#45 North Carolina Football 2015 Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels

Overall Rank: #45
#7 Atlantic Coast Conference

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North Carolina had the ultimate up and down season in 2014 as they struggled through one of their seasons ever defensively. After the loss to Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl, Larry Fedora decided to go a different direction defensively and brought in Gene Chizik to take over as defensive coordinator. There is a plenty of talent offensively to score points, but without significant improvement by the defense it will be a roller coaster ride of a season once again in Chapel Hill this fall.

2014 Record: 6-7, 4-4
2014 Bowl: Quick Lane Bowl vs. Rutgers (L 21-40)
Coach: Larry Fedora 21-17 at North Carolina, 55-36 overall
Offensive Coordinator: Gunter Brewer and Chris Kapilovic
Defensive Coordinator: Gene Chizik

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Marquise Williams, QB 788 yards
Passing: Marquis Williams, QB, 3,068 yards
Receiving: Ryan Switzer, WR, 757 yards
Tackles: Jeff Schoettmer, LB, 74
Sacks: Jessie Rogers, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: Brian Walker, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: OG Landon Turner,  WR Quinshad Davis, WR Mack Hollins,    RB T.J. Logan , DT Nazair Jones, DE Dajuan Drennon,

Key Losses: DT Ethan Farmer, LB Travis Hughes, S Tim Scott

It’s going to be up to quarterback Marquise Williams to carry the way offensively until North Carolina can become a little more balanced offensively with other game breaking type of threats. Williams has plenty of starting experience and will provide tremendous leadership for the Tar Heels offensively. The dual-threat nature of Williams can’t be overlooked and he ran for nearly 800 yards in 2014. Ryan Switzer leads a balanced receiving corps that helped North Carolina gain nearly 280 yards per game through the air last season. Quinshad Davis and Mack Hollins are back as well at receiver and that will provide plenty of options for Williams to throw the ball to right out of the gate. Landon Turner will anchor the offensive line as this will be his fourth season starting at guard. He is on the Outland Trophy Watch list heading in to the 2015 season.

Everything under the sun that could have gone wrong for the Tar Heels defensively went wrong. Enter Gene Chizik at defensive coordinator to basically rebuild the defensive side of the ball from scratch as North Carolina did nothing right defensively last season. There are some good players back, led by linebacker Jeff Schottmer and cornerback Brian Walker. Schoettmer and Walker are going to have to be big-time leaders and get everyone else buying into the new defensive scheme that Chizik will implement in 2015. North Carolina is also going to have to put more pressure on the quarterback even if it does not result in sacks. Defensive end Dajuan Drennon and defensive tackle Nazair Jones are going to have to elevate their play in a big way if the Tar Heels are to improve significantly in 2015.

The Bottom Line:
The schedule starts fast with a neutral site game against South Carolina to kick off the season on September 3rd in Charlotte. Illinois also visits Chapel Hill to give the Tar Heels two power five non-conference games. The Georgia Tech game down in Atlanta on October 3rd is going to set the tone right away for North Carolina in conference play. If they can steal that one, the schedule sets up well the next few weeks. The last two games to end on the season on the road at Virginia Tech and North Carolina State are the ultimate swing games that could either knock the Tar Heels out of bowl contention completely or send them to a better than expected bowl. Overall, this is a big season for head coach Larry Fedora to get the defense turned around and turn North Carolina into a more consistent football team on a weekly basis.

Projected Bowl: Quick Lane Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 151.4 (81st in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 278.4 (27, 2)
Total Offense: 429.8 (45, 5)
Scoring Offense: 33.2 (36, 3)
Rushing Defense: 240.5 (117, 14)
Pass Defense: 257.4 (101, 14)
Total Defense: 497.8 (117, 14)
Scoring Defense: 39.0 (116, 14)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (59, 8)
Sacks: 1.69 (92, 11)
Sacks Allowed: 2.15 (70, 10)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#52 Quinshad Davis

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#73 Jalen Dalton
#200 Tommy Hatton


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