Randy Clements and Chip Lindsey built a friendship working in football clinics and running into each other while recruiting through the years, and always talked in general terms of how cool it’d be to work together.
They didn’t know North Carolina coach Mack Brown had hired them both until the deals were done. Brown introduced Clements as the new offensive line coach and Lindsey as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on Monday in Chapel Hill.
“They’ve always wanted to work together and they’re very close in their philosophies,” Brown said. “…so these two guys kept coming up.”
Lindsey, who was the offensive coordinator at UCF this season, best summed up his approach as, “fast, disciplined, physical.” Clements, who was offensive line coach at North Texas, walked around the football offices with a shirt and hat that said, “run the damn ball.”
Among the many reasons Brown focused in on the pair is his desire to get the running game back to a high level. Quarterback Drake Maye led the team with 653 yards rushing as the Tar Heels never really developed a consistent back to feature, nor a consistent run game overall. Brown went so far as to say the Heels had gotten “soft” in the run game and needed to return to being physical.
It was why Carolina saw a decline in its red zone touchdowns late in the season that led to its three game losing streak.
Clements has developed the kind of offensive lines that have generated big strong run games. Just look back to 2015, when he was with Baylor and it faced Carolina in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Bears ran up a record 645 rushing yards despite playing without their top two quarterbacks and leading rusher.
“I still have the game ball from that,” Clements said. “We had a really good o-line that year, but we lost all the quarterbacks.”
Brown said under different circumstances, Carolina could have lost Maye to tampering. Though he did not name any schools specifically, he said financial offers were made to the redshirt freshman, who stands to enter next season as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Brown sought Maye’s input while he was seeking a coordinator to replace Phil Longo, who left UNC for a similar position at Wisconsin.
“The better Drake is, the better we are,” Brown said. “Drake didn’t hire him, but he sure did approve of him and that was very, very important to me as we were moving forward.”
Lindsey called Maye a “huge selling point” in taking the job. Lindsey did not call plays for the Golden Knights this season, UCF head coach Gus Malzahn handled those responsibilities.
Although Lindsey will be with the Heels during their preparations for the Holiday Bowl, he won’t be jumping in to call plays during the bowl game. But he’s already getting acquainted with Maye.
He said they’ve had prolonged discussions on FaceTime, which is part of the reason why being hired now puts him in a better position to learn the Heels personnel and personalities.
“It’s a huge advantage,” Lindsey said. “Coming in in February trying to get ready for spring ball, you don’t have that time.”
It’s especially important for Lindsey who will do more adapting to what Carolina has already established on offense and adding his own tweaks, rather than a complete overhaul of the system.
“I didn’t want somebody coming in with their system, I wanted this system to get better,” Brown said.
That’s also why Brown said he gave receivers coach Lonnie Galloway the title of pass game coordinator. Galloway’s familiarity with the terminology will help Lindsey ease into his role.