Heel Tough Blog: Loaded Backfield Could Help Make Longo's Offense a Machine

The air raid offense was one of the first things that Mack Brown stated he wanted with him in his return to Chapel Hill earlier this offseason. With the hiring of former Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo, Brown got just that, after Longo ran the air raid offense to plenty of success at both Ole Miss and Sam Houston State. That offense is being installed for the Tar Heels as we speak, but there is a different wrinkle that could make Carolina’s offense the best that Longo has ever had.


With an air raid offense, everyone thinks the offense lives and dies by the success of the passing game, when really the running game is what determines how successful your offense can be, something both Brown and Longo have talked about constantly over the past couple of months. The good news for the staff: this is the best running back group that Longo will have worked with in any of his three major stops as an offensive coordinator.

With an air raid offense, everyone thinks the offense lives and dies by the success of the passing game, when really the running game is what determines how successful your offense can be, something both Brown and Longo have talked about constantly over the the past couple of months. The good news for the staff: this is the best running back group that Longo will have worked with in any of his three major stops as an offensive coordinator.

With an air raid offense, everyone thinks the offense lives and dies by the success of the passing game, when really the running game is what determines how successful your offense can be, something both Brown and Longo have talked about constantly over the past couple of months. The good news for the staff: this is the best running back group that Longo will have worked with in any of his three major stops as an offensive coordinator.


Nash Consing- The Daily Tar Heel

The Heels boast one of the deepest backfields in the country and it starts with the top two ball carrier from a year ago, who both return. Junior Michael Carter struggled to stay on the field because of injury issues. Carter still played in nine of the Heels eleven games, leading the team in rushing with 597 yards and two touchdowns on just 84 carries, a strong average of 7.1 yards per carry. Carter also developed into a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield a year ago, catching a backfield-leading 25 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.


Michael J. Okoniewski- GoHeels

Antonio Williams, who transferred to Carolina last offseason, led the team in carries and tied for the team lead in touchdowns with 91 and five in those respective categories. Like Carter, he missed two games due to injury issues, but had his moments where he shined, as he ran for 504 yards and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Both Carter and Williams are expected to be heavy contributors again this season and will hope to become a bit more consistent than they were a year ago.


AP Photo

Sophomore Javonte Williams slowly became a bigger part of the Heels running back rotation as the year went on and is another strong option in the backfield. Even though his carries were limited, 43 for 224 yards, he still tied for the team lead in touchdowns with five. His ability to combine his speed with his physical edge is what allowed him to sail up the Heels depth chart. Williams started the final two game of the season against Western Carolina and NC State, combining 176 yards and four touchdowns. Expect Williams to be a big factor for the Heels this fall.


Karl B. DeBlaker- Associated Press

Senior Jordon Brown is the fourth man in the rotation and while his role diminished for the most part as the year went along, but he closed the season strong with strong performance against Western Carolina and NC State, as well, to keep himself in the rotation for reps this fall. Brown will likely factor in heavily on third down, as he has the best hands in the Heels backfield.


Jim Hawkins- Inside Carolina

One wild card who may also factor in is sophomore Antwuan Branch, who has been waiting for his chance to factor in. With all of the depth in front of him, it will be tough to carve himself a role, but he runs hard and could be a force in between the tackles if he can build on what he showed coming out of the high school ranks.


The Tar Heels averaged 193.0 yards per game on the ground a year ago, and that was with injuries to the top two running backs throughout the season. If the Heels are able to stay fully healthy or one back is able to step up and take over the bulk of the carries, it’s possible that Carolina’s offense to, at the least, return to being one of the ACC’s top offenses.

104 views