UNC Now

UNC's greatest question on offense isn't really much of one

UNC returns four starters on the offensive line, including Bentley Spain, but there are questions at right guard.
UNC returns four starters on the offensive line, including Bentley Spain, but there are questions at right guard. rwillett@newsobserver.com

It probably says something that the greatest question surrounding the North Carolina offense throughout the first several weeks of the preseason has been: Who's going to be the guy at right guard?

There haven't been a lot of questions about how Mitch Trubisky will settle into his role as the starting quarterback. The assumption, from everyone from coaches to teammates to media members covering the Tar Heels, is that Trubisky will be just fine.

There haven't been questions about the running backs – Elijah Hood figures to be in position to have another stellar season – and there haven't been questions at receiver, where the trio of Mack Hollins, Bug Howard and Ryan Switzer appear as potent as any in the ACC.

But what's been going on at right guard? Question after question about it, for weeks.

If the offense's only real question is who starts at right guard, that probably means that coach Larry Fedora is right – that the Tar Heels could be, and maybe should be, more productive offensively this season than last, when they set several school records. Because, let's face it: the right guard question isn’t much of a question.

Yes, it's a starting position. Yes, whomever starts there will be taking over the position that Landon Turner, the departed All-American, played so well for so long. It's not like Chris Kapilovic, UNC's offensive line coach and offensive coordinator, could just throw anybody out there and be OK.

Yet the expectation should be for UNC to be OK at that spot, regardless of who's in it. The other four starters on the offensive line are established in their positions and, as Kapilovic said recently, “you've got a guy on each side of (the new right guard) that can help him – that has been there.”

And, oh yes – you've also got Hood and T.J. Logan in the backfield. They're capable of making a lot of offensive lines – and linemen – look pretty good. For the record, though, I asked Kapilovic the obligatory what's-going-on-at-right-guard question last week at the end of a practice.

Here's what he said:

“It really hasn't changed significantly as far as Tommy (Hatton) and R.J. (Prince) are getting a lot of reps at right guard. Brad (Henson) is getting reps at right guard. And Tommy and Brad are still getting reps at backup center.

“And we've got a scrimmage on Saturday and my plan is by the end of Saturday to kind of have a better idea of how I want to handle that going into Georgia and lock in two guys are guard at one guy at backup center and kind of roll from there. In my mind, I'm kind of seeing where I want to go.”

So, by now, at the official end of camp and the start of the fall semester, Kapilovic likely has his mind made up. He likely has his two guys at right guard, one of which will join an offensive line that, outside of that one position, doesn't lack for experience.

And so we'll bid farewell to all the right guard questions. Their main utility, perhaps, might have been to show just how few questions surround UNC's offense.

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