My player to watch in Week 1 is North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner.
The Tar Heels open against Elon on Saturday in what will be an excellent test for the new spread hurry-up system coach Larry Fedora has installed. No coach will ever allow a game to be called a warm-up, so I will do it for him.
Getting to start the season against an FCS opponent will provide an opportunity to work out some of the kinks and begin to get comfortable. Because following this game, North Carolina opens ACC play at Wake Forest, then goes to play Big East preseason favorite Louisville. Renner is going to be a huge key to getting this offense to run the way Fedora wants it to run. While Fedora prides himself on striking the perfect pass-run ratio in his version of the spread, the quarterback is at the controls.
Particularly when it comes to going fast and making sure his teammates are all lined up properly and ready to go with little time to think about what happens next. Renner already has the passing credentials, having thrown for 3,086 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season. He also led the ACC in passing efficiency. Now he has to get into a game situation.
"Bryn will probably be the first one to tell you that he’s not where he wants to be yet and I’ll definitely tell you that. He has come a long, long way," Fedora said. "We were constantly talking at this point about taking care of the ball and managing the game. Those are the only two things that I want him to worry about. If he does those two things then we will be fine. The offense is only going to go as far as Bryn can take us. That guy has a lot of fire in him and he has a lot of want for this team.”