Mack Brown decided to make a change to the North Carolina football team’s spring routine.
The 70-year-old head coach incorporated a point-based competition, pitting the offense against the defense. Coming into Saturday, the score was tied, and the #TyleeStrong spring game was going to settle it.
In an intense, fast-paced scrimmage, the offense came away with the 45-32 victory. While many individuals showed flashes of excellence, Saturday’s exhibition left a lot of uncertainty around the program, especially among the offensive skill positions.
Junior receiver Josh Downs, who led the team last season with 1,335 receiving yards, made an early statement that he’s still an elite offensive weapon.
He showcased his strong chemistry with sophomore Jacolby Criswell, connecting on a 40-yard bomb into the red zone and a 12-yard touchdown reception. He also made a big play with redshirt first-year Drake Maye, another potential starting quarterback, darting past the secondary until he was wide open for a 38-yard catch and score.
Aside from Downs — who finished the day with four catches for 95 yards — no other receivers contributed much to the offense’s overall point total.
Senior Antoine Green made a nice contested grab for a first down but only had two other receptions. The only young receiver to make a big play was redshirt first-year Kobe Paysour, who caught the ball in stride for a 62-yard score, but the play was called off due to a penalty.
With new recruits Andre Greene and Tychaun Chapman ineligible to play, UNC’s wide receiver room was noticeably thin on Saturday, as it was throughout spring practice.
“(The quarterbacks) don’t have to throw to 15 to 20 different people,” Downs said. “They’re only throwing to like eight different guys and we’re really getting comfortable as a group. It does put a little toll on our legs, but it’s spring right now, so it’s not too big of a deal. We have until August to recover.”