UNC Study: Major Talent At The Skill Positions

UNC
Drake Maye brings a mobile element to the quarterback position at UNC. (UNC athletics)

UNC’s Week 4 game against Notre Dame didn’t go well. The Irish won 45-32, but it was only that close because of a fluky fumble by a Notre Dame ball-carrier extending towards the goal line. The game had some sideline highlights like a Mack Brown tirade, that, at least in Grandpa Mack terms, was Bobby Knight-on-PCP levels, as well as UNC players tussling and barking at each other on the sidelines. Is this a routine descent into Argyle Miami, or do they come together after a tough loss?

UNC Offense

Phil Longo is still in charge, despite the fact that I don’t think Mack Brown is 100% in-step with how he runs the offense. Longo is yet another Air Raid guy, though it looks a little different with Drake Maye (QB, #10) taking snaps. Maye is a good runner, being nimble and determined as he averages about seven yards a trot, and Longo is taking advantage of him. Most of that is turning him loose to scramble, but there are designed runs, too:

That’s Split Zone Read with the TE going to the flat instead of blocking, so it’s basically a triple-option play (you’ve seen the Hokies run it.) The QB can give or keep based on the DE, and if he keeps, he can then pass or keep running depending on if the TE is covered. I’d give the whole offense high marks on this one. On the zone side, the line has gotten a good push, opened a big hole, and occupied the linebackers and boundary safety. Tight end Bryson Nesbit (#18) reads and avoids the DE, then stays behind the line of scrimmage to keep any flags for downfield blockers from coming out. Maye makes the right read off the DE and has enough speed to stay out of his reach; then he IDs the linebacker covering the TE, so he’s right to keep running. Even the receivers to the field side all get good blocks. You also have to give credit to Phil Longo for calling the play against a defense where the free-hitter (the field-side safety) is falling off into zone coverage.

For such a young player, Maye has been threading needles and dropping dimes with outsized confidence:

That’s a pretty good job by the linebacker of squeezing back and matching the receiver’s route—there’s almost no room for error on the throw, but Maye gets it right in there. That said, Maye is still a redshirt freshman and he’s been handing off a lot to true freshman Omarion Hampton (RB, #28.) At one point I saw them get their feet tangled, leading to Hampton eating dirt in the backfield. He’s only got one interception on the year, which was this one where he failed to throw open the receiver against tight coverage:

My gut tells me he’s due, and that Saturday’s rain, his aggressiveness, and Longo’s aggressiveness might be a good recipe for making this happen.

Getting back to Omarion Hampton, the guy is a nicely balanced back, though his power caught my eye the most: