Versatility Defining RB Corps

UNC will utilize a two-back set at times this fall.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Depth and versatility in the offensive backfield has allowed for some creativity in the meeting room to utilize more of that talent during the 2015 season.

Senior Romar Morris and junior T.J. Logan possess legitimate track speed from the running back position, while sophomore Elijah Hood and freshman Ty’Son Williams bring more of a power back approach.

As such, UNC intends to utilize a two-back set more this fall than in previous years. The look will not be reminiscent of former offensive coordinator John Shoop’s tailback-fullback tandem, but rather an A-back/B-back pairing that can create mismatches.

“The running back corps overall is very versatile,” Morris said after practice on Tuesday. “T.J. and I have been working a lot at the A-back position. Elijah and Ty’Son have been working with the B-backs, and they’ve also been at A-back as well.”

Morris and Logan took snaps at the A-back position in training camp prior to last season, although there wasn’t much to show for the effort by the end of 2014. A greater emphasis this August suggests it could become a staple this fall.

UNC running backs coach Larry Porter views his group’s versatility as a valuable commodity.

“I think that’s healthy for our offense,” Porter said. “It gives us some options overall with [Seth] Littrell is putting together a game plan, being in position to just create some mismatches and do some things to keep guys off balance defensively.”

As for his reasoning in expanding his position group’s roles this season, Porter offered a simple explanation.

“I just think you’ve got Hood and Ty’Son at 220 pounds and you don’t want guys that heavy out there running routes, so you take the guys that are capable of doing that and put them in position to do something,” he said.

Porter has named Hood as the starter, adding that Logan, Williams and Morris “will share a role” within the offense. Hood and Logan have been getting the bulk of the reps with the first team, and Morris and Williams are getting the second team reps, according to Morris.

Morris has been the first A-back to enter when Littrell calls a two-back set.

While quarterback Marquise Williams led the team in rushing with 788 yards in 2014, Logan packed the running backs with 582 yards and three touchdowns. Morris (278 yards, 4 TD) and Hood (259 yards, 4 TD) were the only other backs to surpass 100 rushing yards.

With five returning starters along the offensive line, head coach Larry Fedora has emphasized a more physical approach based in running the ball successfully.

“For us, we’ve got to live that way,” Porter said. “To me, every time that we touch the football, we have to have the mentality that it’s live. If you practice that way, you play that way, and if you play that way, then surely you will be productive.”

UNC’s running backs have been asked routinely throughout the offseason about their quarterback leading the team in rushing in 2014 and why that occurred. An opportunity to put an end to those questions begins next Thursday night against South Carolina in Charlotte.

“With the strength of our O-line and the way we’ve been running so hard in camp, I think the running backs are going to put up great numbers this year,” Morris said.

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