CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s defensive players wrapped up Saturday’s spring game looking ready to lead the way just like everyone expects.
Mywan Jackson had two interceptions that helped the White team beat Blue 17-0 in the scrimmage to wrap up spring drills, while Michael McAdoo was credited with four sacks and an interception of his own. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Bryn Renner impressed in his Kenan Stadium debut. Renner threw for 184 yards, while White team starter T.J. Yates had 122.
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“I think T.J. has earned the opportunity to be the guy that either wins the job or loses the job, and I think Bryn has put himself in position to unbelievably push and compete for that job or significant playing time,” coach Butch Davis said.
The coaching staff divided up the teams to mix starters on both squads, and kept basic plans on both offense and defense to evaluate individual matchups for the game – which drew more than 29,000 fans to Kenan Stadium and was televised by ESPN.
The strong-armed Renner completed 15 of 21 passes for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception for White. He guided a 13-play scoring drive to open the game, ending with a perfectly thrown 9-yard TD pass to Greg Little on the left side. He also connected with Dwight Jones on a 55-yard pass, though the ball was slightly underthrown and forced Jones to wait on it instead of staying ahead of a beaten defender for a touchdown.
“I still have to learn a lot,” Renner said. “I’m not even close to where I need to be to play quarterback. I think I still need to work very hard and it’s going to be a long offseason for me.” Yates, a three-year starter, completed 15 of 26 passes for 122 yards and one interception for Blue, including 49 on a busted-coverage pass to Zack Pianalto.
“I didn’t like the way I played, but I never do,” Yates said. “I’m such a perfectionist. … Just the offense as a whole, we’ve got to do a better job of just being able to get in and out of plays, get the ball running and get the ball moving.”
Neither offense did much outside those two long pass plays and the game-opening drive. White’s second touchdown came after Jackson’s first interception set up a short field, while Jackson also broke up a fourth-down pass from Yates in the end zone and later grabbed his second interception in the end zone.
Yates, Renner and Braden Hanson combined to throw five interceptions, while the defenses also tallied eight sacks.
With nine starters back from a unit that ranked among the nation’s best last year, the Tar Heels’ defense will be the team’s strength heading into the opener against LSU in Atlanta on Sept. 4. And while it was just one scrimmage, the offense will have to do more to avoid a repeat of last year’s struggles.
“The spring game is just where you’re at during the spring and the first game is just where you’re at for the first game,” senior safety Deunta Williams said. “A lot of growth occurs between those first couple of games, so I don’t think there’s anything to be worried about.”