With the Cavaliers doing their best to suffocate Bernard (15 carries, 57 yards) on Thursday, the junior signal caller elevated his play and worked efficiently within head coach Larry Fedora’s offensive system to complete 29 of his 36 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns in UNC’s 37-13 victory.
Which, as it turns out, has been Renner’s routine effort lately. Thursday marked his third-straight game throwing for more than 300 yards. He connected with Bernard in the fourth quarter for a 23-yard scoring strike to cross the 3,000-yard plateau for the season.
T.J. Yates became the only Tar Heel quarterback in school history to eclipse that threshold in 2010. Renner has now accomplished that feat in consecutive seasons (3,086 in ’11; 3,051 in ‘12).
His three touchdown passes against the Cavaliers moves him to within three of tying his own school record of 26.
Renner currently ranks third all-time in school history in career touchdown passes (49), career completions (488) and career passing yards (6,151). If he delivers a similar season in 2013 as he has in 2011 and 2012, Renner will sit atop all of the significant passing statistical categories in UNC’s record book.
Granted, Fedora’s no-huddle spread offense is designed to put up substantial numbers.
Remember, though, that Renner spent his first three seasons at UNC playing in a pro-style offense for former NFL technician John Shoop. And remember that midway through spring practice offensive coordinator Blake Anderson was not exactly sure if Renner would be able to pick up the offense.
The West Springfield, Va. native is still working on a significant learning curve, but has been posting record-breaking numbers along the way.
"The bad thing about it is we've only got one game left and he’s probably as confident as he’s been in the offense the last three weeks," head coach Larry Fedora said. "He feels very comfortable and we’re just running out of time.”
“Now that we’re going into the last game of the season, this is the most comfortable I’ve felt so far, as far as just knowing where to go with the ball and really checking the ball down,” Renner said. “I’m not trying to force too many things. I’m going to be hard on myself, but I think it’s finally clicked for me.“
That could be bad news both for the UNC record books and for opponents on next season’s schedule.