Butch Davis took over the Heels job last season and suffered through six losses by seven points or less. TJ Yates won the QB job as RS freshman setting a few Carolina freshman passing records on the way. The Heels had another solid recruiting class and return 18 starters from a year ago.
2007 Record: 4-8, 3-5
Ret. Starters: 18
Ret. Lettermen: 44
Off PPG: 20.1 (10th), RYPG 102.4 (9th), PYPG 221.6 (5th)
Def PPG: 31.0 (11th), RYPG 187.6 (12th), PYPG 218.8 (5th)
Offense (10 Ret. Starters 19 Ret. Lettermen)
TJ Yates returns as the likely starter, but may be pushed by prized recruit Mike Paulus (bro of Duke PG Greg Paulus). Yates set freshmen records fro pass yards, completions, and attempts, but is coming off season shoulder surgery that hindered his arm down the stretch last year. Richie Rich was moved mid year to CB leaving the RB job to Greg Little who had 154 yards vs Duke. Little will be complemented by Anthony Elzy who had 169 total vs VT and Miami. The Heels WR corps is one of the best and most experienced in the ACC led by Hakeem Nicks. Just a junior, Nicks already has 22 starts under his belt and has already set the season record for receptions. The o-line returns 4 starters from a year ago and only loses part time starter Scott Lenahan at center.
Defense (8 Ret. Starters 24 Ret. Lettermen)
The D-line had much improved play over the Bunting years last season. Former top recruit Marvin Austin looks to have a breakout year after three starts as a true freshman. Hilee Taylor will be a big loss off the d-line as he had 10.5 sacks LY. The linebacker group could be led by sophomore Quan Sturdivant who started 5 games last season. Gone is leading tackler from a year ago Durrell Mapp. The defensive backs welcomed Rich mid year although it looks he will have to battle for a starting CB position this season. The secondary should be much improved with 1st team freshmen All American Deunta Williams at FS and Trimane Goddard back at SS.
Gone is UNC record holder K Connor Barth. Back is P Terrence Brown. Returns will likely be done by WR Brandon Tate.
Newcomers of Note
UNC had an impressive DL haul with Robert Quinn and Quinton Copies. Coach John Blake has been a big plus for Davis. Melvin Williams should be able to contribute right away out of JC in the secondary.
UNC’s record could have been much better if they won half of those close games last year, but they did not. They have always had better talent than their record in bad years as evidenced by the number of Tar Heels in the NFL. I think Butch Davis gets them over the edge on the way to a bowl game again this year. Though don't be shocked if UNC seriously challenges for the Coastal title.
Likely Wins: vMcNeese St,
Likely Losses: None
Swing Games: Everything else
Next Up: ACC Atlantic #3