2005 ACC Football Preview/Prediction: North Carolina, Coastal Division #5

Share on your favorite social network:
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someoneGoogle+share on TumblrShare on Reddit

font SIZE=”2″>

Bird’s
Eye View:
Someone in the North Carolina athletic department doesn’t like
John Bunting because the Tar Heels’ schedule this year is absurd. The three out
of conference matchups are Utah, Louisville and Wisconsin, and the Heels are
trying to replace record setting quarterback Darian Durant and all-ACC center
Jason Brown. UNC is one of the true “sleeping giant” jobs in college
football, but the program will remain comatose in 2005. Carolina has all the
resources to be a terrific program, but Bunting should be in line for ACC Coach
of the Year honors if the Tar Heels are bowl eligible.

Areas of Strength (offense):
The receiver corps is very deep with a varied skill set. Jarwarski Pollock is
the shifty, sure handed ideal slot receiver, Jesse Holley is the most physically
gifted with both size and speed, Derrele Mitchell has the height and strength to
excel on fade routes, and Mike Mason is the speed burner on the outside. Despite
losing Brown and solid tackle Willie McNeill, the starting offensive line will
be formidable if top notch offensive line coach Hal Hunter has anything to say
about it. Both Brian Chacos and sixth year senior Skip Seagraves have
significant tackle experience, and guard Kyle Ralph is an NFL talent. If
sophomore center Ben Lemming is adequate, this will be a top four ACC offensive
line.



Areas of Concern (offense):
Senior quarterback Matt Baker has the intelligence and familiarity to run
offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill’s pro style schemes, but knowing what to
do and physically executing it under pressure are two different things. Baker
may turn out to be solid, but he’s a question mark going into the season. UNC’s
starting tailback Ronnie McGill tore a chest muscle in mid June and is expected
to miss four or five months. His replacement is mega-talent Barrington Edwards,
a former top 100 national recruit who transferred from LSU. Edwards is a home
run threat, but the question is whether he can carry the load. If he can, he’ll
be a 1,000 yard rusher. Depth along the offensive line is highly suspect and may
be provided by incoming freshmen.

Areas of Strength (defense):
Although no one expects Carolina to conjure up images of the ’85 Bears, the
return of eight starters plus defensive tackle Chase Page (returning from a torn
tendon in his finger in 2004) should provide some cause for optimism. The front
seven in particular has a lot of snaps under its belt, so they should improve on
last year’s poor numbers (446 yards per game surrendered, 31.8 points per
game). Linebacker Larry Edwards, perhaps the best big play candidate on the
defense, seems to be out of the doghouse and will have a chance in August to
play himself into the starting lineup. Marvin Sanders, now the sole defensive
coordinator after sharing the title last year, is only 37 but well regarded in
coaching circles.

Areas of Concern (defense):
Until the Tar Heels get better production on the field, the whole defense is
still a concern. The loss of free safety Gerald Sensabaugh, a tremendous athlete
that was always around the football, will be felt on the field and in the locker
room. Former CB Trimane Goddard is the best athlete in the secondary and is
moving over from corner to try to fill the void, but it remains to be seen if he’ll
be an impact player inside.

Key Game: At Georgia Tech.
The Tar Heels thumped the Jackets at home in a surprise last year, but this game
will be in Atlanta. A win here would be big and give UNC a fighting chance to be
bowl eligible. Remember their other road games include three preseason top 15
teams (Louisville, Miami and VT) and a top 25-caliber team (N.C. State).

Fearless Predictions:
Instead of focusing on the passing attack, UNC will try to run the ball to take
time off the clock and put Matt Baker in positive situations. Edwards will be a
big time player this fall and McGill will return to find his job filled. The Tar
Heels will bag two big out of conference wins at home – Wisconsin and Utah –
but will struggle mightily in the conference. Due to the fact he is playing so
many young players, John Bunting will get one more year, but anything less than
a top three Coastal Division finish in 2006 puts UNC in the market for a new
football coach. Rent, don’t buy, John …

Share on your favorite social network:
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someoneGoogle+share on TumblrShare on Reddit