For the final time this offseason, Tar Heel head coach Mack Brown met with the media to talk about the latest storylines around the No. 10 team in the country before their trip to Virginia Tech for the first game of the season. He gave some important injury updates and talked about what his team needs to do to come out with a win on Friday. Here are some of the most notable things that Brown talked about on Monday.
The Hope is to Corrales Back Before the End of the Season
After Corrales was declared out for the season opener against Virginia Tech earlier in the day, Brown addressed what he could about his status on Monday. Brown was careful not to get into specifics, but it was noteworthy when he said that the hope was that the team could get their super senior wide receiver back before the end of the season. While that may just be Brown remaining vague, it seems more likely that this was a way of him saying that they will be without Corrales for a significant amount of time to begin the season. That is absolutely gut-wrenching for a guy who returned for an extra year and was expected to be a big part of helping to ease the transition from the Dyami Brown-Dazz Newsome era to the new era in the Tar Heel receiving corps.
Planning on Brian Anderson and Khafre Brown Playing on Friday
While the Corrales news was not what Tar Heel fans were hoping to hear, the updates on Anderson and Brown were much more positive. Coach Brown gave off a sense of optimism when talking about the statuses of these two players for Friday night’s game, saying that the staff is “planning on them playing” in Blacksburg. Having Brown available at wide receiver would give the Tar Heels another viable threat on the outside, but having Anderson available at center, the veteran of 22 career starts, would be a huge boost for the offensive line.
Last Two Meetings Show Where This Team Needs to Improve
Coach Brown talked about it a bit last week, but went a bit more in depth on the fact that the Tar Heels will have to find a way to slow down the Virginia Tech offense that has gashed them in the last two matchups. The Tar Heels have been pushed around up front in each of the last two matchups, leading to plenty of success on the ground for the Hokies. The Tar Heels look ready to compete with the Hokie offensive line with the amount of talent and depth that they have in the trenches, but now it’s about proving it. That defensive line along with the rest of this defense will also be tasked with limiting a mobile quarterback, something that has been a thorne in the side of this Tar Heel defense in the past couple of years. The Tar Heels have the most athleticism that they have had in a while defensively, but they still need to prove they can control the element that was a big part of why they lost games to Florida State and Virginia. These two elements of the run game are extremely important to the success of the Tar Heel defense on Friday and would help prevent this game from becoming another shootout, something this offense doesn’t really need right out of the gate this season.
Focus is On What They Can Control
Coach Brown was very adamant about the fact the Tar Heels need to be prepared for an electric environment and a motivated team on the side on Friday night. Brown is focused on getting his team, primarily the young guys, ready by telling them to control what you can control. He talked about the fact that Virginia Tech has a lot more talent than they are being given credit for and that they have been ready for this game since last year’s loss, but that those are factors that you can control. Instead, he wants the focus to be on playing the best game that this team can play and living with the end result no matter what it may be. “You be you and let’s see how good we can be.” Indications are if they do just that, the Tar Heels should be heading back to Chapel Hill with a win.
There Will Be More Tight End Contribution in the Passing Game This Season
It’s no secret that the Tar Heel tight ends haven’t been all that productive since Eric Ebron left campus following the 2013 season. For many reasons, though, this year feels like it might be the most productive one for the unit since that season. Garrett Walston is one of the few veteran targets that returns this season for Sam Howell and with Beau Corrales now unavailable for some period of time to begin the season, it feels like he will be relied on. Coach Brown confirmed on Monday that the Tar Heel offense will involve more looks in the passing game for the tight ends, a group that has been overshadowed by the talent and production at the skill positions in the last couple of years. Expect to see Walston and the other tight ends playing a bigger role in the passing game, especially early on this season, Tar Heel fans.