#28 North Carolina Football 2013 Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels

Overall Rank: #28
#4 ACC

North Carolina Team Page#28 North Carolina Football 2013 PreviewBuy North Carolina Football Tickets

Second-year coach Larry Fedora proved he is worthy of big-time conference coaching last season after taking over for a soiled program after the Butch Davis allegations.  The Tar Heels were a very good team in 2012.  They just did not have much to show for it as they were banned from a bowl game at the end of the year.  It was quite a blow for an 8-4 team that was really among the cream of crop in the conference and finished tied for first in the Coastal Division.  This season, expectations and opportunities are flooding Chapel Hill.  A lot of talent has left the program due to graduation or the NFL, but quarterback Bryn Renner remains.  He is arguably the top signal caller in the conference.

2012 Record: 8-4, 5-3
2012 Bowl: None
Coach: Larry Fedora (8-4 at North Carolina, 42-23 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Blake Anderson
Defensive Coordinator:  Dan Disch

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: A.J. Blue, RB, 433 yards
Passing: Bryn Renner, QB, 3,356 yards
Receiving: Quinshad Davis, WR, 776 yards
Tackles: Tre Boston, DB, 86
Sacks: Kareem Martin, 4.0
Interceptions: Tre Boston, S, 4; Tim Scott, CB, 4

Other Key Returnees: WR Sean Tapley, TE Eric Ebron, C Russell Bodine, S Darien Rankin, DB Jabari Price, LB Tommy Heffernan, P Tommy Hibbard

Key Losses: OL Jonathan Cooper, OL Brennan Williams, OL Travis Bond, LB Kevin Reddick, RB Giovani Bernard, DT Sylvester Williams, WR Erik Highsmith, LB Dion Guy, K Casey Barth

It will be difficult for the Tar Heels to duplicate their ground game success after losing leading rusher Giovani Bernard to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Returning leader A.J. Blue had less than 500 yards last season.  It will be interesting to see how they rebound after the departure of a critical player.  However, with Renner they have a 3,000-yard passer who is strong in the pocket and can deliver a dart.  He ranked third in the conference last year in passing efficiency while throwing 28 touchdowns.  More impressive were his limited mistakes with only seven interceptions.  Big things will be expected of him in 2013.  The Tar Heels operated with top-notch balance.  At 485 yards per game, they ranked second in the ACC in total offense and averaged over 40 points per game.  Repeating such gaudy statistics would be tough, but the coaching staff certainly has a game plan in place to make the offense successful.  The defense was stellar upfront and they ranked first in the conference in tackles for loss.

One of the strengths last year may end up turning into one of the team’s weaknesses this year.  Can the offensive line hold up like it did last year?  Renner rarely faced powerful pass rushes last season.  His line did a great job of protecting him.  Guard Johnathan Cooper went top-10 in April’s NFL draft.  Without him, they will certainly be less formidable and we will wait and see how effective they can be.  They could also use a boost in the defensive backfield.  Yes, they had a few guys pick-off four passes each, but they still gave up about 250 yards through the air per game.  Pass defense was their lowest ranked statistic last season.  Questions will linger about the rest of the defense coming into 2013 as well.  After losing Kevin Reddick and Sylvester Williams, they lose a lot of production on that side of the ball.  Their replacements will have some big shoes to fill.

The Bottom Line:
North Carolina should see their win total match or even exceed eight this season.  Despite losing Bernard, the offense should be in pretty good position to put up good numbers.  Receiver Quinshad Davis should take a step forward as well to assist Renner in the passing game.  Early on, the line should display whether it will be solid or be in rebuild mode.  The questions will be on defense.  The Tar Heels have to hope there is not much of a drop off between the loss in talent from 2012 to 2013.  They are not blessed with any sort of easy path.  They open the season against an incredibly strong South Carolina team.  Either way, they look like they are certainly on the path to return to a bowl game in 2013.  With another winning season, Fedora will be their man for the long haul.

Projected Bowl: Russell Athletic Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 193.83 (33rd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 291.75 (26, 4)
Total Offense: 485.58 (14, 2)
Scoring Offense: 40.58 (8, 2)
Rushing Defense: 142.67 (40, 4)
Pass Defense: 246.92 (81, 8)
Total Defense: 389.58 (56, 6)
Scoring Defense: 25.67 (53, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.58 (30, 2)
Sacks: 2.42 (34, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 0.92 (9, 1)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#30 Kareem Martin
#78 James Hurst
#119 Eric Ebron

Madness 2013 Football Recruit Rankings:
#120 Greg Webb
#143 Mitch Trubisky
#191 Dajaun Drennon
#202 T.J. Logan


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