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Can the North Carolina Tar Heels Replace Gio Bernard?

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

There were few players better in all of College Football in 2012 than the North Carolina Tar Heels RB/PR/KR Gio Bernard.

And there were even fewer players that went under the radar like Bernard did nationally despite his super-human acts for the Heels and all of ACC Football

Just to refresh your memory, here is the 2012 ACC Football Play of the Year..


Bernard was simply the perfect player for head coach Larry Fedora‘s spread offense. And if you are outside of the ACC or Chapel Hill, North Carolina, get to know this young man because he is going to make a lot of headlines in a few weeks at the NFL Combine.

So when you have a guy who can make plays like this…


How in the world is North Carolina suppose to replace him? Better yet, can he even be replaced?

The answer is no. Bernard was a special talent that just doesn’t grow on trees. But all is not lost for Carolina. You may not can replace Bernard, but Fedora has some solid guys still on the roster and  recruited well for 2013. There is no doubt UNC will have five guys ready to not only take on the responsibility, but give the Tar Heels even more depth.

Now for the offense to be successful in 2013 QB Bryn Renner has to have an exceptional season. In fact, with Fedora’s style of football running the way he wants it to, there is no reason why Renner cannot vie for top quarterback honors alongside Tahj Boyd of the Clemson Tigers.

So with Renner clicking, it will not matter who is there to lean on offensively. There were many times in 2012, Renner needed Bernard to pick him up. That will not be the case in 2013.

And when you add the talent at TB returning in A.J. Blue, Romar Morris and Travis Riley along with freshmen RB’s Charles Brunson, Kris Francis and T.J. Logan; Carolina will have one of the deepest and most explosive backfields in the country.

Blue and Morris will see the majority of the carries early with the 6-2, 225 pound Blue as the battering ram and the 5-10, 190 pound Morris as the change of pace back. But watch out for Francis, who enrolled early and began classes in January, to make a name for himself along with the explosive Logan, who will have flashes of Bernard-type talent early and often.

Francis ran for more than 4500 yards in high school and had 58 rushing scores along with more than 400 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns. Logan was on another planet in high school, though, putting up video game numbers that ended with a 510 yard, eight touchdown performance in winning the state championship back in December.

So be excited Carolina fans…

This Tar Heel team could be one of the most explosive offensives in school history. Even without the future NFL star in Bernard.


M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.

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Phantom Offsides Penalty Costs North Carolina



All season long, we’ve been hearing about how bad the officiating has been in the NFL. On Saturday night, we saw how much damage bad calls can do in college football as well.

During the ACC title game, the North Carolina Tar Heels were making one final push to steal the crown from the Clemson Tigers. After scoring a quick touchdown in the waning minutes of the game, the Tar Heels lined up for an onside kick — and recovered it after a few Tigers mishandled the ball. However, a flag came flying in for an offsides penalty. The only problem was that no Tar Heel was offsides.

Just look for yourself:

Am I missing something, or were there zero Tar Heels offsides on that play?

The closest player was still about two yards from the line. Obviously a recovery wouldn’t have guaranteed a North Carolina touchdown, but it certainly kept them from getting the opportunity they earned.

The Tigers recovered the next onside kick, and ran out the clock, securing the ACC crown and a spot in the 2015 College Football Playoff.

The ACC title came down to a phantom offsides call that cost North Carolina big.

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