UNC Analysis: Coordinators Make the Difference

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UNC, Virginia Tech
(Ivan Morozov)

It’s been a weird season for UNC. They opened with upset wins over South Carolina and Miami, then came in beat up and lost to Wake Forest and Appalachian State. They rebounded to nearly beat Clemson, and then they handled Georgia Tech. Mack Brown’s definitely getting more out of a squad that underperformed last year, though I think most of the coaching kudos goes to two names who are new to the program.


After a quick stay at Ole Miss, offensive coordinator Phil Longo escaped the SEC West grinder for the slightly less intimidating ACC Coastal. Coming after the Hugh Freeze debacle, the Rebels had a rough couple of years when Longo was there, but still put up a lot of yards at over 500 a game (if not so many points), good for second in the SEC in 2017 and 2018. When you’re watching the game, you’ll see plenty of shots of him on the sidelines.

Scanning through his bio, I can’t pin down when or where he became an Air Raid guy, but it shows up in spades with his scheme. He’s very open about how he teaches his offense. He’s got a stripped-down playbook and an even smaller call sheet, and he tries to make schematic reads in his game as simple as possible. He uses the “95%” rule, where he won’t install a play for the week unless he thinks it’ll be sound against 95% of the opponent’s defensive calls. For this reason, the offense looks very similar from week to week in terms