CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – On a night the North Carolina offense would like to forget, Bug Howard played a game to remember.
In the Tar Heels’ season-opening loss to South Carolina in Charlotte, N.C., Howard caught six passes for 114 yards and UNC’s lone touchdown, and stood out along with Elijah Hood as one of the team’s offensive bright spots.
“I thought he played at a high level,” assistant head coach for offense Seth Littrell said following Tuesday’s practice. “He had some great balls that he caught across the middle, he played competitive, he played fast, broke tackles, made yards after the catch.”
Howard set a new career high in receptions and yardage in the game, breaking his former best outputs of five catches and 79 yards.
Littrell said it stood out as a milestone game for Howard.
“He did play his best game here,” Littrell said. “He had his most reps he’s had here, so his stamina was very good.”
While Howard may be best known for his ability to rip jump balls from defenders, he showed off a new level of speed and strength in the season debut.
“Everything was going well,” Howard said. “We were doing what we were doing, making guys miss, and trying to make a play.”
Howard scored the Tar Heels’ first touchdown of the season on a pass from quarterback Marquise Williams. At the time, it appeared that Howard’s early play would ignite the North Carolina offense.
“It felt pretty good, felt exciting,” Howard said on the early score. “Just getting the team going so we can get on a roll here.”
As for sustaining his early success, Howard believes sticking to the basics will serve him well in upcoming games.
“Staying focused and just coming out and trying to run our offense,” Howard said. “Not trying to do anything too special, just do what’s inside the offense and keep continuing to make plays.”