CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Sophomore running back Elijah Hood was not on the field for a pivotal series of plays at the end of UNC’s loss to South Carolina on Thursday due to the design of the offense, Larry Fedora said on Monday.
Hood ran for 138 yards on 12 carries in the 17-13 loss, including a 29-yard run on the final possession to move UNC down to South Carolina’s 23-yard-line. Running backs coach Larry Porter pulled him out for a breather on the ensuing play, and Hood did not return to the game until 4th-and-goal at the 8.
T.J. Logan carried the ball for no gain on 1st-and-goal at the 9. Marquise Williams ran for six yards on 2nd-and-goal, setting up a 3rd-and-goal from the 3. Hood was not on the field for any of those plays.
“He had taken him out because he had the [29-yard run],” Fedora said. “He broke about four tackles there at the end of it, so he got him out to get him a breath and had planned on putting him back in, but we went into hurry mode, so we don’t substitute in that mode.”
When asked about television footage showing Hood on the edge of the field ready to sub in and ultimately being pulled back by Porter prior to the 3rd-and-goal play, Fedora reiterated that it was “because we’re in the hurry-up mode and we can’t substitute in the hurry-up mode.”
However, UNC did substitute on two of the plays in question. Morris subbed in for wide receiver Ryan Switzer on 2nd-and-goal, and Switzer subbed back in for Morris on 3rd-and-goal at the 3.
Hood told reporters that he thought he had been called into the game, but apparently had misheard those comments. He added that he wasn’t “too surprised” about not being in the game in the red zone.
“There were times in the scrimmage when I would get down the field and I would get subbed out because there are certain plays that we have in the red zone where they like guys like T.J. and Romar in because of the swing routes and the spacing,” Hood said. “I figured that’s what they were going for… I believe in what we do.”
Fedora said that while his offensive staff doesn’t script plays for the red zone, they do have a game plan in place for the red zone, score zone and goal line and they work the 3-4 plays for each set during the game.
“If it would have been successful, we wouldn’t be talking about these things,” Fedora said. “The plays that were called were called because that’s what we prepared in that situation and we felt like they would be successful. We didn’t execute the play that was called.”