2009 North Carolina Tar Heels Football Preview
2008 Record: (8-5, 4-4)
2008 Bowl: Meineke Bowl vs. West Virginia (L 30-31)
Offensive Coordinator: John Shoop
Defensive Coordinator: Everett Withers
Returning Leaders for UNC:
Other Key Returnees: DT Marvin Austin, C Lowell Dyer, CB Jordan Hemby, OT Kyle Jolly, DE Robert Quinn, G Alan Pelc, DT Cam Thomas, DE E.J. Wilson
Key Losses: P Terrence Brown, G Calvin Darity, WR Brooks Foster, S Trimane Goddard, WR Hakeem Nicks, LB Mark Paschal, TE Richard Quinn, OT Garrett Reynolds
It had been four years since North Carolina went to a bowl game. After barely losing to West Virginia in the Meineke Bowl, the new goal should be to win a bowl game. And that is certainly a possibility during Coach Butch Davis’ third year at the helm. Coach Davis has definitely turned this program around and the future could hold very big things.
The overall numbers were not that great, but the defense has plenty of potential. Linebacker Mark Paschal and safety Trimane Goddard are the only two losses from the starting lineup and the experienced group that is left is quite athletic. It was the lack of pressure on the opposing quarterback that caused the biggest problem. With ends E.J. Wilson and Robert Quinn returning and tackles Marvin Austin and Cam Thomas also back, the Tar Heels front four could turn into a dominating unit. Linebackers Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter are full of potential and the secondary, despite the absence of Goddard who picked off seven passes during his senior campaign, is pretty experienced and could be great if the front four can get into the opposing backfield.
North Carolina's Weaknesses:
It is on the other side of the ball where there could be some major problems. Quarterback T.J. Yates started six games last year and proved to be a relatively consistent passer. He completed 60 percent of his passes and only threw four interceptions. However, that was when he was passing to Hakeem Nicks, Brooks Foster and Brandon Tate. Those three are now gone and Yates must find some new targets. Coach Jones had a great recruiting class this year and there could be a ton of talented freshmen making a big impact. The passing attack should be halfway decent, but the ground game could be a different story. Shaun Draughn is a decent back, but North Carolina’s rushing attack was nothing special last year and it will not get any better this year without guard Calvin Darity and tackle Garrett Reynolds paving the way.
The Bottom Line for the Tar Heels:
The offense is full of potential. Can Yates take the next step? Can the Tar Heels find a few wide receivers who can at least help replace Nicks, Tate and Foster? If so, this is a team that can be a big surprise and do more than just win a bowl game. North Carolina could win the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal division if they can pull off a couple quality wins over teams like Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Maybe all of that will not happen this year, but it very well could. And if it does not happen now, it might not take too long before UNC is a traditional ACC powerhouse.
By Joel Welser
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