#18 North Carolina Football 2014 Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels

Overall Rank: #18
#3 ACC

North Carolina Team Page#18 North Carolina Football 2014 PreviewBuy North Carolina Football Tickets

If North Carolina can pick up where they left off in 2013, they will be a serious player in the ACC. The Tar Heels started off 1-5 last season before winning six of their last seven contests, including a 39-17 victory over Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. With an offense that found its footing late in 2013 and an improving defense, UNC could be the surprise team in the ACC.

2013 Record: 7-6, 4-4
2013 Bowl: Belk Bowl vs. Cincinnati (W 39-17)
Coach: Larry Fedora (15-10 at North Carolina, 49-29 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Gunter Brewer, Chris Kapilovic
Defensive Coordinator: Dan Disch

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Marquise Williams, QB, 536 yards
Passing: Marquise Williams, QB, 1,698 yards
Receiving: Quinshad Davis, WR, 730 yards
Tackles: Jeff Schoettmer, LB, 85
Sacks: Norkeithus Otis, S, 7.5
Interceptions: Dominique Green, S, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB T.J. Logan, RB Romar Morris, RB Khris Francis, WR Ryan Switzer, WR T.J. Thorpe, OL Caleb Peterson, LB Travis Hughes, S Tim Scott, LB Darius Lipford, K Thomas Moore, P Tommy Hibbard

Key Losses: RB A.J. Blue, QB Bryn Renner, TE Eric Ebron, OL James Hurst, S Tre Boston, DL Kareem Martin, CB Jabari Price

Quarterback Marquise Williams showed teams like Cincinnati, Virginia and Old Dominion what Coach Larry Fedora’s offense is supposed to look like. He only started five games, but Williams won four of them and passed for 1,698 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also ended up leading the team with 536 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. The 6-2 junior adds a dynamic to the offense that others cannot provide. However, the starting job is not his. Redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky is right in the mix, although we will almost certainly see Williams on the field every once in a while even if Trubisky wins the job. Tight end Eric Ebron is gone, but Quinshad Davis, Ryan Switzer and T.J. Thorpe are a talented receiver trio. Davis is a big 6-4 target and ten of his 48 receptions in 2013 ended in the end zone. Switzer had a very promising freshman campaign and is the most elusive of the receivers. He will also get some carries this year. But most of the carries will go to T.J. Logan. Logan rushed for 533 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman. With Romar Morris, Khris Francis and Elijah Hood adding depth to the running back position, the Tar Heels could be a very successful team on the ground.

Back in 2012, North Carolina allowed 32.9 points per game. Last year that number improved to 24.5. Year three of the Coach Fedora era could be even better. Linebackers Travis Hughes and Jeff Schoettmer will man the middle of the 4-2-5 scheme and both are very capable playmakers. The five-man secondary must find two new cornerbacks, but safeties Norkeithus Otis, Dominique Green and Tim Scott, who moved from one of the cornerback spots, are a nice group to work around. Green picked off three passes as a freshman and could emerge as the best playmaker in the secondary. Otis plays the bandit position and will help UNC get consistent pressure in the backfield despite the loss of end Kareem Martin and his 11.5 sacks.

The Bottom Line:
The schedule is not nearly as tough right out of the gate as it was in 2013. That could help this group build a little momentum. However, by game four they better be ready. In a three week stretch starting on September 27th, UNC plays Clemson, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. Losing the first two games of that stretch could very quickly put an end to their ACC Coastal division title hopes.

Projected Bowl: Russell Athletic Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 148.3 (84th in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 277.4 (28, 3)
Total Offense: 425.7 (49, 6)
Scoring Offense: 32.7 (43, 6)
Rushing Defense: 182.5 (82, 14)
Pass Defense: 220.7 (50, 6)
Total Defense: 403.2 (64, 10)
Scoring Defense: 24.5 (43, 6)
Turnover Margin: 0.15 (48, 6)
Sacks: 2.38 (37, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 1.62 (39, 5)

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#49 Elijah Hood
#135 Jeremiah Clarke


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