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NCAA Football ACC FootballNorth Carolina Tar Heels

North Carolina Tar Heels Must Replace RB Bernard

Rafael Suanes, USA TODAY SPORTS

The North Carolina Tar Heels had one of the nation’s best offenses last season under first-year coach Larry Fedora. North Carolina was 14th in the country in total offense, using Fedora’s up-tempo style to break school records for total offense and points in a season.

The offense was balanced, with quarterback Bryn Renner throwing for more than 3,000 yards, while the running game was also a strong suit. The Tar Heels were 33rd in the country in rushing, at 194 yards per contest.

The player literally carrying the load for the Tar Heels in 2012 was redshirt sophomore Giovani Bernard, who led the ACC and was 11th in the country in rushing, with 1,228 yards, an average of nearly 123 yards per outing.

After the season, Bernard opted to enter the NFL Draft, where he is expected to be a high draft pick.

The job of replacing Bernard will likely fall on a pair of returning backs. A.J. Blue, a 6-2 senior, carried the ball 82 times last season for 433 yards and nine touchdowns. Blue had playing sparingly until last year, but he will be one of the primary candidates for big carries in 2013.

Romar Morris will also see significant time in the backfield for the Tar Heels in 2013. Last season, Morris rushed 69 times for 386 yards and a pair of scores as a redshirt freshman.

Fedora will insist on a strong running game, to go with what should be a strong passing game, as UNC enters year two in Fedora’s high-powered offense. Blue and Morris will be asked to try to replace Bernard, which will be a tough task. But in this offense, both players will be given a chance to make their mark and follow in the footsteps of one of Carolina’s best running backs.