Larry Fedora knew coming into last weekend that his offense was going to need to a healthy dose of explosive plays in order to keep pace with a Georgia Tech offense averaging over 33 points per game. The UNC head coach was proven correct, as the two teams combined for 91 points and over 1,190 yards of total offense.
For North Carolina, a big chunk of those yards came from wideout Ryan Switzer, who built his reputation as a punt returner in 2013. The A-back set the tone early with a crafty double move that took the top off the defense and culminated in a 68-yard touchdown pass play.
“It was obviously very critical,” Fedora said following the game. “The deep one was a play for him that was set up, and we got the coverage that we wanted, and he’s one of the few guys that can run the route that we ran on that because it takes some time, and he does a great job with it. He really worked the safety over.”
By the time the final horn sounded, Switzer had completed his best game as a receiver since arriving on campus. The Charleston, WV native led the offense in receiving with nine catches for a career-high 136 yards and 2 touchdown grabs.
“Any game you can get a couple of big plays, the game usually goes in your favor,” Switzer said. “We had a magnitude of big plays tonight, and I feel like that’s what won us the game.”
Quarterback Marquise Williams, who had a career night of his own, was quick to sing the praises of the pint-sized wideout.
“The guy is unbelievable,” Williams said. “Double moving guys on that first touchdown; it was pretty. He made a great over the shoulder catch. You put the ball in his hands and he’s going to do the rest.”
Switzer also came up big when the game was on the line. Down a point and facing a 2nd-and-long in Yellow Jackets territory, the 5-foot-10 receiver leapt up and brought down a 9-yard catch that kept the chains moving on UNC’s game-winning drive.
“[I was] first read on that play, so I had a feeling it was coming to me,” Switzer said. “They were in man coverage, so I had a simple out route. Quise was looking for me tonight, and I tried to help him out as best I could and catch whatever came to me.”
Prior to Saturday’s game, fans and media alike wondered why Switzer had gotten off to such a slow start. After a record-setting season as a freshman returning punts (he tied the NCAA record with 5 touchdowns), fans expectations were at a fever pitch to see what he could do as a receiver in Fedora’s explosive offense.
“It took a little bit longer than expected for me to get going,” Switzer said. “… I think all the hype in the preseason, I think I would’ve had to had an Adrian Peterson-type season to live up to that. I showed that I can do more and improve more as a receiver.”
Still, even after his big night, Switzer believes that he and his teammates cannot afford to be content.
“We just have to keep it up,” Switzer said. “From an offensive standpoint, that’s two weeks in a row that we’ve spanked teams, really good teams, so you have to keep the momentum going.”
Switzer's Emergence at WR
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