CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – In 2020, North Carolina football averaged nearly 42 points per game.
Offensively, the Heels were stacked with weapons starting with quarterback Sam Howell and a two-headed monster in the backfield that was Javonte Williams and Michael Carter.
Howell also had solid targets.
Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown accounted for 1,783 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns collectively. Both backs and both receivers were all selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Tar Heels cupboard is not bare in 2021.
Despite losing lots of firepower on offense, they have players who know the system and can become an asset when their number is called.
One of those players is receiver Josh Downs.
Downs was Howell’s main target in their opener at Virginia Tech. He had eight receptions for 123 yards and the Tar Heels lone touchdown.
“We’re going to build off of this. It was the first game without Dyami and Dazz in two years, and Beau Corrales for Sam. So I mean he had a brand new receiving corps out there. It was good to have one game under our belt, we’re going to come out and prove a lot in the next few weeks so it’s going to be good,” said Downs.
The game experience Friday was much needed, as Downs was limited in-game action last season until the Orange Bowl where he was targeted four times and scored two touchdowns.
This season he serves a much bigger role in the Tar Heels offense.
“I’ve played minimal snaps live with Sam besides practice so it was good for the first time to go out there and be with him on the field for pretty much every play of the game so it was good to get one under the belt,” he said.
“We knew Josh was going to play really well and he did. The one thing that surprised me about Josh was he was able to play a lot more plays than we thought he would. We thought it was his first game getting a lot of reps that he’d be able to play 50 snaps or so but he played a lot of reps, a lot more than we thought he’d be able to which was good for us because he’s one of our best playmakers,” said Howell.
The Tar Heels host Georgia State at 7 p.m. on Saturday.