Renner ready to roll in UNC's high-scoring offense
Bryn Renner first became North Carolina's starting quarterback under an interim coach, then had to learn a new offense once the school hired a permanent coach for the following season.
Things are a bit easier now that he's a senior.
After directing the Tar Heels to school records for total offense and scoring last year, Renner finally has some continuity by returning to the same no-huddle attack under the same coaching staff.
"You feel so much more comfortable going to the line of scrimmage, knowing where your key reads are — for everybody," Renner said Saturday at the Tar Heels' annual preseason media day. "You've had game reps of doing these things and you can build off last season's game film. We haven't had a chance to do that here in quite some time because of the coaching changes and things like that."
The biggest change for Renner and the Tar Heels is that they know they're free of a one-year postseason ban from the NCAA for violations dating back to 2008. It kept them out of a bowl game as well as an appearance in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in 2012, but the Tar Heels can play their way back there this year if Renner keeps UNC's offense humming like he did during coach Larry Fedora's first season.
Fedora said Renner has matured from where he was in his first spring practices under the new staff, down to how he controls his emotions during games.
"Last year, I talked to him about managing a game, he had no idea what I was talking about," Fedora said. "Now he understands. His job is to distribute the ball where it's supposed to go. He knows he's supposed to move the chains and just keep running out of white lines. And when he does, it'll be a good thing."
With Renner running the offense as on-the-job training last year, the Tar Heels (8-4) averaged a school-record 40.6 points — more than five better than the previous mark — while the team's 5,817 total yards were nearly 600 more than the previous record.
Renner's play was particularly sharp to close the year. He threw for at least 305 yards in each of the last four games while completing nearly 71 percent of his passes. He also had 11 touchdowns against just two interceptions in that stretch.
Renner, who threw for 3,356 yards and 28 touchdowns last year, said he put too much pressure on himself to make big plays early in the season.
"I was threading the needle a little bit when I didn't have to," he said. "That was my mentality and I had to grow out of that. The more reps I did, if I just got the ball out of my hands to the guys, they were going to make plays."
Now, sophomore receiver Quinshad Davis said, Renner is in control.
"I see a leader," Davis said. "He's taking control of this offense. Last year it was his first turn, too. But he's taking total control and being a leader. He's just commanding us like a captain out there."
Renner's journey as a starter began shortly after the school's surprise firing of coach Butch Davis in July 2011 amid the NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct within the program. Playing under interim coach Everett Withers, Renner threw for 3,086 yards and 26 touchdowns with 13 interceptions that fall.
When he takes the field Aug. 29 at South Carolina, Renner will be ready to build on last year's run.
"It was just a comforting feeling," Renner said. "You're coming back to a staff you've known for a year and just running the same offense. ... I can speak for the whole team. Everybody feels confident and more comfortable on the offense this year."