UNC's Renner working to be more mobile

August 19, 2012 

Renner not running away from run responsibilities

One of the most glaring questions that emerged at North Carolina after Larry Fedora became coach was this: How would Bryn Renner, who fits the mold of a traditional drop-back quarterback, fit into Fedora’s spread offense, which works best with a mobile quarterback?

Nearing the end of camp, Renner has impressed his teammates and Fedora with his understanding of the offense. What remains unclear – and likely will until the start of the season – is his ability to run.

Austin Davis, who was Fedora’s quarterback the past four years at Southern Mississippi, ran for 352 yards a season ago, and for 452 the season before that. Renner ran for minus-88 yards last season, his first as UNC’s starting quarterback.

Even so, Fedora said Renner and Davis posses a similar ability to run.

They are “very similar athletically,” Fedora said. “Really, I mean by no means was Austin a great runner. Austin was a guy that we felt like could get us 4 yards when he needed to, and Bryn can do the same thing.

“So (they’re) very, very comparable that way.” Andrew Carter

Blue Devils sporting some ‘Swag’ and some swagger

“Upgraded Swag” is the term defensive end Kenny Anunike used to describe Duke’s new helmets at the annual Meet the Blue Devils day this weekend. But, really, that term could be applied to the way the Blue Devils feel about the program.

“I think we’ve really turned the corner,” Anunike said. “This is it, this is it for us. Coach (David Cutcliffe) has done everything he could… All the pieces are falling into the puzzle. All we have to do is go out there and play.”

Playing – and earning wins – is easier said than done, especially with a schedule that will feature Top 25 teams Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Stanford and two others that received votes (North Carolina and Georgia Tech).

But even though Duke hasn’t been to a bowl or turned in a winning record since 1994, excitement surrounding the program is building. More than 1,500 fans came to meet the team, the largest crowd in at least 25 years.

“A real Duke football fan has got to go up at the top of the ladder of the most loyal fans in all of college athletics,” Cutcliffe said. “It’s in my heart every year that, for so many people, you want to be successful because so many people deserve that.”

Anyone searching for signs of a bright future doesn’t have to look further than the pair of freshmen running backs, Shaquille Powell and Jela Duncan. Powell led Duke in rushing in both scrimmages and Duncan turned in a nine-carry, 29-yard performance in his most recent action.

Cutcliffe expects both to contribute this year.

“I’m not afraid to use either one of them going into the first game,” he said. Laura Keeley

Junior college transfers finding way for Pack

N.C. State has successfully mined the junior-college ranks before for help on defense, and the Wolfpack hopes defensive tackle Deylan Buntyn continues that trend.

Buntyn, at 6-foot-4 and 330 pounds, is one of the biggest players on the roster. Buntyn spent the past two seasons at New Mexico Military Institute, the same college that produced former defensive tackle Natanu Mageo.

Sophomores Thomas Teal and T.Y. McGill return at tackle, but with the losses of J.R. Sweezy and Markus Kuhn, there’s room on the defensive front for playing time for Buntyn.

“He’s a big kid,” coach Tom O’Brien said after Sunday’s scrimmage. “He’s a guy, whether he gets a third or a quarter or half of the plays, we don’t know right now, but he’s going to play some.”

Buntyn enrolled during January and has been ahead of the learning curve. Progress has been slower for linebacker Robert Caldwell, a transfer from College of the Desert in California. Caldwell missed about a week of practice while his academic record was cleared by the NCAA.

When Terrell Manning entered the NFL Draft, the coaching staff sought someone who could contribute this season, which is why it added Caldwell late in the recruiting process. Now, O’Brien said, there’s a chance Caldwell might redshirt, despite the need at linebacker.

“He’s still swimming,” O’Brien said. “There are a lot of things going on that he’s fighting through and trying to get through.”

O’Brien said the younger players took most of the reps Sunday. The coach released team stats from the scrimmage and said the Pack ran the ball 40 times for 98 yards and completed 16 of 25 passes for 192 yards. The defense had five sacks. Joe Giglio

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