CHAPEL HILL — So much for the Giovani Bernard injury watch. Bernard, the North Carolina sophomore running back, amassed 203 all-purpose yards during the Tar Heels 62-0 victory against Elon on Saturday but left the game not long before halftime with an apparent knee injury.
At least, thats how it was described on the Tar Heels radio broadcast. Bernard wouldnt elaborate on the nature of his injury on Monday, but assured reporters that he feels fine and that hes over whatever it is that forced him out of the game on Saturday.
I feel good, I feel great, he said. [It was] just a little precautionary kind of thing I feel good.
Bernard gained 93 yards on nine carries, and caught two passes for 10 yards. He ran for a 59-yard touchdown, caught a 6-yard touchdown pass and also returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown. Those three touchdowns were the first three that UNC scored.
Heels coach Larry Fedora on Monday scoffed at the notion that Bernards work load would be lightened on Saturday at Wake Forest.
Lighten his load? Fedora asked. How many times did he carry the ball? Nine [times]? Nah were not going to lighten it, I promise you. Were going to load him up. I want him to touch the ball as many times as possible.
Granted, Fedora said he and his staff will be smart about how to utilize Bernard against the Demon Deacons.
But if you touch the ball nine times and do what you did, just think if you get it 18, Fedora said. So we wont ride him like a mule or anything but well make sure he gets the touches he deserves.
Bernard declined to elaborate on how he suffered the injury.
Dont want to talk about that kind of stuff, he said. But I feel good now. Im ready to go.
He also said he was prepared to any kind of work load his coaches would give him this week. Bernard excelled in all areas against Elon, but especially on punt returns. He finished with two returns for 100 yards.
It was a little different for me, he said. First time, as soon as the guy kicked the ball, I fair-catched it. I just wanted to get a catch under my belt. And the second chance, I think that was a 30-yard return and I felt more comfortable.
And actually right before the third punt return coach told me, you know what, you can take this back if you want joking around.
But Bernard didnt treat it like a joke. He caught the punt and outran the Phoenix for that 70-yard touchdown.