, the quarterback competition is thought to be between incoming 4-star Sam Howell and redshirt first-years Cade Fortin and Jace Ruder. All three have struggled in the offseason with turnovers, according to Brown, an area the new coach intends to improve upon.
"Taking care of the ball is just taking care of the ball," Dorn said. "But they got to figure it out. They didn't have no turnovers in the spring game and that was big. I was so proud of them for doing that. No fumbles, no picks – I think that just comes with confidence."
With a young team — more than half the team is in their first year of eligibility — the Tar Heels will look for veterans like Dorn and Heck to step up.
"Something that I've been pushing myself to do is become more of a vocal leader," Heck said. "In general, I'm more of a quiet person, so that's something I've been working on in the spring. Pushing people along, getting more comfortable being able to hold someone accountable and hold myself accountable."
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