North Carolina faces the daunting task of replacing its starting quarterback, running back, two offensive lineman and the team’s top three wide receivers from last year. With so much change, things could spiral out of control in a very strong Coastal Division.
Obviously, coach Larry Fedora is trying his best prevent that from happening. His best chance of doing so could very well be trusting new quarterback Brandon Harris.
The graduate transfer was once a starter and played 22 games for LSU from 2014-16. Last year, he lost his job after just two games, but he may prove to be a much better fit in the North Carolina offense.
ACCsports.com listed three factors that could lead to big things for Harris this season. The No. 1 reason was Fedora’s system:
UNC, on the other hand, has done much better with a system that moves quickly and plays into space. In 2015, Marquise Williams suffered a sack rate of only four percent. A year later — the 2016 season — Mitch Trubisky was sacked on only 4.3 percent of his dropbacks.
It’s a bit different in the pros, but in the NFL, a four percent sack rate is the gold standard. In both of those seasons, the Tar Heels ranked inside the top 30 nationally in adjusted sack rate, per Football Study Hall.
ACCsports.com made the point that with fewer sacks, Harris will have a much better yards per carry average. As a sophomore at LSU, he was a formidable runner, averaging 3.4 yards per rush, but without the sacks, that average jumps to 6.1 yards per carry.
Finally, ACCSports.com still likes Harris’ potential throwing the ball down the field. In his first seven games of 2015, he completed 50 percent of his passes over the middle of the field for 395 yards and no interceptions.
If all three things come together for Harris, North Carolina could stay a contender in the Coastal Division.