CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Right guard Landon Turner entered the 2015 football season with high expectations. Through three games, he is living up to the hype.
Turner was named ACC Lineman of the Week for the second time this season after a strong performance against Illinois.
“I’m honored by it, for sure,” Turner said after practice on Tuesday. “I appreciate the recognition. It is enjoyable, but I like the stats from it, as far as rushing yards and what my team accomplished.”
The preseason accolades start early for Turner, who was tabbed a first-team preseason All-America by Phil Steel in June before earning preseason All-ACC honors in July. He was also named to the Outland Trophy Watch List, which is given annually to the nation’s top interior lineman.
“When he’s either blocking at the point of attack or pulling and blocking somebody, he is dominating right now,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora said on his radio show on Tuesday night. “He’s a load and he’s playing really well.”
While the award is an individual one, offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic believes it speaks to more than just Turner’s effort.
“I think that award is about (Turner), but it’s also about his teammates,” Kapilovic said. “He’d probably be the first to tell you that.”
The Tar Heels are ranked 31st in the nation in rushing offense, averaging more than 225 yards per game. The running backs are thriving in 2015 after struggling to find running lanes last season.
“It’s really important for the line to open some of those holes, especially early, and that backfield is comfortable and has confidence,” Kapilovic said.
That chemistry is built on trust between the running backs and offensive line.
“Trust is the biggest thing,” Turner said. “They trust us to be successful, and we have to trust that they will hit that hole if we open it, because that’s one thing that’s actually tough for running backs.”
As for that ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honor, Turner hinted that he might have a third straight week on his mind against Delaware on Saturday.
“It’s hard to say (there’s no extra pressure), but I’m a fifth-year, so I know better than that,” Turner said. “I enjoy playing with these guys.”