College Football Preview: The 2015 North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina Tar Heels Preview
2014 Record: 6-7 (78th of 128) Lost Quick Lane Bowl 40-21 vs. Rutgers
Odds to Win National Championship: +70000 See the Latest Odds
Overview: The North Carolina Tar Heels win total has dropped by one each season under head coach Larry Fedora. Yes, the Tar Heels have reached a bowl game in six of their last seven seasons, but the program is just itching to finally get over that hump. North Carolina has been a middle-of-the-road team for quite some time, and there’s pressure on everyone to finally change that this season.
Offense: North Carolina only has to replace one starter from an offense that ranked fifth in the ACC. Marquise Williams is an above-average quarterback who has 36 touchdown passes his last two seasons and led the Tar Heels with 783 rushing yards last season. A three-headed monster at running back in T.J. Logan, Romar Morris and Elijah Hood should be far more productive now that the young core has another year under their belt. The Tar Heels also return their top-four receivers from last season, including a duo of Mack Hollins and Quinshad Davis that combined for 14 touchdowns last season. With an experienced offensive line and all of these weapons, you can see why there’s pressure on UNC to make this a special season.
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Defense: Gene Chizik has the task of improving a North Carolina defense that finished dead last in the ACC. We’re talking about a defense that allowed nearly 500 yards per game and produced just 22 sacks in 13 games. Now, the good news is that Jessie Rogers is one of the better pass rushers in the ACC and Jeff Schoettmer is a playmaking linebacker who can do a little bit of everything. Nazair Jones showed flashes as a freshman of being a stud along the defensive line and Brian Walker is a ball hawking defensive back who has four picks in his first two seasons. There are some solid pieces to build around this defense. However, after seeing last season, I’m not sure anybody knows what to completely expect from this unit.
Special Teams: Nick Weiler returns at kicker after making 62.5 percent of his kicks on eight attempts. Punter remains a battle between Joey Mangili and Blake Bozymski.
Overall: The North Carolina Tar Heels have more than enough offensive firepower to compete with any team in the ACC. However, that defense? Um, yeah, that defense. I think it goes without saying that the defensive side of the ball will either make or break the Tar Heels chances of having that breakout season fans so desperately want to see.