CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard left his team’s 62-0 victory against Elon on Saturday in the second quarter with what the Tar Heels’ radio network described as left knee discomfort.
Bernard didn’t return but coach Larry Fedora, who doesn’t discuss injuries, didn’t sound concerned about Bernard.
“He could have gone back in,” Fedora said. “There was no reason to put him back in, though.”
Bernard scored the first three touchdowns of the game – one on a 59-yard run, one on a 6-yard reception and the other on a 70-yard punt return. The three touchdowns matched his career high, and the 59-yard scoring run was the second-longest of his career.
Pick up the pace: UNC ran 74 offensive plays on Saturday – 12 more than the Tar Heels averaged a season ago. Even so, the Heels’ coaching staff found the tempo slower than they would have preferred.
“You know, honestly, we had 43 plays in the first half but I thought we were slow,” offensive coordinator Blake Anderson said. “I still think we’ve got a lot of work left to do there.”
UNC quarterback Bryn Renner, who completed 14 of his 21 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns, said that at times he struggled to start a play as quickly as he would have hoped.
“Coach Fedora kind of got on me that second drive, you know, we need to speed it up,” Renner said. “Because I had a tendency to watch Gio run a couple of times, and watch a couple of receivers run.”
Keeping it simple: Renner,at one point in the first half,was on the receiving end of an 18-yard pass from senior receiver Erik Highsmith. The play unfolded after Renner took the snap and pitched to Bernard, who then flipped to Highsmith.
Other than that, UNC kept its offensive play-calling noticeably simple.
“We were as simple as we could possibly be,” Fedora said. “The whole deal was, hey, let’s go out there and let’s make sure we know what to do, and let’s let our guys play. And let’s let them play fast. And let’s let them fly around, be smart, fast and physical, and that’s what we did.”
Renner said the game plan on Saturday was “simpler than what we had in spring ball.”
ETC.: The shutout victory was the first for a coach in his debut since 1945, when UNC shut out Camp Lee in a 6-0 victory in coach Carl Snavely’s debut … back-up quarterback Marquise Williams completed 5 of his 6 passes for 27 yards in his college debut … RB Romar Morris ran for 49 yards on 10 carries in his first college game … Freshman WR Quinshad Davis made an acrobatic 18-yard catch, which came off a deflection. It was his first college reception … PK Casey Barth returned after missing the final 10 games of the 2011 season. He made two field goals and eight extra points.