Another week; another significant injury for Tar Heels secondary. For the third straight week, the Tar Heels will lose a starter from the prior weekend’s game for an extended period of time due to injury.
As first reported by Inside Carolina on Tuesday afternoon, starting cornerback Trey Morrison had surgery to repair a broken arm that he suffered during the first quarter of the Tar Heels 38-22 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The injury is reported to be one that will keep him out for a significant period of time, but is not said to necessarily end his season.
Morrison, who moved to one of the two outside corner spots in the offseason, currently has 21 total tackles, 0.5 a tackle for a loss and three pass deflections on the season. Morrison was a big part of the Tar Heels early season victory against Miami and has recovered with two solid performances against Appalachian State and Clemson after a rough outing against Wake Forest. With his absence, the Heels will be without a player who had started the teams last sixteen games.
Morrison adds to the Tar Heels lengthy list of injuries in the defensive backfield. Sophomore defensive back Bryson Richardson (knee), senior cornerback Patrice Rene (knee) and true freshman safety Cam’Ron Kelly (knee) are all out for the season, while junior Myles Wolfolk (lower body) and Tre Shaw (undisclosed) have already missed extended time and are out indefinitely. That leaves the Tar Heels with just nine scholarship players in the secondary, six of which are either a redshirt freshman or true freshman. Storm Duck and Greg Ross, the tandem who handled the bulk of the snaps following Morrison’s departure on Saturday, will start at the cornerback spots, while fellow true freshman Obi Egbuna will see an expanded role as the primary rotational option. Redshirt freshman DeAndre Hollins, who has been listed as the backup to D.J. Ford at the nickel corner spot. Last year against Virginia received some reps on the outside due to the struggles of Hollins.
This secondary is about as beat up as any unit for the Heels in the last three years has been. The good news is that this week is a bye, but the return of Wolfolk, Shaw or both would be a huge boost for this defense. It would also help if this unit not to suffer any other major injuries, something that, as we see, is easier said than done.