CHARLOTTE, N.C. – One of the biggest questions for North Carolina entering its season-opening loss to South Carolina was how the placekicking game would fare in 2015.
Those questions, at least for now, have yielded positive answers.
Junior placekicker Nick Weiler made a pair of field goals from 47 and 38 yards, respectively, in the first half of the Belk College Kickoff. The performance shocked both fans and media considering his long make in 2014 was from 23 yards, but according to head coach Larry Fedora, Thursday’s kicks were consistent with a stellar offseason from Weiler.
“He had that entire camp like that,” Fedora said after the game. “He hit them, whether it was 2-minute or at the end of practice.”
North Carolina’s placekicking unit combined to hit exactly zero field goals from a distance of greater than 30 yards in all of 2014. That’s why spectators were surprised and skeptical when special teams strolled onto the playing surface on 4th-and-5 from the South Carolina 30 early in the second quarter.
Weiler hooked in the attempt from 47 yards out, setting a new career long distance.
The offense stalled again later in the second quarter, facing 4th-and-11 from the South Carolina 21.
Again, the Fairfax Station, Va. native delivered, this time hitting a 38-yarder to put the Tar Heels ahead 13-10.
Weiler hinted after practice last week that he had improved his kicking, speaking confidently about his maximum distance.
“I’m very confident, so I’ll probably pick a number farther than I’m consistent with,” Weiler said after practice. “I’m good from 55 and in, and from 55-60 is okay.”
Fedora echoed the same mentality about Weiler after Thursday’s game.
“I think he felt really confident going into the game,” Fedora said. “So I think that was a good sign.”