That’s So Ebron
The word “potential” is thrown around a lot when it comes to North Carolina’s 6-4, 235-pound sophomore tight end Eric Ebron. He has the size and strength of a defensive end, but the speed and grace of a wide receiver. On every play, he has the potential to make a huge gain. But like a lot of young players, he also has the potential to make head-scratching mistakes.
A classic Ebron sequence: he committed his second false start of the game in the second quarter against East Carolina, turning a 3rd and 6 into a 3rd and 12. His slight twitch was not nearly as bad as his first false start of the afternoon had been when he stutter-stepped way before the snap.
“Right now, we do silent count, so (center) Russell Bodine – to me, when I jump, it’s because I see the ball fidget. I’m trying to move as soon as the ball is moved,” Ebron said with a sheepish smile. “As of right now, my new motto is just be delayed off (the line). When the ball is completely in (Renner’s) hands, then I’m going to go.”
On the very next play, though, quarterback Bryn Renner found him. Ebron lowered his shoulder into ECU defensive back Desi Brown, who fell backwards harmlessly despite being 6-2, 209 pounds. Ebron proceeded to leap over him as easily as he might step over a puddle and power down the field to the ECU 5-yard line for a first down.
“The coaches were giving me a hard time until I made that very creative play that I made,” Ebron said. “They were getting at me about that until then, and then I quit false-starting.”
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? And just for good measure, Renner found him again when he was covered by a linebacker, who didn’t stand a chance once Ebron caught the ball. On his way to a 27-yard run, he stiff-armed a defensive back.
“That’s exactly how you make up for it,” Ebron said. “Two wrongs don’t make a right, and I had two big wrongs. I had to make them right, so.”
So he had two “wrongs”, and two big “rights”. Sounds about right.
At Louisville, Ebron had five catches for 38 yards and two touchdowns but two false starts, including a crucial one when Carolina was trying to score the game-winner. After the game, Ebron was simultaneously angry at himself and his team for the slow start while also defiantly confident in what they’re capable of doing.
“The little mistakes that I made, I’ve got to polish them up. If you don’t start the way you’re supposed to start, then you can’t finish the way you want to finish,” Ebron said.
“I knew from the start that Louisville couldn’t hang with us if we played Carolina football. We came out playing football from another universe or something. In the second half, we got back down to earth. We buckled down and realized that we were the better team and tried to make a comeback.”
Renner had to grin when asked about Ebron’s false starts. “I know we had a play called for him when he jumped offsides both times (against ECU),” Renner said. “I think he was just chomping at the bit to go get the ball. But he’s a great player and he made up for it – after he jumped offsides, he made a heck of a play. So Coach will yell at him pretty good but the next play, he was praising him.”
But Carolina is so Ebron. At times, the Tar Heels look dominant on both sides of the ball, oozing with confidence and making plays in all three phases of the game. At other times, their defense looks like a sieve, the special teams unit commits penalty after penalty and the offense can only move the ball backwards. When it’s clicking, it’s beautiful to watch. Same with Ebron.
One Louisville touchdown came when a defensive end had no shot at covering him, and he trucked a linebacker in the end zone. At Wake Forest, he caught a touchdown on a balletic leaping grab over a Deacon safety. Who guards him, exactly? Defensive ends and linebackers aren’t quick enough, and defensive backs aren’t tall or strong enough.
He’s already got his sights set high, modeling his game after two of the best tight ends in the NFL that are also matchup nightmares. But Ebron is more than capable of being that good: someday. “I definitely look up to Jimmy Graham. I believe we kind of play alike,” Ebron said after the ECU win. “I’m not on his level because he’s a pro, but I believe that’s who I resemble and that’s who I look up to: him and Vernon Davis.”
Mascot facts: Idaho’s mascot, the Vandal, did not have as awesome an origin as anticipated. Turns out, former basketball coach Hec Edmundson’s team in 1917 was said to play so fiercely, they “vandalized” opponents on the court. According to the Idaho official athletics site, “The nickname exemplifies the spirit of the University in more than just athletics; as University of Idaho Vandals, we are fiercely competitive and independent thinkers and doers.”
Prediction: North Carolina, 59-12. North Carolina will want to score some points in this one, and Idaho has shown they are happy to oblige. The Vandals lost 20-3 to Eastern Washington, 21-13 to Bowling Green, 63-14 to LSU and 40-37 to Wyoming in their most recent game. So with the exception of LSU, they’ve been fairly competitive. The Tar Heels need to keep their defensive momentum going; they still haven’t allowed a touchdown at home this season.
Last week: 8-1 (1-1 ACC)
Season: 26-4 (2-2 ACC)