North Carolina’s offense was among the best in the nation last season, and it all started up front with a terrific offensive line. As the group looks ahead to 2016 without leader Landon Turner, we caught up with right tackle Jon Heck about whether the Tar Heels’ O-line can actually improve this season.
Q. Landon Turner was such a great leader for you guys last year, building the chemistry on that O-line. Can that carry over even without him?
A. Absolutely. Landon was our leader last year, but we also created a culture -- as a team as a whole and especially in the O-line room. It started off as a few guys, but it spread to the team as a whole. There’s no drop off as far as chemistry when he left.
A. We definitely want to go prove that, but I think it’s dangerous to have the mindset that we’re the best in the ACC and guys get complacent. We know last year was last year, and this year, nothing’s been proven. So we don’t feel like we’ve done anything at this point.
Q. You have a stable of running backs, led by Hood and T.J. Logan. What’s it like blocking for a group that is so explosive in so many ways?
A. It’s every O-lineman’s ideal situation. When you can run the ball in a game, that’s the dream, especially when you have a power back like Elijah, and then you can switch it up with T.J. Logan and get some speed and shiftiness. Any time we feel like we’re running the ball -- and with them we’re always confident -- that’s every lineman’s dream when we’re not in third-and-longs, pounding it for four or five yards and then break one here and there. It’s a huge morale booster.
Q. There’s been a change at quarterback, but you guys are obviously quite familiar with Mitch Trubisky. Has it been just business as usual?
A. Absolutely. Mitch, I feel like he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country. There’s no drop-off there whatsoever. We’ve been around Mitch for years now, and everyone’s been comfortable with him for a long time now. There was no adjustment period as far as Mitch stepping in.
Q. Spring practice the last few years has been about trying to find consistency after up-and-down years. Last season was a new high point at UNC, but ended with a couple of losses. How does that affect the emotion this spring?
A. In years past, we’ve had even more of a bad taste in our mouth, but last year, there were a lot more positives to take away. But the way we lost our last two was unacceptable. We’re not complacent with that. We thought we were capable of beating those teams, and that means we have a ton more confidence this spring than we had going in previous years.