(Photo: Inside Carolina)
Probable Starters: Richard Quinn (#89), Zack Pianalto (#17)
Key Reserves: Ed Barham (#80), Bobby Rome (#4), B.J. Phillips (#81), Christian Wilson (#33)
Overview: Much has been made about the Tar heel receiving core, but the key to T.J. Yates’ development as a QB may be short range passes to reduce pressure. Both the tight end and the H-back should favor heavily into an effective short and medium-range passing game.
Pianalto (the talent from Springfield Arkansas not named Mitch Mustain) was the fourth leading catcher for the Heels in 2007, gaining 204 yards on 24 catches. Pessimistic Carolina fans may remember him because he made a key fumble in the fourth quarter of UNC’s 22-20 loss to Virginia. Still, Pianalto made a significant contribution to the offense in 2007, and is expected to do so this year.
As for Quinn…not so much. His biggest play last year was also a costly mistake, a wide open drop in the endzone against Georgia Tech that led to a turnover on downs and another two point defeat. His stats were far less impressive than Pianalto’s: four receptions, 27 yards. It’s worth noting that the tight end and H-back are rarely on the field at the same time in John Shoop’s offense. Still, it’s important for Quinn to make a bigger impact on offense.
Outlook: Pianalto is expected to have a breakout year, and Carolina certainly seems committed to incorporating him into plays whenever possible. However, given the depth of talent at wide receiver, it’s unclear how many touches he and Quinn are going to get.